As you probably know, I am a big fan of Park City, Utah. There are many reasons for this.
The first reason is that it is a simple 30 minute drive from Salt Lake City airport (SLC) that is all on highways. Even in a snow storm, the ride is fairly easy.
The second reason is that the skiing is fantastic. The weather is usually quite pleasant with beautiful sunny days. It makes skiing a pleasure as opposed to the east coast skiing that I grew up with where temperatures could easily be in the single digits and icy. In addition, Park City and the Canyons recently merged so it is the largest ski area in the United States. There is ample choices for all ski levels. There is also plenty of other ski resorts in the vicinity in case you get bored with Park City.
The third reason is that there are plenty of great timeshares. I rarely have a problem getting a great ski week at many of the top rated timeshare resorts.
Marriott Summit Watch
As I have written about before, my family and I stayed at the Marriott Summit Watch resort the week before Christmas. The snow conditions were a little weak this season but the resort is stellar.
In my previous post, I compared some of the perks of the resorts as compared to many of our recent hotel stays. In this post, I wanted to give a more detailed review of the resort as compared to some of the other properties that I have visited in Park City, Utah.
Since I travel to Park City a decent amount, I have had the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt Centric Park City (technically a fractional ownership property), the Westgate Park City , the Marriott Summit Watch and the Hyatt Place (hotel). The two other timeshares that I want to visit but I have not had the opportunity to visit is the Marriott Mountainside and the Hilton Sunrise Resort.
The Marriott Summit Watch is located directly on Main Street. The benefits to this location is that there are tons of restaurants and bars within seconds of the resort. There are a few very good restaurants literally right outside the front doors.
The resort is a one minute walk to Town Lift. While it is not a ski-in / ski-out property, it is a simple walk and as I mentioned in my other post, they have free ski storage right at the Town lift which makes it very convenient.
As I showed you in my other post, the studio units are quite nice. If you are accustomed to Marriott properties, this property is definitely on par with other high end Marriott properties.
The Marriott Summit Watch also has one bedroom and two bedroom units. I have stayed in a 2 bedroom unit at this resort in the past and it is very spacious with a large living room and kitchen facility. It is definitely big enough for a family of 4 to spread out comfortably and could easily accommodate 6 people.
The Marriott Summit Watch does a great job with various activities around the property. They constantly had plenty of free things going on and had many adult activities that were fun. I really enjoyed the constant offering of free wine and beer tastings. In case you missed it, here are a few photos of the various activities that were being offering during our stay.
The pool area at the Marriott Summit Watch is quite nice. They have an indoor outdoor pool that is heated. You can spend your time in the inside pool or you can swim under the divider and get to the outside pool. Despite it being less than 30 degrees outside, the pool was quite warm.
In addition to the pool, they have 4 hot tubs, one on the inside and three outside. The biggest hot tub can easily fit 15 people if not more. Overall, the pool facility is quite nice.
Kids Club / Activity Center:
The kids club / activity center is located in the pool complex. It is a ten step walk from the last building. The activity center has a lot of different options for both kids and adults. It is on the smaller side but they have video games, arts and crafts, chess, checkers, air hockey, and various board games. It is a well stocked area with plenty of things to keep you busy.
One downside to a lot of timeshare properties is the lack of food outlets. The Marriott Summit Watch does not have any food and beverage outlets on premises but there are tons of restaurants right out the front door. In addition, they have a marketplace where you can get some simple items such as beer, ice cream, coffee, drinks, and various other snacks. In addition, they do have tons of DVD's where you can rent them nightly for a nominal charge.
The Marriott Summit Watch is one of the nicer timeshare properties that I have stayed at. The location is stellar since it is so convenient to Main Street, restaurants and town lift. I also really enjoy being able to bring a car without a fee so you can explore other areas.
I really enjoyed our stay at the Marriott Summit Watch and would highly recommend this property. I did do a timeshare presentation here and will report on those findings soon.
Have you stayed at this property? What are your opinions?
Free Two Night Stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio Texas (Targeted to Existing Hyatt Owners living in Texas)
Last week, I received a surprising phone call from a representative of the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch. They indicated that they were offering a free 2 night stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio for the month of January and February in exchange for taking a tour of the newly constructed building on premises and learning more about the Hyatt Portfolio program.
Many of these timeshare offers usually require some upfront free such as one of their current offers that was found on my facebook feed which is for a studio unit at a rate of $130 per night.
In contrast, this offer is completely free and the offer is for any size unit! Many of these offers are very restrictive in that they only allow a certain size unit or block out weekend nights. However, I was able to book this offer in a 2 bedroom unit for a Friday and Saturday night stay.
The total cost: $0.00! No resort fees, no deposits, no credit card.
While I will have to attend another timeshare presentation, (you are welcome yet again) hopefully I can find out some more good information on the Portfolio program that I can share with my readers.
As I mentioned, this offer appears targeted to current Hyatt owners who live in or around San Antonio. This may apply to those existing Hyatt owners who live in the State of Texas. However, if you could potentially use this offer, I would simply call the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch and see if they can accommodate.
They have a new building and appear anxious to get new owners acclimated to the Portfolio Program so even if you were not targeted, you may be able to take advantage of this offer.
Here is their direct phone number: 210-647-9500
Wild Oak Ranch
If you have not been to the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch, it is a spectacular property. The rooms are fantastic, they have tons of activities going on, they have water slides, a lazy river, fire pits and more.
While January / February will be slightly chilly, it is a great property and there should be enough activities in and around the resort to keep you busy for two days. Also, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, a full service hotel, is about a 2 minute drive from this property and guests at Hyatt Wild Oak can use those facilities.
