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Marriott Vacation Club: Scam or Not?

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On Friday of last week, I went into detail about the decision that brought a timeshare into our lives.

I had noted that in 2000 when I first looked into a Marriott Aruba timeshare it was around $14,000. In late 2004, it was $19,000.

This lead me to conclude, these things only go up and up. My future wife bought in at the $19,000 price.

So when my wife and I were on our Maui vacation, we decided to take in a timeshare presentation to see what they had to show now. For this we were compensated with $95 in gift certificates that we could use at the hotel. I'll get into more of the pitch later, but they told us something interesting...

... our timeshare's value was $33,640

Considering that until about 6 months ago the performance of the stock market from 2004 was flat, this is a pretty fantastic gain, right? Of course!

So the value of these timeshares always go up. Measured from the my $14,000 estimate it cost in 2000, it has gone up 11.7%. Measured from 2004, it was 11%.

Did I find an investment that goes up 11% long term (okay 12 years), even despite recessions?

Perhaps not so much. Let's dig deeper...

Marriott's Destination Club Points

A couple of years ago, Marriott got a fantastic idea to make timeshare ownership more confusing. They put all the properties in a trust and create a point system. Every location and type of room would have a point value associated with it. Our 1-week, 2-bedroom timeshare at the Aruba Surf Club was valued as being worth 3075 points. Those that join this point system (and own the property that we do) can use those 3075 points in various ways. It might buy 4-weeks in Kansas (if Marriott had a timeshare there) as the points at the mythical place would likely be cheap. Those points could be traded for a 3-day stay in Maui as the resort we stayed at cost 7000 points a week. (No offense Marriott in Maui, but your accomidations should be valued at 20% less than Aruba, not over a 100% more.)

If you've followed me thus far, let's go a little further. If you owned somewhere else and wanted to trade for the same timeshare that we own through this point system, you'd have to give up 3,500 points. The difference between the 3,075 points that Marriott is awarding us and the 3,500 that they'll charge other people seems to be called the "skim" in timeshare lingo. In my view that 425 points per 3075 points (a 13.8% margin) is a rather large "skim." However, I've read about others which seem to be as high as 25%. You can review the prices of what Marriott charges here (PDF) (i.e. the 3,500) number. Getting the value of what you previously owned is a little more difficult. Fortunately, this person has compiled a pretty good list. This gives you the 3,075 number for existing owners that Marriott doesn't publicize too much.

With the Destination Club Points system, Marriott has decided to do away with selling weeks at a timeshare. You can only points. You want to stay at the 2-bedroom timeshare at the Aruba Surf Club for a week like we can? That's going to cost you 3,500 points (see above), so you have to buy 3,500 points.

How much does a point cost? It has changed over time. Marriott doesn't seem to post the point history, but in looking through various forums, I think I've comprised some decent data:

  • 8/26/2010 - the price per point was $9.20 (Source)
  • 3/19/2011 - the price per point was $10.22 (Source)
  • 2/15/2012 - the price per point was $10.94 (I'm reporting this first-hand from my own presenation.)

When we went into the timeshare presentation there was a handy graph showing these price changes, specifically pointing out that prices have gone up 19% since they've switched over to the point system (which is roughly 18 months ago).

The implied message was clear. If you want in, you better buy now, because with the way prices are going up you'll just pay more later. The salesman was even more direct saying (paraphrased) "If you are ever thinking of expanding your Marriott ownership, the time is now."

It occurred to me that the price per point is whatever Marriott wants to make it. They set it at whatever they want and it seems like it is calculated to increase around 11% per year. What's really interesting to me though, is how Marriott is able to continue to raise prices consistently and still make sales. Perhaps people are buying in with the belief that it an appreciating investment.

It seems to be an appreciating investment only in the minds of Marriott. If you do an search for Marriott Timeshares in Aruba on Ebay, there are a number of places listed for around $8,000 to $10,000. That's quite a gap from the $33,640 that our place is supposedly worth. It seems to be a gap that is only wider and wider.

I know I'm liberal with my use of the word "scam" especially with the MLMs that I occasionally write about. However, this does seem to be a scam by definition, right?

Posted on February 29, 2012.

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100 Responses to “Marriott Vacation Club: Scam or Not?”

  1. Interesting, but when you buy a timeshare, there is the list price and the negotiated price. I’d imagine that the true market price for the new Marriott timeshare purchase is somewhere between the ebay price and Marriott’s list price.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I think for Marriott, the list price and the negotiated price are the same.

  3. As an investment, it seems to have a bid-ask spread of 50-80% of the value in addition to some heavy fees. I can’t imagine that they make it easy for a timeshare owner to sell to someone else since they would rather sell a new timeshare. I’ll take my regular market returns :)

    It’s pretty easy to create a series of escalating prices to encourage more and more people to buy in. With regular scams/bubbles that fails when there aren’t enough new buyers to support an open market or when there aren’t enough new investors for the organizer to pay out the older ones.

    With something like this they could keep raising the prices as long as they feel there will be enough buyers to make it worthwhile since it’s not an open market and they don’t really need to pay out previous investors. But if they ever stopped raising the prices that could remove a big selling point, further crushing demand.

    Like big insurance packages you can pitch it well but my default answer is to avoid it. Any numbers that could convince me it’s worth it wouldn’t be believable.

  4. Mod20Mayhem says:

    Don’t forget…you can’t actually sell your time share on ebay to a buyer at their requested price. If you read your deed, Marriott has the right of first refusal on all sales. Basically, if you get an offer of 10,000, they have the right to buy it at that price first…and they probably will, because they will resell it for 20K more! They will not let the market set the price for these units…

  5. Lazy Man says:

    I’m not sure I knew that Mod20Mayhem. I have to be honest, I haven’t read the deed because I inherited it.

    I do see some completed listings on Ebay, which is also a binding agreement, so I wonder how that works. I guess those sales are pending approval.

  6. Lazy Man says:

    Value Indexer,

    That was a well-thought comment. I agree with you about how they can’t seem to raise prices forever. If Mod20Mayhem is right (and he almost universally is in my experience) and they’ve effectively silenced the secondary market with the right of first refusal (ROFR) then it does strike me that it isn’t an open market.

    I wonder if a legal challenge can be issued about the ROFR with regard to this. It seems to me that the consumer loses if there’s no secondary market and Marriott can price the first market at whatever they want. I guess people will just stop paying for it. Free market wins.

    I remember that was my reaction to the sales presentation that the Maui Marriott was pushing. To buy a 2 bedroom week there it was going to cost around $70,000, plus yearly maintenance fees – $1900 a year as one guest told me. I explained that we paid $1200 for our one bedroom, that current week on RedWeek.com. In most normal interest rate environments, the $70,000 alone will kick off enough interest to buy them individually when I want to go.

  7. I’ve made an investment where I can only trade with the issuer and not other people. I’m happy with it because the unit price is fixed at $1/share, the terms and returns are reasonable, and it’s only a small investment. If it’s in the contract it’s probably hard to challenge.

    I’m not familiar with timeshares but it might depend on whether you actually have 1/52 ownership or it’s just a complicated formula for them to rent out their rooms.

  8. Tommy Z says:

    I like to compare the cost of buying the entire condo vs. buying 1 week. When you convert the cost of 1 week ownership (timeshare cost + annual fees), these things are usually $200,000 condo’s selling for $2,000,000. Imagine if I could turn my house into a timeshare!

  9. Lazy Man says:

    I like the thought Tommy. I had a similar one myself. Then I also thought… Is your house on the beach in Aruba? How many square feet is your pool? ;-)

    I’m sure that Marriott makes a nice profit with each of these units, but it is worth noting that the expenses are huge too.

  10. Tommy Z says:

    My pool is about 50,000 gallons…but I was actually making a comparison to some timeshares I looked at in Cocoa Beach FL about a year ago. Before going to the presentation, I looked on Zillow for condos on similar beachfront property just to get a feel for what the market price was…depending on the condo, they were in the range of around $200k. The condos the timeshare company was selling were similar. Of course the timeshare condo comes with a few more amenties than what you would get from the typical condo association, so I would expect to pay a bit more…but 10X more in upfront costs? Really?

    The annual maintenance cost was around $1,100/year for 1 week. In other words, 52 weeks of maintenance would cost upwards of $57,000. Can you imagine paying real estate taxes, association fees, and the like to the tune of $57k for a property worth $200k?

    I’m interested in buying a timeshare if the numbers make sense…but they just dont.

  11. […] Lazy Man & Money wants to know – Marriott Vacation Club: Scam or Not? […]

  12. Lazy Man says:

    I wouldn’t do any comparisons with condos in Florida. I can’t speak towards any particular communities like Cocoa Beach, but it is well known that condos were hit hard there.

    I think you have to look at local market and see if it makes sense in that local market. It might be similar to buying vs. renting. In a lot of places it makes sense to buy. In other places, like Silicon Valley, it makes sense to rent.

