So, as I am wont to do, I appear to have thrown myself wholeheartedly into the MR program. I have two main reasons for this - one, my better half just got picked up with the FAA and that means Marriott stays are in our future. Two, the vacation package redemptions that include airline miles are a great value for us. When I started doing my in-depth research, I discovered that some level of ownership allows those redemptions with 5 night stays instead of the normal 7, which is far more optimal for our typical leisure stays. I'm not unfamiliar with timeshares - I once had a UDI property that I like to believe I made worth my while - but I am wholly unfamiliar with Marriott's offerings.
So, the actual questions, most of which will likely be answered in this first one:
Where do I find the most concise informational package about how to make the vacation club work for me?
The individual questions I'm looking to answer are:
What level of ownership is required in order to redeem 5 night vacation package awards instead of 7 night?
Are weekly ownership packages still available? It appears that direct purchase weeks is over, but can older weekly ownerships be transferred or are they converted to points based ownership?
Can points be redeemed night by night, or is there a minimum stay requirement? I rarely if ever manage to stay somewhere for 7 nights, but the program would be infinitely more valuable to me if I could book multiple two night reservations throughout the year.
What options are available to owners to deposit weeks or points into 'trading' systems?
Related to booking transferability, are booked weeks allowed to be sold? How about 'given away' as either a donation (like to an organization seeking prizes for an auction) or a 'free gift with purchase'?
I assume most of those could be answered with one great resource, but the last few questions are more for the community at large:
Are there any particularly good values - in terms of maintenance fees, I imagine - for someone who 'just wants in'?
What have you experienced in terms of short notice availability? I am usually hugely flexible, either with dates or location, but only have one or two trips a year that are planned more than six months in advance.
Are there any 'hidden' costs that dramatically increase the cost of ownership over the normal maintenance fees and dues?
Sorry to ask so much when I'm so new around here! Really, point me towards some great resources and I'll try to track down the answers for myself. Thanks so much!
I own a couple of weeks with Marriott Vacation Club and am very happy with my ownership. Your absolute best bet to educate yourself before jumping in is to visit the following website: TUG2.net (timeshare users group). This is a free site for visitors and is run by timeshare owners who are true experts. You can go into and browse the Marriott specific owners site and most all of your questions can be answered by Marriott owners. If, after you have browsed and become knowledgeable on at least the basics, you can post questions for that group. It will cost you a fortune to buy points directly from the developer but there are resale weeks/points combinations they can offer and you can buy resale from an individual. You have a lot to learn before deciding what will work best so do yourself a favor and visit the TUG site - promise you will not be sorry!
I agree that you can learn a lot TUG. I made my initial MVC purchases before I knew about TUG. When I first purchased MVC I purchased weeks (2 weeks at Canyon Villas, 1 week at Newport and 1 week at Grand Chateau) When they made the switch to points I immediately enrolled my weeks so that I could turn them into VC points. No more "nickel and diming" with all the misc. fees. Also, I was now able to reserve any combination of nights that I wanted, 1 day and up with reservation date any day of the week. (as flexible as a hotel room). I have since purchased 2,500 VC points which makes me Premier Plus. The biggest benefit to me with MVC is that I can turn my weeks (and VC points) into Marriott Reward points. Because my wife and I are both still working we like to take 3 & 4 days weekends using Marriott hotels. In my mind the last great value at Marriott Rewards is the Travel Package which gets you a 7 night hotel package (5 nights is available if you are an MVC owner) with various amounts of airline points to a large selection of airlines. When you use Travel Package the MR points transfer to the airline 1:1, a tremendous value. If you fly Southwest and transfer at least 110,000 points from a TP, you can get a free companion pass for a year! (Actually the balance of the year you are in, PLUS the following full year.)
Before you make any MVC purchase make sure you have a Marriott Visa Signature card in your wallet. Charge your purchase to the Visa card (And pay it off immediately) and start racking up Marriott Reward points.
I used to dread the annual January payment of all my maintenance fees, now I just recognize the maintenance fees as prepaying my vacation stays for the coming year. Count me as a happy MVC owner.
glygrl - You've received a couple of replies, but here's what I've learned regarding MVC:
1. If you try to book nights at a particular MVC villa in excess of 10 months in advance, the minimum the system will allow you to book is 7 nights. If you do this and want to reduce the number of nights stay later, you can do this. * Also, if you don't mind going to certain places - such as the beach - in the "off season", you can get some really good rates. i.e., we just booked five nights at the Hilton Head Harbour Club, third week in January, for a total of 250 points!
2. If you book a reservation at a particular site the system will allow you to change this, and redeposit your points, provided you do this within 61 days of your planned reservation. If you don't, you will be penalized, up to the point of forfeiting your reward points with last-minute cancellations.
3. I might be wrong, but I believe it's advisable to call to cancel a reservation; I do this anyway to insure that I'm not losing anything and to obtain a cancellation reference number.
