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National Harbor; The town, the resort, and the sales pitch

ronparise

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Im at National Harbor this week. Its Thanksgiving morning. Later today we'll drive to meet friends and family for dinner,
Now I have some time to share my impressions of the place and their sales staff.

National Harbor is a "new town" on the Potomac, just down river from Washington DC. Historic "Old Town" Alexandria is just across the River and the Beltway crossing (Woodrow Wilson Bridge) is visible from my room.

As a DC native I can say National Harbor is a great location, convenient to everything in the area, by car, via the Beltway, or public transportation, bus water taxi and the Metro.

National Harbor is an enormous real estate development that had the misfortune of opening just as the real estate bubble was popping. There are shops, hotels, restaurants, offices, .condos and townhomes and of course a timeshare. So this is a place where you can live and work, shop and play; and walk to everything...I like it a lot; the concept, and the execution. If they can figure out how to sell and/or rent all the vacant space here, they'll really have something.

The downside...The streets are dead, the prices are high,everything seems to me to be priced in the upper middle, to very high price ranges...No fast food, no diners, no Bob Evans, Applebees, Dunkin Donuts etc places to eat. The grocery is the Potomac Gourmet Market, not the Giant. So either bring you own food, or lots of money. And Parking: There is as I can see no free parking. I was told that Ill pay $10 a day when I check out. Parking meters are $3 an hour, 2 hour max. I dont see any cars on the street, They are all in Garages. We had guests here last night and they paid $11 to park. I think its too much

Bottom line...its difficult to do National Harbor on a budget

On the plus side.. The Wyndham resort is wonderful, plenty of activities, nice rooms (granite counters in the kitchen and baths. Id like to see the presidential units. I cant imagine the difference in quality would be worth the price. There is no washer and dryer in the room, but they are on the floor.

Some pictures at National Harbor

I attended the owner update. They did a good job of keeping to the 45 minutes promised. They did do a quick customer satisfaction survey of our ownership overall and of this stay. And they seemed genuinely interested in helping us get the most from our ownership. This was however a segue way to the "pitch" of the day. and I suspect everyone got the same pitch...He asked how much of our maintenance fees we actually paid. Seemed like a trick question because I pay all my maintenance fees. But he said most VIP owners were able to enjoy their ownership without paying and maintenance fees. Of course I fell into the trap, and asked how. Heres how:

1)Refer friends and family
2)Use the Barclays Visa card to earn windham rewards points that convert to dollars that can be applied to maintenance fees
3)exchange deeded points to rewards points to apply to maintenance fees.

None of these seemed to require the purchase of an additional contract, so I was waiting for the other shoe to drop...and it did..

Since none of the above three methods will pay all my fees, (for example I would have to charge more money than I make every year, to the visa card, to cover the fees for the points I own now.) I need to utilize all three methods, and of course the more points I exchange for maintenance fees the less i have to use, But since platinum owners get a 50% discount, the points I dont exchange go twice as far. I should buy enough new points to go platinum, or at the very least gold....and I should buy my new points here, because maintenance fees at National Harbor are among the lowest in the system.

None of this considered the cost of those new points which he quoted me at $220/1000 points, Even if I could cover maintenance fees as he suggested (and I dont think its possible) Id still be out the purchase price for new points. And when I told him I rented time that cost me half my points for enough to cover all my maintenance fees, last year...he said thanks and gave me my gift
 
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rrlongwell

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1) ... Refer friends and family

Do not count on this. We refered a friend and they bought a retail purchase. When I followed up on why this was not given, I was advised that Corportate uses this program but do not actually award the promised points. Did they offer to take the re-sale contracts back in conjunction with a new purchase? Their offer to me about a week ago was $127 per thousand points.
 
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Cheryl20772

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and I should buy my new points here, because maintenance fees at National Harbor are among the lowest in the system.

