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.
The quality of timeshares differ drastically from resort to resort. Some timeshares can be greatly in need of renovations while others are luxurious and spacious accommodations that rival many luxury hotels.
In an attempt to help timeshare owners exchange into quality timeshares, both Interval International and RCI have designations for the timeshares that indicate the quality of the resorts.
Here is an overview of Interval International's resort recognition program.
Here is an overview of RCI's resort recognition programs.
For Interval International, you can see, they have three main recognitions / designations being: Select, Premier and Elite.
I generally try to only exchange into Premier or Elite properties as I do find those to be the best quality resorts. I have not stayed at any "Select" properties but some of them look decent.
In a few recent searches, I came across the Premier Boutique Resort designation.
I was intrigued as many of the timeshare properties that we have stayed with are large resorts and while we have enjoyed many of them, sometimes finding the smaller quieter resort is nice depending on the type of vacation your are looking for.
According to Interval International, these Premier Boutique Resort provide outstanding accommodations in a desirable location with limited amenities. My understanding is that these are smaller "boutique" type properties that have limited rooms and provide more of an intimate vacation experience.
Intrigued with this type of offering, I found the following list of all Premier Boutique Resorts within Interval International.
Full List of Interval Premier Boutique Resorts
Sanur, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia Mahagiri Vacation Club
Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan Kira Kira
Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan Yama Shizen
Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan Youtei Tracks
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario 124 on Queen Hotel & Spa
Kelowna, British Columbia Grizzly Ridge Estates
Ucluelet, British Columbia Embarc - Ucluelet
Whistler, British Columbia Powder's Edge
Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet, St. Lucia Bay Gardens Beach Resort All Inclusive
Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet, St. Lucia Bay Gardens Beach Resort
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club
Soriano nel Cimino, Viterbo, Italy Palazzo Catalani
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico MÍA at Riviera Maya
Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil Residence Waterfront I and II
Anapoima, Cundinamarca, Colombia La Gran Reserva Anapoima
San Francisco, California Club Donatello
San Francisco, California Inn at the Opera
San Francisco, California The Suites at Fisherman's Wharf
Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii Alii Kai Resort
Branson, Missouri D'Monaco Private Residence Club
Branson, Missouri Trophy Run
Pacific City, Oregon The Cottages at Cape Kiwanda
Telluride, Colorado Bear Creek Lodge
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina The Inlet Sports Lodge
I rarely see these resorts come available through a general search but I have seen a few pop up. There are definitely some great locations and some interesting resorts available.
My plan is to put in a request for a few on the above list and see what becomes available. If I get a week at one of those properties, I will be sure to do a full review.
In case you wanted to do a complete search for only these Premier Boutique Resort properties, here is the complete list of Interval International codes.
MGI, KIR, YAM, YOU, VVR, GZE, CIU, POE, BG1, BGD, GBR, PZZ, MMY, WFR, GRI, CL3, CLD, IN1, INN, SFW, SW1, AIK, DMO, TRJ, CCK, BKL, ISN
Make sure to also take a look at this post for a review of all of Interval International's "best' resorts.
I am definitely interested in visiting one or more of these properties. While staying at a large resort has its benefits, sometimes a smaller, more intimate resort is what is needed. I'm glad that Interval International has these options.
Have you stayed at one of these Premier Boutique Resorts? Make sure to comment below.
Here is Part II on using Interval International.
In Part I, I put together a guide on how to use Interval International for Interval Getaways.
In this guide, I wanted to put together a guide on how to exchange with Interval International.
In order to get access to either exchanges or Interval Getaways, need you to sign in to the website which is found on the top right hand corner.
As you sign in, you are brought to this screen.
This time, instead of starting with the Getaways, you click on tab "Exchanges".
Once you do that, you are brought to this screen.
Once you are hear, you are presented with a similar screen than what is provided with the Interval Getaways.
You can either search by a "single destination", "search all destinations" or by "Resort name, code or use map".
As previously mentioned, I generally choose "search all destinations" in order to make sure that all weeks and destinations are shown to me. Interval's search tool is finicky and does not always produce the same results so I try to force the system to show me everything.
Unlike Interval Getaways, Interval International allows you to search and book for two years from the date of the search rather than 18 months that the Interval Getaways allow.
