Last Updated on January 11, 2023

We bought into the Marriott Vacation Club family in 2005 with our purchase of Frenchman’s Cove in St. Thomas, USVI. That was a slam dunk as the property featured only oceanfront villas. We love this Caribbean destination for its proximity to other U.S. Virgin Islands as well as the British Virgin Islands.

Check out my review of what it’s like to own through Marriott Vacation Clubs

Five years later, we saw the benefit of adding Marriott’s Destinations Program. This opened the world of possibilities to many more places on our ever-growing travel bucket list.

For those traveling to some of the world’s most sought-after destinations, the Marriott family offers a treasure trove of vacation villas.  All on points, all over the world.

Because we love to travel, we take full advantage of our membership by staying in places we truly love or those on our bucket list. The brand now comprises 70 Marriott Vacation Club properties throughout the U.S., Caribbean, Central America, Europe, and Asia. And it continues to grow.

Obviously, we haven’t hit them all and COVID (as with many travelers) put a screeching halt on trips we’d planned to Spain, Aruba, and elsewhere. But we know in time we’ll get there.

The good news for travelers is that when these destinations are not fully filled by its members, they are available for outside booking. Some are more challenging to get because they are in prime locations. Even owners may have difficulty reserving these properties during the high season without advance planning. But no matter what, it seems there are always options.

Journey with us as we introduce you to some of our favorite Marriott Vacation Club destinations and show how each sports its own unique vibe and special magic.

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Phoenix Marriott Vacation Club: Canyon Villas at Desert Ridge

You know those places that just surprise? To be honest, staying at Canyon Villas at Desert Ridge was never on our bucket list. But we had a long weekend open and decided “What the heck. It’s driving distance from our home in San Diego, so, let’s just do it.”

Let me say that this desert property was even lovelier than its photos. Villas are spacious and well-appointed and the golf-course setting is impressive. Though the property has its own impressive pools, vacation club guests also have the option of using the facilities, five stunning pools and lazy river of the nearby JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort and Spa.   

Another benefit of this property is its proximity to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, two of Arizona’s most magnificent draws.

Newport Coast Marriott Vacation Club: Newport Beach, California

Pool and grounds of Newport Coast Villas
Pool and grounds of Newport Coast Villas

Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas, a Southern California gem perched high above the Pacific Ocean, features two-bedroom villas and five outdoor pools perfect for soaking up that California sun.

The 75-acre pristine property is immensely beautiful and embodies the Southern California coastal culture with its Mediterranean-style theme and décor.

What makes this property so popular is that the weather in this region is lovely no matter the time of year. And also because it’s close to many incredible outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, whale watching, surfing, and more. And as an added benefit, sunsets here are stunningly spectacular.

Palm Desert Marriott Villas: Desert Springs Villas

Desert Springs Villas in Palm Desert
Palm Desert’s Desert Spring Villas

We recall the first time we stayed at the lovely Desert Springs Villas in one of Palm Springs’ magnificent bedroom communities. We checked in late and when we woke up the next morning, our view filled us with awe. A palm-lined oasis against a backdrop of stunning mountain ranges right on the golf course. It doesn’t get any better than this.

What we loved about this property was its proximity to the historic and cultural town of Palm Springs with its award-winning galleries and dining venues. There’s also the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a rotating tramcar ascending 2.5-miles up to a montane wilderness. Hikers will love the proximity of Joshua Tree National Park in the high desert, less than an hour’s drive from Palm Springs.

Another ideal option here is Marriott’s Shadow Ridge and Enclaves, a smaller but equally lovely desert oasis just 15 minutes from Desert Springs.

Tahoe Marriott Vacation Club: The Grand Residence Club

Views of Lake Tahoe from our hike
Views of Lake Tahoe from our hike near Marriott Grand Residence Club

If you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe, you don’t know what you’re missing. This sapphire jewel of the Sierras is one of the world’s finest ski resort towns. But it’s the lake that’s the real draw—a mesmerizing azure crystalline body of water that is North America’s largest alpine lake and the second deepest.

Lake Tahoe is all about adventure and the outdoors, and the perfect place to stay is Marriott Grand Residence Club at the base of Heavenly Mountain. Studios to three-bedroom villas are alpine-inspired with gas fireplaces. We love the large heated pool with two bubbling spas, ideal for cool Tahoe evenings.

Marriott’s larger sister property, Timber Lodge, is a short stroll across the village grounds offering equally impressive guest accommodations with all the amenities of nearby shopping and dining.

