From pricing to procedures — 5 things to know about Homes and Villas by Marriott
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There’s never been a better time to consider shifting some of your travel to whole-home vacation rentals.
Even in normal times, many hotels, especially those in some international locations, don’t offer affordable accommodations that can sleep four or more people, so families can benefit from the extra space. And now, almost all of us want the ability to be self-sufficient and stay away from close contact with others, even while on vacation. But while the space a whole rental home can provide is alluring, many travelers understandably want the reliability and consistency of staying with a big player in the hospitality market.
Marriott first entered into the vacation rental market as a trial called Tribute Portfolio Homes, but the program grew well beyond a trial and has been known as Homes and Villas by Marriott since 2019. Marriott’s home rental program can be the perfect bridge between sticking with a travel brand you know and trust and getting the space and conveniences a whole vacation home rental can provide.
And while some brand standards are supposed to apply to each and every property listed with Homes and Villas by Marriott (such as 24/7 support, high-speed Wi-Fi, premium linens and towels, etc.) know that this isn’t Marriott stay running and maintain homes across the globe.
To help prepare you for your next trip, here are five things to know about the Homes and Villas by Marriott program.
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You can earn and use Marriott points
When you book a home or villa through Marriott, you’ll earn five Marriott Bonvy points per dollar spent as well as one Marriott elite night credit for each night of your stay. If you have elite status with Marriott, then you get bonus points based on your elite status tier and a welcome points bonus of 500 – 1,000 points, also based on your tier.
Know that it may take a few weeks for these points and credits to post to your Marriott account, based on several TPG first-hand tests.
If you want to redeem points for your booking, our tests showed that your Marriott points are currently worth about 0.6 cents toward a stay, though this number has varied a bit at times. Should you decide to redeem points, know that you have to either book using all points or all cash. You can’t do a hybrid booking of points and cash on the same stay.
The TPG Marriott Bonvoy point valuation is currently set at 0.8 cents per point, so while this 0.6 number is below that threshold, it isn’t so far off the park as to discount the option entirely. For example, getting $600 in value toward a home rental out of a 100,000-point Marriott welcome bonus is hardly the worst thing to ever happen.
Marriott doesn’t own or manage the homes
This may or may not be surprising to you, but Marriott Homes & Villas is essentially a list of higher-end home rentals on an online platform. Marriott does not own, run, clean or manage the properties. They are run and managed through property management companies such as the pretty well-known TurnKey Vacation Rentals. There are also smaller, more regional property management companies on the platform, such as my last rental in Florida from Panhandle Getaways, which I’d previously never heard of before the trip.
This means that while there are set standards for the homes, there will be some variation from home to home and company to company. There won’t be Marriott housekeeping showing up to make your bed or guaranteed all-white Marriott linens on all the beds.
Also, know that the charge on your credit card for the deposited and any subsequent payments will be from the property management company, and this may not post as a travel charge. You can ask your card issuer to make a courtesy exception to award bonus points as if it had coded as a travel charge, but our tests all coded as “professional services”, not travel.
While Marriott is very hands-off with these properties in some ways, Homes and Villas by Marriott does run either sitewide or regional sales from time to time, and this year has offered a list of properties that will offer a full refund (minus a $75 credit card processing fee), until 10 days before arrival. So, there are some unified perks to the platform, but you are ultimately renting from a property management company, not Marriott.
What comes with each rental
Other than the ability to earn or use Marriott points and rack up elite night credits, a big perk of booking through Marriott is having consistent expectations for your home rental.
All of the homes and condos that you can rent via the Marriott platform should include 24/7 support, high-speed Wi-Fi, TV, kitchen essentials (cookware, utensils, microwave), in-unit washer, premium linens and towels, bathroom amenities (toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, soap), hairdryer, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when fuel-burning appliances are present and pre- and post-stay professional cleaning.
In our (limited) test rentals, this has all been largely the case, though I’d say take things with a grain of salt.
At my most recent rental, the Wi-Fi didn’t really work downstairs, and I’m not sure if the bed linens met my own definition of “premium”. But, it was all totally adequate, and certainly wasn’t as if we walked into a home where we had to provide our own linens and there wasn’t a drop of soap to be found (which can happen in some home rentals).
The price ranges dramatically
If you were booking a Springhill Suites by Marriott or a St. Regis, you probably have a vague idea of what those properties probably cost per night. However, with Homes and Villas by Marriott, you’ll find beachside condos starting at under $99 per night and ritzy multi-bedroom ski homes pricing at $10,000 per night.
When the program launched, it had 2,000 homes in 100 destinations, which is tiny compared to the 5 million listings across nearly 200 countries available through Airbnb. I’m sure that the Marriott rental program has grown since then, but it is still a smaller platform that focuses on the more luxury-end of home rentals.
But even with that higher-end focus, the range of properties you can find on Marriott’s platform is still pretty large, and by no means are all of them expensive. In other words, don’t rule this out if you are working with a smaller travel budget. While many of the properties are several hundreds (or thousands) of dollars per night, you’ll also find listings such as a two-bedroom Panama City beach condo with a kitchen and living room that is bookable for $88 or 15,000 Marriott points per night. It’s not necessarily going to be luxurious, but it’s more space than you’d probably find in a standard Marriott hotel booking within that price range.
Is it worth it?
There’s no one perfect way to rent a vacation home or condo.
Sometimes you’ll find the same property listed on multiple booking platforms … and occasionally for different prices. I booked with Marriott Homes & Villas over the summer because I liked the cancellation policy that was in place that allowed guests to cancel until 10-days before the stay for just a $75 hit (much more lenient than most programs), the ability to earn Marriott points and elite nights and the cushion of knowing the home should have some basic inclusions and amenities that I appreciate.
My stay wasn’t 100% perfect, but it was solid and I wouldn’t hesitate to book via the platform again.
Prices on the Marriott booking platform are often comparable with what you’d find if you were booking via Airbnb’s Plus program but may be higher or lower depending on the specific area or property. I am not personally itching to spend Marriott points at .6 cents each toward a home rental, but still appreciate that option. Overall, I’m very much enjoying a shift toward home rentals and the idea of earning 15,000 Marriott points on a home rental as TPG’s Scott Mayorowitz recently did is some pretty tasty icing on the cake.
Whether for multi-generation trips, multi-family or simply to spread out and have more work and schooling space during this phase of socially-distanced travel, I’m a big fan of home rentals. That said, I want to know what to expect and be sure that at least some basic expectations for towels and Wi-Fi will be met when we arrive, so I appreciate the curation and backing of Marriott in the realm of vacation rentals. I don’t exclusively book homes via Marriott’s program, but find them to be a very useful resource when researching where to stay — especially for those of us who like to earn Marriott points and status along the way.
Additional reporting by Melanie Lieberman and Dia Adams.
Featured image courtesy of a Marriott Homes and Villa by Summer Hull/The Points Guy
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