Maximize Timeshare Ownership
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
UPDATED: Rumor Mill: Hyatt Residence Club could be converting to a strict points based system called Hyatt Pure Points
UPDATED as of February 14, 2017
This post was originally posted in August but there has been some further activity concerning the Hyatt Pure Points program.
The program was suppose to officially launch as of February 21, 2017 but new rumors indicate that this date has been pushed back.
Basically, based on my sources, it appears that Hyatt is in fact moving to a points only system instead of having a specific deeded property attached to your point allocation. This system essentially mimics what Marriott has done with its land trust.
As of now, the details are still scarce but the likely result may actually create a situation where the value of existing weeks will increase on the secondary market. With the current system, owners can choose the resorts with the lowest maintenance fees and pick a week with the highest point allocation. This way you could own a 2,200 value point week and pay the same maintenance fee as someone with a 1,300 value point week.
With the new program, you will likely purchase points and the maintenance fee will be based on a per point ownership. Essentially, the arbitrage that was available with deeded weeks will be gone.
With the roleout of the new program, Hyatt may be aggresively pursuing its right of first refusal options on resale. This allows Hyatt to have the option to purchase the units for the sale price before they allow any transfer.
If you were interested in becoming a Hyatt owner, it likely will be beneficial to purchase a unit now before the rollout of the new program. With the information leaked, there may be a limited opportunity to get in to the program prior to new program being implemented.
Details will be provided as soon as they emerge.
There have been some chatter recently concerning a potential move by Interval Leisure Group Inc., the recent acquirer of all Hyatt Residence Club properties, to convert the Hyatt Residence Club into a strict points system instead of the current hybrid system currently in place.
As detailed in my complete guide to the Hyatt Residence Club, Hyatt currently operates a hybrid system where owners generally own a deeded week at a specific resort that equates into a certain number of Hyatt points. This system provides the best of both worlds in that owners can either elect to use their specific deeded week or convert it into points and exchange within the Hyatt system or through its exchange company Interval International.
In 2010, Marriott's Vacation Club underwent a complete restructuring where it went from a deeded week program to a points based program. As detailed in my guide to the Marriott Vacation Club, new Marriott owners purchase points and use those points to trade within the Marriott system. New Marriott owners no longer have specific deeded weeks associated with their points.
According to the ILG conference call at the beginning of August, Craig Nash, the President and CEO of Interval Leisure Group, Inc. responded to a question from an analyst concerning the conversion of Hyatt to a pure points club. He stated:
"Yes, there are a lot of legal and technical initiatives going on around it. We are on track right now to move forward with that. The closing with Vistana is helpful, their Sheraton Flex is very similar to what we are going to be doing with HVO. The thing about the transition we don't expect lots of issues with the transition obviously there are learning curves. But they've always sold a points-based system even though it might have been a preference product where you got (inaudible) specific product, a location. You were still getting a points-based program which was part of the sales.
So this just provides them with ownership at a group of properties as opposed to one but the movement around the system is very similar so I think that might be a difference between others that have had more difficulty."
In addition, in response to the question concerning whether existing members will be allowed to stay with the existing hybrid product or being forced to convert, Craig Nash said the following:
"... the beauty of having the system already sold where you can go around the system through the exchange program -- and I mean the proprietary branded exchange program -- is that a new product can be sold and people that had bought the other do not have to convert in to move around the system. They already are moving around the system."
In addition to this conference call, there have been various tidbits of information being leaked regarding the new program. The potential name will be Hyatt Pure Points.
Based on this, the key takeaways appears as follows:
1. Hyatt will be moving to only points systems that will be similar to the Marriott system and the Sheraton Flex system.
2. Existing members will likely be able to stay with their existing product but may be motivated or encouraged to migrate to the new system.
3. If Hyatt does move to this new system, it is possible that Hyatt will be aggressive in exercising its Right of First Refusal in order to increase its available inventory in the new points program.
While this is all preliminary information, the key questions that remain are as follows:
1. Will existing owners be penalized if they do not migrate to the new system?
2. Will there be a conversion fee or other fee to participate in the new program?
3. ILG also owns the Aston properties, Vistana timeshares (formerly Starwood properties) and Sheraton timeshares. Will these properties be included in the new Hyatt system as a complete re-branding or will this just affect Hyatt properties?
