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Need help with first exchange: FSA-->Hawaii

zentraveler

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Have spent hours in the past few days trying to get sufficiently up to speed to compensate for inexperience and being behind the curve this year, and I now have just enough knowledge to be dangerous, so I am admitting some defeat and asking for help :eek: .

I would like to exchange our studio/lockoff portion of the Four Seasons Aviara for Hawaii (Maui or Kauai) or even Key West, FL in weeks 5, 11 or 12 (of 2009 -- did I mention I was behind the curve :) ??). My questions:

--Is this hopeless? Am I just too late to get a reasonable exchange?
--Which exchange company would you use? Can I find out what is available before I deposit my week?
--Which exchange company would have the most likelihood of a comparable quality property? (both for this exchange and in general?) I have read several times in these forums that any II exchange will be trading down; which company would have the best for inventory for a trade like this? Or mostly inventory like this so I don't have to spend too much time doing research on each property?
--Should I just try to rent it this year and think ahead next year??

I am sure this all gets to be second nature, but even as someone with a million years of education it seems quite daunting to learn at this point :D.
 
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DeniseM

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Have spent hours in the past few days trying to get sufficiently up to speed to compensate for inexperience and being behind the curve this year, and I now have just enough knowledge to be dangerous, so I am admitting some defeat and asking for help :eek: .

I would like to exchange our studio/lockoff portion of the Four Seasons Aviara for Hawaii (Maui or Kauai) or even Key West, FL in weeks 5, 11 or 12 (of 2009 -- did I mention I was behind the curve :)? ). My questions:

--Is this hopeless? Am I just too late to get a reasonable exchange?

It's not hopeless, but in my opinion, your week is too valuable to exchange. There are almost no timeshares that are the equivalent. I'd either rent it and use the money to rent the exact week I want in Hawaii, or do a direct exchange with another owner. In this economy, you may find a West Coast owner who has a nice Hawaii resort and would be glad to do a trade with you, to save the expense of flying. If you decide to go that direction, you can post a trade-wanted Ad on the TUG Timeshare Marketplace.

--Which exchange company would you use?

What exchange company is the resort affiliated with? If it's affiliated with RCI, you can't use II, if it's affiliated with II, you can't use RCI. You can use any of the independents, but again, you are going to have a hard time trading for an equal property.

Can I find out what is available before I deposit my week?

Not really, because it changes constantly as weeks are deposited and then claimed. You can do a request first with some exchange companies. Which means you put in a request for specific resorts/weeks, and you don't deposit it unless they match your request. If I were you, I'd reserve the same week at your home resort, and then if the Hawaii Exchange doesn't come through you have a back up.

--Which exchange company would have the most likelihood of a comparable quality property? (both for this exchange and in general?)

None of them....maybe 5% of timeshares are equivalent to yours....

I have read several times in these forums that any II exchange will be trading down; which company would have the best for inventory for a trade like this?

Because your resort is one of the top dogs, none of the exchange companies have a large inventory of equivalent resorts. People generally don't deposit the most expensive resorts, because they don't want to trade down.

Or mostly inventory like this so I don't have to spend too much time doing research on each property?

As a TUG Member, you can access the member's only reviews, where all the Hawaii Resorts are rated by other Tuggers and there are extensive reviews. Once you decide which island you want to go to, it will be a simple task to see what the top 1 or 2 resorts on each island are. On Maui, probably only the Marriott and Westin/Starwood resorts are close to being equal to your resort, and on Kauai, also the Marriotts and Westin/Starwood. (Those are the top two on each island according to the TUG reviews as well.)

Should I just try to rent it this year and think ahead next year??

Not necessarily, but you need to decide on a direction, and a back up plan.
 
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zentraveler

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What exchange company is the resort affiliated with? If it's affiliated with RCI, you can't use II, if it's affiliated with II, you can't use RCI. You can use any of the independents, but again, you are going to have a hard time trading for an equal property.

FS is affiliated with II, but when I talked to them on Friday I was told that I could deposit my time at RCI or anywhere I wanted (?).

If I were you, I'd reserve the same week at your home resort, and then if the Hawaii Exchange doesn't come through you have a back up.

I reserved a week in May (earlier this month) because I thought it might take some time to get this all together. One of the "problems" for us is that we have family in SD with plenty of space, so it never really makes sense for us to actually stay there.

None of them....maybe 5% of timeshares are equivalent to yours...Because your resort is one of the top dogs, none of the exchange companies have a large inventory of equivalent resorts. People generally don't deposit the most expensive resorts, because they don't want to trade down.

