In 2010, Marriott Vacation Club Destinations completely revamped its timeshare program. Instead of offering traditional week based timeshares, Marriott created something called a “Land Trust”. Marriott then contributed all Marriott owned inventory to the Land Trust and created a points-based timeshare. The points based timeshare allows owners to use weeks, 2 night stays or 4 night stays based on points rather than having a fixed deeded week.
Existing owners of deeded weeks were given the opportunity to deed their week into the Land Trust in exchange for points. Owners did not have to convert their week so there are some legacy weeks still in existence. This guide will discuss the points system since this is the system going forward.
Marriott members can use their points to exchange into many of the Marriott properties. Marriott has over 50 properties around the world. All are very nice properties.
Marriott has instituted various levels of Marriott ownership. The status levels are based on the amount of Vacation Club Points owned. The five tiers are “Owners”, “Select”, “Executive”, “Presidential” and “Chairman’s Club.
Owners own up to 3,999 Vacation Club Points.
Select Members own 4,000 - 6,999 Vacation Club Points.
Executive Members own 7,000 - 9,999 Vacation Club Points.
Presidential Members own 10,000 - 14,999 Vacation Club Points.
Chairman's Club Members own 15,000+ Vacation Club Points.
As shown in the chart below, there are various benefits associated with each level.
In reviewing the chart, there are a few key areas that warrant special attention when deciding whether to own more or less points.
EXTENDED BANKING DEADLINE:
The first is the Extended Banking Deadline. The Extended Banking Deadline allows a Marriott member to elect to bank their points for use in the following year. This can be beneficial for those years where you may not travel or may not want to use your Vacation Club Points. The lower tiers (Owner and Select) require you to elect to bank your points 6 months prior to end of use year whereas Executive, Presidential and Chairman’s Club allow you an extra 2 months to make the decision.
Another key difference is the Banking Rules. If you deposit your points to use in the following year, you must use the points the following year. Only Presidential and Chairman’s Club members have the option to use those points the following 1.5 years or the following 2 years respectively.
The reservation window is the period of time that an Member can make a reservation at the Marriott properties. The reservation windows differ based on the ownership level. Most are the same but the lowest tier level, Owner, requires a point premium to make reservations greater than 13 months in advance.
In addition, Executive, Presidential and Chairman Club Members have the ability to reserve Luxury properties at the 13 month window whereas the other lower tiers do not get the ability to book into Luxury properties until the 6 month window.
This is important as most prime weeks have the potential to be gone by Executive, Presidential and Chairman Club Members, leaving Select and Owners without the ability to reserve prime weeks at Luxury properties.
Unlike deeded weeks, the Marriott Vacation Club Point system uses the calendar year as the use year so all points will be available as of January 1st of each year. In comparison to the deeded weeks programs or hybrid systems where owners get points at different times of the year, all owners get their points at the same time. Therefore, the demand for holiday weeks and other high demand weeks make the reservation window very important.
As discussed above, Executive, Presidential and Chairman Club Members have a distinct advantage over Luxury properties since they will have 7 months more time to make their travel plans.
The Luxury resorts include the following resorts:
Ritz-Carlton Club, Lake Tahoe
Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, San Francisco
Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands
Ritz-Carlton Club, Vail
Ritz-Carlton Club, St. Thomas
In addition to the ability to bank your Vacation Club Points for use during the following year or beyond for the Presidential and Chairman Club Members, you can also borrow points from the following year for current use. The election to borrow points may be made up to 25 months prior to the first day of the use year. Borrowed points can expired if not used by the end of the year that it was borrowed from.
Waitlist Request give Members the ability to put in a request for a specific week and location. Waitlist Requests are essential to give the Member the potential to receive the specific week, size of unit and destination desired. It is best to reserve as far in advance as possible in order to give yourself the most chance to receive the specific desired week. Christmas week and other holiday weeks should be requested as far in advance as possible.
Borrowed Points can be used for a Waitlist Request and in the event that the request is not confirmed, the Vacation Club Points will be returned to the specific use year from which they were borrowed. Once a Waitlist Request has been confirmed, the Member may still cancel the reservation within 48 hours after being notified.
Waitlist Requests are essential in order to maximize the opportunity to get specific weeks. Since they are cancellable within 48 hours of notification, there is little risk on the Member. Once it is confirmed, you can review airfare and other travel details and if flights are too expensive or travel plans change, you can cancel the confirmation and receive the Vacation Club Points.
Another interesting feature of the new Marriott Vacation Club Points system is the ability of Members to transfer points between members. In the event that your family has multiple owners, you can transfer Vacation Club Points to the owner Members for their use. This is a very beneficial feature since there may be years that you can’t use the points but other family Members or friends can. There are currently no limits to the amount of transfers.
EXCHANGING YOUR POINTS:
In order to exchange your Vacation Club Points to other properties, Marriott puts out point charts each year that shows you the specific number of points required for a stay. Marriott allows you to reserve a 2 weekend night stay (Friday – Saturday), a 4-night midweek stay (Sunday through Thursday) or a 7 night full week. The amount of points for each length of stay various depending on the time frame. High demand weeks or holiday weeks require more points and lower demand weeks require less points.