There is sparse information at there at the moment but it appears that change is underfoot. As more information is available, I will update this post. Stay tuned for new developments....
Many timeshare owners have become disgruntled with the lack of flexibility of timeshares. Once you exchange through an exchange company, you are stuck with that particular unit or resort. While they indicate that you can cancel, you forfeit your exchange fee of either $179 for online bookings or $189 for over the phone. Depending on how far advance you cancel will depend on what type of replacement week you will be offering. Some replacement weeks have restrictions that only allow their use within 60 days of check-in. This can be severely limiting. In addition, you are then required to pay a new exchange fee. As you can see, cancellation can be costly.
Sometimes, a better unit becomes available at a better resort, airfare changes occur, family issues occur or some other item comes up where you need to change or cancel your reservation. In order to provide more flexibility to timeshare owners, Interval International came up with a feature called E-Plus.
This is truly a fantastic addition to Interval International. In addition to your exchange fee, you can pay a fee of $54 in order to be able to exchange your confirmed reservation up to three additional times for no additional fees. I have taken advantage of this program by completely changing destinations or changing resorts. It has been extremely advantageous and gives you much more flexibility that what you had in the past.
Additionally, if you confirm into a studio unit for a particular resort but really wanted a one bedroom unit, if one becomes available you can exchange into the 1 bedroom unit. If you are on points, you will be required to deposit the additional points but will not be responsible for an additional exchange fee.
You can elect to purchase E-Plus at the time of exchange or within five days after confirmation. If you use Request First or Deposit First, you can elect to pay for E-Plus at that time or within 5 days of confirmation of your week.
In order to utilize E-Plus, you will need to go into your exchange history, "My History" and navigate to the Exchange tab. If you purchased E-Plus, you will click on "Start E-Plus Retrade" in order to search within the current inventory. There is a box on this page that also indicates how many retrades remain for that particular deposit.
While E-Plus does provide a tremendous value since it opens up flexibility, one thing to consider is that you no longer have the opportunity to put in an ongoing request for a certain week or resort. Once you are confirmed into a week, you can exchange into other weeks through E-Plus but you are confined to current inventory and cannot set up an ongoing request that would automatically book you into the desired week or resort. Inventory constantly changes so you need to be diligent and constantly search.
Alternatively, you can sign up here and be on the lookout for fantastic exchange opportunities!
Overall, E-Plus is definitely an enhancement to timeshare exchanges as flexibility is becoming more and more of the norm. In the past, timeshares became to be viewed negatively since you were locked into the same week and resort year after year. The industry responded with the introduction of points and hybrid systems and continues to evolve in order to meet the demand of today's timeshare owners. E-Plus is another step in the right direction to provide greater flexibility.
As my father tells me, Fail to Plan is a Plan to Fail.
If money was not an issue, travel planning would not be an issue at all. You choose flights, irregardless of costs, and choose accommodations, irregardless of cost. Unfortunately, I do not have that luxury and most people do not as well.
Exchanging your timeshare can unleash tremendous value and you can end up staying in properties that far surpass the quality of your own timeshare or those available to you through the internal exchanges. While there are opportunities to make great exchanges, availability for specific weeks and destinations can be extremely hard to come by and may never become available.
The issue with vacation planning with timeshares is that you need to plan very far in advance. Some timeshare systems allow you to reserve weeks 2 years in advance of the actual week. Most people do not plan ahead and typically only plan vacations a few months in advance. As I will detail below, if you plan to exchange into prime weeks, this strategy may not work very much and you will quickly become disgruntled with timeshare ownership with the claim that your desired week, destination or resort never becomes available. The goal of my site is to help you avoid this fate and get the maximize value out of timeshare ownership.
Further complications with travel planning with timeshares involve airfare if you are traveling to a destination outside of driving distance from your home. Airfares fluctuate and destinations during prime travel weeks can easily far exceed the budgeted amount for the vacation. I personally use frequently flyer miles to get airfare for free but frequent flyer miles can be even more complicated than timeshare exchanging and having availability with free airfare along with the desired week and resort can be next to impossible. However, I have successfully navigated this system for many years and it is doable with diligence, planning, patience, flexibility and websites such as mine! In order to get the two goals to meet up requires a ton of time, work and flexibility. My goal is to give you some tips on how to navigate timeshare exchanging in order to get the desired weeks.
