La Vie en Rose: Marriott's Village d'Ile de France, a Marriott Vacation Club Resort Near Disneyland Paris
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I love it when a plan comes together. Such was the case recently when, while browsing vacation-rental listings (you know, like everyone does on a Friday night), I came across an over 50%-off deal at a resort that had been on my radar for a long time: Marriott's Village d'Ile de France, near Disneyland Paris.
The catch? The rental began two weeks from the time I spotted it, in the dead of winter. (The price was certainly helped by the extreme off-season.)
Thanks to three teacher workdays, two packable parkas, a fare sale on United, a Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 travel credit and a hero of a husband, an hour later my 12-year-old daughter and I were booked for a frigid week in France.
If I'm booking a chain property, I usually go out of my way to book directly with the chain to make sure I receive status benefits. Marriott Vacation Club is a rare exception for two reasons: You can save a significant amount of money by booking through an MVC owner, and at MVC you receive no upgrade, free breakfast or any other benefit besides your standard earnings 1,000 Marriott Rewards points for status and night credit. (As an aside, I received both 1,000 points and elite night credit through my third-party booking anyway, but I wouldn't assume that as a given.)
In my case, I rented directly from an owner to get my last-minute savings. I don't like to share examples that aren't (necessarily) repeatable, so here's a week in April 2019 I found to give you an idea. To find MVC Units for rent, I Googled the name of the resort and "rentals." The top two results were from Airbnb and Redweek.com. Here's an example from Airbnb:
The difference between $1,676 on Airbnb and $2,512 on Marriott.com (the screenshot is priced in euros) represents a remarkable 33% discount.
You can do even better than one-third off if you use Airbnb gift cards purchased either during a sale or via a card that offers a higher earning rate at an outlet where you can buy these gift cards, such as the Chase Ink cards that offer 5x points at office-supply stores. You can also earn Delta SkyMiles by starting an Airbnb reservation off through Delta Airbnb. (Note that most owners rent timeshares in one week increments, and the dates are set by the owner.)
I know that $239 per night isn't peanuts, but consider that most hotels in Paris will require you to rent two rooms for four people, and that this unit actually sleeps six if you include the sofa bed. Plus, wait till you see it before passing judgment -- in this case, $239 for a springtime night in France could be a real deal.
I don't recommend using points at the MVC d'Ile de France even though it's technically a Category 4 property. Consider the base room, the few times of year it's available, the fact it's a studio and that I saw redemption values averaging 0.5 cents a point on two-bedroom units -- a terrible value.
You'll either love the MVC d'Ile de France's location or hate it. The resort is in the suburban golf community of Bailly-Romainvilliers, a 10-minute drive to both Paris Disneyland and the adjacent Marne-la-Vallee Chessy TGV and RER train station. The TGV goes directly to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in under 15 minutes, and the RER takes just under an hour to go into downtown Paris.
We were firmly in the "love" column, but a number of factors made it so:
- We rented a car. I wouldn't recommend staying here without one. There's a shuttle and a public bus, but to maximize enjoyment, savings and convenience, a car is essential. Parking at the resort is free.
- We wanted to visit Paris Disneyland more than once. If Mickey is on your mind, the location is dead-on.
- It wasn't our first visit to the Paris area, so while we went to the city three times in a week, it wasn't our primary reason for the trip. An hour each way three days out of seven was fine, but seven out of seven would have felt like a commute -- not exactly what you want on vacation.
- We visited attractions on the outskirts of Paris, namely the chateaux of Versailles and Fontainebleau. Either is an hour out of Paris so we would have traveled to get there either way.
One note about driving: If you are an American who knows how to drive a stick shift but is uncomfortable doing so, this area of France is just about the easiest in Europe I've found for such driving. The terrain is flat, the drivers relatively polite, and the French drive on the same side of the road as we do.
Your location within the resort will also impact your impression of your stay, though. The MVC d'Ile de France reminded me of a Disney resort in that it was huge. We got a chance to request our room location before check-in, and I'm very glad we asked to be near the lobby -- otherwise we could have faced a 15-minute walk from more remote parts of the resort to the main building.
What happened before I left home wouldn't normally make it into a hotel review, but I need to give the resort staff kudos. I received a welcome email from the resort about a week before arrival. While other hotels have sent welcome emails, the MVC d'Ile de France went a number of steps further than I've grown to expect.
First, the resort gave us a number of options regarding room location, which put us close to the lobby -- a key move. They also asked about any special requests, at which time I mentioned that we would appreciate an early check-in, since we expected to arrive at 8am. While they wouldn't guarantee it in advance, they said that they would try their best. Our room was ready when we got there bright and early.
But that's not what stood out most. That would be their prompt response to a number of detailed questions I had regarding our stay. My primary concern was avoiding the yellow-vest protesters, as we were to arrive on a Saturday and I had heard they were on the highways and in downtown Paris. The hotel staff advised me that no protesters had been seen in the area and also advised us to either drive or take the direct train from the airport, as Metro service had been affected on earlier Saturdays.