Overall, this is a great offer and definitely worth 1 1/2 hours of my time to see the new buildings. I am curious to see if they are the same or better than the existing units. The existing units are very nice so we will see how much of an improvement, if any, the new units will be.
Have you been to the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch?
If you can use this offer, please post below on your success or failure! It will be helpful to see whether this offer is really targeted or open to anyone who can use it.
Hotel Fees versus a stay at a Timeshare: A close look at various standard hotel fees as compared to the Marriott Summit Watch timeshare in Park City, Utah
If you are a regularly reader, you can probably see that we have done some extensive traveling this past year. I think that we easily traveled for at least 90 days this past year.
Traveling for 90 days is quite a lot of time and while I definitely love timeshares and highly prefer them as compared to hotels, we have utilized hotel points and frequent flyer miles to stay quite a bit in hotels this past year. In case you are interested, here a few posts concerning some of our recent travels.
While I still owe you a full review of the Marriott Summitt Watch resort in Park City, Utah, the stay was really fabulous. In my previous post, I showed you the details of our studio unit which was actually very comfortable even for a family of four.
One of the key reasons why the stay was so fabulous was the lack of being nickeled and dimed throughout our stay.
Since we have actually stayed a lot in hotels this past year, the constant extra fees, add ons, resort fees and ridiculous other charges that hotels now treat as customary, the Marriott Summitt Watch had very few, if any of these fees. In this post, I wanted to do a quick comparison on the various items that hotels routinely charge that the Marriott Summitt Watch did not.
I HATE RESORT FEES. It is such a ridiculous charge that these hotels now treat as mandatory that provides close to zero value. However, hotels have become fee happy and now charge these fees constantly. Unfortunately, these fees continue to expand as they have been reports of even "Urban Destination Fees" - RIDICULOUS!
In our most recent travels, the Marriott Los Suenos Resort in Costa Rica charged $32 per day for their resort fee even though we used points. Our "free" week ended up costing us over $200 simply for their ridiculous resort fee.
The Andaz Maui charges an obscene $40 per day resort fee. While they provide some "value", it is still a completely ridiculous fee especially considering rates were in excess of $1000 per night during our stay over Christmas.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch charged ZERO DOLLARS as their resort fee. A welcome alternative to the standard nickel and diming tactics of the hotels.
Having a car on vacation can be a necessity for some destinations. A car allows you to explore the surrounding area and not be held hostage for the resort restaurants. However, renting a car is expensive and parking your car now has become a tremendous added expense. In addition to resort fees, many hotels now routinely charge for parking even though they never had in the past.
For example, the Andaz Maui charges a hefty $35 per day for your car. This is in addition to their mandatory $40 resort fee. Not cheap.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
Despite being on Main Street where parking is tight, the Marriott Summitt Watch charges an impressive ZERO DOLLARS for parking if you are staying at the resort. They have an underground parking garage that is a pay to park facility but it is complimentary for guests. A very welcome perk for all guests - not just those with status as Hyatt now offers for their Globalist members.
While doing laundry on vacation is not something that you want to do, having access to facilities can be helpful especially for ski vacations as well as beach vacations where your cloths can get pretty disgusting. Most hotels provide laundry services where they charge exorbitant fees for laundry. Usually they charge per piece so doing laundry for a shirt, jeans and socks can easily cost over $20.
Even at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, they had a "special" where they would do a small bag of laundry for $25.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch has complimentary laundry facilities for use. While the laundry facilities were in a less than ideal location in their garage, it was completely free and they provided laundry detergent for free. Again, a nice perk.
A lot of ski-in / ski-out hotels will offer you ski storage. It is a nice option to be able to get off the mountain and have the hotel store your skis until the next day. However, most hotels will charge fees for this service. Some may include it in their resort fee but many charge an add-on fee for this service.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch is located a one minute walk to Town Lift. It is not technically a ski-in /ski-out property but it is close. They have made arrangements with a ski storage company to hold guests skis right at town lift. The cost - ZERO DOLLARS. Again, a very nice perk considering the ski storage place charges about $15 per day per ski set for this service for non-guests.
Resort activities can be a lot of fun and there are some great activities to keep kids and adults occupied. Unfortunately, a lot of these resort activities come with an extra charge. At the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo resort, my wife and I did the mixology class where it cost us about $50 per person for this despite the resort charging a 10% resort fee on top of whatever room rate you reserved.
The Andaz Maui had plenty of activities but most came with some extra fee despite charging guests their mandatory resort fee. Most hotels, even though they charge a resort fee, still find it ok to charge fees for resort activities.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch had tons of activities going on everyday. I was actually very surprised on the amount of activities that they had. They had wine tasting, beer tasting, excursions, kids arts and crafts activities, and various other things. Here are a few pictures of the daily activities.
As you can see, they had some decent activities going on every day. I did not mind the various nominal charges as these generally covered the cost of the materials. I think that those types of charges are actually reasonable.
Most hotels have lobby bars where you can grab a drink at your convenience. Drinks in nice hotels can cost quite a bit. During our stay at the Andaz Maui, the cocktails through the resort were $19 per cocktail! Quite pricey to say the least. Beers cost $10 per beer - completely ridiculous if you ask me. The other hotels were somewhat similar with cocktails generally costing somewhere between $12-19 dollars.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch did not have a food and beverage outlet on premises. They have a small market where you can get some essentials but almost every day from about 5-6 pm, they provided complimentary wine for their guests. You can drink as much as you want without a problem. In hotels, a glass of wine would easily cost $15 per glass. Again, a nice perk for all guests regardless of status!
I really enjoyed the Marriott Summitt Watch property. It has a prime location right on Main Street which is in walking distance to everything including the ski lift. Additionally, their rooms were quite comfortable. The biggest thing that stood out to me was the vast amount of items that were included in the stay as compared to the constant fee hungry hotels.
