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.
One of the perks of vacationing in timeshares is that the accommodations usually have a full kitchen with all the tools and necessities to be able to cook. Instead of being stuck in a resort and paying for $20 hamburgers, you can save a lot of money by cooking within the timeshare.
We have all been to resorts where the food and drinks are outrageously priced but you have no choice but to pay the prices. Food and drinks can easily make up a significant portion of the budget.
While being able to cook in the timeshare is one important draw of timeshares, the downside is the inevitable supermarket run that you need to do. The supermarket run can take hours away from your precious vacation time. In addition, almost always, there are leftovers that simply go in the trash.
Even with the leftovers, cooking some meals on vacation can literally save you hundreds of dollars. However, my family has been using a service called Hello Fresh which sends you, via UPS, a box of food with the specific amount of ingredients and portion size to cook excellent meals.
Hello Fresh provides everything you need to cook the meals with the exception of perhaps oil or salt and pepper. It gives you detailed instructions with pictures on how to prepare and cook the meal. Most meals will take between 30-45 minutes to prepare and the food has been terrific.
We have been very happy with Hello Fresh. Although we do not use it every week, we have been happy with the food and quality of the meals.
After getting these boxes for a few weeks, it occurred to me that this is absolutely perfect for timesharing! Instead of going to the supermarket and spending you precious vacation time planning for various meals, you can arrive at the resort with a box of food ready for your use.
The box comes with freezer packs and stays good for at least a couple of days in not more. The package the food very well. You can schedule the delivery on the certain days so you can have it arrive on the day of check-in. You can also pick the specific meals that you want to cook.
This will avoid overbuying of groceries, planning for various meals and will save you hundreds of dollars so you can avoid having to eat out for all your meals.
Before going forward with this, I would make sure to call the resort and see their policy on accepting packages. Most will do so without issue but some might have an issue so it is best to call ahead.
In addition, I would try it out at home first to make sure that you like it so there is no disappointment on vacation. There is no obligation to continue and you can skip as many weeks as you like. This is only for the continuous US so this program will not work internationally.
Another perk of signing up is that you will receive $40 off your first delivery using this code:
With $40 off your first box, the first delivery for 3 meals for 2 people would only cost $30, less than the cost of one person's meal in a nice resort.
I think this is a great program and think that this can be highly beneficial for timeshare vacations.
Let me know what you think!
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As us timeshare owners know, planning for a vacation using a timeshare can be difficult as exchanges to prime resorts and weeks can be difficult. While request first, deposit first and ongoing searches can help with getting the desired week, the issue then becomes airfare. Airfare can make or break a reasonable vacation. There have been plenty of times that I was able to exchange into a very desirable resort only to find out that the airfares for the particular week were astronomical and quickly derailed that plan.
Southwest Airlines is the last airline that still has consumer friendly policies. Southwest actually allows you to cancel, change or revise your reservation for no change fees. This is drastically different that the other major carriers who charge significant penalties per ticket to make these changes.
If you book with cash, Southwest will allow you to change or cancel your flight for any reason and you will receive a refund for the full amount of your flight in travel funds. Travel funds are essentially vouchers where you can use the value of the travel funds to book trips for a year from the initial date of the reservation.
For timeshare planning, this is very helpful since you can make reservations before a the timeshare week is confirmed and if the week does not get confirmed or you end up booking a timeshare in a completely different destination, you can simply cancel the airfare and use the travel funds for another destination. This flexibility is why Southwest is essential when dealing with timeshare planning.
An even better method is to use Southwest Rapid Reward points. Rapid Reward points are Southwest's frequent flyer program. You can reserve flights using Rapid Reward points and you are still given the same flexibility as with cash. However, when you use Rapid Reward points for flights, first, they are free, and second, in the event you need to cancel, the points gets redeposited immediately so you do not need to worry about travel funds.
Travel funds can be difficult to keep track of since they are tied to confirmation numbers.