    There’s a condo complex next the Marriott timeshare being built. (It has been being built for 5 years with little or no progress being made.) I will try to inquire on the price. The other thing that strikes me about a timeshare vs. condo thing, is the number of employees required to run a timeshare – at least the Marriott timeshares I’ve been to. The condo complexes I’ve been a part of have one person who might only work part time and not much more on a daily basis. It’s a significant difference.

  13. Mod20Mayhem says:

    Are timeshares overpriced? Probably. I don’t question that. Is there value in timeshares…potentially…but I don’t think it is economic in nature. Certainly if you compare staying in a hotel to staying in a time share, over time I think you do get some value out of it. Also, now that I travel with my kids, I find there is TREMENDOUS value in having a 2 BR timeshare with a full kitchen vs. staying in a hotel (getting 2 rooms) and having to drag the kids out to eat for every meal.

    Could I find a way to travel for cheaper…hell ya. Is timeshare ownership a good financial investment. Probably not. Is it a scam? It might be overpriced and a bad investment for some…but I don’t think it is a scam (at least with Marriott). I am getting a decent product, and I knew upfront what the costs were. It just doesn’t feel like scam. Are there things I don’t like about time share ownership…of course. But there are a lot of things I really like. I wouldn’t go out and tell people to buy one. But, I also wouldn’t talk someone out of it.

    I am not saying it was a good financial investment…but it was a good lifestyle investment. I go away every year to a place I love, stay in a great place with wonderful facilities, and always have a nice time with my kids/family. Can’t put a dollar value on that.

  14. Lazy Man says:

    Good thoughts Mod20Mayhem,

    I didn’t really go into the detail of owning a timeshare from a lifestyle, quality of life, etc. investment. That might be a good article for the future. However, one thought there is that if you can always pick up the same unit on a site like RedWeek.com, it becomes more a strict financial decision again…. whether it is better to buy it or just rent weeks from other owners a la carte. So while I do understand the quality of life, it seems like a financial comparison can be made independently of that quality of life.

    When I was thinking about it as a scam, I was more interested in the arbitrary nature of the market. If someone on Ebay says I can buy something at $10,000 and Marriott themselves says it is worth $33,000 something is wrong. Either the resale market is underpricing them or Marriott is overpricing them. If Marriott is using a right of first refusal to effectively shut down a secondary market, I think that fits in the “scam” territory. I don’t know if you see it in any other industry except for maybe privately owned company stock… and I’ve always thought that was a bit shady as well.

    If you own the deed on a house, condo, car, just about anything I can think of, the expectation is that you can transfer that deed to another party without having to ask permission.

  15. Len Penzo says:

    The Honeybee and I sat through the exact same timeshare presentation in October 2011 — I did it simply to get the 40,000 Marriott Rewards points.

    The Ocean Club grounds are nice — although too crowded for my taste — the condos are beautiful, and the presentation was no-pressure, but their arcane trust and point system left me scratching my head.

    I’ve never understood the allure timeshares anyway. Why not just save up for a nice vacay every year and avoid the maintenance fees and other BS?

    As an aside, while we were there, the pool was closed (for the second time in a week, we were told) because a kid pooped in the pool.

  16. Those presentations can be intense! I think the hard part isn’t owning the timeshare or the value of it – but trying to SELL it when you decide you no longer want it.

  17. […] Man and Money – Marriott Vacation Club: Scam or Not? The Honeybee and I went to the same timeshare presentation when we were in Maui last October. Of […]

  18. Lazy Man says:

    It depends on how much you want to sell it back for. The Marriott buy it back for whatever they consider is the right price. I find that you can be cashflow positive around $1000 a year on renting them out. If you no longer want $1000 a year, it typically isn’t that much of a problem.

  19. Matt says:

    There are a couple commenters that already touched on this, but in my opinion if you’re buying it as a financial investment you’re making a mistake. And if it’s being sold as a financial investment, then there’s a layer of scam to it. But if you’re buying it to have nice vacations, there’s definitely something to it.

    Timeshares or Vacation Clubs or whatever are investments in vacations. You’re buying later vacation time at today’s prices (plus annual dues). And a key point is that, usually, these accommodations are higher quality than what you would get if you chose to travel cheaper. Having a kitchen, a couple bedrooms and so on makes for a more pleasant stay. Would you travel as often without the timeshare? Would you stay in as nice a place if you paid the going rate?

    My wife and I bought into the Disney Vacation Club about 10 years ago but stewed over these same issues. Our argument then, and has played out so far, is that being frugal when booking a vacation can make for a vacation that is less than optimum. The timeshare, in a way, forces us to take nice vacations (and the point system still lets you try to get “good deals” satisfying that side of the brain). And in a little trick of the mind, we feel good about taking the vacations since we already spent the money- like how a gym membership makes you feel like you need to get your butt in there if for no other reason that to use what you paid for.

    The two things, vacations and being frugal, conflict at a fundamental level. It’s hard to enjoy a stay somewhere when the hotel is $300/night. It’s also hard to enjoy a $50/night place that sucks rocks. The timeshares offered a nice solution both financially and psychologically.

  20. […] Man from Lazy Man and Money presents Marriott Vacation Club: Scam or Not?, and says, “The value of these timeshares always go up. Measured from the my $14,000 estimate […]

  21. earltp says:

    bot Marriott timeshare 2 bdrm orlando in 1987 for 12500….25 years later they will sell it for me and I’ll clear about 9k…wtf are you guys talking about…it costs over 1k/yr (up from 300) in maintenance….always like to swap and stay at a newer property…they keep trying to get me to enroll in the points program but the skim works like this…if i deposit my week in the trust and get, lets say 2300 points (appx), it would cost me over 3000 points to use the same unit that i exchange for thru II each year (which does cost about 165/yr between II membership and Marriott exchange fees)….it was great taking the kids to disney every year as they grew up…but this albatross has never been a good deal.

  22. Lazy Man says:

    Earltp, you have the skim right. That’s why I’m not joining the point program. It’s way too much of a cut for Marriott especially when they are already making money with the maintenance fees and such.

    The only thing that I can think of is that perhaps Florida timeshares aren’t appreciating like Aruba timeshares. Yeah maintenance costs are going to go up quite a bit in 25 years. That’s not really a surprise.

  23. omalu says:

    I recently visited MVC and asked some the same questions being raised in this discussion. Given their stated increase in value of about 11% per year, I asked if Marriott would buy back the points at the full purchase price (~$11 per point)? Their response was that Marriott has a right of first refusal at market price but future contracts may include a 60% buy-back clause. Moreover the annual maintenance fee would be ~$0.40 per point. They offered me financing at 10.9%, thus 2500 points (not enough for Aruba) would cost about $315/month for 15 years plus about $1025/year in maintenance fees. I liked the idea of points in a club with diverse properties, but these prices are way too high. One salesman said the rental price of the unit at this particular property is $400/night while another quoted $600/night. Moreover, they stated that Marriott prefers that homeowners rent directly in order to avoid their 25% skim. This latter comment undermines their previous statements on the rental rates.

  24. Ansari says:

    Absolute scam.. The idea sold to us was that you own a time in the property and as property appreciates, your proportionate value will increase as well. The maintenance fee was down played.. 1100 per annum could afford a decent week in any of the Marriott resorts in off peak season.. and to use your time share in peak season is just not possible. i think they may be renting those out themselves to make more money. If I had time, I’d sue them for operating a mass scam. Problem is that they do offer 14 days of cooling period and only idiots like me fall for it..

  25. Markus says:

    Read all the comments and there are some great points. We just returned home from St. Thomas and stayed at the Marriott Fishermans Reef. Cost of the sold out rooms were $390+resort fee and taxes…about $500/nt.

    This was for 1 room and no kitchen. After spending close to $100/day on breakfast and the same for lunch…then add in the drinks by the pool($7beer and $13 fancy drinks). This is where the vacation club makes a big difference I have found. Dinner about ($250)

    The upfront cost is quite startling and the maintenance fees are annoying in my mind but I looked at all the numbers 6 ways from Sunday and found it to be a good deal. Other timeshares, not so much. The points system doesn’t constrain you to a week. You can use some points for an anniversary or 2 wkend getaways +.

    What is not considered is that you get 2 bedrooms, which we bought, and a full kitchen with parking(some hotels charge up to $35/day). Of course you can get a great deal on auction and discount websites…but they are 2 different animals. Cant compare really.

    Also, do you think that in 15-20years hotels nights will be the same price? Even with all my Marriott points(not vaca club) from traveling for work I still have to pay $35 resort fee/rm/night. 2 rooms for a week =$420/wk for a free room.
    Im not a gambler and felt the nightsweats for a couple days afterwards but considered it to be a good deal.

  26. Lazy Man says:

    I think you can compare the prices on resale markets like RedWeek. The product, a week stay at a specific hotel is the same. There is usually plenty of supply, so you aren’t getting lucky on a great deal on auction or anything like that.

    In 15-20 years the price of a hotel room won’t be the same, but we’ve seen our maintenance fee nearly double in the last 7 or 8. The prices of both will go up.

  27. Markus says:

    So Lazy Man, I just looked at RedWeek and now Im instantly nervous. Still trying to figure out what I wouldn’t get from a resale that I got when I purchased it new. We bought Marriott Club points(4k) and when I looked at the points resales, it appears to be around what we paid. Yes, I think I hate the maintenance fee the most. I do agree it will go up but im not sure if it will equate to cost of rentals.