Again, I try to use the broadest search possible in order to see everything. You can also narrow down the dates if you are looking for a particular week. However, if you are looking for a particular week, it is generally recommended to search for the week before and the week after just in case the system does not show you everything.
As I mentioned in the Interval Getaway guide and in previous posts, a great way to search is by using the Resort Codes. Instead of putting in one or two Resort Codes, you can put in a large list of codes for the "best" resorts in Interval International. Here is a post on this which I highly recommend using.
Everything up to this point is almost exactly the same as search for Interval Getaways. However, once you put in the specifics, the next page brings up the following.
Since this is my particular account, you can see my unit on the top, the Hyatt Beach House. You also see various exchanges. You can see that there are two line items for 2018 usage that indicates that it is exchanged and two other line items with no other information.
The two items for 2018 usage are two "request first" exchanges. Request Firsts are ongoing exchange requests which are pending but are not confirmed. The system continuously searches based on specifics entered. Here are some more details for the Request First function.
This particular screen will likely differ based on the particular type of timeshare you own (points or weeks) but the general exchange function should be the same.
Since I own with Hyatt, my weeks are hybrid weeks where I can either use the particular week or exchange it into Hyatt Residence Club points. If I convert it into Hyatt Residence Club points, I can then exchange those Hyatt Residence Club points into Interval International points.
Once I click on the "Vacation Exchange", this is the following screen.
This is one of the most important screens for exchanging. This is the exchange chart which shows you how many Interval International points are required for a particular exchange. The bigger the unit, the more points required.
Also, on the left is the TDI or Travel Demand Index. This is basically low, medium and high demand seasons.
For this search, I almost always choose 2 bedrooms for the highest demand time period (1300 points). Again, the reason for this is to force the system to show you everything.
Different Exchange Charts
For those readers who do not own a Hyatt week, this page will be different. This will either show you the particular week that you own and give you the option to exchange that week, exchange a part of that week, either a 1 bedroom and studio, or provides you with a different exchange chart.
For those readers who own other timeshares, please e-mail me (email@example.com) your screen shots of this page so that I an update these guides for multiple different timeshares.
The exchange charts are one of the most important features of a timeshare as this shows you exactly what is possible for exchanging. For example, based on the chart above, if you own 870 Hyatt Residence Club points, you can never exchange into a 2 bedroom unit through Interval International.
As an aside, Hyatt trades very favorable within Interval International which is why I can get such tremendous value. 1300 points for a Hyatt week is a very low demand week which generally can be very cheap to purchase. While Hyatt's maintenance fees will be somewhat high, a 1300 Hyatt week is a sweet spot between value and usage.
With only 1300 Hyatt Residence Club points, you will be severely restricted in trading within the internal Hyatt system where there will be many resorts where you cannot trade into a 2 bedroom unit for a week (requires more points) but you can do so within Interval International.
In order to see how various timeshare trade within Interval International, you should review the basic guides that I have put together here.
Also, here is a good overview on how various programs exchange within Interval International.
Inventory for Interval Getaways and exchanges are completely different. Even though a week may be available for purchase, it does not mean that it will be available for exchange.
When you click on the amount of points you desire to use, you are brought to this screen.
As with before, you can put in your search terms and see what exchange inventory is available.
Similar to Interval Getaways, the results show you the required amount of points required for the specific size of unit and time period.
For example, here is the current availabilty for St. Kitts and Nevis.
As you can see, there are various size rooms available and the amount of points required for the size of unit and particular season.
Again, depending on what timeshare you own, the exchanges will be different and amount of points required will be different. If you own a week based timeshare, it will only show you the units which you can exchange on a 1 to 1 basis. For example a 1 bedroom to a 1 bedroom or a 1 bedroom to a studio.
Booking the Exchange
Once you find the unit you want to exchange into, you click the "Exchange" button which will walk you through additional screens.
This shows you what you are relinquishing for this particular exchange. In this case, it is 1,100 Hyatt Residence Club points.
Additionally, it shows you the details of the room and amenities of the resort. Make sure to read the room description carefully as you want to make sure what you are getting.
On the following screen are more disclosures. Make sure to read these as there can be fees required or renovations occurring. This is the place where these types of items are disclosed.
