Anyone here own Starwood Timeshare?

Old Mar 31, 11, 1:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Seattlenerd View Post
Seattlenerdette and I have purchased two Starwood Vacation Ownership timeshares (Maui in 2004 and Avon, CO in 2005). We are now in the process of selling our Maui unit.

Some quick observations, and what we would do differently:

1) Be absolutely sure your home resort is one you want to return to every year for which you've purchased. We liked Maui and bought there, but quickly realized it wasn't a place to which we wanted to return every year. While developer timeshare sales people will emphasis the ability to convert to hotel points (through Starpoints), other SVO timeshares (through Staroptions) and third-party timeshares (through Interval International), all options require additional cost ($100-$150 fee) and the final two scheduling hassles. If you buy in a location, be sure you always want to visit that location. And make sure you're willing to lock up a week or two of your vacation every year at a timeshare, no matter where it is, in discrete one-week chunks. Eventually, we didn't. But YMMV.

2) Assume it will take at least 20 years for you to amortize the underlying cost of a developer timeshare purchase. We did the rough payback math on both of our units and never believed the sales person's contention that a timeshare is an investment. It is not. It is an expense, much like buying a luxury car. It will lose value, no matter what, as long as there is a resale market. But if you keep it long enough and use it routinely, you will likely get your initial value.

3) Assume your maintenance fees will increase far faster than the rate of inflation. We didn't. But our Maui maintenance fees for a two-bedroom lockoff went from about $1200 a year when we purchased to $2400 a year over the space of seven years. Maintenance fees are an issue whether you buy from the developer or buy resale. They are the invisible albatross hanging around your neck. But if you plan for them (and potentials for increase are rarely highlighted by timeshare sales people), you can deal with them.

4) Buy resale. gets my recommendation as well. We bought both our units from the SVO developer, due to ignorance and inventory scarcity (Maui was a new resort) in the first case, and due to a great deal with bonus Starpoints in the second case. But if we were to buy going forward, we'd buy resale -- with the caveat that if you get a deal that seems to good to be true at a Starwood Right of First Refusal resort, SVO could buy it back out from under you (it appears to be happening more and more at Maui at other SVO ROFR resorts as the economy slowly improves). Also keep in mind not all resales qualify for exchanges within the Starwood Vacation Network. And do every re-sale transaction through third-party escrow to protect yourself. But that said, there are great resources on both and to assist.

5) Buy into a quality, stable timeshare company. SVO is at the top, as is Marriott. There are others, but these two, in our experience, seem to have the best maintained properties and programs.

We are among those who have managed to re-sell our Maui timeshare, in our case back to SVO after it exercised its ROFR following a written offer from a third party. We lost money, a significant amount of our original purchase price. But we also had excellent stays every time due to the quality of Starwood's properties and program. On balance, we think it was worth it and we're keeping our second SVO timeshare. But if I'd known what I detail above, it would have been a much more rational and knowledgeable purchase the first time. ^
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Old Mar 31, 11, 1:29 pm
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Oops! Meant to print Seattlenerd's comments, not repeat them!

But that's because he makes a number of great points, especially "Don't buy it unless you want to use it every year", and "Buy from a big, stable company." My partner and I own at the Westin Ka'anapali Maui and the Four Seasons Aviara near San Diego. We live in NJ and have gazillions of FF miles to use for first class annual pilgrimages to Maui and southern California in the dead, and dread, of NJ winter.

Buying these (from Four Seasons and Starwood) was a lifestyle choice, not an investment decision. If you want to get away to paradise for a few weeks annually at a reasonable cost (especially if you rent part of the lockoff to friends!), it's a valid choice. We love what we have, and make the most of it. It all depends on how you want to spend your vacation time and money.
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Old Apr 1, 11, 2:04 pm
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Originally Posted by controller1 View Post
Yes, it all depends on where you buy. I'm 4-star elite and paid $5,775 for 2011.
Our MFs are just over $8300 for 5-Star Elite.
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Old Apr 1, 11, 11:07 pm
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I think the first thing to keep in mind is that a timeshare is NOT an investment. It's a pre-paid vacation. If you compare what it would cost you for the timeshare, factoring in annual maintenance and even financing fees if you do that, against what it would cost for to pay for a comparable room (i.e., 2 rooms, or a 2-bedroom suite) at a regular hotel, you'll find that the timeshare ends up being a better deal over time. Moreso if you do some self-catering in the kitchen of the timeshare unit. In any given year the calculation varies, obviously over the last couple of years hotel rooms have been cheap, but rates are very cyclical. You do have to be in it for the long haul though.
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