Back when it started in 1991, the Disney Vacation Club was different than many timeshares in that instead of selling “fixed weeks” where a person bought a specific week they would be able to use year after year, DVC used a flexible points-based system that may be used in different time increments for vacation stays anytime throughout the year at DVC resorts in a variety of accommodations from studios to three-bedroom villas.
GUARANTEED WEEK OPTION
Beginning with Aulani, and continuing with the Villas at the Grand Floridian, the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, and Copper Creek Villas & Cabins, Disney also started selling what they call a “Guaranteed Week”. Some members thought DVC was taking a step backwards. The “Guaranteed Week” option may sound the same as a traditional fixed week timeshare – but it’s not.
GUARANTEED WEEK EXPLAINED
You’re really not giving up any of the flexibility of the typically DVC point purchase by purchasing a guaranteed week. Actually, you’re paying a premium to never have to worry about being able to book your reservation. And, you’re not locking yourself into only going for the week you buy.
The Guaranteed Week option allows an owner to secure a reservation every year during a specific timeshare week, in a specific room size and view, throughout the duration of their DVC ownership. Member Services will automatically book your guaranteed reservation every year – on a priority basis and ahead of other members trying to book at the 11-month window on a first-come, first-served basis.
The reservation is confirmed annually without any phone call or web site booking on the part of the owner. No need to jump online at 8:00 AM ET!
A guaranteed week is for seven consecutive nights beginning from one Sunday to the next Sunday. The timeshare weeks are numbered from 1 to 52 and correspond to the Sundays in the calendar year. Week #1 starts with the first Sunday in each calendar year, while Week #52 starts with the 52nd Sunday in each calendar year. Arrival and departure dates for each guaranteed week will vary from year-to-year.
Besides having a guaranteed reservation, owners of a guaranteed week are exempt from future point re-allocations. DVC members are aware that the number of points required for a specific calendar week’s stay often changes due to seasonal adjustments to the points chart. However, the Guaranteed Week purchase secures the accommodation each year regardless of any seasonal adjustments or reallocations. So, they will always get their guaranteed week no matter how the points chart may change.
As mentioned, buyers must pay a premium for a guaranteed week – approximately 10% more than the normal amount of points to book that week.
Here is the Guaranteed Weeks chart for Copper Creek Villas & Cabins.
CAN REGULAR DVC OWNERS GET LOCKED OUT OF A WEEK?
The POS documents state that Guaranteed Week ownership interests will be capped at 35% of any specific Use Day for any specific Vacation Home type. At least 65% of all dates and villa sizes will remain available for booking on points at the resort.
So, DVC can sell no more than 35% of all rooms as Guaranteed Weeks for any single week.
LACK OF FLEXIBILITY?
Where’s the flexibility in this? It sounds like I’m locked into a fixed week?
Nope, the buyer of a guaranteed week can always opt-out of their week each year if they so desire. The guaranteed week reservation will be cancelled and the owner will receive the number of points listed on their deed. These points can be used just like regular points in that you can book any other room/view for any time period or calendar date you want. Basically, you’re now back in the pool of regular DVC members and book on a first-come, first-served basis when making a reservation. If you opt-out, you can bank, borrow or transfer the points (if you don’t opt-out, these activities cannot take place on a guaranteed week).
If you know that you will often vacation during a specific week (perhaps around Christmas or New Years) and you don’t want to risk being shut out, the guaranteed week is a viable option. You don’t need to “walk” a reservation.
WHAT’S THE DOWNSIDE OF A GUARANTEED WEEK?
So, what are the downsides?
Well, the obvious one is cost. You’re paying a premium.
What if your vacation patterns change? What if you decide you don’t want to go at Christmas (or whatever guaranteed week you purchased)? What if you bought a Standard View Studio and you decide you’d rather stay in a Lake View 2-bedroom? Well, you paid a premium for something that you won’t be able to leverage.
Another downside is you need to purchase enough points for 7 nights, which will tend not to be a small contract. Some members purchase multiple smaller contracts for the flexibility of being able to sell some points without having to sell all of them. It will be much easier to sell four 60-point contracts, than trying to sell a larger 240 point fixed week contract.
The DVC Product Offering Statement (POS) has the following to say about Fixed Ownership Interests.