Maximize Timeshare Ownership
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Exchanging Marriott Points with Interval International: A Comparison between internal exchanges and external exchanges
In my previous post, I gave you an overview of a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare presentation that I attended at the Marriott Summit Watch.
The one piece of information that was completely overlooked was how Marriott Vacation Club points can be exchanged through Interval International.
Interval International is one of the two major exchange companies with RCI being the second.
Here is an overview of Interval International.
Interval International allows owners of affiliated resorts to exchange through their program into other weeks. They do have something called "short stay" exchanges that are less than a week but generally, are used for 1 week exchanges.
During the Marriott presentation, they did not discuss the ability to exchange into Interval International since they indicated that most owners prefer Marriott properties and prefer to exchange internally.
This is a tremendous oversight as exchanging through Interval International can give you an excellent way to maximize ownership.
As you may recall, Marriott offered me a 4,000 point package for over $40,000. Here is a chart showing the amount of points required to exchange through Interval International.
On the far left side is the demand for the particular week. Marriott uses "Peak", "High", "Medium" and "Low".
The importance of the chart above is basically to understand the minimal amount of points required to stay in the various size units. I find that most resorts and time periods that I want to travel and most people would want to travel is the top tier level - "Peak".
I generally ignore the other levels.
For example, for the 4,000 point Marriott Vacation Club package that was offered to me, I COULD NEVER exchange those points for a 2 bedroom unit during peak time through Interval International. This is extremely relevant to any purchase decision as this will significantly impair your travel options.
Many very nice properties ONLY have 2-bedroom units so you can NEVER travel to those properties during peak times.
Marriott Vacation Club
One reason that Marriott likely does not discuss the Interval International exchange options is that they require a lot of points to be able to exchange for one week. Even if the package they offered me was for 4,500 points, in exchange for over $40,000, I would be able to receive 1 week in a 2 bedroom unit through Interval International in addition to the exchange fee of $179 per week.
Comparison to Internal Trades
Each Marriott Vacation Club property has different point requirement for each week. If I purchased 4,000 points, I would be able to use those points for various resorts.
For example, here is the 2018 chart for Marriott Summit Watch.
As you can see, the point requirements vary significantly but if I used my points for Christmas week, it would cost me 3,175 points.
As you can see, if I owned 4,000 points, I could NEVER stay at the Marriott Summit Watch during Christmas for anything greater than a studio unit. A 1 bedroom would cost 4,450 points and a two bedroom would cost 6,725.
Comparison to using Interval International
Using the same comparison above, if I wanted to exchange my points through Interval International, I could reserve the same Christmas week at the Marriott Summit Watch for only 2,250 points - a savings of 29.1%.
Additionally, by exchanging through Interval International, I now have enough points to reserve 1 bedroom unit during peak times whereas I would not have enough points to reserve the same weeks through Marriott's internal exchanges. (3,000 points through Interval International as opposed to 4,450 through Marriott's internal program)
This example above is only one example of why exchanging through Interval International is an important aspect of any timeshare ownership. I can use almost 30% less points simply by exchanging through Interval International instead of reserving directly through Marriott Vacation Club's internal program.
*A caveat to this example is that inventory is different for the internal and exchange exchanges. If you can reserve something using their internal exchange, it does not mean that it will be available in the external exchange. Most of the time, Interval International makes sense from exchanging from one brand to another. For example, I routinely use my Hyatt week to exchange into Marriott properties. Interval International restricts my ability to reserve Hyatt properties through Interval International in order to avoid this type of arbitrage above.
I expect that this is one reason that Marriott does not want to discuss this portion of their program. I expect that the other reason that Marriott does not want to discuss this portion of their program is that through Interval International, you can exchange into other brands of timeshares and they likely want to keep you vacation dollars within the Marriott portfolio.
By exchanging through Interval International, you can exchange into many highly desirable Hyatt properties including great properties in Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Lake Tahoe as well as other highly desirable ski properties as well as beach and urban properties as well.
The example above is just one of thousands of examples of why exchanging through Interval International can make a lot of sense. The exchange chart for Marriott Vacation Club points is not as appealing as other timeshare brand charts but in certain circumstances, exchanging your points may save you points that can be used for more vacations and is a great way to maximize ownership.
Overall, I think it is a shame that they do not discuss this option. It is one of the easiest ways to maximize timeshare ownership.
As I stated, I'm sure that the reason for this is to avoid owners from spending their vacation dollars at resorts out of the Marriott family, but external exchanging and the potential value that it can bring is an important consideration to review before any purchase.
As you probably know, I am a big fan of Park City, Utah. There are many reasons for this.
The first reason is that it is a simple 30 minute drive from Salt Lake City airport (SLC) that is all on highways. Even in a snow storm, the ride is fairly easy.
The second reason is that the skiing is fantastic. The weather is usually quite pleasant with beautiful sunny days. It makes skiing a pleasure as opposed to the east coast skiing that I grew up with where temperatures could easily be in the single digits and icy. In addition, Park City and the Canyons recently merged so it is the largest ski area in the United States. There is ample choices for all ski levels. There is also plenty of other ski resorts in the vicinity in case you get bored with Park City.
The third reason is that there are plenty of great timeshares. I rarely have a problem getting a great ski week at many of the top rated timeshare resorts.
Marriott Summit Watch
As I have written about before, my family and I stayed at the Marriott Summit Watch resort the week before Christmas. The snow conditions were a little weak this season but the resort is stellar.
