Making a Generation of Memories
By Janet Brindle Reddick
The Hendersons have been vacationing at Marriott Vacation Club® resorts in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, for more than four decades. It’s an understatement to say that they’ve built traditions and created many memories there.
During those visits, four generations of their family — including a woman who carved her place in history — have stayed there.
Marriott Vacation Club recently sat down with Owner Etta Ish Henderson to talk about her family’s experience with ownership at Marriott’s Grande Ocean and why Marriott Vacation Club has been a big part of their family traditions since the early 1980s.
How It Started
Etta’s aunt Lucile first visited the Lowcountry in the early 1980s. The Chicagoan loved the area so much that she eventually became a snowbird, owning property in Sea Pines, Hilton Head. She wanted to share the coastal charm with others. Since she had earned her real estate license upon retirement, Lucile began selling timeshares. It was then that the family’s history with Marriott Vacation Club truly started.
When Etta was in her early 20s, she and her mother, Sue Ish, both purchased their first timeshare interest from American Resorts/Monarch. She said she remembers peaceful, quiet visits at Marriott’s Monarch with her first son.
But her family’s vacation needs changed when she remarried and had a second child. She purchased additional time at Marriott’s Grande Ocean — sight unseen — before it was even completed. The rest is family history.
Etta said she thought her children would eventually outgrow these vacations, but just the opposite happened.
“I mean, they really have attached themselves to this as part of their … upbringing,” she said.
The family would drive from Chicago, stay at a Marriott® hotel in Lexington, Kentucky, and then drive the rest of the way.
“Our vacation was really our time with our boys,” she explained. “Those are some very golden memories.”
A Family Affair
But it wasn’t just Etta and her boys.
Her parents and maternal grandmother also had a chance to enjoy the offerings at Marriott’s Grande Ocean.
Etta’s maternal grandmother was actress, singer, and political activist Etta Moten Barnett. She played Bess in the play Porgy and Bess and was the first African American to perform at the White House in the 20th century. She was married to Claude A. Barnett, founder of the Associated Negro Press. Though Claude died in 1967, Etta Barnett lived to be 102.
So maybe it’s no coincidence that Sue Ish, Etta’s mother, is now 102 years old!
Through the years, the family has seen many changes, but they have their favorite things to do.
“I’d go for long walks on the beach and swim in the ocean,” Etta recalled. “And we always rode our bikes.”
She said her husband loves to spend time in the gym, but for her, the biggest reason to come is the draw of the coast.
“To come here every year and hear the roar of the ocean … that is a treat in itself,” she continued.
Why Marriott Vacation Club?
“Marriott [Vacation Club] itself to me just is such an impressive standard,” Etta said. “And the options are vast.”
And though the program has changed from Weeks ownership to points-based ownership, one thing stays the same.
“It is always refreshed and always modernized,” she said.
Etta has already recommended Marriott Vacation Club and Marriott’s Grande Ocean to her co-workers, and the family recently added another 2,500 Club Points to their account to reach the Presidential benefit level, along with Marriott Bonvoy® Titanium Elite status.
Change of Pace
Etta, who works in health care, knows how vital rest, relaxation, and vacationing can be. She said in her younger years she was a bit of a workaholic and didn’t take her vacation time every year.
“But if you are really dedicated to being a vacationer and committed to vacationing every year, then it’s worth that investment. You really just need to change your pace of life.”
Next up for Etta and her family? Perhaps a trip to Hawai‘i?
“I think my greatest advice to my sons would be to make time … to take a vacation,” Etta said. “You may not think you need it, but take your vacation.”
Points and Enrolled Owners may use Club Points to reserve a villa at https://www.marriottvacationclub.com/vacation-resorts/hhhvi-marriotts-grande-ocean/. Follow this link after logging in to marriottvacationclub.com.