E-Plus and Guest Certificates
Once you get to the next screen, it asks you whether you want E-Plus and/or a Guest Certificate.
E-Plus is fantastic and highly recommended. For those of you who do not know, E-Plus allows you to re-book your confirmed exchanged week for up to 3 times with no additional fee. Here are more details of this program.
If you are allowing others to use your week, they need to be on the reservation. Otherwise, problems can occur upon checking in. If you have Interval Platinum, guest certificates are free. Otherwise, it is a $59 fee.
Following this screen, you will be presented with payment options.
The exchange fee is now $199 per week.
Make sure to use the right credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Business where you will receive 2x points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or 3x points with the Chase Ink Business as these exchange fees code as travel.
Exchanging should be fairly straightforward but the key is to understand how your particular timeshare trades through Interval International. Make sure to study the various programs and see how the exchange in the external exchanges. I find that Hyatt trades very favorably for me so I can get a lot of value for my one week by turning my one week into almost 5 weeks of vacation.
Make sure to add some comments below in case I missed anything!
Pursuant to a question from one of my readers, I am putting together a basic guide on how to use Interval International for exchanging and obtaining Interval Getaways. Due to the length of the post, I will split this into two parts, Interval Getaways and Exchanging.
As I state many times, I predominantly use Interval International in order to exchange my timeshare into other timeshares as I find that I can maximize my timeshare and can get some great weeks.
While there is potentially a back door to get access to RCI, Interval International does do a check to ensure that you own the timeshare that you say you own. Without a membership, you cannot get access.
Once you have an account, you can go to their homepage and sign in on the top right hand corner.
Once you are signed in, you are brought to the main page. It defaults to Getways as shown below.
Since Interval Getaways comes up first, lets go through how to search for Interval Getaways. For those who don't know, Interval Getaways are weeks which you can reserve for cash instead of exchanging your timeshare week or timeshare points. There can be some tremendous deals here and I always pursue the availability. You can read more about Interval Getaways here and here.
As you can see in the search box, it gives you three options:
Search All Destinations
Resort Name, Code or Use Map
Most of the time, I will simply use "Search all Destinations" even if know where are I am looking. Interval's search tool has a lot to be desired and I never know if the system is really picking up all available weeks. Therefore, I try to do the broadest search possible in order to make sure that everything available is being shown to me.
The other great option is to use the "Resort Name, Code or Use Map". As I discussed in this post, you can insert numerous resort codes in this field for the "best" available timeshares and see what is available.
Interval International now lets you search about 18 months in the future. It used to be 12 months but they have changed it so you can see availability farther into the future.
My general tactic will again to do the broadest search possible and generally search for the entire time period even if I am just looking for a particular time period. The reason I do this is to make sure that the system picks up everything and also just to see what is available.
For example, if I want to go to St. Johns (a notoriously difficult spot to trade into) and I do a broad search for 18 months and St. Johns come ups in the destinations, I want to see what is available as I may plan a trip around that particular availability.
Othertimes, for holiday weeks, I try to do a specific search for that week to see what is currently available and try to plan a vacation based on that availability (if the price is right).
For this guide, I did the broadest search possible, all destinations and all time periods.
As you can see, there are A LOT of destinations that come up. Each destination is a hyperlink so you can click on the various destinations in order to see what is available.
Since Hawaii is always a popular destination, I chose Kauai, Hawaii in the search above. Here are the results.
You can see that there are some good weeks. You can expand the list by clicking the plus symbol in the left hand corner on each resort page. Also, make sure you notice the amount of pages for the results. In the bottom right hand corner, it will have the page numbers and many times there will have multiple pages. Make sure to check the other pages!
Also, make sure you notice the symbols underneath the dates. These symbols indicate the size of the room, the amount of people that can sleep in private, the total amount of people that can fit in the unit and whether it has a full kitchen, no kitchen or limited kitchen.
For example, in this example, below, the top one is for a 1 bedroom unit with a limited kitchen. It can sleep a total of 4 people both in total and in private.
The one below is a 2 bedroom with a full kitchen. It can sleep 6 people in private and a total of 8 people (this generally indicates that it has a pull out sofa in the living room).
The third one is a studio unit with no kitchen. It can sleep 2 privately but can accommodate up to 4 people.
For this example, I chose the Marriott Kauai Beach Club. You click on "Book Now" and it brings you to this page.