I will also detail some basic tips on how to get frequent flyer miles and use them to get airfare for free!
TIP ONE: PLAN AHEAD, WAY AHEAD AND BE FLEXIBLE:
The first tip is that you must plan ahead. One of my vacation rules is to always have a trip planned. This keeps me motivated to work and keeps me excited to see new destinations and spend quality with my family. Generally, I plan one year in advance and put in a Request First with Interval International or an internal request with one of my timeshare programs. (i.e Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, etc.) I put in a request with various top quality resorts around the world that I would like to travel to. You need to make sure that you choose the specific resorts that you want and not just put in a destinations. There are some crummy timeshares out there so you need to make sure that you choose the high quality luxurious ones. I make sure that the potential destinations have decent flight paths from my home airport so that I can make sure to only have one stop and to make sure that there are no overnight stays. We travel with young children so an overnight stay or more than one stop can be more difficult than desired.
Request First with Interval International is a great tool and highly recommended since their system will constantly check their system and automatically confirm you into the desired resort for the specific week. I always make sure to use E-Plus which provides three free exchanges for a one-time fee of $54. This is absolutely necessary for added flexibility as without E-Plus, the reservations are non-cancellable except for a large fee for cancellation as well as the re-booking fee. I will discuss E-Plus in more detail later but this is an absolute must to give you the needed flexibility to change destinations Many times I change destinations because nicer resorts become available or fantastic airfare deals become available.
SECOND TIP: HAVE A PLAN B
The second tip is that you always need to have a Plan B. Most hotel reservations allow you to make reservations and cancel up to 24 hours before check-in. Once I put in a Request First, I also review hotel options in the desired areas of travel. I will make a few speculative bookings for the desired weeks so that there are options for accommodations in the event that the timeshare accommodations do not come through. Booking directly through the major chains is preferable as they generally make it easy to reserve and cancel your reservations with a few clicks. While I highly prefer timeshares for many reasons, you need to make sure that there are viable hotel options. One of my favorite ways to have a Plan B is to use hotel points to reserve a week in the desired location. I can reserve a hotel room that is fully cancellable with hotel points so that the week will be free in the event that the timeshare option does not become available. I will explain in later posts how to arm yourself with hotel points so that you too can have this option.
THIRD TIP: USE INTERVAL GETAWAY ALERTS:
As discussed in this post (Getaway Alerts), I explained how to use Getaway Alerts on the Interval International App. I routinely populate various dates and times and become alerted when a desired resort and destination becomes available. As discussed, many times it is economically beneficial to reserve a week with cash instead of using your deposited weeks or points. In addition, there are some fabulous deals with Interval Getaways so a deal at a great resort may end up dictating the ultimate destination for your vacation. A great deal for accommodations may open up the budget for an increase in the price of airfare.
FOURTH TIP: USE HOPPER TO TRACK AIRFARE
The fourth tip is to populate the airfare searches using Hopper. Hopper was discussed in this post here and is a great way to easily monitor airfare. Since at this stage, you will not necessarily know the ultimate destination, you can put in multiple itineraries and Hopper will constantly monitor the cost for the flights. If one destination is significantly cheaper than another, you can opt in to booking the airfare at that time. Once you book airfare, you are generally locked in to the destination as change fees can be as high as $200-$300 per ticket so you need to make sure things are lined up with the timeshare or have a reasonable Plan B that you are prepared to use in the event that the timeshare availability does not become available.
Once your airfare is locked in, I would revise the request first to make sure that only the resorts in your request are for the destination desired. While you will have 24 hours to cancel it free of charge, if you miss this window, it can be problematic.
