Above: Marriott Vacation Club Destinations map highlighting the Explorer Collection, all-inclusive 9-15 day package vacations.
After hammering away and learning about all the reasons why not to elect Marriott Vacation Points, along comes a positive - hallelujah! For multiple-week timeshare owners with Marriott Vacation Club, the new Vacation Destinations Club option, Explorer Collection features some all-inclusive package vacations.
A New York State resident, Lifetime Platinum Elite member and friend who owns 5 MVC weeks has figured out that he and his wife can enjoy Ireland* on an all-inclusive 10-day vacation package including airfare, ground transportation, hotel accomodations, food and sightseeing with Marriott's Vacation Destinations. He can achieve this by enrolling his 5 weeks for $695 - a one time fee - and then electing Vacation Points in the year he wants to travel.
He asserts that he does not have to buy any Vacation Points at $9.20 per point plus $.40 additional for annual maintenance fees/year. But, can accrue the Vacation Points needed by electing to exchange his weeks for Vacation Points. Any tradeoff in nights, in his view, is offset by the value of the airfare, transportation, sightseeing and food that is included. If the vacation packages he and his wife want to use require more Vacation Points than a year's worth of 5 MVC weeks will garner, he can use/borrow a week or more from a subsequent year.
Unlike Marriott Rewards points that do not expire, Marriott Vacation Points expire 2 years from date of election to use them. In the Ireland scenario, the all inclusive for 2 people is 6,000 Vacation Points. By enrolling all 5 weeks for $695, Marriott gives 800 bonus points. He'll use that towards Ireland and exchange 2 MVC weeks for Vacation Points to get the 5,200 balance needed.
The major concern about these escorted package tours is that Marriott acts as travel agent and contracts 3rd party vendors to deliver. The vendors in turn book the reservations, so ownership of the experience and accountability for guest satisfaction relies upon factors outside of well-known Marriott brand standards.
For Marriott Rewards Elite, although some accomodations may be provided by a Marriott property, the guest will not receive Elite Night Credit because the reservation is booked under a 3rd party. It is not entirely clear if Marriott Rewards members will receive points for any revenue spent for services rendered during their stay in a Marriott hotel such as spa, dining or activities. As shown below, the all-inclusive does not include all meals. It is also not clear if Elite members will receive any benefits. For example, Welcome Gift, Free Internet, Complimentary Upgrade and so on.
Can anyone familiar with the program speak to the concerns mentioned?
* Shades of Ireland, Marriott's Explorer Collection, Marriott Vacation Club Destinations
Highlights: Dublin, Irish Evening, Kilkenny, Waterford Crystal, Blarney Castle, Jaunting Car Ride*, Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Farm Visit, Limerick, Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Castle Stay.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
The Emerald Isle, a land renowned for its “forty shades of green” is filled with rolling hills, warm people, stately castles and rollicking fun. Visit Dublin, Waterford, Killarney and Limerick as this comprehensive tour introduces Ireland's natural beauty, rich history and hospitable culture.
Day 2: Dublin–Tour Begins
Your tour begins in Dublin. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at a fun-filled Irish evening complete with traditional entertainment. Today dinner will be included.
Day 3: Dublin
Today, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Dublin, the “Fair City.” Visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, O’Connell Street, Grafton Street, Phoenix Park and see the city's magnificent rows of stately Georgian town homes. The remainder of the day is at leisure to relax or explore the cultural offerings of delightful Dublin on your own. Today breakfast will be included.
Day 4: Dublin–Kilkenny–Waterford
This morning you travel to Kilkenny, one of Ireland’s most colorful cities, for the chance to explore this medieval gem. Later today you will visit the world-famous Waterford Crystal facility. Take a tour to learn how these exquisite treasures are crafted and marvel at the impressive collection of crystal in their glittering showroom. Arrive in the historic city of Waterford and enjoy a leisurely-paced walking tour. Today breakfast and dinner will be included.