4. If you're booking a reservation at a beach resort, the system gives you the options of "beach front", "beach view", "garden view", but just because you list this as a preference, they don't always give you this when you arrive to check in at the resort; I've learned that the higher you are up in the "pecking order" (number of points, weeks, you own), they tend to grant your requests more frequently. Some of the MVC staff, representatives, will deny this, but it's happened to us!
5. When we arrive at our destination, the front desk won't usually allow you to check in before 3:00-4:00, even though you might request an "early check-in"; however, if you sign up around 9:00 AM on day of your check in, and provide your cell phone number, they will call you to come pick up your room package, and this might save you some time actually getting into your villa.
6. You can "bank" your points in a given year (not necessarily "calendar year", but the date in which you became an owner) into the next "contract year", provided you contact MVC (I do this via phone call) six months in advance. Failure to do this will result in your loosing un-used points in your "contract year". You perhaps know that you can also borrow nights from the next "contract year" to utilize them more immediately.
7. Assuming you're a Marriott Rewards member - nothing to do with MVC - you will be awarded nights stays at MVC villas; however, you do not receive any MR points for this. The reverse of this is you can use your earned, MR reward points to pay for MVC villa stays.
8. When you try to book your MVC in advance and you receive a "No Availability" response, and then you go to the Marriott website and look up the same place, you'll find you can make a reservation here for MR points,or $ purchase. Marriott is like the airlines; they often treat "revenue nights" with higher preference than "membership owners" - it's called "economics"!
9. Regarding "maintenance fees", you can't get out of these, but you can sign up for electronic payments, and you can charge these to your Marriott Credit Card account, which nets you additional MR points. Failure to pay your maintenance fees on time could result in a cancellation at your booked vacation villa, so check your account frequently! I'm sure you realize that the more MVC points you own, the higher the "maintenance fees" you incur.
Hope this is helpful. There are probably others who might want to amend, or correct, this information.
* Added note: I travel frequently in my business and generally stay at Marriott hotels; I even try to book my MVC stays in conjunction with business trips so I can write off the travel expenses. With accumulated MR points, my wife and I had to rationalize why the MVC enrollment would be of any benefit, and after a year of study, we decided to go ahead and purchase points, particularly with the view of being able to take family and friends with us to a two-bedroom villa. This scenario, rather than just the two of us staying in a villa, makes for better economic sense. Also, since the MVC is designated "deeded property", we can leave this to our children to use when we've departed this life, and they can "camp onto" our plan and purchase additional points for their own use, if they prefer.
* One caution: When you book a MVC reservation, expect to be contacted by the sales department to schedule a 90-minute "tour" (they say it's to bring you up to date on MVC properties and amenities; however, it's to encourage you to buy more points!)
Regarding the "One caution" above. Without a doubt, you will be asked to attend a sales presentation. However, you can always say no and that will be it. On the flip side, I find it an easy way to grab 10 - 20K MR points and maybe learn something new. My wife and I will always attend the sales presentations and have always found the sales people to be friendly and informative.
For what it's worth, I will give my two cents..
I am a Marriott Platinum member and purchased a time share last year at the Marriott Ocean Club in Aruba. However, I did not purchase this directly from Marriott. We did sit through the presentation and we love Aruba so I thought I would check some sites to see if I could find a timeshare on the aftermarket. We did and it cost almost nothing so the only real expense is the maintenance fees and it is well worth it.
The only negative about buying on the aftermarket is we are not enrolled in the Marriott Vacation Club point system but to be honest, during the presentation I reviewed the whole point system and I just do not see the value in it. It is unbelievable to me that if for example you exchanged your week for points, the points they give you would not be enough to purchase a week at the same exact resort and the points would not be enough to purchase the same type of room at almost any other resort in beach area. In fact, it would take exchanging two weeks just to get one week at a comparable resort.
I would not buy into the point system but would purchase a week at a resort that you know you love and want to return too. You can still exchange it using one of the other timeshare web sites if you find you want to go somewhere else for a week. We happen to love Aruba and we go on vacation a couple of times a year so still get to experience other resort areas. If you were going to do this, no offense to Marriott, I would look in the resale market ( i.e Redweek web site) before purchasing directly from Marriott.
You can add my 2 cents as I agree and did the same except that ours is at the Aruba Surf Club. We also purchased aftermarket.
I am still not convinced that it is worth it. Between the maintenance, tidy service, Interval International, and lock off fees, sometimes it seems like it would have been cheaper to just book a room through Marriott.
That being said, we have thoroughly enjoyed our week. Since we have the lock-off option we have enjoyed 2 weeks worth of vacation yearly for our one unit. That is how we get our best bang for our buck.
I too do not see the value in the points.
The decision to purchase vacation club points can be complicated. The only way to determine if vacation club ownership represents a good value is to perform a financial analysis. This requires comparing costs associated with vacation club ownership with the costs of the alternative - paying retail costs for lodging fees. Before I purchased vacation club points, I created a spreadsheet to determine if there was a financial benefit associated with vacation club ownership. The spreadsheet was so helpful that I decided to create an application so that I could analyze future vacation club purchases. This application is called PointsCruncher and is located here: http://pointscruncher.com. I hope it helps make vacation club ownership decisions a bit easier.