In my previous post, I compared some of the perks of the resorts as compared to many of our recent hotel stays. In this post, I wanted to give a more detailed review of the resort as compared to some of the other properties that I have visited in Park City, Utah.
Since I travel to Park City a decent amount, I have had the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt Centric Park City (technically a fractional ownership property), the Westgate Park City , the Marriott Summit Watch and the Hyatt Place (hotel). The two other timeshares that I want to visit but I have not had the opportunity to visit is the Marriott Mountainside and the Hilton Sunrise Resort.
The Marriott Summit Watch is located directly on Main Street. The benefits to this location is that there are tons of restaurants and bars within seconds of the resort. There are a few very good restaurants literally right outside the front doors.
The resort is a one minute walk to Town Lift. While it is not a ski-in / ski-out property, it is a simple walk and as I mentioned in my other post, they have free ski storage right at the Town lift which makes it very convenient.
As I showed you in my other post, the studio units are quite nice. If you are accustomed to Marriott properties, this property is definitely on par with other high end Marriott properties.
The Marriott Summit Watch also has one bedroom and two bedroom units. I have stayed in a 2 bedroom unit at this resort in the past and it is very spacious with a large living room and kitchen facility. It is definitely big enough for a family of 4 to spread out comfortably and could easily accommodate 6 people.
The Marriott Summit Watch does a great job with various activities around the property. They constantly had plenty of free things going on and had many adult activities that were fun. I really enjoyed the constant offering of free wine and beer tastings. In case you missed it, here are a few photos of the various activities that were being offering during our stay.
The pool area at the Marriott Summit Watch is quite nice. They have an indoor outdoor pool that is heated. You can spend your time in the inside pool or you can swim under the divider and get to the outside pool. Despite it being less than 30 degrees outside, the pool was quite warm.
In addition to the pool, they have 4 hot tubs, one on the inside and three outside. The biggest hot tub can easily fit 15 people if not more. Overall, the pool facility is quite nice.
Kids Club / Activity Center:
The kids club / activity center is located in the pool complex. It is a ten step walk from the last building. The activity center has a lot of different options for both kids and adults. It is on the smaller side but they have video games, arts and crafts, chess, checkers, air hockey, and various board games. It is a well stocked area with plenty of things to keep you busy.
One downside to a lot of timeshare properties is the lack of food outlets. The Marriott Summit Watch does not have any food and beverage outlets on premises but there are tons of restaurants right out the front door. In addition, they have a marketplace where you can get some simple items such as beer, ice cream, coffee, drinks, and various other snacks. In addition, they do have tons of DVD's where you can rent them nightly for a nominal charge.
The Marriott Summit Watch is one of the nicer timeshare properties that I have stayed at. The location is stellar since it is so convenient to Main Street, restaurants and town lift. I also really enjoy being able to bring a car without a fee so you can explore other areas.
I really enjoyed our stay at the Marriott Summit Watch and would highly recommend this property. I did do a timeshare presentation here and will report on those findings soon.
Have you stayed at this property? What are your opinions?
Hotel Fees versus a stay at a Timeshare: A close look at various standard hotel fees as compared to the Marriott Summit Watch timeshare in Park City, Utah
If you are a regularly reader, you can probably see that we have done some extensive traveling this past year. I think that we easily traveled for at least 90 days this past year.
Traveling for 90 days is quite a lot of time and while I definitely love timeshares and highly prefer them as compared to hotels, we have utilized hotel points and frequent flyer miles to stay quite a bit in hotels this past year. In case you are interested, here a few posts concerning some of our recent travels.
While I still owe you a full review of the Marriott Summitt Watch resort in Park City, Utah, the stay was really fabulous. In my previous post, I showed you the details of our studio unit which was actually very comfortable even for a family of four.
One of the key reasons why the stay was so fabulous was the lack of being nickeled and dimed throughout our stay.
Since we have actually stayed a lot in hotels this past year, the constant extra fees, add ons, resort fees and ridiculous other charges that hotels now treat as customary, the Marriott Summitt Watch had very few, if any of these fees. In this post, I wanted to do a quick comparison on the various items that hotels routinely charge that the Marriott Summitt Watch did not.
I HATE RESORT FEES. It is such a ridiculous charge that these hotels now treat as mandatory that provides close to zero value. However, hotels have become fee happy and now charge these fees constantly. Unfortunately, these fees continue to expand as they have been reports of even "Urban Destination Fees" - RIDICULOUS!
In our most recent travels, the Marriott Los Suenos Resort in Costa Rica charged $32 per day for their resort fee even though we used points. Our "free" week ended up costing us over $200 simply for their ridiculous resort fee.
The Andaz Maui charges an obscene $40 per day resort fee. While they provide some "value", it is still a completely ridiculous fee especially considering rates were in excess of $1000 per night during our stay over Christmas.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch charged ZERO DOLLARS as their resort fee. A welcome alternative to the standard nickel and diming tactics of the hotels.
Having a car on vacation can be a necessity for some destinations. A car allows you to explore the surrounding area and not be held hostage for the resort restaurants. However, renting a car is expensive and parking your car now has become a tremendous added expense. In addition to resort fees, many hotels now routinely charge for parking even though they never had in the past.
For example, the Andaz Maui charges a hefty $35 per day for your car. This is in addition to their mandatory $40 resort fee. Not cheap.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
Despite being on Main Street where parking is tight, the Marriott Summitt Watch charges an impressive ZERO DOLLARS for parking if you are staying at the resort. They have an underground parking garage that is a pay to park facility but it is complimentary for guests. A very welcome perk for all guests - not just those with status as Hyatt now offers for their Globalist members.