By using Rapid Reward Points, you can book speculative airfare for multiple trips for the same time period and see if and when a certain timeshare week becomes available. You have the ability to book flights in advance without worrying about a confirmed week knowing that you can cancel it at any time for a full refund of points.
Southwest has recently expanded its operations to various international destinations and these consumer friendly policies still apply.
One issue is whether Southwest services your area. If so, you are in luck. These policies and their free bag policies make Southwest a clear winner.
The other issue becomes on how to acquire the Rapid Reward Points. The fastest and easiest way is to apply for a Chase Southwest Credit Card. They currently are offering a sign up bonus of 50,000 points! Depending on where you travel and if wanna get away fares are available, this can get you 3-4 round trip flights.
I recently used points for my family of four to travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica for about 15,000 points round trip per passenger. That is an absolute steal!
In other posts, we can explore more about how frequent flyer points and hotel points are essential to acquire in order to make timeshare vacationing easier and more affordable. In addition, free flights are great and can save you thousands of dollars. Everything is better when its free!
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Parking at the airport can generally be a pain but more importantly can be very expensive. You are generally at the mercy of whatever the airports will charge to park your car.
I recently came across About Airport Parking which provides you the ability to review the rates at various airport parking lots and provides you the ability to reserve a spot. Many times the offered rates through About Airport parking will be less than the rates when you just show up.
In addition, About Airport Parking will show all available options as well as various services that are offered including self park or valet as well as whether the particular lots offer additional services such as oil changes or car washes.
It is definitely worthwhile to check the rates with About Airport Parking before you show up at the airport so you can compare and potentially save money by reserving ahead.
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For those you who do not know, Tripadvisor is an online review source that lets users provide reviews of hotels, vacation rentals, activities, timeshares and other activities. Tripadvisor is fairly mainstream so I doubt that I am providing any real insight into this tool. However, this is an absolute must for vacation planning. Tripadvisor provides unbiased reviews so you can see what travelers like you and I actually think about a particular resort. Many timeshare properties are located on Tripadvisor so you can see what people have to say about the resort before booking it. Interval and RCI both provide designations for the quality of the resort using designations such as gold crowns or Elite resort which are somewhat useful to understand the quality of the resort. However, Tripadvisor provides real reviews so that you can see what others are saying and provide you with excellent tips and tricks for the resort. Travelers can inform others on room recommendations, nearest restaurants or grocery stores, the availability of tours and activities and so on.
One trick that I recommend doing is to go to the reviews and filter them so that you can see all the "Terrible" reviews. I recommend doing this because a lot of the terrible reviews can actually provide useful information concerning the resort. Some terrible reviews are just people ranting for something uncontrollable or people wanting to receive some type of compensation from the resort for minor inconveniences that occurred while on vacation. However, sometimes, you can review the "terrible" reviews and the same theme will be discussed on each review. Sometimes, they complain that the beds are bad or the location is inconvenient. I personally think that the terrible reviews provide more information that the glowing reviews since you can see the particular problems that the traveler incurred at the resort and potentially see how the resort reacted to the situation. Many times it is the hotel reaction that provides the most insight on the quality of management or empathy of the staff. You can then make up your own mind on whether the traveler was being high maintenance or whether the issue that they brought up is a potential concern. However, I caution everyone that the reviews are just that, reviews and opinions. Opinions can differ greatly so somebody's great experience could easily be somebody's awful experience. Additionally, it is very important to get a feeling of who is writing the particular review. If you have a traveler that stays mostly at Four Season's resorts, their review of a Holiday Inn would likely be poor even if the Holiday Inn was stellar. In contrast, someone who normally stays at a Holiday Inn and goes to a Four Season resort would likely provide a glowing review even if there were inconveniences that a regular Four Season's traveler would find troublesome.
Tripadvisor has also branched out recently and you can now book hotel and vacation rentals directly with Tripadvisor. This is beneficial so that you can see what the "retail costs" are for these types of rentals and see whether booking direct or booking through the exchange company makes economic sense. Before exchanging, you should always do the math as sometimes booking directly instead of using the exchange could be economically beneficial and saving the timeshare exchange for better savings.