As a reminder, my total out of pocket cost for one week at this property (week before Christmas) was just over $400! Room rates at hotels throughout town were easily in excess of $400 per night.
Regardless of the cost, I get very annoyed at the constant efforts by hotels to get every dollar out of your wallet. Despite charging obscene resort fees, these fees still do not cover almost anything and they are constantly looking for new ways to charge you for something that was routinely part of your daily nightly charge.
Timeshares do have a bad reputation of charging a lot of fees, but I truly think that the tables have turned and hotels are much more to blame than timeshares. My stay at the Marriott Summit Watch really solidified this view.
What do you think of all of these fees? Did I miss anything that also annoys you??
As you probably know, I spent a week at the Marriott Summit Watch in Park City. It is a spectacular resort and we really enjoyed our time there.
A review of the resort will be posted soon.
You can see our room here.
You can read about why I really enjoyed this resort as compared to our recent hotel trips here.
In addition, it has been a while since I attended a Marriott timeshare presentation so I decided to do so again here. YOU ARE WELCOME!
They offered me a $150 Visa gift card or a $150 gift card to various restaurants around Park City or 15,000 Marriott Reward Points. I chose the Marriott Reward Points as I had an immediate need for these points for an upcoming stay.
While I did receive a gift, I went through this presentation solely for the benefit of my readers so you can get a better idea of what the process is and be more informed on these programs.
Even as The Timeshare Guru, I really do not enjoy these timeshare presentations. While most of the major timeshare brands (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc.) are fairly non-pressure, every time I attend one of these presentations, I know that this blog will be successful some day.
The reason is that the timeshare presentations make timeshares look great without going into the various issues that come with owning a timeshare. I love my timeshares and actually just completed a another purchase (stay tuned for that post), but I really despise how these presentations simply give you an overview of the system and make generalizations on how you can travel any time and at any resort.
While I get excellent value out of my timeshare, if you read this blog, you know that there are multiple strategies to use and even planning 1+ year in advance, you are not guaranteed your desired destination or desired resort. You can read about my timeshare "failure" here.
The Marriott timeshare presentation started like most others with a general discussion of your travel style, destinations and future desires. This process is meant to give the representative a better idea on what timeshare or what "package" to offer.
I tried to speed this process along and indicated that I was familiar with Marriotts and the program but wanted to see more details about how it worked.
Before we got there, the representative provided some details on the ownership structure of the program.
As you may know, Marriott Vacation Club previously sold weeks at various resorts. This is the standard timeshare product that most people know and one of reasons why timeshares have a bad reputation. You own a week at a particular resort and you can use that week each year.
As travel styles changed and people wanted more flexibility, Marriott Vacation Club moved to a points based system. Instead of purchasing weeks, Marriott Vacation Club now only sells points.
Despite only selling points, the legacy week program is still available through resale purchases.
In another post, I will go through the differences between the two.
As you can see in the chart above, Marriott Vacation Club has contributed properties to the land trust and they created a point system where you purchase a certain allotment of points and you can then exchange those points for nightly stays at resorts.
This is extremely similar to hotel loyalty points or frequent flyer points but instead of being given points for certain activities (flying, staying in hotels, shopping, etc.), you purchase points and use those points for various stays.
The Sales Tactic
The representative started discussing our travel plans and the amount of money that we spend on vacation. I indicated that we spent approximately $5,000 per year on vacations. It truthfully fluctuates greatly depending on how much or how little we travel but this seemed about right as an estimate.
Many times, we actually travel extensively for free or for as little as $400 per week through various credit card points, hotel points, frequent flyer miles and other travel tools. In case you missed it, this is a good overview of a recent trip and the various tools that I used.
The representative then created this chart.
As you can see, he estimates that we will spend $50,000 over the next 10 years and instead of receiving nothing after those ten years, after ten years you will have a deeded interest in "property" that can be sold, gifted, rented, or given to your heirs.
A particular quote that grabbed my attention was the phrase located on top of the white board:
"ALWAYS REMEMBER MORE POINTS MORE FUN!!"
Exchanging your Points
It is usually during this point in various timeshare presentations that gets me upset. You can definitely exchange your points into nightly or weekly stays in various resorts, but the presentations never seem to go into detail. They simply show you a few destinations that you are interested in and tell you the amount of points required.
I do not want to go through the entire Marriott Vacation Club program here but here is the overview of the program in case you wanted to learn more.
Generally, you purchase a certain allotment of points and you can use those points for stays at little as one night and up to as many nights as you want (subject to availability and amount of points you "own").
In this particular case, the representative showed us the website and he gave some specific examples of the amount of points required to travel.
The reason that I get upset at this point in most presentations is that, while they are not lying to you to on the amount of points required, they provide you no way to see specific inventory at the time of the presentation.
It is great if I can reserve a prime ski week in Park City for a few nights using my Marriott Vacation Club points, but they simply could not tell me if there was any availability. They indicated that they do not have an "owners" account in order to see real time inventory. They were not able to show me current inventory for this current season or for anytime.
To me, this is extremely frustrating in that they are essentially telling you that you can travel when and where you want but they leave out the tremendous issue of availability. Availability for prime resorts and prime weeks is scarce and you need to plan far in advance and be flexible in order to get that inventory.
I despise the fact that they "hide" this issue as it is a major downside for timeshares and a major issue on why timeshares have a bad reputation.
In regards to price, the first chart that they showed me was the following.
As you can see, when the points system was first introduced, they sold points at $9.20 per point in June of 2010. Today, they were offering points at $13.90. As you can see in bold, a 66% price increase to date.
In other words, BUY NOW BEFORE THE PRICE GOES UP FURTHER!