  28. Lazy Man says:

    When you buy new you typically get some bonus Marriott Reward points (not to be confused with Marriott Club points). Well that’s what we got when we bought years ago.

    I don’t know much about the buying and selling of the Marriott Club point system. The advantages of the system (flexibility) were far outweighed by the costs (it cost more points to get what we were already getting with our week).

    I don’t think the maintenance costs will go up to equate to the cost of rentals. It’s worth factoring how much interest that initial investment in points/weeks will throw off in interest a year. If you put $30,000 out there and can get 4% interest that’s another $1200 a year on top of the maintenance fee that you would be losing out on. Of course guaranteed interest rates are closer to 1% now, so maybe that isn’t fair analysis, but a diversified portfolio might be able to make that, especially on average over the long term.

    Another thing to think about is that the prices of hotel rooms are often inflated. Marriott is going to say that they prices are high, but you can often get decent deals, especially if you are willing to sit in on a timeshare sales meeting. I would suggest that the real market price for a week is what it costs on RedWeek.

  29. Markus says:

    You are correct, we got about an additional week plus they rolled back the share price to $9 something, currently at 11. I think I pulled the trigger on the point system because they never expire and turn into hotel points after 2 yrs.
    I didn’t like the “weekly timeshare” because I felt to be locked into a certain time(taking a full week) and trading appeared to be painful. It might not be but that was my perception.
    The only thing I can really go by is that I have about 5 friends and several others that have it and really like it. Ive been to about 8 different discussion boards and have been quite freaked out about the responses! I guess I would feel the same if I got medical advice from the internet where a rash = you’re gonna die in 6minutes from a virus in cambodia. Usually always worse than what it is.

    All in all, I think it forces you to go on vacation, something that people will put off more than they should. Do you get a good financial deal? Who knows? I know my vacation budget is always much more than anticipated as of now.
    Im sure there’s a ton of rental/resale inventory out there now however we are in a terrible economy and if it does change, Im sure those deals wont be as attractive.

  30. regretter says:

    I have a Timeshare. I want to seel it but can not. I do not use Marriott’s and never will.

  31. Frank says:

    We just sat down yesterday (04/22/13) Oceana Palms on Riviera Beach Florida for a Marriott Vacation Club Sales pitch. This is what I came away with.

    First they ask what amount of money you currently spend for vacation and then they tell you that your $10,000 is lost for the year, but the portion of that you spend on hotel is only $3-4,000 the rest is travel food and entertainment.

    Then they say you can own a MVC investment (5-7 days a year depending on the time of the year and the location)which is about $40,000 with maintenance fees of $1700 a year in perpetuity. Because of the maintenance fee, you are just buying a discount on the price of the room. If the room is about $500 a night (Marriott rewards website price for our room) you are getting about an $1800 discount on the room for the week, but you are putting up capital of $40,000 to get that discount.

    If you were to live 52 weeks a year in a MVC 2 bedroom villa all
    year round, that would make the value of the room 52 x $40,000=$2,100,000.
    On top of that the maintenance fee for the year of about $85,000 on your property= 52x $1700. So the individual week is way overvalued.

    The price per point is not freely traded and although they tell you it started at about $9.00 per point and is now worth $11.50 a point, it is Marriott that sets the price. They create the illusion of an increasing value to your investment but it is never market tested.

    On eBay you will see people trying to give away their Marriott timeshares, but if you secure a “buyer” Marriott has the right of first refusal and can buy the property and resell the points for a price they have fixed to a new buyer at a tremendous markup.

    Just the interest on the investment of $40,000 will brings return (at 4%) equal to the discount you are receiving on the Marriott property for a week, and you retain the $40,000 capital. In the end the resale value of of MVC is 100% dependent on Marriott. If you find a buyer on eBay for $500, Marriott has the right if first refusal, and will buy it from you at $500 and resell it for $40,000. The $500 sale will never be reported publicly.

    I have been a loyal Marriott client for years staying in resorts all over the world. I am sorry to say that Marriott’s involvement in this MVC scheme has lowered my esteem of the company, and makes me feel that a great company with great service has gone a little to the skeevy side in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Too bad.

  32. Lazy Man says:

    Frank, I don’t think I could have said it better myself. I was thinking of buying them up on Ebay, it’s a far better deal than the $40,000, but from what you and a friend mentioned, I’d never get the chance as Marriott will take any “good deal” away from me with their right of first refusal. So they control the market completely, but give the illusion that you made an investment.

  33. Markus says:

    So basically, we bought 4k points/yr and got it for $38k plus 3500 bonus points. I still think its probably not the best financial decision that Ive made however, it forces us to go on vacation and enjoy life for a little bit. That alone might be worth it in the long run.

    I just booked a beautiful resort across from Sea World in Orlando for next April. Staying 10days and have an extra bedroom for the babysitter. Also, booked a night in boston at the Clock tower for our anniversary. Still have enough points for another vacation in the Caribbean.

    It all depends how you look at it. If you are doing this for a financial investment…prob not the best idea but who knows. Scouring the internet for deals can certainly turn up good value. This “recession” that we are in may have a brighter side and the availability of the weeks on red week.com might change and become more expensive.

    Am I going to get hosed and see that the weeks I want in the future have already been taken? Who knows but if I have to turn them in to hotel points or use them for airfare, I will just do that.

    I still dont get why everyone is mesmerized at the resale value if they plan on using it. Its like buying a car, trying not to drive it and then complaining when you trade it in years down the road.

    Maybe its just me…

  34. Lazy Man says:

    I’ve thought about the forced vacation thing too, but there have been times when it’s been not possible… like with the birth of our child. Maybe it’s just a personal reflection that isn’t the norm, but it really doesn’t force us to go on vacation.

    Doing some rough math, the $38,000 you spent could throw off in $1150 in income if it earned 3% a year. I don’t know if that’s high or low, depends if you would invest it in a bank earning 1% or less or something like Lending Club where I earn 6.5%. Then you’ve got the maintenance fee that can run another $1200 or so. Suddenly, you are looking at having $2400 a year, probably more. Is that enough to buy those things at Marriott? At sites like RedWeek.com, I think so. Though the RedWeek pricing may change, having been a member since 2005 or so, it hasn’t.

    Cars are depreciating investments, where deeded properties (like our MVC) tend to appreciate. That might be why people are looking at resale value and wondering why they can’t resell for more than what they paid for it… especially when Marriott sells it as an appreciating investment that will be worth more.

  35. I bought a “timeshare” 4 years ago. It wasn’t the traditional timeshare, but a “prepaid” series of weeks for timeshare resorts. We don’t have a home resort, but for $5000 we bought 45 weeks of vacation. We book through Interval and Dial-An-Exchange to book through any of their resorts (which include Marriott, etc.). It costs us $100 each time week book a week and they give us as many bedrooms / beds as people we have in our party. I thought it was a great deal at the time, and it seems that reading about the other places, it is still a good deal.

  36. Lazy Man says:

    $5000 for 45 weeks of vacation does sound pretty good. Can’t believe you good places, do you?

  37. The places available are all the places that everyone else stays. They’re usually 4 or 5 star resorts. The beauty of it is that we can stay in Paris for the same price as Orlando. In retrospect, I think we got an incredible deal.

  38. Lazy Man says:

    I think so too. I might plan a year of being a nomad. For $5000, that’s pretty sweet.

  39. Tommy Z says:

    Poker Meister – They still selling? How can I buy 45 weeks of vacation for $5k?

  40. We went on vacation to a Karisma property in Cancun through a website called saveonresorts.com. Part of the deal was we go on a timeshare talk during our vacation. This was going back 5 years, so my wife says its not available anymore. However, you can contact Karisma to see if they offer anything like what we got.

  41. Markus says:

    45 weeks for $5k….ummmm sorry, I dont believe it. Something just doesnt add up. Sounds like you’re holding a pair of twos Poker M.

    Thats $18.15/night at a 4 or 5 star hotel? That wouldnt even pay the electric bill…

  42. markus says:

    Sounds like a bluff by the Poker Meister. $18.15/night at a 4-5star resort???

    The hotel electric bill is more than that!

  43. :-). Twos -> Deuces, but I digress.

    Yes, it was 45 weeks for $5k. I was very skeptical about it; I still am, 4 years later. Believe me, we did not buy it on the spot.

    We’ve used about 2 weeks per year so I figure we’re at least break-even at this point. We book through Interval primarily though we also have access to the dial-an-exchange properties. FWIW, we have an annual fee of $100 to maintain our Interval status (i.e. keeping the availability to book through them). Also, as I said above, it is $100 for the booking fee for the week, in addition to the $5k up front cost for the 45 weeks.

  44. Lazy Man says:

    I should mention that Markus’ comments was in the cue before The Poker Meister had given out the details.

