Starwood implementation of Interval
International ( I. I. ) (Interval) exchange:
by: Fred Messreni - TUG Member (updated 8/5/2009)
The Starwood system is
different from others as it relates to an owners relationship with
Interval . This is significant. You should be aware of the issues
If a member of Starwood Vacation Network (SVN) you are subject to the
SVN Member Rules, and Starwood's administration of SVN inventory. A SVN
member deposit can be from any resort in the system, not necessarily
the owners home resort. It can also be a deposit of any season,
irrespective of the season owned.
If not an SVN member, Starwood does not have the latitude to deposit
any week from any network resort. The owner retains control of the week
deposited. It is, therefore, possible for a Platinum Season
owner at Westin Kierland, for example, to have a Silver season at
another resort deposited to represent their trade request. Meanwhile, a
non SVN Platinum Season resale owner at Westin Mission Hills, will have
a Mission Hills Platinum Season week deposited to represent their trade
The reason for this difference lies in the SVN Member Rules which in
part state that a member may not have an independent relationship with
an external exchange organization for the purpose of transacting a
trade of the owners use-week. Exchange requests are made directly to
Starwood, who in turn assigns a deposited week to the owners exchange
request as currency for the exchange request.
An owner that is not an SVN member must have an independent membership
account with I.I. in order to trade.
Exchange requests are made directly to I.I., not Starwood. Further, the
deposit will be represented by what is owned.
The first step is to secure a reservation at your home resort.
Reservations may be made up to 12 months in advance.
For reasons explained later, the reservation should be made as close to
the 12 month mark as possible.
Once confirmed, the reservation is available for deposit directly to
Experience suggests that an on-line transaction is the preferred method
for making the deposit to your I.I. account.
Current information regarding opening an independent I.I. account,
member dues, exchange fees, on-line deposit instructions, etc., is
The real world problem of separating Starwood policy from what is
actually enacted at a point in time has caused some frustration. Strict
consistency is not always adhered to. Consequently, I have tried to
reflect what Starwood states as its policy, or ownership documents
stipulate.Individual experiences may be different.
I.I.'s model for comparable
exchange is based on several factors. The precise formulas are closely
guarded trade secrets. Something like the formula for Coca Cola:
- Unit size (measured by private sleeping capacity) A 2 bedroom villa
sleeps 6 privately, although it will
accommodate a total of 8. A Studio sleeps 2 privately, although can
accommodate 4. A 1 bedroom sleeps a total of 4, privately.
- Quality of the resort deposited.
- Demand for the week deposited. Typically, Platinum (prime season)
draws more demand than Silver (low season). However, this is not always
so. Actual week numbers matters . There are weeks in Platinum season
that are in higher demand than others. Sometimes referred to as bright
Red or Pink. Conversely, certain Gold or Silver weeks may (rarely) have
a higher demand than the lowest demand Platinum weeks.
I.I. publishes a helpful tool to assist members in determining general
demand. It is geography, not resort, based.
Called the Travel Demand Index (TDI), it provides a historical demand
for every week of the year, for each geographic region of the world. It
is, therefore, possible to broadly assess the demand component of your
trade request both in terms of the demand for your deposit, and the
demand for the dates you are requesting in your exchange request. The
TDI is located at the beginning of the geographic region in the I.I.
TDI is a scale from 50 to 150. 100 represents Market Average, Above 100
is greater demand. Below 100 is greater availability. Note that below
100 is not lesser demand, but greater availability. The demand
component of exchange is not determined by pure demand, it is measured
against supply. High demand , low supply, is what creates a blockbuster
exchange chip. High demand with an excess of supply results in weak
demand as it relates to the demand value of your deposit. Got it? The
TDI is best used as a tool to assess the time periods that an exchange
request is most likely to be confirmed.
- Deposit lead time. More on this later. Suffice to say that a
reservation deposited 10 months in advance of the reservation date is
worth more to I.I. than the same reservation deposited 5 months in
- Wild Card (my term): Included in the evaluation of deposit quality is
a pre-filter which sits in front of the above criteria. It is
established by I.I. members who have exchanged into the resort you are
depositing. I.I. performs surveys of these exchangers (not owners) to
determine a satisfaction/quality rating for the resort. Trades
available to owners are based on this filter. The owners of the resort
suffer in the exchange universe if exchangers do not rate the resort
DEPOSIT FIRST: is by
far the most common method of executing an exchange because it is the
least confining and requires no firm decisions or commitment at the
time of deposit. All that is required of you is to decide that you do
not want to occupy the week at your home resort. You may not yet be
clear about what you do want. Simply take the use-week and "put it in
the Bank". You may then later request an exchange anywhere in the I.I.
