Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC (HGVC) markets and operates the Club, which is a points-based vacation ownership and exchange system that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hilton Worldwide, formerly known as Hilton Hotels Corp. HGVC also provides property management services to Club and Affiliate resorts. At the date of publish, there are 50 HGVC affiliated resorts worldwide!
Hilton Worldwide was purchased in July 2007 by the Blackstone Group LP (stock ticker symbol BX) in a deal valued at $26 Billion. Blackstone also owns a number of other well known companies including Universal Studios Parks, Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, Allied Waste, Pinnacle Foods, and even the Weather Channel!
Early History of the Brand:
In 1919 Conrad Hilton went to Texas to take advantage of the oil boom. When he arrived, he found the local hotels so overbooked that he could not secure a room! One hotel owner told him that he wanted to sell. Within a week, Conrad had put together an investment group and purchased the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas. Business continued to boom and the next year Conrad purchased two more Texas properties, the Melba Hotel in Fort Worth and a hotel in Dallas named after the famous Waldorf. Thirty years later, Conrad came full circle when he purchased the lease on the actual Waldorf-Astoria!
Conrad’s ambition and business savvy created an empire of wealth so vast that even the legendary spending of his second wife Zsa Zsa Gabor and great granddaughter Paris Hilton haven’t made a dent in the family fortune! Today, this behemoth brand owns, manages, and franchises thousands of hotels and the Hilton name continues to be one of the most recognizable in the world.
The Timeshare Resorts:
HGVC destinations offer both developed and affiliated resorts. Most people don’t realize, but only a few timeshare resorts have actually been built and developed by the Hilton brand. The majority of Hilton Grand Vacation Club properties are actually affiliate resorts. These resorts were developed by other companies, and then later entered into an affiliation agreement to participate in the Club. HGVC manages many of the affiliated resorts, but not all of them. Regardless of the original developer, you can be assured that all affiliated resorts conform to the high standards and renowned luxury of the Hilton brand, earning numerous award designations such as RCI’s coveted Gold Crown rating!
Affiliation and reciprocal usage agreements are always subject to future change, but at the time of writing this article the HGVC vacation destinations include:
Carlsbad, California: • Grand Pacific Marbrisa • Grand Pacific Palisades • Carlsbad SeaPointe Resort
Palm Desert, California: • Club Intrawest Palm Desert
Breckenridge, Colorado: • Valdoro Mountain Lodge
Orlando, Florida: • HGV Club at SeaWorld International Center • HGV Club on International Drive • Parc Soleil by Hilton Grand Vacations
Miami Beach, Florida: • HGV Club at South Beach
Stuart, Florida: • Plantation Beach Club at Indian River Plantation Resort
Captiva Island, Florida: • The Cottages at South Seas Island Resort • Harbourview Villas at South Seas Island Resort • Plantation Bay Villas at South Seas Island Resort • Plantation Beach Club at South Seas Island Resort • Plantation House at South Seas Island Resort • South Seas Club at South Seas Island Resort
Fort Myers, Florida: • SeaWatch on the Beach Resort
Marco Island, Florida: • The Charter Club of Marco Beach • Club Regency of Marco Island • Eagle’s Nest Beach Resort • Sunset Cove Resort • The Surf Club of Marco
Sanibel Island, Florida: • Casa Ybel Resort • Hurricane House Resort • Sanibel Cottages Resort • Shell Island Beach Club Resort • Tortuga Beach Club Resort
Sandestin, Florida: • Club Intrawest Sandestin
Island of Oahu, Hawaii: • Grand Waikikian • Hilton Hawaiian Village- Kalia Tower • Hilton Hawaiian Village- Lagoon Tower
Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii: • HGV Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort • King’s Land by Hilton Grand Vacations • Bay Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort
Las Vegas, Nevada: • HGVC at the Flamingo • Hilton Grand Vacations Club Las Vegas • HGVC on the Las Vegas Strip
New York City, New York: • The Hilton Club New York • West 57th Street by Hilton Club
British Columbia, Canada: • Club Intrawest Whistler
Quebec, Canada: • Club Intrawest Tremblant
Cancun, Mexico: • Fiesta Americana Villas Cancun
Acapulco, Mexico: • Fiesta Americana Villas Acapulco
Los Cabos, Mexico: • Fiesta Americana Villas Los Cabos
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico: • The Explorean Kohunlich
Zihuatanejo, Mexico: • Club Intrawest Zihuatanejo
Vilamoura, Portugal: • Hilton Vilamoura Vacation Club
Coylumbridge, Scotland: • Hilton Coylumbridge
Craigendarroch, Scotland: • Hilton Craigendarroch
Dunkeld, Scotland: • Hilton Dunkeld
Introduction to Ownership, System Rules, and Usage Strategies:
The First Rule of Timeshare is that ownership should never be considered a financial investment in real estate. Timeshare properties do not generally appreciate over time. Often, the only true gauge of a timeshare’s value is your usage and enjoyment of the property, and in the photos and memories of your incredible vacations!
