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If I were you, I'd hold off for a year or two and let the special assessments end. That said, the best two sections are Lakes and Cascades but most of the sections are being refurbed, with special assessment being collected to pay for it. Lakes has already been refurbed and part of the SA has been paid I think. Cascades has not started the refurb and no SA's have been done.
Unless you are looking to own in order to join SVN (which may well mean buying from the developer) I'm not so sure I would buy even on the resale market.
When I've looked on the web, I've usually been able to find weeks for rent (privately) for less than my annual maintenance fees. Even some of the hotel rental sites often have them (Vistana) listed at not much more than the MFs
Here is some recent Vistana Resort sightings data to support this statement. (The prices quoted are PER WEEK!)
Unless you really, really, really want to regularly stay at Vistana Resort over major holidays, other weeks there can routinely be rented for peanuts via II and RCI. I think its trading power isn't that great either, but it may improve as more of its units are refurbished. Then again, Orlando is so amazingly oversold that I doubt it.
If you don’t already own a timeshare that lets you join both RCI and II, I think you'd be better off buying (resale of course) a cheap, peak season, non-Orlando SVO property that allows you to join both II and RCI (like say Sheraton Desert Oasis, which also has “day use” of its facilities for owners, and can be had for peanuts, but without any special assessments -- so far). You can then use your SDO to:
1) trade via II/RCI/SFX into Orlando (including DVC properties!) and other world-class destinations like Maui, London, NYC (all of which I’ve done using my SDO);
2) provide access to the SVO II 3 day priority window (which allows you exchange into other SVO properties that come available on II 3 days before the general II population); and/or,
3) buy an extra-vacation/getaway or two via II/RCI for cheap during the times you really want to stay at Vistana Resort in the timeshare capitol city of Orlando.
Under II’s new rating system, Vistana Resort is a “Première Resort” which means that it has “[t]he highest level of recognition, providing an outstanding vacation experience, with state of the art conveniences, and modern features and appointments.”
RCI recently downgraded Vistana Resort from “Gold Crown” to “Silver Crown” status. The general consensus here on TUG is that this downgrade sparked most of the sections to upgrade their villas by calling for special assessments. It is also the general consensus that once the upgrades are complete, RCI will return the resort to “Gold Crown” status.
No matter how II and RCI classify this resort though, there are larger factors in play here.
First, II usually maintains a regional block in Orlando. This means that you will rarely be able to trade a VR for another top tier Orlando resort (like DVC) using II.
More importantly, Orlando is the poster child for proving the law of supply and demand. I haven’t’ checked my facts lately, but I recall reading somewhere that for every 4 timeshares in the world, 1 of them is in Florida, and over half of those Florida timeshares are in Orlando. This means that Orlando has the single largest concentrated SUPPLY of timeshares in the world.
On the plus side, Orlando also boasts having some of the world’s best tourist attractions, but they tend to cater to kids who have to go to school. So, DEMAND fades considerably during many times of the year (and what with the “Dolly Parton Dixie Stampede” leaving town and all, there are now even fewer things to keep adults interested in going there during these off times).
Because of this supply/demand thing, I think it is fair to say that there is an absolute GLUT of unused timeshares in Orlando during many times of the year. Gluts don’t help trading power, especially when RCI and II can’t even give full 2 bedroom L/O’s away for $250/week during certain times of the year.
Of course you can hedge your trading power bets by booking your Orlando timeshare during a peak time like Easter or another popular holiday, but there is no guarantee that SVO will deposit that booked week into II for you. Although it’s not supposed to unless your property is in SVN, many SVO agents think that SVO picks the week to deposit not you, and those agents will often deposit a low demand week.
So, yes Vistana Resort is very nice, and yes it will be even nicer when all of the refurbishments are paid for and implemented. But if you are looking for a powerful trader that you will never likely use yourself, why not look for one in a little less saturated market with far fewer competitors?
I own some Falls weeks and 2 Fountains weeks. I have traded them to WKORV and Lagunamar so far this year. My units are good weeks (high demand) and they can see everyone everyone else is seeing with WAAAY more expensive Starwoods (WKV, WMH...). I think it's a fantastic trader for the price, especially given the very low MFs.
All of SVR will eventually be part of SNV too. And they are all going through a full, major remodel. The new units look incredible.
I think they are the best deal out there right now. Just make sure you get a good demand week. Spring and July or Xmas/NY