None of this considered the cost of those new points which he quoted me at $220/1000 points,
You mean they haven't sold out? I was told a year ago that I needed to decide right away because National Harbor was selling out really fast. In fact I was told before they were even open that they were already almost sold out. You are so lucky to still have a chance to buy this prime real estate :wall:

Hope you are having a nice holiday visit. The weather sure is nice here today. :cheer:
 

timeos2

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Nice group of pictures. They show the resort to be more or less the now typical & easily recognizable "cookie cutter" Wyndham tower resort layout (se it at Grand Desert, Old Town Alexandria, Bonnet Creek and many others from the past ten years) but in this case it appears to be shrunken in overall size & without the usual washer/dryer in the unit (a negative IMO) plus the usual smaller pools associated with high cost urban area timeshares.

Overall it sound like Old Town Alexandria is the better featured/ located resort for that area. Of course I'm sure you realize that like most newer Wyndham resorts they are lowballing the fees during sales and they will go up - as well as risking one or more special assessments - one the majority of sales are made as they have at virtually every other Wyndham in the past. I hope buyers have caught on to that part of the game by now. Even a resale purchase at the resorts still being heavily subsidized & under budgeted for reserves means a hefty annual fee jump before too long. Beware. NEVER buy retail Wyndham - buy or obtain for fee resale very selectively.
 

esk444

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As a DC native I can say National Harbor is a great location, convenient to everything in the area, by car, via the Beltway, or public transportation, bus water taxi and the Metro.

I disagree with you there. National Harbor was intentionally designed not to be public transportation friendly. Though a nearby neighborhood is nice with McMansions (a part of Ft. Washington), the other surrounding areas are not nice (i.e. Oxon Hill). So it was designed to be an isolated enclave for its guests and the few residential complexes.

The metro bus is designed to shuttle employees to and from home, not guests or tourists. It's primary destination is the Branch Street metro station, which is not in a good neighborhood and then travels through the worst parts of DC.

They did this because they basically want to keep the riff raff out and prevent the area from being a teen hang out. Since the primary target audience for National Harbor are business people and conventioneers on an expense account, they go out of there way to make it difficult and expensive for locals to hang out there.

Hardly any tourists ever use the public transportation system and most drive into DC, which is pretty convenient though a little tricky without a GPS. So you have to pay parking both at the timeshare and then again in DC for the day. The water taxi is a nice trip and amenity, but hardly something you'd use to commute into DC via Alexandria.

Some hotels like the Gaylord operate a shuttle for a fee, but you'll have limited times. A cab into or out of DC is around $20-25 each way.

I'd highly recommend getting a car if you intend to spend most of your time outside of National Harbor, particularly if you have children.
 
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massvacationer

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Ron:

Nice update - and Pics - of National Harbor. Very informative. Looks like a nice resort that is in a location that will improve over time.

I think we may take a family trip down to the DC area fairly soon and may stay there, because availability is generally better than the Wyndham in Alexandria. I guess we'll plan to take the hit on the parking both at the resort and near the tourist attractions in DC, as we'll need to drive back and forth.
 

ronparise

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I disagree with you there. National Harbor was intentionally designed not to be public transportation friendly. Though a nearby neighborhood is nice with McMansions (a part of Ft. Washington), the other surrounding areas are not nice (i.e. Oxon Hill). So it was designed to be an isolated enclave for its guests and the few residential complexes.

The metro bus is designed to shuttle employees to and from home, not guests or tourists. It's primary destination is the Branch Street metro station, which is not in a good neighborhood and then travels through the worst parts of DC.

They did this because they basically want to keep the riff raff out and prevent the area from being a teen hang out. Since the primary target audience for National Harbor are business people and conventioneers on an expense account, they go out of there way to make it difficult and expensive for locals to hang out there.

Hardly any tourists ever use the public transportation system and most drive into DC, which is pretty convenient though a little tricky without a GPS. So you have to pay parking both at the timeshare and then again in DC for the day. The water taxi is a nice trip and amenity, but hardly something you'd use to commute into DC via Alexandria.

Some hotels like the Gaylord operate a shuttle for a fee, but you'll have limited times. A cab into or out of DC is around $20-25 each way.

