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.
I have done a similar post on this type of timeshare strategy before but with new readers and a new example of why this could be a very smart and economically prudent strategy, I thought I would go into some additional details.
As I mentioned in my past article, I spent three weeks in Hawaii over Christmas break. It was a great holiday vacation. Almost immediately after I returned, I had an additional ski trip planned for Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Of course I used American AAdvantage miles for this trip as well as I flew in Eagle / Vail airport which makes it a very easy drive to Beaver Creek. I won't go into the savings for flights but flights into Eagle / Vail can be very expensive so it is generally a very good use of frequent flyer miles to fly into EGE.
While I normally exchange my Hyatt Residence Club points for other timeshare properties, for this particular ski trip, I actually used Hyatt’s internal trading options to secure a four night stay at the Hyatt Mountain Lodge in Beaver Creek.
4 night stays are the sweet spot in Hyatt Residence Club points redemption as it is a lot less points to stay 4 nights instead of a 3 over a weekend. While a 4 night stay does not include a Saturday night, these 4 nights stays can be a very good use of Hyatt Residence Club points. Take a look at this post on more details on the 4 night stay sweet spots.
In a separate post, I’ll do a review of this property but for this post, I’ll outline the economics of this stay and you can see why owning a timeshare can actually be economically advantageous.
I ended up needing two rooms for this vacation so I booked one room for myself using Hyatt Residence Club points and another room for my family members using cash. While I would have booked an extra room using points, an additional room was not available using points.
I used 280 Hyatt Residence Club points for a four night stay in a studio unit. The Studio unit was actually quite large and will post some photos of this unit and a review in a later post.
As discussed elsewhere, my points cost me $0.65 per point so this 4 night stay cost me $182 (in points) plus an exchange fee of $39 for a total cost of $221 or $55 per night. This stay is in the beginning of January – peak ski season.
For my family members who did not have access to timeshare points, they booked a cash reservation for $337 PER NIGHT plus taxes, resort fees and fees for a total cost of over $1600. Basically, my family members paid over 6 times the amount that I spent using Hyatt Residence Club points.
Also, for those of you wondering, even though the cash reservation was in my name and I am a Globalist, I did have to pay a resort fee for the cash room since Hyatt Residence Club properties do not offer almost any perks for World of Hyatt members.
Additionally, to further show you the value of a timeshare relating to this particular vacation, the total cost of their 4-night stay was $300 in excess of my annual maintenance fee of $1300. Essentially, if they had a Hyatt timeshare, instead of paying cash for 4 nights, they could have paid $1300 for maintenance fees and stayed 28 nights (if they are available) in a studio unit during ski season. Quite a remarkable difference.
Here is the math in case you are interested:
2000 points per week for $1300 maintenance fee / 280 points needed for a 4-night midweek stay = 7 vacations of 4 nights each or 28 total nights.
If you just elected to use your 2000 points for 7 vacations of 4 nights a piece, you would be paying about $46 per night for luxurious accommodations during peak ski season where room rates are easily $300+ per night if not significantly more.
Timeshares may not work for every type of travel or travel style but if you enjoy skiing, many top tier, name brand hotel and timeshare brands have very luxurious ski-in/ski-out properties at popular mountain resorts. Hyatt has a few properties that can offer tremendous value and as you can see from this example, it may only take one trip to more than make up for the maintenance fees for the year and still end up saving you money.
This example does not include my initial cost to buy the timeshare but if done right, they can be had for a reasonable up-front cost which will ultimately decrease each year in which you use it. As discussed here, my up front cost has been fairly reasonable and still believe that even if you factor in the initial cost, the savings are material.
Did you book a timeshare for ski season this year? Where are you going? Make sure to comment below.
As you may recall, I was targeted for a free two night stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Residence Club in San Antonio a while back.
A few months ago, I received a similar call and was again targeted for a free 2 night stay at Hyatt Wild Oak provided that I attend another 90 minute timeshare presentation. In addition to the free 2 nights, I was also offered a $50 resort credit.
These deals are simply too good to pass up and depending on your tolerance for these timeshare presentations, can be a fantastic deal.
