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Starwood Startegy- Any Advice? [Merged]

mkfisher

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Strategy Time- Would love your wisdom!
I have been following posts and shopping for over a year and I'm ready to take advantage of the current market conditions. TUG members do a fantastic job keeping it real, and prompt responses from rockstars like Denise are outstanding. Enough with the blowing of smoke- (I'm sincere on the Kudos) Here is my situation:
  1. Situation:
    Young family with 3 young boys 2-7 yrs old and the standard school break schedule and the need to escape Minnesota during PRIME season sometime after the holidays and before the thaw.(likely the spring break window).
    1. 2. Setup Interest:
      After review, I like the options in STARWOOD. The family loves Atlantis, but likely would only go there every 4 years. We would probably rotate through Harborside - St Johns - Disney - then Maui on 4 years cycles within the SVN.

      1. 3. Strategy:

      Knowing we would almost always be using Staroptions at the 8 month out point, we have been targeting the 2 bedroom lockout units at Harborside valued at 81,000 (Silver Season) because of the the rock bottom prices currently being marketed. We are happy to trade down to a 1 bedroom premium unit for 5 people to get into the Spring Season. (The backdoor strategy)

      1. 4. ADVICE NEEDED:

      Is this a sound strategy? While I know Harborside is mandatory, is it prudent to lock myself into the 8 month out scramble for a spring week game and a stiff $2300 MF for life? Should I actually be considering any property that is Starwood mandatory with a value of 81,000 and maybe lesser MFs knowing Harborside is only an every 4 year gig? A lot of this strategy is based on my assumption that with 81,000 staroptions and some diligence and flexibility on the order of these 4 target vacations during the Spring season, I can take advantage of some of the low market prices on the 2 bedroom silver season lockouts currently on the market (5K - 9k) at Harborside. Advice is very welcome to get my head straight here.-- THX
 

Westin5Star

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I also have young boys (3 and 5) and traveling to timeshares vs. hotels has made life much easier for us. If you do decide to buy, I hope that you enjoy TSing as much as we do.

I own a 2BR LO in platinum season (spring break) at Harborside. I have some friends that wanted to go with us in 2009 during spring break. I called at 6:05am 12 months out and was told that no units were or would be available. Many Harborside units (especially phase 1) are fixed and I was told that owners almost always use their spring break weeks. I was even discouraged from waitlisting.

I doubt that you will have any luck of reserving Harborside for Spring Break at the 8 month point. I also do not believe that you will be able to exchange into St. John at the 8 month mark. You will probably have the best chance of exchanging into Maui espcially since they have the North building opened up.

I would encourage you to consider buying more SOs than 81k. 148,100 works out well. You could split the options and use one week during spring and one in summer. Westin Kierland is what is most often considered the best value for a Mandatory resort. You Maintenance Fees would be about half of what they would be at Harborside. I believe that if you are patient in this economy, that you will be able to buy a 2BR LO Kierland platinum week for less than $15k.

Best of luck in your decisions.
 

tomandrobin

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Good news - Bad news for you.

First the good news. St John and Harborside are fantastic resorts and you will really enjoy traveling to both. The bad news is you will not be able to exchange into either resort for spring break at the 8 month mark.

For Staroption use, WKV is the best value for staroptions, followed by Vistana Village. Traveling to WSJ and HRA at peak times, you really need to own at those two resorts.

The prices for the silver season are that low for a reason. If using for Statoptions they are terrible because of MF's. Trading up in season is pretty much impossible, or more would be doing it. Buying a unit for evey four year use is not really practical. The only resort that is realistic at spring break is Disney, and for Disney I would buy DVC not Starwood (But I am biased on DVC too). Having a four resort rotation, like the one you have proposed, will be impossible to achieve without direct ownership at each resort. Even having every-other-year units does not work with the 4 year rotation.
 

mkfisher

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Trade Value Thoughts? 148,100.....

If buying at The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas for RED season 148,100 StarOptions - What are my REAL opportunities to trade out for other SVN properties and for what times of the year. This is with the assumption I can't even begin to think outside of my owned property until the 8 month out point... if I understand the point system correctly.
 

LisaRex

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I usually recommend WKV for folks who want to travel a lot within SVN because it'll give you the most StarOption bang for your buck. However, given that it's not on your top 4 list of places to go, and you'll likely want to travel during Spring Break, I'm going to go against that wisdom and recommend that you buy at one of the resorts on your Top 4 list, during the season that covers Spring Break. Then you can reserve your home resort at 12 months out which will give you security of a fall-back plan should a trade not work once the trading window opens.

