I'm not calling you an idiot. I am saying that, despite past performance, with timeshare future returns under similar circumstances are rarely guarenteed. There's always something in the fine print and you're finding that out the hard way.
My first experience with timeshare (a DRI managed resort BTW) is similar to yours. We bought a fixed week unit (week 36) from Polo Towers in Vegas. At the time we were told by the salesman that, while we owned a fixed week, we could easily float it to ANY week during the year that fit our needs. We really wanted an October week but there were none available in inventory.
For the first few years, that's EXACTLY how it worked. We have never stayed at this resort on week 36 and have never set foot in the exact unit we purchased. Then as the resort reached sell out, that "rule" changed. They would no longer allow us to float our fixed week unless we were within 60 days of our desired travel date, we had given up our original deeded week to stay there AND there was availability that had already been given up by another owner but not deposited with an exchange company. Essentially, that "float" week the salesman had sold us was not a float week and would not be allowed to float anymore.
Man were we ticked off and we did complain loudly. We'd been lied to and, for the first time, realized the truth in the statement, "If the salesman's lips are moving, he's lying." IMHO I was sold a bill of goods and DRI had changed the rules. That is until I got out my original sales documents and began reading through them at length (tough to do without falling asleep). Right there in black and white were the rules I had in fact agreed to which, BTW, were the rules now being enforced by DRI. Needless to say we haven't been back to The Suites at Polo Towers. Week 36, which is the first week of September, just doesn't work out with our travel plans.
While the rules had in fact changed, it was how things were originally handled that had been changed from what we had agreed to in writting and not what we had agreed to with the salesman. In short we were stuck and I had no one to blame but myself.
I have no doubt things have been that way you described and now they're not. I have have no doubt this has ruined your vacation experience with this particular resort. I also have no doubt that, like us, the resort or previous management company was bending the rules, which allowed things to be the way they were, and that's not happening anymore. I'd be ticked off as well and was when it happened to us. However, we're NOT calling you an idiot. It's just hat we've been through this ourselves. We're just telling you that you need to read the paperwork carefully and, when you do, you're likely to find what you thought you agreed to and what you actually agreed to in writing are going to be two different things.
I find it interesting that you can find availability in Vegas. Since joining THE Club, I can never find the availability at my home resorts, The Suite's and the Villa's at Polo Towers, unless I don't give up my deeded week. As an owner in Vegas I've found I can't get into Vegas using THE Club. I can, however, get into Vegas by exchange or by calling the resort directly and booking using our original deeded weeks. Apparently there isn't that much inventory in THE Club and few owners converted their weeks to THE Club points. Therefore, as mentioned in a post above, THE Club inventory for my own resort is rather small and the pickings are rather slim.
It doesn't matter. After 10 years of timesharing I've learned how to manipulate systems to fit our needs. We joined THE Club because we never used our Suite's at Polo Towers unit anymore (no longer "floats") and we had purchased additional units that were nicer than our Villa's at Polo Towers unit. These units had become exchangers for us and THE Club points could be stretched to improve value over trading weeks through I.I. was working.
Now don't get my wrong, my opinion of DRI is about as low as it can get for a timeshare company and I'm not defending them. I have no doubt that DRI will use whatever rules they have to their benefit. I do not doubt that, since THE Club is a bank of points used to reserve weeks and that DRI controls a good number of those points, that DRI might be renting out the more desirable resorts and weeks that garner higher rental fee's and giving owners what's left over. Owners at particular resorts still have the owners home resort advantage and will have first choice but, you'll have to book 10 to 12 months in advance. At 9 months ANY owner in THE Club can book weeks pooled into THE Club and, that includes DRI itself. So, DRI could allow THE Club owners exclusive booking rights for those two months and then snatch up all the remaining weeks using points under their control and then turn around and rent those weeks out.
If I understand how THE Club works, that's prefectly within the rules if they own enough points to accomplish that goal. Any owner could do the same thing but, DRI of course has the advantage of being the one who manages the resort and controls the phone lines. IOW, they'll always be first in line at that open reservation mark to get the weeks they want. Granted this is just a theory on my part but, it seems to me that it's a plausable theory of why you're not finding weeks available when you had found weeks before.
However, if this is in fact what's happening, it's not because the rules had changed, it's because the rules are being enforced and DRI is using what rules it has available to it's advantage. If this is what's happening it really sucks for owners who can't reserve during the home resort advantage window and sucks for owners who would like to do an internal exchange into popular resorts such as those in Hawaii but, it wouldn't be against the rules. If this is what's happening, I wouldn't say it's fare but, I could not argue that DRI doesn't have the right to do it.
Keep in mind that this is just a theory of mine. I have no proof nor am I making the accustation that this is in fact what is happening at your resort. I'm mearly pointing out that the rules might allow such a situation to exist and that if that situation did exist, it migh explain why you suddenly can't find the availablity you once found.