    So the whole deal (booking fees for 45 weeks and the 5K) runs about $9500 or $211 a week. I could see that as some kind of promotion or loss leader. If you don’t get blacked out most of the time, it sounds fantastic. I would expect that they only book this when they are very sure they won’t be near full vacancy. It still seems insanely cheap, but I’ve been lucky enough to come across insanely cheap deals in my time as a consumer as well ;-).

  45. The 5/6 5:06am comment sums it up; effectively $9500 for 45 weeks. The capitalist in me figured out pretty quickly that I could stay in the resorts for a year straight (45 weeks at least…) cheaper than it would cost to live in a house or whatever. I’m guessing someone did exactly that because when I was reading through the T’s & C’s, there’s a consecutive usage clause that diss disallows a certain amount of weeks consecutive.

    To your math, though, it’s $9500 + $100 x per year. In retrospect, I have no idea how we lucked into a great deal.

  46. Markus says:

    Well Mr. Meister, I hope you are enjoying it! If its legit, then good for you…

    I can say that I still have questions running through my head but then again, I just dropped almost 40 large on vacations in the future.

  47. I’m telling you: give them a call.

    It’s 2legit2quit! :-)

    If your questions are directed at me, fire away & I’ll be happy to answer.

  48. Sandy says:

    Hello everyone we stayed at the Aruba Marriott Stellaris first time and just fell in love with the weather and trade winds. Been to many islands but this one seemed like a good fit for my family with 2 kids ….6 and 7
    Went to the vacation club timeshare and bought into it
    3500 points for 31k with discounts and a free week anywhere
    Maint is .43 cents about 1500 but that sounds like a reasonable cost ?
    Never been to a timeshare talk bf sounds good
    Love the layout of the two bedroom with full kitchen, 2 baths and washer and dryer and Dishwasher! And so family friendly and water that you can drink and not get sick! I think we made the right decision just hoping booking for next yr will be easy. If anyone has any thoughts let me know

  49. Daniel says:

    Unfortunately, clearly as hundreds of others prior MVCI owners, I am also very disappointed with the new points system, and my disappointment only grows since the point system went into place.
    It is not more flexible as advertised – it is a lot less. I cannot trade anything.My property is worth, in points, less than it takes to get it now, so I can only trade down, period.
    Fees increased, a lot, and I now only lose money, paying a lot in fees to go to lesser properties, or staying at the same place all the time – not exactly what I was promised.
    Worse – despite multiple complaints, and emails to multiple of your managers, every time I call, somebody seems even more confused than the last person, everybody gives a different opinion, but nobody can help.
    I used to be a big fan of Marriott, and a lot of people in my extended family felt that way. We are all rapidly changing our opinions, and by all the blogs and websites around, it seems the list of unhappy customers is only growing.

  50. Brittany Smith says:

    I urge everyone to stay away from Marriott Vacation Club – it is a fraud. When you try to change properties, they tell you it is “unavailable” – yet when you check directly with the property they have availablilty. When you ask for a supervisor, you are told “no one is available”. This is not a professional outfit, and should be avoided.

  51. […] big bribe to buy the product right away, I've found that it wasn't a great deal. (I'm lookin at you Marriot Vacation Club. My feeling is that they don't want you to do the research, because you might uncover a bunch of […]

  52. Marcus says:

    For every 1 complaint I have seen on this website, Ive spoken to at least 10 people who are thrilled with the Club.
    We just bought(using the points system) in March and have Disney locked in next March as well as an Anniversary weekend in Boston in the fall, both high season.

    I have found that most people who have written negative comments have purchased a July week in Daytona and want Aruba in February.

    With that said, I still have buyers remorse about spending more than I think I should but then again, I am going on two vacations I might not have booked without it. My family certainly enjoys it…

  53. Lazy Man says:


    I am one person who has been thrilled with the club. I’ve met dozens of people who were thrilled like me. However, like you admit at the end, it’s quite possible to have some buyers remorse about not getting great value for your money.

    For what it is worth, we have an Aruba week in the gold season and generally don’t trade it. However, whenever we seem to stray from the “use it every year” plan, it gets stressful with it potentially expiring (when we deposited at Interval International (II)). I’m sorry, but a week that you own shouldn’t “expire”, even if it means carrying it on for 50 years. We were told by Marriott that we could always sell weeks that were deposited with II and that was simply a straight-forward lie. There are unnecessary restrictions for something that you supposedly own.

  54. Brascher says:

    I’ve been going out on vacations almost every year, always looking for good deals but always ending up at average hotels, finding out that the deal was not that good because you have to pay more if you wanna get B+ services. That’s ok when you are single or married w/o kids. It’s an “adventure”. But now I find myself at the age of 36 with 2 kids (7 and 2 years old) and just can’t keep on the same style anymore. At the end of the day your vacations (that’s what I work for — i.e. having memorable times with family) are not 100% and that’s also money waste. How to put a value for blown vacations? The way I read through different forums I can conclude that:
    1) Previous owners are mad because the new point system don’t seem to “represent” what they had before.
    2) Some people are looking for investment deals (perhaps a big portion also included in the poin (1) above).
    I feel that most of the general discontentement comes from (1).
    1) if you are a previous owner: sue Marriot (though not many ever mention this possibility – why not?)
    2) if u are looking for financial deals: you have come to the wrong place. Get out.

  55. Seth Rubinson says:

    Dear Sir:

    If you already have a lawyer, please disregard this message.

    I am an attorney licensed to practice in Florida and, with a prominent class action firm, am investigating claims concerning the MVC Destinations point program.

    If you wish to discuss this matter with me, please email. Thank you.

    Seth Rubinson

  56. Lazy Man says:

    Thank you Seth. We’ve already talked via email. If you want people to be able to email you, you’ll have to include your email address. It may be a good idea to address it to the general audience of anyone who is interested.

  57. Tommy Z says:

    Five Cent Nickel just came out with a blog on this topic today. It’s a really good article. Check it out – I’m curious to know what everybody thinks of it.


  58. Lazy Man says:

    Good article.

    I have to look at the fees, but I think they have to be accounted for fairly carefully and disclosed to owners… like condo fees. I could be wrong here and to be quite honest don’t have the time or the motivation to research this in any detail. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader.

    I would question the scarcity thing. I had a grand idea to buy these up if they truly cost next to nothing. Turns out that you really can’t buy them at these prices, at least not the Marriott ones, don’t know about others. It seems if you try to buy these at a low price, Marriott has the right to pay that low price first from the seller. Again, I haven’t researched or reviewed this for accuracy, but numerous Marriott owners point this out. Thus, the low prices listed aren’t really low and Marriott is able to control pricing.

    At the end of the day, I can say that Marriott will pay more for the timeshare that we bought from them today than what we paid ten years ago. It wasn’t like that at first, but it has appreciated in value where we can sell it at a small profit. It seems to pass the appreciation test, even if that appreciation isn’t the biggest.

  59. Andrew Doyle says:

    I am a Marriott VC “Owner” in Phuket Thailand for nearly 10 years. I own 1 “Platinum” week. It is a different system to US but similar in many ways. I am not a lawyer, but a finance guy. But I read contracts.

    I own nothing except “right of use”. My guess, so do you. Is it a scam? I don’t think so. Do most people know what they “own”? I don’t think so.

    When I bought my week, I knew what I was getting. It suited me and it was before sites like Agoda and there was limited timeshare resales online, but some. We bought because it locked us in (I know it sounds strange) to a week of family vacation.

    I have no regrets.

    We saw it as a 7 year “investment”. Actually, it was an upfront expense.

    Now we go to the “owner update” every year with the vouchers and the soft sell. They’ve been trying to convert us to the “points” bull spit. I write this from the Hilton in Kuala Lumpur. “Points” are the last thing I need.

    And as per the original article, the points system tell me my that my original “investment” of $16,000 is worth OVER $50,000. Wow, can I give you back my week and pay me $50k? “No sorry”. OK, what about $25K, half that “Sorry again”. So $15k maybe?….”We sometimes buy weeks back and we’ll let you know”. That was April. Not heard anything.

    So it is a rigged “market” if you can call it that. It is also a house of cards. With the plethora of online providers, their model is cracking at the seems.

    Would I buy today? No. But regrets, none.

  60. Lazy Man says:

    Andrew Doyle,

    I wonder if we crossed paths when I stayed in there in September of 2008. I loved that place. Best massage that you can get for something $8 American (and on the level, my wife approved). Say hi to Yum-yum and Yambo for me.

    I don’t read contacts when my lawyer has previously read contracts and made the decision to buy. Perhaps I should, but in this case I trusted him. I know that it is deeded and not just a “right to use.”

    I’m not surprised they aren’t willing to pay you back that $50,000 that they claim it’s worth. Sounds like a great way to deal with the timeshare salesman… “Wait, you won’t give me $25,000 for something that you say is worth $50,000? Either you are lying to me about its value or you are not very intelligent. In either case, I’m not interested in dealing with you.”

    I think I agree with you on eery point. It seems like a “rigged market” to me, which I’d call a scam. Also, I wouldn’t buy today either. That said, we have no regrets either.

  61. You are a victim of timeshare scam if you were told these statements at a sales presentation:

    “…our timeshare is a good financial investment.”
    “…you can rent your timeshare weeks and make a profit.”
    “…you can sell your timeshare anytime and make a profit.”
    “…XYC company will buy your old timeshare for a considerable amount of money.”
    “…our timeshare offers you exceptional benefits and discounts for airfare, car rental, cruises, hotels or tours.”
    “…our timeshare offers tax advantages.”
    “…our timeshare is a deeded or like a deeded property (perpetuity).”
    “…please, sign this waiver rescinding your right to cancel your timeshare within the 5 day recsission period as we are activating your timeshare today.”

  62. Yaneli Roberts says:

    Timeshare reviews are full of complaints. As soon as you hear these lies told usually in sales presentations, say “no, thank you” and walk away from the sales rep.

    Selling fraudulent timeshares is becoming a common practice as is becoming harder to reach the goals timeshare managers have every month.

  63. Marcus says:

    Its kinda strange. A common response to everything on the web is quite negative. Whether its sports, illness, investments, the news and of course timeshares.
    Somehow everyone I bump into really likes this Vacation Club. Although they may not have investment backgrounds, however they are educated people who dont like giving away their money.

    If you are granulating the future as to whether or not you saved 100bucs here or there on vacation, you probably shouldnt go on vacation at all. A vacation is like a mystical boat…the only investment is the memmories.
    Can you do it cheaper? Probably. Is this a scam? I sincerely doubt it.

    Are there people out there that bought a timeshare in Del Boca Vista for $2,000 and now cant understand why they cant go to Aruba in February? Yes and they usually are the quickest ones to type type type away.

    I still do have a little buyers regret but will feel better when we are in Disney World in 2 months. Its a lotta scratch for future vacations up front. The way I figure, it wont really pay off until 10yrs from now.

    As for the five cent nickel blog pasted earlier, it costs more than 150k per unit to build. Pools alone cost an obscene amount of money to maintain. I see some holes in that blog…

  64. Yaneli Roberts says:

    Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel, timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership. Nowadays, timeshares have become a very popular vacation option, yet lots of people do not completely understand how timeshares operate.

  65. Hate MVCAZ says:

    I worked for Marriott Vacation Club (MVC) & was lied to about the job just like they lie to guests. I learned firsthand how little they truly care for anything but your MONEY & how to get more & more out of your pocket. I learned they call it “CRIMESHARE” for a good reason & they play the guests just like a game. Guests that do not buy are called bottom feeders & scumbags. All Marriott companies go to great lengths to obtain all kinds of data about you, they analyze it to manipulate you & regardless of what they say; IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY!! The MVC sales process is a total mind job & sinister in nature. They get you to like them, find your weakness, exploit it, take it away, make you believe your life is lacking without it, then pressure you to buy. IF YOU LET MARRIOTT MANIPULATION YOU, THEN YOU DESERVE TO PAY & PAY !!! That is why I hate all forms of the Marriott name & will never stay in a vacation club or hotel property ever again.

  66. Leen van t Hoog says:

    I am along time owner in Marriott, Vail I owned 15 years.
    Bought three more weeks,Two of them in Vegas.
    Those two weeks I still own, the other two I gave back….
    Paying 1300 plus for a week with 45.000 points every two years is ridiculous.
    I have the feeling that your best bed to step in is to buy a week, a cheap week, with low maintenance,and to become a member with Intervall.Then pay for the weeks they offer, you will not be forced to go on holidays, but take only the best bet.

    The other option is to buy only the TOP Marriott at TOP location, if you want to go there 10 times out of 12.Then you will enjoy a top location at a fair price(remember, service fees are the same whatever the season you buy!)
    Moreover, sometimes , they say, the top weeks can be sold at a profit.
    DO NOT believe them when they say they can rent your place, they will not do that as I tested a couple of times.
    Marriott buying is a bit like giving your money to the bank: you give it to them and HOPE they will do some good with it.Why should they, they have your money already!

    If I would like to sell again, I would include a friend as buyer and let him make a reasonable offer, then Marriott will take it for that price and you will not end up giving it away as I did! To put it on ebay is useless, because you cannot transfer your points to the new owner! (is that legal by the way?)


  67. Kerry says:

    I have worked at Marriott and can tell you that yes, the point system was developed because they sold out and then needed to keep,selling so they took crap weeks at properties that no one wanted to buy anyway, and bundled them together and backed it with a deed and viola, now more inventory is open even though they haven’t built a new property in years. It gets the actual deeded owners our of the good units to go other places so you, who have bought points, can get into Hawaii, which has been sold out for years. Just as this past year, all the resorts went up a category so they could charge you more, they have the power to define what a point is worth and if you don’t think they will require more and more points to stay at properties, you are smoking something funny. Or maybe you should start smoking it because it will dull the pain of the scam that everyone fell for. The whole buy now or you won’t be eligible to use all the new stuff……lie. The best part is that Bill Marriott got rid of the timeshare portion because it is a loser, and he only does hotels now, and they have just a few more years to use marriott name and then people who paid a premium will realize they bought abc timeshare co. Will be livid. Stop giving them money because you are going to lose. And you will NEVER make a profit, even on the most expensive property in the best Marriott. Try. It can’t be done. The only way to benefit is buy a cheap week from somebody desperate to sell, only buy a deeded week because that will always be 7 days, not six or five or four. You can get them for a grand or sometimes less because people want out of the maint fee. What most people don’t know is even if you pay off your loan, if you are late on your maint fee, they will foreclose. And it is just like a foreclosure on your home. It will wreck your credit. Do not think points are for your benefit. Remember that marriott will never do anything that is not in their best interest. It goes against good business sense. Every change, no matter how they spin it, is for their gain only. Stay with the companies that sell deeded weeks only. If you must buy timeshare. Trust me, I know. People will try to tell me different but I KNOW.

  68. Kerry says:

    I just read the post a few up from someone that worked for marriott. Good post. it is true. If you buy right away you are ranked as a lay down. People who constantly go to presentations for the gift with no intention to buy they have a pretty name for you pack of losers. The point is, they are a terrible company. It was not always this way. When Mr. Marriott was in charge, it was different. But now, it is just a money making machine. And like I said, when people find out that it is not marriott and hasn’t been for several years, how happy will you be? You paid a premium price because you thought it was marriott. It is on the way downhill folks. If you have spent 1k or more, you will tell me I’m lying etc. But I tell you in all Ernest, you are going to be sorry.

  69. tami lawlor says:

    We were offered a promo to visit a Marriott Vacation Club and we when tried to book several properties were no longer included in the promo, then the dates were never available unless it was middle of the week and as a family of 5 many properties included only allowed 4 per room. Once we found a property and dates and availability the promo rate then included upgrade fees, holiday fee, and was almost double what I was guaranteed. They call Platinum members and oddly now have lost a good customer (stay in Marriot about 7-10 nights a month). Don’t participate IT IS A SCAM

  70. Lazy Man says:

    Kerry, I agree with you. Personally we bought 10 years ago and stayed off the new point system. We are happy using our week and that’s it. I don’t think we’d buy again. Instead we’d just use a website like RedWeek.com and pay for the week we want to use.

  71. Charles Moranis says:

    They are all ponzi schemes, espesially the exchange clubs. All you have to do is look on ebay, and you can deduct thru reasoning, and a little bit of research why so. We were called from our snareshare folks (the grand seas resort) last summer, who said they were sending someone to our town to try and fix the owner satisfaction issue with their brand. The guy showed up, we attended, A TOTAL SHELL GAME if I might say. They wanted to buy back our week, then they wanted us to write them a check for a few thousand $$$ give them their check back, and convert us to a point system!!!LoL!!! I walked out in the middle of the whole deal. I have since found out that the point game is just one more way these cons have developed to convert real hard working peoples money into something with little or no value. Go on over there to ebay. Check it out. You’ll see what I mean.

  72. Carl smith says:

    I just walked away from a presentation and refused to buy in. No question about it they seemed pissed. Talking to “owners” and seeing their rationale in their comments reminds me a whole lot of Amway / QuickStar people. I will continue to pay what I need to pay to stay at a Marriott property of my choosing, where I want and when I want, or a different property if Marriott is booked. Having that freedom alone to me is worth NOT buying into the MVC.

  73. Carl smith says:

    In further retrospection, the last time I spent $30,000 + on anything was purchasing a car. At that, I carefully shopped it out, as well as a dealer, established a repoire with the salesman, in total a process with took a few weeks and careful consideration. These clowns expect me to commit this kind of money after an hour long sales pitch? With no opportunity for follow up, no business card, no opportunity for anything but on the spot signing your life away. I truly feel sorry for anyone who gets “suckered” into this, that did not go in knowing what they were about to do. Truly borderline criminal!!!

  74. Peter Foley says:

    The decision to purchase vacation club points can be difficult. The only way to determine if vacation club ownership represents a good value is to perform a financial analysis. This requires comparing costs associated with vacation club ownership with the costs of the alternative – paying retail costs for lodging fees. Before I purchased vacation club points, I created a spreadsheet to determine if there was a financial benefit associated with vacation club ownership. The spreadsheet was so helpful that I decided to create an application so that I could analyze future vacation club purchases. This application is called PointsCruncher and is located here: http://pointscruncher.com. I hope it helps make vacation club ownership decisions a bit easier.