I always recommend reading the Tripadvisor reviews before booking. Hotel and timeshare photographs can be extremely deceiving so Tripadvisor provides a good way to get true feedback on the property.
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One of the perks of being a timeshare owner is the ability to make discounted reservations using cash at the the various resorts. Almost all timeshare companies provide this perk including Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and others. Today, I wanted to take a closer look at Hyatt's owner discount program. According to Hyatt:
As a Hyatt Residence Club member, you can enjoy priority reservations and discounts up to 40% on rental stays using cash instead of points. Reservations can be made at any time, and are subject to availability.
According to Hyatt, you can save up to 40% of rental stays. I have personally make reservations using this program and there can be some discounts to be had. In addition, as discussed in various other posts, it is rare that airfares and timeshare weeks line up exactly right. Sometimes, airfare costs differ by so much that it is worth it to arrive a day or two before the timeshare week starts or stay a few days later. Unfortunately, even though a lot of programs provide flexibility for these one, two or three night stays, the cost using points can equal or even surpass a week long stay. In most situations, it makes sense to book using cash.
While there are usually various hotels within the same areas as the timeshare, moving rooms or resorts is disruptive and generally a pain. While reserving a room at the same timeshare does not guarantee that you will not have to move rooms, most timeshares have the ability to keep you in the unit provided that the unit is not rented for the following week. However, it all depends on the resort.
OWNER DISCOUNT RESERVATION:
In order to make an owner discount reservation, you need be an owner with Hyatt. You can login to their portal at www.hyattresidenceclub.com. You can navigate to "reservations" and then you have the ability to choose whether you are looking at a single property or multiple resorts. In order to see what types of discount are really being offering, here are few results for random weeks during the week.
Residence at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek:
In doing a search for a two night stay, I find various open dates in September and October. Most are for three bedrooms but there are a couple of 2 bedroom units.
For example, I see a two night stay in a 2 bedroom unit for September 11 - 13th. Hyatt requires a deposit in the amount of $708.12 which is also the cost of the room for two nights. The price per night for the reservation would be $354.06 including all taxes and other fees.
In comparison, booking directly with Hyatt showing a room cost of $539.00 per night plus occupancy taxes of $118.47 and resort fees of $44.40 for a total cost of $1240.87.
In this example, booking through the Owner Discount Reservation portal would save $532.75 providing a total discount of 42.93%. This discount actually exceeds the stated discount amount.
While the room cost is still over $350 a night, this does provide you a reasonable discount off the public retail rates.
Hyatt Wild Oak in San Antonio
Hyatt Wild Oak is a very nice property located in San Antonio, Texas that is close by Seaworld. There are water slides, trails, and tons of kids activities. My family frequents this property a lot as it is a close drive for us and provides a nice little getaway from the everyday routine.
Using the same dates as above, (September 11- 13th), I found plenty of availability. September is one of the nicest months in Texas as it is still hot but the crowds have died down.
I found availability using the Owner Discount Reservation portal for a studio unit and a 1 bedroom unit:
STUDIO UNIT: Total for two nights $254.52 or $127.26 per night (including all taxes)
1 BEDROOM UNIT: Total for two night $324.56 or $162.28 per night (including all taxes).
In comparison, here are the results for booking directly with Hyatt:
STUDIO UNIT: Total for two nights $322.45 including city tax, occupancy tax, and resort fees or $161.22 per night
1 BEDROOM UNIT: Total for two nights $462.55 including city tax, occupancy tax, and resort fees or $231.27 per night
As you can see, there is definitely a discount for booking through the Owner Discount Reservation Portal.
The savings for the studio unit for this two night stay is $67.93 or a 21% discount.
The savings for the 1 bedroom unit for this two night stay is 137.99 or a 29.8% discount.
