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.
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What has your experience been with timeshare presentations?