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Any experience with SFX?

gnorth16

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I have booked a January week (19-26 2013) at SDO (B side) to deposit in SFX. Has anyone had any previous experience with SFX?

I wanted to try something besides II or the RCI portal with HGVC. What I liked was they considered the week I booked as prime (even though it is a 1-52 week float deed) and there is no bias (may be the same with II) with the B side...A 1BR is a 1BR.

Our search is being refined to Europe, possibly Italy or Spain and we are looking at May or June of 2013. They downside is that to book more than 9 months out, we need to upgrade our membership and the call center is only open M-F. As well there are no "placemarkers" like in II that let you do searches. I have to actually deposit something to see some availability.

There are a few other benefits with a prime deposit like 5 lifestyle bookings (similar to getaways?), a $250 vacation cash card, deposit extension and reinstating an expired exchange week.

Some comments? Experiences? Advice?

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Just found out they don't have anything in Italy...
 
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DeniseM

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I deposited once with SFX and was disappointed. Compared to II and RCI, I don't think they have much inventory.

Also, as you said, I don't care for their "behind the scenes" business model. Whether you get a trade or not seems to depend on whether you have a relationship with a particular Rep. who can give your request personal attention. Those who do, get great service from SFX.

I deposited my WKORV 2 bdm. L/O a year in advance, and requested 2 weeks in Kauai AT ANY RESORT, and they could only get one week for me. I had to rent the other week. With a prime deposit like WKORV - I expected better results.

With SDO - your strongest trading power will always be for Starwood to Starwood trades in II.
 
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presley

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I've been using SFX and have been very pleased. I did pay to join Platinum, in order to give me access to search weeks further out.

I've put 4 search requests in since early October and all of them have come through. I've also booked Lifestyles week off of the sell off list at really nice prices, like $149. for a week at Villa L'auberge in Del Mar, CA.

I actually don't have a particular rep that I deal with. Most of what I request, I request online and just deal with whoever calls me. I've had pleasant experiences with Oscar, Nathan, Jill and Elena. There are probably others, but those the ones I've talked to on the phone.
 

DeniseM

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Hi Presley - what did you deposit, and what did you get?
 

presley

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Hi Presley - what did you deposit, and what did you get?
I've made several deposits. The first was one bedroom WM Birch Bay July 4th week for which I exchanged into Wyndham Kona 2bed Thanksgiving week.

I deposited a spring break one bed Capistrano Surfside Inn and exchanged it for 2 bed Marriott Palm Desert - august - we actually like to do the desert in a the heat.

I have 2 more deposits sitting there without no current requests. One, a 2bedroom Grand Pacific Palisades Christmas week and the other is a July WM Solvang one bedroom.

With the promotions, one of my deposits was extended out to 12/2016. 3 of the deposits came with 5 lifestyles weeks, one came with 3. So, I've used Lifestyle weeks for Manhattan Club, January, Villa L'auberge and Riveria Resort and spa - all one bedrooms. So, I still have 15 weeks left, but they expire in 2 years, so most of them won't get used.
 

momeason

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I've made several deposits. The first was one bedroom WM Birch Bay July 4th week for which I exchanged into Wyndham Kona 2bed Thanksgiving week.

I deposited a spring break one bed Capistrano Surfside Inn and exchanged it for 2 bed Marriott Palm Desert - august - we actually like to do the desert in a the heat.

I have 2 more deposits sitting there without no current requests. One, a 2bedroom Grand Pacific Palisades Christmas week and the other is a July WM Solvang one bedroom.

With the promotions, one of my deposits was extended out to 12/2016. 3 of the deposits came with 5 lifestyles weeks, one came with 3. So, I've used Lifestyle weeks for Manhattan Club, January, Villa L'auberge and Riveria Resort and spa - all one bedrooms. So, I still have 15 weeks left, but they expire in 2 years, so most of them won't get used.
That is pretty impressive. I cannot get to NYC thru II.
 

presley

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That is pretty impressive. I cannot get to NYC thru II.
I think Manhattan Club is one the resorts that deposits weeks into SFX. I've read on the forums that it is pretty easy to get. In my case, I didn't need a specific week. I called in December and said that I needed New York for a family member anytime between today and March. The Jan. week was the first one that popped up.
 

