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Last month, we reported on Marriott’s foray into the vacation rental business with the launch of Homes & Villas by Marriott International. Despite being the world’s largest hotel chain — with over 1.3 million rooms across 7,000+ properties as of the end of Q1 2019 — Marriott was clearly going after travelers who’ve been swayed by platforms like Airbnb and Homeaway, though few details were available at the time.

Well that’s now changed. Per the Frequent Miler, reservations for these properties are now available at the brand’s website. The drop-down menu for destinations include 119 unique markets around the world, from smaller spots like Bend, Oregon, to more mainstream locales like Paris. This provides a nice layer of additional variety both in locale as well as accommodation type. After all, there aren’t any Marriott-branded hotels that could offer a 10-bedroom estate on the western edge of Anguilla.

(Photo courtesy of Marriott Homes & Villas)
(Photo courtesy of Marriott Homes & Villas)

If you book a paid reservation at any of these properties, you’ll earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on the base price of rooms (excluding cleaning fees and add-ons) plus elite bonuses, and each night will count toward your Marriott elite status qualification. It appears that the search engine requires at least a three-night stay across the dozens of locations I checked, though individual properties may have longer minimum stay requirements.

It’s also worth noting that these rentals will almost always impose stricter cancellation policies than Marriott’s usual brands. Many require 50% or even full prepayment in advance, and it looks like 30-day cancellation windows are common, though some require cancellations 60 or even 90 days before the stay in order to get a full refund.

Of course, the big question is whether these properties are available using points, and the good news is that they are. It appears that they offer a consistent redemption value of 0.7 cents per point, like this example of a Fourth of July stay in Asheville, North Carolina:

However, the process for redeeming points is a bit convoluted. When you click the Use Points icon, you’ll see the following process:

As you can see, this isn’t yet an automatic process, though the FAQs page indicates that the program plans to offer login using members’ credentials in the future, which would likely simplify the process.

For now, if you’re looking to use your points at one of these spots, verify that you have enough Bonvoy points in your account prior to submitting the reservation request.

Unfortunately, I’m running into the same issue as Frequent Miler did regarding international locations. No matter the date or destination, I get the following error message:

I’m assuming this is simply a glitch in the platform going live, as I can’t imagine that all international Homes & Villas are sold out (I even checked several Caribbean destinations during the heart of hurricane season).

Bottom Line

This is an exciting development and hopefully represents just the start of Marriott’s entry into the home-sharing market. For family travelers, gaining access to larger, alternative accommodations and the ability to earn or redeem points is a definitive positive, and while a 0.7-cent-per-point redemption value is slightly lower than TPG’s most recent valuations, it sure helps counter the idea that hotel points can be worthless.

We’ll be back with a full, deep-dive analysis into this new booking option early next week!

Featured photo courtesy of Marriott Homes & Villas.

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