Once you click through, Interval provides more details on the unit and the various amenities. Make sure to read this carefully to avoid any surprises.
Also, you should note that when you click "Book Now" it takes the particular unit out of their inventory for you for 20 minutes so you need to complete the transaction within that time period. If you click off of it or let it time out, and you then decide you want it, the new search will not bring it up for about 20 minutes.
A workaround is to go through the same search process and click on any other unit like you were going to book. Once you do that, the system assumes that you are no longer interested in the previous unit and it will release it back into inventory. However, this does not always work especially with prime weeks. It can simply be that someone completed the transaction before you or took it out of inventory as you released it.
When you click through the next link, it provide you more details on the potential extra charges associated with the week.
*While I was doing this example, my search timed out and the Marriott week disappeared from inventory. The next screen shots are from different units but the information is still accurate. If you see a good week, BOOK IT as inventory changes by the second.
Again, make sure to read this page. Some resorts have multiple additional charges that you should be aware of. Additionally, for all-inclusive resorts, the charges can be in the thousands of dollars. Read about those types of weeks here.
Once you click again, you are brought to the next screen concerning Guest Certificates.
Guest Certificates normally cost $59 per reservation so that you can put the name of your guest on the reservation. If you are an Interval Platinum member, they are free which is why it is showing up as $0.00 for my booking.
The next page is the actual booking page. It shows you the actual cost for the entire week including taxes.
On the next page, it is the payment page. It also offers you the ability to obtain travel insurance. I'll have to do a follow up post on travel insurance but I never generally opt in. However, Interval Getaways are NON-REFUNDABLE and NON-CANCELLABLE. This is strictly enforced. Therefore, regardless of what comes up, you either take the trip or lose the money. Therefore, travel insurance may actually make sense in this situation but I'll dig into this deeper.
Interval Getaways can be fantastic deals. I have reserved weeks for under $200. These are generally low season weeks but $200 for a week can be fantastic. Other times, the cost of these Getaways are so affordable that I will reserve it and only use 1 or 2 days as the comparable hotel prices are more expensive than booking an entire week.
Inventory changes by the second so search often. Make sure to also use Interval Intervals app. I wrote about it here and it has been a lifesaver!
Is there anything that is missing from this guide? Make sure to leave your comments below.
I have written about Accommodations Certificates that are issued by Interval International on multiple occasions. You can review them here and here.
As a quick reminder, these are "free" weeks offered by Interval International where they will only charge you the exchange fee. It used to cost $274 per week for these certificates but it appears that they just increased the price to $289 per week.
At $289 per week, it can be a fantastic deal as there have been multiple size units from studios to 2 bedrooms with even the occasional three bedroom sighting.
While most of the weeks or properties may be low season or low demand destinations, every now and again a killer deal comes up for a fantastic time and destination. The key is to look frequently - like every day, multiple times per day, frequently.
In the past, I offered some of these accommodations certificates to my readers with the sole requirement that they cover the exchange fee. While there were some interest, the certificates did not get taken.
I had three certificates in my account in the past and I just reviewed my account and I now have 5 certificates.
The first three are valid until the end of July, one is valid through December 16, 2018 and one is valid through February 3, 2019.
I have not done any extensive researching but I did see some great skis weeks available in Breckenridge, Colorado at the Grand Lodge at Peak 7 during the beginning / mid December.
In any event, you should definitely check your account and see if you have been targeted for any of these additional accommodations certificates. While sometimes hard to use, for the right person and right week, these can be unbelievable deals.
As I did in the past, I will offer any of these accommodations certificates to my readers. Since I generally plan so far in advance, it is generally very hard for me to use these semi-last minute weeks.
As posted previously, here are the rules:
Here is how it will work.
1. Review the chart below of available locations and the available time period. The availability will generally be August - February.
2. Post in the comment section your desired location and your desired week.
3. I will monitor these comments and try to search for the requested destinations and resorts and post availability.
4. If I find something, I will reply to your comment and you should get notified.
5. You will then need to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. I will request readers cover the exchange fee of $289 but I will provide the guest certificate (I get free guest certificates for being an Interval Platinum Member).
