Last Updated on August 6, 2022

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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

Marriott Frenchman's Cove
Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove offers stunning views and activities for the whole family (Photo by: Noreen Kompanik)

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

Marriott Frenchman's Cove pool and views
Every room here has amazing views of the water (Photo by: Noreen Kompanik)

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.

Marriott's Waikoloa Ocean Club
We also own at Marriott’s Waikoloa Ocean Club on the Big Island (Photo by: Noreen Kompanik)

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.

Marriott's Grand Residence Club at Lake Tahoe
We’ve enjoyed many trips to Marriott Vacation Club properties, including Marriott’s Grand Residence Club at Lake Tahoe (Photo by: Noreen Kompanik)

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.

What do you think?

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  • S
    June 5, 2022

    I needed to see this. 🙂

  • Erika P.
    July 17, 2022

    I would disagree with your assessment of the MVC. It is very difficult to book at a desired location and forget about it if you want to go high season. Non-members who pay to stay can book anytime and rooms are always available. This is because every property only gets a certain allotment for MVC members and it fills up quickly. I was told about 70% of members are in the entry category and we are select members so should be able to book easier with less lead time. However, we are striking out!

    • Noreen Kompanik
      July 19, 2022

      HI Erika, I’m so sorry to hear you’re having difficulty, but I happen to know that as owners and traveling to many of the destinations, we talk to people who were able to get into these vacation clubs. I will say that it’s more difficult in some of the most popular resorts such as Maui and the Virgin Islands. Season also plays into availability which is not surprising. But again, on our travels we have interacted with many visitors who were able to book these resorts.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      July 19, 2022

      Hi Erika, I read your comment again and as Presidential owners we have never had a problem booking out in advance be in Maui, Kauai, Costa Rica, or other top locations. Again, I believe that planning ahead is crucial and considering the time of year. Are you a member of the Marriott Vacation Club Owners Collection? This is a private Facebook group dedicated to Marriott Vacation Club owners. The members are extremely knowledgeable and helpful, and perhaps you can be specific on the issues you’ve had with booking and let a collective group of experts assist you.

  • Christine Smolin
    January 25, 2023

    Hi Noreen…25 years AF wife here. Bought in Aruba before it was built and love it there. Also have points. Since we are retired, we don’t have too much trouble traveling anywhere. However, the summer months are almost never available when my grandchildren are out of school. I’m a planner. Moved 17 times but no matter how far ahead I plan…summer in the USA is difficult! Happy travels!!!

    • Noreen Kompanik
      January 25, 2023

      Hi Christine,

      So good to hear from you. I know that summer can be so competitive for travel. I would suggest making reservations as far in advance as possible! That might help.

  • Tonya
    January 29, 2023

    Hello Noreen, I am so happy to have come across your post. My husband and I are considering purchasing a timeshare with Marriott and will be attending a sales presentation in Maui this Fall. Thanks for providing your unbiased opinion. I now feel like we are heading in the right direction with our decision.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      January 29, 2023

      Hi Tonya,
      We have never regretted our decision and absolutely love the choices of Marriott Vacation Clubs throughout the world. We are actually heading to Thailand next month for a stay in Phuket. Enjoy Maui, it’s so lovely!

    • Peggy Weiss
      February 17, 2023

      Very high maintenance fees that increase yearly. As an owner of Marriott since 2003, l can’t afford the significant maintenance fees. I feel that their should be a cap for loyalty

      • Noreen Kompanik
        February 17, 2023

        Yes, it’s true, but for a luxury vacation when you do the numbers, it’s still worth the investment and the maintenance fees.

      • Marsha
        November 17, 2023

        What is the increase roughly per year?

        • Noreen Kompanik
          November 17, 2023

          Are you referring to the maintenance fees or value of the property?

    • Anasa
      March 23, 2023

      I love my Marriott ownership and just added to it while staying at Newport Coast Villas, Newport California.

      Also the fact that being an owner also get you Lifetime Gold Elite Bonvoy…just a great program…professional, and I am leaving my daughters the gift of travel, because it’s going to be passed down

      • NOreen Kompanik
        March 27, 2023

        Hi Anasa, so good to hear. Yes, Bonvoy is a great program and what a wonderful gift to leave your daughters in the future. Happy Travels!

      • Noreen Kompanik
        April 2, 2023

        Hi Anasa, what an amazing gift to pass on to your daughters. Love it!

    • Noreen Kompanik
      March 27, 2023

      Hi Tonya, I hope you find it fits your lifestyle. We love being part of the Marriott family! Enjoy, and please let me know if you have any other questions before you go.