FIFTH TIP: USE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IF POSSIBLE
Alternatively, if you are in destination that is serviced by Southwest, I highly recommend booking tickets with Southwest. Southwest is the only airline left that allows changes and cancellations free of charge. Southwest even allows you to receive travel credits if the price of the airfare goes down. Southwest will give you travel credits to use at a later date in the event your flight cost went down from the date you originally booked. However, there are a few issues with Southwest that should be understood. Southwest only opens its flight schedule for approximately six months in the future. Therefore, if you confirm into a resort a year in advance, you may not be able to book airfare with Southwest until six months from the trip. You will also be subject to the price of the trip once it opens up. While Southwest is known for its low fares, the prices for some trips and high demand weeks can be extremely expensive. The second issue with Southwest is relating to cancellations. Southwest does allow cancellations but the do not provide refunds. They provide you with a travel credit that must be used within one year from the initial reservation date. They also require you to keep the reservation number in order to access those travel funds. This does require a bit of record keeping and organization. The best method for Southwest is to use their Rapid Reward Points. Instead of booking with cash, you can use Rapid Reward Points and if you needed to cancel or change destinations, the points are immediately redeposited to your account. I will explain this in later posts but for the purpose of this post, Southwest is a great airline to use when timeshare planning.
SIXTH TIP: USE AUTOSLASH
As discussed in this post here (autoslash), Autoslash is a great tool for rental cars. You can make reservations using Autoslash without any credit cards and they will track your rental to ensure that you receive the lowest price on your car rental. Since it is conceivable that you have many potential destinations for the trip, you can make multiple reservations for the same week. Do it as far in advance as possible and autoslash will do the rest to make sure that the cost of your rental car is the lowest.
SEVENTH TIP: CONTINUE MONITORING AIRFARE, HOTELS AND TIMESHARES AFTER CONFIRMING
Going through these various steps seem exhausting but once you get a system in place and have alerts set, it becomes on autopilot and just requires monitoring. The key is that once everything is booked, that you continue to monitor everything to make sure that there are no unintended surprises. I try to book my airfare 330 days in advance which is when most airlines open their schedules. When I book this far in advance, airlines continue to make schedule changes throughout the year. Many times, the reserved flight path changes, times are altered or non-stop flights all of sudden require a stop. These can completely derail all the travel planning put forth above and could require a complete re-do of everything above. This is why is is highly beneficial to continue to monitor all these items to make sure everything is on track. You do not want to be surprised on the check in date that your flight now requires an overnight stay. Also, while schedule changes with airlines can be problematic, most if not all airlines allow you to re-book or cancel your flights for no charge or fees if the airline make a schedule change that impacts the travel time by greater than two hours. In other posts, we can discuss schedule changes and how to use them for your advantage but for the purpose of this post, you need to monitor your airfare. Airlines will generally inform you of schedule changes but those e-mails may go to spam or simply be missed.
In writing this post, I realize that travel planning can be daunting and difficult. Working with timeshares adds even more complexity. These tips are meant to allow my readers to begin using these tools and becoming informed on how these tools can help alleviate these issues and obtain the desired weeks and resorts within a reasonable budget. I highly recommend that you subscribe to my Guru Deals below so that you can be alerted to various exchange opportunities, travel deals, flight deals and other opportunities to allow you to travel to luxurious destinations for a fraction of the retail cost. Travel planning as described above may not be for everyone so when airfare deals become available, I will try to include some options for timeshares and see how you can easily book quality weeks for reasonable costs and avoid all the steps above!
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One common question that gets asked over and over are whether timeshares should be considered an investment.
Deeded weeks are actual real property interests that are recorded in the real property records of the county of the resort. When you purchase a deeded week, you do received an actual deed just as when you buy your house or other real property.
Due to this fact, many timeshare sales have indicated that real property appreciates over time so your "investment" in the timeshare can be worth more in future. Most real property interests do appreciate over time but we now know, as what happened during the great recession, that not all real property appreciates over time. Just with any other asset class, real property is not immune from significant price fluctuations.
Timeshares, (technically deeded weeks are real property), are fundamentally different that other real property. While you are an owner, you own 1 week of 1 unit in a large resort than can have hundred of units. For example, if we are talking about a relatively small resort with 200 units, the timeshare developer can have 10,400 deeded weeks to sell. The math is as follows: 200 units multiplied by 52 weeks equals 10,400 deeded weeks to sell. In the event that the timeshare developer elected to sell bi-annual weeks, (the right to use every other year), there would be 20,800 available weeks. If you purchased one week and the developer sold 10,400 weeks, your ownership interest in the resort would be .0096%.
