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SVO Management

StarwoodCanadafan

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Hi,

I wanted to start a new thread to discuss past and current experiences with SVO management. These can be issues, or good experiences. Given what is being discussed in other threads at the top of the board, in fairness, I wanted to start this thread to allow all readers here to present fairly their perspective, with the understanding that SVO very very likely reads each of these. :wave:

My personal objective is to have a record here on what SVO Tug users feel about the decisions and direction SVO management has taken over the past number of years. How it has affected each of you, positively or negatively. Do you feel they care about you as a customer?

Moderator, please don't remove this posting, or move it to the poll section.

A couple of key things:
1. Please be honest.
2. Please give the rough time line for the experience. (ie, they change the program on X date and this was the outcome)
3. This isn't a discussion about the quality of SVO's properties, or the benefits of any elite or other program. It could be a log which SVO management can read, and know what the perspective in the community is about how they run their program. Granted, they might not care, but, at least it is something they can look at.

Thank you
 

pointsjunkie

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i have owned starwood timeshare since 2001 and i am one of the few that are completely happy.

everything they promised me came true. most of the changes they made i understand. i may mot be happy with the changes but i understand why they had to do it.

the major one is the upgrade to a larger villa being confirmed months ahead of time. it did state based upon availability. but when you get people who paid a lot of money for their timeshares that phrase based upon availability did not pertain to them. they felt they were ENTITILED to the upgrades. thus starwood had many irate owners at check-in. so they took the perk away because you had a lot of people behaving badly.

if they did not have the entitlement issue and it probably would not be gone.
so starwood took it away from all 4 and 5 stars. so the upgrade expectation was off the table.
did i like it --no. do i understand why it is gone --yes.

after all these years i am still a very happy owner.

they take away my platinum for life and i would definitely not be a happy camper.

barbra
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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Thank you for your feedback

To summarize:

At some point, Starwood changed the program to not allow (who) to upgrade to larger villa, which was supposed to be based on availability.

Also, you are happy with the program and SVO management.

Thank you,



i have owned starwood timeshare since 2001 and i am one of the few that are completely happy.

everything they promised me came true. most of the changes they made i understand. i may mot be happy with the changes but i understand why they had to do it.

the major one is the upgrade to a larger villa being confirmed months ahead of time. it did state based upon availability. but when you get people who paid a lot of money for their timeshares that phrase based upon availability did not pertain to them. they felt they were ENTITILED to the upgrades. thus starwood had many irate owners at check-in. so they took the perk away because you had a lot of people behaving badly.

if they did not have the entitlement issue and it probably would not be gone.
so starwood took it away from all 4 and 5 stars. so the upgrade expectation was off the table.
did i like it --no. do i understand why it is gone --yes.

after all these years i am still a very happy owner.

they take away my platinum for life and i would definitely not be a happy camper.

barbra
 

DeniseM

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To summarize:

At some point, Starwood changed the program to not allow (who) to upgrade to larger villa, which was supposed to be based on availability.
When the Elite program was first announced, 5 Star Elite members were supposed to get automatic upgrades. However, there weren't enough upgrades to go around and many Elite members were very irate at check-in when they didn't get an upgrade - I personally saw this several times at check-in myself.
 

Cathyb

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Thank you for this subject! l. We bought Westin Mission Hills when the first shovel hit the ground. There was no mention (nor was it even in print anywhere) about Mandatory and Voluntary ownerships and its negative effects when your kids inherit the property and need to sell it. The end result was immediate decrease in value.
2. Apparently the Board of Directors do NOT want owners at their annual meetings. This is contiuously proven by the date an owner receives the Notice of when the meeting is (two weeks before). The document is dated 6 weeks before but apparently sits somewhere for a month. They refuse to set the next year's meeting date at the present meeting (like Marriott does)so you can plan around it.
3. They are constantly giving and taking back benefits, breaking promises and just plain poor customer service.
 

LisaRex

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I'm unhappy with their lack of communication. They took Aruba off the table without notifying the owners, they changed the 5* elite program without notice. Lack of communication makes them look sneaky and untrustworthy.

I'm unhappy that knowingly sold OV villas at both north and south as OF. Sorry, but if you're facing another building or if you have a band of trees directly in front of your villa, even if it's the only thing between you and the ocean, that's not ocean front. That's ocean view or even garden view.

I'm unhappy that they keep raising prices even as the economy is faltering. It makes them seem out of touch with reality.

