A “Boring” Redemption Delivers: Highlights from Marriott’s Manor Club

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Marriott's Manor Club

Marriott‘s Manor Club

I didn’t expect it, but our family has gotten back into Marriott over the last year or so.  Historically, I was a loyal Starwood member and found great value in the SPG program.  I’d largely tuned out since Marriott acquired SPG.  But since last fall, we’ve picked up four new Marriott Amex cards with elevated welcome offers.  While I generally feel lukewarm (at best) about Marriott, I ultimately decided I didn’t want to turn down solid rewards options.  One recent example is the timely maximization of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex benefits.  We ended up using them in a way I didn’t originally expect.  After I share a bit of background, I’ll describe the highlights from our stay at Marriott’s Manor Club.

How We Got Here

My wife and I each picked up the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex to take advantage of the $300 Marriott credit soon to disappear while also benefitting from the upcoming $25 monthly dining credit.  We made several reservations, cancellations, and more reservations to use the credit, but our plans kept changing.  Wanting to fit in one more small summer trip with the credit clock ticking, we decided on a Williamsburg, VA holiday.  I had originally set my eyes on the historic Williamsburg Lodge, an Autograph Collection property.

My wife dug a bit more and found that Marriott’s Manor Club at Ford’s Colony would probably be a better overall experience.  This is a Vacation Club property, part of Marriott’s timeshare offering.  I understood her logic after she laid out the positives.  Thoroughly convinced but not exactly thrilled, I booked two nights in a standard room with a $148 room rate.  After room taxes and incorporating the $300 credit, we went about $35 out of pocket for the stay.

Overall, we had a great family experience at Marriott’s Manor Club.  Some stuff pleasantly surprised me, while other angles were exactly what I expected.  I’ll use that format to share the highlights.



A timeshare offering activities isn’t breaking news.  But the biggest surprise of the trip, to me at least, was the breadth and quality of activities at Marriott’s Manor Club.  Often, I read and hear about myriad activities at various resorts, only to find them less than satisfactory in person.  That wasn’t the case here.  Michael, the Activities Director at the Manor Club, was simply excellent at his job.  He made everything easy.

Here’s just a bit of what we enjoyed:

  • Swimming – Three Pools
  • Bikes and Nature Trails
  • Hiking
  • Foosball
  • Ping Pong
  • Billiards
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Evening S’mores
  • Live Music
  • Fitness Center

Marriott's Manor Club

The “Feel”

The Manor Club is located in Ford’s Colony, an area of Williamsburg also holding a country club, golf course, and private homes.  The property is tucked away, surrounded by greenery everywhere.  Trees abound.  Landscaping is immaculate.  Colonial design is throughout the property.  No single aspect here is jaw-dropping, but it all added up to a delightful experience.

We stayed at IHG’s timeshare, Holiday Inn Club Vacations Williamsburg Resort, a few years ago with IHG free night certs.  That property had pavement everywhere, drab buildings, and minimal landscaping.  The Manor Club’s overall environment far exceeds the Holiday Inn’s.

The Room

Perhaps this is more a positive example of how we managed expectations, but the room astounded us.  Based on the Marriott website’s photos, we were expecting an older, worn, dustier room.  We arrived to a room that had been recently renovated – airy, modern touches throughout while still maintaining a Williamsburg charm.

Marriott's Manor Club

The new carpet felt great.  I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a hotel room.  The room held a large kitchen area – plenty of cupboard space along with a bigger than normal fridge, microwave, sink, dishes, and accessories/cleaning materials.  The only remotely negative aspect of the room: the vanity is tremendously small for such a big bathroom.

A Loud, Overly-Excited Employee

This isn’t what you think – we didn’t receive a timeshare pitch.  While we were at check-in, a loud, booming employee, I believe a timeshare salesman, arrived and decided to continue his high-volume conversation directly behind us.  We couldn’t hear the front desk rep at all.  Awkwardly, my wife had to ask that we relocate to the other end of the front desk so we could actually hear the front desk rep.  This was the opposite of a welcome; at that point, we just wanted to leave.

As Expected

Marriott's Manor Club

Limited Dining Options

The property only has two dining options, both which have limited selections.  Across from the front desk area is Bistro 1699.  They definitely embrace “bistro” – it’s comically small.  It looked more like a conference room.  Wedged into the space was a full bar and only a few tiny tables.  Diners must resort to tables in the lobby and nearby pool for more space.  But my wife ate dinner there one night during our stay, and she gave the food a positive review.  So, there’s that.

Splash Grill is located adjacent to the property’s largest pool.  It’s more of a walk-up window than a restaurant.  There’s no dedicated seating, only what’s provided for the pool nearby.   It serves what you’d expect – sandwiches, nachos, fries, beer, etc.  We didn’t eat here, but the truffle fries smelled great.

This Isn’t A Hotel

This being a timeshare, I knew not to expect certain stuff.  We didn’t get housekeeping, and some of the common areas around the property showed plenty of wear and tear.  Here and there, I had to remind myself I wasn’t in an apartment complex.

Small Inconveniences

Perhaps related to the above, we had to make extra efforts in certain areas.  We packed a few small meals to make in the room’s kitchen, but wanted to dine out a few times, as well.  Given the mediocre onsite options, we generally decided to go into town.  It’s a good five to ten minutes to get off the Ford’s Colony property, in addition another ten minutes or so to dining outlets.  We enjoyed the seclusion of the Manor Club, but trips out took a bite out of our relaxation time at the property.  But hey, that’s part of the deal.

The sprawling property meant more time to do everything.  There was no quick run down to the front desk or sundry store.  Going back to the room for certain items slowed us down a bit.  Note to self: bring a small backpack next time.

Marriott's Manor Club

Marriott’s Manor Club – Conclusion

As I touted in the title, I felt this was a boring award stay option when I made the reservation.  But for my wife, two little ones, and me, it actually delivered big time.  I feel that we tend to unnecessarily idealize optimal redemptions in our hobby.  This redemption didn’t knock my socks off on paper, but delighted us in practice.  We could use more of these. I know I’ll keep looking for more.  We’ll probably return to the Manor Club, armed with our weekend bags and tempered expectations.

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA for close to free. He enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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