  • Marilyn Roberts
    March 25, 2023

    I, too, am a deeded owner at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove, having purchased pre- construction. The USVI are indeed the best place to vacation, and have gone every year since (except when hurricane interfered). I also purchased Destination Points, but have found it difficult to use at my discretion. Cannot always fit into their schedule, so am disappointed in this area.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      April 2, 2023

      Hi Marilyn,
      I’m not sure what you mean by destination points “fitting into their schedule.” For popular properties like Maui, the USVI, these have to be booked well in advance. Personally, I’ve not had this issue, but perhaps if you contact the rep who sold you the destination points and asked for a review, he/she would be happy to go over the system again with you.

  • KJ
    April 1, 2023

    This is a very different experience than what we have had. We, like you, had no intention of buying. We have the points membership, not the week. We only bought it in Feb. 2023. We are also not budget travelers so the thought of having The Ritz Carlton and other “non family friendly” properties available is what interested us. The pitch was low key and we are a tough sell so after being shown the numbers and the website access to everything we did buy. But now the reality sets in. The really nice user-friendly website interface they showed us is ONLY available for the sales team, but you don’t know that until after you close your deal and they give you a sign-on. You cannot find any of the things they showed us. Where are the Ritz Carlton cruises they showed us for 2,000 points for two for a week? Where are all of the other properties they showed us on one website, nowhere. It feels so shady right now, like a bait and switch. Our salesperson said we would have access to him anytime and he would help is through everything but I’ve been waiting for a call back from him since Feb. 17!! I would love to know who your “advisor” is because all of the people I’ve encountered on the 800 number are clueless. If you can help me navigate this I would be grateful. We received a call from a law firm saying there was a class action lawsuit against MVC for the very practices I described above. I am going to see what they have to say. For anyone considering, buyer beware. I say this until someone can prove otherwise which is what I’ve been trying to do for a month. So Noreen please reach out to me and let me know if you can help. Thanks

    • Noreen Kompanik
      April 2, 2023

      Sorry you had this experience as our advisors were all very professional. I can’t really help you navigate the issues with Marriott as I have no power to change the system. But I would suggest you send an email vs. a telephone call. There is a dropdown under “contact us” on the Marriott Vacation Club website, and this is where I would ask for someone from corporate to contact you.

  • Antony Jones
    April 13, 2023

    Hi Noreen, your article reads all sweetness and light regarding your experience and dealings with MVCI but as an owner of 26 years in Europe I can tell you that the last 6 years of our ownership has been nothing short of a nightmare. Yes the resorts are all lovely and like you guys thats what got us on the hook with Marriott, but they have to be because MVCI have created a secondary market where they are effectively selling the same weeks twice with priority going to the secondary market as this is new cash and pure profit. The poor original owners have already paid the original purchase price and are continuing to pay the substantial annual maintenance fees but can’t get into their own resorts (there are several owners on your forum stating the same thing). Since the timeshare division was hived off from the Marriott parent company it’s been a very different experience and I would strongly urge anyone considering buying into this system to think again. We’ve not been able to stay one of our home resorts for over 5 years because it is always ‘fully booked’. As you quite rightly state in your article anyone can stay at a vacation club via the secondary market, it just costs the same as any other luxury resort but at least you haven’t lost tens of thousands of dollars to buy in and remain on the hook for countless more maintenance fees so I would personally recommend that route.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      April 13, 2023

      I’m sorry you’ve had such a bad experience with Marriott ownership. I certainly hope you’ve let the vacation club know of your problems. But, I stand by my experience with Marriott nonetheless.

  • Mike Mauheu
    April 22, 2023

    I read this review as all sunshine and rainbows. It wouldn’t surprise me if the reviewer was a paid influencer.
    It has been my experience that Marriott Vacation Club has been nothing but a predatory organization that oversells and underdelivers. Want to use your shares, you better have bought enough that you’re in the top tier. They get to book out all the peak rooms and areas months in advance. And you better not consider trying to sell or get out of your membership, as the value is worth nothing. Value is the catch phrase the sales team constantly pounds into you. Personally I think you would enjoy lighting your money on fire and watching that. It’s about the same return you can get from your membership with MVC.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      April 22, 2023

      First of all, I am not a paid influencer. I am the co-owner of this publication which you would have known had you done your homework rather than rushing to pass judgement. Your comments have no backing whatsoever, they are merely judgemental. Are you even an owner? And if you are and your experience is so negative, what action have you taken?

  • Carol Weber
    April 29, 2023

    We have been MVC owners since 2003 when we purchased a platinum week (ski season) at Mountainside in Park City Utah. We were so happy with our purchase, that we opted to buy a 2nd week, New Years week in Orlando. We then bought into the Destinations program to have the flexibility to use the best of all Marriott had to offer.
    We have had the best experiences with family and friends over many vacations. We consider our MVC properties our “retirement” property. We look forward to more wonderful trips to beautiful locations knowing that Marriott is taking care of everything.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      April 29, 2023

      Carol, so happy to hear you’ve had such a great experience with Marriott ownership, and of course, thank you for reading my story and for your most welcome input.