Margariet

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I have booked a January week (19-26 2013) at SDO (B side) to deposit in SFX. Has anyone had any previous experience with SFX?

I wanted to try something besides II or the RCI portal with HGVC. What I liked was they considered the week I booked as prime (even though it is a 1-52 week float deed) and there is no bias (may be the same with II) with the B side...A 1BR is a 1BR.

Our search is being refined to Europe, possibly Italy or Spain and we are looking at May or June of 2013. They downside is that to book more than 9 months out, we need to upgrade our membership and the call center is only open M-F. As well there are no "placemarkers" like in II that let you do searches. I have to actually deposit something to see some availability.

There are a few other benefits with a prime deposit like 5 lifestyle bookings (similar to getaways?), a $250 vacation cash card, deposit extension and reinstating an expired exchange week.

Some comments? Experiences? Advice?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just found out they don't have anything in Italy...

Just to let you know: Lots of weeks available for May-June 2013 in Italy and Spain through RCI.
 

heathpack

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I have booked a January week (19-26 2013) at SDO (B side) to deposit in SFX. Has anyone had any previous experience with SFX?

I wanted to try something besides II or the RCI portal with HGVC. What I liked was they considered the week I booked as prime (even though it is a 1-52 week float deed) and there is no bias (may be the same with II) with the B side...A 1BR is a 1BR.

Our search is being refined to Europe, possibly Italy or Spain and we are looking at May or June of 2013. They downside is that to book more than 9 months out, we need to upgrade our membership and the call center is only open M-F. As well there are no "placemarkers" like in II that let you do searches. I have to actually deposit something to see some availability.

There are a few other benefits with a prime deposit like 5 lifestyle bookings (similar to getaways?), a $250 vacation cash card, deposit extension and reinstating an expired exchange week.

Some comments? Experiences? Advice?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Just found out they don't have anything in Italy...
The trick with SFX is whether they have resorts that you want. I went through the TUG top rated resorts for II's inventory and came up with a list of 135 resorts that I regularly search with.

I tried to go through the same process with SFX and came up with far fewer- maybe 10-20. SFX definately has NYC and London inventory that II does not have- but they will tell you that willingness to accept a studio will greatly increase your chances of matching, and quite honestly if I am willing to stay in a hotel room, I can stay with far more flexibility on SPG points. They have better SF availability than II (again with the "accept a studio" caveat). They do have Hawaii inventory, but not regular availability of high end properties like Marriotts or Westins. I tried a Hawaii exchange request listing only Marriotts and Westins, but I was advised it was iffy even with a Hyatt deposit. SFX has some good Mexico inventory, but not really better resorts than II. They supposedly have decent Vino Bello availability, I never tried it. Also California coast, also never tried it.

SFX also has upgrade fees for unit size unless you pay for a platinum membership.

I started another thread a while back about my opinion of the SFX bonus weeks- basically if you need to plan travel far out, they are too expensive. My thread caused quite a kerfluffle, with the SFX rep over yonder accusing me of spreading lies about SFX and stating that TUG is a source of misinformation. That was a pretty huge turn off for me, I am pretty much done with the idea of SFX.

So my bottom line recommendation is to deposit with II and have some idea of what you can get, unless you want something that SFX is particularly strong in, such as the ideas I mentioned above. Make sure you understand the pricing scheme for the lifestyle weeks and consider what their cost will be on the timeframe that you typically book. Also be aware that your cheapest bonus weeks are those you book on a short time frame, while you are waiting for that window to open up, your bonus weeks/lifestyle weeks are marching towards expiration, you may not be able to use some or all.

In the end, I deposited a diamond Hyatt studio (my MF cost ~$325), paid 3 years platinum membership ($300), made one exchange into Grand Mayan Los Cabos ($230 I think for exchange fee plus upgrade fee) shoulder season, got 2 bonus weeks I can't use. It was a barely acceptable value-about $855 in costs for the 2 BR unit.

