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.
While there are many things to consider if you actually want to own a timeshare, one easy question to ask yourself is whether you are a Christmas week traveler?
What I mean by this is whether you will want or need to travel over the standard Christmas break that generally occurs from December 21st through January 2nd of each year.
Prior to having kids, I HATED traveling this week and generally avoided it at all costs. Flights were expensive, hotels are overpriced, restaurants are booked and everywhere was busy.
Now that I have kids, we are somewhat forced to travel with these crowds as if we do not travel during Christmas break, there is very little time throughout the remainder of the year when there are any decent size breaks where it makes sense to travel far.
Christmas week is a tough week to travel as almost the entire world has off during this time or this is when most people take vacation time since you can use fewer vacation days and combine them with the national holidays to get a good chunk of time off.
Since most people travel during this time, most people will plan far in advance in order to get there desired resort. Additionally, many people who purchased Christmas week at whatever resort they own at will likely use that week. Therefore, the timeshare inventory during this time is sparse.
As I wrote about here, my particular strategy for Christmas break last year DID NOT work as I did not get Christmas week despite putting in a request a full year in advance.
Key Consideration Prior to Considering Timeshare Ownership:
I try to be very transparent and explain that timeshare ownership is NOT for everyone. Timeshares have significant issues and the systems are complicated. However, I think that a simply question to ask yourself on whether you are a Christmas week traveler is a solid question to consider prior to ever consider being a timeshare owner.
If you purchase a timeshare solely to exchange (my particular strategy) and you want to travel during Christmas week in popular destinations (Hawaii, Ski destinations, Disneyworld, etc.), you are likely to be disappointed with timeshare ownership.
Getting high quality resorts during Christmas week is incredibly difficult and even when I plan a year or two in advance, I rarely succeed in getting my top pick for this week.
Strategy for Hotel Points:
As I have explained in other posts, I think that it is extremely important to have hotel points in order to maximize timeshare ownership. The general strategy that I have discussed previously was to book a hotel using points (generally fully refundable) and then proceed to put in a request for a timeshare at that destination. If the timeshare does not get confirmed, you still have a hotel room for "free" since you used points.
Once easy way to get a ton of points is through credit card signup bonuses. I wrote about one particular offer here which is a very solid deal.
This particular strategy has been very useful to me but is EXTREMELY important for Christmas week travel. Getting rooms with hotel points can be difficult as well so you need to book far in advance for Christmas week but hotel rooms are generally available even in the most desirable locations if you plan far enough in advance. Since the rooms are generally refundable, you still have flexibility and you can attempt to receive a timeshare for Christmas week.
If you are a Christmas week traveler, meaning that you typically only travel during Christmas week or potentially one other week during the year, timeshare ownership is probably not the best for you. While I have had success in getting some great Christmas weeks through exchanges, these are not guaranteed and it is actually quite rare to get top quality resorts during this time.
However, if you are not just a Christmas week traveler, timeshare ownership can be a great tool to travel for cheap. The week before Christmas and the week after Christmas usually has tons of availability at high quality resorts. If you are flexible for your vacation time, you can do very well with timeshares.
My goal is to keep showing you how!
What are your thoughts on traveling during Christmas week?
As I mentioned in this recent post, I just purchased a second Hyatt timeshare at the Hyatt Beach House. In that post, I went through some details on what I own and why I made those choices.
As I mentioned in that post, the Hyatt timeshare that I purchased ended up being the second one that I tried to purchase since Hyatt exercised its right of first refusal.
What is a Right of First Refusal?
For those of you who don't know, a right of first refusal gives the timeshare company the right to purchase your timeshare before you can sell it to a third party. There are various reasons on why most timeshare include a right of first refusal but the one most generally used by salesmen are that it keeps resale prices up since anything that will potentially be sold for a significant discount will not pass the right of first refusal and the timeshare company will purchase it back.
There is some "truth" to that statement but I think that the general reason that most timeshares have the right of first refusal is so that the timeshare companies can essentially control the resale market. I can dig into this more in other posts but for this post, I wanted to explain what I learned during my process.