Once the use week at your resort is deposited, you may as well forget
about it. All you care about is the date you must travel by for the
deposit to remain available for your use. The time frame is two years
after the reserved week you deposited. Example: The reserved week
deposited is November 24, 2007. You deposited it December, 2006. You
must conclude your travel for that deposited week by the end of
November in 2009. I.I. will maintain timetable records and report them
to you periodically. No need to create a bookkeeping system for this.
Keep it simple and easy. Decide where you wish to exchange, and when.
Get it confirmed, and have fun.
Deposits to the bank are irrevocable. Once you have made the deposit of
a reserved week, you may not change your mind and cancel the deposit.
If that were allowed, the entire structure of the exchange network
would collapse.. So, in the bank it stays until you decide where you
want to travel, perhaps accruing the time with a future years use for
Reciprocity is not required for your exchange request to be filled and
confirmed. No one has to request the reservation you deposited for the
system to work. The requirement for your exchange request is the
deposit, period. That is the currency that buys your request. The rest
is I. I ’s problem.
Borrowing. In addition to banking the current year for use in the
future, you may borrow next year’s use for a vacation this year. You
can borrow only from the following year. Homeowner Association dues
must be paid in full at the time the borrow is requested.
REQUEST FIRST : You are promising to relinquish the use of your
reservation to Interval International if, and only if, they can confirm
a reservation to what you want, where and when you want it.
Note: this option should be used when you are willing to occupy your
reserved week at your home resort if I.I. cannot fulfill your exchange
request. Why? You are not making a deposit in this instance. So, there
is no irrevocable commitment on your part.. Therefore, the reservation
you have made for the year is really yours for occupancy. Further, I.I.
is not required to accept what you are offering for an exchange. Each
of the parties has an opportunity to evaluate what the other is
offering, and decide if it is desirable to them. You initiate the
dialog because you are the one with the exchange request.
As mentioned, specific week selection is not under an SVN members
control within the Starwood system, when depositing to I.I. This has
another implication with Request First. As the SVN owner does not know
specifically what week will be assigned in advance of a deposit, one
must be proactive. It is necessary that the owner first confirm a
specific reservation if Request First is desired. The owner must have a
specific week to offer I. I. for their consideration. It should be a
reserved week that the owner would otherwise occupy if the request is
not fulfilled. If this is not likely to occur, Deposit First is the
appropriate exchange election.
Interval states that, all other things being equal, the Deposit First
method takes precedence over Request First in fulfilling an exchange
If you deposit your
week at least 60 days before its reservation date, your deposit is
valid for an “unrestricted” exchange request for two years from that
reservation date. Do keep in mind that the earlier a deposit is made,
the more valuable it is to the exchange . Although a 60+ day deposit is
“unrestricted” for purposes of your requested exchange, its exchange
value decreases as the reservation date becomes closer. A deposit 12
months in advance of the reservation date is valued more highly than
the same reservation deposited 5 months in advance.
If you deposit your week 14 to 59 days before your reservation date,
your deposit is considered a Late Deposit, or Flex Deposit. The deposit
is still usable for two years, as above, BUT, you are restricted to
making reservation requests to those resorts. You must wait until 59 or
less days to your desired occupancy to make a reservation request. You
are bound by the same limitation you gave the exchange by depositing
your week so late in the cycle.
If you deposit your week 7 to 13 days before the reservation date, your
deposit is considered a Late/Late Deposit. (Indeed!!). It is also
usable for two years, but the above restriction shortens to a 30 day
reservation request window. You are getting more leeway than you gave
Placing a Pending Request:
OK. You now know the
rules for exchange time frames. Make an Exchange Request as soon as you
know what you wish to do with the use-week.
Any exchange request that is not confirmed at the time the request is
made is called “Pending Request”.
Here are the rules and considerations for your Pending Request:
The more alternatives you provide, the higher the likelihood your
request will be promptly confirmed. Combinations of resort and / or
time frames. You may use up to 64 combinations per request. You should
supply at least 3 alternatives. Any combination of resorts and dates.
This deserves further discussion. Although it is possible that your
desired exchange will be available when the exchange is requested, it
is not likely. You are expecting too much to think so. Likewise, a
review of availability at any moment in time is not likely to produce a
desired availability. Think about it. Availability occurs only when an
owner at another resort desires to themselves exchange , and places
their reservation on deposit. Statistically, this occurs most often
within the 8 to 5 month window. It is not at all unusual for a request
to be confirmed 60 or more days after the trade is requested.
