• The TUGBBS forums are completely free and open to the public and exist as the absolute best place for owners to get help and advice about their timeshares for more than 30 years!

    Join Tens of Thousands of other Owners just like you here to get any and all Timeshare questions answered 24 hours a day!
  • TUG started 30 years ago in October 1993 as a group of regular Timeshare owners just like you!

    Read about our 30th anniversary: Happy 30th Birthday TUG!
  • TUG has a YouTube Channel to produce weekly short informative videos on popular Timeshare topics!

    Free memberships for every 50 subscribers!

    Visit TUG on Youtube!
  • TUG has now saved timeshare owners more than $21,000,000 dollars just by finding us in time to rescind a new Timeshare purchase! A truly incredible milestone!

    Read more here: TUG saves owners more than $21 Million dollars
  • Sign up to get the TUG Newsletter for free!

    60,000+ subscribing owners! A weekly recap of the best Timeshare resort reviews and the most popular topics discussed by owners!
  • Our official "end my sales presentation early" T-shirts are available again! Also come with the option for a free membership extension with purchase to offset the cost!

    All T-shirt options here!
  • A few of the most common links here on the forums for newbies and guests!

Marriott VC Explorer Program-Over Priced

tf2275

TUG Member
Joined
May 9, 2007
Messages
24
Reaction score
4
We recently attended the Marriott Vacation Club owner "update" meeting where the rep again touted the wonderful "Explorer Program" options for usage of VC points (or conversion of weeks to points). We travel extensively and I decided to undertake some comparisons of the actual cost of using VC points vs. direct purchases. As my results below clearly indicate, the "devil is in the details" for the use Marriott VC points vs paying cash for cruises/hotels/and group tours.

For comparison I assumed a maintenance fee (MF) cost of $.50 per MVC point plus annual membership fees at $215, although weeks owners in higher cost locations (e.g. Maui) like us have MF at approximately $.62 per point after conversion.

Cruises:

I'm wondering how many VC owners have enough points (except for saving for 5-10 years while paying maintenance fees) for many MVC cruises. Using 30,000 MVC points as an example, an owner with 5000 points would have to wait six (6) years to take one cruise while paying fees every year.

We are interested in a Mediterranean cruise in September 2016 on a mid to upper level cruise line (not Carnival). I compared the cost of using VC points (all trips are for 2 people) against the actual cost listed on the cruise web "Last Minute Travel.com":

(9/26/2016) Regent Cruises (Seven Seas Navigator ship) 7 night cruise Athens to Venice: Suite (room w window/no balcony): 25,000 VC points ($12,500 MF+yrly membership) vs. cost $3799 x 2=$7598 ($4902 extra).

(9/3/2016) Crystal Cruises (Symphony) 11 night cruise Rome to Istanbul. Balcony room: 30,000 VC points ($15,000 MF+yrly membership) vs. cost $4536x2=$9072 ($5928 extra).

(9/9 or 16/2016) Azamara Club Cruises (Journey) 7 night cruise Venice round-trip. Balcony room: 25,000 VC points + fees ($12,500 MF + yrly membership) vs. $3349 x 2=$6698 ($5802 extra). Oceanview room: 18,000 VC points+fees ($9000 MF + yrly membership) vs. $2849x2=$5698 ($3302 extra).

(9/12/2016) Oceana Cruises (Riveria) 10 day Istanbul round-trip. Balcony or Oceanview room: 30,000 VC points ($15,000 MF + yrly membership) vs. balcony $4999x2=$9998 ($5002 extra) or oceanview $4299x2=$8598 ($6402 extra).

Marriott Hotels ("Unforgettable Hotels & Resorts"):

I chose one (category 7) Marriott Hotel to compare the usage of MVC points to the cost of booking or using Reward points on the hotel site.
San Diego Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina: summer (6/1-8/31 usage any one night including parking and free internet)-1450 MVC points ($750 MF+annual membership) vs. 35,000 Reward Points+$30 parking (Cost to purchase 35,000 points at $.0125/point=$437.50) (MVC points to Reward points conversion 32:1-1450 MVC points=46,400 Rewards points) (VC points cost $313 extra for one night). If making a paid reservation, most summer week nights cost $359 for a basic room+$30 parking (Rewards status provides free internet). AAA discount available on some week nights at $339. Highest weekend rates are $479. ($411 to $271 extra per night).

Guided Tours ("Land Expeditions"):

These trips are the most difficult to compare. First, MVC provides very limited information including names of hotels and in some cases the name of the tour operator. Comparison should be made for land tours only (not air). We travel overseas 3-4 trips per year and I am confident there are much better values in direct purchase from a reputable tour company. We happen to be regular traveler with Overseas Adventure Travel (www.oattravel.com) which has maximum groups of 16 people. We recently traveled to Machu Picchu as part of a more extensive Amazon/Machu Picchu/Galapagos trip and will use that segment for comparison.
MVC "Adventure Travel" - 8 Day Machu Picchu Guided Tour 9/4/2015 (Land only 2015 prices). Land portion is 7 days. Comfort hotels (class 3-4). Meals: 7 breakfasts/0 lunches/1 dinner. Maximum 16 people. 10,000 MVC points (couple) ($5000 MF+member dues). OAT 6 nights "Cuzco & Machu Picchu" (this is an extension to a longer trip). Air Lima to Cuzco and return Cuzco to Quito. Moderate hotels (class 3-4). Meals: 6 breakfasts/4 lunches/2 dinners. Maximum 16 people. $1595 per person =$3190. (savings $1810+).

In sum, I wonder which Marriott VC owners are using the Explorer Program and, if so, what are they thinking? ​
 

tiel

TUG Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2010
Messages
788
Reaction score
129
Location
FL
The non-timeshare use of DC points has been discussed many times here on TUG, and the consensus has been it does not make sense in $ terms. And I would agree with that, given most point:$ valuations. The only thing I would say is, for some people in some situations, such use provides them "value", and that's all that matters.

The stated purpose of the points program was to give people options, and that's what it does. We have never elected any of those options, and don't anticipate doing so, but at least we have some choices if we don't want to timeshare it for a while at some point, but are not yet ready to give up the timeshares altogether.
 

dioxide45

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Lifetime Member
Joined
May 20, 2006
Messages
48,908
Reaction score
20,340
Location
NE Florida
Resorts Owned
Marriott Grande Vista
Marriott Harbour Lake
Sheraton Vistana Villages
Club Wyndham CWA
We are spending two days in London next fall. I was just looking at some pricing for 47 Park Street. 1,675 points per night in a 1BR :eek:. Guess we will have to take a hotel room. It would take almost all of the points from on of our entire 2BR Orlando weeks for one night there.
 

BocaBoy

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2009
Messages
5,333
Reaction score
411
Location
Wisconsin
Resorts Owned
Grand Chateau
For comparison I assumed a maintenance fee (MF) cost of $.50 per MVC point plus annual membership fees at $215, although weeks owners in higher cost locations (e.g. Maui) like us have MF at approximately $.62 per point after conversion.

I don't disagree with your basic conclusions about the attractiveness of the Explorer options, but I do disagree with the fact you have stated above (see portion I have marked in bold). I think often (probably almost always) the high cost/high point value weeks have a lower maintenance fee cost per point than the cheaper weeks. We own a Maui oceanfront week in the new towers and our MF is approximately 31 cents per point.
 

suzannesimon

TUG Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2010
Messages
1,888
Reaction score
147
Location
Destin, FL & Bethany Beach, DE
Resorts Owned
Marriott Frenchman's Cove, Hyatt Sunset Harbor, Harborside at Atlantis, Marriott Aruba Surf Club, Marriott Grande Ocean, Westin Kierland Villas, Westin Lagunamar
I calculated my per-point maintenance fee cost at Frenchman's Cove and it is about 36 cents. It varies depending on what week you own. More points go to the high seasons yet the maintenance fees are the same for all weeks owners at a resort.
 

jtdillian

TUG Member
Joined
Jun 27, 2008
Messages
49
Reaction score
3
Location
Las Vegas
I'm thinking maybe some owners don't have the finances available to them that it seems like you have especially the type of trips you are doing 3 to 4x a year. Your 3 to 4 examples especially the Premier travel cruises would be over $40k some people might think it is smarter to put their money into ownership rather then see $10k or more disappear after a trip is over. Even though the points cost significantly more (I agree) the one thing you are forgetting about in all of those examples is that the money spent on those trips is gone for ever but the points reload annually! When you mentioned the 30,000 point cruises you wouldn't be able to do what you mentioned using 5000 x 5...you could only do x3 because of the bank and borrow option. I would think those 30k point trips are only for the heavy hitter owners and probably don't care anyhow. They are not for the commen owner like myself and I'm sure a lot of other tuggers. However in saying that I know someone who used 3 Mountainside weeks and converted enough points for a Viking River cruise. I think they said their main fee is around 1200 each. That's 1200 x 3 for that cruise. In that case that doesn't sound that bad. Just my .02.
 

JIMinNC

TUG Review Crew: Expert
TUG Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
4,909
Reaction score
4,471
Location
Marvin, NC (Charlotte) & Hilton Head Island, SC
Resorts Owned
Marriott:
Maui Ocean Club
Waiohai Beach Club
Barony Beach Club
Abound ClubPoints
HGVC:
HGVC at Sea World
Guided Tours ("Land Expeditions"):

These trips are the most difficult to compare. First, MVC provides very limited information including names of hotels and in some cases the name of the tour operator. Comparison should be made for land tours only (not air). We travel overseas 3-4 trips per year and I am confident there are much better values in direct purchase from a reputable tour company. We happen to be regular traveler with Overseas Adventure Travel (www.oattravel.com) which has maximum groups of 16 people. We recently traveled to Machu Picchu as part of a more extensive Amazon/Machu Picchu/Galapagos trip and will use that segment for comparison.
MVC "Adventure Travel" - 8 Day Machu Picchu Guided Tour 9/4/2015 (Land only 2015 prices). Land portion is 7 days. Comfort hotels (class 3-4). Meals: 7 breakfasts/0 lunches/1 dinner. Maximum 16 people. 10,000 MVC points (couple) ($5000 MF+member dues). OAT 6 nights "Cuzco & Machu Picchu" (this is an extension to a longer trip). Air Lima to Cuzco and return Cuzco to Quito. Moderate hotels (class 3-4). Meals: 6 breakfasts/4 lunches/2 dinners. Maximum 16 people. $1595 per person =$3190. (savings $1810+).

In sum, I wonder which Marriott VC owners are using the Explorer Program and, if so, what are they thinking? ​

I'm pretty sure the cash rates for most of the Explorer Guided tours can be found at http://www.gocollette.com. Collette is the tour provider for Marriott. I haven't done it recently, but one time was able to do direct like-for-like compares of cash vs points using this site.
 
Top