Prasanna Vee likes to think of himself as a serial traveler.
The Malaysia-based travel startup company executive and his wife spend more time in hotel rooms than they do in their home. On trips involving multiple nights at the same place, the duo typically stays in different hotels each night to get a feel for different sides of the destination’s character, culture and vibe.
Because Vee spends so much time in hotels, he has achieved elite levels in many hotel loyalty programs. His favorite program: Marriott Rewards. Since 2013 alone, he and his wife have stayed in more than 450 different hotels. Vee says he has visited 188 countries in the world and plans to knock off the last five by the end of the year.
The food, the bars, the language, the culture — they wake you up in a way that you don't get to experience in your own city.
“Everything about a new destination is fascinating to me,” says Vee, 45. “The food, the bars, the language, the culture — they wake you up in a way that you don’t get to experience in your own city. We get excited just seeing the signs in a different language as we land at a destination airport, and our romance with a city begins right from there.”
Vee and his wife are able to travel so much by mixing pleasure with business. Every time Vee has to travel for work, he extends the stay into a vacation. He and his wife also make a point of traveling during every long weekend they get.
Vee says that in all the years he’s traveled, he has spent most of his time collecting points instead of spending them. This explains why he has a balance of close to 1.2 million Marriott Rewards points.
We personally believe luxury is not in materialistic things, but more in hospitality and service.
According to Vee, he sees these points as a “nest egg” that he and his wife can use in their retirement years to continue enjoying experiences at Marriott International properties.
“We personally believe luxury is not in materialistic things, but more in hospitality and service,” he explains. “[Marriott International] treats their Elite members like royalty. They make special occasions more special and ensure you maximize your stay by offering the best options and amenities inside and outside the room.”
Other benefits Vee says he enjoys: unlimited early check-ins and checkouts, suite upgrades and complimentary chauffeur services. He adds that he and his wife love getting access to club lounges — his favorites include those at Le Méridien Saigon and the Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway.
When asked to think back on exceptional service he’s had over the years, Vee says a few anecdotes come to mind.
The first was a stay the Sheraton Addis, a Luxury Collection Hotel; the gym was closed, but staff members brought gym equipment to Vee’s room so he and his wife could enjoy their stay without interrupting their workout routines. The second memory involved a visit at the ITC Gardenia, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Bangalore, India; upon learning it was Vee’s birthday, the front desk staff upgraded Vee and his wife from a basic room to the Pelican Suite, the nicest suite in the building.
Vee is quick to extol the virtues of other hotels at which he’s stayed over the years.
On another trip, during a stay in Pune, India, at what is now the Sheraton Grand Pune Bund Garden Hotel, the general manager gave Vee and his wife a tour of the city and offered a chauffeur-driven limousine to take them to the next hotel.
Vee has written about a number of these standout hotel experiences on blogs like A Thirsty Traveller’s Blog and Travelling for the Stay. He also shares photos from every journey on his Flickr page. Marriott properties feature prominently on each of these efforts.
Perhaps Vee’s favorite thing to do while traveling: sample beers. Before he and his wife moved to Asia, the couple lived in Seattle, where Vee developed a passion for beers and the process of sampling them. In particular, he fell in love with craft beers and breweries that made different beers throughout the year. He even started collecting labels from bottles he tried.
Once he started traveling the world, Vee took this passion on the road with him and now makes a point of exploring the beer scene everywhere he goes.
He has even written about some of his beer-tasting adventures on his blog, Craft Beer Hunting.
“Now our favorite thing to do in any place we travel is to check out the craft beer scene in that place,” he says.
Looking forward, the self-admitted serial traveler is excited to get to the final five countries he hasn’t visited yet: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Angola, and the Republic of Congo. He says he’s planning to get to all five of them before year’s end.