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Starwood Vacation Network Overview!
This article is a descriptive primer of the Starwood Vacation Network written by TUG members who are SVN owners and knowledgable experts!  This advice article is provided free to all by the Timeshare Users Group

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Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. (SVO)

Starwood Vacation Network (SVN)

(Formerly Westin, Sheraton, Embassy and Vistana resorts) 

Revised September 2011

Written by “seenett” and revised by “clsmit”

Disclaimer: The information presented here has been gathered from SVN member experiences, membership materials, and conversations with other owners and SVN personnel.  The authors have no affiliation with Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., other than being an owner.  Any errors or omissions are the authors’.  SVN reserves the right to modify the program at any time.  Please visit Starwood’s website at http://www.starwoodvacationownership.com. 

The original version was written in 2001. Many thanks to the growing number of TUG- contributing SVN owners who help us all stay current with the changes.

Starwood is a major global hotel chain which has a vacation ownership division. Starwood’s hotel properties include the Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, Aloft, Element, and W Hotel brands. The vacation ownership division has both the Starwood Vacation Ownership and fractional ownership groups. The hotel and vacation ownership divisions are managed separately. Hotel elite levels confer no benefits at vacation ownership properties, but vacation ownership purchases from Starwood earn elite-level hotel membership.  SVO refers to their timeshare sales and management program.  SVN refers to their internal exchange network. This document covers:

  

This document does not cover Starwood’s fractional ownership business. See the St. Regis Residence Club and The Phoenician Resident Club for more details.

 

CURRENT SVO PROPERTIES

Starwood properties are a combination of Starwood-built and purchased properties. These properties are all high end resorts and rival Marriott properties in terms of size, amenities, and furnishings. The links are to the vacation ownership sales websites for each property. Many of these properties also have their own Facebook pages. Current properties include: 

Sheraton Broadway Plantation, Myrtle Beach, SC (formerly Embassy Vacation Resort at Myrtle Beach)

Sheraton Desert Oasis, Scottsdale, AZ (formerly Embassy Vacation Resort Scottsdale)

Sheraton Mountain Vista, Avon, CO

Sheraton PGA Vacation Resort, Port St. Lucie, FL

Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, Steamboat Springs, CO

Sheraton Vistana Resort, Orlando, FL (formerly a Vistana property)

Sheraton Vistana Villages, Orlando, FL

Westin Desert Willow Villas, Palm Desert, CA

Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, HI

Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, North Maui, HI

Westin Kierland Villas, Scottsdale, AZ

Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort, Cancun, Mexico

Westin Mission Hills Resort and Villas, Rancho Mirage, CA

Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, Kauai, HI

Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Avon, CO

Westin St. John Resort & Villas, US Virgin Islands (formerly Virgin Grand Villas/Hyatt Regency)

Harborside Resort at Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas (jointly built by Starwood and Kerzner International Limited)

Lakeside Terrace, Avon CO (formerly a Vistana property)

Villas of Cave Creek, Cave Creek, AZ (formerly a Vistana property)*

Vistana’s Beach Club, Jensen Beach, FL (formerly a Vistana property)

As of September 2011 no new properties are under construction. Starwood also owns a few Fractional Ownership properties. These are not discussed in this document.

* In late September 2011 it was reported that the owners of the Villas of Cave Creek had decided to terminate its relationship with Starwood. As of this writing that termination seems to be final effective 31 December 2011.

 

STAROPTIONS

SVN properties are deeded resorts with a perpetual deed. While the deed has a specific week and unit number, the vast majority of units were sold as float weeks and units. Fixed weeks and/or units can usually be purchased from the developer at a premium. When purchasing resale, the buyer should understand if the purchase is a fixed or float week and/or unit. See the resale section for more details on resale purchases.

While ownership is technically not points based, for all intents and purposes SVN is a points system. All units purchased from the developer, and some units purchased resale, have a points assignment, called StarOptions®. The number of StarOptions for a given unit is based on the resort, season, and unit size.  StarOption values for each resort/season/size are in this pdf:  Starwood StarOptions Value Chart.

As an example, below are some StarOption values. The chart shows the unit size, the season, and the number of StarOptions needed to stay each night and for a week.