  75. Phil Jorgensen says:

    Resale Weeks are the way to go if you want the quality of Marriott. You can find great deals on resale weeks on ebay but they are constantly evolving due to the auction clock. Redweek.com has a huge selection of Marriott Timeshares for either one time rentals or deeded weeks in annual or bi-annual use patterns. Check it out. Whatever you do don;t buy brand new at a resort their “flexible” point system will cost you an arm and a leg!

  76. Phil Jorgensen says:


    In this installment of “Don’t Buy into Marriott Vacation Club unless you are Rich” we will further clarify “Don’t Buy Into the Brand New (Retail) Less Desirable Point System”

    If you can afford a luxury purchase such as a Marriott Timeshare Property, do yourselves a huge favor, and purchase a resale week vs. a retail deal and save yourselves $20,000 to $30,000 or more! There are many sources! One awesome source is http://www.redweek.com

    Once you set up a log-in with Redweek and want to begin shopping for a Marriott Timeshare for either a one-time week rental or a lifetime resale deeded week, you must first begin by selecting one resort; e.g. Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club on Oahu’s sunny west side.

    Below is an example of the dozens and dozens of choices for you. Plus, when you are on the real site by selecting “view” you can get more information on contacting the seller.

    Peruse through these listings. They start at $4000. The “Use” column is very important because back in the days of deeded week procurement, Marriott offered “every year” or “every other year” choices also known as Bi-Annual. Bi-Annual obligations might actually be better for you for a wide variety of reasons. As you scan down you’ll see the lowest costs are for bi-annual weeks either “odd” numbered years or “even” numbered years. It isn’t until you see “annual” where the every year deals begin. Check it Out!

    Instead of getting Ripped-Off with a Brand New Overpriced and Masterfully Planned Destination Points Program that Marriott currently sells at their resorts, Go Resale!

    Check out these resale week deals for Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club (and make sure that you understand the closing costs and issues and the maintenence fees):

    Find these Marriott Resales @ http://www.redweek.com

    Price Week (Season) Use Type Unit View Bd/ Ba Occ

    $4,000 Floating (High) Even Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    NEW! $4,500 Floating (High) Even Deed Varies 2/ 2 6 View
    $4,950 Floating (Varies) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $5,000 Floating (High) Odd Deed Garden 2/ 2 8
    $5,000 Floating (High) Even Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $5,000 Floating (High) Even Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $5,450 Floating (High) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8
    $5,500 Floating (High) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $5,500 Floating (High) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $5,500 Floating (High) Odd Deed Garden 2/ 2 8 View
    $6,000 Floating (High) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $6,500 Floating (High) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $7,000 Floating (High) Even Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 6 View
    NEW! $7,200 Floating (High) Odd Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $7,500 Floating (High) Even Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $7,500 Floating (High) Even Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $7,900 Floating (High) Even Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $8,250 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8
    $8,500 Floating (High) Odd Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $8,500 Floating (High) Even Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    NEW! $8,750 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $8,990 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $9,750 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $9,750 Floating (High) Even Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $9,900 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $10,000 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 6 View
    $10,500 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 6 View
    $10,500 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $10,900 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $11,990 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8
    NEW! $12,500 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $12,999 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $13,000 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8
    NEW! $14,000 Floating (High) Annual Deed Varies 2/ 2 8 View
    $14,000 1 (Varies) cal Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 6 View
    $14,000 1 (Varies) cal Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $14,499 Floating (Varies) Odd Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $14,900 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $15,000 1 (High) cal Annual Deed Ocean view 1/ 2 4 View
    $15,000 51 (High) cal Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $15,900 Floating (High) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 6 View
    $18,500 Floating (High) Odd Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 6 View
    $19,500 51 (High) cal Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $19,900 Floating (High) Even Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $19,995 Floating (High) Annual Deed Water view 2/ 2 8 View
    NEW! $20,000 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 6 View
    $23,000 Floating (Varies) Annual Deed Mountain 2/ 2 8 View
    $24,500 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 3/ 3 10 View
    $24,900 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 3/ 3 10 View
    $27,000 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 3/ 3 10 View
    $30,000 Floating (High) Annual Deed Ocean view 3/ 3 12 View
    $43,500 1 (High) cal Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View
    $47,500 Floating (Varies) Annual Deed Varies 2/ 2 8 View
    $49,900 52 (High) cal Annual Deed Ocean view 2/ 2 8 View

  77. Phil Jorgensen says:

    Timeshare Industry’s Lack of Government Regulations.

    This author is generally not a proponent of increasing the size or power of government. However here, we are talking about an industry who’s product purchase can be one the of the largest allocation of funds a consumer ever makes. You have your home purchase, number one. Your timeshare or vacation club purchase is often more costly than your automobile purchase, etc. Left unchecked, and free to create their own maze of self-serving rules, Timeshare Industry Organizations can do almost whatever they please, such as Marriott taking a 26 year old system and changing the rules which at times are perceived as being very harsh and shrewd and it’s for the primary purpose of increasing their profitability with little or no regard to past company promises or the customer’s previous sizable financial investments. And just because they bury a few paragraphs into a very long, detailed contract stating they reserve the right to make program enhancements or in Marriott’s case change things dramatically, that does not make it ethically correct in many people’s view.

    The timeshare industry is in a unique position that inherently offers them many advantages. There are very few other industries that have their customers contractually obligated to perform for the actual lifetimes of those customers. If payments are not made, or if its deemed that a customer is not following the rules, or performing, the accessibility to the customer’s product is denied and/or penalties compound. Unlike a home builder, a car manufacturer, or a lending institution, If a timeshare company goes out of business, the customer no longer has access to the product. If a timeshare company becomes so financially successful from perpetual rising rates or crowds of new customers to where the older customers can not seem to access their product purchase (which is really a key complaint from many, about Marriott Vacation Club ) there’s really nothing that can be done in an industry that has virtually no regulations beyond initial cancellations. It’s their way or the highway. Choose the highway, lose all the money you had invested in your vacation dreams and pipe-dreams; while memories of all those smiling faces back at the resort are replaced with fresh impressions of past due notices and bill collectors. Then when there’s storm damage at the resort, an unexpected major expense or even when the desire for for additional enhancements arise (e.g. pv solar installation) at the timeshare company’s physical real estate; buildings or grounds, the timeshare companies are able to charge additional assessments to their owners to pay for such expenditures. Its almost as if the timeshare industry can extort money from their customers as time goes on and the years go by, and the customers, who are also called the “owners” have very little recourse except to default. These are some of the long term reasons why possibly government regulations could protect customers.

    Now here’s an additional short term Government Regulation Suggestion: Its similar to Regulation Z, Truth in Lending, in the consumer lending industry. For this discussion, Timeshare and Vacation Clubs purposes, let’s call it Regulation TVC. When the deal is being made, in addition to the 100 pages of contract, and the endless paperwork that the Timeshare Industry’s Lawyers produce to protect their interest, not yours, there is a new 1 page summary, required by Regulation TVC, that is designed to protect you. The 1 page summary (which may actually needs to be 2-3 pages ) requires line by line initials to a vast range of brief and simple of statements in simple english that cover all the comprehensive relevant details. From deposits, cancellations, penalties, assessments, customer responsibilities, reservation procedures, financing, annual maintenence fees, non-usage, trading, swapping, selling, advanced planning requirements, other recourse, etc. Every conceivable detail of required customer understanding is further guaranteed by the customer’s initials, line by line.

    If anyone would like to share some feedback, touch on areas that may have been missed, or tell me that I am incorrect, please feel free to send me a private email at [Editor’s Note: email addresses in comments are not allowed.]

    If you agree and have been a victim yourself, contact your United States Attorney and [Editor’s Note: The Google Plus page linked to here is not a regulator body for timeshares and has been removed]. If there’s enough of a group effort, perhaps we will all see some results.

  78. Leen van t Hoog says:

    Just got back from a week in Son Antem, majorca.
    (a GETAWAY)
    They offered me there the new point system.Now I can pay 2800 euro plus vat and access those resorts that they promised in the first place!
    Such as Newport and Hawaii. would you believe it? All those weeks were not available before, now the “gate”opens!!!!
    I requested them first to arrange for an exchange system with priority for Marriott owners.And what about a rental website for owners?They promise that you can rent it anytime, but if you ask them there is no possibility.
    Who checks by the way what they do on location if an apartment is empty and somebody walks in???
    One of the few positive things I can say about Marriott that they took back two useless weeks from me, so no more 3000 dollars to pay/year!Why do I need it 99 years? I do not live that long anyway! So my children will pay the rest! NO THANKS!
    They should offer 20 years use including service fee for a fixed price.
    It’s a mystery to me that Marriott does not start with making their owners happy, so we will recommend Mariott to our friends.