While doing laundry on vacation is not something that you want to do, having access to facilities can be helpful especially for ski vacations as well as beach vacations where your cloths can get pretty disgusting. Most hotels provide laundry services where they charge exorbitant fees for laundry. Usually they charge per piece so doing laundry for a shirt, jeans and socks can easily cost over $20.
Even at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, they had a "special" where they would do a small bag of laundry for $25.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch has complimentary laundry facilities for use. While the laundry facilities were in a less than ideal location in their garage, it was completely free and they provided laundry detergent for free. Again, a nice perk.
A lot of ski-in / ski-out hotels will offer you ski storage. It is a nice option to be able to get off the mountain and have the hotel store your skis until the next day. However, most hotels will charge fees for this service. Some may include it in their resort fee but many charge an add-on fee for this service.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch is located a one minute walk to Town Lift. It is not technically a ski-in /ski-out property but it is close. They have made arrangements with a ski storage company to hold guests skis right at town lift. The cost - ZERO DOLLARS. Again, a very nice perk considering the ski storage place charges about $15 per day per ski set for this service for non-guests.
Resort activities can be a lot of fun and there are some great activities to keep kids and adults occupied. Unfortunately, a lot of these resort activities come with an extra charge. At the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo resort, my wife and I did the mixology class where it cost us about $50 per person for this despite the resort charging a 10% resort fee on top of whatever room rate you reserved.
The Andaz Maui had plenty of activities but most came with some extra fee despite charging guests their mandatory resort fee. Most hotels, even though they charge a resort fee, still find it ok to charge fees for resort activities.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch had tons of activities going on everyday. I was actually very surprised on the amount of activities that they had. They had wine tasting, beer tasting, excursions, kids arts and crafts activities, and various other things. Here are a few pictures of the daily activities.
As you can see, they had some decent activities going on every day. I did not mind the various nominal charges as these generally covered the cost of the materials. I think that those types of charges are actually reasonable.
Most hotels have lobby bars where you can grab a drink at your convenience. Drinks in nice hotels can cost quite a bit. During our stay at the Andaz Maui, the cocktails through the resort were $19 per cocktail! Quite pricey to say the least. Beers cost $10 per beer - completely ridiculous if you ask me. The other hotels were somewhat similar with cocktails generally costing somewhere between $12-19 dollars.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch did not have a food and beverage outlet on premises. They have a small market where you can get some essentials but almost every day from about 5-6 pm, they provided complimentary wine for their guests. You can drink as much as you want without a problem. In hotels, a glass of wine would easily cost $15 per glass. Again, a nice perk for all guests regardless of status!
I really enjoyed the Marriott Summitt Watch property. It has a prime location right on Main Street which is in walking distance to everything including the ski lift. Additionally, their rooms were quite comfortable. The biggest thing that stood out to me was the vast amount of items that were included in the stay as compared to the constant fee hungry hotels.
As a reminder, my total out of pocket cost for one week at this property (week before Christmas) was just over $400! Room rates at hotels throughout town were easily in excess of $400 per night.
Regardless of the cost, I get very annoyed at the constant efforts by hotels to get every dollar out of your wallet. Despite charging obscene resort fees, these fees still do not cover almost anything and they are constantly looking for new ways to charge you for something that was routinely part of your daily nightly charge.
Timeshares do have a bad reputation of charging a lot of fees, but I truly think that the tables have turned and hotels are much more to blame than timeshares. My stay at the Marriott Summit Watch really solidified this view.
What do you think of all of these fees? Did I miss anything that also annoys you??
As you probably know, I spent a week at the Marriott Summit Watch in Park City. It is a spectacular resort and we really enjoyed our time there.
A review of the resort will be posted soon.
You can see our room here.
You can read about why I really enjoyed this resort as compared to our recent hotel trips here.
In addition, it has been a while since I attended a Marriott timeshare presentation so I decided to do so again here. YOU ARE WELCOME!
They offered me a $150 Visa gift card or a $150 gift card to various restaurants around Park City or 15,000 Marriott Reward Points. I chose the Marriott Reward Points as I had an immediate need for these points for an upcoming stay.
While I did receive a gift, I went through this presentation solely for the benefit of my readers so you can get a better idea of what the process is and be more informed on these programs.
Even as The Timeshare Guru, I really do not enjoy these timeshare presentations. While most of the major timeshare brands (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc.) are fairly non-pressure, every time I attend one of these presentations, I know that this blog will be successful some day.
The reason is that the timeshare presentations make timeshares look great without going into the various issues that come with owning a timeshare. I love my timeshares and actually just completed a another purchase (stay tuned for that post), but I really despise how these presentations simply give you an overview of the system and make generalizations on how you can travel any time and at any resort.
While I get excellent value out of my timeshare, if you read this blog, you know that there are multiple strategies to use and even planning 1+ year in advance, you are not guaranteed your desired destination or desired resort. You can read about my timeshare "failure" here.
The Marriott timeshare presentation started like most others with a general discussion of your travel style, destinations and future desires. This process is meant to give the representative a better idea on what timeshare or what "package" to offer.
I tried to speed this process along and indicated that I was familiar with Marriotts and the program but wanted to see more details about how it worked.
Before we got there, the representative provided some details on the ownership structure of the program.