Day 5: Waterford–Blarney Stone–Killarney
Journey to historic Blarney Castle where you can take the opportunity to kiss the famous Blarney Stone. Legend has it that those who kiss the stone are bestowed with the gift of eloquence. In Killarney you will be treated to a time-honored Irish jaunting car ride*. A tour of Muckross House and Gardens offers a glimpse into the elegant lifestyle of the Victorian gentry. Explore some of the perfectly restored rooms of this magnificent mansion or stroll in one of the many gardens, spectacularly adorned with blooms. Today breakfast and dinner will be included.
Day 6: Killarney–Ring of Kerry–Killarney
Travel along one of the most beautiful coastal routes in the world, the Ring of Kerry.? At the Gap of Dunloe, shop for traditional Irish goods handcrafted by local artisans. Enjoy spectacular ocean scenery as you pass through picturesque villages. Continue on through rugged mountain passes into “Ladies View” where you will see breathtaking views of the Lakes of Killarney. Tonight, use your leisure time to sample a true taste of Irish culture. Today breakfast will be included.
Day 7: Killarney–Limerick
Today, experience the customs and daily life of a traditional Irish family during a memorable visit to the Molanna Dairy Farm. Continue to Limerick where you will enjoy a city tour showcasing King John's Castle and the Treaty Stone while learning about the fascinating history of the "city of the violated treaty." Today breakfast will be included.
Day 8: Limerick–Cliffs of Moher–Galway–Limerick
A most interesting day is ahead of you. ?Journey to the stunning, 700-foot-high Cliffs of Moher for awe-inspiring views of the mighty Atlantic and the Aran Islands.? Then, travel through the vast limestone landscape of the Burren, known for its stark beauty and Neolithic tombs. Continue past scenic countryside into Galway, where a brief city tour introduces “The City of Tribes.” Today breakfast and dinner will be included.
Day 9: Limerick–Tullamore–Kingscourt
Today, travel across country on your journey to Tullamore where you will visit the Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre to learn how Irish whiskey is made and enjoy a tasting. Your day is then topped off with an overnight stay on the magnificent grounds of Cabra Castle, where you toast the end of a fabulous trip during your farewell dinner. Today breakfast and dinner will be included.
Day 10: Kingscourt–Tour Ends
Your tour ends in Kingscourt. Today breakfast will be included.
Interesting strategy, and one I was looking at also. I ponied up the $695 for our two weeks. . .I think the cost will be offset by the 800 points alone (or close) plus I like having the fourth option to use on things like the Explorer Collection as well as cruise and other city options.
I do remain astounded that despite all of the negative reaction, Mr. Marriott has yet to answer anyone over on his blog. The folks at Marriott need to mount an offensive talking about all the positives involved here. Every day they wait, the old VC owners grow more unhappy.
"I ponied up the $695 for our two weeks. . .I think the cost will be offset by the 800 points alone (or close) plus I like having the fourth option to use on things like the Explorer Collection as well as cruise and other city options."
According to Owner Services, the 800 vacation points offer to enroll MVC legacy weeks at $595 for a single week or $695 for multiple weeks is valid until 12/31/2010. Owner Services also volunteered that once an owner enrolls, MVC opens a new Interval International account. The $165 annual fee for the 4th option covers the transaction fees for exchanging as MVC will facilitate through II. If an owner wishes to enjoy II extras like ShortStay Exchange, then the owner must maintain II membership at the Gold level ($59/year) in addition to member and transaction fees.
The Epic Packages DO NOT include airfare. Transfers are only included, if you purchase your airfare from the tour company,
To complete your vacation, we include roundtrip airport-to-hotel transfers when purchasing Collette airfare with your tour. If you have arranged for your own air, we are pleased to provide you the option of purchasing these transfers.
"The Epic Packages DO NOT include airfare. Transfers are only included"
Thanks for pointing that out. Apparently, my friend and his wife either misunderstood or were misinformed. They're going to double-check, but have already enrolled. Not sure if that's going to be a 'dealbreaker' or not.
Update: Friends did check and learned that they misunderstood. Airfare is not included, only transfers as pointed out. That's a dealbreaker for Shades of Ireland. However, they have a backup strategy to maximize use of their vacation points, so they are moving forward.