As we continued on through the presentation, they priced out a 4,000 point package. 4,000 points is not a lot of points and will significantly impact the weeks that you can travel and the destination. While they did not share the following chart with me, I think that is very helpful to see the various tiers and where 4,000 points fall on the spectrum.
As you can see, 4,000 points is one of the smaller packages. The representative then proceeded to create the following offer.
Here is a bit of math. 4,000 points at $13.90 per point equals $55,600. They generously (sarcasm) offer financing where you can put 10% down, pay a closing costs of $1252 which will create monthly payment of $520. As you can see, there is no mention of the interest rate offered. (I believe it is 18%).
Additionally, since I was a first timer (kind of - everyone gets this offer), I was given a choice on the various incentives. They would give me an additional 4,000 points for the first year or 300,000 Marriott Reward points AND an additional 2250 points.
If I had a Marriott Rewards Credit card and put the purchase on the card, I would receive an additional 288,000 Marriott Reward Points.
The Marriott Rewards Card provides 5 points per dollar spent on Marriott purchases so with the purchase price and closing costs, I would get this additional 288,000 Marriott Reward Points.
BUT, THATS NOT ALL.
Additionally, as a first time incentive, they are offering a 25% discount off the purchase price for a total purchase price of $41,680.
Another thing that I despise about timeshares is that you never really know the price. After some back and forth regarding the high price for this package, a new representative came in and explained a "new" program that was being offered.
This program (not sure how new this is) is where you purchase a standard week at various resorts under the legacy program AND, at the same time, you purchase Marriott Vacation Club points, which will convert the week that you bought into becoming eligible to exchange that weeks for points.
The legacy week program does not allow you to convert your week into points. They treat these two systems completely different. However, this program allows you to circumvent this rule and you receive a legacy week and points and you magically now have the option to convert your newly purchased legacy week into points.
This is a bit confusing so here is the chart that they provided.
If we take the first resort on the list, the Marriott Sabal Palm Pink.
They are selling this week for $4,600. This week is worth 2,050 points. This week has maintenance fees of $1,320. By purchasing this week and converting to points, your purchase price is $2.24.
$4,600 divided by 2,050 is $2.24 per points - a significant discount to the original selling price of $13.90 as stated above.
However, you NEED to purchase points in order to be able to convert this legacy week. You MUST purchase a minimum of 2,250 points.
2,250 typically cost $13.90 per point which equates to $31,275. By purchasing through this combined program, they offer a 20% discount on this side of the purchase so that your purchase price for 2,250 points is $25,020.
Therefore, by purchasing a legacy week and points together, the total purchase price is $29,620 (4,600 for the legacy week and $25,020 for the points).
By doing this together, you would have the ability to use 4,300 points for a total purchase price of $29,620.
As you recall, I was JUST offered the ability to purchase 4,000 points for $41,680.
Therefore, in a matter of minutes, I was given an additional discount of 28.9%.
I really do love my timeshares as they typically provide great accommodations that are spacious and luxurious. I get tremendous value out of owning timeshares and have had tons of affordable and luxurious vacations for a fraction of the cost.
As I mentioned, I routinely get prime ski weeks for about $400 for a week where most hotels are charging in excess of that amount for one night. I just received confirmation for a 1 bedroom unit at the Marriott Ocean Club for the week before Christmas in 2018. My out of pocket cost for this week is approximately $800 but rates easily exceed that amount PER NIGHT!
However, when I attend these presentations, it is so apparent on why they have awful reputations and most people think they are a scam.
As you can see in the above, the only time that maintenance fees were even discussed was when there was a line item on the spreadsheet. They simply did not disclose the amount of maintenance fees required for the point purchase. Maintenance fees are a tremendous expense and you need to be aware of them upfront!
Additionally, it was very difficult to access availability. While they easily can say that you can make great exchanges, I was unable to see real time inventory to actually see what is available. A beach vacation in the middle of winter is probably not ideal for most people even if it is available.
The other item that was overlooked was the ability to exchange through Interval International. To me (and most people), this is where timeshares shine and where you can get the most outsized value from owning. I inquired about the exchange rates for Interval International to determine the amount of points needed for weeks and the representative pretended not to know and actually got a manager to discuss.
They indicated that most owners prefer Marriott properties are rarely exchange through Interval International. As a result, they leave it out of their sales pitch. A TREMENDOUS OVERSIGHT. In another post, I will explain the potential reason that they do this and how these points actually exchange through Interval International
I do not own a Marriott week or Marriott points but actually stay in Marriott's more often than I stay in other brands of timeshares. The reason is that they are fantastic properties and I can generally get into most desirable properties that I want for a fraction of the retail cost AND the fraction of the amount of Marriott points required. Stay tuned for this!
However, a Marriott purchase will likely occur in the future and I will explain the strategy for this and what I may purchase.
Overall, the presentation was fairly low pressure and non-eventful. We were in and out within the 1 1/2 time allotted, I received 15,000 Marriott Reward Points for my time and got to get interesting information for my readers.
I am always disappointed by the lack of transparency in these presentations so I hope that this is helpful.
I think that there is value to creating this site and hope you feel that same way. Please support the site by sharing on social media and sharing with friends!
What has your experience been with timeshare presentations?
Public Service Announcement - New Accommodations Certificates Added to Interval International Account
In case you have not logged into your Interval International account recently, now is a good time to do so. In the past week, I was provided with 2 additional Accommodations Certificates that can be used for a "free" one week trip. The "free" week still requires the payment of an exchange fee of $239 but can be a great deal.
In case you may have missed it, here is some information on accommodations certificates.
Also, while they are generally for off-peak travel, there are definitely diamonds in the rough where you can get tremendous weeks.
Post below if you see anything good!
What is a Studio in Timeshare Talk?