Here are some of the currently available destinations:
I sure hope that someone can use these or will find some certificates in their account. Availability and destinations change by the second so please be aware that inventory may not be available by the time that we are ready to book.
Have you scored any fantastic weeks with an accommodations certificate? Make sure to leave a comment below.
As I have stated multiple times, one of my favorite strategies for maximizing timeshare ownership is trading through Interval International. While RCI does have some great resorts, I find that Interval International has more top tier resorts since they are affiliated with most of the major brands of timeshares (Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons, Westin, etc.).
I have touched on this before but an easy and effective way to find great resorts is to search using the resort codes. In Interval International, each resort has a three digit code. You can search by "Destination", by "Resort Name" or "Search All Destinations".
Many times, I will just search All Destinations and click through the various destinations that interest me and see if there are any top tier resorts available for my desired time period. This is a strategy but can take some time to sift through all the resorts.
In this post, I wanted to give you the various codes for the top tier resorts by affiliation.
You can copy the following list of codes and paste them in the search box and check off the "Resort Name or Code". By doing this, you will only see some of the best resorts in Interval International.
SRK, MHI, MGA, MG1, MG3, MG5, MHO, MWF, MCU, MFL, MQB, MNY, MSQ, MPP, MGQ, MAO, MSU, MBF, MBY, MBP, MWO, MBF, MCV, MEM, MMI, MCP, MDS, MPD, MFV, MFC, MGC, MC1, MGO, MGV, MGR, MHH, MHZ, MZ2, HPS, MHG, MIP, MKW, MKI, MKO, MK1, MGK, MLE, MKB, MMC, MSE, MMB, MMO, MM1, MMS, MVL, MV2, MOU, NCV, MPB, MOW, MVO, MPU, MP1, MUZ, MRP, MSP, MRD, MR2, MSK, MDO, MVB, MEV, MSW, MSN, MSF, MML, MVF, MVD, MWO, MAW, MA1, MHB, MH2, RMX, SYA, MS1
HBK, HCC, HMS, HYI, HYP, HYA, HYB, HSH, HWP, HSL, HNS, HKB, HYS, HYK, HYN, HRP, TYL, GBJ
Vistana / Starwood Resorts:
WDL, KAA, KAN, WKV, WLR, WLX, WMH, WNA, WPV, WRF, WSJ, STW, SDI, VTA, VT1, SRM, VIT, VIO, SVV, VIS, HRA, LFP, BPW
Four Seasons Resorts:
FSA, FS1, SCT, SC4
Combined List of Marriott, Hyatt, Vistana / Starwood and Four Seasons:
SRK, MHI, MGA, MG1, MG3, MG5, MHO, MWF, MCU, MFL, MQB, MNY, MSQ, MPP, MGQ, MAO, MSU, MBF, MBY, MBP, MWO, MBF, MCV, MEM, MMI, MCP, MDS, MPD, MFV, MFC, MGC, MC1, MGO, MGV, MGR, MHH, MHZ, MZ2, HPS, MHG, MIP, MKW, MKI, MKO, MK1, MGK, MLE, MKB, MMC, MSE, MMB, MMO, MM1, MMS, MVL, MV2, MOU, NCV, MPB, MOW, MVO, MPU, MP1, MUZ, MRP, MSP, MRD, MR2, MSK, MDO, MVB, MEV, MSW, MSN, MSF, MML, MVF, MVD, MWO, MAW, MA1, MHB, MH2, RMX, SYA, MS1, HBK, HCC, HMS, HYI, HYP, HYA, HYB, HSH, HWP, HSL, HNS, HKB, HYS, HYK, HYN, HRP, TYL, GBJ, WDL, KAA, KAN, WKV, WLR, WLX, WMH, WNA, WPV, WRF, WSJ, STW, SDI, VTA, VT1, SRM, VIT, VIO, SVV, VIS, HRA, LFP, BPW, FSA, FS1, SCT, SC4
This is a fantastic way to get a list of the "best" resorts in Interval International. There are definitely other "great" resorts that are independent or affiliated with some of the smaller timeshare brands but this is a great list to start.
I'll compile some other lists with these other resorts shortly.
Do you have any other resorts that should be listed? Please post below!
Exchanging Marriott Points with Interval International: A Comparison between internal exchanges and external exchanges
In my previous post, I gave you an overview of a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare presentation that I attended at the Marriott Summit Watch.