My Attempted Purchase
My strategy is to always make a low ball offer for any timeshare. You may lose some but you can end up purchasing one for a tremendous discount from "retail" pricing.
The first Hyatt timeshare that I attempted to purchase was listed on Discount Timeshares. I found a low priced week that equated into 2000 Hyatt Residence Club points and contacted them to make an offer.
I ended up making a low ball offer of $50.00 for this particular timeshare and after some back and forth, the seller agreed on this price. The going rate for a similar week on eBay was somewhere around $2,000-$4,000 so I thought I got a great deal.
In a separate post, I will put together a complete guide to purchasing a timeshare on the resale market. As part of the process, the seller or its broker, must submit paperwork to Hyatt which details the terms and conditions of the purchase and the price for the week.
Hyatt Resale / Transfer Procedures:
Once Hyatt receives this paperwork, they have 30 days (15 for the Grand Aspen and Kaanapali) to inform you of their decision.
Here are the specific transfer instruction provided by Hyatt:
If you decide to sell your interval on your own or through a resale company, please follow these three easy steps:
For this particular purchase, while the purchase price was $50.00, I was obligated to pay for the transfer fee and the closing costs. The total out of pocket cost for me was about $1,200. When Discount Timeshares submitted paperwork to Hyatt, they indicated that the purchase price was $50.00. This was accurate but as described below could have been structured in a more favorable way to benefit both the buyer and seller.
After around 30 days, I was informed that Hyatt DID exercise their right of first refusal and Hyatt succeeded in buying this timeshare out from under me for a purchase price of $50. Hyatt will likely now include this week in their new Portfolio Program.
The seller of the timeshare probably did not care either way as he or she was successful in selling the timeshare and getting out of the annual obligation to pay for the maintenance fees.
For me though, it was disappointing as $50.00 or $1,200 (when including the fees) for this week was a very good price. Once this occurred, I began my search for an alternative week.
As I mentioned in my other post, upon trying to make additional offers for similar timeshares, the representative from Discount Timeshares refused to remit my low offer to a seller despite being obligated to remit ALL offers.
Since Discount Timeshares receives a commission for their sales based on the purchase price, I believe that they refused to do so in an effort to increase their own commissions despite it not being in the best interest of the seller who can make their own decision on whether the offered price was satisfactory or whether they should hold out for better offers.
As a result of this experience with Discount Timeshares, I would NOT recommend them for future purchases.
What I Learned in this Process:
For Hyatt resales, my understanding is that they have some formula or metrics in which they determine what weeks / resorts to repurchase. They will not disclose these items.
For me, when I attempted to purchase an alternative Hyatt week (which I succeeded), my strategy was to attempt to increase the submitted purchase price as high as possible while still having a low purchase price.
For my second attempt, my offer of $2,000 was significantly higher than the original $50.00 attempted purchase but unlike my first offer, I had the seller be responsible for the transfer fee ($650) and the closing costs ($500). Additionally, as part of the offer, I indicated that I would pay for maintenance fees that had not been paid for the current year ($1250) and would be responsible for one additional year of maintenance fees ($1250).
Therefore, when they submitted the purchase price for this week, they indicated that the purchase price was approximately $4500 instead of the $2000 that I paid since I indicated that I would pay the current year and future year maintenance fees.
The reason to structure this in this manner was if Hyatt exercised their right of first refusal for this week, they would have to pay the seller $4500 as this was technically my offer even though it was somewhat disguised through transfer fees, closing costs, reimbursement of maintenance fees (past and future).
Therefore, to compare my first attempted purchase to the second attempted purchase, my original offer price was $50 versus about $850 - definitely higher but not transparent as offering a set amount and having the buyer be responsible for various fees.
From this experience, if you need to submit a purchase price where a timeshare company has a right of first refusal, I would try to have the purchase price be as high as possible by having the seller be responsible for all the various ancillary fees (transfer fees, closing costs, recording fees, existing maintenance fees, etc.).
