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To buy or not to buy... that is the question

SeattleJohn2

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Hello folks! Once again I am considering buying into the SVN family. I've been to a couple of SVN sales pitches and almost pulled the trigger in the resale market but have held off for various reasons. However, my wife and I have revisited the topic and are very seriously considering making a purchase into a mandatory property, specifically Westin Kierland platinum 2 BR lo (annual).

Before I break out the checkbook I'd like to get some feedback on a couple of key questions that we have. BTW, I read the stickies and reviewed the forums so hopefully I can save you from having to tell me the basics :)

But first, some background on us:
1) We have two kids -- in 1st and 3rd grade so we are limited to school breaks, so we are not as flexible as some folks
2) We prefer to bounce around to a few resorts visiting the home resort every few years. The general scenarios are: Christmas in Kierland, spring break in Kauai, summer vacation in CO, week with the family in Orlando, special week for wife and I in St. John.
3) On a rare occasion we would gift the week or rent when we can't make it (or possibly roll over the Options)
4) We have our eye on a Kierland platinum 2BR (148,100 options) for ~$18k plus closing costs.
5) This would be our first timeshare

So here are my questions:
1) Basically I am concerned about availability in other resorts. What properties can I count on NOT booking? For instance, I heard the ski resorts are impossible to get in winter. What is generally available at Christmas/NY, spring break (week 14), summer?
2) What determines the 12 month or 8 month time limit? Is it when your season starts (e.g., week 50 for Kierland) or is it your deeded week?
3) Are any restrictions being put in place for renting out your week?
4) What are Flex Options / Home Options? Should I read this as SVN moving in another direction with their timeshare program? Will I be "trapped" with the current offerings?
5) One thing that wasn't clear was how far out could we book less than a week at my home resort? Other properties?
6) Would it be better to cobble together several properties from SVV to get ~150,000 points or get one from Kierland?

Is there anything else I should be considering?

I feel guilty unloading so many questions. This is a big purchase for my family and I don't want to screw it up! THANK YOU in advance for your help!!!


Cheers,
John
 

DeniseM

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1) Basically I am concerned about availability in other resorts. What properties can I count on NOT booking? For instance, I heard the ski resorts are impossible to get in winter. What is generally available at Christmas/NY, spring break (week 14), summer?

At many of the resorts. Christmas/New Years were sold as event weeks, so you can't reserve them with Staroptions - you must OWN them to book them.

2) What determines the 12 month or 8 month time limit? Is it when your season starts (e.g., week 50 for Kierland) or is it your deeded week?

At 12 mos. before check-in, you can reserve your home resort, in the season and unit type(s) that you own.

At 8 mos. before check-in you can make Staroption reservations for resorts, seasons, or units that you do not own. IF available - this is a big if.

3) Are any restrictions being put in place for renting out your week?

There are no restrictions on renting home resort reservations.

4) What are Flex Options / Home Options? Should I read this as SVN moving in another direction with their timeshare program? Will I be "trapped" with the current offerings?

It's what they are selling at the new Maui Property, WSJ, and the Florida Group. WKV is not being sold this way. You buy HomeOptions, instead of a deeded week. It's more expensive. Time will tell if it's a good value or not. I say "not."

5) One thing that wasn't clear was how far out could we book less than a week at my home resort? Other properties?

12-8 mos. before check-in you can reserve your home resort.

8-0 mos. before check-in you can reserve other resorts, or a season or unit that is different from what you own at your home resort.

6) Would it be better to cobble together several properties from SVV to get ~150,000 points or get one from Kierland?

It would be cheaper UPFRONT to buy in the mandatory phases at SVV - higher maintenance fees/lower purchase price.

Your maintenance fees will be lower if you buy at WKV - lower maintenance fees/higher purchase price.

Is there anything else I should be considering?

You will be trying to reserve the highest demand weeks of the year - school holidays, which may not always be available. For the major school holidays, you must jump on it the second the reservation window opens, to reserve the popular resorts.

For instance - for 2016, at the Maui Resorts, and HRA, President's week and Easter week were just about booked solid at 8 mos. when the Staroption reservation window opened - all that was left was a handful of studios that were gone in seconds.

You should read the stickies at the top of the page - start with the FAQ.
 
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DeniseM

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Misread a question above: short stays are always Staroption reservations and can be made at 8 mos. Except with Homeoptions - which can be used for short stays at your home resort starting at 12 mos.

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Armani987

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It seems like you are going through the same dilemma as me. I asked similar question earlier and contemplating on the purchase. Unlike you, I normally don't travel during a high season so I have a better chance being able to use Star option to hop different properties. Still it seems like you have to make a reservation at 8 month mark to have a chance during a busy season.

