Hit me with the best questions I should ask the sales folks. The ones you wish you had asked before you bought yours or have been wanting to ask if you are considering purchasing one.
I will ask the best, most appropriate questions I receive and post the answers after I return.
I am going in mid august
Thanks for posting this capitalraider. I am a Premier Plus Vacation Club Points Owner and have enjoyed the flexibility of this program. However, since I bought into this Premier Plus level I have found that it has become more difficult for me to secure the more choice villas at various properties, especially on Hilton Head Island. I was even told by a MVC salesperson that the best villas were save for potential buyers, which is good for you but not for current members. An example of this is that after staying at a property for 4 years over the 4th of July holiday, when I tried to make reservations 13 months in advance for the 4th I was told there was no vacancy. HOW CAN THIS BE? 13 MONTHS IN ADVANCE? No problem until I became a Premier Plus member who is less likely to buy more MVC points. So one question you could ask during your presentation is to verify if this is indeed the policy: potential buyers given a higher priority than current owners, especially Premier Plus owners. Obviously, they will deny this, but persist and ask them to explain the example I have given you, which I predict they will blame on the weeks' owners which does not make any sense at all. Why, after 4 years, am I now having trouble?
"All - Thanks for your patience while we looked into this.
The Vacation Club works differently than other Marriott properties. There are timeshare "owners," and they get first dibs on travel dates. Owners typically finalize their plans by December of the previous year so, if you check back in mid-January, you should see availability. You can also call the Vacation Club reservations team with questions: (800) 845-5279. Sorry I can't be more helpful! "
This forum is filled with threads about the headaches of MVC (tef6178 is the expert), and they have grown to be even more of their own fiefdom since the spinoff, so capitalraider proceed with caution.
The specified item was not found.
I thank you erc for your post and your references. The argument that all these reservation problems are being created by the timeshare owners, "and they get first dibs on travel dates" is wearing thin. BTW, some points owners have far more invested in points/dollars than many of the timeshare weeks' owners. In any event I'm going to take your advice and "proceed with caution" for fear my next villa will be on the first floor facing the recycling area.
We are premium premier too and have found the same thing.
We went to a recent presentation and the sales person was adamant that we would be able to be in the top 5% and absolutely get a reservation where we wanted, when we wanted.
Hey guess what.... not going to be the case.
There was no availability at the locations we checked 13 months in advance, using the new Destination Club Points.
We am not sure about all this change that was made.
We understand that Marriott needs to explore new methods for revenue generation but it seems to be at a price to those who have been most loyal for the longest.
Thanks, Lichael, appreciate your post and the fact that you have run into the same situation. I didn't think I was the only one with this problem and I'm sorry you have experienced it also.
bpelican- Which HH resort was this? Did you ask how it was possible? The only way I can see not getting a resort 13 months out is if someone reserved before you for a set of dates that overlaps your desired dates. For example- you reserved July 3-10th 2014 on June 3rd 2013, but others reserved 13 months out for a trip that was July 1-7th, getting in before you and taking up the block you want. Or possibly they booked a 2 week trip. I know there's a difference in the type of reservation too- trust points, weeks owners, etc., and we all have different status/priority for reservations. It's not likely, but I suppose every single room was booked by someone with a higher status/priority than you. However, that doesn't explain how that was done at the maximum time ahead.
Computer glitch? Maybe inventory availability wasn't updated on the computer yet? I'm considering becoming a Premier owner this fall during a visit to HH so I'm very interested in any issues with the ability to reserve 13 months out.
tomd68 - Appreciate your posts and your questions.
For any seven days around the 4th of July there was no availability at any MVC location on HHI, if you can believe it, and we had a MVC Corporate Executive assisting us. Even the Executive could not understand why that was the case. The particular property we were interested in was The Harbour Club where we have stayed for four years in a row and had no problem reserving until we became Premier Plus (a total investment around a $150K) at, ironically, the HH MVC office. It's hard for me to believe everyone was a higher status than me 13 months out. If you read my post above, I think you'll see what I believe is happening here.
We love the flexibility of the points program and had no problems until we became Premier Plus. The simple fact is with yearly maintenance fees over $6K we are far less likely to purchase additional points than non-MVC owners or brand new prospects.
I am also premiere plus owner, primarily because I have owned weeks at several resorts. Were you trying to reserve using DC points and are you a weeks owner at any of these resorts? Hilton Head is notorious for having limited availability on July 4 week and many multiple weeks owners have priority over single week owners and those using DC points. I have never heard of any MVC resorts giving priority to non-owners there to attend a sales presentation and would be very disappointed to learn this is the case.
