Last Updated on August 6, 2022
Disclosure: Our writers only recommend vacation rentals they’ve experienced firsthand, and all opinions expressed are their own. This post may contain affiliate links that allow us to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
I’m a travel writer who has the opportunity to travel around the world and be hosted by amazing destinations as often as I’m willing to pack up my suitcase and go…but I still love my Marriott Vacation Club ownership and take advantage of it frequently.
It might seem odd that both travel writers who founded this site are timeshare owners (check out Kristi’s review of owning with Breckenridge Grand Vacations), but the bottom line is that we love travel and these ownerships have given us the opportunity to maximize our travel opportunities.
I didn’t plan to buy into Marriott’s Vacation Club program, but…
Let’s turn the clock back to July, 2005. My husband Michael & I were celebrating our wedding anniversary with a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, it was an amazing trip.
While staying at a Marriott property known as Morning Star Beach in St. Thomas, a vacation club representative invited us to a presentation that would introduce a brand-new vacation club that had not yet been built.
In past years, we’d been to a few non-Marriott “timeshare” presentations, and were not impressed. I would also add we are not easy sells. Either the programs seemed “too good to be true” or just downright “shoddy.” Or they were rigid “fixed week” programs– the same week, every year.
We knew this would never work for us as Michael was an active-duty naval officer, his schedule and travel dictated by the military. But we decided to go to the presentation if for no other reason than to hear about the new property and Marriott’s vacation club concept. And of course, in return, they offered to cover our dinner at one of our favorite high-end romantic island oceanfront restaurants.
Let me be clear that we had no intention of buying since we’d already owned a gorgeous Disney Vacation Club that we’d purchased a year before at Disney’s Beach Club. It was Disney that actually instituted the first points program vs. the traditional fixed week system that was the common practice at the time.
Buying into Marriott’s Vacation Club at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove
So, we listened to the private presentation that was incredibly professional and low-key. Bottom line, we felt no pressure whatsoever. Obviously, there was no property to show as the vacation club site for Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove was literally a mound of dirt and rock overlooking the Caribbean Sea at that time. But there were model depictions, and we did visit the construction site. And what a stunning view it was overlooking sparkling tourmaline waters in a secluded cove.
Additionally, we were impressed that all of the two-and-three-bedroom villas would face the water. None of this parking lot or garden view stuff you hear about from other vacation club companies. We immediately thought that this would be a great place to invite family and friends to join us. After all, who doesn’t want to vacation in a Virgin Islands paradise?
We were the ones to ask our rep about price, as to be honest, we were captivated by the Virgin Islands and the opportunity to return at will was something we were really excited about. We were also impressed with the fact that we weren’t locked into a specific week with a purchase.
Because the vacation club was in pre-construction phase and wouldn’t be completed for at least another year, the price was right, and we still received vacation club points with which we could book another destination of our choice. It didn’t take us long to do the math and realize the deal offered was a good buy. So, we took the plunge. And we’ve never looked back.
We were also impressed with the other vacation properties Marriott owned. These resorts were located throughout the U.S. and in exotic overseas destinations like the Hawaiian Islands, Thailand, Europe, and now even Costa Rica and Bali. Their 63 properties and five Ritz-Carlton clubs opened a world of travel possibilities accessible to us.
It’s also important to note that travelers don’t have to be Marriott Vacation Club owners to book these incredible properties!
Our First Stay at our Marriott Vacation Club…and Many More Since
Two years later, we had our first stay on our deeded Virgin Island’s property. The anticipation was building though our rep had kept us in the loop with photos as the vacation club was being constructed, and then finally completed.
We were thrilled with the villas, the décor, the large patio lanais, the vacation club’s pool and beach, and of course, the views. Oh, those views were even better than we’d ever imagined. Day after day we got to observe and toast the majestic cruise ships sailing past our window in and out of Charlotte Amalie harbor. It was our first Marriott Vacation Club experience and it would be far from our last.
And another benefit of Frenchman’s Cove as our home resort is that it allowed us to book our vacation well ahead of any others interested in this widely sought-after property.
Marriott Develops the Destinations Program
Like any good vacation club program that listens to member feedback, Marriott understood the needs of its members and in response developed their Destinations Exchange Program.
The purpose of Destinations was to take all remaining un-deeded Marriott Vacation Club properties and throw them into a destination pot for members to take advantage of. The benefit to Destination Program members was that it was now easier to access Marriott properties throughout the world–including the most sought-after places, like the Hawaiian Islands. And this is all accomplished within Marriott without using an external exchange system.
While vacationing at Marriott’s Waikoloa Vacation Club on the island of Hawaii, we were once again invited to a presentation that introduced the Destination Program. Once again, we clearly saw the amazing benefits, including all the impressive package incentives. So yes, we happily took that second plunge with Marriott.
Since that wise purchase in 2010, we have vacationed twice in Kauai and Maui, returned to the Big Island, Costa Rica (read my review of the Marriott Vacation Club Los Sueños), in addition to other U.S. destinations. Trips to Marriott properties in Aruba and Spain were cancelled only because of COVID. But we plan to rebook these properties again!
The Destinations Program makes it very easy to book vacations especially with advance planning. Both the website and Marriott Vacation specialists have been extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and we’ve often said that buying into the program was a lifetime investment we’ve never regretted. And the look and smiles on our friend’s and family’s faces when they travel with us to these magnificent places say it all.
Benefits of Owning with Marriott
We’ve had numerous questions over the years regarding the benefits of ownership, the number one being “Is it worth it the cost?”
I can only respond with the reasons we decided to join the Marriott Vacation Club family.
We are not budget travelers
Therefore, the idea that “it doesn’t matter what the view or rooms look like” doesn’t apply to us. We’ve always worked since we were teenagers. I spent 35+ years as a registered nurse and Michael retired after 28 ½ years as a naval officer. So, our vacations have always been special to us. And we want them to be unforgettable.
We hate getting that bill under the door
It’s great to vacation in class, but that comes at a cost. No matter how much we planned and set aside funds for a trip, we always hating waking up on the last morning with that that big fat bill under the door. It was a sad reminder that the vacation was over, and that now we’d have to pay the piper!
As a vacation club owner, we don’t worry about the cost of the stay. By buying into the Destinations Program, the lodging costs are insignificant. We get to stay in paradise time and again by just paying our maintenance fees. And while these can honestly seem expensive, they are nothing compared to what it would cost to stay at a family-spacious high-end luxury resort out of pocket.
We love traveling with family
The idea that we can offer trips to our family and friends at no cost to them for the stay is a great feeling. Our daughter-in-law aptly calls it the “gift that keeps on giving.”
And while it’s great to vacation together as a family or with friends, it’s nice to have a place to gather, prepare meals, sit out on the balcony, and enjoy stunning sunset views. And then, we all get to retire to our own personal spaces. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Marriott Reflects Consistent Quality
Each time we venture out to a new Marriott property, we know to expect a level of consistency and quality with both the resort and its customer service. And that’s a good feeling when we travel. Whether we’re staying in Newport Beach or Lake Tahoe, California, or the Virgin Islands or Costa Rica, there’s a warm assurance that we’re going to be happy with the property and services.
That bodes well with us, and should as well for non-Marriott Vacation Club owners who can stay at these amazing properties as well.
Vacation club ownership is an investment. But it’s investment in happiness and memories to enjoy for a lifetime.Marriott Vacation Clubtimeshare