The most difficult trade on your Top 4 list, by far, will be WSJ. If you'd already traveled to WSJ and loved it, I'd say buy there because that may be the only way you'll see it during Spring Break. However, given that you've never been there (and I know this because you called it "St. Johns" instead of "St. John" :)), I'd never recommend buying there sight unseen since St. John is, in a lot of ways, the antithesis of Orlando and Paradise Island. And the last thing you'd want is to be locked into a resort with high MFs that your family isn't thrilled with.

Due to simple supply and demand, the easiest trades on your list will be Maui and Orlando. I'd avoid buying in Maui unless you planned to go there more often because of its high MFs, high airfares (x5!), and relative ease of trading in.

Orlando does have some mandatory resorts with lower MFs, so that might be the best option for you. They have some beautiful resorts and airfare deals can usually be found. However, it does have its downsides, most importantly its weakness as a trader in II. With new resorts in SVN stalled, II will probably play a bigger role in your future than you realize. And you'll want a strong trader.

That leaves Harbourside. Your family already loves it. With Atlantis helping out, airfare deals can usually be found. It'll be a strong trader in II and a strong direct exchanger. And, most importantly, it's your best chance of getting in during Spring Break. The downside is the MFs ($2300 is already $330 a night!) and the necessity of buying a platinum season unit so you can reserve it at 12 months out. However, if you buy a 2 bdrm there, during platinum season, you'll get 148,100 StarOptions. I'd recommend anyone with families to have 148,100 as a goal because it really opens up your options. (For instance, you can use the 1 bdrm at Harbourside and then take the wife to Maui in a studio for a week later in the year.)

If you can live without Harbourside during Spring Break, then I'd say to with Westin Kierland platinum 2 bdrm (or some combination that will give you 148,100 SOs). But if it's HRA that you want, and you're a slave to the school calendar, then that's what you should buy given its difficulty trading in.
 
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capjak

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If your top 4 is Harborside, Maui, Orlando, and St John. Here is what I would reccommend:

Purchae a Every other year WKORV Ocean View unit around $10 to 13K.

For Orlando you will have no problem in off years getting II "Getaways" for around $500 in 2 bedroom at nice resorts (Marriot/Sheraton etc..

This way you will have Maui springbreak oceanview and lower MF than Harborside or St John and you will have 148,000 staroptions available eoy.

If you find you must have St John or Harborside buy a EOY there or rent your Maui TS and use cash to rent St John or Harborside.

I just think at $2300 for harborside you can rent a unit there every 4 years not worth a purchase and for St John it is too valuable to trade in for staroptions 3 out of 4 years.
 
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SDKath

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Given this economy and the fact that you are willing to travel off season, I would just buy a mandatory SVV worth 81,000 points. It is cheap and MFs are even less than all the other places you are considering. You'll be able to trade into any of the locations you want to except perhaps the most in demand weeks (holiday weeks). :) I think eBay has these units for under $6000 right now. Just make sure they are in Key West or Bella only!

Katherine
 

tomandrobin

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Given this economy and the fact that you are willing to travel off season, I would just buy a mandatory SVV worth 81,000 points. It is cheap and MFs are even less than all the other places you are considering. You'll be able to trade into any of the locations you want to except perhaps the most in demand weeks (holiday weeks). :) I think eBay has these units for under $6000 right now. Just make sure they are in Key West or Bella only!

Katherine

He wants to travel during spring break.
 

SDKath

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Ah shoot, I missed that. Well, Spring Break and other high demand weeks are next to impossible to get into unless you own at the resort. Harborside especially. If you only plan to go to your home resort once every 4 years, I would honestly rent! You can rent even WKORV for less than the MFs at Harborside. Look on Redweek for rental rates. Sad but there is such a glut of rentals that you can get prime weeks for $1500 or even less at great locations.

Katherine
 

tomandrobin

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Finding a one bedroom rental for less then cost of MF at Harborside and St John, during Spring Break is not going to happen. Even rentals at WKORV for a one bedroom won't be under $2000, a studio maybe you can get for $1500-$1700 for spring break. But that is now, what about 2 or 3 years from now, when the economy is back in full press mode?
 
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