We drove to the resort from CDG, which took about 45 minutes. The resort had a guarded gate, and the guard took our name and car information before allowing us in.
At reception, Ashley checked us in promptly and was both energetic and full of details about the resort. She gave us a resort map, shuttle schedule and a calendar of activities. Best of all, she gave us a welcome box of chocolates. While she did note that we were Platinum Premier members and mentioned that we would get 1,000 bonus points for our stay, she didn't say the chocolates were a status gift, and I'm pretty sure everyone got them.
After check-in, we hopped back in the car for the drive around the corner to Villa 1701. The resort was designed to resemble a French village, and they succeeded: It felt like a movie set.
We opened the door and found ourselves in a two-story townhouse with the bedrooms and two full bathrooms upstairs. On the main level, we found a powder room, living room, dining room and kitchen with a small, granite bar handy for serving meals. We also were happy to see a full American-style washer and dryer, a rarity in European apartments. If you've ever done laundry in an all-in one that takes six hours to wash and dry a pair of jeans, you get what a treat the laundry was.
At the rear of the unit was a set of French (what else?) doors. Our unit had a view of a small pond and the Disneyland Paris golf course. It also had a small metal table and two chairs that might have been lovely to relax on but were covered in snow during our stay. That said, we did see two hearty ducks and four even heartier golfers enjoying the great outdoors during our stay.
One quirk of the villa was that the main rooms were individually climate-controlled. This was a huge plus in the bedrooms, as I like to sleep in a room much cooler than my daughter does. With two bedrooms, we could each set our own heat. The downside of this setup showed up downstairs, where there was a door between the living room and the main foyer and a second door between the foyer and the kitchen. It was just weird opening and closing two doors to refill my coffee in the morning. (That said, the doors could be good if you have young kids, as each one acted as its own baby gate. You might appreciate this if your tyke isn't ready for stairs yet.)
Upstairs, we found a master bedroom with an attached bathroom that included a deep soaking tub and shower, double vanity and a toilet and bidet separated by a door. (That door was a huge plus, in my book.)
The guest bedroom had two twin beds and a bathroom with a stand-up shower.
The toiletries were gently scented with lavender and ylang-ylang, and they were replenished during our visit. Why am I mentioning that the toiletries were replenished? Because technically the room didn't have full housekeeping. Instead, the resort offered what they called a "daily touch-up" that consists of trash removal, washing the dishes, making the beds, changing the towels and general tidying. For us, it was more than enough, but you could pay 60 euros a day if you wanted the full scrub. The daily touch-up was more than most vacation rentals offer, and we were just happy not to have to make our own beds for a week.
The resort skewed more American-friendly than most European properties I've visited. We had a dozen English-speaking TV channels, and they also gave us an HDMI cable to allow for Netflix and Hulu streaming from our computer. (There was supposed to be a wireless connection to the TV, but we we couldn't get it to work.) Wi-Fi was free and plenty fast.
All staff spoke enough English to communicate effectively, with the front-facing staff being fluent.
Food and Beverage
The MVC d'Ile de France had only one restaurant on property, and it was closed for renovations during our visit. We didn't mind, as with the full kitchen we either ate in our villa or had a full meal before we came home in the evening. I did appreciate having a minimarket on site that was open both early in the morning and late at night. The prices were about twice that of a supermarket, but the selection was more than sufficient. They even had fresh baked goods brought in daily. My daughter loved the pastries, both the apple and the raisin.
The local Carrefour supermarket was a five-minute drive away.
The resort featured two pools, one indoor and one outdoor. The outdoor one was only open from May to September, and while it's not heated, the staff assured me that it warms up during the summer. There was also a gym to help you work off all of the bread you'd been enjoying.
Kid-friendliness is where the MVC d'Ile de France really shone. Even in the dead of January, they had an extensive schedule of goings-on that included movie nights (with popcorn), crafts, cooking lessons and other fun activities. Being so close to Disney, the activities definitely skewed family-friendly. For instance, while we were there, the movie selections included "Coco," "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi."
We participated in a crepe-making class that was a lot of fun both because we got to eat our creations and because of the energy and positive attitude of Paula, the activities attendant on duty for most of our stay. Our only regret was that we didn't have time to participate in more events due to our jam-packed schedule.
The resort had a kids club with a drop-off for ages 4 to 12 during their staffed hours, which varied daily. You had to stay on the property, but it was a nice break if you wanted a quiet glass of wine or a nap. There was also a parent-supervised play area for the tots.
If your kids still needed to shake their sillies out, there was a seasonal playground.
I understand why people might not enjoy the Marriott's Village d'Ile de France. If you go expecting a Parisian experience, you'd definitely be disappointed. Between the resort-ness and the distance from the city, it really could have been anywhere. That said, we loved it. For our visits to both Sleeping Beauty and Marie Antoinette's castles the resort was just what we needed. Even better, we loved both our villa and the surrounding property even when the weather was less than stellar. I can't wait to return to see the gardens in bloom.
All photos by the author unless otherwise credited.