Considering resale purchase but want to minimize MF commitment by getting EOY contract. With EOY we would use it and not need II for exchanges so does SVO have any other programs for owners to rent or get discounts on additional weeks (we will be restricted to school holidays for many years)?
Aside from annual MF's are there any other fees we should be aware of (e.g. Annual programming, resort use fees, housekeeping, etc)?
Nahanni, ... Buy at the resort you wish to visit most often in the (float) season or (fixed) week you want to be there. If you are restricted to school holidays, SVO (like other timeshare programs) has higher demand for non-school weeks.
For a resort where you own a fixed week, no trouble getting the fixed week. But, you usually have to call between 12-10 months of arrival to make the reservation. No call by 10 months and the fixed week turns into a float week. You will generally have 2 more months to reserve in season, but if the resort is all or heavily fixed weeks, you could have very limited availability because most of the reservation pool weeks will already be reserved as fixed weeks.
For a float week, you can call at a resort where you own at 12-8 months from arrival. Usually, if you call at exactly 9 am ET 12 months from arrival, you can find availability for any weeks but 51-52 and 7 (Presidents Week) at most SVO resorts. Maui, Harborside and WSJ are the notable exceptions. Even those owners have trouble reserving weeks 51-52 and 7 at exactly 12 months from arrival.
If you don't reserve a "voluntary" resale unit in your season, you cannot trade into another SVO resort after 8 months from arrival using Starwood's internal trading system, SVN.
If you buy a "mandatory" resale week, you can use Staroptions to trade anywhere (always based upon availability) in the SVO system beginning at 8 months from arrival. The MFs at "mandatory" resorts include a fee for both internal (SVN) and external (II) trading systems. "Mandatory" resorts command higher resale prices - partially because of this ability to make internal trades.
However, if you own a resale "voluntary" week and you pay for an II account and are willing to pay an additional fee to II for the reservation, you can have Starwood deposit a week (not really your exact week) in II and use II's external trading system. If you split a 2-br into 2 1-br deposits, you might even end up with 2 weeks at another Starwood resort. There is a Starwood preference period in II where only Starwood owners can see deposited Starwood weeks. However, you will be competing for leftover weeks (there are many Starwood depositors and relatively few prime Starwood II weeks; early bird catches the worm) and will have no preferences when arriving at the SVO resort. At check-in, you can say you are an owner and ask for a certain floor or building, but you most likely will be treated like any other II trader and be assigned at the bottom of the room totem pole.
As for rental programs for owners, the SVO resorts do not have a program for owners to rent a week (SPG's hotel program does rentals) and Starwood has no rental program where it will rent out your week for you.
As for discounts for additional weeks, no.
As for additional fees during a stay, usually no. But, additional fees are charged for for rollaway or crib rentals, kids clubs and additional room cleanings (you are entitled to a mid-week "tidy" which includes straightening up and replacing what housekeeping thinks you are running out of; no fresh sheets). Internet access is extra at Harborside. Valet parking is extra if you use it. Also, Hawaii has a daily State occupancy tax that is charged to everyone. Prices for cabanas, equipment rental and food and drink at restaurants and onsite convenience stores are not cheap at SVO resorts.
Occasionally, there have been special assessments for renovations. But the high Starwood MFs already include a yearly amount for a reserve fund for renovations. Salty