My family of 4 arrived and stayed in a nice 2 bedroom unit. It was spacious as usual and was a very nice unit. Hyatt Wild Oak ranch is one of our favorite resorts as it is quiet, close to home and have enough activities at or around the resort to keep us occupied.
We were originally scheduled to attend our presentation on Saturday, the day after arrival, but for some reason, thought it was on Sunday, the day of departure, and ended up missing our presentation. This was met with frantic phone calls indicating that if we did not show up tomorrow morning, we would be charged the full rack rate for the room.
For those of you who are curious on whether this could be a good idea, it is definitely not and will likely charge you exorbitant rates for your "free" two nights. It is not worth it to miss the presentation despite having zero desire to sit there for 90 minutes and listen to their pitch.
They miraculously found space for us the next morning and dragged my entire family to the presentation center in order to avoid being charged for the stay. The last time we visited on this particular presentation, the salesman was very nice, had a good 20 minute chat about Hyatt and how we use our points, and we left without a hassle. A very enjoyable experience and well worth it for 2 free nights in a 2 bedroom unit.
Expecting the same type of treatment, I grabbed a cup of coffee and begun listening to the same timeshare presentation that I have heard over and over again. I answered a few questions, explained how I use my points, explained how I almost never stay at Hyatt's since the exchange through Interval International is so beneficial and expected for him to recognize the non-sale potential and let us move on.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. We got the hard sell! Not the horrible hard sell like you receive in Mexico, but the hard sell, US style. He talked over and over about the new Hyatt Portfolio Program and how the "legacy" program, which we own (deeded week with the potential to convert to points) was going to be more difficult to use since the new Hyatt Portfolio members would have priority reservations and there would be little to no inventory left for the "legacy" owners.
The idea was for him to sell us the minimum amount of Hyatt Portfolio Points (this time it was indicated to be 1300) in order to make our 2 weeks "whole". Here is the initial offer presented.
As you can see, for the paltry sum of $26,000 plus $576.55 in closing costs, we could receive 1,300 Hyatt Portfolio points and make our 2 other units "whole".
Despite indicating that 1,300 was the minimum amount of points he could sell, the original sheet that he brought over was for 1,200 points. He quickly realized his error and it was replaced with the one above. It was clear that the "minimum" was whatever he wanted to indicate to that potential purchaser. If I wanted to purchase 1 points, I am positive that I could do so.
Making resale units "whole" means that instead of being restricted on your ability to convert your points into World of Hyatt hotel points, you can now make that the transfer if you desired even though the conversion ratio is absolutely horrible. The other "benefit" that was being touted was the ability to book one night stays under the Hyatt Portfolio program.
In addition to paying the $26,000+ fee to do so, you also had to pay $133 PER WEEK each and every year to allow you to make that week whole.
Overall, I thought that this was a horrendous deal. Not only is the upfront cost 13 times what I paid for my week, but the maintenance fees are extremely expensive. It is now $0.83 per point. For 1,300 points, you pay approximately $1,081 per year. As a comparison, I pay about $1,250 per week for 2,000 points. If my points were considered Hyatt Portfolio points, I would be paying $1,660 per week instead of $1,250, a sizable difference.
As I mentioned, we receive the "hard sell" this time so instead of saying no and leaving, they had their manager come over and indicate that since we owned our week for over 7 years, they had a special going on where instead of the minimum 1,300 points, they could offer me the ability to purchase just 660 points to make my weeks "whole". The cost was almost exactly half of the 1,300 point offer.
The salesman indicated that this offer was only good for today since they Hyatt Portfolio program was selling so well. They did not want these types of "offers" to be good for much longer.
I politely turned down their offer and was getting up to leave when yet another saleswomen came to sit down. We were really getting the hard sell this time.
She wanted to get our feedback on the presentation AND offer us the one time offer to come back to visit them. Here is what was presented to me this time around.
As you can see, they offered me a 4 night stay for $1,675 PLUS a $199 processing fee as well as 48,000 World of Hyatt points, World of Hyatt Discoverist status and Leisure Time Passport Program.
I thought that this was extremely expensive as with my current week, I can stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak ranch for at least 14 days (depending on season and size of room) for my $1,250 maintenance fee.
While I love World of Hyatt points, there was just not enough there to even peak my interest. The total cost of this was just too astronomical to even begin diving down into the specifics.
The one item that did jump out at me was the Leisure Time Passport Program. I have never heard of that and did some reach and found the following:
"Leisure Time Passport is a proven membership program that creates another opportunity to close the deal and optimize marketing spend. Designed to provide a seamless transition for developers who use Interval Gold or Interval Platinum at the point of sale, it includes a portfolio of year-round lifestyle and leisure benefits - excluding exchange and Interval Options. Developers can package Leisure Time Passport® membership with a return stay at their resort, and if they want to enhance their program value proposition, include a Dream Vacation Week certificate."
I do not have access to this program so I can't say with certainty that it does not offer anything, but I am fairly confident that this doesn't provide much value and potentially allows you to book a week at surplus inventory at very low demand time periods or low quality weeks. My instinct says that it is completely worthless.
I really do love my timeshares and think that it is a great way to travel with family and friends. Many of the resorts are top quality resorts that easily compare to top rated luxury hotels.
However, I hate the timeshare industry. Every time that I attend these presentations, I am shocked and dismayed at the amount of non-truthful information that is being dispensed throughout these presentations. I cannot say that they are completely lying, but most statements are half-truths, only applicable in very limited situations or are scenarios that likely will never be relevant. Every single statement that these salespeople state have some element of truth but simply do not tell the entire scenario. They have really fine tuned the pitch so that they are not lying, just not telling the entire situation.
Every time that I participate in these timeshare presentations, I realize how needed a blog / informational resource like mine is needed in order to provide more complete information on timeshares, how they work, how they DON'T work, and why it may or may not be a good vacation tool.
Timeshares work great for my travel preferences and flexibility but for others, timeshare ownership will be nothing but a constant headache and liability.
What are your thoughts on these timeshare presentations?
A Few Interesting Items Concerning Hyatt's Reservation Windows: Request First and Extended External Exchange
As most readers know, I own two weeks at the Hyatt Beach House. I predominantly use those weeks to exchange into other timeshare brands through Interval International. Hyatt has very lucrative exchange rates so I am able to covert EACH week that I own into about 5 weeks of vacation in studio units.
For those of you who don't know, there are two ways that you exchange your Hyatt Residence Club points into Interval International.
Request First allows you to make a pending request in Interval International with various time periods and resorts. When you make the Request First request, you pay the exchange fee and Interval International takes the points from the Hyatt Residence Club. If you cancel the request or it does not make, those points get returned to the Hyatt Residence Club.
Extended External Exchange
Extended External Exchange allows you to transfer your Hyatt Residence Club points to Interval International. You need to transfer the points you desire within 6 six months from the date of issuance. Once you converted your Hyatt Residence Club points to Extended External Exchange, those points MUST remain with Interval International. There is no way that they can be used for Hyatt internal exchanges.
The most significant difference between the two is that with Request First, the points can be returned to the Hyatt Residence Club.
The other difference is that the Hyatt Residence Club points are only valid for 1 year and the Extended External Exchange points are valid for 2 years.
Therefore, by transferring your Hyatt Residence Club points to Extended External Exchange, you now can use those points for 2 years instead of 1 but you can ONLY use those points within Interval International.
This is complicated but unfortunately gets even more complicated.
In my recent experience, I put in a Request First exchange for Christmas week, 2019. I try to book out as far as possible to get the highest demand weeks. Since it takes a lot of time for some of these high demand weeks to match (some never match), you actually need to be aware of what points are being held by Interval International in order to avoid them being expired by the time a match occurs.
For example, in my actual example, I received points for one of my weeks in June 2017. I made a Request First reservation for Christmas week, 2019. As of June 2018, no matches had occurred. Since I used Request First instead of Extended External Exchange, I was recently informed that the points being held for the pending request expired so even if a match was found, I could not use the points already taken.
Essentially, since your Hyatt Residence Club points are only valid for one year, you need to make sure that some match occurs BEFORE the one year anniversary of the point issuance. Otherwise, your points will expire and you cannot use them.