I was afraid of this. Was hoping there was an exchange company that only dealt in the more expensive resorts to that the playing field would be more level and everyone would be depositing the same thing. Would love to hear from some of the FSA owners about what they do about this :confused: What do people do with the most expensive resorts? Direct exchanges with others? Stay there themselves? Rent them out? Can't seem to figure out what happens to them if they don't end up on II or RCI. I was figuring they ended up somewhere, and I had just not found that company yet.

If you join TUG, you can access the member's only reviews, where all the Hawaii Resorts are rated by other Tuggers and there are extensive reviews. Once you decide which island you want to go to, it will be a simple task to see what the top 1 or 2 resorts on each island are.

I have joined and read some of them. Will be reading more if I decide to do this! I have found over the years that it is much easier to find a group/brand I trust for consistency (one of the reasons I like the FS) rather than researching every property. It seems that the destination clubs do a better job of specifying a narrow range of what they offer and more consistency.
 

DeniseM

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FS is affiliated with II, but when I talked to them on Friday I was told that I could deposit my time at RCI or anywhere I wanted (?).

Then there's your answer.

I reserved a week in May (earlier this month) because I thought it might take some time to get this all together. One of the "problems" for us is that we have family in SD with plenty of space, so it never really makes sense for us to actually stay there.

I'd change that to Easter or summer - May is going to be a weak trader or exchanger.

What do people do with the most expensive resorts? Direct exchanges with others? Stay there themselves? Rent them out? Can't seem to figure out what happens to them if they don't end up on II or RCI. I was figuring they ended up somewhere, and I had just not found that company yet.

They use them or rent them out. I own at the Westin on Maui and that's what we do. I would NEVER deposit it because of the lack of equivalent exchanges.

I have joined and read some of them. Will be reading more if I decide to do this! I have found over the years that it is much easier to find a group/brand I trust for consistency (one of the reasons I like the FS) rather than researching every property. It seems that the destination clubs do a better job of specifying a narrow range of what they offer and more consistency.

I updated my post above, there are only 2 resort brands on Kauai and 2 resort brands on Maui that are near equivalents to yours - the Marriotts and the Westins.
 

Bill4728

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Even though your exchanging one of the top 3 -5 TS in the world, you're depositing only the lock-off portion of your TS. This will make exchanging more difficult. So you're likely to get a 1 bed unit in Hawaii. If you're OK with that, then I think you'll be able to get an exchange that you'll like.

Good Luck
 

DeniseM

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I didn't notice that you only want to exchange the studio. That will limit your choices. but then again, you aren't giving up so much either.
 

zentraveler

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A one bedroom would be fine for the two of us, and I would be happy with the Westin or the Marriott. I may be able to move our week closer to Easter, but we have a gold week and cannot reserve the summer.

It sounds like I should call II and RCI and find out if they have either of those for the weeks we want. Or rent it and try to rent at the Westin (I thought they had lock off units as well?) or Marriott. Thanks for making this a little clearer!
 

DeniseM

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A one bedroom would be fine for the two of us, and I would be happy with the Westin or the Marriott. I may be able to move our week closer to Easter, but we have a gold week and cannot reserve the summer.

It sounds like I should call II and RCI and find out if they have either of those for the weeks we want. Or rent it and try to rent at the Westin (I thought they had lock off units as well?) or Marriott. Thanks for making this a little clearer!

The exchange companies won't tell you anything. You have to join and go through all the formal request stuff.

Also - Westin is affiliated with II, and I believe Marriott is too, so you won't find them on RCI. So, you could join II, and put in a "request-first" for the Westin or Marriott on Maui or Kauai, and then at the same time persue a private exchange, and take which ever comes first. I am concerned about the exchange/trade value of a May week. Can you get the week before or after Easter? There is a II FAQ at the top of this board for more info.

You should also watch the TUG Sightings Board (below the Lounge) where people post what they can see available for exchange on II's website.

The Westins (Maui and Kauai) have 2 bdm. lock-offs - one side is a studio and one side is a 1 bdm.

floorplan_2bedlo.gif
 
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zentraveler

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The exchange companies won't tell you anything. You have to join and go through all the formal request stuff.

I guess for $85 it is not the end of the world. I have also read that the Registry Collection may be useful, but not for Hawaii.

I am concerned about the exchange/trade value of a May week. Can you get the week before or after Easter?

I will check again. I picked this week because it contains Mother's Day and the woman at the FS indicated that all of the spring break weeks (which now stretch over most of March and April!) had been reserved. But I can check again.
There is a II FAQ at the top of this board for more info.

That is my next project, to read that more thoroughly.
You should also watch the TUG Sightings Board (below the Lounge) where people post what they can see available for exchange on II's website.

Good tip. Thank you.

The Westins (Maui and Kauai) have 2 bdm. lock-offs - one side is a studio and one side is a 1 bdm.

These arer the same style units as mine. I thought that might make it easier to trade a FS lockoff studio for one of theirs.
 