Breckenridge Marriott Resort: Mountain Valley Lodge

Marriott Mountain Valley Lodge
Marriott Mountain Valley Lodge

Located in the heart of the historic and easy walkable town of Breckenridge, you won’t find a better location than Mountain Valley Lodge. The setting on a cascading stream with the Rockies as a backdrop is striking. And you’re only minutes away from ski lifts for those into hitting the slopes.

Breckenridge is renowned for its winter sports but is definitely a four-season destination. It’s an outdoor adventure-lovers paradise with hiking, biking, fishing, ziplining, and more. Breckenridge has it all. Add in a myriad of shopping and dining opportunities, distilleries and craft breweries, and it makes for a wonderful vacation experience.

And don’t forget the gold mine. Yep, you can visit the real deal here!

Marriott Vacation Club Orlando: Grande Vista

Marriott certainly has a solid footprint into the vacation club scene of Orlando with seven timeshare locations to choose from.

Grande Vista is in an ideal locale for visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld, but this massive resort is like a vacation escape of its own. Villas are beautifully appointed with furnished balconies or patios. Situated on a picturesque lake with bridges, the resort also features beautiful outdoor pools and a host of other activities.

Marriott Vacation Club in Kauai: Kauai Lagoons

View from our villa at Kauai Lagoons
View from our villa at Kauai Lagoons

This is probably the most luxurious of the Marriott Vacation Club properties. As a Marriott owner, we learned the inside scoop that the Kauai Lagoons was originally planned as a Ritz Carlton fractional ownership club. Hence, everything is upgraded here.

The location is absolutely stunning – a secluded oasis surrounded by lush tropical foliage, a golf course, lagoons, and a scenic coastline. Two and three-bedroom elegantly-appointed villas capture the beauty of the islands, and you’ll never find an outdoor lanai so spacious offering such heavenly views.

Kauai is a nature-lover’s paradise with its unbelievably stunning Na Pali Coastline, Waimea Canyon (known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific), tropical botanical gardens, and lots and lots of waterfalls.

Other lovely vacation club resorts on Kauai include the nearby Kauai Beach Club and Waiohai Beach Club located to the south on the golden sands of Poipu Beach. 

Lahaina, Maui Marriott: The Maui Ocean Club

The picture-perfect location of the Maui Ocean Club on Kaanapali Beach in West Maui is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Visitors can choose between tastefully decorated single guest rooms, or one or two-bedroom villas with balconies in one of three Ocean Club towers with garden or ocean views.

The ‘super pool’ complex with waterfalls and waterslide is so impressive, it’s exactly what a vacation in paradise should look like, only it’s better.

Travelers come to Maui for many reasons though the top of the list should include a luau (best Hawaiian island for this), exploring the tropical Road to Hana, and taking in a sunrise on the summit of Haleakala.

Kauai Marriott Vacation Club: The Ko Olina Beach Club

Ko Olina Beach Club Lagoon
Ko Olina Beach Club Lagoon

Located in the scenic Kapolei region on Oahu’s southwest shore, this Hawaiian hideaway is nestled within the lush 640-acre Ko Olina Resort and Marina. The Ko Olina Beach Club’s crystal-clear calm lagoons are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand-up paddling. And its pools are magnificent.

Guests can choose between stylish island studios, one, two, and three-bedroom villas, or a penthouse suite with mountain or ocean views.

Even though the resort is located in a more remote and tranquil area of Oahu, it’s close to the island’s most popular attractions. Staying here will give you a whole different perspective on the island of Oahu.

Waikoloa (Big Island), Hawaii: Waikoloa Ocean Club

White sand beaches, lush tropical foliage, and fiery active volcanoes. This is the island of Hawaii – the Big Island – one very unique and diverse paradise.

One and two-bedroom villas at the Waikoloa Ocean Club celebrate the rich culture and heritage of Hawaii. What makes this resort so special is not just the three swimming pools and calm waters of Anaehoomalu Bay, but the ancient Hawaiian fish ponds and petroglyphs on property that trace back to Hawaii’s early inhabitants.

There’s much to see on this massive island, but Volcanoes National Park is an absolute must-visit, along with the black sand beaches, and charming small towns. A day trip to the ‘wet’ Hilo side with its waterfalls will showcase the amazing range of climate zones that makes the Big Island so fascinating.