As I have mentioned in many other posts, I am a points addict where I am continually earning and burning credit card points including hotel points and frequent flyer points. This "hobby" has allowed my family and I to travel extensively throughout the world for a fraction of the cost. While traveling for "free" or "quasi free" is nice, it takes a decent amount of time and effort to accumulate and use points. Additionally, when you use points, most of the time, they only allow you to reserve standard hotel rooms.
Timeshares have a very bad reputation and I am attempting to revise the perception of timeshares by providing real world examples on how one can own a timeshare and maximize its use to travel for a small fraction of the retail cost. One way that I am attempting to do this is to compare the accommodations that one can receive with timeshares as opposed to hotels.
I generally compare a hotel room to a studio unit when making comparisons on cost. A hotel room and studio, while similar, are actually a bit different. Many studio units have a sleeper sofa as well as a small kitchenette whereas most hotel rooms do not.
In case you missed this article, this is a good read on the economics of timeshare ownership where I use hotel rooms as a comparison for travel costs.
In this post, I wanted to show you some pictures of a studio unit that we had during our recent trip to Park City, Utah at the Marriott Summitt Watch. I will be doing a full review on this property later but as a preview, it is a stellar property!
Here are some photos on our unit:
The Sleeper Sofa / Living Area
The Sleeper Sofa / Living Area
Dishes / Toaster Oven
As you can see, a timeshare studio isn't huge but generally surpasses that of a standard hotel room. You have a little more space, generally will have a sofa which mainly is a sleep sofa, has a small table and a small kitchenette.
I wanted to post this so that my readers can get a better understanding of a timeshare studio. I think that is important so that you can compare the accommodations to a standard hotel room. As I have stated many times, by owning one 2 bedroom timeshare, I can get 4+ weeks in timeshare studio units.
In the studio unit above, my family of four stayed for one week. I also did sleep on the sofa and it was surprisingly very comfortable. It was a memory foam mattress which was actually very enjoyable.
While the room was definitely a bit tight for a family of four, we were comfortable in these accommodations.
While we may have preferred a one or two bedroom, the studio unit definitely surpassed our expectations and truthfully would prefer 2 one week vacations rather than using double the amount of points for a one week vacation in a 1 bedroom.
The point of this post is to show you a good example of a typical timeshare studio unit. I think that they are very comparable to hotel units but definitely exceed the comfort of hotel units by having a sofa, table and small kitchen.
What do you think of timeshare studios?
Guest Post from Luxury Fractional Guide: Top 5 Homes Available to Exclusive Resorts Members
Message from The Timeshare Guru: This is a guest post from Luxury Fractional Guide.
Fractional ownerships are vey similar to timeshares and it is a topic that I have wanted to cover for some time. Fractional ownerships give members access to some incredible properties around the world. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Luxury Fractional Guide as put together this post that shows some truly spectacular properties that are available through Exclusive Resorts - one of main luxury fractional ownership clubs.
In my previous travel to the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, I personally came across some incredible properties by Exclusive Resorts. The Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort is located on a secluded peninsula which also contained luxury homes, the Four Seasons Resorts and some Exclusive Resort properties.
There were fabulous and from the pictures below, you can see that getting access to these properties is a completely different way of traveling. I am not an expert on fractional ownerships but I hope that this article gives you a glimpse in some alternative travel accommodations.
Guest Posts: Guest posts are a great way for me to provide valuable information to my readers for topics that I am not an expert in. If you want to write a guest post, please reach out to me at email@example.com!
Top 5 Homes Available to Exclusive Resorts Members
Choosing just five Exclusive Resorts destinations is difficult given their diverse portfolio of luxury homes and adventures around the world.
The perfect destination is one with exquisite scenery, heart-stopping adventure, interesting cultural experiences, and amazing culinary options. Each of these top five accommodations offers these, and travel experts at Exclusive Resorts can customize individual vacations at each location.
Luxury Fractional Guide also has written a comparison of two luxury vacation clubs: Exclusive Resorts and Inspirato.
#1. LA RETRAITE Cote D'Azur, France
This magnificent seaside retreat on the coast of France has a distinctive, rustic stone exterior. Spend an evening outside this countryside villa and watch the luxurious yachts parade across the sparkling blue sea. Relax on the outdoor wicker furniture while your private chef prepares a traditional French meal in the wood-burning oven in the al fresco kitchen. The countryside villa has four bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms and an expansive outdoor living area to enjoy the French coastal sun.
Conveniently located near Mercantour Park, enjoy an adventurous day trip to hike the dramatic peaks and splash through the mountain streams of the rugged national park. Your concierge can book a parachuting excursion so that you can see the countryside from a peaceful aerial viewpoint.
Spend a day browsing through galleries in Nice for a more sophisticated day on the town. Views of local olive groves and vineyards will greet you upon your return to the idyllic estate.
For those who prefer a more cultural outing, ask your concierge to arrange transportation to Nice where you can visit the Musee Matisse, or learn the secrets to making exquisite olive oil in the rolling hills near La Pierre Plantée Domaine.
#2. GRAND CAYMAN VILLA Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
This four-bedroom, 4.5 bath residence overlooks the nine-hole Blue Tip golf course designed by Greg Norman famous for its long Par Fours into the trade winds. Splash into your private plunge pool after a sweltering day in the sun and try your hand at dinner in the luxurious gourmet kitchen with groceries pre-stocked for your convenience.
Located within the pristine, gated Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman community on 144 acres of gorgeous beachfront property along Seven Mile Beach, the casually elegant 3,518 square foot residence features extensive indoor and outdoor living areas suited for relaxation or entertaining in the balmy air of the Caribbean.