DeniseM

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These arer the same style units as mine. I thought that might make it easier to trade a FS lockoff studio for one of theirs.

With an on-going search, you can only request a studio, if you deposit a studio. If you make an on-line exchange, it is possible to get something larger.

For future reference, if you are going to exchange, reserve the week before or after Easter for far better trading power on the West Coast. Holiday weeks when the kids are out of school exchange better.
 

funtime

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Definately join TUG if you have not yet done so. The sightings board is where the action is! There are sightings for Hawaii right now that look pretty terrific. I think that is the best way you can get a nice two bedroom - do a seach (preferably really early in the morning) after getting information off the sightings board. Good luck. Funtime
 

zentraveler

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Definately join TUG if you have not yet done so. The sightings board is where the action is! There are sightings for Hawaii right now that look pretty terrific. I think that is the best way you can get a nice two bedroom - do a seach (preferably really early in the morning) after getting information off the sightings board. Good luck. Funtime

Does II work on east coast time? I am in SF and sometimes that can be a great boost (i.e. it is only 9 pm here at midnight on the east coast) and sometimes it works the other way around.
 

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As for exchanging I would also give tradingplaces.com a look, and a call as they manage properties on Oahu and Maui and often have availability. For a regular membership there they have no yearly fees.
 

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It's not hopeless, but in my opinion, your week is too valuable to exchange. There are almost no timeshares that are the equivalent. I'd either rent it and use the money to rent the exact week I want in Hawaii, or do a direct exchange with another owner. In this economy, you may find a West Coast owner who has a nice Hawaii resort and would be glad to do a trade with you, to save the expense of flying. If you decide to go that direction, you can post a trade-wanted Ad on the TUG Timeshare Marketplace......
This is exactly what I was going to say!

FS is affiliated with II, but when I talked to them on Friday I was told that I could deposit my time at RCI or anywhere I wanted (?).....
That sounds like a mistake -- I am sure FSA is not affiliated with RCI, and a resort has to be affiliated with RCI in order to use them. Some resorts are affiliated with both RCI and II (so you can use either one), but I'm sure FSA isn't one of them. Probably the person you spoke to was confusing RCI with an independent exchange company -- those you could use.

As for trading via II for a Westin or Marriott property, the problem there is that both of them give preference to owners in the own system (Starwood and Marriott, respectively.) I don't think your chances of trading up in size to a one-bedroom would be great, even without the owner preference (II penalizes studios quite heavily), but with the owner preference, I think you have almost no chance of trading up in size from a studio to a Marriott or Westin one-bedroom, except last minute (59 days or less out.) And, since you can't do an ongoing request for a larger unit than what you deposit, you'd be stuck competing with all the other owners whose units are high-enough quality for Marriott and Westin trades within flexchange, and that's most II owners. It would be a very poor use of a FSA deposit.

Trading Places has tons of Hawaii inventory, but hardly ever gets anything like a Marriott or Westin. At any rate, they charge a fee for trade-ups in size, and just would not be a good use of a Four Seasons unit.

SFX has some high-end properties, but they usually do not accept studios. I don't know if they would make an exception for a Four Seasons unit, but I think probably not. I asked them if they would take my Disney Boardwalk Villas studio, and they said no. (they do take studios located in NYC and San Francisco.)

As for your question about how high-end resorts generally arrange for equivalent trades, I know that in addition to using II, Disney has its own arrangements with a number of high-end resorts, although the trade terms are often not favorable. The Four Seasons is technically a residence club, which is higher-end than a timeshare. I'm not sure how residence club owners typically exchange their resort weeks, or if there is even a mechanism specifically for residence club exchanges. (The fact that the Four Seasons is part of II suggests that there isn't such a mechanism.) I don't think you can use the Registry Collection, as that is for RCI resorts only.

So, your options as I see it are: rent out your week; do a direct exchange; put in a request for a Marriott or Westin studio (still no guarantees because of the owner preference); or accept a trade to something a lot lower in quality, since Marriotts and Westins have owner preferences. (Too bad the new Disney Hawaii resort won't be open for a couple of years!)
 

ecemarti

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Did II search just now

I just found Jan 25-Feb 1 available on Kauai and Oahu both Marriotts,
Maui inventory is hard to come by
Good luck
 

zentraveler

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Thanks to all who were so helpful with this first exchange. Lots to learn at all levels, but I appreciate all of the generous information and suggestions from the pros on this board. We were able to exchange our studio through II for 2 BDRM at the Westin Princeville Kauai for week 11 from March 15-22. Seems like a fine exchange to me and we are happily making our plans :D . The only real problem is the airfare this year which is even pricier than Hawaii usually is but for a last minute trip, not unexpected.
 

DeniseM

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That is an awesome exchange! Congratulations! :clap:
 
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