I'm unhappy that they've written into their contract that they get to book all the profits from unbooked villas without contributing anything to the HOAs which have to maintain the place. Given that, I'm glad when I see that the place is half full because it means fewer bedspreads we schleps have to replace come January.

I'm unhappy that they've quit developing new properties.
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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Cathy,

Thank YOU for taking the time to write these things. I am compiling a list to send to Starwood in a formal letter. Your 3 are there for sure.

I am one of the folks affected by their change in 5* without warning. Had just bought one, and about to close on the second. I feel really cheated.
I don;t want to get off topic here as there is a separate thread to discuss that one. But, I will add it here to the list.

Thank you for this subject! l. We bought Westin Mission Hills when the first shovel hit the ground. There was no mention (nor was it even in print anywhere) about Mandatory and Voluntary ownerships and its negative effects when your kids inherit the property and need to sell it. The end result was immediate decrease in value.
2. Apparently the Board of Directors do NOT want owners at their annual meetings. This is contiuously proven by the date an owner receives the Notice of when the meeting is (two weeks before). The document is dated 6 weeks before but apparently sits somewhere for a month. They refuse to set the next year's meeting date at the present meeting (like Marriott does)so you can plan around it.
3. They are constantly giving and taking back benefits, breaking promises and just plain poor customer service.
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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LisaRex,

Thanks to you too. I have purchased Ka'anapali as well.. but not ocean front. Did you buy from the developer directly in Maui, or from central sales? Just wondering who 'cheated' you.


I'm unhappy with their lack of communication. They took Aruba off the table without notifying the owners, they changed the 5* elite program without notice. Lack of communication makes them look sneaky and untrustworthy.

I'm unhappy that knowingly sold OV villas at both north and south as OF. Sorry, but if you're facing another building or if you have a band of trees directly in front of your villa, even if it's the only thing between you and the ocean, that's not ocean front. That's ocean view or even garden view.

I'm unhappy that they keep raising prices even as the economy is faltering. It makes them seem out of touch with reality.

I'm unhappy that they've written into their contract that they get to book all the profits from unbooked villas without contributing anything to the HOAs which have to maintain the place. Given that, I'm glad when I see that the place is half full because it means fewer bedspreads we schleps have to replace come January.

I'm unhappy that they've quit developing new properties.
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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Ok.. what is the difference between Manditory and Voluntary ownerships?

This has never been mentioned to me in any literature or by the sales agent.

Thank you for this subject! l. We bought Westin Mission Hills when the first shovel hit the ground. There was no mention (nor was it even in print anywhere) about Mandatory and Voluntary ownerships and its negative effects when your kids inherit the property and need to sell it. The end result was immediate decrease in value.
2. Apparently the Board of Directors do NOT want owners at their annual meetings. This is contiuously proven by the date an owner receives the Notice of when the meeting is (two weeks before). The document is dated 6 weeks before but apparently sits somewhere for a month. They refuse to set the next year's meeting date at the present meeting (like Marriott does)so you can plan around it.
3. They are constantly giving and taking back benefits, breaking promises and just plain poor customer service.
 

DeniseM

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Not to speak for Lisa, but what she is talking about is the way the rooms were categorized at WKORVN. The ocean front units at WKORV are all true OF, but some of the units categorized OF at WKORVN barely have a glimpse of the ocean, and the buyers were charged a high premium for an OF view. So it wouldn't matter who you bought from, or even if you bought resale, the way some of the OF units are categorized is just plain wrong.

For an explanation of Mandatory and Voluntary, see the Starwood FAQ at the top of the page.
 
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DeniseM

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3. This isn't a discussion about the quality of SVO's properties, or the benefits of any elite or other program.
Since the Elite program is an integral part of Starwood timeshare ownership, I don't feel there is any way to exclude it from this thread and accurately portray the concerns of Starwood owners.

Also - I applaud :clap: you for wanting to get involved in these issues, but the rest of us have been fighting the good fight for some time, and all of these issues have been discussed in depth in the past, so it's not exactly news to Starwood. They simply choose to ignore the concerns of informed owners on TUG, because they are still fooling the other 95%.
 

LisaRex

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Thanks to you too. I have purchased Ka'anapali as well.. but not ocean front. Did you buy from the developer directly in Maui, or from central sales? Just wondering who 'cheated' you.