WESTIN MISSION HILLS

Unit

Season

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

WEEK

2bedroom lockof

Platinum
Plus

14,800

14,800

14,800

22,225

29,625

29,625

22,225

148,100

1bedroom premium

Gold Plus

4,400

4,400

4,400

6,600

8,800

8,800

6,600

44,000

 

SHERATON VISTANA VILLAGES

Unit

Season

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

WEEK

2bedroom lockoff

Platinum

9,550

9,550

9,550

14,350

19,175

19,175

14,350

95,700

1bedroom premium

Gold Plus

4,400

4,400

4,400

6,600

8,800

8,800

6,600

44,000

Note: For some Sheraton Vistana Resort sections the number of StarOptions your unit is worth may be less than the number of StarOptions needed to reserve your unit. If you own a unit in this resort refer to your ownership documents for details.

All weeks purchased directly from Starwood are assigned a StarOption and Starpoint® value and the owner may participate fully in all the programs.  These weeks are also called “in network”, ie, part of SVN.

 

RESERVATIONS USING STAROPTIONS

A developer-purchased unit or a resale unit that has StarOptions can use StarOptions to stay at any SVN resort subject to availability. Reservations at the owned (home) resort can be made up to 12 months in advance. Reservations at another resort with StarOptions can be made up to 8 months in advance. Reservations are best made by phone at 9am Eastern Time 12 or 8 months to the day in advance of your desired stay. Starwood does not have an interactive online reservation system; however, owners may email reservation requests to Starwood via www.mystarcentral.com, Starwood’s owner management site. This method works well for reservations at a less

busy property during a less busy time. There is no charge to use StarOptions to reserve a week. Changing a reservation, however, may result in a fee, and cancelling a reservation close to checkin date may have additional penalties. The reservations agent will detail the fees and penalties when completing the reservation.

RESERVATION EXAMPLES: 

 12 - 8 months in advance (home resort preference period)

  • 12 - 8 months in advance (home resort priority period):  Reserve only at the deeded (home) resort and season. The reservation must be for a full week. Use the StarOptions Value Chart above and deed to confirm the week and season that can be reserved in this time period. The reservation can be any size unit up to the number of StarOptions for the deeded week. For example, a 2 bedroom lockoff with 148,100 StarOptions can reserve a premium one-bedroom for 81,000 StarOptions at the home resort and season 12 months before the stay and the remaining 67,000 StarOptions would be used for another stay.
  • Fixed week owners should confirm their reservation at least 12 months from the start of their fixed week. At some resorts the fixed week can be confirmed longer in advance.

 8 – 0 months in advance (network float period)

  • 8 – 0 months in advance: Use StarOptions to reserve any available week at any SVN resort. A stay may be longer than a week if the owned units have enough StarOptions and the stay starts or ends on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. StarOptions can be combined from multiple units, including resale mandatory units (see resale section below), to make a reservation during this time period.
  • 90 days in advance (network options period): StarOptions can be used to reserve individual days at any resort, regardless if they are used consecutively with a full week.  An owner can use StarOptions to reserve, for example, several 3 or 4-day weekend trips.  During this 90-day period, StarOptions may also be borrowed from next year for use during the current year provided maintenance fees are current.

Effective August 2011 StarOptions can be carried over (“banked”) for up to two years. There may be a fee to carry over the StarOptions. Banked StarOptions cannot be converted into Starpoints or used to make reservations with a resort to deposit for exchange.

Every other year owners can make reservations in the use year or carry over the StarOptions to use in the non-owned year.

If the resale unit does not have StarOptions, or the unit was purchased before the property was acquired by SVN, only a weekly reservation at the deeded resort and season can be made. See the Exchange section for other options for exchanging the unit within the SVN.

 

RESALE MARKET

Starwood properties have an active resale market. Timeshare resale sites and eBay have many listings for Starwood properties. As with any purchase the buyer should only deal with reputable sellers and take appropriate purchase precautions. See other parts of this website for general information on purchasing properties resale.

Because of the conglomerate nature of the Starwood network of properties, resale benefits within SVN vary based on the property purchased. Some resorts are “mandatory” and StarOptions transfer to the resale purchaser. Others are “voluntary” and StarOptions do not transfer. In neither case does the ability to convert the week in to Starpoints transfer to the new owner.  Since resale purchases, even those with StarOptions, do not convey all the benefits of developer-purchased properties, they are sometimes called “out of network”, or not part of SVN.

Mandatory properties are usually sold at a premium to Voluntary properties due to their additional flexibility.

 “Mandatory” Properties

  • Harborside Resort at Atlantis
  • Sheraton Vistana Villages, Bella and Key West phases only
  • Westin St. John, Virgin Grand/Hillside phase only
  • Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas
  • Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, North
  • Westin Kierland Villas 

All other properties are “Voluntary”.