I tend to use Request First request more often as it gives me more flexibility. If I decide to not use Interval International and confirm a Hyatt week, I can cancel any request, receive my exchange fee back and still have Hyatt Residence Club points to use.
However, there are a couple important considerations. If the Hyatt Residence Club points are older than 6 months, if you cancel your Interval International request, they will be put back as Hyatt Residence Club points. However, instead of CUP points (club use period), they will become LCUP points (limited club use points) which means that you can only use them for reservations 60 days or less. This is severely restricting.
Based on this experience, if I am almost positive that I will use Interval International for my exchanges, it is highly beneficial to do the Extended External Exchange since you can now use your points for 2 years instead of 1.
If you want to potentially use Interval International but may want to use Hyatt for its internal exchange if your week does not match, make sure that you cancel your request before the six month date. Otherwise, you will receive restricted points.
If you miss the six month window, you need to make sure to make a reservation before the one year anniversary. Otherwise, the points will be expired and no-useable, effectively throwing away money.
If the one year mark is coming up, it is highly beneficially to book ANY week as far out in the future as possible and include E-Plus. By doing this, you then allow yourself to exchange that week for 2 years from the potential date of check in for no fee. By doing this, you can effectively stretch the expiration of your points to 3 years.
Hopefully, this chart can help you understand this process
Timeshare reservation windows, points expiration periods, internal and exchange exchanges, etc. make timeshare ownership very confusing. However, a solid understanding of these issues can help clarify these items and prevent point expirations.
In my real world example, the points technically expired but fortunately, I was able to talk with Interval International and Hyatt, and they agreed to make an exception provided that i confirm a week while on the phone. I did this and added e-plus so that I can now book 2 years out from the date of check in.
The purpose of this post is to make sure that you understand these time periods. If you are in doubt, you can call the Hyatt Residence Club or Interval International. Otherwise, post below or comment in The Timeshare Guru Group on Facebook! I am hopeful that other like-minded timeshare enthusiasts and travelers can assist.
Reader Question: What restrictions are there for resale purchasers when buying a Hyatt Residence Club timeshare on the resale market?
Navigating a timeshare purchase on the resale market can be tricky. Prices are not very transparent and there are plenty of timeshare sellers but there are definitely some that you should stay away from due to potential scams or lower quality expertise that may leave you with a purchase or bills that you didn't expect.
I keep promising a full timeshare resale guide and it is in the works but time has been difficult to obtain for the past few weeks but it will be here soon.
If you have read this blog before, you know that I recently purchased a second Hyatt Residence Club timeshare week.
I purchased a resale week since I predominately use my Hyatt Residence Club points for transferring to Interval International. I went through the various ins and outs of my purchase but a reader sent me a question inquiring about the potential restrictions on resale purchases.
If you have been to a timeshare presentation before, the salespeople tend to avoid any questions concerning resale and attempt to change the topic when these items come up. The price discrepancy between buying from the developer and buying resale is massive with potential savings of greater than 90% off developer pricing when buying resale.
Timeshare developers know this so they do a couple of things to persuade people to avoid purchasing resale.
When you purchase a resale timeshare, there could be past due maintenance fees, a loan associated with the week or pending special assessments. If you do know adequately inquire with the timeshare developer or main timeshare program, you could get stuck purchasing a week with a hefty amount of debt. This is why you NEED to obtain an estoppel certificate. You can read about it here.
The other major item that timeshare developers due to resale owners is create additional restrictions on the use of the timeshare. Vistana (Starwood brands) has some of the worst timeshare resale restrictions. If you purchase resale on the vast majority of their timeshare properties, you CANNOT trade internally with other Vistana timeshares. There are a few timeshares properties that DO come with this ability but this is a significant restriction that you need to be aware of before purchasing a Vistana timeshare on the resale market. Here is an overview of that program which details some of these items.
Hyatt Resale Restrictions
To finally get to the point of this post, I wanted to explain the resale restrictions that the Hyatt Residence Club implements to encourage you to purchase directly from the developer. For owners who purchase directly from the Hyatt Residence Club, you can exchange your week into World of Hyatt points where you can use those World of Hyatt points at various hotel properties throughout the world. Here are some details on how that aspect of the program works.