Overall, while these reservations do provide discounts off the regular retail rates, they still can be expensive especially when comparing the nightly rates to the effective nightly rates when using timeshare points or exchanging through an exchange company. However, that is not always feasible so if and when you need a couple of extra nights at the resort, the owner discount reservation can at least provide you with a reasonable discount off the retail rates.
Availability differs so even if you see availability at the Hyatt website, you will not always see availability using the Owner's Reservation Discount portal.
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Many timeshare owners have become disgruntled with the lack of flexibility of timeshares. Once you exchange through an exchange company, you are stuck with that particular unit or resort. While they indicate that you can cancel, you forfeit your exchange fee of either $179 for online bookings or $189 for over the phone. Depending on how far advance you cancel will depend on what type of replacement week you will be offering. Some replacement weeks have restrictions that only allow their use within 60 days of check-in. This can be severely limiting. In addition, you are then required to pay a new exchange fee. As you can see, cancellation can be costly.
Sometimes, a better unit becomes available at a better resort, airfare changes occur, family issues occur or some other item comes up where you need to change or cancel your reservation. In order to provide more flexibility to timeshare owners, Interval International came up with a feature called E-Plus.
This is truly a fantastic addition to Interval International. In addition to your exchange fee, you can pay a fee of $54 in order to be able to exchange your confirmed reservation up to three additional times for no additional fees. I have taken advantage of this program by completely changing destinations or changing resorts. It has been extremely advantageous and gives you much more flexibility that what you had in the past.
Additionally, if you confirm into a studio unit for a particular resort but really wanted a one bedroom unit, if one becomes available you can exchange into the 1 bedroom unit. If you are on points, you will be required to deposit the additional points but will not be responsible for an additional exchange fee.
You can elect to purchase E-Plus at the time of exchange or within five days after confirmation. If you use Request First or Deposit First, you can elect to pay for E-Plus at that time or within 5 days of confirmation of your week.
In order to utilize E-Plus, you will need to go into your exchange history, "My History" and navigate to the Exchange tab. If you purchased E-Plus, you will click on "Start E-Plus Retrade" in order to search within the current inventory. There is a box on this page that also indicates how many retrades remain for that particular deposit.
While E-Plus does provide a tremendous value since it opens up flexibility, one thing to consider is that you no longer have the opportunity to put in an ongoing request for a certain week or resort. Once you are confirmed into a week, you can exchange into other weeks through E-Plus but you are confined to current inventory and cannot set up an ongoing request that would automatically book you into the desired week or resort. Inventory constantly changes so you need to be diligent and constantly search.
Alternatively, you can sign up here and be on the lookout for fantastic exchange opportunities!
Overall, E-Plus is definitely an enhancement to timeshare exchanges as flexibility is becoming more and more of the norm. In the past, timeshares became to be viewed negatively since you were locked into the same week and resort year after year. The industry responded with the introduction of points and hybrid systems and continues to evolve in order to meet the demand of today's timeshare owners. E-Plus is another step in the right direction to provide greater flexibility.
As my father tells me, Fail to Plan is a Plan to Fail.
If money was not an issue, travel planning would not be an issue at all. You choose flights, irregardless of costs, and choose accommodations, irregardless of cost. Unfortunately, I do not have that luxury and most people do not as well.
Exchanging your timeshare can unleash tremendous value and you can end up staying in properties that far surpass the quality of your own timeshare or those available to you through the internal exchanges. While there are opportunities to make great exchanges, availability for specific weeks and destinations can be extremely hard to come by and may never become available.
The issue with vacation planning with timeshares is that you need to plan very far in advance. Some timeshare systems allow you to reserve weeks 2 years in advance of the actual week. Most people do not plan ahead and typically only plan vacations a few months in advance. As I will detail below, if you plan to exchange into prime weeks, this strategy may not work very much and you will quickly become disgruntled with timeshare ownership with the claim that your desired week, destination or resort never becomes available. The goal of my site is to help you avoid this fate and get the maximize value out of timeshare ownership.
