6 things to know about Homes and Villas by Marriott
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While vacation home rentals are hardly a new concept, 2020 and 2021 are arguably the years the trend went mainstream. With hotels continuing to limit amenities this year, vacation home rentals remain a popular option.
Even in “normal times,” many hotels — especially those in certain international locations — don’t offer affordable accommodations that can sleep four or more people. This means families and other groups of travelers can benefit from the extra space of a home rental. But, there were usually trade-offs: no housekeeping or room service, lack of shared amenities and more.
Even now, many of those typical hotel amenities are on pause, and almost all of us want the ability to be self-sufficient and stay away from others, even while on vacation. But while a whole rental home can provide a spacious, alluring alternative to a hotel, many travelers still want the reliability and consistency of a major hospitality brand. Enter: Homes and Villas by Marriott.
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Marriott first entered the vacation rental market as a trial called Tribute Portfolio Homes but has been an established brand, Homes and Villas by Marriott, since 2019. Marriott’s home rental program may be the perfect bridge between sticking with a travel brand you know and trust and getting the space and conveniences of a rental property.
While some brand standards are supposed to apply to every property listed with Homes and Villas by Marriott (such as 24/7 support, high-speed Wi-Fi, premium linens and towels), Marriott isn’t actually running and maintaining vacation properties across the globe. Instead, Marriott is offering a curated portfolio of homes where you can earn or redeem Marriott Bonvoy points, among other perks.
To help you prepare for your next trip, here are six things to know about the Homes and Villas by Marriott program — including ways to save money and lock in flexibility for your upcoming travel plans.
You can earn and use Marriott points
If you have elite status with Marriott, you’ll get bonus points based on your elite status tier and a welcome points bonus of 500 to 1,000 points, also based on your tier. Charge your booking to a cobranded Marriott card like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and you’ll earn another 6 points per $1 spent. You may even be targeted for extra savings and bonus points through Amex Offers, so be sure to check those beforehand.
It may take a few weeks for these points and credits to post to your Marriott account, based on several TPG firsthand tests. In fact, my own Marriott Home and Villa stay never posted on its own, so I eventually had to follow up with customer service at Marriott to have the points manually added.
If you want to redeem points for your booking, our tests show 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 make a hybrid booking of points and cash on the same stay.
The current TPG Marriott Bonvoy point valuation is currently 0.8 cents per point, so while 0.6 isn’t the best value, it isn’t so much lower that it discounts 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 ever to happen.
Marriott doesn’t own or manage the homes
This may or may not surprise you, but Marriott Homes and 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 by 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 standards for the homes, there will be some variation from one property and company to the next. There won’t be Marriott housekeepers to refresh your towels or all-white Marriott-branded linens on all the beds.
Also, know that the charge on your credit card for the deposit and any subsequent payments will be from the property management company, and this may or 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.
Secure a flexible booking
While Marriott is very hands-off with these properties in some ways, there are some benefits to booking with Homes and Villas by Marriott.
Many (though not all) of the homes and condominiums on the site offer the opportunity to get a full refund (minus a $75 credit card processing fee) until 10 days before arrival for travel dates through June 30, 2021.
What comes with each rental
Other than earning or using Marriott Bonvoy 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 condominiums you can rent through the Marriott platform should include 24/7 support, high-speed Wi-Fi, a television, kitchen essentials (cookware, utensils, a microwave), in-unit washing machine, premium linens and towels, bathroom amenities (toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, soap), a 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 at the end of the summer, the Wi-Fi didn’t really work downstairs, and I’m not sure if the bed linens met my own personal definition of “premium.” It was all totally adequate and certainly wasn’t as if we walked into a home where we had to provide our own sheets 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 cost per night. However, with Homes and Villas by Marriott, you’ll find beachside condos starting under $99 per night and ritzy multibedroom ski villas from $10,000 per night.
When the program launched, it had 2,000 homes in 100 destinations, a tiny footprint compared to the 5 million listings across nearly 200 countries available through Airbnb. But, the program is growing quickly and already has more than 16,000 properties — an eight-fold increase. While that is impressive growth, it’s still a smaller platform that focuses on more luxurious rentals.
Even with that high-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’re working with a tight budget. While many of the properties are several hundred (or thousand) dollars per night, you’ll also find listings such as a two-bedroom Panama City beach condo with a kitchen and living room that’s 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 within that price range.
Is it worth it?
There’s no one perfect way to rent a vacation home or condominium.
Sometimes, you’ll find the same property listed on multiple booking platforms … and occasionally for different prices.
I first booked with Marriott Homes and Villas over the summer because I liked the cancellation policy that allowed guests to cancel until 10-days before the stay and only walk away from $75 (much more lenient than most programs); the ability to earn Marriott points and elite nights; and the comfort of knowing the home should have some basic features and amenities.
My first stay wasn’t 100% perfect, but I booked with them again for the winter for roughly the same reasons.
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 0.6 cents each toward a home rental, but I still appreciate the 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 did, is pretty tasty icing on the cake.
Whether for multigenerational or multi-family trips or simply for the space to spread out, 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 (including towels and Wi-Fi) will be met when we arrive, so I appreciate Marriott’s curation and backing in the vacation rental space. I don’t exclusively book homes through Marriott’s program but find them a useful resource when researching where to stay — especially when there’s a sale or a competitive cancellation policy.
And, of course, you can’t argue with earning Marriott points and status along the way.
Additional reporting by Melanie Lieberman and Dia Adams.
Featured image of a Marriott Homes and Villas property in Papagayo, Costa Rico courtesy of Marriott.
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