If you purchase resale, YOU DO NOT GET THAT ABILITY. The Hyatt Residence Club blocks resale owners from participating in that program and you cannot exchange your Hyatt Residence Club week or points into World of Hyatt points. You can only use your points to exchange internally to other Hyatt Residence Club properties or exchange through Interval International.
Additional Resale Restrictions on the Hyatt Residence Club
The inability to exchange into World of Hyatt points was the single restriction that the Hyatt Residence Club implemented for resale purchase for a long time. Resale owners still had the ability to exchange into other Hyatt properties at the same rates as developer sold weeks and had the same reservation Windows as developer sold weeks. Essentially, the only difference between a resale owner and a developer owner was the inability to exchange into World of Hyatt points. All other aspects of the program worked exactly the same.
The New Hyatt Portfolio Program
As you may know, Hyatt has recently rolled out a new program called the Hyatt Portfolio program. The program is different in that instead of owning a week which has a set amount of points allocated to that week, you purchase points. The more points you purchase equates into various different levels of ownership which provides better reservation windows or points banking capabilities. The details of the new program are here.
The issue with the new program is that the points, while being able to be resold, are subject to a right of first refusal (like the legacy weeks). However, I have been told but I have not confirmed this, that the points are subject to a set repurchase amount by Hyatt. In that case, Hyatt would be able to repurchase these points at a set price (likely a tremendous discount to the original purchase price) which would prevent the ability for a secondary market to develop since Hyatt would likely just scoop up the cheap points and resell them for top dollars.
In a long winded answer, the only restriction on purchasing a legacy Hyatt Residence Club timeshare week on the resale market is the inability to exchange into World of Hyatt points. Thats it! Everything else is exactly the same.
In my opinion, saving thousands of dollars makes this restriction completely bearable and in all honesty, the exchange rate for converting into World of Hyatt points is generally poor where even if I could exchange my weeks into World of Hyatt points, I WOULD NEVER DO SO.
The issue with many timeshares is that the rules change and evolve so there is always the risk that new restrictions can be implemented on resale purchases. All timeshares track this item so they will always know where you purchased it and how much you paid.
Existing timeshare owners are the easiest demographic to market the purchase of additional timeshare weeks or points so the big timeshare companies generally do not want to impose harsh restrictions on resale owners but they do want to impose some meaningful restrictions which can allow them to market owners the ability to purchase additional weeks directly from the developer and remarkably remove these "restriction".
There have been plenty of timeshare presentations where I have been given the opportunity to remove my resale designation IF I purchase another week directly from the developer. I have not been persuaded to do so as the inability to convert to World of Hyatt points is not significant enough for me to want to spend tens of thousands of more dollars for a developer week.
What do you think of this restriction? Would this prevent you from buying a timeshare on the resale market?
In my previous post, I explained what specific timeshares that I own and disclosed that I recently completed a resale purchase of a second timeshare at Hyatt Beach House in Key West, Florida.
I now own two weeks at the Hyatt Beach House. It seems strange to say that considering that I have never been to the Hyatt Beach House, have no tremendous desire to go, and did not actually target the Hyatt Beach House to purchase.
As explained in my previous post on my personal timeshare strategy, I bought a second timeshare because we travel a lot and I get tremendous value out of my original Hyatt timeshare week.
Since Hyatt's legacy program (they have switched to an all points systems called the Hyatt Portfolio program) is a hybrid system where you can use your week or exchange into points, I found that using points to exchange through Interval International can provide enormous value. As a result, I did want another Hyatt week but my only worry was the amount of points associated with that week and the amount of annual maintenance fees. With the legacy program being phased out, I wanted to get another legacy week before they became scarce.
The new Hyatt Portfolio Program has some perks but the offered price is extremely expensive. Since it is now a points system, resales point purchases will likely be very rare to find, especially at discounted prices. With this is mind, I do think that it is a great time to purchase a legacy Hyatt week.
Out of coincidence, I ended up with another Hyatt Beach House week. So far, my strategy has panned out and have some great trips already planned for 2019 and even 2020 with a bunch of requests pending.
While I am working on a complete guide to purchase a resale timeshare (I know that it is way overdue), I thought that I would provide you with the time table of what transpired with my purchase of my Hyatt week. As discussed, I ended up purchasing this unit through Sumday Vacations who used Greatway Services for their closings.
8/17/17: Payment was received
8/24/17: Title information received
8/31/17: Documents were signed
9/18/17: Closing documents for GreatWay sent
9/25/17: Closing documents for GreatWay signed
10/12/17: Received Power of Attorney for GreatWay
10/19/17: Right of First Refusal sent to Hyatt
11/9/17: Right of First Refusal decision from Hyatt, (ROFR did not apply)
11/22/17 Deed was sent to the County for Recording
12/20/17: Received recorded deed
12/22/17: Deed sent to Hyatt for the transfer of ownership.
Mid January: Access to Hyatt Residence Club website with the ability to make reservations.
As you can see from the times listed above, it took over 4 months for the purchase and transfer to go through. This was a long time. I have purchased resale timeshares before and this was longer than normal. However, in Sumday Vacation's defense, part of this delay was due to me.
During the purchase transaction, Hurricane Irma came through Florida and almost had a direct hit on Key West, directly where my new potential timeshare was located. Obviously, I was concerned with going through the purchase if (i) the resort was not going to actually be there and (ii) if the resort got extremely damaged which would result in either a special assessment (one time charge for extraordinary damage) or a significant increase in maintenance fees.
I was prepared to go through with the purchase ONLY if the previous owner would be responsible for any special assessments that were issued while they still owned the timeshare. I inquired about this issue and it took some various communications with the parties to determine how this would be handled.
Essentially, it was agreed that any assessments before January 1, 2018 would be the previous owners responsibility and anything thereafter would be mine.
I was definitely concerned about this but did reach out to the Hyatt Residence Club directly and the resort. While the resort did close for a month or so, the damage was fairly minimal and they did not anticipate any major renovations. With that confirmation, I went forward with the purchase understanding the potential risks.
The time table for this particular timeshare resale purchase was longer than normal but I would expect that a typical timeshare resale purchase should take about 60 days. For Hyatt purchases, they have the Right of First Refusal which takes approximately 30 days and the other documents and processes should only take a few weeks.
How long have your timeshare purchases taken?
As I explained in this post, this past year I attempted and succeeded at earning Hyatt Globalist status almost solely to take advantage of the various perks offered for our trip to Maui during Christmas.
Once we checked into the Andaz Maui property, our confirmed suite upgrade that we were promised disappeared and was put in a standard room overlooking a concrete wall.
As I detailed in this post, that stay broke my loyalty to Hyatt and will not likely achieve Globalist status this year.
While I was disheartened by that experience as a "top tier" member of Hyatt, I still have Globalist status for the entire 2018 year. There are definitely some perks associated with this status including getting suite upgrades upon check-in. Of course, you are not guaranteed a suite as it will be entirely up to availability and the front desk representatives desire to actually give you a suite upgrade.
While I am not going out of my way to stay at Hyatt properties, I still enjoy them and I might as well get some perks out of my status while I have it.
I was recently in Santa Rosa, California and had the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa. I was there on business so there was not much time to do any fun wine tours or explore the hotel so I have not done a review of that hotel. The hotel is undergoing renovations at the moment so breakfast was very poor and served in a conference room and there were areas of the hotel that were closed. While the hotel can be nice, my initial reaction was not overwhelmingly positive and it seemed more of a business hotel.
I reserved a standard room and was upgraded to an Executive King room. The Executive King room was not the largest or highest tier suite but one of the top rooms available.
Here are some photos of the room:
As you can see, the room was definitely more spacious that a typical hotel room and had a nice couch and sitting area. However, your bed was directly in the same room which doesn't make it very conducive to entertaining with other people if that was something that you wanted to do.
Additionally, the couch was not a sleeper sofa so this "suite" would be a disaster for traveling with a family of four.