By presenting the purchase price as high of possible by including the fees and by indicating the obligation to pay maintenance fees in advance, you can present a legitimate purchase price to the timeshare company at a price point where there is less risk to them exercising the right of first refusal.
In most resale transactions, the timeshare company probably does not have to pay itself any transfer fee and probably has little to no expenses for closing costs. If the buyer is responsible for these fees, they cannot include it in the purchase price.
The obligation to reimburse the seller or the obligation to submit the maintenance fees for the current or future years will be the buyers responsibility in almost all cases but you can include them in the purchase price submission so that the timeshare company would be obligated to remit them to the seller if they exercised their right of first refusal.
By structuring a purchase price in this fashion, there is less risk of the timeshare company from exercising their right of first refusal and this structure can even benefit the seller as if the timeshare company actually exercises their right of first refusal, they would receive more funds than if the right of first refusal was not exercised.
Overall, I think that this can be a win-win strategy for a buyer and seller and decreases the odds of the timeshare company from exercising their right of first refusal.
What do you think of this strategy? Have you lost any timeshare purchases to a right of first refusal? Leave your comments below!
Reader Questions: My Personal Timeshare Strategy for Purchasing Timeshares (Details, Pricing and Sources Disclosed)
As I have stated before, one of the reasons that I started this blog was that I get tremendous value out of our timeshare(s) and absolutely love and actually prefer staying in timeshares. Most people cringe at the word "timeshare" so I figured that I was doing something right with my ownership and thought that others can share in my knowledge and learn from the various strategies that I implement.
In this post, a reader, Jonathan, asked me the following:
Before I answer these questions, I wanted to thank my reader Jonathan for asking these questions. I think that it is important that I provide information that my readers actually want to read rather than what I "think" you want to read. If you have any questions, please reach out directly and I will do my best to answer them. A few other readers have reached out and I will be getting to their questions in time!
Let's take these one by one.
What timeshares do I own?
I currently own three timeshares. I own 2 weeks at the Hyatt Beach Club which is part of the Hyatt Residence Club. I own a third timeshare in Sedona, Arizona that I inherited through my grandfather. The Sedona, Arizona timeshare is a fairly recent acquisition as is the second week at the Hyatt Beach Club.
How much did I pay?
I own Week 47 at the Hyatt Beach House and just acquired Week 25 at the same property. My first purchase of week 47 was in 2006 (before the Great Recession) and I paid $6500.
The second week at the Hyatt Beach House, week 25, was just completed last week and I paid $2,000.
Why did I purchase these timeshares?
My First Hyatt Week:
In early 2000's, I became interested in the world of frequent flyer miles and hotel points. The easiest way to accumulate these points was through credit card offers. I took advantage of many of these offers and I was able to travel around the world for free in very nice hotels while I had a very limited income.
In 2006, I moved to Austin, Texas and received an timeshare solicitation offer for the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio, Texas. My girlfriend, (now wife) and I ending up taking them up on their offer to spend a weekend at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in exchange for the standard 90 minute presentation offered.
We had been to a few other timeshare presentations and while intriguing, they never seemed to make complete sense to me. Plus, we were broke and were both beginning careers where we had limited vacation time.
The Hyatt presentation was fine and they showed me the exchange chart. When I saw the exchange chart, I realized that, like frequent flyer miles and hotel points, there were opportunities to maximize your points in order to travel for multiple weeks while only owning one week. I studied the chart and saw that there was value to be had, if used properly.
The salesperson offered me a package somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000. Being broke, these numbers were simply out of reach but this was the beginning of my interests in timeshares.
I had been an active user on Ebay at this time and began looking at various auctions for timeshares. Similar Hyatt weeks that they were offering to me were selling for a fraction of the cost. I negotiated with several buyers and ended up contacting a real estate broker who was able to get me a "deal" on my first timeshare for $6500.
This was in 2006 while the economy was doing very well. I ending up purchasing that week which came with 1300 Hyatt Residence Club points. In 2008-2012 period, my timeshare week was easily selling for $1.00 on eBay as the timeshare market completely dried up.