As you may know, Marriott Vacation Club previously sold weeks at various resorts. This is the standard timeshare product that most people know and one of reasons why timeshares have a bad reputation. You own a week at a particular resort and you can use that week each year.
As travel styles changed and people wanted more flexibility, Marriott Vacation Club moved to a points based system. Instead of purchasing weeks, Marriott Vacation Club now only sells points.
Despite only selling points, the legacy week program is still available through resale purchases.
In another post, I will go through the differences between the two.
As you can see in the chart above, Marriott Vacation Club has contributed properties to the land trust and they created a point system where you purchase a certain allotment of points and you can then exchange those points for nightly stays at resorts.
This is extremely similar to hotel loyalty points or frequent flyer points but instead of being given points for certain activities (flying, staying in hotels, shopping, etc.), you purchase points and use those points for various stays.
The Sales Tactic
The representative started discussing our travel plans and the amount of money that we spend on vacation. I indicated that we spent approximately $5,000 per year on vacations. It truthfully fluctuates greatly depending on how much or how little we travel but this seemed about right as an estimate.
Many times, we actually travel extensively for free or for as little as $400 per week through various credit card points, hotel points, frequent flyer miles and other travel tools. In case you missed it, this is a good overview of a recent trip and the various tools that I used.
The representative then created this chart.
As you can see, he estimates that we will spend $50,000 over the next 10 years and instead of receiving nothing after those ten years, after ten years you will have a deeded interest in "property" that can be sold, gifted, rented, or given to your heirs.
A particular quote that grabbed my attention was the phrase located on top of the white board:
"ALWAYS REMEMBER MORE POINTS MORE FUN!!"
Exchanging your Points
It is usually during this point in various timeshare presentations that gets me upset. You can definitely exchange your points into nightly or weekly stays in various resorts, but the presentations never seem to go into detail. They simply show you a few destinations that you are interested in and tell you the amount of points required.
I do not want to go through the entire Marriott Vacation Club program here but here is the overview of the program in case you wanted to learn more.
Generally, you purchase a certain allotment of points and you can use those points for stays at little as one night and up to as many nights as you want (subject to availability and amount of points you "own").
In this particular case, the representative showed us the website and he gave some specific examples of the amount of points required to travel.
The reason that I get upset at this point in most presentations is that, while they are not lying to you to on the amount of points required, they provide you no way to see specific inventory at the time of the presentation.
It is great if I can reserve a prime ski week in Park City for a few nights using my Marriott Vacation Club points, but they simply could not tell me if there was any availability. They indicated that they do not have an "owners" account in order to see real time inventory. They were not able to show me current inventory for this current season or for anytime.
To me, this is extremely frustrating in that they are essentially telling you that you can travel when and where you want but they leave out the tremendous issue of availability. Availability for prime resorts and prime weeks is scarce and you need to plan far in advance and be flexible in order to get that inventory.
I despise the fact that they "hide" this issue as it is a major downside for timeshares and a major issue on why timeshares have a bad reputation.
In regards to price, the first chart that they showed me was the following.
As you can see, when the points system was first introduced, they sold points at $9.20 per point in June of 2010. Today, they were offering points at $13.90. As you can see in bold, a 66% price increase to date.
In other words, BUY NOW BEFORE THE PRICE GOES UP FURTHER!
As we continued on through the presentation, they priced out a 4,000 point package. 4,000 points is not a lot of points and will significantly impact the weeks that you can travel and the destination. While they did not share the following chart with me, I think that is very helpful to see the various tiers and where 4,000 points fall on the spectrum.
As you can see, 4,000 points is one of the smaller packages. The representative then proceeded to create the following offer.
Here is a bit of math. 4,000 points at $13.90 per point equals $55,600. They generously (sarcasm) offer financing where you can put 10% down, pay a closing costs of $1252 which will create monthly payment of $520. As you can see, there is no mention of the interest rate offered. (I believe it is 18%).
Additionally, since I was a first timer (kind of - everyone gets this offer), I was given a choice on the various incentives. They would give me an additional 4,000 points for the first year or 300,000 Marriott Reward points AND an additional 2250 points.
If I had a Marriott Rewards Credit card and put the purchase on the card, I would receive an additional 288,000 Marriott Reward Points.
The Marriott Rewards Card provides 5 points per dollar spent on Marriott purchases so with the purchase price and closing costs, I would get this additional 288,000 Marriott Reward Points.
BUT, THATS NOT ALL.
Additionally, as a first time incentive, they are offering a 25% discount off the purchase price for a total purchase price of $41,680.
Another thing that I despise about timeshares is that you never really know the price. After some back and forth regarding the high price for this package, a new representative came in and explained a "new" program that was being offered.
This program (not sure how new this is) is where you purchase a standard week at various resorts under the legacy program AND, at the same time, you purchase Marriott Vacation Club points, which will convert the week that you bought into becoming eligible to exchange that weeks for points.
The legacy week program does not allow you to convert your week into points. They treat these two systems completely different. However, this program allows you to circumvent this rule and you receive a legacy week and points and you magically now have the option to convert your newly purchased legacy week into points.
This is a bit confusing so here is the chart that they provided.
If we take the first resort on the list, the Marriott Sabal Palm Pink.
They are selling this week for $4,600. This week is worth 2,050 points. This week has maintenance fees of $1,320. By purchasing this week and converting to points, your purchase price is $2.24.
$4,600 divided by 2,050 is $2.24 per points - a significant discount to the original selling price of $13.90 as stated above.
However, you NEED to purchase points in order to be able to convert this legacy week. You MUST purchase a minimum of 2,250 points.
