A Different Approach
Those days are history - and bad history - at least in the minds of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. that has opened its new Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas on Maui. While some people receive mailed invitations to visit the resort, many prospective owners actually seek out the resort to make appointments well in advance of their visit. Others stop by at one of the resorts' open houses or ask for information at the one of the resort's kiosks along the beach walk at the Westin Maui.
It's not that the folks at Starwood don't want your business. They do, but they much prefer you to want them first based on their reputation, a referral from a friend or existing owner, or from hearing about the property from someone such as, well, me.
The hard sell that was used for most timeshare properties in the 80's and 90's no longer works. People resent being forced to hear a presentation that they don't really want to hear. The sales success rate was usually very poor. It made no sense for you and no sense for the property owner.
Believe me when I say I am a skeptic about timeshare or vacation ownership resorts, as they are now called. I hate the hard sell approach. I walked past the kiosks at the Westin Maui many times over the course of several days. I even stopped and read some of displays. Only when I approached the sales representative did he talk to me about the resort. When I explained that I had no interest, I was allowed to leave with a pleasant, "have a good day." Other times I had questions and indicated a desire to learn more and I was invited to visit the resort and take a tour.
What is a Timeshare or Vacation Ownership Property?
While many folks are familiar with the concept, you'd be surprised how many are not. In basic terms, instead of paying for a hotel room or renting a condominium, you actually own your lodging for one, or sometimes two, weeks a year.
For example, if you purchase a two-bedroom villa for one week a year, that villa is yours every year for one week. Many timeshares require you to "lock-in" a set week every year. Starwood allows you to purchase a week in a given season of the year which gives you more flexibilty in scheduling your vacation.
What do you mean by purchase a unit for a week a year?
The easiest way to look at it is to imagine that you are buying a condominium for your principal residence. There is a set purchase price. You usually finance it for a number of years with payments each month. There is also a maintenance fee that goes towards the upkeep of the common areas of the property and to pay for staff and other overhead.
With a timeshare or vacation resort, you are basically buying 1/52 (one week) or 2/52 (two weeks) of a residence. Everything else is the same. You can finance your purchase and there is a maintenance fee in addition to cost of the actual unit.
As is the case with condominiums, different units have different prices based on size and location on the premises.
Who Should and Should Not Consider a Timeshare or Vacation Ownership?
This is just my opinion, but those who should consider it are: frequent visitors to Maui for sure, couples with children who don't want to pay the cost of eating three meals a day in restaurants, and even young or early middle age couples without children for whom it makes economic sense. If you're an older couple with no children it might not make economic sense for you.
How is Starwood Vacation Ownership different?
There are quite a few ways that Starwood differs from their competitors.
- As I mentioned, you are not locked into the same week every year. You are buying a week or two in a given season of the year.
- Your ownership is fee simple. It lasts forever and can be willed at your death.
- As is the case with most vacation ownership properties, you can exchange your week in Hawaii for time elsewhere as part of the Starwood Vacation Network, an exchange program that gives its members easy access to all the exciting Sheraton and Westin vacation ownership resorts as well as to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
- Many timeshare or vacation ownership properties are little more than glorified condominiums. The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas has all of the amenities of any first class resort in Hawaii.
- With Starwood's "Stay at One, Play at All" program, when you stay at the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa or the Sheraton Maui Resort, you enjoy the sights, facilities and culinary delights of all three Starwood Maui resorts.
Check out our Review of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas.