One of the first decisions a prospective Disney Vacation Club member has to make, after deciding to buy into DVC, is which resort they should purchase and make their home resort. DVC members who wish to add-on face the similar issue of choosing which resort to add-on points at. This post is an attempt at providing some useful information to assist in the decision-making process.
Prospective DVC members may not be aware that they are not limited to just the resorts that DVC is actively marketing, but that it is possible to buy into any of the DVC resorts, even the older “sold-out” resorts. You can buy these resorts on the resale market, as well as direct from Disney (once you convince your guide that you simply are not interested in the resorts DVC is actively marketing).
Now, what factors should one consider in choosing their home resort? People consider a wide range of things when deciding to choose their home resort. This includes (in no particular order):
[li]Purchase price of points – There is quite a difference in the initial purchase price of points across all the resorts
[/li][li]Annual maintenance fees – While some resorts are less expensive in terms of their initial purchase cost, it is very important to consider the annual maintenance fees (dues) that you will be paying year-after-year, as any savings in the initial purchase cost may quickly be eaten up by the difference in dues (for example, Vero Beach resort). The resorts with the lowest maintenance fees at the present time include BLT, VGC, and SSR.
[/li][li]Points Chart – The number of points required to book a certain accommodation at any resort will vary, from OKW at the low end to VGC at the high end.
[/li][li]Years remaining on contract – OKW (original), BWV, VWL, and BCV contracts expire in 2042; SSR expires in 2054; AKV expires in 2057; BLT and VGC expire in 2060.
[/li][li]Theme/Décor of the Resort – Some people love the theme and décor of resorts like VWL and AKV; others don’t. This is a very personal factor that will vary depending upon your own taste.
[/li][li]Room size/layout – OKW has the largest rooms; Newer resorts have an extra bathroom
[/li][li]Room décor and amenities – Some people love the décor of AKV while others think it is too “dark”. Others love the décor at SSR. Some people want the décor to feel like home, while others prefer something more exotic.
[/li][li]Age of Resort – OKW is the oldest resort and sometimes shows its age. DVC does not perform the same type of refurbs they do on their cash resorts as they do at their DVC resorts.
[/li][li]Proximity to a particular theme park or entertainment area – Being right next to a theme park (BLT, BCV, BWV, VGC) may be an important factor to some.
[/li][li]On Property or off property – This factor is related to the off-property resorts such as VB or HHI. People shouldn’t buy offsite with the expectation of always using the points onsite.
[/li][li]Pools, community hall and full range of recreation opportunities – For some, Stormalong Bay at YC/BC is reason alone to buy into BCV.
[/li][li]Range of dining options (onsite and nearby) and/or room service – The number and type of dining options in close proximity to your resort may be a big factor.
[/li][li]Transportation options – A few resorts offer the option of walking into a theme park or DTD; others offer boat or monorail access; some only offer bus transportation
[/li][li]Types of accommodations – Not all resorts offer 3-BR Grand Villas. Only one offers Concierge rooms. A few offer point-saving value accommodations.
[/li][li]Views – To some, a great view from your balcony (perhaps BLT and BWV) is a big factor.
[/li][li]Hotel or Condo/townhouse resort style – This seems to be a big factor for some. Some people prefer the townhouse arrangement of OKW and SSR, with their outdoor hallways and self-parking right outside the room. Others prefer the resorts attached to a deluxe resort, with indoor hallways and valet parking.
[/li][li]In the middle of the action or a quiet secluded spot – Some prefer a resort they can retreat to at the end of the day, while others prefer to be in the middle of the action
[/li][li]Size of the resort – SSR and OKW are large, spread-out resorts, and sometimes there can be quite a distance from some rooms to dining and services.
[/li][li]Popularity of Resort - Certain accommodations may be hard to book if you don’t own there, such as AKV Concierge or OKW GV.
[/li][li]Resale Value – This factor is difficult to predict; however, some resorts may hold their resale value longer than others
[/li][/ul]Everyone’s personal tastes and individual preferences are different. Some may value certain factors more than others or not at all.
In addition to these individual factors, there are a few popular philosophies that you’ll hear from DVC members.
The most popular philosophy is “[B]Buy Where You Want to Stay[/B]”. If you really love a particular resort, then buy into it. There are some people who have a particular fondness for a resort and really want to stay at that particular resort, and they would be unhappy if they were not able to book there. These folks should buy where they want to stay, [I]provided that they can reliably plan and book to take advantage of the 11-month home resort booking advantage[/I].
If a specific resort (theme/style, location, villa type and/or view) is really important to you and you can take advantage of the 11-month home resort booking advantage, then buy into that resort. The need for the home resort booking advantage varies by resort, villa type, view and time of year that you most often vacation.
If you don’t have a particular fondness for a certain resort, or if you’re not a planner and anticipate always booking at the 7-month window (or less), then one of the next two philosophies may be best for you.
One alternative philosophy states “[B]Buy Where You Wouldn’t Mind Staying[/B]”. This view states that people should avoid buying at a resort that they really wouldn’t be happy staying at. Since the resort you buy into will be your default location should your other options fall through at the 7-month window, you should pick a resort that you would wouldn’t mind staying at; i.e., it would not make you unhappy.
Finally, others promote the idea of “[B]Buy the best deal[/B]”; that is, whatever resort has the lowest overall cost. If any resort is fine, then buy where you get the [I]best overall deal for total cost of ownership[/I]. Recognize that the variables for that depend on purchase cost (price, closing costs and finance charges), annual dues, expected length of ownership and likely resale value upon disposition. Keep in mind that any savings in upfront purchase cost will probably be offset by the difference in maintenance fees.
Some members may decide to purchase at more than one resort, giving them multiple home resorts. Typically, the reason is that the owner wants the 11-month booking advantage of the Home Resort Priority Period in order to make it easier to get the resort they want, at the time they want, with the accommodations they want. This reduces any possible frustration at the 7-mo window, wait-listing, or having to “settle” for another reservation while missing out on the one you really had your heart set on.
Keep in mind that if you have more than one home resort, all vacation points being used to make a reservation during the Home Resort Priority Period must be associated with that home resort. That is, you cannot combine points from multiple resorts to book one resort during the Home Resort Priority Period. You may combine all the points you have at all your home resorts and book any DVC resort only at the 7-month window.
Some folks purchase small add-ons at other resorts and then, by banking and/or borrowing, book a vacation there at the 11-month window every 2 or 3 years.