Guest Post from the Fit Well Traveler: What to Gift the Traveler with this Holiday Season and Beyond!
Message from The Timeshare Guru: As much as I try to get out great content about a wide variety of subjects that my readers may find interesting, I simply cannot be an expert in everything. I have been lucky enough to have readers that are engaging and offer to write interesting posts about timeshares and other travel relating topics. I highly encourage you to reach out if you would like to have a guest post featured.
For this post, The Fit Well Traveler, has provided us with some great information on some great ideas for holiday gifts for travelers. While this post is a bit past the "holiday" season, this general premise of these gift giving ideas are timeless. Additionally, for all of those readers who received gift cards this holiday season, this is actually a great time to go out to use those gift cards for a lot of great presents, usually at discounted rates.
My personal favorite time to shop is just past January 1st where everything seems to go on sale at highly discounted rates.
If you did not receive what you want, want to exchange some gifts or want to add on to some gifts you have already given, this can give you some great ideas.
I hope that you find this article interesting and make sure to check out his blog -FitWellTraveler and show your support. Thank you!
Guest Post from the Fit Well Traveler:
If you’re looking to add gift ideas for the traveler in your life to your shopping list, look no further. Here are some tips and suggestions on what to get the fearless voyager this holiday.
Stuff their stocking with travel size cosmetics, hand sanitizer, tissues, lint rollers and umbrellas. Compression socks, a neck pillow and sunglasses also always make travel days easier, and when in doubt an airline gift certificate will allow them to go anywhere they want.
World of Hyatt Status: As a World of Hyatt Member, what perks will you receive at Hyatt Residence Club Properties?
As a follow up to my post on Marriott Elite Status, I wanted to explore the various perks associated with Hyatt's World of Hyatt program and what to expect at its portfolio of Hyatt Residence Club Properties.
As you may know, Hyatt completely overhauled its Hyatt Gold Passport program in early 2017 and revised the program to be the World of Hyatt.
The World of Hyatt program changed a lot and there has been a decent amount of ridicule for the logo (see below) as well as their chosen name designations for the level of status.
Instead of the general way that most programs name various tiers by using names of precious metals or valuables, (ie. bronze, gold, diamond, sapphire, platinum, etc.), Hyatt chose to create levels using the names Member, Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist.
Without knowing the program, just by their names, you would not know the difference in tier levels. Fortunately, despite their awful names, they have provided a decent chart that shows you the various benefits that one would receive based on the tier level.
As I discussed in my other post, achieving top tier status, Globalist, can come with various meaningful and significant perks. As I explained in that post, simply being a top tier Globalist will save me about $3,600 for a ten night stay.
Hyatt Residence Club
The Hyatt Residence Club is the timeshare portion of Hyatt's brand. While they share the Hyatt name, the Hyatt Residence Club properties operate significantly different than its hotel counterparts.
Benefits at the Hyatt Residence Club
As I explained in my previous post as well as shown by the chart above, having hotel status can be very worthwhile, depending on where and how often you travel.
Those with Hyatt status (Discoverist, Explorist, and Globalist), there are definitely a few great perks. Let's go through them one by one and see what applies to Hyatt Residence Club Properties.
Fortunately, even if you stay at a Hyatt Residence Club property, you can still earn World of Hyatt points. You will earn 5 points for every dollar that you spend. For those with status, you will receive a bonus of 10%, 20% or 30% with 30% being reserved for Globalist members.
Waiver of Resort Fee
One of the perks of using timeshares is that most properties do not charge resort fees. Some properties, even if they do charge resort fees for those individuals who book the timeshare resort directly, will not charge resort fees for those owners that either own with the brand or exchange through Interval International or RCI.
Unfortunately, if you use your World of Hyatt points or free night stays at a Hyatt Residence Club property, you WILL be required to pay any resort fees. Hyatt Residence Club properties are excluded from this standard perk. Disappointing for sure.
Suite Free Night Awards
For those who achieve top tier Globalist status, you will receive four suite upgrade awards to use at various properties, If you choose to book a stay at a Hyatt Residence Club property using cash or points and book directly, you WILL NOT be able to use those certificates to upgrade into a suite.
All Hyatt Residence Club properties do not have club lounges. Therefore, regardless of your status, there is no opportunity to use any club lounges.
For those properties like the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa which is a hotel and a timeshare property, unfortunately, you will not receive access at the Club Lounge if you book at the timeshare portion of the property.
Points and Cash Awards
Points and cash awards can be a great deal but unfortunately, are not valid at Hyatt Residence Club properties.
Nope! Unfortunately, regardless of your status, you will not receive any complimentary upgrades at Hyatt Residence Club properties. You will receive the specific room and room type that you booked! Your status will not help you here.
Upgraded Internet Access
Hyatt Residence Club properties do not offer this service so it is not available to anybody. I have personally never had an issue with internet at a Hyatt Residence Club property.
Late checkouts can be a very valuable perk depending on your departure schedule but regardless of your status, no late checkouts are provided for Hyatt Residence Club Properties.
Bottled water has been offered more frequently as a way to show guests that their resort fee is actually beneficial. Pay $25 or more per day and receive a free bottle of water daily. Insulting to your intelligence. The resort fee is ridiculous but do not even expect free water at your stay at Hyatt Residence Club properties. Not included!
Best Room Available
One of the best perks of having hotel status is getting complimentary upgrades. Unfortunately, this perk does not transfer over to Hyatt Residence Club Properties. You get what you book, regardless of status.