I bought an OF unit on the resale market. Starwood cheated me because they didn't code the villas properly. My deeded unit is 5515/16, which is depicted on the map here (See bldg 5, unit 15/16). Would you consider this ocean front?

http://www.tugbbs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=77373

Happily, when I traveled in July, I was assigned the 6th floor of building 5, villas 03/04. However, another poster was assigned 15/16 and told she had no recourse because it was in her view class of OF.

The view coding at the south property is better, however they still code the lower floors as OF even when the line of trees impede the view. Since I bought OF because I wanted the best view, this does not make me happy.
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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No that looks like 'Pool front'

I think I would be upset with that too. I also bought resale, but, didn't buy ocean front.

I bought an OF unit on the resale market. Starwood cheated me because they didn't code the villas properly. My deeded unit is 5515/16, which is depicted on the map here (See bldg 5, unit 15/16). Would you consider this ocean front?

http://www.tugbbs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=77373

Happily, when I traveled in July, I was assigned the 6th floor of building 5, villas 03/04. However, another poster was assigned 15/16 and told she had no recourse because it was in her view class of OF.

The view coding at the south property is better, however they still code the lower floors as OF even when the line of trees impede the view. Since I bought OF because I wanted the best view, this does not make me happy.
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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Hi Denise..

I was just trying to be fair here, as best I can to get an objective perspective. The drop in value of the Elite program wasn't intended to be eliminated from discussion, just didn't want this thread to stray to discussions that weren't SVO management related.. Thanks for your perspective.

Is this true? Is everyone here so beat down by Starwood that they can't muster up enough strenght to let me know they 'are mad as hell and don't want to take it any more?'. Or perhaps everyone is really happy with SVO? Is that the case? If so, I can't really take any issue to management.

I am going to try to take up the cause ...

Since the Elite program is an integral part of Starwood timeshare ownership, I don't feel there is any way to exclude it from this thread and accurately portray the concerns of Starwood owners.

Also - I applaud :clap: you for wanting to get involved in these issues, but the rest of us have been fighting the good fight for some time, and all of these issues have been discussed in depth in the past, so it's not exactly news to Starwood. They simply choose to ignore the concerns of informed owners on TUG, because they are still fooling the other 95%.
 

DeniseM

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I
Is this true? Is everyone here so beat down by Starwood that they can't muster up enough strenght to let me know they 'are mad as hell and don't want to take it any more?'. Or perhaps everyone is really happy with SVO? Is that the case? If so, I can't really take any issue to management.
Neither one - we have been fighting them for years (6 in my case.) We win a few battles, but we seem to be losing the war - which changes battle fronts without warning. Several Tuggers have sent letters, organized owners to deal with a particular issue (WSJ), coordinated letter writing campaigns, made phone calls, had personal meetings, and pinned Starwood down over implementation of their own rules, but the bottom line is that Starwood's main interest is selling more timeshares to fresh meat. They have our money, and they aren't all that interested in what we have to say anymore.

I appreciate your fresh enthusiasm - welcome to the war! :D
 

StarwoodCanadafan

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Wow.. this is discouraging.. but at least...

I found out before I became 'old meat'. I guess I am no longer fresh either. Perhaps stale meat.

Seems that there is quite a bit of bitterness here.. but, I guess there is nothing you can do about it. You all purchased wanting to be in a great program, and unfortunately once you buy, you are essentially screwed if you bought from an vendor who really doesn't care, nor is there really any incentive.. or more importantly, recourse should you have a complaint.

Does this capture your feelings?

Neither one - we have been fighting them for years (6 in my case.) We win a few battles, but we seem to be losing the war - which changes battle fronts without warning. Several Tuggers have sent letters, organized owners to deal with a particular issue (WSJ), coordinated letter writing campaigns, made phone calls, had personal meetings, and pinned Starwood down over implementation of their own rules, but the bottom line is that Starwood's main interest is selling more timeshares to fresh meat. They have our money, and they aren't all that interested in what we have to say anymore.

I appreciate your fresh enthusiasm - welcome to the war! :D
 

DeniseM

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I'm not bitter - maybe just a wee bit jaded. Over all, timesharing is working very well for us. After we bought our WKORV week from the developer, I bought 5 more weeks on ebay for pennies on the dollar, and we really enjoy timesharing. We don't owe any money, and the rental weeks are paying all our MF's plus a bit in the pocket, so we are timesharing without any ongoing cost at this point. That's hard to beat! :D Frankly, we've kind of given up on the WKORV (we just rent it now) so as moderator, I mainly advocate for other owners at this point. My SDO week isn't in the SVN, so it's out of Starwood's clutches, but that does put me in the battle for freedom of depositing!