The reason that I purchased a Hyatt was that I saw value in their exchange chart for those travelers who can travel during off peak times AND they had a stellar property about an hour away from me (Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch). I knew that in those years that we may not travel, at least I had an easy destination to go to where I could use my timeshare.
My Second Hyatt Week:
I just completed the purchase of my second Hyatt week at the Hyatt Beach House. The fact that this occurred at the Hyatt Beach Club was simply a coincidence. I have NEVER been to the Hyatt Beach House and probably will never go (well see...).
Unlike during my first purchase, I am definitely a lot more knowledgable about timeshares. I now have 2 small kids and I knew that I needed more points in order to travel in 1 or 2 bedroom units as often we do.
If you read this blog, I currently tend to maximize our travel by staying in studio units. While they are more spacious than hotels, the kids are getting bigger and we simply need / want more space. My current week does not give me enough points to travel as frequently as we do in larger units.
Hyatt's New Program
As you probably know, Hyatt recently released information on the Hyatt Portfolio Program which is a strictly points based system. I attended a presentation on this new program and it seemed to be similar to the existing program but cost A LOT more with only a few extra perks.
I have been extremely happy with my Hyatt purchase since Hyatt Residence Club points have a very favorable exchange rate through Interval International and can also have very favorable uses for 2 or 4 night stays within the Hyatt Residence Club properties. 3 night and 7 night stays are generally costly and tend to shy away from those exchanges if possible.
Since I was happy with Hyatt, I thought that I would purchase another Hyatt week. Also, with the new program being rolled out, the "legacy weeks" would start being diminished as Hyatt exercised their right of first refusal. I thought that while there were ample legacy weeks available, I would purchase another Hyatt week.
The specific property did not really matter as long as the purchase price was low, the maintenance fees were low and the week came with a decent amount of points.
New Hyatt Chart
A few months ago, Hyatt changed the exchange chart and increased the value of many Key West properties and a couple Florida properties.
In that post, I explained that my existing week, Week 47 at the Hyatt Beach House increased from 1300 points to 2000 points. This was a tremendous win for me as instead of being able to get about 3 weeks in a studio unit while only owning 1 week, this gave me the ability to get approximately 4 1/2 weeks in a studio unit with only owning 1 week.
Since the points valued changed for certain weeks, many existing owners or resellers did not immediately change their pricing. Hyatt weeks that equate into 1300 points do not sell for very much but Hyatt weeks that sell for 2,000 points generally have a decent resale value. The reason is that 2,000 points can get you into most Hyatt properties during peak times. 1300 points is somewhat restrictive in the internal Hyatt system but can be "enough" for those who want to trade exclusively through Interval International.
Due to this unique situation, I spent a decent amount of time looking for these Hyatt weeks that changed point values in the hope of getting a bargain. Many timeshare owners or resellers simply are not well versed in the intricacies of the programs and probably did not realize the overnight change in value.
I attempted to purchase one Hyatt week that equated into 2,000 Hyatt points for a purchase price of $50.00 plus transfer fees ($650) and closing costs which equated to a total purchase price of about $1200. Unfortunately, Hyatt exercised their right of first refusal and bought that unit out from under me.
In a separate post, I'll explain what I learned from this experience and how I altered my strategy for my other purchase which passed Hyatt's Right of First Refusal at a purchase price of $2,000.
How did I find these timeshares?
As I mentioned, I found my first timeshare on eBay. While I located the timeshare on eBay, the seller was a real estate broker and ended up completing the purchase outside of eBay as they found another available week for me that was not listed on the eBay platform.
For my second Hyatt purchase, I definitely looked around eBay and found a few timeshare brokers and decent weeks. I bid on a few but lost the bids. In case you may have missed it, here is a post on how to get a good approximate fair market value for timeshares.
I came across Discount Timeshares on eBay and reviewed their website which lists various weeks. This was the company that I used for my first attempted purchase that did not pass Hyatt's Right of First Refusal.
I constantly reviewed their inventory and attempted to make offers on a few other weeks. I was working with one agent at Discount Timeshares and attempted to make a low ball offer (ALWAYS MAKE A LOW BALL OFFER!). She indicated that she would NOT make an offer as it was too low despite being obligated to extend ALL offers for a property to the actual seller. After calling them out on this shady practice, I ceased doing business with this company and would NOT recommend them.
The other company that I used is Sumday Vacations. I ended up going through the entire purchase transaction with this Company and had a decent experience. Stay tuned for a full post on this as I owe everyone a full guide to purchasing a timeshare on the resale market. I was waiting for my purchase to go through completely so that I had a full guide and timeline of the process.
What arbitrage opportunities do you think exist?
While timeshares are complicated, there are a ton of arbitrage opportunities that currently exist and many more that will develop over time as these programs change. I touch on many of these in the various posts concerning timeshare strategies.
I will expand on some of these opportunities over time but the best resale arbitrage opportunity that occurred or may still be available is the purchase of re-priced Hyatt weeks. While exchange charts may be revised each year, it is unique for a timeshare company to re-allocate points to existing weeks which drastically increases their value and use.
I have owned Hyatt for 12 years and this is the first time that this has occurred that I am aware of.
Some very low value weeks (1300 or 1400 points) immediately changed to some of the highest point weeks (2000 or 2200 points).
With just dumb luck, my existing Hyatt week went from 1300 points to 2000.
Due to this change, I wanted to find similar opportunities and luckily succeeded in getting a second 2000 point Hyatt week for only $2,000 (all transfer and closing costs included).
What am I going to purchase next?
I do not anticipate purchasing another timeshare for a while as I should be able to travel well with a combined point balance of 4,000 Hyatt Residence Club points per year and by using my existing credit card strategy for additional frequent flyer points and hotel points.
If I use these points for exchanging solely through Interval International (likely strategy), I should get 4+ weeks in a 1 bedroom unit or about 3 weeks in a 2 bedroom unit. This should be sufficient for most years while supplementing our travel with excellent Interval Getaways (cash price for stay), RCI extra vacations (cash price for stay) or potentially using Accommodations Certificates ("free" weeks from Interval).
However, when the time comes, I will likely purchase a Marriott week. I do not think that I will purchase Marriott Destination Club Points since they can be pricey and resales can be difficult to find but will likely purchase a legacy week. The reason for this is so that I can exchange the Marriott week into Hyatt properties. This is a strategy that I touched on before but will go into further detail in other posts.
Essentially, there is a arbitrage opportunity where Marriott legacy week owners (and other non-Hyatt owners) are able to get favorable Hyatt properties for much less points / trading value than what Hyatt owners will have to use when trading through the internal system. More to come on this later.
A big thank you to Jonathan for posing these questions. I hope that my thought process and these answers are valuable to other readers to understand why I own what I do.
What are your questions? Ask below in the comment section.
Hyatt Elite Status: Perks of being a Globalist - A look at some very valuable perks on a upcoming stay to Andaz Maui
In my previous post, I explained what "perks" you would receive or rather, what "perks" you would not receive when having hotel status and staying at Marriott Vacation Club Properties.
As I stated in that post, while I do think that hotel status can be very worthwhile, you generally should not expect any such "perks" when staying at timeshare properties.
In this post, I wanted to share my details on an upcoming trip and explain how, by achieving Hyatt's Globalist status (top tier status), is going to save me a ton of money on an upcoming trip.
Before I get to the details, I wanted to take a moment to re-explain a timeshare strategy that everybody should use. In that post, I explained why hotel points are very valuable for timeshare planning.
Instead of going through all the details again, my point (no pun intended) was to explain that you need to have hotel points in order to book hotels very early, solidify your airfare so that you can reserve the cheapest flights and put in an ongoing search for a timeshare at that destination. By using this strategy, you can solidify your vacation plans while still being flexible for your accommodations.
Generally, I book a hotel using hotel points or at a reasonable rate with a generous cancellation policy, book non-refundable airfare or use frequent flyer miles and then put in a request for a timeshare at that destination.