I have stated this before but the most frustrating thing with getting "free" upgrades at hotels is that they almost NEVER occur when I want them (traveling with family) and generally only happen while traveling alone on business. When I travel on business, having a suite is fine but I would be perfectly comfortable in a standard room without a view.
When I travel with my family, I want as much space as possible so that we can spread out and all get a good nights rest, ideally in our own beds!
Comparison to the Hyatt Wild Oak 2 Bedroom Suite
As I wrote about here, we recently stayed at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio Texas. We received a free two night stay in a 2 bedroom suite in their newest building, Cedar Elm.
I thought it would be interesting to compare my suite upgrade at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek and Spa to my 2 bedroom suite at Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch.
An important point in this comparison is that the suite at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek and Spa was not confirmed as it was completely subject to availability while my reservation at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch was for a 2 bedroom unit.
It is an important distinction because as I have said before, you simply cannot rely on a suite upgrade when staying at a hotel unless you book it directly and booking a suite directly can be ridiculously expensive. Therefore, you have to just hope that get a suite or pay a expensive premium to reserve one prior to check in.
Many times, even though it appears that suites are available at check-in, in my experience, the front desk agent claims that they are not in order to save those suites for more important guests (higher tier members or other guests who may have paid a higher rate) or simply wants to save those suites for last minute bookings for those people who do not mind paying those rates for suites.
The 2 Bedroom Suite
Here are some photos of the 2 bedroom suite. As you can see, the 2 bedroom suite comes with 2 bedrooms, one bedroom with a King size bed and one bedroom with 2 full beds. The suite also comes with 2 full bathrooms, both with tubs and showers, and has a full size kitchen, living room and dining area, large outdoor patio and a washer and dryer.
As you can see, the 2 bedroom unit is absolutely massive especially when compared to the "suite" at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek and Spa.
I should note that even if this was a one bedroom unit, the layout is generally the same with the only exception being that the second bedroom and second bathroom would not be available. The other amenities, living room, dining room, patio, kitchen, laundry facilities, etc. would still be part of the one bedroom.
In my opinion, the difference between a timeshare unit and a hotel suite is astronomical with the timeshare unit being far superior. The amount of space in a timeshare unit compared to a hotel suite is drastically different. There are other items to consider when comparing timeshares vs hotels but when you only consider space, timeshares seem to be a clear winner.
What are your thoughts on timeshares vs. hotels?
As I posted about here, I received an offer for a free two night stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio, Texas.
I believe that I was targeted for this offer since I am a Hyatt owner and live in the immediate vicinity of San Antonio.
The Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch is one of my families favorite resorts. It is one of the material reasons that I actually first bought a Hyatt timeshare. We tend to visit the resort at least 2-3 times per year.
We have been coming to the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch since about 2007. In all that time, they had grandiose plans to build out the property with additional buildings, more amenities, another large pool area and additional restaurant facilities. Since 2007, while there have been some changes, the resort has mostly stayed the same.
It appears that the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch has finally made progress on its expansion and just completed a brand new building on property called Cedar Elm.
The likely reason for the offer was to allow existing owners to see the new building and potentially up sell them to the new Hyatt Portfolio program.
As you might expect, a timeshare presentation is required in order to get your two nights free. In a separate post, I'll give you a review of that experience but I can tell you now that I am not looking forward to yet another timeshare presentation. If you read this blog regularly, I have been doing a lot of these tours in order to give my readers better insight into the timeshare industry.
We checked into the resort without issue and was fortunately placed in the new building. We received a two bedroom unit which is absolutely huge. It is an absolute pleasure to have some much space and have my family of four each have their own bed.
The new two bedroom units are fairly similar to the older units but has some nice updates. The TV's are large and new, (there are 3 TV's in the unit), the appliances are new and of high quality and the furnishings, while still a bit rustic for my taste, are very comfortable.
Here are a bunch of photos that I took of the room. Scroll through them all to see the entire unit!
As you can see, the room is huge and well appointed. I would not say that there is a tremendous difference between the new units and the older units but if you do stay, definitely request to be in the Cedar Elm building.
Stay tuned for additional post on the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch and my thoughts on the timeshare presentation!
Have you ever stayed at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch?
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.
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.