Buying Marriott Vacation Club (MVC) Timeshare

Buying a timeshare resale can be confusing. To help clarify the programs that Marriott Vacation Club (MVC) offers, we've teamed up with specialist David Cortese of Florida's Magical Realty.

This article will give you everything you need to purchase a timeshare at Marriott Vacation Club, including:

Marriott Vacation Club Program Overview

Marriott's timeshare program, Marriott Vacation Club, started off as a deeded resort/week ownership in 1984. They introduced a points-based system with the name "Marriott Vacation Club Destinations" in mid 2010. There are approximately 59 resorts in the Vacation Club, with hundreds more affiliated resorts.

Marriott has given traditional week (also known as legacy) owners the chance to convert to the Destinations points program, but it is estimated that, in 2014, 55% of the approximately 420,000 Marriott owners still own legacy weeks. Those numbers are changing, however, since Marriott no longer sells traditional weeks (they are still available on the resale market). When Marriott buys back a deeded week from an original owner, or exercises its Right of First Refusal to buy back a timeshare on the secondary market, it converts those legacy weeks into points for future sales of the Destinations program. Over time, the points program will inevitably include the majority of Marriott owners.

Legacy weeks are deeded to a particular resort, unit type, and specific week or floating season. Owners can make reservations at their resort up to 12 months in advance. Contracts can be annual or biennial for even or odd year usage. If you are interested in a specific season at a specific resort, and prefer a full week to shorter stays, your best bet is to buy a legacy week (especially if you need Christmas or New Year's).

When Marriott's points program was introduced, it was touted as a way to provide Marriott owners with more flexibility and vacation choices. Under the points program, owners purchase a block of "Vacation Club Points" without a home resort, and they can use those points to reserve any unit size, duration, and season at any resort within the system, so long as they have sufficient points. Owners can use their annual allotment of points to book single nights, weekends, or longer stays. This additional travel flexibility is valued by many owners, but some owners feel their ability to make reservations was diminished after converting to points, due to the smaller pool of inventory available to them (read this Marriott forum for actual owner discussions).

Marriott's Seasons and Point Values

In the points system, the name of the season doesn't matter - all points are created equal - but the number of points you will need to book a certain unit with points varies based on the resort, time-of-year, days-of-the-week, unit size, and view.

Here is an SAMPLE ONLY of a Points Chart that Marriott Vacation Club Destinations owners would use for determining the number of points needed to make a reservation at a particular Marriott resort.

This is the simplest example found - at a resort without a lot of complexity in seasons, unit sizes, and views. PLEASE NOTE: Every resort has a much different chart, and differences will vary wildly. To give you some idea: in 2015, a Hawaiian resort at Christmas-time in a 2-bedroom oceanfront unit would cost about 9,000 points. A 2-bedroom at a resort in Palm Desert for the same week costs just 3,775.

For legacy weeks, Marriott's complex internal seasons with ~19 variations are a factor you may need to familiarize yourself with. If you are buying a traditional legacy week that is floating, rather than a fixed week, you will need to understand the name of the season your week would be floating within, and what timeframes are available to you for booking.

Banking or Borrowing

Points: Marriott Vacation Club Points renew annually. The anniversary date for each contract is different, so you will need to find out what anniversary month you are buying. Points owners have the option to bank or borrow through Marriott directly.

Legacy Weeks: there is no formal "bank" or "advance" option, but savvy buyers can shift weeks around through exchange with Interval International. There is no option to do it directly through Marriott - this is true both for buyers who purchased direct from Marriott and those who purchased resale.

Internal and External Exchange Options

All Marriott owners - whether they own points or legacy weeks - can exchange through Interval International (II) to access Marriott or non-Marriott properties worldwide. Marriott maintains Interval International representatives at their headquarters to assist Marriott owners exclusively.

The Marriott Vacation Club Destinations (points) system is essentially Marriott's internal exchange network -- if you own points, you can contact Marriott directly to use your points for bookings. Owners of traditional legacy weeks do not have access to this system unless they enrolled their legacy week into the points option (every year they have the choice to either use their Legacy week or take points). In order for a legacy owner to be able to enroll their timeshare in the points program, they must have purchased their unit directly from Marriott or from the resale market prior to June 23, 2010.

Other Benefits

Marriott Rewards Points: All original Marriott owners can convert their legacy week or Vacation Club Destination points to Marriott Rewards Points, which can be used for non-timeshare Marriott hotel stays. This benefit is also open to Destination Points resale buyers, but is not an option for buyers of resale legacy weeks.

Split-Week Option: Legacy week owners who prefer vacationing for less than a full week can elect the Split-Week option, which allows them to break up their timeshare into two smaller vacations. For example: you can do a Sunday through Thursday vacation, and return for the remaining portion (Thursday to Sunday) at a later date. This option is only good at your home resort.

Higher Volume Ownership Benefits: If you own two or more weeks at the same resort, you can book up to 13 months in advance, as long as your reservations are made for consecutive or concurrent weeks. For Destination Points owners, Marriott adds additional benefits for "Premier" owners (at 6,500 points) and Premier Plus (13,000 points) ownership levels. Premier owners have a longer booking window - 13 months in advance, compared to others' 12-month window. Premier Plus owners do not have to book a full week to use the 13-month window.

Other benefits for higher membership levels include discounts on last-minute reservations, discounts on rentals, higher trade-in value for hotel Rewards Points, and expanded vacation options including cruises, golf vacations, guided tours, and city stays.

Benefits That Won't Transfer When Buying Marriott Resales

For legacy weeks: Anyone who buys Marriott legacy weeks on the secondary market inherit all rights to use their timeshare, reserve in advance, and exchange through II - but they do not become members of the Destination Points program, and they cannot convert their weekly timeshare into annual Marriott Rewards points, which are used for nightly hotel stays. Even Marriott officials will say that, if you're going to buy a timeshare on the resale market, make sure you buy a resort that you actually want to visit, or one that has a good trading value. Otherwise, it's a poor investment.

For points buyers: there are no benefits that do not transfer, as long as the resale buyer pays Marriott the transfer/conversion fee at closing. The fee is currently $2/point, or a minimum $3,000. Owners who are new to Marriott will also be required to pay a $300 new member education fee.

Restrictions on Your Ability to Buy

Marriott holds the "right of first refusal" (ROFR) on any proposed sale for almost all their legacy weeks and all point sales. When you submit a signed offer or contract to buy a property, the owner or title company is required to submit the proposed sale to Marriott to review before it is finalized. Marriott can step in to buy it from the owner instead, if they determine that the price of the resale is a good bargain. They are more likely to do this for points postings than legacy weeks - which they typically intercept for high-demand weeks that are priced low.

Marriott has 15 to 30 days (depending on the property) to exercise the ROFR or waive it, allowing the resale to proceed. Most closings take about 60 to 90 days.

Where to Find Resales

It is not difficult to find Marriott legacy weeks OR Vacation Club Destinations points on the resale market. Legacy weeks will be listed on the individual Marriott resort pages on RedWeek.com, and points will be listed on Marriott Vacation Club Destinations points listing page.

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Special thanks to David Cortese, a licensed real estate broker in Florida and former MVC sales employee. His firm, Magical Realty, specializes in resales for Marriott and Hilton Grand Vacations Club properties to a multi-national clientele. David is a contributing member to the RedWeek Timeshare Expert Panel.