I normally go to Hawaii at end of August ~ September, right before my daughter's school starts(she normally go back to school after Labor day). In 5 more years, I will be travelling at end of September, which is a low season for both travel and my business. If you must travel during a very peak season, I would reconsider the purchase. Christmas is sold separately as a fixed week at most popular properties. Platinum at WKV is definitely my option, but your home resort will be the only resort that MIGHT get you something at peak season.
 

SMHarman

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I'm gonna check on the staroption chart to verify but I believe only HI resorts have 51 and 52, Christmas and NY sold as fixed weeks ONLY.

Many others allowed you to fix a week 51/52 but others are available at 12 and less likely 8 months.

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okwiater

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The most challenging properties to trade into with StarOptions will be WKORV/N, HRA, WSJ, WRF, and Steamboat. That said, I have been able to exchange into all of them using StarOptions, including during high-demand holiday weeks (not Christmas or New Years, though).

The main caveat is that you should not expect to always be able to exchange into the resort and week you want, because the popular ones may not be available. However, if you are willing to maintain some level of flexibility in terms of either the week you travel or the resort you visit, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding something you want. I would say Christmas and New Years are the ones that present the least likelihood of finding a StarOption reservation, simply because they are such popular vacation weeks and many resorts sold them as event weeks.

When it comes to your scenarios -- "Christmas in Kierland, spring break in Kauai, summer vacation in CO, week with the family in Orlando, special week for wife and I in St. John" -- I don't see much of a problem with any of them.

--- Christmas in Kierland will be no problem to reserve if you purchase a Kierland week.
--- Spring break in Kauai is doable as long as you reserve immediately when the StarOption window opens (Kauai is less popular than Maui).
--- Summer is not high season in Colorado so you will have no problem finding something at one of the resorts. WRF will be harder than SMV or LT.
--- Orlando is easy to reserve almost any time of the year.
--- WSJ should not be a problem as long as you have some flexibility in terms of the week you travel.

The only other advice I have is to be careful, because timeshares are addicting. We started in 2010 with a 148,100 StarOption Kierland deed and now have over a million StarOptions annually.
 

PamMo

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...The only other advice I have is to be careful, because timeshares are addicting. We started in 2010 with a 148,100 StarOption Kierland deed and now have over a million StarOptions annually.

This made me smile, because it's oh, so true! When you learn how to maximize the use of your timeshares, it can be very addicting.
 
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Armani987

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The only other advice I have is to be careful, because timeshares are addicting. We started in 2010 with a 148,100 StarOption Kierland deed and now have over a million StarOptions annually.

LOL!! How is it possible to use that much!?

Do you think it's easy to book Kierland at this time of the year? Or like during the summer? Like is it possible to book something a month notice?
 

DeniseM

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I would not expect to book anything with a month's notice, because 60 days before check in Starwood can confiscate any unreserved inventory. If you can't make firm plans 8-12 mos. in advance, I would not buy a timeshare. Timesharing works the best with advanced planning - especially for school holidays.


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SeattleJohn2

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Wow, this is such a great group! Thanks for helping out a total stranger (read: n00b).

One question I have is that according to the information from the add for the WKV that we are considering (and talking to the sales person) the platinum weeks are 1-22 and 50-52. This implies that Christmas/NY is an option. Is there any chance at all that we could call 12 months out and book the holiday? Or is that just wishful thinking (or worse, deception on someone's part to include weeks 50-52 in the ad)?

Thanks,
John
 

Henry M.

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I would not expect to book anything with a month's notice, because 60 days before check in Starwood can confiscate any unreserved inventory. If you can't make firm plans 8-12 mos. in advance, I would not buy a timeshare. Timesharing works the best with advanced planning - especially for school holidays.


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Denise,

The two times I've needed to do it I reserved WKOR with less than a month's notice, and got it. The last time was just this past August, when I needed an additional studio. It was perhaps two weeks before the check-in date. The other time was in mid-January a couple of years ago when we decided we were going to Maui on a whim and arranged both frequent flyer tickets and lodging for a trip less than 7 days away. I haven't had the need to do this besides these two times, so maybe I was just very lucky.

Now I wouldn't count on always being able to do this, but it is certainly not impossible. I wouldn't buy a unit expecting to always be able to get something, but as long as you're not going at the very peak of the season, it can be done.

Henry
 

DeniseM

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1) We have two kids -- in 1st and 3rd grade so we are limited to school breaks, so we are not as flexible as some folks

Since the OP needs school holidays - and will for many years - I don't think last minute planning will work for him. Also - with a family of 4, a studio will be too small soon, if it's not already.
 
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okwiater

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LOL!! How is it possible to use that much!?

My family likes to travel but when we do we like to be as comfortable as we are at home. That means no sharing a bedroom with the kids. :) Reserving 2- and 3-bedroom units for a week or two at a time can chew up StarOptions pretty quickly.

We also use several units as rentals and Starpoint conversions.

Do you think it's easy to book Kierland at this time of the year? Or like during the summer? Like is it possible to book something a month notice?

Availability can be pretty spotty under 60 days, but it's not impossible. You'll have better chances during non-peak seasons. But as Denise says, timeshares really aren't designed to be used regularly for last-minute travel.
 

dsmrp

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Booking Kierland or SDO this time of year is possible but not easy :)
Short stays pop up now and then. For example, I looked last week for 3 days from Dec 31-Jan 3, and a 1 bdrm Kierland was available, but I decided to keep my SDO reservation for same 3 days. I booked SDO at 8 months, and there was both Kierland and SDO available for several days.

Since October 1, (star option banking deadline for some elite levels) is coming up soon, there might be a tiny bit more availability between now and then. But after that probably not ???
 

vacationtime1

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Spring break on Kauai is probably possible if you reserve at exactly eight months, but Princeville is not terribly kid friendly. Your school age kids will prefer Maui -- and that is tough as a StarOption exchange.
 

okwiater

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Spring break on Kauai is probably possible if you reserve at exactly eight months, but Princeville is not terribly kid friendly. Your school age kids will prefer Maui -- and that is tough as a StarOption exchange.
Maui is definitely a ton of fun, but Princeville isn't kid-unfriendly either. Depends on the personality of your kids. My first visit to Hawaii was as a 12-year-old many years ago and I remember liking Kauai better than Maui even back then.
 

czar

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People may disagree with this strategy, but I bought a resale SMV week to have access to ski weeks in winter and requalified it with a BV week, which is the main property we wanted to visit. Tricky, I realize, for a beginner (but I was at the time), but it's another option rather than spending $18k for WKV.

So, for $19k (I used 2 throwaway weeks to bring equity), I got a summer 3br, requaled a bi-annual SMV week, and used $1900 from an explorer package and netted 220k SP (IIRC).

Granted my MF per SO are higher but I have guaranteed access to where we want to go (except dw now wants to go to WSJ in winter/spring). If neither appeals, I have 196k SO one year and 344k the next (and like OKI more now that I've added ownership weeks).
 

okwiater

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People may disagree with this strategy, but I bought a resale SMV week to have access to ski weeks in winter and requalified it with a BV week, which is the main property we wanted to visit. Tricky, I realize, for a beginner (but I was at the time), but it's another option rather than spending $18k for WKV.

So, for $19k (I used 2 throwaway weeks to bring equity), I got a summer 3br, requaled a bi-annual SMV week, and used $1900 from an explorer package and netted 220k SP (IIRC).

Granted my MF per SO are higher but I have guaranteed access to where we want to go (except dw now wants to go to WSJ in winter/spring). If neither appeals, I have 196k SO one year and 344k the next (and like OKI more now that I've added ownership weeks).

I just want to caution readers of this thread that YMMV quite a bit since this strategy takes lots of time, and requalification rules and eligible inventory are always changing. You got an incredible deal but the requalification threshold in St. John is now $40K.

If someone wants to own in St. John and acquire lots of StarOptions (257K annually), then a resale 3-bedroom Pool Villa in Platinum Plus season is one of the best bangs for the buck in the system. Not much more expensive than WKV, reasonable MF/SO ratio, and is likely to retain its value since it is such a unique villa type.
 

czar

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I just want to caution readers of this thread that YMMV quite a bit since this strategy takes lots of time, and requalification rules and eligible inventory are always changing. You got an incredible deal but the requalification threshold in St. John is now $40K.

If someone wants to own in St. John and acquire lots of StarOptions (257K annually), then a resale 3-bedroom Pool Villa in Platinum Plus season is one of the best bangs for the buck in the system. Not much more expensive than WKV, reasonable MF/SO ratio, and is likely to retain its value since it is such a unique villa type.

Yes that's important. I think they let me requalify at $20k because it was really over $40k with the equity, whether that was an exception I don't know, and you're probably right that it was $20k then and $40k now, although you could always do the reverse. I know it was an exception to go under $20k at $19k, and they can be cagey with things, and things can change; however, they also requalified my SDO week with SVV purchases for less than $20 (again, minus explorer pkg).

I worry a little about the SO value my SDO week in the long term given all the recent changes with SVN and SO and HO. I understand there's no reason to sound the alarm bells but same holds true with WKV - I'd be a little worried about spending nearly $20k with closing costs at this point for a week that could have a value change for trades in the coming years. Not saying it will but it's a possiblity.
 

lizap

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I also agree, and it spoils you too. You get to where you never want to stay in a hotel room...

This made me smile, because it's oh, so true! When you learn how to maximize the use of your timeshares, it can be very addicting.
 

taterhed

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No one asked me, but: Ever think about a Marriott? With Marriott preference and more resorts--there are more options for trading. Plus, Marriott has fine and dandy resorts pretty much where you asked about.
Just a thought. A Ko Olina will get you lots of trades.