As a minuscule minority owner, you have no input on operational expenses, control, overall direction of resort, or any other input. Additionally, you have absolutely no right to the furniture, equipment or other assets of the resort. Since you own only one week instead of actually owning the specific unit as you would in a condo, you cannot decorate the unit or do any modifications to the resort at all. You are simply granted the right to use the one week.
Additionally, all operational expenses, property taxes, liabilities and other recurring expenses are passed down to the owners as maintenance fees. Even though you won a week, you have no ability to adjust these fees.
As you can see, a timeshare is fundamentally different that owning your house or other real property. Due to this difference, most and arguably all timeshares WILL NOT appreciate in value. If you are interested in purchasing a timeshare and someone indicates that the timeshare will increase in value, stop talking and walk away. This is simply not the truth and clearly false. Knowing that a timeshare is not an investment can help you re-think the purchase decision. I would personally view the initial purchase price as a sort of membership fee and not as a real estate purchase.
As I set forth in this post, my argument is that the initial purchase price of the timeshare should be a sunk cost meaning that once purchased, the initial value is gone. However, my view is that timeshare ownership does have many redeeming qualities and does allow an owner to travel around the world at discounted rates which generally far surpass the retail price.
TIMESHARES ARE NOT MONETARY INVESTMENTS.
Anyone telling you differently has a different agenda. If you are interested in obtaining timeshare ownership, view the initial purchase price, whatever it may be, as a initiation fee or vacation club membership fee. As with those types of fees, you know that they are non-refundable and that you will not get those fees back. If you view timeshare ownership in this capacity, you can do the calculations and see if the potential savings over time do make sense for the initial fee. I believe that it does but the initial cost could impact that decision. If you found this website, then you should continue to research the purchase of timeshares and make sure you understand this concept.
I believe that you can maximize the ownership through the different available programs and exchange opportunities in order to save you a tremendous amount of money as compared to renting hotel rooms or other accommodations. I also believe that there is some significant value associated with being able to choose destinations around the world based on your desire to travel to that location rather than based on cost. This is difficult to quantify but I do enjoy picking vacation destinations based on other items irregardless of cost. This always depends on availability and cost of airfare but there are additional ways to minimize these expenses that we can cover in other posts.
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As mentioned in other posts found here, one way to get tremendous value out of your timeshare ownership is through Interval Getaways.
Interval Getaways are weeks made available to members of Interval International with a cash price instead of using your points or deposited week. These weeks tend to be highly discounted. Interval Getaways can save you a tremendous amount of money if they can work with your vacation schedule.
As recently posted, there are weeks available at Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort for as low of $157 for a seven night stay in a studio unit. These types of deals can make sense to use even if you are only using a few nights out of the seven-day reservation. For example, a one night stay at the Westin Lagunamar for the night of September 9th is $182.29 as quoted via Priceline.
Room Cost $154.17
Room Subtotal $154.17
Taxes & Fees $28.12
Total Charges $182.29
You can reserve an entire week for less than it costs to rent one night!
Interval Getaways inventory is constantly changing so it requires multiple searches per day to look for a desired week. This quickly becomes aggravating and prime weeks that appear in Interval Getaway’s do not last long.
Prime weeks that become available can only last seconds so if it is the desired resort and week, you need to book it immediately. Interval International has offered an app for download through Apple’s App Store.
The app was not a very useful tool in the past but they have upgraded its capabilities and now offer Getaway Alerts.
Getaway Alerts allow you to enter in specific dates, resorts and/or locations and the app will alert you when a match is found. The app will notify you on your phone or tablet that a specific week has become available for purchase. Once notified, you can continue on to purchase the specific week for cash instead of having to use your points or deposited week.
Depending on the price of the Interval Getaway, purchasing a week with cash may be a better option that using the deposited week or your points.
For example, as discussed here, one of my maintenance fees for a 2-bedroom unit costs $1207.46. If I wanted to exchange the 2-bedroom unit for an alternative 2-bedrooom unit, my total cost for the week would be $1386.46. Instead of using this week as an exchange, I could elect to pay cash for a week for an available Interval Getaway.
As I write this post, I see a fantastic getaway available for the Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove in St. Thomas for the week of September 9, 2016 in a 2-bedroom unit. The cost for this week is $547.00 for a Basic Interval Member, $522 for a Gold Interval Member or $497.00 for a Platinum Interval Member. Assuming that I am just a Basic Interval Member, I would pay $547 for this week and still have my 2-bedroom unit available for trade.