Even prior to the DC program, it was difficult to reserve high demand weeks because multiple weeks owner received priority over everyone else. Although I am happy overall with my ownership, I would not buy DC points today because I believe them to be over priced. I bought 1500 at the program inception, but the overall offer and incentives were very attractive and it enabled me to achieve premiere plus.
I have never been a weeks owner. I started with 4,000 Destination Points/year and progressed to 13,500 points a little over a year ago making me a Premier Plus MVC Owner. I had no problem reserving Villas 4th of July week at the Harbour Club for four years until I became a Premier Plus Owner last year. I was able to get only one villa this year (2014) and next year (2015) there were no villas available to me in any of the HHI MVC properties. As I stated in another post here, we were told by a HHI MVC sales rep that non-owners were receiving a higher priority at the HHI MVC properties. This was later denied by an MVC Executive out of Orlando. I am basically happy with the points program because of its flexibility but don't understand the HHI situation. Thanks for your post and good luck in your future travels.
With the implementation of the Destination Club point program and the spinoff of MVC from Marriott, things have gotten more complicated with timeshares. I am a long-term owner of several MVC weeks and have been very happy overall with the program. When the DC program was implemented, I was very concerned and stated so in the threads ERC mentioned above. However, I have learned to take advantage of the program benefits and flexibility and have found more positives than negatives. However, I think the DC points are now significantly overpriced and found that you really can't believe the sales people. These are some things you need to keep in mind:
I forgot to mention earlier, never believe the MVC sales reps. They are trying to sell you more points. The customer service reps at MVC and resort managers are much more honest. They will confirm that owners and DC points redeemers will always have priority over non-owners and those staying on a sales package. A common perception of the sales reps expressed on Timeshare User Group forum is that the sales people never lie until they open their mouth. There are exceptions to this, but most of the sales people I have encountered frequently embellish the truth to sell you more points.
Thanks superchief1 for your MVC historical perspective. I definitely have a better understanding of the Hilton Head Island situation now. I also pity the room assignment managers who have to make some sense out of a sometimes chaotic situation, especially during holidays like the 4th of July. Appreciate your advice about the MVC sales reps who as a group really test my patience at times, especially when they literally accost you when you're trying to check in. With this said, I am still positive about the MVC and am glad you are seeing some improvements. Although I mostly book weeks, the flexibility to book two or three nights at an MVC property is great. Again, thanks for your input.
I can not believe that is correct bpelican that they leave the best villas for potential buyers. Hmmmph. Sometimes it is funny what you get from your sales rep at those presentations.
Unfortunately, I really believe that is the case debbiebrown. For example, how can all the Ocean Front Villas be taken at an MVC property on Hilton Head Island 13 months in advance? Even so I still love the flexibility of the MVC points program.
capitalraider, My family and I are happy Destinations Points owners, never owning weeks or anything else. We have had none of the problems well documented here and on other forum sites regarding availability of the resorts and dates we've asked for. I've always reserved 12 months out though, been able to make the reservations I wanted, and haven't had to cancel or change these plans after that date so I haven't had the problems others have had.
Sometimes, the problems raised in these forums stem from expectations that weren't met (not getting an upgrade they wanted, bad views, etc.), but shouldn't have been an expectation in the first place. A common one for MVC involves late cancellations. I know that if I cancel a stay within 60 days of the trip, I'd be risking the loss of points. Others either don't realize that, or conveniently forget that this issue was raised when they purchased, or it was in the paperwork they signed. Traveler protection purchases (~250 points) might be the defense against this. You're never going to hear a sales person discuss the bad points of a program though, unless you ask.
One issue that I didn't really foresee was that Marriott can raise the points required for a resort and devalue what I own. It probably won't happen, but eventually, my $28K investment in the MVC Destinations Program (DP) could be reduced to the point that I can only get less-desirable resorts in less-desirable seasons. That's one question you should ask about- if there is a plan to raise points required, and if Marriott is limited by law/regulation/etc., as to how much they can devalue your original purchase. The cost of maintenance fees can go up too. One issue I don't like is paying for parking at a resort I "own." I think that if I'm an owner, I have already "paid" for my parking spot. It shouldn't be an extra cost.
Other questions you should as revolve around making changes- What happens if you reserve a 3 bedroom and later only need a 2 bedroom? What if you pay extra points (20% premium) to reserve a short vacation (5 days or less) and later you increase that to 7 days- do you get the premium back? Think of all the variations that DP offers- Ocean Explorer, City Explorer, etc., and how you might need to make changes to those plans. You'll have to think of worst-case scenarios, but it'll help you understand what you're purchasing and what are the down-sides to that purchase.