 

REQUALIFYING RESALE PURCHASES

Starwood allows owners of resale units to move their units into SVN, also called “requalifying”, through the purchase of an additional unit directly from Starwood. The requalified unit will have StarOptions if it did not previously, can be converted into Starpoints, and will be counted towards Elite status. In general, a $20,000 purchase is needed to requalify a unit. Resale units located in Hawaii need a $40,000 purchase to be requalified.

Occasionally, Starwood will invite current owners of older properties (those that were formerly owned by another company) into SVN. The benefits of joining SVN may not be worth the cost, as often the number of StarOptions the property is worth is less than the number of StarOptions needed to trade into the unit.

 

ELITE PROGRAM 

In 2005 Starwood introduced the Elite program to encourage multiple week ownership. There are 3 membership levels with increasing benefits:

Three Star Member ***   must own 2 or more weeks worth at least 159,000 StarOptions

  • Ability to convert to Starpoints every year rather than every other year
  • Option to convert to Starpoints extended to July 1
  • 30,000 Starpoints if you refer someone who buys a unit
  • Separate toll-free number for reservations and customer service
  • Earn 3,000 extra Starpoints when take a Signature Escapes vacation
  • StarOption banking fee $79

 Four Star Member ****   must own weeks worth at least 359,000 StarOptions

  • Ability to convert to Starpoints every year rather than every other year
  • Option to convert to Starpoints extended to October 1
  • 35,000 Starpoints if you refer someone who buys a unit
  • Separate toll-free number for reservations and customer service
  • Earn 4,000 extra Starpoints when take a Signature Escapes vacation
  • $99 Starpoints conversion fee waived
  • 10% premium on Starpoints conversion
  • 2:00pm villa check-in if available
  • Ability to “wait list” for another reservation without having to cancel a confirmed reservation
  • StarOption banking fee $79

 Five Star Member *****   must own weeks worth at least 649,000 StarOptions

  • Ability to convert to Starpoints every year rather than every other year
  • Option to convert to Starpoints extended to October 1
  • 40,000 Starpoints if you refer someone who buys a unit
  • Separate toll-free number for reservations and customer service
  • Earn 5,000 extra Starpoints when take a Signature Escapes vacation
  • $99 Starpoints conversion fee waived
  • 10% premium on Starpoints conversion
  • 2:00pm villa check-in if available
  • Noon villa check-out if available
  • Ability to “wait list” for another reservation without having to cancel a confirmed reservation
  • Automatic SPG Platinum status
  • SPG Platinum Concierge service
  • StarOption banking fee waived

Starwood owners on TUG debate the value of Elite membership.  The 5* level is usually seen as the only one with any value for frequent travelers who use the SPG Platinum benefits.

 

EXTERNAL EXCHANGE

Starwood’s primary external exchange company is Interval International (II). Some older resorts also trade through RCI.  II membership is automatic with purchases from Starwood and the membership fee is included in the annual Starwood fee. This II account is only for SVN properties. Properties purchased resale or properties from other systems must be in a separate II account.

Deposits into II are for a full week. Lockoff units can be split and one or both sides deposited into II.

Starwood determines the value of the deposited week. The value determines the types of properties that can be traded into.

See this document http://www.tug2.net/timeshare_advice/starwood_vacation_network_svn_exchange_information.html for details about how to use II to exchange your Starwood week.

 

STARWOOD HOTEL STARPOINTS

Not to be confused with StarOptions, Starpoints is the “currency” used in Starwood’s Preferred Guest program (SPG).  SPG is similar to other major hotel frequent stay programs.  Owners who purchase weeks directly from Starwood are automatically enrolled (if they are not already members) and given Gold-level membership.

Starpoints may be used for hotel stays (no blackout dates), plane tickets (by converting to frequent flier miles or through www.spgflights.com), special experiences, etc.  For more information, see http://www.spg.com

Weeks that are in-network may be converted to Starpoints at a fixed exchange rate that is listed in the purchase documents and on www.mystarcentral.com. Weeks can only be converted every other year; however, a lockoff unit can convert only part of a unit to Starpoints if desired. There may be a fee to convert a week to Starpoints.

  

If you have questions, please post them on TUG’s Starwood Forum, located here: 

Starwood Vacation Ownership Online Community Forums

There are many knowledgeable owners willing to help!

 

About the latest author: “clsmit” has been a Starwood owner since 2007 and is Double 5*.






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