The one piece of information that was completely overlooked was how Marriott Vacation Club points can be exchanged through Interval International.
Interval International is one of the two major exchange companies with RCI being the second.
Here is an overview of Interval International.
Interval International allows owners of affiliated resorts to exchange through their program into other weeks. They do have something called "short stay" exchanges that are less than a week but generally, are used for 1 week exchanges.
During the Marriott presentation, they did not discuss the ability to exchange into Interval International since they indicated that most owners prefer Marriott properties and prefer to exchange internally.
This is a tremendous oversight as exchanging through Interval International can give you an excellent way to maximize ownership.
As you may recall, Marriott offered me a 4,000 point package for over $40,000. Here is a chart showing the amount of points required to exchange through Interval International.
On the far left side is the demand for the particular week. Marriott uses "Peak", "High", "Medium" and "Low".
The importance of the chart above is basically to understand the minimal amount of points required to stay in the various size units. I find that most resorts and time periods that I want to travel and most people would want to travel is the top tier level - "Peak".
I generally ignore the other levels.
For example, for the 4,000 point Marriott Vacation Club package that was offered to me, I COULD NEVER exchange those points for a 2 bedroom unit during peak time through Interval International. This is extremely relevant to any purchase decision as this will significantly impair your travel options.
Many very nice properties ONLY have 2-bedroom units so you can NEVER travel to those properties during peak times.
Marriott Vacation Club
One reason that Marriott likely does not discuss the Interval International exchange options is that they require a lot of points to be able to exchange for one week. Even if the package they offered me was for 4,500 points, in exchange for over $40,000, I would be able to receive 1 week in a 2 bedroom unit through Interval International in addition to the exchange fee of $179 per week.
Comparison to Internal Trades
Each Marriott Vacation Club property has different point requirement for each week. If I purchased 4,000 points, I would be able to use those points for various resorts.
For example, here is the 2018 chart for Marriott Summit Watch.
As you can see, the point requirements vary significantly but if I used my points for Christmas week, it would cost me 3,175 points.
As you can see, if I owned 4,000 points, I could NEVER stay at the Marriott Summit Watch during Christmas for anything greater than a studio unit. A 1 bedroom would cost 4,450 points and a two bedroom would cost 6,725.
Comparison to using Interval International
Using the same comparison above, if I wanted to exchange my points through Interval International, I could reserve the same Christmas week at the Marriott Summit Watch for only 2,250 points - a savings of 29.1%.
Additionally, by exchanging through Interval International, I now have enough points to reserve 1 bedroom unit during peak times whereas I would not have enough points to reserve the same weeks through Marriott's internal exchanges. (3,000 points through Interval International as opposed to 4,450 through Marriott's internal program)
This example above is only one example of why exchanging through Interval International is an important aspect of any timeshare ownership. I can use almost 30% less points simply by exchanging through Interval International instead of reserving directly through Marriott Vacation Club's internal program.
*A caveat to this example is that inventory is different for the internal and exchange exchanges. If you can reserve something using their internal exchange, it does not mean that it will be available in the external exchange. Most of the time, Interval International makes sense from exchanging from one brand to another. For example, I routinely use my Hyatt week to exchange into Marriott properties. Interval International restricts my ability to reserve Hyatt properties through Interval International in order to avoid this type of arbitrage above.
I expect that this is one reason that Marriott does not want to discuss this portion of their program. I expect that the other reason that Marriott does not want to discuss this portion of their program is that through Interval International, you can exchange into other brands of timeshares and they likely want to keep you vacation dollars within the Marriott portfolio.
By exchanging through Interval International, you can exchange into many highly desirable Hyatt properties including great properties in Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Lake Tahoe as well as other highly desirable ski properties as well as beach and urban properties as well.
The example above is just one of thousands of examples of why exchanging through Interval International can make a lot of sense. The exchange chart for Marriott Vacation Club points is not as appealing as other timeshare brand charts but in certain circumstances, exchanging your points may save you points that can be used for more vacations and is a great way to maximize ownership.
Overall, I think it is a shame that they do not discuss this option. It is one of the easiest ways to maximize timeshare ownership.
