Traveling on Marriott Timeshare offer: good or bad idea?

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One of the days you come home, check your mail and see a travel offer brochure in your mailbox. It has perfectly shot pictures and appealing highlights making it hard to stop imagining yourself there: swimming in that pool, lying on that massage table, strolling through a neatly trimmed garden and so on. Then, out of pure curiosity, you decide to check the price tag on all this amazingness and to your utmost surprise you see the number that almost doesn’t make sense, seems too good to be true. You can’t help but wonder if it is some sort of a scam or at best bait-and-switch kinda deal, or some other dirty trick. What’s the catch?

Have you gotten one of those? I have and here is how it went for me.

After spending some time googling, it turned out the offer was indeed legitimate but (ah, of course, there must’ve been a “but”), you must sit through a Marriot Timeshare presentation offer. No big deal, right? Well, after googling some more, it became clear that such presentations are, let’s put it nicely, not on the top of most people’s to-do list. In fact, so much so, the internet is filled with horror stories of people being trapped (like physically not allowed to leave) on those type of presentations by the sales folks until they sign the Timeshare purchase agreement. Apparently, there is a whole market for the lawyers for “getting off your timeshare agreement” thing. With all fairness, however, there is at least as much feedback from people saying that it was enough for them to politely thank for the presentation, say “no” and walk away.  

So, in terms of a one-off vacation, can you realistically take advantage of this kind of offer? I decided to take a risk and try. 

The offer

The offer I’ve received included a 5-day and 4-night stay at The Westin Desert Willow Villas Palm Springs for $299 (+$100 for the long weekends). On top of that, I got to choose between a $75 Visa card or 15,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (which in my experience could be worth up to $300 depending on what you redeem it for). Looks pretty good considering that that is a 4-star hotel redeemable on the Memorial Day weekend (which was my choice). Not to mention, the cash rate for the same dates was over $1,300.

Traveling on Marriott Timeshare promo
Photo by Nick Fursa
Westin desert willow villas palm springs timeshare
Photo by Nick Fursa
Traveling on Timeshare promo
Westin Desert Willow Villas Palm Springs | Photo by Nick Fursa

The catch 

In order to have this rate I must attend one of those infamous 2-hour timeshare presentations which, as I googled, can easily be hell making you want to do anything including selling your soul or even worse – signing a TS purchase agreement to just have that ended. This certainly would nullify the benefit of that good offer since I had no plans getting on board with a Marriott Timeshare. Whether buying a TS is a good idea or not is a subject for entirely different conversation. Here is another nuance, if you travel with a spouse or a partner they also must attend the presentation with you. In my case, my wife and I also had to drag our two-year-old son with us, which also can be a good thing as your toddler can keep you occupied.

The sales pitch 

Well, it turned out to be not half as scary as I expected. We were greeted by a neatly looking, softly spoken guy (as opposed to a mafioso with a welding torch in one hand and pliers in the other? Who did I expect to see really?). He asked us whether we know about their TS program for which we replied yes but we wouldn’t mind hearing him out. We, however, were upfront the first chance we had and mentioned that there is nothing that can make us buy the TS today. Don’t get me wrong, but these guys know how to sell, that’s what they do all day everyday. They have an entire arsenal of very subtle dirty tricks to gain your trust, build rapport to ultimately make you put your signature where needed. Our salesman did some of that too, luckily for us we came there with a firm decision already made. All in all, it probably took around an hour and a half or so but that was it – an unexpectedly easy experience. I realize that this might’ve been a one-off case and the next experience might be drastically different.

In conclusion

We had a great time at the resort, the room was great, our son loved the kids pool and we had enough time to unwind from busy LA life. All that for a very little cash price. So, yes, I’d say using the TS presentation promo for travel can be a good money-saving idea.  One, however, better be prepared for the sales pitch as these guys surely know how to sell and will try their best to convert you into a TS owner (leaving a credit card and id in the room might not be a bad idea). 

Have you traveled on one of these promo offers? How did it go for you?

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