Further complications with travel planning with timeshares involve airfare if you are traveling to a destination outside of driving distance from your home. Airfares fluctuate and destinations during prime travel weeks can easily far exceed the budgeted amount for the vacation. I personally use frequently flyer miles to get airfare for free but frequent flyer miles can be even more complicated than timeshare exchanging and having availability with free airfare along with the desired week and resort can be next to impossible. However, I have successfully navigated this system for many years and it is doable with diligence, planning, patience, flexibility and websites such as mine! In order to get the two goals to meet up requires a ton of time, work and flexibility. My goal is to give you some tips on how to navigate timeshare exchanging in order to get the desired weeks.
I will also detail some basic tips on how to get frequent flyer miles and use them to get airfare for free!
TIP ONE: PLAN AHEAD, WAY AHEAD AND BE FLEXIBLE:
The first tip is that you must plan ahead. One of my vacation rules is to always have a trip planned. This keeps me motivated to work and keeps me excited to see new destinations and spend quality with my family. Generally, I plan one year in advance and put in a Request First with Interval International or an internal request with one of my timeshare programs. (i.e Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, etc.) I put in a request with various top quality resorts around the world that I would like to travel to. You need to make sure that you choose the specific resorts that you want and not just put in a destinations. There are some crummy timeshares out there so you need to make sure that you choose the high quality luxurious ones. I make sure that the potential destinations have decent flight paths from my home airport so that I can make sure to only have one stop and to make sure that there are no overnight stays. We travel with young children so an overnight stay or more than one stop can be more difficult than desired.
Request First with Interval International is a great tool and highly recommended since their system will constantly check their system and automatically confirm you into the desired resort for the specific week. I always make sure to use E-Plus which provides three free exchanges for a one-time fee of $54. This is absolutely necessary for added flexibility as without E-Plus, the reservations are non-cancellable except for a large fee for cancellation as well as the re-booking fee. I will discuss E-Plus in more detail later but this is an absolute must to give you the needed flexibility to change destinations Many times I change destinations because nicer resorts become available or fantastic airfare deals become available.
SECOND TIP: HAVE A PLAN B
The second tip is that you always need to have a Plan B. Most hotel reservations allow you to make reservations and cancel up to 24 hours before check-in. Once I put in a Request First, I also review hotel options in the desired areas of travel. I will make a few speculative bookings for the desired weeks so that there are options for accommodations in the event that the timeshare accommodations do not come through. Booking directly through the major chains is preferable as they generally make it easy to reserve and cancel your reservations with a few clicks. While I highly prefer timeshares for many reasons, you need to make sure that there are viable hotel options. One of my favorite ways to have a Plan B is to use hotel points to reserve a week in the desired location. I can reserve a hotel room that is fully cancellable with hotel points so that the week will be free in the event that the timeshare option does not become available. I will explain in later posts how to arm yourself with hotel points so that you too can have this option.
THIRD TIP: USE INTERVAL GETAWAY ALERTS:
As discussed in this post (Getaway Alerts), I explained how to use Getaway Alerts on the Interval International App. I routinely populate various dates and times and become alerted when a desired resort and destination becomes available. As discussed, many times it is economically beneficial to reserve a week with cash instead of using your deposited weeks or points. In addition, there are some fabulous deals with Interval Getaways so a deal at a great resort may end up dictating the ultimate destination for your vacation. A great deal for accommodations may open up the budget for an increase in the price of airfare.
FOURTH TIP: USE HOPPER TO TRACK AIRFARE
The fourth tip is to populate the airfare searches using Hopper. Hopper was discussed in this post here and is a great way to easily monitor airfare. Since at this stage, you will not necessarily know the ultimate destination, you can put in multiple itineraries and Hopper will constantly monitor the cost for the flights. If one destination is significantly cheaper than another, you can opt in to booking the airfare at that time. Once you book airfare, you are generally locked in to the destination as change fees can be as high as $200-$300 per ticket so you need to make sure things are lined up with the timeshare or have a reasonable Plan B that you are prepared to use in the event that the timeshare availability does not become available.