In comparison, if I used my 2-bedroom unit to trade into this Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove week in September, my out of pocket cost is essentially $1386.46 since I used my week. In this example, booking the Interval Getaway saved me 60% and I still have more opportunities to use my week and points.
While I still have to cash for the week, it can make economic sense to use cash and save the points or deposited week for other better opportunities that can offer more savings.
One important item to consider when booking Interval Getaways are that these are completely non-refundable and non-cancellable reservations. Interval is very strict in this respect. In exchange for these tremendous values, you are not able to make any adjustments.
However, Interval Getaways can be used for friends or family by issuing a guest certificate. There is a fee of $59 for the issuance of a guest certificate or you can become an Interval Platinum member and receive free guest certificates. Interval Getaways offer great opportunities to bring friends or family on vacation or to introduce friends and families to timeshare vacations.
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As with any travel planning, the cost of airfare can dictate whether a destination is doable or too expensive. As a family of four, I need to contend with the price of 4 tickets. A $300 ticket quickly equates into a $1200 bill. If you travel, you understand that the price of airline tickets vary daily and can change multiple times per day. Having to keep checking the cost of flights quickly becomes a burden. Enter "Hopper". Hopper is a fairly new app that I have been using for a few months now. You enter in the origin, destination and departure date and return date. Hopper than asks if you would like to track the flight. It gives you predictions on whether the fare will rise or fall and will make a recommendation to purchase it now or wait. You can track multiple trips at once so it is a very handy tool. For example, if I want to travel during Christmas week but I am flexible with my destinations, I can enter in Hopper various destinations. Hopper will keep track and alert me of changes in airfare. If one of my destinations becomes very affordable, I can book that fare and begin the process of finding accommodations.
I definitely recommend taking a look at Hopper. It is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
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I hope I don't scare away too many people with this economic analysis but I hope that I can clarify some of the mystery around timeshare ownership and the economics of ownership.
First, my analysis will avoid discussing the initial purchase. In economic terms, I view the initial purchase price as a sunk cost. According to investopedia, a sunk cost is a cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered. The purchase price of the timeshare should be considered a sunk cost. In other posts, I will explain why this is the case but the majority of fees incurred by timeshares are not the initial purchase price but rather than ongoing maintenance fees. In this post, I discussed some of the basics of maintenance fees. While ignoring the purchase price as a sunk cost in my analysis may be controversial, I argue that this is the proper way to assess timeshare ownership.
In this post, I want to examine the economics of a Hyatt timeshare. While Hyatt has a small footprint, the quality of accommodations are generally excellent and most units are able to exchange into very high quality units through Interval International. As discussed in my guide to Hyatt found here, Hyatt's are sold in week intervals and are based on the amount of points. Generally, the strategy is to purchase the highest point week with the lowest maintenance fees. The maintenance fees will be same for each same sized unit regardless of the season so you get the most bang for your buck but getting the highest point week. However, as with most purchases, getting the top tier product is not always attainable. In this post, I will explore the economics around a 1300 point week. 1300 points is provided for a 2 bedroom unit or 1 bedroom premier unit during bronze season. This is fairly low season as the only other two seasons are Mountain and Copper. I am picking this type of week because these weeks are generally priced well and 1300 points is able to be exchanged through Interval International for a 2 bedroom unit during high season. Therefore, without much analysis, an owner of a low demand 1300 week can exchange through Interval International and receive a high demand week for the same 1300 points.
THE FIRST SCENARIO:
While maintenance fees vary by different resorts, one of my Hyatt units is a 1300 week and has a maintenance fees of $1,207.46 for 2015. In my earlier example, I am assuming that I simply pay my maintenance fees and instead of exchanging through Hyatt, I exchange through Interval International in order to take advantage of the high demand week. In fact, I did do this in 2015 and we ending up staying at the Londoner at the Morritt's Club in Grand Cayman island in a newly constructed 2 bedroom unit. In this example, I paid 1,207.46 for my maintenance fees and a fee of $179 to Interval International (online exchange fee instead of a phone fee) for a total of $1,386.46. Based on this, I paid a price of $198.06 per night for a 2-bedroom unit. Not exactly a bargain per night but the same accommodations through an online travel agency was $430.97 per night. Therefore, simply using my timeshare instead of booking with an online agency resulted in a 54% savings.