A quick golf cart ride will deliver you to the nearby resort amenities like the Starfish Cay 20,000 square foot spa and waterpark. Indulge in a feast of seafood flavors with a distinctive island essence at Blue by Eric Ripert, and follow it with a Cuban cigar and a lively rum cocktail at the Silver Palm. Reserve family time to visit the Cayman Turtle Farm to swim with sea turtles and other colorful marine life in the lagoon, and become members of the Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment while participating in the children’s popular eco-adventure program at the resort. You’ll sleep soundly to the crash of ocean waves in your cozy bungalow to recharge for the next day’s adventures.
#3. VILLA LA SOLANA Ibiza, Spain
This modern, 4-bedroom, 3-bath villa that perches on a hillside overlooking some of the world’s best beaches merits a Top Five distinction. The crisp, modern lines of the architecture are warmed by chic Spanish décor suited to a residence on the island of the once-famous artist colony. The secluded estate is located at the foot of a private road, allowing you to fully relax and enjoy your time away with access to every modern convenience.
Watch the crowds parade by on the pine-bordered strand of Ses Salines beach favored by world-class body surfers, then plant yourself on the terrace with a glass of wine to enjoy the views of dense pine forests and rolling hills of olive trees while dinner is prepared for you al fresco in the outdoor kitchen. A picturesque stone tower dominates the architecture, providing stunning panoramic views from the dining room on the main level, or the private upper-level bedroom.
Jump in and cool off in the stunning outdoor pool before walking to the nearby shopping or a night on the town at the trendy nightclub, Pacha. Meet other adventurous travelers for a Full-Moon Saturday Trek hosted May-September, or dive into the warm, clear waters along the spectacular coastline.
#4. BELLA Amalfi Coast, Italy
This newly constructed hillside villa delivers a perfect view of the Mediterranean from the spacious terrace with outdoor dining and sitting areas. Centrally located in the cliff-side village of Positano, this charming five-bedroom, 5.5 bath residence has every amenity necessary for a spectacular Amalfi Coast holiday.
Positano is a colorful Mediterranean village with charming narrow streets that cling to steep hillsides. A scenic drive along twisting roads will deliver you to the main piazza with local boutiques and cafes to suit every taste. Tourists flock to the nearby isle of Capri, Naples, and the historic city of Pompeii frozen forever in time.
Adventurous days will lead you back home to the fully air-conditioned villa decorated in classic Mediterranean colors. Relax in a cozy sitting area overlooking the sea while your private chef cook’s regional Italian cuisine in the gourmet kitchen. Dinner for six is served at the oblong dining table in the dining room with colorful tiled walls and a stunning white glass chandelier.
5. VILLAS PARAISO Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This spectacular residence is tucked away in the quiet tropics of the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. Surrounded by the lush flora, the open-air design allows you to transition between the 4,000-square foot indoor and expansive outdoor areas to best enjoy the views. Quaint thatched-roof walkways lead to the adjoining golf course and other resort amenities like the Oscar de la Renta Tennis Center or the Six Senses Spa.
Guests can enjoy meals in the private residence, or venture out to the six restaurants in the nearby resort.
Five miles of turquoise waters and pristine beaches surround you. You’ll find sleep easily at the end of an active day on the water, whether sailing peacefully, paddle boarding through quiet lagoons or kite surfing and parasailing. The tropical accents in the four-bedroom, 4.5 bath residence turn every day into an enchanting experience.
These properties all have stunning scenery, excursions, and amenities. Since 2002, Exclusive Resorts has created 200,000 luxurious, adventure-filled vacations. More than 4,000 members and their families travel in style 15 to 30 days per year. Two flexible membership opportunities offer full access to the private vacation portfolio.
Message from The Timeshare Guru: A big thank you to Luxury Fractional Guide for providing us this information. These homes are truly stunning! I personally am very interested in learning more about these types of vacation clubs and seeing if there is a way to maximize ownership or maximize their use.
Let me know your thoughts below on whether this information will be interesting and useful!
Hyatt Residence Club Owners: Opportunity to Book Properties Using New Portfolio Points (Daily Nights Available)
If the timeshare world could not get any more complicated, Hyatt is in the process of rolling out a new Hyatt program called the Hyatt Residence Club Portfolio Program.
Here is an overview of the new program.
The new Portfolio Program is different than the legacy program in that it has become an all points based system. Instead of purchasing a week, you purchase points where you can redeem those points for night stays.
I will do a detailed post on the differences soon but one of the key differences and huge benefit of this program is that ability to book properties for as many nights as you want rather than being handcuffed by the legacy program of only allowing you to book 2, 3, 4 or 7 night stays.
The tremendous benefit of this new program is that the nightly rates are reasonable with the exception of Saturday night.
The exchange grids for the new program are included here but for the purpose of this post, here is the exchange grid for Aspen Colorado.
As you can see, the amount of points vary by dates and whether it is a Sunday through Friday night, Saturday night or 7 night stay.
For example, if you want to stay in Aspen for January 7 through February 3 in a Studio, it would cost you 70 points per night for Sunday through Friday and 260 points for Saturday night. The Saturday night stay costs about 4 times the amount of points.
Therefore, if you elect to stay Sunday through Friday, it would cost you only 420 points (70 x 6 = 420) or 680 for the week or as many days as you want where you can simply add the point requirements together based on the day of the week.
Essentially, this new system will have tremendous value if you can avoid staying Saturday nights.
Access to the New System
I think it is fair to say that the new system has some benefits as well as drawbacks but current owners who do not purchase Portfolio points will not have the ability to book under this new system.
However, one of my readers (thank you Cindy!) alerted me to a potential anomaly which may or may not be permanent.
It appears that current owners who have not purchased into the Portfolio program are given the option to book properties using Portfolio points ONLY when using LCUP points.
LCUP points are limited club use points and only allow you to book 60 days out. These are very restricted points as opposed to CUP or Club Use Points that allow you to book 12 months or more (maybe) in advance.
