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With the impending merger of the Starwood and Marriott loyalty programs on August 1st, I have been getting a large number of questions related to the best ways to use Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest points under the existing terms and award charts. One somewhat unique form of these questions recently came from a family of five who can no longer reasonably stay in one standard hotel room.
Secure multiple bedrooms using points at a Marriott Vacation Club property
They are looking for opportunities to use their approximately 60,000 SPG points in a way that meets the needs of their family of five and gives them the biggest bang for their points. As you know, most standard hotel rooms are simply not equipped for a family of five, especially as the kids get older. Short of booking a second room, which can be prohibitively expensive when using points, another option is to look at booking Marriott Vacation Club properties. You can sometimes book a one, two, or three-bedroom vacation club unit for only a reasonable number of additional points beyond the price of a studio or standard hotel room.
Since 60,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points can convert into 180,000 Marriott Reward points at a 3x ratio, this family has a decent number of points to work with to secure a multi-night family vacation at one of the 50+ Marriott Vacation Club properties around the world. When you use points to book a Marriott Vacation Club property, the points component of the fifth award night is free, just like it is with standard hotel rooms. However, any cash component or upgrade certificate is not waived on the fifth night.
The downside of booking Marriott Vacation Club properties with Marriott Reward points is that availability is not guaranteed the way that it is with standard hotel rooms. You will almost certainly have to have some date or location flexibility in order to book a family vacation at a Marriott Vacation Club property using your Marriott Rewards points. Also be sure to compare award prices with paid rates directly from Marriott and with prices available through the various timeshare rental sites.
I did a few dozen searches over the last 24 hours at various Marriott Vacation Club properties to get a feel for current availability and award pricing. Here is a sampling of what your Marriott Rewards points can secure if you are looking for a Vacation Club property with more space to spread out, make meals, and have fun with your family or friends. All of the examples given were ones where I was able to find at least some award availability using flexible dates. Additional unit sizes may be available at each property, but I only included what I could actually book in my searches as of today.
Booking Marriott Vacation Club properties with Marriott Reward points
- Two-bedroom villa with one king, one queen, and two sofa beds available for 45,000 points per night
- One-bedroom villa for 35,000 points per night
- Two-bedroom villas for 45,000 points per night
- Orlando, Florida
- One-bedroom villa for 40,000 points per night
- Phoenix, Arizona
- One-bedroom villa for 35,000 points per night
- Two-bedroom villa 45,000 points per night
- Palm Desert, California
- One-bedroom for 40,000 points + $100 per night
- One king bed, one sofa bed, maximum occupancy of four
- Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii
- Two-bedroom villa for 50,000 points per night
- Two king bedrooms, two sofa beds, and maximum occupancy of 8
- South Lake Tahoe, California
- Located next to the Heavenly gondola
- One-bedroom villa for 50,000 points per night
- One king bed, one sofa bed, and maximum occupancy of 4
- Palm Beach, Aruba
- Two-bedroom villa for 45,000 points per night
- One king bed, two queen beds, and a sofa bed with maximum occupancy of 8
- One-bedroom apartment for 35,000 points per night
- Two-bedroom apartment for 40,000 points per night
- Two-bedroom has one king bed, two twin beds, and a sofa bed
- Property has a lagoon pool with lazy river
- Two-bedroom townhouse for 35,000 points per night
- Three-bedroom townhouse for 40,000 points per night
- Located four miles from Disneyland Paris
I don’t know how the pricing at these Vacation Club resorts may or may not change beginning August 1, 2018, nor do I know what impact the Marriott Vacations acquisition of ILG timeshares may have in the future. Presumably, that will open up even more options since that acquisition includes the Westin, Sheraton, and Hyatt Vacation Club brands. As I understand it, that deal is set to close in the second half of 2018.
Tips for booking Marriott Vacation Club properties with Marriott points
As was already mentioned, you need to have real flexibility to find award availability at Marriott Vacation Club properties. The flexible date search calendar is very useful, but it also isn’t 100% reliable. Sometimes I could find award availability with a flexible date search, and sometimes the only way to pull it up was to use specific dates and keep playing around with date options until something was found.
All of the resorts mentioned in this post did have at least some award availability, but there were some Marriott Vacation Club properties where I couldn’t find any award availability at all.
If you think about how much a standard room at a middle tier category SPG property costs, such as the Westin Grand Cayman at 12,000 – 16,000 SPG points per night, spending the SPG equivalent of 13,333 – 15,000 points (40,000 – 45,000 Marriott points) per night to book a two or three bedroom unit is pretty outstanding. If your family has grown beyond the confines of a traditional hotel room and you want to continue to use points to travel, looking at vacation club properties is the next logical move.
Does your family ever use your Marriott Reward points to book Marriott Vacation Club properties?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.