How do you travel all the time? Are you ever home?
These are questions my husband and I are asked ALL the time. The truth of the matter is, WE DO TRAVEL A LOT. But it wasn’t always this way. It is really only in the last eight years, that we have started traveling regularly.
Eight years ago we bought into Hilton Grand Vacations Club. We bought a minimal number of points. Just enough to allow us to travel to Spain for my 50th birthday. Since then we have added additional points several times and now own 28,600 points giving us Elite Plus status. We plan on purchasing the additional points to achieve Elite Premier status in the next year. More on the differences between the status levels later in the post.
Why buy into a club rather than just book a trip?
Well, my husband and I both own our own businesses and we realized without incentive, we would NOT make the time to travel. Buying into the club basically committed us to a substantial vacation every year. Once you buy into HGVC your points, whether yearly or every other year, are available to you forever. You can even leave your membership to your children (or as one salesman suggested, your favorite child). You cannot however save your points indefinitely. Club points have to be used in a two year period. You can save them for 1 year. So, the points I was awarded in 2017 must be used in 2017 or I can save them for 2018 (for a fee.) While you do pay maintenance fees on your points each year, when you buy your points you are basically “freezing” the majority of the cost of future vacations.
How are “points” different from a regular timeshare?
When you buy “points” in HGVC you have currency to spend. Different resorts cost different numbers of points just like Hampton Inn and Waldorf cost different dollar amounts. With the traditional timeshare or when you use your HGVC points through RCI, your vacations are a week long, typically Saturday through Saturday. With points, you can go for as long as you like, or as long as the points hold out, with one exception, you have to stay 3 nights.
How many points does it take to go a a vacation?
Just like with hotels, the number of points depends on location and time of year. Point seasons are broken into three categories: Platinum, Gold and Silver. I have listed the seasons and point totals for a few of the HGVC properties below:
Hawaii: For Hawaii Platinum season is January – April, June – Aug, mid-Oct – Dec, Gold Season is May, and Aug – mid Oct
|1 bedroom||4800 – 12,600||3400 – 8700|
|2 bedroom||7000 – 14,400||5000 – 10,500|
|3 bedroom||12,600 – 23,000||8700 – 19,200|
Kingsland is a resort with a large pool and poolside restaurant and bar. Bay Club has a smaller main pool and small pools throughout. There is a sandwich bar by one pool but I would not call it a restaurant.
Pictures of Bay Club
Pictures of Kings Land coming soon! (Oh, the things I do for this blog)
Orlando: For the Orlando area Platinum is Feb – mid April, mid-June – Aug, last 2 weeks of Dec, Gold Season is Jan, mid-April – beg June, mid-Aug – mid-Oct, Silver Season is Nov – mid Dec, Parc Soleil does not have a Silver season
|Three Bedroom +||9600||7000||4800|
|Studio||2200 – 6200||1600 – 4200|
|One Bedroom||4800-8400||3400 – 5800|
|Two Bedroom||7000 – 9600||5000 -7000|
Pictures of Sea World Property
Pictures of Parc Soleil
I should also mention that the points values for Monday – Thursday are less (50% less) than Friday – Sunday. So if you have the flexibility and aren’t planning on staying a week, try to book at least part of your stay on Monday – Thursday.
As you can see, going to Kingsland in Hawaii during Platinum season and staying in the most luxurious 3 bedroom would take 80% of my points. However, by knowing when the cut offs are, we can stay as many as 3 weeks in a similar unit at Kingsland and almost 6 weeks at the Bay Club. In Orlando my points allow almost 3 weeks during Platinum season and 4 during gold. If I stay at the SeaWorld property during the Silver season, I can stay almost 6 weeks.
Using your points: Obviously, we don’t use ALL our points at one location. We take lots of 3 to 4 day trips and when we are are staying for a longer period we try to go the week before the points levels increase. For example, the last week of May to Hawaii rather than the first week of June or the last half of April or May to Orlando rather than March or the first part of April. The benefit of these “shoulder” seasons is that not only do you save points, the locations tend to be less crowded. Another benefit of HGVC is
Open Season. If a unit is not booked 30 days before the date you would like to check out, you can book this unit for cash at reduced rates. For example, a 3 bedroom unit at the SeaWorld property would rent for $286 Mon- Thurs, $326 Fri – Sun and $2122 for the week. I love Disney so I often go to the Parc Soleil property. I can stay in a 2 bedroom unit for as little as $153. Since I live in Florida near several HGVC resorts, this is a real benefit for me. It is definitely something you want to consider when considering purchasing a membership.
Different Status Levels: Once you own a minimum of 14,000 points per year, you are considered an Elite member. Elite Plus is 24,000 per year and Elite Premier is 34,000 per year. While there are a lot of “nice” benefits like welcome gifts and special key cards, the real benefit comes in $ saved and flexibility. I have put the benefits I find most worthwhile in a chart below.
|Elite||Elite Plus||Elite Premier|
|Dedicated Phone Line||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Hilton Honors Membership||Gold||Gold||Diamond|
|Access to International Holiday Retreats, a selection of private homes and luxury European Villas||Yes||Yes|
|Convert any number of annual allotment of current year club points to Hilton Honors points at a ratio of 1:25||Yes||Yes|
|Reduced HGVC reservation fees||Save $10 online
|Save $20 online
|Waived reservation fee for 7 night stays||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Open Season Discount||10%||15%||30%|
How much does this cost? As I mentioned, we have been accruing our points for 8 years. The last bunch we bought cost us about $6.50/point. If you are doing the math, our 28,600 points cost us around $186,000. Our maintenance fees in 2017 were about $3000. Are you in sticker shock yet? Now let’s put it in perspective.Sample of trips taken:
Big Island Hawaii Bay Club $1820/wk 5 trips
Kings Land $2800/wk
Honolulu Hilton Hawaiian Village $1600/4 days
Ireland Cottage Cost $1100
New York Manhattan $700/night
Orlando Parc Soleil $300/night one bedroom
Las Vegas Elara $480 night one bedroom suite
Why do you like this Club?
– I know the quality of the lodging. Hilton is a quality product. If something is not quite right with your unit, they make it right.
- I LOVE having a kitchen when I travel. We almost always stay in condos with a kitchen (exception Vegas). It is so convenient to be able to grab breakfast before you head out or prepare a quick dinner after a long day at the beach. It is especially good when traveling with kids.
- I love having a washer dryer (even in Vegas).
- Having a living room makes it easier to meet up with your friends or relax with family.
- It encourages me to go new places and to just GO period.
All in all, I am thrilled with our membership. This is proven by the fact that in 8 years we have gone from 4700 point to more than 6 times that amount. I hope that this post has helped you understand HGVC better. It has made a huge impact on our lives.