I'd highly recommend getting a car if you intend to spend most of your time outside of National Harbor, particularly if you have children.

I agree with everything you say about the public transportation..but would still argue that its convenient. not cheap, and depending on your perception, perhaps not safe. The Metro does run through some "bad areas", but if you thought Washington was only the Mall and the Monuments, Think again, this is a real city, not an attraction. There is an option, Take the water taxi across the river ($16 round trip) and you get the bonus of a boat ride on your way to a "better neighborhood" and the King St. Metro Stop. No question Wyndham's Old Town is better located for the Metro, but National Harbor works. I was surprised

There is no free parking in Natiional Harbor, The little street parking I saw, was metered, at $3 an hour, 2 hour minimum. The Wyndham has a deal with a garage across the street at $10 a day. I think the reason the locals dont come here as much as I would think they would is the parking. My wife's son came to see us and had to pay $11 to park. Of course parking has been a problem in DC as long as I can remember. (my dad and I used to take the streetcar to Griffith Stadium to watch the Washington Senators in the 1950's because you couldnt find parking nearby) On this trip my wife and I drove into town to see the home she grew up in (some would say in a bad neighborhood) and to walk the halls of my high school at the corner on North Capitol and I Streets, (Gonzaga, class of 1964). It was in a bad neighborhood then; its not much better now). We had lunch at Luigi's (19th and M) A Washington Institution for pizza. where parking cost us $17

I would add to my original post..National Harbor is a great place to stay if you are visiting DC, and a destination in its own right; but bring money...it aint cheap...Oh and dont miss the Gaylord...I have some picture of that place that I will post later
 

ronparise

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Nice group of pictures. They show the resort to be more or less the now typical & easily recognizable "cookie cutter" Wyndham tower resort layout (se it at Grand Desert, Old Town Alexandria, Bonnet Creek and many others from the past ten years) but in this case it appears to be shrunken in overall size & without the usual washer/dryer in the unit (a negative IMO) plus the usual smaller pools associated with high cost urban area timeshares.

Overall it sound like Old Town Alexandria is the better featured/ located resort for that area. Of course I'm sure you realize that like most newer Wyndham resorts they are lowballing the fees during sales and they will go up - as well as risking one or more special assessments - one the majority of sales are made as they have at virtually every other Wyndham in the past. I hope buyers have caught on to that part of the game by now. Even a resale purchase at the resorts still being heavily subsidized & under budgeted for reserves means a hefty annual fee jump before too long. Beware. NEVER buy retail Wyndham - buy or obtain for fee resale very selectively.

The "cookie cutter" is what we like best. I know what to expect and I get it.

We stayed at the Ocean Walk resort on our drive North (loved it) and on our way South, (hated it) Hated it enough that I didnt even unpack. We took one look at the room and left, never to return. I would have had a better experience at one of the $30 flop houses nearby.
 

Sandy VDH

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We stayed at the Ocean Walk resort on our drive North (loved it) and on our way South (hated it).

interesting....

what room did you have that you loved and what room did you have that you hated. Was it room type and location that you hated. Some of those small 1 BR with only a few of the hallway are horrible.

Just wondering if you could fill us in Ron?
 

timeos2

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The "cookie cutter" is what we like best. I know what to expect and I get it.

We stayed at the Ocean Walk resort on our drive North (loved it) and on our way South, (hated it) Hated it enough that I didnt even unpack. We took one look at the room and left, never to return. I would have had a better experience at one of the $30 flop houses nearby.

I agree about the "cookie cutter". It is a surprise now if we get (usually an older or a resort Wyndham took over rather than built) a different style unit. Just want people to realize that the only real difference in Wyndham units now tend to be, just like Disney, fancy lobby areas and maybe some bling on the walls. The basics are more and more exactly the same regardless of where you decide to stay.

Thankfully unlike many DVC's these aren't slightly enlarged hotel / suite units but full sized, fully equipped (usually) 1-2, 3 & more condos. Only in the big urban areas do you find the situation of having a physically reduced uint and missing things like washer / dryers in the unit. To get an urban location that isn't a bad trade off.
 