Not sure if the 'stuck' part means that you are going to a presentation because you signed up for a 'special' package that requires a 90 minute presentation visit or if you just really feel 'stuck'.
Let me give you a timeline on my reflections and reality of being involved with time share with Marriott:
Bought my first time share at Desert Springs back in late 80's. Big sales pitch was 'you can vacation through a villa for villa trade at any MVC property for 'life' and anywhere in the world there is an MVC property! We saw great value in that ideal. What a great concept! We thoroughly enjoyed trading our property on an 'even exchange' basis for any other MVC property we wanted to visit for a number of years. We actually purchased a second week at another resort because it worked so well.
As more and more villas were sold (oversold is a better descriptive) the 'trades' became more difficult. I actually threatened legal action one year with management to get a villa secured before my points expired because I had been rebuffed for almost a full year in acquiring a suitable destination and my points were about to expire (they couldn't be rolled over continuously as Marriott Rewards points do). A villa was secured for me while I was involved in that conversation. But, who needs this kind of aggravation.
We finally decided to just use our home resort every year and just trade every other year for rewards points because the trading became so difficult. THEN.......
Along comes the Destination Club points program. A complete departure from everything we were told at the outset. Now, it's OK to make changes to a program but at least most reputable companies 'grandfather' existing conditions when they make those changes. Not so with MVC.
My points were DE-VALUED at the villas I own so much that now for me to trade to a villa they deem to be a better product location it would cost me TWO PLUS years of points to make that trade. The answer from the MVC folks...hey, buy more points, you'll be a Premier member and have all kinds of 'stuff' at your disposal. Well, I found that situation to be, at best, a fools folly based on the changes that destroyed the value I had back when I first bought. I also think bpelican provides an excellent example of that scenario since he has now entered that 'Premier' stratosphere and is now experiencing difficulty in his exchanges.
Adding to the indignity of their promises they tell you the value you receive is extremely cheap because the points you buy will allow trades that are less cost than buying the week. Unfortunately, that is a hollow statement because they DON'T tell you that those maintenance fees you pay every year in addition to the points you buy increase in the vicinity of 8 to 12 percent YEARLY. The biggest increase EVERY YEAR is the Management fee that goes directly to Marriott. My maintenance fees at Desert Springs have gone from $400 to $1200+! What makes that even worse is that, being an Interval member, I constantly see units similar to mine available online for half the cost of my maintenance fee or less. How's them apples setting with ya I ask myself all the time.
The final straw for me was exchanging into Newport Coast Villas earlier this year through Interval. I wound up in the 'dungeon' My post on this experience is in the review section on this property. I was told that they have instituted a 'pecking' order for villa placement and that a trader (even though an MVC owner and Platinum Rewards member) is the 'lowest' on the order of the peck.
Another problem for MVC 'Owners' is that all those weeks that get traded for points revert to Marriott and the hotel division gets to sell them. That is EXACTLY what I was told. Now, where does one think those who are now going to pay a premier price for a property are going to be placed? Of course, Marriott is going to give them the BEST accomodation available becaue they want those 'paying' folks to go to a presentation and 'BUY' into the Destinations Club! What better way to get them in than giving them a 'premier' view in their accomodations and the line of 'look what you'll get as a member'!
I now evaluate the cost of my timeshare in this manner: I use my villa one year and take the Rewards points the next. If I get to a position where the rewards points I receive every other year can be purchased by me directly for less money than the maintenance fees, I'm selling the unit. Based on my Newport Coast experience, I did this evaluation and am now in the process of selling one of my units back to Marriott because I can save almost $300 per year by not paying the fees. AND, I can trade into the resort through Interval if I want for about $300 for the week.
As you can probably tell, I am not any longer a fan of the timeshare program. This is all my opinion and based on the facts and reality I have experienced. I think folks who were there at the outset were 'cast off' to the shadows, just as Marriott hotels now does everything for the millenials (their next generation of frequent stayers) and us 'older' loyalists are chump change.
Proceed with caution my Insider friends!
tef6178, appreciate your excellent post. Hopefully, capitalraider is getting enough input for his/her 90 minutes in the box. Hope you don't mind my quoting you below as IMO your statement says it all about MVC priorities:
"Another problem for MVC 'Owners' is that all those weeks that get traded for points revert to Marriott and the hotel division gets to sell them. That is EXACTLY what I was told. Now, where does one think those who are now going to pay a premier price for a property are going to be placed? Of course, Marriott is going to give them the BEST accomodation available becaue they want those 'paying' folks to go to a presentation and 'BUY' into the Destinations Club! What better way to get them in than giving them a 'premier' view in their accomodations and the line of 'look what you'll get as a member'!"
