would not have been available to us had we been trading in weeks. Since HGVC itself is a point based system, we have always traded in points. More than that, we have learned to make the system work to our advan- tage. With a 5,000 point yearly allot- ment from Hilton for our two-bedroom unit, and with a chart to gauge the point value of our exchanges as to unit size and time of year requested, we have often extracted two weeks of vaca- tion from one week of timeshare.
The following are some examples. I can only assume that other point based systems work comparably within their own point allocations.
We made an RCI exchange one
August for a studio unit at the Westin, St. John, USVI, for 2,400 points. (This was actually a large one bedroom, two bath unit with a private master bed- room loft). That same year we made an October exchange into a one-bed- room unit at Hilton’s Plantation Beach Club at Indian River, Florida, for an- other 2,400 points. Total for the year: 4,800 points.
Another year we made an April
exchange with RCI into a one bedroom unit at Sedona Pines in Arizona for 3,400 points, and then did a Novem- ber exchange into a studio at the Hilton Flamingo, Las Vegas, for 1,600 points. Total for the year: 5,000 points.
Our next plan: an April trade
with RCI into a studio at the Scottsdale Camelback Resort in Arizona for 2,400 points (another large, lofted unit
that’s just short of one bedroom status). Then, in order to make an RCI exchange in December into a one bedroom unit at the Acapulco Mayan Palace for 3,400 points, we will borrow 800 points from the coming year. That will leave us with enough points to vacation with family the next De- cember in a three bedroom unit at HGVC Sea World, Orlando, for 4,100 points. Total for two years: 9,900 points.
If you insist on using your timeshare in the same old way, going to the same place at the same time, year in and year out, I can understand why converting to points may not be in your best inter- est. But you’d be missing out on what is probably the best kept secret in in- terval vacationing. Timesharing was revolutionized with the advent of flex weeks, allowing us to choose when we wanted to vacation. Now timesharing is going through another metamorpho- sis that’s giving us more time from what we already own. It’s up to you to judge whether a conversion fee is worthwhile, but is the additional pay- ment of a few thousand dollars all that stands between you and perpetually increased vacation time?
If you’re afraid that converting to points will leave you with the dregs to trade into, the same rule applies to any trade be it points or weeks: reserve early (we were lucky this time). But even with that, a pecking order still
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applies. We’ve had requests turned down by RCI when trying to exchange into basic resorts with points coming from our Gold Crown resort. We would have needed special permission to override the vetoes in order to get a lower standard of accommodations.
More time from your timeshare— that’s what trading in points will give you if you can be flexible with time and place. Having a basic understand- ing of how a point system works is also key, but that’s the easy part. Deciding where to go has always been our di- lemma. This time we chose Hawaii, but had we not looked into RCI’s new points program, our summer vacation would have included things other than luaus and leis.
As it turned out, Pahio at Kauai Beach Villas was a resort embracing RCI’s new points program. At their timeshare presentation we were of- fered a two-bedroom unit for about $25,000. The unit commanded enough RCI points that, along with a yearly bonus week, could be stretched out to almost five weeks of vacation. We certainly didn’t need another time- share, nor did we want the hassle of dealing directly with RCI, so we walked away. But with a deal like that, we were seriously tempted.
Barbara Rein, West Nyack, NY