If I get the timeshare, things work out great. If not, I hopefully either have a "free" hotel stay or at least a reasonable priced hotel stay while being able to to book cheap airfare or use frequent flyer miles.
With all that being said, I attempted to use this particular strategy this past year. This strategy FAILED ME!
It didn't work out exactly as planned but this is now the "worst case" scenario which is not bad at all!
As I discussed, last year around this time, I was able to book the Andaz Maui resort using points for ten nights over the Christmas holiday. This cost 25,000 points per night so this cost me 250,000 Hyatt points. This is a ton of points and truthfully did not want to spend this amount of points but was prepared to do so if needed. Hyatt points are very valuable and spending this much at one time was not that desirable.
By booking this early, I was able to reserve flights for my family of four using frequent flyer miles. In another post, I will explain the strategy that I used to get great flights to and from Hawaii and even used a great trick to get a free flight to Cancun!
Once I had this hotel reservation, I also put in a request first with Interval International to try to reserve Christmas week in Maui at either the Marriott or Westin property. Here is a recent post on how to use the Request First function.
There are other timeshare properties in Maui but I wanted to get the higher end properties. The Marriott Maui Ocean Club and the brand new Westin Nanea are two top tier properties.
As an aside, if you read this blog, you know that I am an avid Hyatt fan and own with the Hyatt Residence Club. Hyatt recently built the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach club which is supposed to be spectacular and likely on par or better than the Marriott and Westin properties.
I can explain this in more detail in another post, but it is actually more expensive for me, points wise, as a Hyatt owner, to get into the Hyatt Ka'anapali Beach Club than getting into the Marriott or Westin properties. The reason for this is the amount of points required for Hyatt owners as opposed to the beneficial exchange rates in Interval International.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post on why, as a Hyatt owner, choosing the Marriott or Westin property could be more beneficial.
It ended up that my request first never came through. Getting Christmas week is generally very hard and getting a top tier property in Maui during Christmas week is extremely difficult. As you can see, even The Timeshare Guru does not always get the most desirable weeks despite planning far in advance.
My New Plan
Since I had a reservation at a very nice property and I was able to book early enough to use frequent flyer points for free flights, we decided to keep our plans for Maui and spend the 250,000 points for a 10 night stay. It is a ton of points but the room rates for this period of time are actually $1600 PER NIGHT - absolutely astronomical.
While I would never pay these types of rates, by using hotel points, I am getting just about 6.5 cents per point out of this redemption at a Hyatt property. While this was not exactly how I preferred to spend my points, this is still a great deal. Now, I need to explain some other strategies on how to refill these Hyatt points.
Going back to the original premise of this post, I wanted to explain how having hotel status can be extremely beneficial.
This year, we have been doing a lot of travel, in both timeshares and hotels. We specifically have tried to stay at Hyatt properties almost solely due to this upcoming stay at the Andaz Maui during Christmas. I like Hyatt properties a lot but they revised their program in 2017 and it now requires 60 nights at Hyatt properties to receive top tier status called "Globalist". It is a horrendous name.
Somehow, through all of our travels, we were able to achieve this status and have currently stayed 61 nights in Hyatt properties this year. This required a lot of effort and money but the reason that we did this was to make sure that we received the various perks at the Andaz Maui.
Globalist status with Hyatt comes with various perks. In other posts, I may go through all of them but in this post, I wanted to explain how we are maximizing the most valuable perks and how much this will essentially save us.
Resort Fees are absolutely horrendous and they should be illegal and never be charged. I hate them with a passion and it is the most infuriatingly thing to spend hundreds of dollars a night on a hotel, only then be charged a mandatory resort fee in order to use a pool or get a bottle of water.
I absolutely despise resort fees and I know that a lot of people feel the same way. Despite this, hotels continue to charge them and there are fewer and fewer ways to get around them. Like most hotels, Hyatt has jumped on board the resort fee train and charges $40 a night at the Andaz Maui. This is IN ADDITION to the going rates of $1,600 per night (RIDICULOUS).