THE SECOND SCENARIO:
While I have two young kids at the moment, my wife and I purchased the timeshare before kids. At the time, a studio unit was more than sufficient for a couple. Studio's units are basically hotel rooms but are slightly larger and usually have a microwave, fridge and sometimes a hot plate. For a couple who are comparing timeshares to a hotel room, a studio is perfectly fine.
Exchanging through Interval International requires 430 points for a studio unit it high season. With 1300 points, I can reserve three high season weeks (430 x 3 = 1290) and still have 10 points leftover. Again, with my maintenance fees of $1207.46 and 3 exchange fees for Interval International ($179 x 3 = $537), I can reserve a total of 21 nights in studio units during high season. My total cost per night for a studio unit is $83.06. At just over $83 per night, it is hard to find comparable hotel room properties. Additionally, since these are high season weeks, these weeks can be during prime season. For example, here a few of my historical transactions where I was able to utilize this strategy.
Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara in November
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club for Christmas week
Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club for Thanksgiving week.
These are all very luxurious accommodations that I reserved during peak season at a cost of just over $83 per night.
In reviewing the current rates for the same seasons for this year, I find that these stays would cost the following when reviewing the times and dates on Priceline.
Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara (November 5-12, 2016): Total cost: $2,164.68
Marriott's Kauai Beach Club for Christmas week: Total cost : $2,033.64
Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club for Thanksgiving week: $2,499.90
These three weeks would have cost me approximately $6,698.22 instead of $1744.46 saving me approximately 74% off the regular cost.
THE THIRD SCENARIO:
Exchanging through Interval International provides some significant advantages especially when trading with a 1300 point week. Due to the favorable exchange rates, a 1300 low season week can result in many weeks through interval as discussed above. The problem with the above strategy is that you will never be able to stay at Hyatt properties. This may or may not be a problem but Hyatt's do have some very nice properties and I think that they are worth a visit. In this next example, I assume that you can trade your 1300 points week within the Hyatt system instead of using it at your owned week. For example, you can use 750 points to stay at a Hyatt during Diamond season (the top tier season). Hyatt charges a fee of $39 for each reservation. As I have done in the past, we have reserved one week at the Hyatt Mountain Lodge in Beaver Creek. Diamond weeks are ski weeks and this was a very nice property. In reviewing the upcoming ski season, a week in a studio for January 7 through 14 is $659 per night for a total price of $5,314.22.
After using 750 points, I still have 550 points to use for additional nights. Hyatt's system favors 4 night midweek stays which go from Tuesday to Saturday or Sunday through Thursday. We have used these 4 night stays various times as the points values are usually great. For example, a stay in a studio unit at the Hyatt Coconut Plantation in Bonita Springs, Florida only costs 140 points. Week 21 is the start of Bronze season for Hyatt Coconut Plantation. A reservation for May 23 through May 27th, (Tuesday to Saturday) would cost a total of $1849.36 for the 4 night stay.
After both of these trips, you would still have 410 points to use. You can use 400 points in many ways but in my example, we have used points for a long weekend for a 3 night stay. A three night stay in a studio during Platinum season can be used at Hyatt Wild Oak in San Antonio, Texas. For example, a 3 night stay for March 31 - April 3 in a Studio would cost a total of $1,218.32.
With the above examples, we would still have 10 points left over which actually can be used for a 2 night stay in Mountain season but we will assume that all points have been extinguished for these examples. Using these examples, we were able to book a total of 14 nights in a Studio unit during fairly high season. The total cost for these reservations would have cost $8,381.90.
In comparison, using the Hyatt timeshare, I paid my maintenance fees of $1207.46 plus $39 for each reservation fee for a total of $1324.46 for a total of 14 nights or $94.60 each night.
The various computations are almost endless but there are tremendous ways to maximize the value of the timeshare instead of purchasing hotel accommodations or purchasing directly. The examples above are dependent on availability and availability tends to be the biggest issue. However, with enough advance planning, flexibility, and diligence (not to mention following me on Twitter, Facebook and through e-mail), you can also score these types of weeks and exchanges. Make sure to subscribe below for further updates, travel deals and exchange opportunities.