  79. Sandra says:

    It is a total scam!!! Please do not buy it!!! Read the Internet and all these complaints! They are true! Think about the fees you’ll have to pay for the rest of your life!! It is impossible to book, website is a total disaster, you need to plan far in advance.. and it is impossible to sell the points if you want to get rid of it!! Or you’ll take a serious hit on the original price you bought. Just do your calculations, you can have very nice holidays for the value, fees, fines etc you’ll be paying every-year. Don’t buy it! We regret every day We bought it and will until we get rid of it, we feel we were scammed, fooled and cheated into this program…while it was suppose to be our wedding present to ourselves when we were in Hawaii… They make me sick that they take advantage of happy people on holiday/honeymoon to pursue you into this crap!!

  80. Marcus says:

    These comments are quite interesting. First, MVC is a publicly traded company that has 420,000 members. Their stock since 2012 has gone from $16/share -> $80/share. They pay their employees double the average salary. If you don’t believe it, ask some of the people serving you with smiles on their faces. Customer service has been excellent.

    Reading a few dozen complaints that it is a SCAM is obviously just a theatrical impulse.

    Lets use some common sense…

    They are in no trouble of selling the properties, met 3 people who purchased them while we were in St. Thomas in Feb, so why wouldn’t they buy the resales at a cheaper rate, then resell them at the going rate? They have higher cash flow than the industry standard as well.

    We bought about 3yrs ago and yes, I felt buyers remorse for the first year. Couldn’t get the place we wanted, when we wanted some times. The Website is terrible, no doubt.
    However, once we learned the ins and outs of booking, it is much more attractive. The condos are beautiful and would cost much more to rent for a week…especially if you want to go during school vacation weeks.

    Also, Vacation Clubs aren’t for those looking to make money or vacation for a discount. They are guilty of forcing you to take a vacation. We Americans, I speak for myself and friends, have it backward and often skip vacations to buy the Luxury car, LED TV, North Face everything or addition onto the house nobody ever uses. Most of those purchases depreciate faster than one would think.

    So, as far as this person is concerned, it is not a scam.

  81. Joe says:

    MVC is definitely a big SCAM. Don’t read the posts that say it is not a scam. They are placed by people that work for MVC. They going to have one hell of a class action suit going there way. I am going to fight them. I am not going to piss away my points for nothing. Too many people that own MVC are a bunch of sheep.

  82. Shirley says:

    It’s a scam stay away we learned the hard way.

  83. GrammarPolice says:

    For those looking for credibility in the comments I would suggest looking at their grammar.

    Try not to receive advice about diamonds from a bricklayer.

  84. danbrew says:

    We bought at Barony Beach when they first became available – in 1998, I think. Maybe 1999. Our one week is an ocean front unit and is awesome. The pool and amenities are what you would expect for Hilton Head. It is getting a little dated, but is a good vacation spot for the family.

    We went into this knowing that we wanted to vacation at Hilton Head every year – my daughter was 1 or 2 at the time and my son hadn’t been born yet. I vacationed on Hilton Head with my family when I was a kid and there was a lot of sentimental value associated with the purchase. Having said that, I did the math way back then and figured that I was simply prepaying for vacations and that this was a luxury thing – no way did I go into it thinking it was an investment and that I would make any money at it.

    That summer time ocean front 2 bedroom condo cost about $30,000 + all of the annual maintenance fees. The maintenance fees have crept up over the years and I think I paid $1150 or so this year. Let’s just call it $1100 for each of the past 18 years. That’s 30k + 19,800, for a total investment of 49,800.

    So… 18 years? That’s $2766 per year. Looked at another way? $395 per night. I just checked the Marriott website and it would be about $650 per night for the same unit.

    Without getting into future value of money, what I could have otherwise done with the money, etc., this was a good investment for our family because we knew that we always wanted to vacation on Hilton Head.

    Marriott used to have fixed weeks – you’d always know that you had week 33 or week 34 – then they went to that screwy reservation system. There has been more than one year when we didn’t get our first choice of dates – which is a pain if you are trying to coordinate scheduled with multiple families. And then, of course, the point system came into play. I swear, there’s some dude at Marriott who sits around thinking about how they can make it super difficult for you to execute upon your week, how they can then resell that unoccupied week and screw their customers.

    I have no bad things to say about the people at Barony Beach – they’re always very pleasant and, you know, they’re working at a job while we’re all on vacation. I can appreciate that. But Marriott Corporate? No doubt about it – it’s all about them and it’s all about the bottom line. The hell with the little guy that has plunked down a bunch of cash to prepay his vacations.

    Would I do it again? Only if I knew that I was always going to visit the same spot. We’re partial to Hilton Head and will likely retire on or near the Island (I’m 50 – the plan is to retire at 55 & it we’ll probably be able to do that – phwew!). I went into it knowing that Marriott was in business to make money and the only way that it made sense for us was to go to Hilton Head every year and to actually use the vacation. On that front, it’s been great. I haven’t had to worry about the issues associated with a second home where a major storm could come in at any moment and trash your investment.

    So, yeah, I think timeshares *can* make sense. Most of my financially savvy friends just laugh at me when I bring up timeshares – but what they don’t understand is that I don’t view it as a financial vehicle/investment strategy. It was a luxury purchase and I had a big bonus check back there when we bought it. $30k was a lot of money to me when I was 30 and we made the purchase and have little major regrets. We’ve certainly gotten a ton more value out of it than had I spent that $30k on a depreciated asset like a car.

    I can envision keeping this timeshare for another 20+ years and having my kids and grandkids continue the family tradition of visiting Hilton Head. Heck, I can envision living on Hilton Head and still maintaining the timeshare as it would be a good place for my children to visit with their families. If we’re looking at it strictly from a numbers perspective, another 20 years will increase that nightly cost to about $100 less than the $650 rate – and the nightly rate will likely stay on par in that $650 range. Yeah, the properly could go to shit and they could start selling those nights for $75/night – but Marriott isn’t going to trash their investment. Net/net, if you know you are going to visit that particular resort, it’s good for a generation, maybe two.

    And, btw, did Marriott ever tried to sell us a second week in the early years & to get us to convert to the point systems in later years. The point system? lol. That’s just some MBA sitting around thinking about how he can increase the revenue by preventing people from using “their” week.

    I could see my kids selling the timeshare once I’m dead and buried – they may not like it as much, somebody may like the $5,6,7k they’ll get out it, they may be burdened by the maintenance fees, whatever. I won’t care, I’ll be dead.

  85. Lazy Man says:

    danbrew, thank you for the long, well-reasoned comment.

    I don’t know much about Hilton Head and the costs of staying there, but I have a similar perspective about Aruba. We knew we wanted to go back every year.

    The problem I have is the assumed room rate of $650. It’s a similarly listed price for Aruba. However, I don’t think anyone ever pays it. I have friends who agree to take a time share presentation and get a price under $200. That’s not the only way to get a discount. I think if you just called up, you’d get a much lower rate. Furthermore, websites such as redweek.com allow you to rent someone else’s time share for the week. We’ve found that they are often as low as $150 a night (not for the whole suite, but half of it).

    My point is that the money could be used more wisely and I didn’t appreciate the sales pitch that made it sound like we getting a great financial deal.

  86. NYgirlSCworld says:

    We bought 3,000 points 3 years ago. Our intention was to go to Aruba with our friends, who are deeded week owners. Year one we could only get a lock-off unit, year two we got the 2-bedroom, year three wait listed even though we were booking 12 mos out. Since there was a time limit as to when we could bank our points, we had to pull off the wait list and bank or risk losing. So we are staying in Hilton Head for a week on our points, with our Aruba friends, and in three months we will go with them to Aruba on their week. We went to the MVC presentation, and was told we couldn’t book bc those with 4,000 points can book 13 mos out & we can only book 12 mos out owning 3,000 points. So their answer was buy more points to get what we wanted to begin with. We opted not to, because another 1,500 points would cost us close to $20,000…and who knows if they are telling the truth. Besides, it’s a lot of money to just be able to book earlier. No thank you. We booked an oceanside view at this resort. It is dated, and our oceanside view is a bunch of trees blocking the ocean. There is no maid service included, $80 if we want service one time during the week. And being on the ocean, you need to rent beach chairs. And into year 3 and our maintenance/club fees are climbing. Scary thinking we have no control. Very disappointed in Marriott.

  87. Marcus says:

    We purchased 4k pts about 3yrs ago. Immediately I had buyers remorse however that has dissipated over the years a little bit. Yes, the fees are going up however not overwhelming.
    The one thing that I keep reading over and over is the financial value of the timeshare. There are better ways to look at it. I would suggest comparing it to a luxury car. Do you focus on the 30k-50k you lost in the first 3yrs? Not likely.
    We are going to Aruba this year in January. My friends, who decided to vaca with us, rented through Redweek and definitely paid quite a bit for the same week. Additionally, theres also generous fees associated with renting from Redweek as well.

    My major regret is not so much the money factor as it is the availability. They certainly make it seem that you can go to any one of these resorts, any time. Not true. Its tough to go to Aruba or St. Thomas during the winter months.
    Also, when things change and you have to move things around such as add a night on the front of a vaca and remove one from the back for a better airfare rate, it gets complicated. Customer service really doesnt shine here.

    That being said, all of the properties and staff we have stayed at thus far have been excellent.