2,250 typically cost $13.90 per point which equates to $31,275. By purchasing through this combined program, they offer a 20% discount on this side of the purchase so that your purchase price for 2,250 points is $25,020.
Therefore, by purchasing a legacy week and points together, the total purchase price is $29,620 (4,600 for the legacy week and $25,020 for the points).
By doing this together, you would have the ability to use 4,300 points for a total purchase price of $29,620.
As you recall, I was JUST offered the ability to purchase 4,000 points for $41,680.
Therefore, in a matter of minutes, I was given an additional discount of 28.9%.
I really do love my timeshares as they typically provide great accommodations that are spacious and luxurious. I get tremendous value out of owning timeshares and have had tons of affordable and luxurious vacations for a fraction of the cost.
As I mentioned, I routinely get prime ski weeks for about $400 for a week where most hotels are charging in excess of that amount for one night. I just received confirmation for a 1 bedroom unit at the Marriott Ocean Club for the week before Christmas in 2018. My out of pocket cost for this week is approximately $800 but rates easily exceed that amount PER NIGHT!
However, when I attend these presentations, it is so apparent on why they have awful reputations and most people think they are a scam.
As you can see in the above, the only time that maintenance fees were even discussed was when there was a line item on the spreadsheet. They simply did not disclose the amount of maintenance fees required for the point purchase. Maintenance fees are a tremendous expense and you need to be aware of them upfront!
Additionally, it was very difficult to access availability. While they easily can say that you can make great exchanges, I was unable to see real time inventory to actually see what is available. A beach vacation in the middle of winter is probably not ideal for most people even if it is available.
The other item that was overlooked was the ability to exchange through Interval International. To me (and most people), this is where timeshares shine and where you can get the most outsized value from owning. I inquired about the exchange rates for Interval International to determine the amount of points needed for weeks and the representative pretended not to know and actually got a manager to discuss.
They indicated that most owners prefer Marriott properties are rarely exchange through Interval International. As a result, they leave it out of their sales pitch. A TREMENDOUS OVERSIGHT. In another post, I will explain the potential reason that they do this and how these points actually exchange through Interval International
I do not own a Marriott week or Marriott points but actually stay in Marriott's more often than I stay in other brands of timeshares. The reason is that they are fantastic properties and I can generally get into most desirable properties that I want for a fraction of the retail cost AND the fraction of the amount of Marriott points required. Stay tuned for this!
However, a Marriott purchase will likely occur in the future and I will explain the strategy for this and what I may purchase.
Overall, the presentation was fairly low pressure and non-eventful. We were in and out within the 1 1/2 time allotted, I received 15,000 Marriott Reward Points for my time and got to get interesting information for my readers.
I am always disappointed by the lack of transparency in these presentations so I hope that this is helpful.
I think that there is value to creating this site and hope you feel that same way. Please support the site by sharing on social media and sharing with friends!
What has your experience been with timeshare presentations?
Marriott Elite Status: As a Marriott Elite Member, what perks will you receive at Marriott Vacation Club Properties?
While I generally prefer traveling in timeshares, I definitely stay at my fair share of hotels. When I stay at hotels, elite status can sometimes make or break the experience. There are definitely some real perks and incentives to obtain status on various hotel brands. In another post, I will show you how I am saving close to $200 per day by having status at a hotel.
In this post, I thought I would explore Marriott Elite Status and what to expect when checking-in to a Marriott Vacation Club Property as a Marriott Elite Member.
Before we get to answering that question, we should look at the Marriott Elite Membership and see what you would receive when staying at Marriott properties.
** As you may or may not know, Marriott and Starwood completed a merger in 2016. As of now, there two loyalty programs will remain separate through 2018. After that, the details are sparse but if I had to guess, I would assume that their loyalty programs will merge into one.
For now, Marriott Elite Rewards operates independently and there are 3 levels of membership: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver is the lowest tier and truthfully not even worth talking about. There are some minor perks but nothing much.
Gold and Platinum can have some worthwhile perks. The main way that hotel loyalty programs want you to earn status is through night stays with the hotel chain. However, there are a few easy wins to get Marriott Gold Status through credit card sign ups. You can get Marriott Gold Status through applying for the American Express Personal Platinum Card as well as the American Express Business Platinum Card as well as a few other meaningful perks.
If you want to support the site, please apply through my link here:
If you stay at Marriott properties at all, having status can be worthwhile especially if it comes for free through your credit card account.
I have held status on numerous different hotel chains. I have held top tier status on Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. The benefits of elite status are debatable but in some situations, I 100% agree that status can be worthwhile.
For the current Marriott program, there are few if any real benefits that differentiate between Marriott Gold and Platinum. I have held Marriott Gold Status for many years due to holding the American Express Business Platinum Card and think that it is a good perk of that card.
Having status can be beneficial and definitely encourage it if you know you will be staying at certain properties.
Marriott Gold Status:
Here are the general Marriott Gold Benefits:
Marriott Platinum Status:
Marriott Platinum Status gives the same list above as well as the additional perks:
Marriott Status at Marriott Vacation Club Properties:
The general perks outlined above have many exclusions based on the brand of the property. Each brand has its rules and exclusions. Here is the complete list of Marriott branded hotels:
The purpose of this post was to explore what types of perks you can expect when you have Marriott status at Marriott Vacation Club Properties.