As I stated, I'm sure that the reason for this is to avoid owners from spending their vacation dollars at resorts out of the Marriott family, but external exchanging and the potential value that it can bring is an important consideration to review before any purchase.
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!
One of the biggest issues with timeshares is their availability. It always seems like there is no availability for the specific timeshares that you want or there is no availability for the time period you want to travel.
The reason for this is that most timeshares allow you to book very far in advance. Both RCI and Interval International allow you to book 2 years in advance. Therefore, most timeshare owners that know how the systems work and know how to maximize their ownership make sure to plan as far in advance as possible so that they can get the resorts and weeks that they want.
If you are trying to get a prime week but regular searches of current inventory, you will likely be disappointed in what is available and when. There are exemptions but generally, you need to put in an ongoing Request or Deposit First.
In this post, I wanted to explain how to use Interval Internationals' Request First function.
The Request First function is different than the Deposit First. Using the Request First, Interval International will take your points once you complete the exchange request but if they do not fulfill your request, you will receive your points back in the original program. With Deposit First, it is a one way transfer where you convert your original timeshare points into Interval International Points. If you cancel the request, you can only book using Interval International.
Using Request First
When you first login to Interval International, you will see the toolbar up top. Choose "Exchange".
Once you click on "Exchange", you are brought the following screen.
When you get to this screen, you can search in three different ways.
1. You can search by destination;
2. You can search all destinations; or
3. You can search by Resort Name.
When you search in this way, all the currently available units will come up in inventory. If you see something that you want, you should definitely confirm the exchange. If a particular destination or resort does not come up for your time period, you should continue on and do a "Place Request".
In order to get to the "Place Request", you need to click on "My Units". This will bring you to the following screen.
As you can see from the attached screenshot, My Unit under this account is the Hyatt Beach House Resort. I have two ongoing searches and on the bottom, there is the option for the "Place Request".
When you go to "Place Request", it brings up the following exchange chart. Since this is for my Hyatt week, the exchange chart shows you how many points it will take for the Travel Demand Index (TDI) and size of unit. As I indicated before, most weeks and desirable locations require the highest amount of points so I generally do not even focus on the lower TDI amounts.
The numbers in the above chart are clickable and by clicking on of the numbers, this will be the amount of points that will be used for the "Request First" exchange.
Even if you do not have enough points for the potential exchange, I would simply click on 1,300. If you wanted a 3 or 4 bedroom, than I would click on 1,730 or 2,160 accordingly. This will not actually take your points at this stage. Interval will only take the amount of points based on the choices made on the following screen.
On the next screen, you are given a choice on the number of travelers, size of bedroom, whether you want or need a kitchen or whether there are any special facilities.
This screen allows you to choose the size of the unit. If you only want a 2 bedroom, you need to click the 2 bedroom. You can choose one or more of the size of units.
IMPORTANT: Only choose the size of the unit that you want. If you choose all three, Interval International will take the entire amount of points for the largest unit selected (1,300) and confirm you into a week for the first available size. You will be refunded the difference if a smaller unit is confirmed. If you only want a 1 bedroom, DO NOT CHOOSE the studio unit.
For this example, I chose a 2 bedroom unit with a kitchen for 2 adults. For the next part, you need to add the destination.
This part is extremely important. When you add the destination, depending on where you want to go, a large list of resorts will be shown. You need to click on each resort to add it to the request.
For this example, I will choose Kauai, Hawaii (one of my favorite destinations).
As you can see in the above, a list of all resorts in the Interval International Directory will come up. You need to click on each one that you want to request.
IMPORTANT: Not all timeshares are created equal. Some are very high quality resorts that meet or exceed some of the nicest hotels. Others have a lot to be desired. Interval attempts to differentiate these resorts by use of their resort designations.
Here is how Interval International uses these symbols:
Interval International Elite Resorts
Interval International Elite Resorts are the very best of Interval’s network, providing an extraordinary vacation experience, exceptional service, and luxurious features and appointments. They are identified by the lotus, a symbol of purity and perfection .
Interval International Premier Resorts
Interval International Premier Resorts, debuting as the highest level of recognition, provide an outstanding vacation experience, with state-of-the-art conveniences, and modern features and appointments. They are identified by the laurel, a symbol of distinction, high standards and status.
Within this level of recognition, Premier Boutique Resorts provide an outstanding vacation experience, with excellent accommodations in desirable locations, and limited on-site amenities.
