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View Full Version : Considering DVC and Have a Few Qs


conandrob240
06-27-2007, 08:58 AM
Got all the basics book/DVD/talked to a really nice sales rep so I think I have a pretty good understanding of the whole thing. I am approaching this as not a $ saver or an investment but a way to have a nice (or 2 nice) vacations each year to a place we love for potentially a little cost savings. We are final on choosing AKL- that is my favorite hotel and we usually go ever year. Here are my Qs:

1) How hard is it to get your first choice when you call right at 11 months? What if I call 6 mths in advance? We don't usually travel real peak times (we like the last 2 weeks of August) but please answer this question with experiences from low, medium & peak seasons. Also, is it hard to get reservations for the cruise line using the pts?

2) Does it really suck to not have maid service? I love maid service on vacation so I am a little leary about this one. Can you "buy" maid service?

3) Is there a benefit to one booking year (sorry if I got the term wrong) vs another or does that really more depend on whee you personally like to travel. I am being told there is Aug 1, Sept 1 and Dec 1 available now. Aug 1 might be okay for me. They said they'd release Jan and Feb start years probably in a few months.

4) Bonus offer now is $8 off or 3x builder's pts. So, I am considering buying 250 pts That would mean 500 builder's pts I'd have to use in 7 months. So, back to my question, if we aren't picky about where we stay and we have a little flex on dates, can we book something in the 7 mth window or will it be sold out? I may use the pts to send my sister and her family to WDW for Feb or Easter week 2008- will I have trouble fidning a villa?

5) We have fared really well these past 3 years at AKL with the free dining program. We've spent roughly $2k for 3 people for a week with food which I think is great. If you use DVC pts, can you add DDP? Do they ever have the "free" offers they have for hotel guests? I don't want to ever fel like I could have gone for cheaper/better and resent buying into DVC.

Thanks!
Connie

JimMIA
06-27-2007, 09:51 AM
I like your approach of considering DVC nothing more than prepaid vacation lodging. I wish more people had that realistic outlook. I'll take a shot at some of your questions.1) How hard is it to get your first choice when you call right at 11 months? What if I call 6 mths in advance?At 11 months you should get what you want, unless you own at BWV and are calling for a standard view. In that case, you may or may not get exactly what you want, but you'll probably do well.

At six months, it depends on when you are going and when you call. We got a BCV studio in early May at five months this year. At six months, you should be able to get something somewhere, unless you are calling for Thanksgiving - New Years. That's a very tough period. Keep in mind that DVC peaks differ from typical WDW peaks sometimes.
2) Does it really suck to not have maid service? I love maid service on vacation so I am a little leary about this one. Can you "buy" maid service?Yes, it really does. I've been trying to get maid service at home for years, but no luck. Seriously...we don't even notice it. In fact, I prefer not having a maid pounding on our door each morning.

And yes, you can get housekeeping any time you want it for a fee.

3) Is there a benefit to one booking year (sorry if I got the term wrong) vs another or does that really more depend on whee you personally like to travel. I am being told there is Aug 1, Sept 1 and Dec 1 available now. Aug 1 might be okay for me. They said they'd release Jan and Feb start years probably in a few months.You got both the term and the concept mixed up.

The term is Use Year, but it has nothing to do with when you can book vacations. Use Year is the period of time your points are available. I think you'll have a difficult time with a January UY because there is no such thing, unless AKV is different from all the other resorts. The available UYs are Feb, Mar, Apr, Jun, Aug, Sep, Oct, and Dec.

I have a UY of October, so my points are deposited into my account on 10/1 and they expire 9/30 of the following year. In reality, though, I can use those points for three years -- the year previous by borrowing, the regular UY, and the year following by banking.

Booking a ressie is based on your check out date, and you know about 11/7 month windows.

The only time UY becomes a factor in your vacation booking is if you cancel a ressie. If you cancel and you are too late in your UY, you may have passed banking deadlines and the points may become "use or lose." To guard against that possibility with your vacation pattern, I'd avoid a Sept or Oct UY.

If your vacation patterns don't change (a BIG if), a June or August UY would work well for you. However, if you change to early summer vacations, August would not work well. If you switch to January vacations, a Feb UY could pose problems.
5) We have fared really well these past 3 years at AKL with the free dining program. We've spent roughly $2k for 3 people for a week with food which I think is great. If you use DVC pts, can you add DDP?Yes. You can currently buy DDP on any DVC resort stay on points...but not a points stay anywhere else. With DVC, you do not have to purchase park tickets.

It is widely expected that when the 2008 DDP is announced, it will no longer include the TS gratuity, which is a huge price increase that will change the math for many families.

That's yet another reason to caution folks not to focus on perks associated with DVC. They come, they go, and they may change in ways that no longer are attractive to your family.Do they ever have the "free" offers they have for hotel guests? I don't want to ever fel like I could have gone for cheaper/better and resent buying into DVC.That depends on "...what the meaning of 'is' is." Can you book a regular resort, pay for the room and get free dining like everyone else? Sure, and many DVCers do that during free dining. Can you get free dining with a DVC points stay? No, sorry.

jarestel
06-27-2007, 10:07 AM
1) How hard is it to get your first choice when you call right at 11 months? What if I call 6 mths in advance? We don't usually travel real peak times (we like the last 2 weeks of August) but please answer this question with experiences from low, medium & peak seasons. Also, is it hard to get reservations for the cruise line using the pts?

It's usually not very difficult at all to book your home resort when calling at 11 months. Exceptions might be for big travel holidays (Christmas, Easter) but if you normally travel in August you shouldn't have any problems. At 6 months, you should be prepared to accept an alternative resort, but you will probably be successful with your original request much of the time.