Once your airfare is locked in, I would revise the request first to make sure that only the resorts in your request are for the destination desired. While you will have 24 hours to cancel it free of charge, if you miss this window, it can be problematic.
FIFTH TIP: USE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES IF POSSIBLE
Alternatively, if you are in destination that is serviced by Southwest, I highly recommend booking tickets with Southwest. Southwest is the only airline left that allows changes and cancellations free of charge. Southwest even allows you to receive travel credits if the price of the airfare goes down. Southwest will give you travel credits to use at a later date in the event your flight cost went down from the date you originally booked. However, there are a few issues with Southwest that should be understood. Southwest only opens its flight schedule for approximately six months in the future. Therefore, if you confirm into a resort a year in advance, you may not be able to book airfare with Southwest until six months from the trip. You will also be subject to the price of the trip once it opens up. While Southwest is known for its low fares, the prices for some trips and high demand weeks can be extremely expensive. The second issue with Southwest is relating to cancellations. Southwest does allow cancellations but the do not provide refunds. They provide you with a travel credit that must be used within one year from the initial reservation date. They also require you to keep the reservation number in order to access those travel funds. This does require a bit of record keeping and organization. The best method for Southwest is to use their Rapid Reward Points. Instead of booking with cash, you can use Rapid Reward Points and if you needed to cancel or change destinations, the points are immediately redeposited to your account. I will explain this in later posts but for the purpose of this post, Southwest is a great airline to use when timeshare planning.
SIXTH TIP: USE AUTOSLASH
As discussed in this post here (autoslash), Autoslash is a great tool for rental cars. You can make reservations using Autoslash without any credit cards and they will track your rental to ensure that you receive the lowest price on your car rental. Since it is conceivable that you have many potential destinations for the trip, you can make multiple reservations for the same week. Do it as far in advance as possible and autoslash will do the rest to make sure that the cost of your rental car is the lowest.
SEVENTH TIP: CONTINUE MONITORING AIRFARE, HOTELS AND TIMESHARES AFTER CONFIRMING
Going through these various steps seem exhausting but once you get a system in place and have alerts set, it becomes on autopilot and just requires monitoring. The key is that once everything is booked, that you continue to monitor everything to make sure that there are no unintended surprises. I try to book my airfare 330 days in advance which is when most airlines open their schedules. When I book this far in advance, airlines continue to make schedule changes throughout the year. Many times, the reserved flight path changes, times are altered or non-stop flights all of sudden require a stop. These can completely derail all the travel planning put forth above and could require a complete re-do of everything above. This is why is is highly beneficial to continue to monitor all these items to make sure everything is on track. You do not want to be surprised on the check in date that your flight now requires an overnight stay. Also, while schedule changes with airlines can be problematic, most if not all airlines allow you to re-book or cancel your flights for no charge or fees if the airline make a schedule change that impacts the travel time by greater than two hours. In other posts, we can discuss schedule changes and how to use them for your advantage but for the purpose of this post, you need to monitor your airfare. Airlines will generally inform you of schedule changes but those e-mails may go to spam or simply be missed.
In writing this post, I realize that travel planning can be daunting and difficult. Working with timeshares adds even more complexity. These tips are meant to allow my readers to begin using these tools and becoming informed on how these tools can help alleviate these issues and obtain the desired weeks and resorts within a reasonable budget. I highly recommend that you subscribe to my Guru Deals below so that you can be alerted to various exchange opportunities, travel deals, flight deals and other opportunities to allow you to travel to luxurious destinations for a fraction of the retail cost. Travel planning as described above may not be for everyone so when airfare deals become available, I will try to include some options for timeshares and see how you can easily book quality weeks for reasonable costs and avoid all the steps above!
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As mentioned in other posts found here, one way to get tremendous value out of your timeshare ownership is through Interval Getaways.
