Sheraton Waikiki Beach Resort

We recently spent some time in Oahu, spending one night at the Sheraton Waikiki Beach Resort before we stayed a week at Ko’Olina. Best check-in experience ever!  Because of our Marriott Elite status, we bypassed the line to check-in and went to a dedicated area designated for us. Everything was ready and in order and it wasn’t long before we were in our upgraded room with a wonderful view.  Their welcome gift was AMAZING as well!  We went into a small store that had a variety of items, handed the lady our card and she pulled out a bag and said we could have anything in the store that fit into the bag – for free!  Are you kidding me??  We got 2 boxes of macadamia chocolates, 2 bags of mixed nuts/trail mix, and a package of macadamia banana pancake mix. We were thrilled to say the least.

Marriott knows how to make a guest feel valued and special. They know how to give priority to their Elite status members – when it comes to hotels. But they miss the mark when it comes to owners at a timeshare resort – EXCEPT AT KO’OLINA!!!  They do it right!  Let me explain in detail.

Marriott’s Ko’Olina Beach Club

It started even before we arrived on the day of our check-in to Ko’Olina.  Not only did we receive the typical email from Marriott asking us our preferences and offering information in a variety of areas, but we also received a personal email from the Ko’Olina Pre-Arrival Team. Some of the questions were similar, but others were not.  When would we be arriving? What are names of everyone in our group? Would we be driving a car?  The Pre-Arrival team also called a few days before to explain we would have priority check-in and where to go for that. During that phone call, they asked us to attend an Owner Update meeting, but when I said no, they didn’t pressure us. I was asked, I answered no, and they moved on. 

On check-in day, whether you drive to the resort, or take a ride share, you should stop at the security gate where they check your name on the list of arrivals for the day. If you are a Chairman Owner, they radio ahead to the resort and announce your arrival.  When you get out of the car and walk in, a representative is there to greet you and take you to the Chairman’s Desk to check-in.  It isn’t a private area – desks are along the hallway and around the corner – but in any event you bypass the line of people trying to check in at the lobby. 

In our case, there was another couple in front of us finishing up, so the nice “greeter” got us some cold bottled water and stayed and talked to us for a few minutes. He was very cordial and welcoming!  The rest of the process went smoothly and efficiently.  It truly started off the week on such a high note.  The BEST part of the whole experience – only ONCE did they ever ask us to attend an Owner’s Update meeting during our check-in process, and that was when we picked up our Owner’s Privilege Card. Nothing after that.

Other resorts go through a very similar process of VIP check-in experience as Ko’Olina, except for one very important point. At the other resorts, after sitting you down and getting your things in order, they start encouraging you to attend an Owner’s Update meeting (Sales Presentation).  Focus is on selling you, not educating you. And after saying no, they continue to ask you – “you’ll get $$, you can go at your convenience, etc. etc. etc.” “No”. “Are you aware of . . . .?”  “No I don’t want to attend.” More pressure.

We recently returned to Grande Vista in Orlando, got the VIP check-in experience, but was so highly pressured to attend an Owner’s Update meeting that I almost got up to get in the long line in the lobby to check in.  He was upset that my husband didn’t come with me to check in (my husband was staying in the car with 3 young children who were exhausted after traveling all day). This guy wouldn’t take no for an answer!  He kept asking and pushing me.  Not the experience I want when starting my vacation.

I’ve been told that “because of the success” of this program, Marriott is rolling it out to more and more resorts in the future.  Be aware what really is going on, and don’t set expectations high – it is a Marketing Campaign, not an appreciation process.  Having said that – Ko’Olina did NOT follow the typical protocol other resorts do and truly treated us as a valued owner with very little pressure to purchase more.  OH HOW I WISH MORE RESORTS DID THE SAME THING!!!!

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