Cheryl20772

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The "cookie cutter" is what we like best. I know what to expect and I get it.

We stayed at the Ocean Walk resort on our drive North (loved it) and on our way South, (hated it) Hated it enough that I didnt even unpack. We took one look at the room and left, never to return. I would have had a better experience at one of the $30 flop houses nearby.

Wow! What did they give you? An interior with corridor windows?
 

AwayWeGo

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[triennial - points]
Whoa! The Cost Of Flop Houses Must Have Gone Up.

I would have had a better experience at one of the $30 flop houses nearby.
Must be an example of location, location, location.

By contrast, we paid $25 per night (+ tax & PriceLine fees) for a fantastic 1BR suite in a near-new StayBridge Suites. (That was in Jacksonville FL, 2-3 years back.)

Who knew it would be $30 for a flophouse ?

-- Alan Cole, McLean (Fairfax County), Virginia, USA.​
 

am1

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Wow! What did they give you? An interior with corridor windows?

Probably what he booked. If it was just the room type/location someone has to stay there. If the room was in poor condition it is best to ask for a different room.

Those 1 bedroom suites work great when it is part of a 2 bedroom lockoff.
 

ronparise

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interesting....

what room did you have that you loved and what room did you have that you hated. Was it room type and location that you hated. Some of those small 1 BR with only a few of the hallway are horrible.

Just wondering if you could fill us in Ron?

the one with the view of the hallway was the one we loved,,North Tower, 1625B, the small side of a lockoff, no jetted tub, which we use and enjoy a lot, but it had a full kitchen, with granite counters, a washer and dryer. Open the shades and our view was across the hallway through the hallway through a wall of windows to a view of the sunset (it was in the North Tower

Ocean%252520Walk%252520nov%2525202011-10.JPG


I thought a did a good thing for the trip back and reserved a 1 bedroom deluxe, which if I read the points chart right as well as the floor plans on the Wyndham site, should have been half a lockoff with a balcony and I thought a view of the ocean. Our room was South Tower, 518 I think directly above the the check in desk. Our view was over the roof of the breezeway connecting the two towers to a wall. no balcony. This was a stand alone 1 bedroom, not like anything I see in the floorplans on the website. I know this building has a 1950's art deco style, so Im not surprised the furniture had a 1950's feel to it. But honestly it didnt look like a reproduction it looked like the real thing, they found in a retro thrift store.

Adding to our disappointment was that we had to park in the city garage across the street, in spite of the note on the website "Free parking for one vehicle per unit in our garages; additional vehicles can park across the street at the Ocean Walk Village Garage (connects to resort via overhead covered walkway; fee)" (Ours wasnt an additional vehicle). Im a big guy, and some have said "scary looking" Im getting old, but I dont admit it; and not much scares me.....but I was concerned for my safety, walking back to the lobby. Back at the lobby the desk clerk was renting a room, (cash transaction) to a young lady and her "date" for the rest of the evening. We were late checking in (midnight) and I believe another similar couple probably got our room, and the desk clerk the cash. (speculation to be sure, but an educated guess from my days as a slum landlord). There was no security at the building to curtail the street party in front of the building, and no securoty to prevent the party from moving into the lobby and pool area. While at the desk complaining, another gust was also complaining about the party on his floor

So it wasnt just the room, it was also "the whole place" but we probably would have stayed if we had been given the room we reserved.

The desk clerk either couldnt or wouldnt find another room, so we left
 

bamasteve

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The "cookie cutter" is what we like best. I know what to expect and I get it.

I agree completely. We stayed in the 4 Bedroom Presidential in the Spring 0f 2011. It was excellent.