Interval Getaways are weeks made available to members of Interval International with a cash price instead of using your points or deposited week. These weeks tend to be highly discounted. Interval Getaways can save you a tremendous amount of money if they can work with your vacation schedule.
As recently posted, there are weeks available at Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort for as low of $157 for a seven night stay in a studio unit. These types of deals can make sense to use even if you are only using a few nights out of the seven-day reservation. For example, a one night stay at the Westin Lagunamar for the night of September 9th is $182.29 as quoted via Priceline.
Room Cost $154.17
Room Subtotal $154.17
Taxes & Fees $28.12
Total Charges $182.29
You can reserve an entire week for less than it costs to rent one night!
Interval Getaways inventory is constantly changing so it requires multiple searches per day to look for a desired week. This quickly becomes aggravating and prime weeks that appear in Interval Getaway’s do not last long.
Prime weeks that become available can only last seconds so if it is the desired resort and week, you need to book it immediately. Interval International has offered an app for download through Apple’s App Store.
The app was not a very useful tool in the past but they have upgraded its capabilities and now offer Getaway Alerts.
Getaway Alerts allow you to enter in specific dates, resorts and/or locations and the app will alert you when a match is found. The app will notify you on your phone or tablet that a specific week has become available for purchase. Once notified, you can continue on to purchase the specific week for cash instead of having to use your points or deposited week.
Depending on the price of the Interval Getaway, purchasing a week with cash may be a better option that using the deposited week or your points.
For example, as discussed here, one of my maintenance fees for a 2-bedroom unit costs $1207.46. If I wanted to exchange the 2-bedroom unit for an alternative 2-bedrooom unit, my total cost for the week would be $1386.46. Instead of using this week as an exchange, I could elect to pay cash for a week for an available Interval Getaway.
As I write this post, I see a fantastic getaway available for the Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove in St. Thomas for the week of September 9, 2016 in a 2-bedroom unit. The cost for this week is $547.00 for a Basic Interval Member, $522 for a Gold Interval Member or $497.00 for a Platinum Interval Member. Assuming that I am just a Basic Interval Member, I would pay $547 for this week and still have my 2-bedroom unit available for trade.
In comparison, if I used my 2-bedroom unit to trade into this Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove week in September, my out of pocket cost is essentially $1386.46 since I used my week. In this example, booking the Interval Getaway saved me 60% and I still have more opportunities to use my week and points.
While I still have to cash for the week, it can make economic sense to use cash and save the points or deposited week for other better opportunities that can offer more savings.
One important item to consider when booking Interval Getaways are that these are completely non-refundable and non-cancellable reservations. Interval is very strict in this respect. In exchange for these tremendous values, you are not able to make any adjustments.
However, Interval Getaways can be used for friends or family by issuing a guest certificate. There is a fee of $59 for the issuance of a guest certificate or you can become an Interval Platinum member and receive free guest certificates. Interval Getaways offer great opportunities to bring friends or family on vacation or to introduce friends and families to timeshare vacations.
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As with any travel planning, the cost of airfare can dictate whether a destination is doable or too expensive. As a family of four, I need to contend with the price of 4 tickets. A $300 ticket quickly equates into a $1200 bill. If you travel, you understand that the price of airline tickets vary daily and can change multiple times per day. Having to keep checking the cost of flights quickly becomes a burden. Enter "Hopper". Hopper is a fairly new app that I have been using for a few months now. You enter in the origin, destination and departure date and return date. Hopper than asks if you would like to track the flight. It gives you predictions on whether the fare will rise or fall and will make a recommendation to purchase it now or wait. You can track multiple trips at once so it is a very handy tool. For example, if I want to travel during Christmas week but I am flexible with my destinations, I can enter in Hopper various destinations. Hopper will keep track and alert me of changes in airfare. If one of my destinations becomes very affordable, I can book that fare and begin the process of finding accommodations.
I definitely recommend taking a look at Hopper. It is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play.
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