Logistical issue you must be aware of: Your requests are not
prioritized. You will be confirmed into the resort / time frame the
system locates first. Therefore, it is our opinion that you will be
better served by making requests one at a time, in the order of your
preference, to avoid the possibility of not receiving a confirmation
for your first preference, even if it is at that moment available.
When specifying a resort, use the Resort Code in the Resort Directory.
It is the three letters in bold type next to resort picture in the
Directory. It can also be found in the index. Exchange fees will be
billed at the time you place your request, per week.
Only a full week can be deposited with Interval International. You can
lock your unit off and deposit either, or both, suites. The request
system is based on “comparable value”. Do not expect size upgrades
unless you are within the 60 day reservation window. This is the “Flex
Change” period. Any deposit will draw anything available irrespective
of the unit size you deposit. A Guest Suite will pull a 2 bedroom if
it’s available. Pending Requests cannot be made in this window. Simply
call and ask for availability. If you like it, take it.
It has been our experience that availability is not identically
reflected on the I.I. website and by phone. Telephone requests do seem
to have access to inventory that is not reflected on the website. Of
course, SVN members are speaking with a Starwood representative, not
I.I. How they represent your requests is one of those "black box"
issues a Starwood owner must resign themselves to.
Starwood 72 hour Exclusive:
the first three days of a Starwood owners deposit, its availability is
masked from the rest of the Interval International membership. Only a
Starwood owner has visibility to another owners deposit. It may be
selected without contention from the rest of the timeshare world. If
unclaimed within 72 hours, it is made available. to the I.I. general
membership. If a Pending Request is active for one of these deposits,
it will be filled without it ever seeing daylight. The deposited week
must otherwise be of "comparable value" for this to occur. One cannot
expect a Silver Season studio to pull a 2 bedroom Platinum
Starwood owners are reluctant to surrender their home resort week
without knowing in advance the outcome of their desired trade.
Understandable. Starwood has made this difficult because of
their policy concerning bulk depositing. This is best
resolved by use of the Request First method.
there is some probability to the exercise. Keep in mind that one of the
reasons to deposit with the exchange is that the only thing you are
certain of is that you do not wish to visit your home resort in a given
year. A decision does not have to be made about what you do wish to do.
said this, trade testing can be performed to determine what is
available, and when. It is hypothetical as you do are not actually
executing a trade., and conditions will not be identical at the moment
you do. Keep in mind that trade testing will only reflect that
inventory that is available at the moment tested. As previously stated,
the likelihood of your desired trade being available at a moment in
time is low. In this respect, trade testing is a interesting game, but
not to be relied upon as a mirror of what you can expect to occur.
Placing a Pending Request puts you in position to have your order
filled, if and when it does become available.
best way to determine what will likely occur is to team with owners who
have different reservations, of various sizes and resort locations. At
the same time, each queries the available inventory for the week being
used. By comparing the results of each query, it is somewhat possible
to determine availability and what may be required to obtain it. As
stated, this is more a game than a strategy. Nothing assures
that conditions will be similar enough at a point of actual execution
to produce the tested result. It is a way to test relative exchange
clout, in a general sense, for insight to the workings of the exchange
system. That is all.
Its a big world. I.I. has over 2,200 resorts in almost every corner of
the world. They are a great resource for Starwood owners. Starwood has
some great properties, highly prized by owners of other
resorts/systems. In most cases, your trade requests will bear good
fruit. However, the key to success is FLEXIBILITY. If you are not
receptive to accepting different locations, or different dates, than
your single highest preference, you will often be disappointed. It is a
matter of odds. The more answers you will find acceptable, the more
likely you will be successful.
highly regarded as most Starwood resorts are, when exposed to the wide
universe of other timeshare owners competing for the same resource, you
should not be surprised to discover that there are many resorts/weeks
that compare on a superior footing. Prime ski weeks at world class
destinations are particularly prized. Not only are they in very high
demand, they are relatively few in number. Four Seasons, Hyatt,
Marriott, and other quality tier companies have resorts at locations
that draw exceptional demand when compared to availability. FLEXIBILITY
is the key to successful trading on a routine basis.
have tried to cover the basics here. Undoubtedly, I have overlooked
something of relevance. Hopefully, I have not erred in what has been
covered. That is also possible. This is a working draft for Starwood
owners. I will update and correct as needed. Your experiences and
insight are welcome.
not overlook the other sources of exchange information available on
TUG. The exchange machinery is still Interval International.