As you can see from this screenshot, even though I am not a Portfolio Program member, I am given the opportunity to reserve a one night stay in Aspen for only 75 points.
Out of curiosity, the same one night stay booking directly with Hyatt would cost $579 before taxes and fees which look to add another $93.26 to this reservation for a total of $672.26.
I do not know whether the ability to book Portfolio Program properties with LCUP legacy points is intentional, an error or simply a way to introduce legacy owners to the Portfolio Program by getting rid of last minute inventory. Remember, LCUP points only allow you to reserve 60 days out.
In any event, the ability to book one night stays and the ability to book six night stays without a Saturday night can given you tremendous amount of value in the new Portfolio Program.
In terms of whether you should book using the legacy LCUP points or using the Portfolio Program, it will simply depend on the desired length of stay and which program / points gives you the best value.
A big thank you to Cindy who alerted me to this update! I encourage all readers to reach out if you have specific questions or comments! It helps me generate content that you want to read and gives you answers (I hope) for your questions.
The stay that broke my loyalty to Hyatt - Andaz Maui: Confirmed Suite Upgrade Disappeared Upon Check-In
In this previous post, I explained some of the tremendous valuable benefits that I would be receiving as a Globalist member in the World of Hyatt program at our stay at the Andaz Maui over Christmas / New Years.
One of the most important benefits that I was looking forward to was our complimentary upgrade to an Ocean View Suite for 5 out of our 10 nights. A suite, while still not as spacious as most timeshares, can be quite luxurious and with a family of four, we needed the space in order to all receive good sleep.
In my previous post, I did not go into the various details on why I had to only get a suite for 5 nights. Before I get into what transpired, I will go into a few of these details so that readers can better understand what happened, how to make sure it does not happen to you and get a better understanding of how the Andaz Maui uses various mechanisms to prevent most (maybe all) World of Hyatt members from getting a confirmed suite upgrade.
As a Globalist World of Hyatt member, you are given 4 complimentary suite upgrade certificates that you can apply to your reservation. Each certificate is good for 7 nights. In order to use them, a standard suite must be available for the nights that you intend to use them. Fortunately, these suite upgrades can be used on paid nights or award nights.
As I explained in my previous post, I made this particular reservation for the Andaz Maui a full year in advance. The Andaz Maui is known for being quite stringent with its award nights and only allows bookings into their garden room views. There are very few of these rooms, hence very little availability.
Since I was traveling during Christmas / New Year, I knew that I had to book as early as possible to secure the availability. The hotel plays a little game during this timeframe and only allows you to book a minimum of 10 nights with points. I tried to book 7 nights and they tell you that there is no availability but rooms open up when you try to book 10 nights.
In my case, I booked 10 nights under one reservation since I could not book anything else due to their capacity controls. There are no such capacity controls for paid night stays.
Again, as I explained my other post, once I booked this stay, I began to map out our entire year of travel. Due to the various perks that would come with this stay, I decided to try to achieve Globalist status. Since I mainly travel for personal and not business, getting 60+ nights is quite an achievement as most people generally only get 2 weeks vacation time per year.
The free breakfast, free parking and waived resort fee easily would save us approximately $280 per night.
Despite staying in various timeshares and other brand hotels throughout the year, I hit Globalist (60 nights in a year) in early November.
Complimentary Suite Upgrade
While complimentary suite upgrades became available under the new World of Hyatt program (subject to availability at check-in), you will receive 4 confirmed suite upgrades upon the date that you achieve Globalist. These confirmed suite upgrades allow you to confirm you suite before arriving provided that they are available to pay cash.
Since I was traveling during the highest demand time, I knew that a complimentary suite upgrade at check-in would likely not be doable. Rack rates during this time exceed $1600 per night for a standard room so people that can afford these rates likely would splurge for upgraded rooms and suites.
Searching for Availability
Knowing this, I checked Hyatt's website constantly as soon as those 4 confirmed suite upgrades hit my account in the beginning of November. While I searched, no suites came up for the entire 10 night stay but I did find an Ocean View Suite available to pay cash for the first 5 nights of the trip.
When I called Hyatt, they indicated that since it was not available for the entire stay, I could not use one of my suite upgrade certificates. When I asked them to split the reservation into two, they claimed that they could not since there were no availability for award nights.
As I explained above, this strategy that the Andaz Maui uses is that they require a minimum of 10 nights to use points even though there is no minimum amount of nights to use cash.
In my situation, while I had 10 nights reserved, they could not split my reservation into two 5 night stays with points since there system blocked any reservation on points for less than 10 nights. The Andaz Maui has been called out for this practice many times as well as some other "shady" practices that limits award availability.
Since I already had 10 nights reserved and simply wanted to use one of my suite upgrades for part of the stay since the standard suite was available, Hyatt was able to call the hotel and they agreed to block the suite for us for the first 5 nights. If it was booked or unavailable for the other 5 nights, we would have to move rooms.
While moving rooms would be a pain (especially with children on their stuff), it was something that I was willing to do in order to have the space and a view. The on-site representative confirmed our suite but did warn us that a move was likely. When I asked for confirmation for this, she said that it was booked internally and she assured me that everything was handled accordingly.
I pressed her on some type of confirmation but due to the way that she had to book it, she said it was not possible but reassured me multiple times that she had it under control. I had no reason to doubt her and she was a supervisor, was confident in the way that she booked it and knew what had to be done internally to make it happen.
This was a tremendous mistake on my part. Next time, I will make sure to get written confirmation and I encourage all my readers to make sure to get written evidence for anything that is offered!
My Suite Disappeared
We arrived at the hotel around 10pm. My wife was feeling ill and my son had been throwing up on the flight over. It was a long day.