Las Vegas, Nevada: Marriott’s Grand Chateau

Located in one of the most ideal locations on the Las Vegas strip, the beauty of staying at the lovely Grand Chateau in Las Vegas is that it does not have a casino.

After the hustle and bustle of Vegas, it’s a wonderful respite coming back to this posh, comfortable resort with a decidedly southern French provincial influence. Yet, you’re just mere steps to all there is to see and experience in this Entertainment Capital of the World. And the skyline views from its higher floors are spectacular.

Check out our review of our stay at Marriott’s Grand Chateau

Hilton Head, South Carolina: Marriott’s SurfWatch

bikes on the beach in Hilton Head
Bikes on the beach at SurfWatch in Hilton Head (Photo by: Michael Kompanik)

Hilton Head is another destination where Marriott put down early roots, sporting eight vacation clubs scattered throughout the island.

We love SurfWatch for its private oceanfront setting with scenic views of the sand dunes and the Atlantic Ocean. The resort is private, meticulously landscaped, with two oceanfront pools and a picturesque boardwalk surrounded by a natural habitat. The property also sports an indoor heated saltwater pool.

Read my full review of SurfWatch

Spacious and elegantly-appointed villas feature two and three-bedroom options, all overlooking Hilton Head Beach. The location is ideal for exploring the island’s spectacular scenery and waterways. A nature lover’s nirvana, Hilton Head is popular for biking, fishing, whale watching, golfing, and of course, dining on fresh island seafood.

Park City, Utah: Summit Watch  

Pool & hot tub at Summit Watch, Park City
Pool & hot tub at Summit Watch, Park City

Another location known for its skiing, Park City is also a four-season resort, mainly because it’s blessed with so much natural beauty.

Summit Watch is nestled in the heart of downtown’s Main Street, making it ultra-convenient for dining, shopping, and exploring this historic village. The vacation club is absolutely beautiful inside and out. Our two-bedroom villa was spacious, comfortably appointed paying homage to the history and scenery of the area. We backed to a mountain stream surrounded by a verdant landscape making slumber easy after a day of hiking and chasing waterfalls and other natural treasures.

Marriott’s Mountainside is a sister property located further uphill and closer to the mountain. It offers ski-in, ski-out access and touts a decidedly more winter sport-inspired décor.

St. Thomas, USVI: Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove

Marriott Frenchman's Cove
Photo by: Kristi Dosh

Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove is a magnificent colorful property set on a picturesque bluff. It is our home resort, and we love it for so many reasons. It’s located in a quiet part of the island in a private cove, though a short drive to the main town, island ferries, and other island attractions.

Read my full review of Frenchman’s Cove here

Villas here feature two and three-bedroom units all oceanfront with furnished outdoor balconies. Many have both bay and pool views. They are island-themed, spacious, comfortable, and stunning. The outdoor pool features a water slide and guests have access to their own private beach.

Herradura, Costa Rica: Los Sueños

Los Suenos Marina
Los Sueños Marina

The Los Sueños Marriott Ocean & Golf Resort shares its property with the Marriott Ocean and Golf Resort so guests have access to all the amenities which makes it double the Pura Vida.

Read my full review of Frenchman’s Cove here

This is Marriott’s first vacation club resort in Central America and it’s an absolute tropical paradise. Nestled along Costa Rica’s lush Green Coast, Los Sueños has it all – stunning picturesque grounds, impressive pools, wide sandy beachfront, natural streams and cascades, and lots of local wildlife.

Those into hiking, exploring natural parks, chasing waterfalls, and finding hidden places will fall in love with this area of Costa Rica. We certainly did!

Check out my full guide to Los Sueños

Next year, we’re heading to Thailand, France, and Spain. So, stay tuned for more tips and information covering these future destinations with Marriott Vacation Club.

What do you think?

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  • Dwayne Gilliam
    November 9, 2022

    Love your overviews. We love to travel with two other couples and celebrating ’40 year anniversary. We are all healthy and in good shape. Looking to go somewhere together next year and stay in a 3bdrm unit with ocean view. We live in Southern California and just got back from a week in Kauai for our 3rd time…live Kauai…? Just curious, what would be your top 3 picks and why? I am thinking the Bahamas/BVI or Costa Rica…Thank You…D!

    • Noreen Kompanik
      September 12, 2023

      Thank you, Dwayne. I’m so sorry that I just saw this. Apologies. Top 3 other than Kauai: St. Thomas, USVI, Costa Rica, Maui.