Interval International Select Resorts
Interval International Select Resorts provide a great vacation experience, and are distinguished by a comfortable and homelike atmosphere. As such, they are identified by the pineapple, a centuries-old symbol of hospitality, welcome, friendliness, and warmth.
Within this level of recognition,Select Boutique Resorts provide a great vacation experience, with comfortable, homelike accommodations in desirable locations, and limited on-site amenities.
When you choose your resorts, I try to make sure that they have some designation. I generally prefer the Elite or Premier properties. Make sure to do your research on the various properties before choosing.
IMPORTANT: You can also do various searches in this by searching by brand (Hyatt, Marriott, etc.). Also, a lot of the resorts that may have one of the designations listed above may not show up in this search. Make sure to to use the Resort Directory to choose any resorts that you want to exchange into and use their Resort Code (3 letter code).
Once you have chosen the resorts, you need to choose the earliest and latest travel date. If you want a specific week like Christmas week, make sure to choose those specific dates.
In the example, above, I originally put in December 22, 2018 as my earliest travel date and December 29, 2018 as my latest travel date. The system will automatically revise your dates for the Thursday before the desired dates. This way the system will automatically confirm for you weeks starting on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.
The system also allows you to add additional destinations and dates within the same request. You can have multiples weeks in the same request as well as multiple resorts.
As you can see, I added some ski properties in Vail, Colorado for spring break.
IMPORTANT: You can add many different weeks and many different resorts for one exchange. However, as soon as something matches, the "Request First" exchange will be considered complete and the remaining exchanges will be cancelled.
For example, if one of my requests matched for Vail, Colorado, the Request First match for Hawaii would be cancelled.
TIP: If you know that you will want two weeks, it is better to do two separate Request First requests. You will have to pay two exchange fees up front but they will be independent of one another so that once one matches, the other Request First will continue to search.
On the next page, you are offered the ability to choose E-Plus and a Guest Certificate. There is generally no reason to do a guest certificate at this stage even if you are going to have a guest. You can add a Guest Certificate at any time. Guest Certificates are normally $59 or free with Interval Platinum membership which is why it shows as zero under my account.
If you are not familiar with E-Plus, I wrote about it here. It is a great add on feature that allows you to trade your confirmed week 3 times without any fee.
You can either choose to pay for it now or when your week is confirmed, you should have 3 days to make the decision. I almost always choose E-Plus since it gives me a lot of flexibility. Once confirmed, you are essentially locked in to your week so if you needed to cancel, you will loose your exchange fee and be given a replacement week that generally has more restrictions than your original deposit.
E-Plus removes this issue and you can exchange your confirmed week 3 times for 2 years past the confirmed week.
Once this is complete, you are brought to the final page which indicates all the details that you inserted along with the exchange fee of $189 and the optional E-Plus fee of $54.
Once you hit continue and pay the required fee, the system will automatically search for a match. If a match occurs, you will be automatically confirmed into that week.
For example, in my example above, I can either be confirmed for a ski week in Vail OR christmas week in Hawaii. Once one of those requests go through, the remaining requests are cancelled.
Once the request is placed, you can review, revise, add, subtract or cancel your request through the "My Units".
Under My Units, you can see the various requests.
Under my account, I have two requests pending. You can simply go to "Review Request" to modify the specifics. If you modify the size of the unit desired, Interval will either take more points from your account or re-deposit points if you request a smaller unit.
If you want to get the most desirable timeshare weeks, you MUST plan far in advance. By using Request First, you give yourself the best chances of getting the weeks and resorts that you want. This is not the only way to get the best weeks but it is absolutely critical to do if you want any chance of securing great weeks.
What requests do you have pending? What resorts / weeks have you received using Request First?
Doctor of Credit has been a very gracious supporter of The Timeshare Guru and has allowed me to post a number of articles on his site regarding timeshares.
I posted a complete guide to renting timeshares on his site which is a great resource for those looking to rent timeshares. I definitely encourage you to review the guide and to frequent the Doctor of Credit's website. His blog is the preeminent place to find bank account deals and has a lot of great travel deals as well as credit card deals.
Make sure to leave comments below if you have alternative sources or other tips and tricks to rent timeshares for cheap!