The material disadvantage to Members is that the amount of Vacation Club Points owned can severely limit you on the times or dates that you desire to travel. For example, if you purchase 2,275 points, this may get you a 2-bedroom unit at the Marriott Grand Residence Club in Lake Tahoe for April 14-June 1 or October 6 through November 16 but you will never be able to use those points to receive a 2 bedroom unit for any week in any of the Hawaii properties. A four night stay or a 2-night stay may be available in a 2 bedroom unit but the options will vary.
The following are the lengthy points charts that detail all the properties and the amount of points required for each. It is a lot to take in but it is essential to understand the program so that you understand the benefits and limitations on the amount of points that you own and what can work for your travel schedule.
2016 Marriott Vacation Club Point Chart
2017 Marriott Vacation Club Point Chart
Marriott Vacation Club Points are exchangeable through Interval International. The following are based on 7 night weeks and based on Interval’s Travel Demand Index. The Travel Demand Index assigns a point value to the demand and was previously described and low, middle or high season.
In the chart above, you can see that Interval International uses 4 time period to determine points. Based on the chart above, you would need to have at least 4,500 points to exchange into the highest demand week with Interval International (i.e. Christmas week, Spring break, etc.). Exchanging can provide a tremendous value so it is important to understand how the points trade in Interval International.
For example, in using the chart, if you owned 4,500 Vacation Club Points and wanted to go to Hawaii and stay at the Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club for New Year’s, it would require 6,475 Vacation Club Points for a 2-bedroom unit with an Island View. This destination would simply be unavailable unless you elected to borrow points from future years.
Alternatively, you could use the 4,500 Vacation Club Points and exchange through Interval International and receive a New Year’s Week at other non-Marriott properties. While you would not be able to stay at a Marriott property, the new Hyatt Ka’aanapali Resort would be an option if availability presented itself.
There are many extremely nice timeshares in Hawaii so exchanging through Interval International could be a beneficial way to maximize your Vacation Club Points when a Marriott property is not attainable.
Understanding the Marriott Vacation Club Point system is essential to figure out how to maximize the value but understanding the exchange options can really help you maximize the value.
CONVERTING TO MARRIOTT REWARD POINTS:
The Marriott Vacation Club Vacation Points can also be exchanged for Marriott Reward points that can be used at all Marriott properties. Depending on the owner level, you can exchange your Vacation Club Points for Reward Points. However, Marriott Vacation Club only allows you to exchange a percentage of the total amount of Vacation Club Points.
Chairman's Club Members may exchange up to 75% of their Vacation Club Points for Reward Points
Executive and Presidential Members may exchange up to 65% of their Vacation Club Points for Reward Points
Owners and Select Members may exchange up to 50% of their Vacation Club Points for Reward Points
Currently, each Vacation Club Point is worth 32 Marriott Reward Points. Generally, this is a poor option to use your Vacation Club Points. Taking the example above, if you have 4,500 Vacation Club Points, you would be considered at the Select level and would be able to convert 2,250 Vacation Club Points into 72,000 Marriott Reward Points (4500 divided by 50% = 2,250. 2,250 x 32 = 72,000).
Marriott Reward Points can be redeemed for hotel nights and the number depends on the category of the hotel.
Points Reward for 1 Night Stay Category 1 7,500
Category 2 10,000
Category 3 15,000
Category 4 20,000
Category 5 25,000
Category 6 30,000
Category 7 35,000
Category 8 40,000
Category 9 45,000
Based on the chart above, your 72,000 points could allow you to stay two nights in a Category 7 hotel or 9 nights in a category 1 hotel. Alternatively, exchanging directly through Marriott using 2,250 Vacation Club Points can get you about 32 nights at the Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club in a Studio unit which is comparable to a hotel room but generally bigger and nice. (The Marriott Maui Ocean Club is currently a category 8 hotel so using Marriott Reward Points would not even get you 2 nights at this property)
This can be done by exchanging those Vacation Club points during the various time frames indicated on the Marriott Point chart. A four night stay (Sunday through Thursday) during most nights in January would require 275 points. Additionally, exchanging those 2,250 Vacation Club Points through Interval International could get you two weeks in a studio unit during low season.
There are many variations of this but generally converting into Marriott Reward Points is not the best option. However, under certain circumstances, it may be worthwhile if there is a specific redemption in mind. However, there are other mechanisms to obtain Marriott Reward Points that I will discuss in later blog posts.
As a Marriott Vacation Club Member, the dues for Interval International are covered so a Member is only required to pay the applicable exchange fees. Exchange fees for a week are $239 if done online.
The Marriott Vacation Club also provides the ability for Members to receive discounts on reservations that are occurring within 60 days of the reservation or 30 days of the reservation. These discounts are only offered to Executive, Presidential and Chairman’s Club Members. Presidential and Chairman's Club Members receive 30% Vacation Club Point discount and Executive Members receive a 25% Vacation Club Point discount 30 days of the reservation.
There are many details of the Marriott Vacation Club program and this will be updated as additional questions are asked or further clarifications are needed. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the newsletter below for further information and up to date deals and opportunities.