Guaranteed Room Availability
For some travelers who have to book at the last second, having guaranteed availability is an important perk. Unfortunately, Hyatt Residence Club's do not offer this either.
Guest of Honor Benefits
A fairly new benefit for Hyatt was its Guest of Honor benefits. If you held top tier status, you can make an award reservation for friends or family and they can receive all of your perks. In this case, don't make it at a Hyatt Residence Club property since they will not receive any of those nice perks.
Many Hyatt Residence Club properties offer free parking but those that don't, even those with top tier status with Hyatt will still have to pay. Free parking is NOT a perk that transfers over to Hyatt Residence Clubs.
Having gone through this entire list of various perks of achieving status with Hyatt, the ONLY perk that applies to Hyatt Residence Club properties is the ability to receive more points for your spend at the property - either 10%, 20% or 30%.
As discussed before, timeshares and hotels are both run and operated differently. They have different perks associated with them. By having status with Hyatt hotels, it does not provide you with any real benefits at Hyatt Residence Club properties.
Despite this, I still highly prefer timeshare properties mostly due to space, comfort, and full kitchen facilities. Most timeshares, unlike their hotel counterparts, do not nickel and dime their guests for every little things and generally include free parking for everyone as well as do not charge resort fees for actual timeshare owners.
If you are accustomed to the various perks associated with the hotels, it is important to realize that these perks do not transfer over to Hyatt Residence Club properties.
Have you ever received perks at Hyatt Residence Club properties? Make sure to leave comments below.
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?
Marriott Elite Status: As a Marriott Elite Member, what perks will you receive at Marriott Vacation Club Properties?
While I generally prefer traveling in timeshares, I definitely stay at my fair share of hotels. When I stay at hotels, elite status can sometimes make or break the experience. There are definitely some real perks and incentives to obtain status on various hotel brands. In another post, I will show you how I am saving close to $200 per day by having status at a hotel.
In this post, I thought I would explore Marriott Elite Status and what to expect when checking-in to a Marriott Vacation Club Property as a Marriott Elite Member.
Before we get to answering that question, we should look at the Marriott Elite Membership and see what you would receive when staying at Marriott properties.
** As you may or may not know, Marriott and Starwood completed a merger in 2016. As of now, there two loyalty programs will remain separate through 2018. After that, the details are sparse but if I had to guess, I would assume that their loyalty programs will merge into one.
For now, Marriott Elite Rewards operates independently and there are 3 levels of membership: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Silver is the lowest tier and truthfully not even worth talking about. There are some minor perks but nothing much.
Gold and Platinum can have some worthwhile perks. The main way that hotel loyalty programs want you to earn status is through night stays with the hotel chain. However, there are a few easy wins to get Marriott Gold Status through credit card sign ups. You can get Marriott Gold Status through applying for the American Express Personal Platinum Card as well as the American Express Business Platinum Card as well as a few other meaningful perks.
If you want to support the site, please apply through my link here:
If you stay at Marriott properties at all, having status can be worthwhile especially if it comes for free through your credit card account.
I have held status on numerous different hotel chains. I have held top tier status on Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt. The benefits of elite status are debatable but in some situations, I 100% agree that status can be worthwhile.
For the current Marriott program, there are few if any real benefits that differentiate between Marriott Gold and Platinum. I have held Marriott Gold Status for many years due to holding the American Express Business Platinum Card and think that it is a good perk of that card.
Having status can be beneficial and definitely encourage it if you know you will be staying at certain properties.
Marriott Gold Status:
Here are the general Marriott Gold Benefits:
Marriott Platinum Status:
Marriott Platinum Status gives the same list above as well as the additional perks:
Marriott Status at Marriott Vacation Club Properties:
The general perks outlined above have many exclusions based on the brand of the property. Each brand has its rules and exclusions. Here is the complete list of Marriott branded hotels:
The purpose of this post was to explore what types of perks you can expect when you have Marriott status at Marriott Vacation Club Properties.
Again, here is the complete list of perks that you would receive as either a Marriott Gold Member or a Marriott Platinum Member when staying at Marriott hotel properties:
Here is the complete list of perks that you would receive as either a Marriott Gold Member or a Marriott Platinum Member when staying at Marriott Vacation Club Properties:
AND THAT'S IT.
Basically, as a Marriott Gold or Platinum Member, you will receive 500 bonus points upon check-in and 10% discount on gift shop purchases.
You will not receive complimentary upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, early check-ins, food and beverage perks, or other types of "perks" that you may expect to receive at hotel properties.
As I stated at the beginning of the article, I really enjoy having hotel status at various hotel chains. The biggest perk for me is generally the free breakfast and occasional room upgrades. Depending on the resort, free breakfast is a very meaningful and appreciated perk.
As you can see, when I stay at hotel branded timeshare properties, you simply cannot expect to receive anything extra. Having hotel status at timeshare properties generally does not give you any additional benefits. I have never received an upgraded room at a timeshare property even though the timeshare property is close to empty.
Overall, timeshare properties operate very differently that their hotel counterparts. Many hotel branded timeshares will have the same luxuries of a hotel brand (soaps, bedding, furniture,decor, etc.) but will exclude many of those perks that you may expect from having elite status with a hotel.
Despite this, timeshares have their own perks that, in my opinion, far exceed the perks of having "status".
What has your experience been with checking-in to timeshare properties with elite status?
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?