Again, here is the complete list of perks that you would receive as either a Marriott Gold Member or a Marriott Platinum Member when staying at Marriott hotel properties:
Here is the complete list of perks that you would receive as either a Marriott Gold Member or a Marriott Platinum Member when staying at Marriott Vacation Club Properties:
AND THAT'S IT.
Basically, as a Marriott Gold or Platinum Member, you will receive 500 bonus points upon check-in and 10% discount on gift shop purchases.
You will not receive complimentary upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, early check-ins, food and beverage perks, or other types of "perks" that you may expect to receive at hotel properties.
As I stated at the beginning of the article, I really enjoy having hotel status at various hotel chains. The biggest perk for me is generally the free breakfast and occasional room upgrades. Depending on the resort, free breakfast is a very meaningful and appreciated perk.
As you can see, when I stay at hotel branded timeshare properties, you simply cannot expect to receive anything extra. Having hotel status at timeshare properties generally does not give you any additional benefits. I have never received an upgraded room at a timeshare property even though the timeshare property is close to empty.
Overall, timeshare properties operate very differently that their hotel counterparts. Many hotel branded timeshares will have the same luxuries of a hotel brand (soaps, bedding, furniture,decor, etc.) but will exclude many of those perks that you may expect from having elite status with a hotel.
Despite this, timeshares have their own perks that, in my opinion, far exceed the perks of having "status".
What has your experience been with checking-in to timeshare properties with elite status?
Timeshare ownership may not be for everyone but for many, owning a timeshare can open up new destinations and provide you with spacious accommodations for much less than the cost of renting hotels or even through Airbnb. There are so many negative views on timeshares that most people simply shut down the thought of ever buying one since their reputations are so horrendous.
Despite many issues, my view is that if you understand timeshares and understand how to maximize their use, they can be very worthwhile.
The older timeshare systems generally had people buying week intervals for use at that resort year after year. Over time, exchanging became popular where you could exchange that week into other weeks at other destinations. As the system progressed, many timeshares evolved into points based systems where owners purchase points or get allocated a certain amount of points based on their owned week which can be exchanged into a certain amount of nights stays at resorts.
Today, most timeshare systems have evolved into points based systems. Timeshare systems are actually quite familiar to hotel, airlines, or credit card loyalty programs. Instead of earning points through stays or credit card spent, you purchase your timeshare points or your timeshare week.
Once you have the points, you can use them in various different ways. Like loyalty programs, you can use them for top tier properties or spread out your points for staying at lower quality properties.
Unlike hotels, generally speaking, timeshare points systems do not vary based on the quality of the resort. Timeshares are not based into categories or tier levels but rather use seasons or time periods to change the amount of points necessary. For lower demand periods, less points are required whereas in high season, more points are required.
Hyatt Sweet Spots
In other posts, I explained some portion of the Hyatt system. While the Hyatt system is undergoing a switch to an all points system, their existing system for owners will remain in place. For the purpose of this post, I will discuss the current system.
Here is the exchange chart for Hyatt:
As you can see, the amount of points are based on the season, size of unit and amount of nights. The choices are 2, 3, 4 or 7 nights.
While this chart may be a little daunting, if you do some math you can see that there can be tremendous value in using points for 2 or 4 nights. These 2 or 4 nights stays are midweek stays so they must be either a Sunday and Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday night or a Thursday and Friday night. The 4-night stays are Sunday through Thursday or Monday through Friday.
For example, if we take a 1-bedroom week during Diamond season, it would cost 1,450 points per week. Per night, this is approximately 207 points. If you elect to use 2 nights during Diamond season, this would only cost you 145 points per night. If you elect to use 4 nights during Diamond seasons, this would also cost you 145 points per night. This results in a 30% discount on the amount of points – not too shabby.
Basically, if you owned a 1-bedroom week worth 1,450 points, you could either use it for a one week stay for all 1,450 points or you can use it for two 4-night packages and one 2 night package and receive a total of 10 nights instead of 7.
Hyatt Mountain Season
I have mentioned mountain season before but it should be mentioned again since it is such a tremendous deal. Mountain season is for the ski properties in Aspen, Avon, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Park City. Mountain season occurs during the absolute lowest time as it is between seasons but the amount of points to stay in these properties is absolutely miniscule. For an entire week in a 1 bedroom unit is only 130 points – about 18 points per night.
Therefore, if you owned the 1 bedroom above, you can literally stay in a 1 bedroom unit for 11 weeks for the same amount of points.
Here is a post on this subject for those of you interested.
Marriott Sweet Spots
Unlike Hyatt, Marriott has exchange charts for each individual resort. Instead of seasons, Marriott uses dates to determine the amount of points required. Unlike Hyatt, Marriott owners can reserve as little as one night.
For example, here is the chart on the Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club.
As you can see, the amount of points will be based on the time of travel, the size of unit, type of view (Island View, Mountain Garden, Ocean View or Ocean Front) and the day of the week.
For example, if you have a one-bedroom island view unit for August 25 to November 15, it would require you to use 2,525 for a week. This would be about 360 points per night. Instead of using a week, during the same time frame you could reserve four nights (Sunday through Thursday) and only use 325 points per night – a savings of about 10% per night.
Since each property has its own exchange chart, you need to dig through to see the various potential savings. The key is that most mid-week stays (Sunday through Thursday) are significantly cheaper in points requirements that staying a full week or during the weekend.
Here is the link to the Marriott Vacation Club charts.
Timeshare and Points Strategy
As I have mentioned before, I am an avid fan of travel points and have tons of frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points and exchange credit card points. For those of you that are familiar with this, you realize that there is a tremendous value in obtaining these types of points and determining how to maximize their use.