    In my mind, its worth the investment if the value( on a travel site etc…) of my week is more than 50% of my fees. So far, it has been. Aruba is on average $2500 more than my fees for the week. So, I take that and theoretically pay down my initial cost each year.

    Would I do it again? Not sure…

  88. Lazy Man says:


    We own at Aruba Surf Club. I hope you got that vs. the Ocean Club. The Surf Club has the Lazy River which is, of course, just my style. The Ocean Club is still fantastic, especially with the spa tubs.

    We’ve sold and rented weeks through RedWeek. Admittedly, my wife usually does the arrangements, so I can’t speak first hand, but I thought the fees were very minimal.

    I think it’s pretty close to break-even. You can take the initial money and invest it and use the interest/investment income to buy weeks on Redweek as needed. I think that comes out to the same as buying a week of timeshare and paying the fees. Our fees now are around $1600 for one week. That means that one small unit generates $83K in fees a year to keep it running. Seems like a ton money to me.

  89. Marcus says:

    Lazy Man,

    I agree. I asked my friend how much the fees were and he said it was quite small so I was incorrect.
    Yes, we selected to go to the Surf Club this year..because of the river and suggestions.
    As far as renting it out, I counted 63 properties in the Aruba Surf Club that start TODAY. I wonder if they are negotiable because some are quite expensive. Not sure if they are just backups for the owners vacation or will go unrented.
    I know you said you sold through Redweek, but have you ever purchased from the aftermarket? Marriott says that it is not the same and your status does not increase with more points. Which leads me to believe that they might, just might be correct otherwise they would buy it themselves and resell them. Even if its only a 20% gain its worth it (likely much more)

    As far as us, we likely wont be returning to Aruba anytime soon. I booked the week and they tried to find airfare every week for about 9 months.. Wow! Plus the taxes to get into the country. From Boston we paid $875ea/rt. United has cheaper ones but with a connection. No thanks, I’ll pay the extra for JetBlue and direct.

  90. Lazy Man says:

    I’ve bought and sold weeks at Redweek. I haven’t bought timeshares themselves on Redweek. I don’t have any problem with status… whatever that is. I just go stay in the room as a normal vacationer would.

    We found that Southwest has very good prices if you catch them when they open up the schedule. I think we typically pay $400-450 to fly out of Providence. My friend Jim has a pretty sweet hack to get free companion travel there too: http://wallethacks.com/how-to-earn-a-southwest-companion-pass-without-spending-110000/.

  91. Marcus says:

    Thx for the follow up! We’ll have to look into the flight deals thanks! I fly with Jetblue a lot…so we usually use the points however I was shocked at how much they were getting for the tickets! I checked in regularly and set up a ticker off of kayak.com…still no decrease.
    I would really like a credible reference from someone who purchased a week from aftermarket. It just doesn’t seem to add up why Marriott would not buy them back at a major discount. They have excess funds at the moment. The status allows you to book sooner and therefore gets you access to resorts that might fill up quickly.
    Apparently I repeat myself because the website wont post some things that I write. I look back and cant find a similar comment however it says it wont post it. :/

  92. Paul from Wembley says:

    Hi all,

    I’ve only just found this site so have not had a chance to read through all. From a quick skim through it appears we are all in the same boat and are not happy with the way it was sold. I’ll need to read more and provide my account of what I was lead to believe when sold my two weeks in Andaluza, Spain.
    I must say it is heartening to get others opinions if only for moral support but if anyone is considering legal action or joining with others in the same position I’d be up for that. Maybe starting an FB account to allow easy access and communication for those who are unhappy to join together. If I am way behind the curve on this I am happy to heed any advice wrt joining forces. Public opinion and bad publicity can go a very long way as Marriott well know. I don’t
    care what the small print says people power is back!

  93. Robert says:

    First-time viewer/poster to this site, which I stumbled across as I was trying to find out more about why Marriott’s Vacation Club website remains inoperable for a third day.

    My wife and I have been owners at the Aruba Ocean Club, and now at the Surf Club, for (good grief) 16 years. Long story, but we were able to trade our 1-bedroom Ocean Club unit (at 100% what we paid for the OC unit, 3 years prior) toward a Surf Club unit when they opened that property.

    We currently own a platinum Ocean Front unit and a platinum+ Ocean Side unit. We paid a total of $86,000 for both units (two 2-BR units, a week per each unit). We paid-off both units within a year. We’re not independently wealthy. Up until five years ago, we both had good paying jobs. Now we’re down to one good paying job. Had we been in our current financial situation 16 years ago, no way we could have done what we did. I digress.

    I used to keep a very detailed spreadsheet of every Vacation Club expense, the original purchase prices for both units, all maintenance fees, and the rental income we received. We normally rent one of those weeks each year. On an aside, before the Destination Points program, which I still don’t fully understand, we received a $4,700 check from Marriott for renting our Ocean Front unit through them. During those years, I thought we’d be in the black, after all costs (purchase prices plus maintenance fees), within 10 years.

    That didn’t happen.

    Marriott changed their in-house rental policies and significantly reduced what they’ll pay to rent your week. I think (maybe) we would get $2,000 to $2,500 for the ocean front unit today. I now rent predominantly through eBay and generally get $2,800 to $3,200 per week.

    Maybe we’ll recoup our costs within 20 or 30 years. Maybe never.

    I’ve mellowed with age and stopped with the spreadsheet a few years ago.

    But with 12 years of data (original purchase prices for both units, maintenance fees, and rental income), after all said and done, we were averaging $120.22 per night for a 7-night vacation. Over the years, we’ve spent about 2/3 of our trips in Aruba and the remaining vacations via trade-ins or hotel/destination points to Hawaii, St. Thomas, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Orlando, and the Cayman Islands. Almost everywhere we’ve visited, the accommodations were excellent. All for $120 a night. Definitely, unequivocally worth it … for us. Another digression, and I know this will come across as super a-hole’ie of me, but if you can’t afford it, don’t do it. You will be miserable. You will feel stuck. You will lose a lot of money. And I do place some of the blame on Marriott for this, particularly their aggressive sellling and lofty promises, which I believe ensnares more than a few people who really can’t meet the financial burdens.

    Lest you think I’ve drunk the Kool Aid and I’m a die-hard Marriott flag waver, I’m not. During the past 16 years, there have been more than a few instances where I felt screwed, lied to, ripped-off, and otherwise disrespected. And more than a few times where I wished we’d never bought either week.

    But I’ve had those same feelings toward my wife, my kids, my parents, my friends, bosses, co-workers, and strangers on the street.

    Like a lot of things in life, being a happy Marriott timeshare owner takes some work, sometimes a lot of work. Marriott’s not going to necessarily make the vacation planning easy, especially after they have your money, though sometimes it is. We’ve gone to places that we might never have visited, and we usually take one wowza vacation per year, which in retrospect we would have never done.

    For the last 16 years, it’s been a worthwhile endeavor for my family.

    I guess that’s it.

    Hope this provided a useful perspective.

    And I will be furious at Marriott, tomorrow morning, if I don’t get that 2017 week.

  94. Lazy Man says:

    That $120 a night seems a lot cheaper than I would have expected. The point I was trying to make in the article is that the same money could be invested in liquid assets that produce income. That income could be used to buy weeks on RedWeek. It’s generally around $160/day to stay if you are just buying there. If I had to do it again, I think we’d just use the RedWeek website.

  95. Eli says:

    I recently sold my 2bdrm gold season for $6000. I took that cash ran like hell! i bought mine Aruba Ocean Club pre sale in 1998 for $14900, i got 18 great yrs of usage as the maintence went from $800 to $1800 over that time period but i saw the light at the end of the toll bridge once points came into play. Marriott does have a good product that people love but the cost of passage is getting to high so i was lucky to get off that wild ride, and cash out.

  96. Chris says:

    The issue I think we all need to understand is to never ever buy a timeshare from the developer. In this case Marriott. I have always bought my timeshares resale and have paid pennies on the dollar. I purchased a Marriott Maui Ocean Club 1br 2 bath timeshare for $1,000 dollars and a year later Marriott bought it back from me for $6,000. I bought a Marriott Aruba Ocean Club 1 br for $2,500 resale. I also own a 1 bedroom deluxe oceanfront at LaCabana in Aruba, again purchased resale for pennies on the dollar. With what I’ve paid and what I’ve gotten I am well ahead of the game. The point is BUY RESALE. Never buy from the developer.

  97. Lazy Man says:

    I’m curious how one even buys from a reseller. I asked a few friends who were Marriott owners about buying from someone else. They said that Marriott always has the right to buy first for the price, so if you were to get a good deal, they’d just take the good deal and resell it themselves through their official program.

    Maybe the answer is to work through a real reseller, but I’ve seen postings on Ebay and RedWeek that are people-to-people transactions.


  98. markus says:

    Something doesn’t make sense with the resellers. I own points that I purchased through MVC.
    They have first rights to buy it back. So, a billion dollar company will choose not take that opportunity to buy it back at a much cheaper rate?
    Just doesn’t add up and every time I try to follow up with questions with people who have purchased through resellers, I get different answers…

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