2) Does it really suck to not have maid service? I love maid service on vacation so I am a little leary about this one. Can you "buy" maid service?

Most of us don't miss having daily maid service, but if you want it, it is available for an additional charge.


3) Is there a benefit to one booking year (sorry if I got the term wrong) vs another or does that really more depend on whee you personally like to travel. I am being told there is Aug 1, Sept 1 and Dec 1 available now. Aug 1 might be okay for me. They said they'd release Jan and Feb start years probably in a few months.

No real benefit. The use years determine when and how many of your points you may bank into the following year. If you normally plan to travel in August and your use year is August, you would have 6 months remaining to bank 100% of your points into the following year if you had to cancel a trip and couldn't reschedule. Of course, last minute cancellations (within 30 days) are a special circumstance and the points are placed into a restricted status and not bankable at all, regardless of use year.


4) Bonus offer now is $8 off or 3x builder's pts. So, I am considering buying 250 pts That would mean 500 builder's pts I'd have to use in 7 months. So, back to my question, if we aren't picky about where we stay and we have a little flex on dates, can we book something in the 7 mth window or will it be sold out? I may use the pts to send my sister and her family to WDW for Feb or Easter week 2008- will I have trouble fidning a villa?

Since many people are accepting the developers points under the same conditions, reservations may be a bit harder to come by than usual.


5) We have fared really well these past 3 years at AKL with the free dining program. We've spent roughly $2k for 3 people for a week with food which I think is great. If you use DVC pts, can you add DDP? Do they ever have the "free" offers they have for hotel guests? I don't want to ever fel like I could have gone for cheaper/better and resent buying into DVC.


Currently the DDP is offered to DVC members on a cash basis. There will always be offers from WDW Resorts to get people to spend their cash with them. The trouble is you can't count on them.

Good luck!

chalee94
06-27-2007, 10:12 AM
1) How hard is it to get your first choice when you call right at 11 months? What if I call 6 mths in advance? We don't usually travel real peak times (we like the last 2 weeks of August) but please answer this question with experiences from low, medium & peak seasons. Also, is it hard to get reservations for the cruise line using the pts?

at 11 months, it's not usually that hard...but if you want concierge rooms and they prove to be both scarce and hugely popular, you may need to call day-by-day to reserve them at the 11 month window. at 6 months, you may have to waitlist or take whatever is available (most likely at SSR.) it varies and will depend on when you are traveling and how popular AKV turns out to be with other DVCers...which is still an unknown. some people may love the animals and uniqueness...others may not like the location or "dark colors"/theming. i don't know much about the cruise line...i don't think it would be "difficult" necessarily but you need to be aware that the points needed for cruising are not generally considered to be a good "value" and will change from year to year.

2) Does it really suck to not have maid service? I love maid service on vacation so I am a little leary about this one. Can you "buy" maid service?

i like not having maids in and out of the room. but if you want it, they'll sell it to you. ballpark rates for your consideration:

Housekeeping Daily Rates:
Studio/Inn Room - $25.00 per day requested
One-Bedroom - $30.00 per day requested
Two-Bedroom - $40.00 per day requested
Grand Villa - $60.00 per day requested
Trash & Towel - $10.00 per day requested.

3) Is there a benefit to one booking year (sorry if I got the term wrong) vs another or does that really more depend on whee you personally like to travel. I am being told there is Aug 1, Sept 1 and Dec 1 available now. Aug 1 might be okay for me. They said they'd release Jan and Feb start years probably in a few months.

just depends on whether or not you are traveling at the same time each year for the banking windows. i travel mostly in nov/dec...i have an oct use year month...my points come early enough that if i decide i don't need the points for traveling in nov/dec, i can easily bank them. but if you can plan ahead, the use year month doesn't really matter.

5) We have fared really well these past 3 years at AKL with the free dining program. We've spent roughly $2k for 3 people for a week with food which I think is great. If you use DVC pts, can you add DDP? Do they ever have the "free" offers they have for hotel guests? I don't want to ever fel like I could have gone for cheaper/better and resent buying into DVC.

as jim said, you can add the DDP at a cost of $39 per adult but DVCers will likely never get it "free" on stays paid with points. if you like hunting for codes and bargains, you may find better deals available...there's currently a thread on "DVC misc." that deals with some resentment about disney giving some DVC rooms away as upgrades to people who paid for value rooms and got free dining, so you should be aware that stuff like that can happen...

spiceycat
06-27-2007, 10:34 AM
unless you have to don't buy all your points in one contract. I know you didn't ask this. but if you can break it down into contracts no bigger than 100 points - if you have to sell it - it will be easier.

I know you don't buy with plans to sell. but the future is hard to determine.

the free DDP is only if you pay full rack rate and get tickets too. So with DVC you aren't paying even close to full rack rate.

also when you are comparing WDW resort rooms to DVC - use the studio. too many people use the 1 or 2 bedroom. that just won't work.

CarolMN
06-27-2007, 05:34 PM
Just wanted to add:

If you buy your points at the AKV and book your stay as soon as the 11 month window opens, you will not have a problem getting what you want UNLESS you want one of the conceirge rooms.

There will only be FIVE 2-bedroom lockouts available in the conceirge category. (They will all be in the lodge). If MS books all of the lock offs as either a studio or a 1 bedroom, that means that a maximum of 10 rooms will be available on any given night in this category. Because guests in these rooms will be eligible to book one of the special sunrise or sunset safaris, these rooms are expected to be very popular. You can't count on getting one even if you own at the AKV.

However, there should not be a problem getting any other category as long as you book when the 11 month window opens.

conandrob240
06-28-2007, 09:04 AM
Thank you all so much for the GREAT information!