I was also told this by an MVC sales rep. Now I don't mind that Week's Owners have a priority, but I do have a problem with any non-owner receiving an Ocean View while I, a Premier Plus MVC Owner who is paying yearly maintenance fees and a Platinum Premier MR Member, is looking out at a "court yard." I especially get peeved when I'm having a conversation in the pool where a non MVC owner is telling us about the great Ocean Front villa she's in and that she has to leave soon to attend a sales presentation.
As I've stated elsewhere in this thread, I have never been a week's owner and have enjoyed the flexibility the Destination program provides us. However, when I try 13 months in advance to reserve a week during the July 4th celebration and there is nothing available in any HHI MVC property, that's very upsetting to me and my family. Thanks again for your post and happy traveling.
You should rightly be upset when you have invested the amount of money that you have in a program that isn't giving you the results you expect. Without question, I feel your post regarding the 'change' in availability after investing to become a Premier member is right on target. There is something amiss with the results you are now getting.
Sadly the answer to this question is quite simple; Marriott was looking to bring in new revenue.
It is expensive to build properties in the locations people want to travel. Also, the travel and vacation industry took a huge down turn when the economy tanked in 2008. People were not doing the type of broad travel that they were. Stay-cations were common and local vacation spots that people could drive to were more utilized. (as a point of reference: I actually did a research paper on this for one of my college classes)
In my opinion:
To expand without building, Marriott went to this program.
It would address the unsold inventory at properties that were already built, bring in higher revenue sales and allow to increase the owners fees per overall unit.
We own both weeks and the Destination Club points. If you compare the cost of what it would be to in Destination Club points to get the same week as a week owned, the cost for owner's fees is about 25% higher (roughly) and the cost for purchase is significantly higher (sorry I don't know the percentage at the moment).
Please note, none of this information came from Marriott. I did my research using what we own, what I did for school and the actual costs we see for being owners.
We also own with Starwood at one of the Westin properties. I will say with out any hesitation, that program does not have the same issues that Marriott has brought in. We always get a reservation at were we want to go, (especially our property), there is no "breakage" on points (we get the same number of points for our unit as it takes to stay at our unit in the same time period or somewhere else), but the maintenance fees are higher.
However, the higher maintenance fees could be because it is a Westin. I have not had reason to research the Starwood program in such depth as I have the Marriott program.
Overall, we have been loyal to the Marriott timeshare program as owners. But we see so many problems with this new program and don't see them being addressed by Marriott. In fact, when we went to a presentation last week in Ft. Lauderdale, we were told that 94% of owners are extremely satisfied with the new program.
We were told this by a senior sales person that was dedicated to working with Premier Plus owners only. We listened to her explanations and did try the suggestions she had. We did not have any positive results. Her biggest suggestion was to call the dedicated Premier Plus owners desk phone number.
I am sure we will stay owners. We love our weeks where we own and when we own. So, worst case that is what we will do. But the whole premise of the time sharing that we bought has been degraded and undermined: in our opinion.
So, capitalraider, when you get back from your sales presentation, it will be nice to see what new information you bring.
Been a MVCI owner for about 15 years. Our family has created some great vacation experiences using both legacy weeks and trust point reservations. Our kids are spoiled staying in these wonderful timeshare properties.
We joined the points system when it was introduced back in 2010. Its been a great enhancement to our ownership. We use the trust points to add flexibility to our vacations. We use our legacy weeks just like always and only convert when we want to go outside our deeded season and property. We have also saved a boatload of fees by joining the DC and not having to pay a-la-cart exchange fees to interval international.
The Marriott program has been very cost effective for the way we travel. The program is also a lot less of an investment than a second vacation property for the size of our family and lifestyle.
As an owner for 20 years, I agree with the posts by those that have been objective, such a SuperChief. If you have reasonable expectations then you will do well whether you are using DC or deeded weeks. Over the past two decades we have had some marvelous family trips and wouldn't trade the memories for anything. And as others have said, never rely on what a salesperson told you. Even if you record the conversation, the worst that would happen is the associate would be terminated and you still don't get the benefit that was promised by them.
My only disappointment (if you can call it that) came three years ago when in the deepest throes of the recession I bought a week in St Thomas from a very distressed seller (I paid < $3k for the week) and found out from Marriott that I couldn't buy into the DC program because I purchased the unit directly from a third party. Although we can trade it through the normal channels, my wife and I go through the annual drudgery of having to occupy the week.