PROS / You don’t have to pay a booking fee if you want to stay outside of your home resort.
CONS / Starwood has one of the highest exchange fees compared to the top-rated vacation clubs.
VERDICT / Starwood Vacation Ownership gives you the opportunity to purchase a piece of property that will be your vacation home for years to come, and you can pass it on to your family. Although some of the fees are among the highest comparatively, the club waives many other fees.
At Starwood Vacation Ownership resorts, you can find a myriad of options that will fit your family and your destination preferences. The travel club uses points – StarOptions – that allow you to spend as you see fit. So, if you want to split your vacation into four days at the beach, and then five days skiing in the mountains, you can make your StarOptions work that way, depending on how many you purchase. As a member of the best vacation clubs, like Starwood, your member dues help fund your membership to an exchange group so you can trade your week (or weeks) and stay outside of the Starwood network. Using the exchange group Interval International will make it possible for you to spend your StarOptions to stay in similar accommodations as your home resort around the world. It’s this flexibility and the fact that your real estate purchase remains yours forever that earns Starwood Vacation Ownership our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award.
Being a member of Starwood gives you access to more than 2,900 resorts around the world, so you can explore Spain, France, Japan and Australia, among others, by using Interval International. Although your member dues cover the cost of the exchange group’s membership cost, you will still have to pay an exchange fee to trade a week at your Starwood home resort for a week in another resort.
If you simply cannot find the time to take a vacation one year, you can bank, or save, your points and use them the next year, but this will cost $99 each time you choose to do it. There is no fee to borrow, however, so if you planned a bigger trip than you expected and you need a few thousand more points, you can borrow from next year’s points. You have to pay extra dues on the points you borrow, though.
You have some flexibility in where you stay with Starwood. You aren’t tied to your home resort because you can book a week in any of the Starwood resorts at no extra cost to you, as long as the unit you book is comparable to the one you’ve purchased. The best timeshare resorts have a staff that will help cater to your needs, such as helping you reserve the unit of your choice at the right time of the year. They can also help you choose activities for your family while you’re there and they can help you with procuring travel insurance, if you need it.
Types of Destinations
Starwood Vacation Ownership resorts are located in a variety of hot spots, such as California, Colorado, Hawaii and Mexico, so you can pick the resort that best suits your style as your home resort. You can choose from more than a dozen resorts. There are options in the mountains, if you’re itching to hit the slopes; the desert if you want to spend your days on the links; if you’re more in the mood to sun yourself on a sandy beach, you have that option, too. Add on the variety you get from Interval International, and you’d be hard pressed to find a spot you can’t visit.
Starwood Vacation owners are able to turn StarOptions into StarPoints, so you can turn in your vacation points in order to use on hotels within the Starwood network (that includes Westin, Sheraton, St. Regis, Four Points, Le Meridien and W hotels). As a member of Starwood, you can benefit from the group’s affiliations with spas, golf courses, theme parks, rental companies and more.
When we contacted the company for more information about a membership, we were assigned to a sales associate who answered most of our questions with nearly complete disclosure. When members have issues, the company does what it can to make things right. Although a few requests were not met, we were able to ascertain that Starwood Vacation Ownership is one of best vacation clubs around.
If you’re looking for the best timeshare company available, Starwood Vacation Ownership may very well fit the bill for you. If you stay within the Starwood network of resorts, you won’t have to pay a booking fee. And in conjunction with the exchange group Interval International, the club offers you thousands of places to vacation, though you will have to pay a steep exchange fee.