You should never make an impulse purchase for any type or vacation ownership program! Also, take time to consider the secondary or resale market. Purchasing a timeshare interest on the secondary market from a current owner who no longer uses their ownership can save you thousands on your purchase price. Some benefits may not transfer via the resale market, so you’ll have to compare the positive and negative aspects carefully before buying. Finally, purchasing from an experienced and respected brokerage is the safest way to ensure you have all the information you need to ensure the timeshare you purchase provides you with years of great vacations!
Ok- now on to specific info about the Hilton Grand Vacations Club system…
The Club is in reality just a point based reservation system. Club members receive a point allotment based on the villa type and season they own (or have reserved in some cases) at their home resort. As with any point system, proper planning can greatly enhance your usage and satisfaction. It’s important to understand the different ownership types available, the benefits of ownership, the basic rules of the system, as well as some strategies that current owners utilize to maximize their usage and enjoyment.
When learning about this system, the distinction between HGVC developed resorts and HGVC affiliated resorts becomes important. The ownership and usage rules may be quite different depending on which home resort you own. For example, some of the affiliated resorts located in the southwest region of Florida were originally sold as fixed week timeshares. For fixed and event week ownerships, the home week is automatically reserved each year unless the owner cancels the reservation. Most HGVC developed and built resorts are all sold as floating week timeshares. The underlying ownership is always based on the home resort. Because of this, usage strategies will vary slightly based on your home resort.
The deed itself may also vary from resort to resort. Some ownership documents show a specific week and unit, even if they are just used for inventory purposes. HGVC at Seaworld is an example of this type of deed. Other ownership deeds don’t have an assigned week and unit, but instead show a usage type in a specific villa size. HGVC on International Drive uses this second type of deed format. Finally, when you consider the international affiliates Fiesta Americana resorts in Mexico- these properties are sold as non-deeded right to use leaseholds with a specific expiration date when your usage will end.
Also, it’s very important to understand that Elite Status designation cannot be obtained via resale purchases and that not all affiliate resorts allow the Club membership rights to transfer on the resale market. For example, the Carlsbad affiliates do not allow the HGVC point usage to transfer to a buyer but the Fiesta Americana contracts do allow the point usage to transfer. Another distinction is that some affiliates require a $399. reconversion fee be paid to Hilton after the transfer deed is recorded, in order for the new owner to be enrolled into the Club and have the ability to convert their week into Club points. If you are not sure what type of ownership exists at a specific resort, consulting with an experienced real estate broker or associate is something that you need to do before you buy! Contact us with any questions you may have.
This is another area which can often be confusing to newbies! Generally, there are four main season names that are used by HGVC: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The particular weeks that fall within these seasons will vary depending on the resort. Some locations will have all four seasons, while others may only be divided into two or three seasons. The real confusion begins with a few of the affiliates. Some affiliate resorts were originally sold with different season designations than those used by Hilton. Also, a few of these resorts may have a float season that encompasses weeks which fall into different HGVC season designations. It’s possible that an owner may have the ability to reserve a week in part of the platinum and also the gold season. For these ownerships, the amount of Club points the owner receives may actually vary from year to year depending on the actual week that is reserved. The good news is that this example is the exception rather than the rule.
The Club Point values for the weeks, seasons, and unit sizes for each Club resort can be found in the published Member’s Guide http://www.hiltongrandvacations.com/mg/. Most resale buyers tend to focus on the Hilton built properties, to avoid confusion and ensure they receive a consistent number of Club points each year.