      • Mark
        May 1, 2023

        We’ve been owners since 2022. The resorts we’ve visited have been fine, service also has been pleasant. However, the serious problem is availability. Or more accurately put, the lack of availability. There’s no getting around that fact. Having to book 13 months in advance is not convenient at best and not practical at worst. Like me, it is my understanding that the vast majority of MVC owners regret their purchase. If Marriott is so confident in the value of its product they would make buying back an option. But alas, like countless others my family and I will try to make the best of our poor decision to purchase.

        • Noreen Kompanik
          May 1, 2023

          Hi Mark, it is true that some of the most popular resorts like Maui, USVI and Costa Rica are in high demand and must be booked far in advance. But this give MVC owners priority in booking these in-demand properties. And it’s not so different with other vacation ownership programs. When you say it’s your understanding that the “vast majority of MVC owners regret their purchase, as a journalist I’d be curious to know where you’re getting this information. It might help me understand some of the disappointments owners are facing. Also, have you reached out to MVC to let them know your concerns?

          • Mark
            May 1, 2023

            Thank you, Noreen. I appreciate your response. I have informed MVC of my concerns. Although sympathetic, they admitted there was little (if anything) they could do to alleviate my problems. I do not have specific stats or data I can point to support my understanding that most MVC owners regret their purchase. However, the 4 or 5 other owners I have spoken to personally feel that way. None I queried said they do not regret their purchase. Small sample size I realise. The only other evidence I can point to are the several articles I’ve read and reports I’ve seen that point to owner regret of timeshares owners in general—not specifically MVC owners. As I’m sure you’d agree, the timeshare industry has an absolutely horrendous reputation in general.

  • Patrick
    May 28, 2023

    Hotels are never available when looking, yet you can still book on the Marriott website. This is extremely aggravating!!! Book a tour(Collette, Cruise, Airline points etc) and you end paying more in your maintenance fee than it would to book privately. Marriott Vacation Club is a rip off. I own 4,000 points pay $2,800 a year in fees, booking privately is cheaper. I wish I never bought my timeshare.

    • Noreen Kompanik
      May 28, 2023

      I’m sorry to hear of your experience. We have not had any problems booking our villas and just did so yesterday at Waikoloa on Hawaii’s Big Island. Perhaps you need to talk to a representative and get a really good refresh on using your points for bookings.

    • Jan
      March 20, 2024

      I am so sorry you have had this experience. Thank you of sharing so others can learn from this.

  • Mark
    August 2, 2023

    We purchased a minimum number of points in December 2019 and I ended up hiring an attorney who just recently helped us get out of the contract. For a background, we are a family of 5 who love to travel to different places. I would consider us not budget but not luxury and I am a lifetime Platinum member of Marriott’s Bonvoy rewards program and always try to stay at a Marriott property when traveling for business. I cannot express how disappointed, angry and frustrated I was almost immediately, when I tried to use our points. I have since discovered that MVC is only connected to Marriott via a partnership to use the Marriott brand. It shows because I have always received excellent service from Marriott at the hotels and via customer service.

    If you fit this profile, then the MVC MIGHT work for you:
    1. You take 7 night vacations, staying at the same place (i.e. you won’t go from say Paris to London). These get priority booking so by the time you are allowed to reserve, everything is booked.
    2. You prefer beach resorts because these are the majority of their properties
    3. Per #2, if you want to go skiing, you can go for 7 nights and can book at least 11 months in advance, and don’t want to go over the December holidays or February school breaks
    4. Per 1-3 , you have A LOT of points so that you’ll get priority to book
    5. If no to #1-4 , you don’t care when you go on vacation and are happy with the places that aren’t as popular, such as Scottsdale AZ.
    6. They like to show you the “hundreds of properties” but….Marriott only has a handful and the others are thru their partner. However, with the partner properties, you can only book for 7 nights and alot of them are not up to what I would consider typical Marriott standards.
    7. You do not mind poor customer service – MVC makes it clearly apparent that, once you buy, they don’t give a rip about you. However, they are VERY GOOD at billling and calling you a few days before payment is due to tell you that you’re payment is late. I had to send an email to the MVC CEO who passed it down to a VP? I spoke with him and his solution for me was to buy new points.

    Unless all of these meet your needs, I would say STAY AWAY from MVC. It is truly a scam and you’re probably better off paying more for your accommodations as you go vs. dealing with this company, paying the fees and mortgage (yes, there is a mortgage)

    • Noreen Kompanik
      August 2, 2023

      Mark, I am so sorry to hear of your negative experiences. They haven’t been ours, but still, I can feel your frustration. Thank you for reaching out and talking about your experience and for reading the article. I hope you’ll follow us on other stories as we cover many rentals, companies and venues. Cheers! Noreen

    • Maria
      March 20, 2024

      Thank you for sharing this information. Very helpful.