Concerning the Branch Avenue Metro. It is the best way into the city. Our family Parked at the Metro Station each day (bus schedule just isn't practical). Came back very late a few nights. Although it did go through some rough neighborhoods, we always felt safe while on the metro, including while walking to our cars at Branch Street. If you are a senior - it is worth it to get the senior discount metro card.
 

massvacationer

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National Childrens Museum Coming to National Harbor 2013

One other note on Wyndham national Harbor

The National Children's Museum is supposed to be constructed just up the street from the Wyndham ... supposed to open in 2013... I think this is going to make the resort quite attractive to families with kids

www.ncm.museum
 

ronparise

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Probably what he booked. If it was just the room type/location someone has to stay there. If the room was in poor condition it is best to ask for a different room.

Those 1 bedroom suites work great when it is part of a 2 bedroom lockoff.

they have three kinds of one bedroom units listed . and all three combine in various ways to make a lockoff... one bedroom, one bedroom suite and one bedroom deluxe. I had the one bedroom suite on the way north..and we liked that a lot. I thought I was moving up when I got the 1 bedroom deluxe for the trip back home. According to the floorplans on the website it should have been the large side of a lockoff. What they gave me was a one bedroom and I dont think it was part of a lockoff. In any case it wasnt what I reserved and the desk clerk either wouldnt or couldnt find us another room. Im pretty sure it wasnt a Wyndham unit at all, but rather one of the condos in the building that are privately owned
 

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My apology. The resort staff are usually very good at Ocean Walk. They may have been overbooked.
 

chapjim

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My apology. The resort staff are usually very good at Ocean Walk. They may have been overbooked.

Our experiences at Ocean Walk have been more like Ron's. For the most part, front desk staff at Ocean Walk couldn't care less whether an owner or guest is even there let alone what they might want. We've experienced indifference, surliness, insults, and outright hostility. (And we own 1.5 million points at Ocean Walk!)

Ocean Walk definitely overbooks and only guarantees a guest (i.e., non-owner) a unit of the size in the reservation. If an owner makes a reservation with a specific unit number, the owner will get that unit (barring something that renders the unit uninhabitable).

A few years ago, I reserved a 2BR ocean front unit with a unit number, rented it and my guest was given a "city view" unit at check-in. I quit reserving specific units and quit representing any particular view in my listings since Ocean Walk will do whatever they feel like doing with a guest.
 

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Thanks for the update and pics Ron. I just bought a eoy points package there on ebay and I'm looking forward to using it for long weekend getaways.:)
 

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Thanks for the info and pictures, looked nice to us. I don't think one can go to a place like that and expect it to be cheap.

I blew it off, but I remember when we went to South Beach staying at a Marriott I had to pay for parking in adition to the rooms. I guess it was a good thing knowing next summer I'll have to pay for parking at BeachPlace Towers.
 

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Im pretty sure it wasnt a Wyndham unit at all, but rather one of the condos in the building that are privately owned

Regarding Ocean Walk units... we have stayed at OW several times. We always were given a North tower unit. Last time we got a South tower unit, and the desk clerk did apologize in advance that the room might not be up to standards of the North tower. So, you may very well be right.

We liked our room fine, but it was in the older decor. What I didn't like was the roaches that lived around the kitchen sink. I know those are very difficult to get rid of; so, aside from the ones I killed, they are probably still there! I carried a dead one in a paper towel down to the front desk and they swore they would get rid of them! :hysterical:

Note: we did not ever yet see roaches at National Harbor.
 

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I know I started this post about National Harbor but I got sidetracked talking about Ocean Walk

Someone from Ocean Walk called me and said three things..1) they are sending me a complimentary 2 day stay there in a one bedroom deluxe, 2) the difference between my experience there from one week to the other was because Thanksgiving weekend is the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona, and like the Bike Weeks the town fills up with a different clientel than usual....They increase the security to deal with it. 3) the unit 518 in the South Tower is a Wyndham unit (and I confirmed this with the Volusia County Tax appraisors office) and The South Tower is scheduled for renovations soon

Im still not happy that I didnt get the room I reserved, but they are trying to make that right...so not happy, but ok

and Cheryl

I just noticed that you are a Maryland Girl. Thats where I grew up and lived most of my life
 

Free2Roam

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Cheryl and i discovered (over on the wyndham forum) that we are practically neighbors!!: :hi:
 
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