Part of the reason I can't use the bonus weeks is because during that same timeframe, I deposited about 25% more Hyatt points (than the diamond studio I gave to SFX, MF cost ~$430), paid 1 exchange fee ($170), no II membership fee and obtained a 1BR shoulder season Grand Luxxe, plus the consecutive week at Westin Lagumar as an XYZ ($170). So for $770 in costs, I obtained 2 weeks at really nice resorts reserved on a timeframe that worked for me. For me, II just gives better value, plain & simple.
H
 

Margariet

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I started another thread a while back about my opinion of the SFX bonus weeks- basically if you need to plan travel far out, they are too expensive. My thread caused quite a kerfluffle, with the SFX rep over yonder accusing me of spreading lies about SFX and stating that TUG is a source of misinformation. That was a pretty huge turn off for me, I am pretty much done with the idea of SFX.

H
Informative posting! I know how you feel! I'm done with SFX and with that other TS board as well with all the censorship! I received a hysterical and emotional reaction from a very unprofessional SFX rep who accused me of accusing SFX to rent out weeks in London.
 

gnorth16

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As for now, I will not be completing the deposit with SFX. It would be great to be able to have a placemarker an use it to see current inventory and determine the strength of my deposit. From my understanding, once I deposit my week I cannot get it back and can only use it as a trader in SF going forward. If I cannot get matched with something in Spain (looks like II has better properties anyway) I don't want to get stuck with a deposit. At least with II, I have a good idea what instant exchanges I can pick up if my Europe plans don't line up.

Thanks for the help.
 

gnorth16

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Just to let you know: Lots of weeks available for May-June 2013 in Italy and Spain through RCI.
Through the RCI portal I only see 6 in Spain and 1 in Italy, none really interest me. I think it is too far out to be doing instant searches for May 2013. I could always put in some ongoing requests....
 

DeniseM

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Through the RCI portal I only see 6 in Spain and 1 in Italy, none really interest me. I think it is too far out to be doing instant searches for May 2013. I could always put in some ongoing requests....
You should definitely put in an on-going request. Remember the online inventory is the leftovers, after all ongoing requests have been filled.

However, with the glitches with the RCI ongoing requests (not working) you might be better off with II.
 

Margariet

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Through the RCI portal I only see 6 in Spain and 1 in Italy, none really interest me. I think it is too far out to be doing instant searches for May 2013. I could always put in some ongoing requests....
Just search with all available units (not with your own) in RCI, exchanges only. That shows for Italy: 17 in May 2013 and 42 in June 2013; for Spain: 57 in May 2013 and 61 in June 2013. So not too early!
 

gnorth16

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Just search with all available units (not with your own) in RCI, exchanges only. That shows for Italy: 17 in May 2013 and 42 in June 2013; for Spain: 57 in May 2013 and 61 in June 2013. So not too early!
I thought that HGVC portal showed both the weeks and points inventory. I guess not. Perhaps that a Europe RCI account shows more than N.A? I double checked and there was little for 2013, but a lot for 2012...
 

Margariet

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I thought that HGVC portal showed both the weeks and points inventory. I guess not. Perhaps that a Europe RCI account shows more than N.A? I double checked and there was little for 2013, but a lot for 2012...
I think it has to do with the HGVC portal which doesn't show that many resorts in advance.
 

gnorth16

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Another theory on the HGVC boards is that Hilton puts a filter on resorts so that owners are not upset if they pick up a low end trade. FWIW, SFX turned down the deposit based on room size. It appears they only want the large side of the lock off, so essentially they do classify the 1A and 1B differently. I really like the B side for starwood preference in II anyway. That's how we got a 2BR Lagunamar for December.:D
 

heathpack

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heathpack

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Yes, but one side is 790 square feet and the other side is only 530 square feet.
Right, but Falmouth was commenting that SFX did not take studios, as if North's lock off was a studio.

Or maybe Falmouth was referring to my Hyatt deposit? They generally don't take studios, true, but they did take this one- New Years in Key West. I had booked it for my cousin who then decided not to go. She made her decision 7 months out & I called SFX before I cancelled; they said they indeed wanted it. Which is the amazing true life story of how I deposited a studio with SFX.

H
 

tschwa2

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In another thread about a different resort it was the lack of full kitchen with oven (vs micro/convection) that caused SFX to refuse a unit that based on size it would otherwise take. In higher demand areas and times they might wave this requirement.
 
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