Marriott Homes & Villas Isn’t A Real Homesharing Service (And How To Redeem Cheaper)

Marriott wants you to think that they’re in the homesharing business, and that Homes & Villas By Marriott is an Airbnb competitor. Despite the tag line, “Private Homes With The Assurances Of Marriott,” that’s not at all what it is.

Marriott Homes & Villas isn’t actually a competitor to Airbnb. In fact, it’s not a homesharing platform. It’s a booking site that advertises homes listed elsewhere and takes a commission. It’s better thought of as an affiliate marketing site or more like a third party travel agent or reseller.

This is especially ironic given the ‘book direct’ push that Marriott and other hotel chains have pushed in recent years. The problems that come adding a third party in between the guest and the actual booking site with hotels creep up with vacation rentals as well.

For instance Marriott’s site promises that all of its listings include wifi, but lists properties that do not include internet – as indicated on the underlying listing.

Here’s a property on the Marriott website – Arcadian Gardens in Sequim, WA. By virtue of it being listed on the Marriott site it should have wifi – since Marriott promises that all the properties listed on their site offer it.

But this property is being sourced from Vacasa and if you drill down into the underlying listing, wifi isn’t offered.

I asked Marriott about this property in particular, and they attributed it to Vacasa removing the amenity from the property due to complaints about signal quality, and that Marriott removed the property as a result. A spokesperson explained,

The property you reviewed did have WiFi. Vacasa had just removed that amenity from its site because the signal was substandard. When this happens, home management companies report properties not in compliance for removal from our platform. We no longer offer this property.

However the internet issue isn’t just limited to this one property, although I expect any that I flag will get fixed, perhaps even by the time you read this. Here’s a property that shows no internet on Vacasa but that is nonetheless listed by Marriott and here’s another nearby property on the Vacasa site that is offered by Marriott Homes & Villas.

It’s actually not hard to identify properties on the Vacasa website without internet. You can toggle the amenity on and off, and see the properties that disappear. Then search for those properties on the Marriott Homes & Villas site. Just like failing to police hotels selling their rooms through Airbnb, Marriott isn’t paying a lot of attention or doing quality control on the site’s included listings, it seems.

And it’s not just internet. Marriott Homes & Villas promises TV service. They don’t explicitly say what constitutes that service, I guess, but I think it sort of implies cable TV or a streaming subscription, not just a coat hanger-as-antenna. Here’s a property with a TV but no cable that’s available through Marriott. There are many more like this.

The Marriott spokesperson shared that the third party management company is “required to inform guests before arrival if an amenity is no longer available and work with the guest to resolve the issue.” Put another way, though, if something goes wrong with the stay you’ve booked through Marriott it’s not Marriott that’s supposed to make it right.

One reason to book through Marriott is the ability to earn and burn points, though

  • In the times I’ve searched the homes available via Marriott have either been less desirable at the same price point than others in the same complex (e.g. near the beach rather than directly on the beach) or more money for a comparable place compared to Airbnb. Your mileage may vary.

  • Marriott’s redemptions are revenue-based and were devalued during the pandemic to $0.006 per point.

In fact Wyndham points are a often better deal for many Marriott Homes & Villas properties than Marriott redemptions are. Marriott Homes & Villas sources properties from several providers like Vacasa. Vacasa partners with Wyndham Rewards, and Wyndham charges juts 15,000 points per night per bedroom in most cases. In most cases the more expensive the property, the better the deal Wyndham points are (the whole idea of points!).

Maybe ‘Homes & Villas’ is just another Marriott brand that they sell to customers. Marriott brands usually come with brand standards. But they’re enforced at Homes & Villas about as well as elite benefits are enforced at their other properties?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. A bigger (self-interested) question is whether Marriott Homes & Villas bookings qualify for the Venture X card’s $200 vacation rental credit? I would assume so, but would like confirmation before trying it.

  2. Marriott can’t properly guarantee benefits for its own property footprint, why would anyone think they could do it for things they have no putative control over?

  3. @Dan — Inconsistent benefits could be part of the “unique” charm and experience of booking a homeshare, i.e. Marriott would probably call that a feature, not a bug. LOL ;-P

  4. Another example of why Marriott is no longer a hotelier. Marriott is a booking platform for hotels and, now, vacation rentals. Even with the hotels, Marriott owns almost none of them and only manages less than 28% of all hotels in its portfolios.

  5. Articles like these validate your title as a thought leader in travel. I’ve been following your blog for almost two decades and while yes, you receive your fair share of criticisms when you write travel related stories that interest you, no one gives you enough credit when you unearth articles such as these.

  6. Booked a Paris apartment through MHV. Got the confirmation from the actual host. Looked up the price on their website, it was half as much to book through them.
    Cancelled the Marriott booking and immediately scooped up the same thing for half price.
    Always comparison shop!

  7. @zac Same here. Looked at booking a MHV condo on the beach in Texas and found the price was 1/3 higher than if I had booked it through Turnkey Rentals that runs the condo complex. I only considered booking through MHV to get the Marriott points to boost my status level, but could not justify the price increase.

  8. We recently booked a house through MHV in Cape Coral, FL. Turnkey managed the property. The house was full of ants – we had to close one of the bedrooms off because they were on the ceiling and crawling up the walls. The house had well water which smelled so bad it made 4 of us physically sick. Most of the beds were broken. The list goes on.

    We left 4 days early and got no refund. We booked with Marriott due to reputation. Never again.

  9. I won’t use this service again. The ONLY Marriott benefit you get is points earned. There is no customer service number to call, and no status related benefits. There is no one at Marriott who can help you beyond the actual property manager. So absolutely no reason to use this platform.

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