This board has an awfully nice group of owners (and they are so smart!) so I really enjoy talking about timesharing - good or bad.
 

Troopers

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I'll chime in.

I'll preface my opinions by stating that I'm new to timesharing and my first TS purchase was at WKORV resale two years ago. I was fortunate that I discovered TUG prior to my purchase (thanks TUG!). I abide by the "buy where you want to go" philosophy. I have no plans to trade, exchange or rent. And I have no plans to achieve elite status (however, I was interested in acquiring a second week at WKORV so that we be able to string 2 weeks).

IMHO, Starwood has been great. My interaction with Starwood has been limited to only the 800 reservation folks and the local staff at WKORV.
 

DavidnRobin

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I am not bitter.

My worries are accountability of the rising MFs, and associated maintenance (or lack of) - otherwise, I am eyes wide open.

Buy Resale. Enjoy.
 

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I wasn't bitter - until this last week. :wall:

K
 

DavidnRobin

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I would be pissed too...

I take it you didn't get in writing (see the negma clause) from SVO that they would give you 5* for your purchases/requals?

'Getting it in writing' should be in our stickies if it isn't already.
 

Cathyb

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SWcanadian: You put it in words exactly how a lot of us feel. Their time is coming -- I know I never would buy another SW. I am a happy owner of 6 other timeshare companies.
 

Ken555

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Great thread - good to see a summary of our issues with SVN.

Changes in elite status over the last couple of years have squashed my plans for buying more SVN properties with intent to requalify and purchase direct. I sympathize with all of you who are in the process of gaining 5* only to see SVN pull the rug out from under your feet. And, I sympathize with those who are 5* and see their benefits slowly erode over time.

SVN's lack of timely and accurate communication with its members is appalling. Their discourtesy to existing owners by changing policies without notice or discussion is an insult to all of us who have supported and advocated their program. While they may have the right to make unilateral changes, doing so in the manner in which they have will only create discontent among the very people who are their best natural supporters (and source of additional sales).

I have a number of issues with SVN, some less important than others (several of these have already been posted in this thread):

1. Reservations are more difficult and costly than necessary by not having a real-time online reservation system (preferably with ability to request room/building location, etc).

2. Lack of transparent decisions which affect owners. A prime example of this is the special assessment confusion at Vistana Resort. Difficulty in obtaining Board minutes and decisions in a timely manner, and in ways other than via marketing or financial disclosures. Inherent in this is the obvious top-heavy makeup of the HOA Board's by SVN personnel, even though they may officially only represent themselves. It would be nice and appropriate for Board meetings to be recorded and posted on MSC for us to watch and comment (but they don't want our involvement, so...).

3. "Owner's Updates" are anything but. Would be nice to have a real "Owner's Update" when visiting a resort - perhaps they should simply offer them in a group session strictly related to program updates and new resort info, etc. Then again, they don't want owner's talking in groups, and they see these as prime sales opportunities. I don't want to waste anyone's time, but their sales staff often doesn't know more than I about the status of the program and it ends up wasting my time. If they insist on continuing this method of updates/sales, the least they should do is train their staff better. Of course, accuracy in sales is contrary to common t/s sales tactics.

4. Relationship with SVN and SPG seems inequitable. Not just the value of the conversion of your developer week into SPG points, but that SPG members can now exchange points to reserve a room at SVN properties and the resort HOA does not receive any funds for those rentals. This includes paid rentals at the resort as well. I am amazed that this is true, and if the HOA Board was truly independent this policy would never stand. Of course, given that it's available, I will certainly try to take advantage of it...

I may continue to buy and recommend SVN properties as a great way to travel, but fully with the qualification to buy resale and with realistic expectations. I believe my value out of my resale purchases have been fantastic, both direct with SVN and via II. I don't personally feel as burned as others here, since I haven't bought direct (well, I did once, but was able to rescind because SVN couldn't get the property built even over a year after they started sales). At this point, I see no advantage in buying direct under almost any circumstances.

My goal for the coming months is to learn more about the Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton programs. I may rent at one next year to test the waters elsewhere again (it's been a few years since I've stayed at a Marriott). I expect my next purchase will not be Starwood.
 
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