Like these types of loyalty points, timeshare points systems are similar in that there are ways to maximize them if you understand the exchange charts. As shown above, some of the easiest ways to maximize timeshare points is to use points during mid-week stays (Sunday through Thursday).
Depending on the program and depending on the resort, traveling on these times can produce a significant savings on points and can turn your one week of timeshare ownership into multiple weeks of travel.
Like most people, I am sure that you are thinking that while it may be cheaper, no one travels mid-week as most people would want to take advantage of two weekends so that they only have to use 5 days of vacation for a 9-day trip.
The way that I use a lot of my timeshare points is to book them for a 4-night stay and use my hotel loyalty points for the weekend portions. Most hotel loyalty programs do not change the points requirements for staying over a weekend as opposed to staying on a Monday night.
Therefore, in order to maximize both types of programs, I use my hotel points for weekend travel and my timeshare points for weekday travel. This can be a great way to maximize both types of programs and can be great for those types of travelers who either do not like to travel for a full week at a time or prefer to stay in different hotels / locations.
My favorite way to use this strategy is for ski trips. I can book a Saturday night stay at a hotel and then book a four-night mid-week stay using timeshare points. A lot of the timeshare ski properties are ski-in / ski-out and can cost multiple hundreds of dollars per night so using timeshare points for mid-week stays can be very advantageous and literally can save me thousands of dollars.
Without timeshares, most ski trips would simply be prohibitively expensive for me!
Timeshare points systems are very familiar to other popular loyalty systems and both systems, if used correctly, can really stretch the value of your points. The key is to really understand the systems and find the various sweet spots. These sweet spots described above relate to the internal exchanges but there are others when dealing with external exchanges as well.
We'll cover those in later posts!
What are your timeshare sweet spots? Leave your comments below!
Timeshare systems are very complicated but once you get a handle on the various in and outs of the programs, there are some clear strategies that you can use to maximize ownership.
EXCHANGING YOUR WEEK
The general strategy that I use is to exchange my weeks through the exchange companies. By doing so, my weeks turn into points and my points are worth more through the exchange companies then through many of the internal trading systems. This is not always the case but I can say that this is generally the case for my particular weeks that I own.
As I discussed on Doctor of Credit, one of my weeks is at the Hyatt Beach House in Key West, Florida. I have never been to this resort and will likely never go. While I would like to visit Key West at some point, my existing week is too valuable through my use of points to simply use my one deeded week. As a result, I will never use my deeded week
WHY I BOUGHT MY WEEK
I bought my Hyatt for a couple of key reasons.
1. I really enjoy Hyatt hotels and resorts. While their footprint is smaller than some of the other hotel chains, their properties are generally top notch.
2. Hyatt has a timeshare property close to where I live. We use it a few times a year and I wanted to be able to have a resort close to home for any years where we did not or could not travel by plane.
When I first bought this particular timeshare, I recognized that there was some value based on our travel and vacation style and the system but did not fully understand the ins and outs of the program. Most first time timeshare owners do not do a ton of research and end of purchasing a timeshare without a plan. I got lucky in that despite not knowing everything, this week continues to work out very well for my families use.
INTRICACIES OF THE HYATT SYSTEM
One of the interesting parts about the Hyatt program is that you can trade it through their interval exchange system or use Interval International for the external system. The interval system allows you to book 2, 3, 4 or 7 nights for various amounts of points.
Here is the overview of the Hyatt system:
There are some ways to maximize your points in the internal system but the amount of points required for the external exchange is generally much better. For example, you need 750 points to get a studio during the highest demand times through the internal system but you only need 430 points to get a studio during the highest demand times through Interval International.
The fees with Interval International are much higher but I still find this to be a better use of points despite the additional cash outlay.
THE HYATT INVENTORY BLOCK
The interesting thing about Hyatt and Interval International is that Hyatt owners cannot trade into Hyatt properties through Interval International. If a Hyatt owner wants to stay at a Hyatt property, you NEED to book through the internal system. Interval International blocks all inventory from Hyatt owners so you cannot see any available exchange weeks or any Hyatt getaways.
I find this a little frustrating as I really enjoy Hyatt properties. However, as a result of this, I actually stay in more Marriott properties than Hyatt properties despite being a Hyatt owner.
It is somewhat surprising than this is what occurs, but since the external exchanges are more advantageous and since Hyatt inventory is blocked through the external exchanges, I end up looking for other high quality resorts which many times are Marriott properties.
Marriott is obviously a large hotel chain but they are also one of the largest timeshare operators. All of the Marriott timeshare properties that I have been to have been high quality accommodations.
BUY A HYATT FOR TRADING TO MARRIOTT
Getting back to the point of my post, if you are interested in staying predominantly in Marriott properties, it may actually be advantageous to purchase a Hyatt timeshare rather than a Marriott property. This is completely counterintuitive but can be a fantastic strategy.
I am actually currently looking to buy a Marriott timeshare solely to be able to trade in Hyatt properties and to get access to Interval International's Hyatt getaway weeks. I'll post more about this process including what property I will choose, the cost and additional strategies resulting from this purchase.
You can definitely exchange into Marriott properties with other timeshare brands that trade through Interval International but I wanted to highlight this particular strategy of buying one brand of timeshare even though you actually prefer staying in an alternate brand of timeshare.