There are different ways to exchange your ownership week for another resort. The easiest way is often simply using the Club points to reserve at another Club affiliate. To go outside the Club, a third party exchange system must be used such as RCI, Interval International, or a smaller system such as SFX Resorts. Your home resort will determine which exchange systems you have access to as an owner.
Maintenance fees are determined each year based on the overall operating budget of the home resort. Fees can vary widely from one resort to another, and these assessments will vary from year to year. Maintenance fees will increase over the years. You should always consider maintenance fees before making a decision to purchase, and should compare fees between several resorts as part of your research. In some cases, the annual fee can actually be more important over time that the negotiated purchase price!
Generally, the unit type and size determines the base maintenance fee amount, not the point allotment. A one bedroom villa in the platinum season will be assessed the same base maintenance fee as a one bedroom in the silver season. Only the property tax is likely to vary because of the season, so the tax assessment does create a slight difference between the one bedroom platinum and the one bedroom silver. It’s often a good buyer strategy to purchase a 1 bedroom platinum season ownership rather than a 2 bedroom lower season week, even if the 1br villa has a higher purchase price! Your brokerage can help you compare different scenarios to determine which property best meets your needs and your budget.
There can also be some differences in when fees are paid from resort to resort. A good example of this is can be seen in ownerships at the Bay Club at Waikoloa. For a Bay Club owner to borrow points from a future usage year, they will have to prepay an estimated amount for the next year’s maintenance fees (any difference from the estimate is paid or credited at the time the fees are actually billed). International owners at Craigendarroch cannot prepay, so are unable to borrow from a future allotment. An owner at HGVC at SeaWorld can borrow next year’s points without paying the equivalent annual dues as long as their account is current at the time of reservation.
Club dues must also be paid each year. For most resort, members living in the US and Canada are currently charged $99. while members living outside the US or Canada are currently charged $139. (West 57th owners are charged $197. and $232. respectively). Members who own a US resort and also an international resort may be required to pay Club dues for each account as the two systems may not be able to be combined into a single billing account. This is very rare and seems to be a system glitch rather than intentional.
Finally, point systems also have incidental fees that may be charged for various services and transactions such as making club reservations, point rescue, changeable option reservations, guest certificates, and RCI exchange system deposits. It also is a good idea to ask about resort specific fees such as parking fees and tourist taxes prior to confirming a reservation. If you aren’t aware prior to arrival, parking fees at destinations like New York and South Beach can be quite a surprise!
Hilton Grand Vacations Club has five reservation types.
Home Week Reservations are a full seven night stay in the exact unit type and season owned at your home resort. Reservation can be from nine months up to one year out of your check in day. The required check in day varies from resort to resort. Because owners get a longer reservation window at their home resort, it’s often a good idea to buy at the resort you believe you will use most often, in the unit and season that best meets your future plans. Home week reservations have the greatest opportunity at finding availability, other than fixed and event week ownerships.
Home Resort Reservations are currently only available to owners of the West 57th by Hilton Club resort in New York City. There is no minimum stay requirement for these reservations, but the reservation must be made at the West 57th resort. These reservations may be made from 45 days up to nine months in advance of the check out date.
Club Reservations can be made up to nine months prior to the requested check out date at most resorts. Club reservations must be for three days or greater in duration. Reservations can be made at most resorts during this period (West 57th in New York for example, only allows Club Reservations to be made up to 44 days prior to the check out date) and all points owners have an equal opportunity to get reservations. You can reserve any type of villa, and in any season- only being restricted by the number of points that you own!
Open Season Reservations can be made at most resorts (West 57th is excluded) up to 30 days prior to your date of check out and require only a two day minimum stay. These reservations are paid for with cash, but at rates that are heavily discounted! Currently, the 1br open season reservation rate is $80/night for Sun-Thurs and $100/night for Fri-Sat reservations.
Hilton Honors Reservations are reservations made via the Hilton Honors system. All HGVC members are given Silver VIP privileges in the Hilton Honors program. Owners can choose to deposit their ownership week into the Honors program in return for Honors points which can be used for a variety of services and hotel accommodations into affiliated Hilton brands. These deposits must be made more no later than December 31st of the year prior to receiving the points. (In other words, the points for the 2010 use year would have to be deposited prior to Dec. 31, 2009). Trading your timeshare ownership week for hotel stays is not generally a strategy that is recommended, but a few owners find this perk to be beneficial.
Please review the Member’s Guide for the latest point charts and season calendars.