Hyatt members (all tiers) do not pay resort fees on award nights but only Globalist members do not pay resort fees on paid nights. In this situation, since I used points, even if I was not a Globalist member, I would not have to pay their absurd $40 a night resort fee.
Savings: $400 ($40 x 10 nights).
You would think that $1,600 nightly room rates would get you free parking. However, you would be wrong. Despite crazy expensive nightly rates, the hotel charges a parking fee of $35 per night.
Fortunately, Globalists now receive free parking at hotels and resorts that can be charged to a guest's room. I am almost 100% sure that you can charge parking to your room at the Andaz Maui so this is a nice perk and significant savings. Having a car on Maui is essential if you want to be able to explore the island.
Savings: $350 ($35 x 10 nights).
When I travel with my family and with my two young children, breakfast is by far the most important meal of the day. They wake up hungry and getting food immediately is necessary. Some hotel breakfasts have a lot to be desired. We have stayed at the Andaz Maui once before and their breakfast is phenomenal.
As you may recall, we spent 16 nights at the Andaz Papagayo resort in Costa Rica this summer and their breakfast was excellent.
When we stayed there, we all compared the breakfast to the Andaz Maui and my family was unanimous in chosing the Andaz Maui breakfast as the winner (the Andaz Papagayo breakfast is still awesome though). The food is spectacular and they a fresh juice station where you can request anything you want. They also have a good selection of Asian breakfast cuisine which is different and enjoyable. Stay tuned for a detailed post on their breakfast spread!
The worst part about the Andaz Maui's breakfast is the cost. They charge $47 per person, per day. Globalist members get free breakfast! (up to 2 adults and 2 children staying in the same room).
Savings: $1,880 ($47 x 4 people = $188 per day, $188 x 10 nights)
I would never spend almost $2,000 on breakfast for ten nights but it is the going rate. Even if you only eat it once, I would recommend it as a splurge.
As a Globalist member, you do receive 4 suite upgrade awards. You can reserve a standard room and if there is a suite available, you can reserve it in advance by using one of your upgrade awards. Each suite upgrade certificate is valid for 7 nights.
The suite upgrade awards are only given when you achieve Globalist status so ours did not get into our account until mid November. By then, availability was slim for any suite upgrades during Christmas week. Like timeshares, if you want a suite upgrade, you need to book extremely early.
Despite this time limitation and despite the hotel and reservations telling me no, I found a suite available for booking with cash during a portion of our stay and was able to convince them to apply a suite upgrade to 5 out our 10 nights. We will have to change rooms which is a pain but we now are staying in an Ocean View Suite for the first portion of our trip.
Hopefully, we will be able to stay in the same room for the entire stay but they have already downplayed this option.
I'll post details on this once we are there but the Ocean View Suite is twice as large as a standard room and has a separate living room space.
The hotel is basically sold out for this time frame so I cannot see the difference in price but I think it is fair to say that this is at least a $200 per night perk.
Savings: $1,000 ($200 x 5 nights).
One of the main reasons that we tried and did achieve Globalist status this year was due to this upcoming stay at the the Andaz Maui. I knew that there would be some very valuable perks that would make our stay more enjoyable and save us a ton of money. Even though I still actually prefer to stay in a timeshare, we are all very exciting about this stay. A post will definitely follow that will review this property.
As you can see, we are saving a ton of money on resort fees, parking, suites and breakfast.
All in all, I would say that we are conservatively saving just over $3,600 for our ten night stay based on the perks of being a Globalist.
If we add up the going rate for the hotel, the cash cost for this upcoming stay is close to $20,000. By using 250,000 Hyatt points, we are getting it for FREE!
We still haven't decided whether we will try to achieve Globalist status again next year as it did take quite a bit of effort, money and travel to do so. However, a lot will likely depend on how we get treated during our stays at Hyatt properties during this upcoming year. I generally get treated well at Hyatt properties so I will see the "difference", if any, of now being a Globalist member.