When I checked in, they indicated that they had us in a garden room, no upgrades were available (not even the same room with a view) and put us in a garden room looking out to a cement wall and with the elevator right next door. This was not the Ocean View Suite that was promised. Arguably, it was one of their worst rooms in the hotel. This was not something that I expected as a "Globalist".
The front desk supervisor, while pleasant, indicated that there was nothing to do at the moment but would look further into it the next morning. I was not happy especially since we traveled 60+ nights in a Hyatt solely for this stay and was promised a spacious suite for a family of 4.
The next morning came around and despite promising to contact me, no one called or attempted to contact me. I reached out to My Hyatt Concierge and the Hyatt twitter team and later that afternoon, one of the front desk supervisors spoke to me and apologized for this situation. She reviewed the reservation and basically indicated that there were no notes, no suite confirmation, or anything else to verify my story.
She seemed to imply that I was making it up despite being well versed in the various games that the Andaz Maui plays with their room allocation and going into the various details explained above on why the reservation was done differently than the normal procedure.
No Suite for You!
Since it was Christmas week, there were no suites available and apparently the hotel was completely booked. I do not dispute this as this was a very busy week. There was not much that they could do to move us so we stayed in our "Garden View" Room. aka cement wall view with constant elevator noise. She did offer to give us 25,000 World of Hyatt points as an gesture of goodwill which we took although I am still waiting on these to get into my account.
Due to the way that the Andaz Maui books rooms and allocates award nights, they were not accommodating to revise my reservation and use the suite upgrade certificate. As they stated, they would block it internally and take my suite upgrade certificate upon check-in. I have done this before at other hotels and have not had a problem.
Since this was Christmas week and the room rates were sky high, there were plenty of people at the hotel who probably wanted a suite and would pay for that luxury. We met a few people who paid $2,000 per night for a suite.
My guess is that the hotel knew this and simply removed the suite from our reservation in order to accommodate a paying guest. At $2,000 per night, while making me and my family unhappy, they received $10,000 in additional revenue. An understandable but short-sighted business decision.
Hotel "loyalty" is an interesting item. Hotels want you to be loyal to their brand, stay at their hotels, eat at their restaurants and spend money at their outlets. In exchange, hotel loyalty programs give you points, perks and amenities that encourages this behavior.
From my previous post, you can see that there is some real value in achieving hotel status.
However, I tend to find that hotel loyalty is really a one way street. The hotels offer these "perks" when it is easy for them to do. Most of these perks are "subject to availability" so whenever there is someone willing to pay for it or the hotel doesn't want to give away something, they simply say that they are booked or nothing is available. There is little that you can do to verify inventory.
Additionally, many of these "perks" do not cost the hotel much if anything. It is a way for them to claim "value" while not hurting their bottom line.
I have held top tier status in various different programs and while I may be upgraded on various 1-2 night business hotels, I almost never have been upgraded at resorts when I travel with my family. This has been consistent through many different hotel brands (Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, etc.) If I am traveling alone, getting a suite, while nice, does not make much of a difference to me. When I have 4 people with me, a suite becomes a necessity.
This is one of most important reasons why timeshares became the preferred way of travel!
Getting Status in 2018??
After this stay, I was extremely disappointed with the Andaz Maui as well as Hyatt. I was promised something and they simply reneged on the promise since it benefited the hotel and Hyatt. Since I was crazy enough to achieve Globalist status SOLELY for this stay, their failed promise was hurtful.
During 2017, I stayed at Hyatt hotels when they were more expensive, less convenient, paid cash instead of used points, encouraged family to stay at Hyatt's when we "needed" to stay at Hyatt's and traveled at times when we simply could have stayed at home simply to get a few extra night credits.
Will I do the same thing in 2018? Almost certainly not. While there is no doubt that there is value with achieving hotel status, I did and still highly prefer staying in timeshares. If I book a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom unit, these are almost ALWAYS larger than the hotel suites. While getting free breakfast is nice, stuffing myself every morning for 10 nights actually got old. The Andaz Maui breakfast is one of the best breakfasts around but eating it everyday for 10 nights definitely became overkill.
I am generally very happy having kitchen facilities to cook a few eggs and toast which probably costs only a few dollars a day. The Andaz Maui breakfast costs $47 per person!
My Plan for 2018
2017 was a great year! My family and I were able to travel extensively for a fraction of the cost of the rack rates by using timeshares, hotel points and other travel tools. For those of you that missed this post, I highly encourage this read to get a good idea of the various travel tools that I use throughout the year.
We easily traveled over 90 nights throughout 2017.
2018 will still be chock full of travel but after a year of chasing Hyatt status, I doubt that I will endeavor to do same thing. Timeshares / condos are much more conducive to traveling with a family. The kids are getting a bit older / bigger to be able to comfortable share a bed. I much prefer to have everyone in their own bed so we can all rest comfortably.
Additionally, timeshares can easily be just as luxurious as hotels if not more so!
The Stay that Broke my Hyatt Loyalty
Despite this disappointment, the Andaz Maui is a phenomenal resort. I will do a full review of the property shortly but in short, it is worth a stay, especially on points!
However, this stay broke my loyalty to Hyatt but thats okay. Hotel loyalty has its perks but can be overrated. I prefer and will continue to prefer the "perks" of timeshares / condos over hotels any day.
By their actions, the Andaz Maui confirmed this and will focus my upcoming year of travel on the quality of the resort rather than the brand. I do still like the various Hyatt brands, but I will not simply choose a Hyatt because it is a Hyatt in my effort to gain status! Thank you Andaz Maui for making my 2018 travel plans simpler!
What do you think of hotel status? Does hotel status and the various perks encourage you to stay in a hotel rather than a timeshare? Leave you comments below!