This particular strategy can work in various ways with various different brands but the point of this post was that you need to see what exchange company a timeshare trades through and if there could be some limitations. If there are, you need to fully understand them so you can figure out how to maximize it.
In other posts, I will go through other intricacies of particular programs and what other strategies may work to your advantage.
What strategies do you use? Did you ever consider a similar strategy before purchasing your timeshare?
Chasing Marriott / Starwood/SPG Status? Might want to book some cheap timeshare weeks to boost your night credits
Despite highly preferring timeshares to hotels, I still end up staying in plenty of hotels over the course of the year. Some trips only require a few nights which is not ideal for timeshares and some destinations simply do not have timeshares or timeshares that meet my high standards.
In other posts, I discussed that chasing hotel status for personal travel was not ideal as it takes a lot, and I mean a lot, of nights in hotels to achieve top tier status in the various hotel chains. If and when you achieve these status levels, they can provide you with some meaningful benefits but I still believe that timeshares provide more space and comfort than hotels.
For those of you who do not follow the various merger and acquisition activity in the hotel / timeshare world, Starwood, who owns various brands such as the Westin, the W, St. Regis, Aloft, Element and so agreed to purchase Marriott who owns such brands as Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Courtyard, JW Marriott and more.
The merger has closed but their loyalty programs continue to operate separately at the moment. This has created some unique opportunities to leverage each program. One of the biggest advantages is that Marriott and Starwood each matched each other status levels so if you held status with Marriott, you would now hold status with Starwood and vice-a-versa.
Unfortunately, since both programs operate independently for now, stay and night credits must be posted to each program and do not count for both. Marriott brands each Marriott stay/night credits and Starwood brands earn Starwood stay/night credits. Once you hit status in either program, it is then matched to the other.
One of the benefits of the Marriott program is that Marriott gives you night credits for those nights spent at Marriott Vacation Club properties even if those stays were booked using Marriott Vacation Club points or if you exchanged into a Marriott property using a unrelated timeshare. The other benefit is that you are generally given credit for 7 nights even if you stay less than that amount.
Since most weeks are booked for 7 nights, the key to get all 7 nights credit is to have the property check you in on the first day and check you out on the 7th night even if you only need to use the room for a few nights in between. Since you have the reservation for all 7 nights, most, if not all properties, will accommodate you.
If you already have a Marriott Vacation Club property vacation lined up, make sure to get Marriott night credits for it. It can't hurt and its free. If you are chasing Marriott status, a potential option to obtain top tier status could be through renting inexpensive timeshare weeks.
It currently takes 75 nights to get Marriott Platinum status which will also get you SPG Platinum status. If you are close to 75, it could make sense to reserve a few cheap weeks at Marriott properties in order to get the night credits. These would likely be in very low demand locations.
Here are a few good options that I found on Interval International. Interval International is the exchange company that Marriott uses and the following are available Marriott weeks using their Getaways options where you use cash to purchase the weeks.
MARRIOTT CANYON VILLAS AT DESSERT RIDGE PHOENIX, ARIZONA
MARRIOTT'S STEAMSIDE AT VAIL, VAIL, CO
MARRIOTT SHADOW RIDGE VILLAS, PALM DESERT, CA
As you can see from above, there are some weeks that are as low as $38 per night with a platinum discount. If you are chasing hotel status, booking a few of these low demand, low cost weeks, can be a great deal to get you closer to status. There are very few, if any, Marriott properties that are less than $38 per night. This could be an easy "mattress run" for those looking to get Marriott and Starwood status.
In my opinion, hotel status is generally overrated but free breakfast and access to various club lounges can be worthwhile especially in very expensive locations.
Have you done a timeshare / mattress run for status before?
Transferring points from Marriott Vacation Club to Interval International: Key Differences between "Request First" and "Deposit First"
A reader recently contacted me concerning a transfer of his Marriott Vacation Club points to Interval International. After the transfer, Interval International did not have the desired week or location and wanted his points transferred back into Marriott Vacation Club points.
Unfortunately for our reader, there are two distinct methods to transfer points into Interval International.
With "Request First", a Marriott Vacation Club owner will request a week in Interval International. This can be one or many weeks and one or many resorts. The Marriott Vacation Club points will be taken out of your account immediately BUT if the request goes unfulfilled or you decide to cancel that request, the Marriott Vacation Club points will transfer back to your Marriott Vacation Club account.
With "Deposit First", the Marriott Vacation Club owner will immediately transfer points into Interval International and will request the specific week and/or location. If the request is not immediately filled, the Marriott Vacation Club points now become Interval International points and WILL NOT be transferred back. Deposit First is a one way transfer - you cannot transfer those points back into the Marriott Vacation Club.
It appears that neither the Marriott Vacation Club or Interval International made this policy clear and our reader mistakenly transferred points from his Marriott Vacation Club account to Interval International under the "Deposit First" mechanism. His attempt to transfer back these points was unsuccessful and was upset that this policy was not made clearer before he made a irrevocable transfer.
While this is unfortunate, Marriott Vacation Club owners who make a "Deposit First" have 3 years to use these points within Internal International. Three years is a long time so I would anticipate that these points would not go to waste. The key to getting awesome exchanges is to plan far ahead so I would recommend putting in a request now for various times and resorts as far in advance as possible.
The various timeshare point systems are very complex and not every agent or customer service representative fully understands the intricacies of various transfers. Make sure to ask questions up front.
The big downside to timeshares is that most reservations and transfers, once confirmed, are in stone and cannot be changed or altered. This is change a bit but is not completely flexible.