During our recent vacation at Canyon Villas, we enjoyed several meals at the restaurants at the JW and at the Canyon Villas Grill. All offered outdoor dining for which the weather was perfect.
The highlight of our stay was dinner at the Tuscany at the JW. We used a Dinner for 2 certificate (old one which included appetizer and salad) for an outstanding meal. The beet salad was very creative and flavorful. We ordered veal ravioli as an appetizer and it was exceptional. I would not recommend the calamari and sausage appetizer, which was rubbery and the flavors were too contrasting. While my filet was very good, my wife's halibut was even better. Meals came with small sides of potato/pasta, and vegetables. The restaurant also offers tasting menus starting at $40 per person. The dinner for 2 certificate was well worth using because our meal would have been at least $150.
We enjoyed two dinners at the Meritage steak house near the golf course. They offered $29 sundown specials until 6:30pm, which included a limited choice of salad, entree, and dessert. This was an excellent value because their menu is otherwise a la carte and overly priced. The salads were good, but basic. The salmon and prime rib were excellent, as well as the included side dishes. Our service was excellent on both dining occasions. Although the wine prices were exhorbitant ($10 per glass/ 56 per bottle for Rosenblum zinfandel available for $13 per bottle at the nearby Total Wine), they did provide a good pour per glass. Be aware that everything is extra on their normal menu. Without the special, there are much better dining options available in the area for better value, including several restaurants at Desert Ridge mall.
We were pleasantly surprised by the food at the Canyon Villas grill. They offer an excellent Mahi Mahi sandwich for $12, which includes a fresh fruit salad or potato wedges. Hamburgers and club wraps were $9-10 and were very good. There is a happy hour every night with discounted beer and drink prices, but it closes at 8pm.
Since we enjoy wine with dinner and do not like paying the ridiculous prices for wine at restaurants, the Total Wine at Desrt Ridge is a greatly appreciated source for great selection and prices. The California Pizza Kitchen in Desert Ridge was convenient for carry-out.
Great review, Superchief. The fall is very mild in Arizona and ideal for dining alfresco.
Do you recall if you received a Guest Privileges Card at check-in? At Desert Springs, the card entitled guests to 10% off dining and spa at the JW Desert Springs in addition to selected restaurants participating in the offer. This provided added-value.
Also, do you recall receiving a courtesy call from Pre-Arrival Services the week prior to arrival? Typically, this is reserved for owners staying at their home resort, but I hear anecdotally that some resorts are extending the courtesy to multiple week owners as well.
Lastly, did you attend a preview tour? If you did, I'm interested in your impressions, particularly the mention or lack of regarding the MVC Resale Program.
Thank you for your comments. We are EOY owners at Canyon Villas, but were not using our owned week. In response to your questions:
We did receive a pre-arrival phone call from Abby, who provided very useful information and made reservations for us for two dinners at the hotel. Although she offered to schedule a sales tour, she did not push the issue. She also made a follow-up phone call the second day of our visit to offer additional help. The on-site concierge was Sharon, who was also extremely helpful. We were not offered any 10% discount cards for food or services at the hotel. My platinum membership gave me free access to the spa facilities and health club, which we used on a daily basis.
The concierge at the JW informed me of the sundown dining discount at the Meritage steak house. She was also exceptional. We chose not to participate in a sales tour on this visit because we only stayed six nights (with an additional two nights in Flagstaff). I was also afraid I might be tempted to buy another week and I already own more weeks than I have vacation time. I spoke to other owners during my visit, and nobody mentioned anything about resales or a new internal points system. Overall, it was a wonderful stay, and I highly recommend the facilities.
Interesting you mention an 'internal points system,' (I didn't ask) Marriott has already rolled out another 'usage option' limited to Asia Pacific owners. From what I hear, it's called the Asia Pacific Club and includes owners of MVC resorts in Phuket, Hawaii and Las Vegas who also reside in the Asia Pacific. Another Insider wrote a post about this. One family member owns at Grande Chateau and received information about the Asia Pacific Club, but MVC Owner Services in the US are not yet trained to answer questions about the new usage option. Go figure.
My focal point is the success rate of the MVC Resale Program. There's a lot of information floating around with the potential for misinformation. Several owners met while in Orlando are very discouraged about the reduced value of trading their week for MR points. Due to the economy, they do not have the interest or resources to stay at their home resort every year or exchange far away from home.
Short getaways and road trips using points works for them. They feel shortchanged by the increased number of points required to redeem hotel awards. Compelled to sell their weeks the inventory is so high at MVC Resales, there is huge backlog. It's difficult to get listed, so they are forced to sell privately w/o the incentive to offer a buyer MR points.
Judging from the classified listings that are surfacing all over the net, there are many MVC weeks available. Increased supply reduces the value of vacation ownership with Marriott. Left to sell on their own, MVC owners perceive a breach of trust. That's not good for the MVC brand.
Being an optimist, let's hope that MVC management will step up and innovate starting with increased MR points or MVC owner PointSavers.
I definitely share the frustration of other MVC owners regarding Marriott's devaluation of MR points, without adjusting the points we receive for our timeshare weeks. I have owned for several years at Royal Palms, and have kept my week primarily for the points. I would never have purchased my fifth MVC week last year at Oceana Palms had I known my points would be worth only about one week at Courtyards. I don't want to sell in this devalued market, so I will likely have to settle for the 110,000 points this year, while Marriott charges its valued customers 250,000 points to stay in my unit. Something needs to be done soon or Marriott will lose its greatest asset, loyal customers. I would not recommend MVC ownership to anyone at this time.
I think the point devaluation may have impacted Royal Palms resales more than most other resorts. Many original owners (like myself) kept this resort primarily for point redemption, since I can redeem for 110,000 points every year. Without this option, I would have sold this resort when I purchased new ones in places that I plan to vacation on a more frequent basis. This was a win/win for Marriott, since this provided more villas for rental to hotel conventioneers. Have you seen a similar impact for Imperial Palms? I hope Marriott takes action soon, or they will lose their timeshare referrals.