Exchanging your timeshare can be done through multiple methods. Internal exchanges occur when you own a specific week or points with one particular company and you would like to exchange that week or points for other units at other resorts. Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton and others are all timeshares that allow owners to exchange their own deeded week or points for other weeks at other resorts within their own system.
Alternatively, all major timeshares are usually affiliated with one of the two major exchange companies. RCI and Interval International (II) are the two most popular exchange companies. RCI was the original exchange company and currently has approximately 8,000 resorts throughout the world. Their resort directory can be found here: http://www.rci.com/resort-directory/landing.
Interval International is the other large exchange company. Interval has approximately 2,500 resorts in their program. Two other exchange companies are Trading Places International and SFX Preferred Resorts. These are two smaller companies which we will further discuss in later posts.
I have just completed the Complete Guide to Interval International found here: Interval International
We will go over specific functions in more detail but this is a good start to get to understand exchanging through II.
There are a ton of absolutely gorgeous timeshare properties that are very luxurious and provides amenities that can far surpass even the finest hotels. Many times, these timeshares are located on the grounds of a hotel so the timeshare occupants can have the best of both worlds, luxurious condo accommodations with the typical amenities of hotels. Other times, the timeshares themselves have typical high end amenities that you would expect from a five star hotel.
I put together the following list of top five properties that I would like to visit in the next few years. These properties are highly sought after and can be difficult to exchange into. Some are also very new which creates even higher demand.
Four Seasons Residences Club at Troon North: Scottsdale, Arizona
If you have had the opportunity to stay at any Four Seasons, you will understand why they have such a stellar reputation. Not only are the grounds and hotels usually stunning, the service is what truly shines. The Four Seasons in Scottsdale trades through Interval International. Units at this resort are very difficult to get back I have seen a few become available every now and again. If you have the opportunity to make a trade into the Four Seasons, grab it quickly. You will not regret it.
Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara at Carlsbad, California
I do not want to populate the entire list with Four Seasons properties (even though I could), the Four Seasons in Carlsbad, California is another stunning property. Its location is gorgeous and for those families with children, this location is close to Legoland which my kids have been begging to go. When the opportunity arises, we will be sure to book into this property.
Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach - Maui, a Hyatt Residence Club
Maui is a absolutely stunning destination. The beaches, food and atmosphere are all amazing. While Hyatt's Residence Club's have a small footprint (only 16 properties), the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach is the newest addition to the Hyatt Residence Club. It has been open for a very short time and is located on Ka'anapali beach, one of the islands best beaches. All weeks at this property are categorized as Diamond which is the Hyatt Residence Club's highest season. As a result, Hyatt owners may have difficulty getting into this property. This does trade through Interval International but availability is practically non-existent at the moment due to the high demand for this property. However, if you see it, grab it as nightly rates for this property are sky high.
The Westin St. John Villas; St. John Virgin Islands
The Westin St. John Villas are located on the tiny island of St. John which is located next to St. Thomas. The island is extremely small and secluded. The Westin St. John Villas are luxurious accommodations with an intimate setting. The beaches and grounds are beautiful. The Westin St. John Villas do also trade through Interval International. I am constantly on the lookout for this property and it sadly never becomes available. This is a very tough trade as it is popular, small and rates are extremely expensive which would make a trade a tremendous value.
Marriott's Phuket Beach Club - Phuket, Thailand
Marriott's Phuket Beach Club is located in Phuket, Thailand is a very luxurious property located on stunning beaches. The distance to Thailand can be difficult to handle as it can be more than a 24 hour plane ride. However, once there, Thailand is a true asian paradise. Service is phenomenal as is the food, decor and amenities. Going for a week will definitely be too little but due to the distance, this property does come up for trade fairly often. This property also trades through Interval International.
The following list is not meant to be all inclusive and was truthfully presented in no particular order. These are some stunning properties around the world that can be available. I will detail in other posts how to search and find these properties and hopefully you can enjoy being a guest at one or more of them.
Make sure to subscribe to Guru Deals and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-date information including exchange opportunities to these properties. If I see them available for exchanging, I will be sure to let me reader know about it.