Hello folks! Once again I am considering buying into the SVN family. I've been to a couple of SVN sales pitches and almost pulled the trigger in the resale market but have held off for various reasons. However, my wife and I have revisited the topic and are very seriously considering making a purchase into a mandatory property, specifically Westin Kierland platinum 2 BR lo (annual).

Before I break out the checkbook I'd like to get some feedback on a couple of key questions that we have. BTW, I read the stickies and reviewed the forums so hopefully I can save you from having to tell me the basics :)

But first, some background on us:
1) We have two kids -- in 1st and 3rd grade so we are limited to school breaks, so we are not as flexible as some folks
2) We prefer to bounce around to a few resorts visiting the home resort every few years. The general scenarios are: Christmas in Kierland, spring break in Kauai, summer vacation in CO, week with the family in Orlando, special week for wife and I in St. John.
3) On a rare occasion we would gift the week or rent when we can't make it (or possibly roll over the Options)
4) We have our eye on a Kierland platinum 2BR (148,100 options) for ~$18k plus closing costs.
5) This would be our first timeshare

So here are my questions:
1) Basically I am concerned about availability in other resorts. What properties can I count on NOT booking? For instance, I heard the ski resorts are impossible to get in winter. What is generally available at Christmas/NY, spring break (week 14), summer?
2) What determines the 12 month or 8 month time limit? Is it when your season starts (e.g., week 50 for Kierland) or is it your deeded week?
3) Are any restrictions being put in place for renting out your week?
4) What are Flex Options / Home Options? Should I read this as SVN moving in another direction with their timeshare program? Will I be "trapped" with the current offerings?
5) One thing that wasn't clear was how far out could we book less than a week at my home resort? Other properties?
6) Would it be better to cobble together several properties from SVV to get ~150,000 points or get one from Kierland?

Is there anything else I should be considering?

I feel guilty unloading so many questions. This is a big purchase for my family and I don't want to screw it up! THANK YOU in advance for your help!!!


Cheers,
John
 

YYJMSP

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My family likes to travel but when we do we like to be as comfortable as we are at home. That means no sharing a bedroom with the kids. :) Reserving 2- and 3-bedroom units for a week or two at a time can chew up StarOptions pretty quickly.

We're finding the same as our daughter grows up, but our issue is the bathroom -- we're starting to book 2BR with 2 bathrooms instead of a 1BR with her on the living room pull-out and sharing the single bathroom.

We're only at 700K SO's, but are definitely looking at buying another unit or two (pushing us in to the 950K SO's range) in the next year or so as she becomes firmly entrenched in her early teens.
 

lizap

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I think a major issue for the OP is that you cannot use Marriott's internal exchange system when you purchase resale (you must use II, albeit with Marriott preference). I think a WKV platinum plus would fit OP well. Sort of reminds me of what we do. WKV during Christmas holidays, Colorado in late spring/summer, Kauai in spring, WSJ on occasion..


No one asked me, but: Ever think about a Marriott? With Marriott preference and more resorts--there are more options for trading. Plus, Marriott has fine and dandy resorts pretty much where you asked about.
Just a thought. A Ko Olina will get you lots of trades.
 

taterhed

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No one asked me, but: Ever think about a Marriott? With Marriott preference and more resorts--there are more options for trading. Plus, Marriott has fine and dandy resorts pretty much where you asked about.
Just a thought. A Ko Olina will get you lots of trades.

I think a major issue for the OP is that you cannot use Marriott's internal exchange system when you purchase resale (you must use II, albeit with Marriott preference). I think a WKV platinum plus would fit OP well. Sort of reminds me of what we do. WKV during Christmas holidays, Colorado in late spring/summer, Kauai in spring, WSJ on occasion..


After re-reading the posts thinking about it...I changed my mind.

I think the OP wants hi-quality, early booking/planning, and locations/dates that are usually tough to book/trade. Buying a trader was bad advice on my part. I can't rec'd buying MVCI points @ $12+ and I'm not sure of the status of bundled points/weeks (and the $$$$). So, I retract my Marriott suggestion.

The SVO owners with experience (above ) seem to think you can make the bookings you need. I have no experience with that. I wanted a small mandatory for trading, but the SVN/Vistana thing is evolving too fast for me right now. I hope it works for you--good luck. One piece of advice: Because you'll be forced to book on the opening day and won't have much room for exploring other options, you might consider ALSO picking up a cheap high quality trader to gather some flex-time trades that you can afford to travel to at <59 (45) days. Having a secondary trader could grab you that 2nd unit at Orlando or a quick ski-vacation or Scottsdale weekend. That without burning all your SVO's. Just a thought.
 

ThreeLittleBirds

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If you are open to studios or 1 bedrooms, that seems to increase your chances of using SO's at the resorts you mentioned.
 
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