It’s now post merger with Marriott and SPG is still not fully integrated with Marriott’s system. Primarily the Westin and Sheraton Vacation Clubs haven’t yet been adsorbed into Marriott’s portfolio. This past week I stayed at a Westin Vacation Club through some family connections, upon check-in I was offered Marriott points to attend a Vacation Club presentation. These presentations try to sell you on the ownership program run by SPG’s brands Westin and Sheraton.
My main goal going to one of these presentations was just to get some more information on post merger inside information on what Marriott might do with the Vacation Club programs. The programs still run as a separate entity and have yet to be affected by Marriott’s pricing model or points system.
That said when we got our tour of all the properties and the Westin Flex opportunity, information was sparse. This was no fault of the representative that I was talking to but from Marriott. Post merger Marriott seems uninterested in letting the public know about what is to come of the vacation program once it is fully integrated and what will happen to the time that you own.
As of now, if you do happen to join one of the SPG branded vacation programs you will be locked in via contract to any future changes. The properties are deeded which means that terms can’t change whenever Marriott feels like it since you are bounce by contractual and deeded agreement.
If you were ever interested in one of these programs I would be very wary on what they’re actually trying to sell you and how much it will cost you. Normally these types of programs are very expensive to maintain with both initial upfront cost and yearly maintenance dues. It won’t suit everybody and while you can use your vacation time to redeem at a SPG or Marriott hotel, it typically isn’t the best value.
When we sat down with the licensed realtor who started going over costs it was very clear they were trying to jack up prices, over commit what true value you can actually get out of the program, and your obligations to ownership. I am generally not a fan of vacation clubs like this as you get fed all the wrong information just to make the sale.
Don’t get me wrong, the Vacation Club where we stayed was very nice, well maintained, and had good pools. The rooms and amenities were great and I would stay at one again. However I would never buy into the vacation club, I feel as if my money would be better spent elsewhere.
Ultimately after much push back trying to leave the meeting we were greeted by one more man who tried to sell us on buying SPG points in bulk at a monthly cost. Which as it turned out was about market cost for the points. He offered 265,000 Marriott points for an initial fee of $299 plus an additional $199 every month for 15 months. If I wasn’t satisfying my points need in other places I would have taken him up on the offer as it also came with a free 3 night stay back at the property we were staying at after 12 months.
My general recommendation is that you should consult a professional who is concerned about your best interests if you are thinking about joining a timeshare or vacation club. Sit down and make sure that you can financially afford to buy in and maintain yearly costs without going into debt or taking out loans just to maintain your standing.