Hyatt's loyalty program has significantly changed this year and they just replaced the main person that leads the loyalty program. During each stay, we will continually assess whether these benefits are truly worth it or whether to focus on simply trying to stay at timeshares or focus specifically on cost and quality of the resorts instead of brands.
However, as you can see, there are some significant and real benefits associated with achieving Hyatt's Globalist tier level so having hotel tier status is not insignificant if you stay at hotel properties.
While I still truthfully would have preferred to stay in a timeshare property, this should be a great trip and demonstrates why elite status can be very important and why you need multiple travel strategies to travel well, often and affordably.
My timeshare strategy failed for this trip but as you can see, I still ended up planning a spectacular trip that essentially is FREE!
Have you stayed at this property? What are some of your most spectacular hotel redemption?
Timeshare Strategy: Buy a Trader (high quality, low maintenance fee week to trade in RCI or Interval International)
here are a lot of timeshare strategies that you can implement in order to get great weeks for very reasonable cost.
One potential strategy is to acquire a "trader". By trader, I mean purchasing a timeshare solely to exchange with the large timeshare exchange companies (RCI and Interval International).
The general idea is to purchase a timeshare that has high trading power within the exchange companies but comes with a low maintenance fee.
The trick is to find such a timeshare. Fortunately, there are a few good ones that can be very worthwhile.
As you can probably see, I am a big fan of Hyatt timeshares. Their current system is very advantageous for trading within Interval International.
As you can see in the chart below, it takes 1,300 Hyatt Residence Club Points to trade into a 2 bedroom. 1,300 Hyatt Residence Club points rarely gets you the ability to exchange into a two bedroom Hyatt property but easily gets you the ability to trade into high quality resorts such as Marriott's, Four Season's and various high quality independent resorts..
My first Hyatt timeshare purchase was a 1,300 point week. I used this week solely to exchange through Interval International. While I could not exchange into Hyatt weeks (you cannot trade Hyatts within Interval International, only through their internal system),
I used my Hyatt week to exchange into Marriott properties, Four Seasons, and other high quality resorts.
The lowest maintenance fee for Hyatt properties is generally found at Hyatt Pinon Point in Sedona, Arizona.
A very good strategy would be to acquire a 1,300 point week at Hyatt Pinon Point and use that week to exchange through Interval International. You can likely find some weeks on the secondary market that are very reasonable and come with a maintenance fee of less than $1,000. You can then use those points to exchange into a 2 bedroom unit through Interval International or break out those points and get two weeks using a 1 bedroom and a studio week or even 3 weeks in a studio.
This is a personal strategy that I have used and received tons of great weeks.
Starwood / Vistana:
Starwood / Vistana has some very nice properties. Once of the best traders in the Starwood program is the Sheraton Desert Oasis in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Sheraton Desert Oasis is a very nice resort that has reasonable maintenance fees. Starwood / Vistana properties trade very well through Interval International.
The one issue is that resales on Starwood / Vistana properties do not automatically come with Starpoints. Starpoints is the point currency that allows you to reserve internal or external exchanges.
If you purchase a week at the Sheraton Desert Oasis, it will not come with StarOptions so you will only be able to trade on a week basis - 1 week for 1 week.
Despite this limitation, you can easily use a 2 bedroom week with the Sheraton Desert Oasis and trade that for a 2 bedroom week in much more expensive or desirable locations.
Additionally, Interval International has a preference for Starwood / Vistana properties. If you own with Starwood / Vistana, you will be able to see other Starwood / Vistana properties before other Interval International members. By owning the Sheraton Desert Oasis, you would have the ability to get into higher quality Starwood / Vistana properites before others including the newest Westin Nanea in Maui, Westin St. John or the Westin Princeville Resort in Kauai, Hawaii. All top notch properties.
There are many timeshares that you can purchase and use solely as a trader. My favorite is Hyatt since you can reserve weeks within their internal program and also reserve weeks through Interval International. However, there are many timeshares than can qualify as a good trader depending on where and what resorts you desire to trade into.
What timeshares to you use as a trader? Please post below!
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?