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Old 01-29-2013, 01:55 PM   #1
EllieBride
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What to expect - Availability at 7 months (or less)

Hello,

I've been toying with buying DVC and thought I was finally narrowing down some decisions - direct vs resale, how many points, which home resort, etc. But now after reading some of the other posts, I'm second-guessing everything.

My problem is that I don't tend to plan my trips 11 months in advance. 7 months will even be a stretch. For me, 3-5 months in advance is more realistic. Does this mean I won't have a chance of getting the type of reservation I want? For most trips, I would probably want a studio or 1-BR, standard view, for travel in May or October-November.

What is the liklihood of getting the type of accommodations I want? If I have to use twice as many points as I am budgeting for, then that kind of defeats the purpose.

Your insight and experience is greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:13 PM   #2
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This has just been my experience, but we tend to travel at the same time as you do and stay in a 1 bedroom (usually a standard view). We have always been able to get exactly what we want at the 7 month mark with the exception of BWV/BCV in October. No problems getting them in May, but can't touch them during F&W. We've also gotten BLT standard (once late April, once in early October) and AKV standard more times than we can count. My points are mainly at SSR so we typically don't book until the 7 month window opens. The few times we have gone in early December we have booked at our home resort right at the 11 month mark. We have also done a few last minute trips (June, August, Oct) and were able to get into SSR or AKV fairly easily.

Take all this with a grain of salt, but that has been my experience. It seems that on short notice most availability will be at SSR or AKV (although the standard view rooms are harder to get since they are a great point value).
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:02 PM   #3
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Today I am looking at a small May vacation, and OKW and SSR and AKV all have the dates I want for a studio. BLT, BWV, BCV and VWL to not have them available.
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
For me, 3-5 months in advance is more realistic. Does this mean I won't have a chance of getting the type of reservation I want? For most trips, I would probably want a studio or 1-BR, standard view, for travel in May or October-November.
No, you do not have much chance of getting a Standard View room at 5 months or less. Whatever SV rooms remain at 7 months (which is typically few) are quickly gobbled up.

Booking on 5 months' notice or less, you will probably find SOME availability at Animal Kingdom Villas, Old Key West and Saratoga Springs. More often than not, other resorts will be fully booked by that time. You may find some occasional success but nothing consistently.

Unless you are open to regular stays at SSR, OKW or AKV, buying DVC with the intention of booking on 5 months notice or less would not be wise.
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:18 PM   #5
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If you are happy with SSR you should have no problem at all. Exception for Christmas, Thanksgivivg, New Year and a few other days. But it doesn't sound like you will be traveling those times anyway.
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Old 01-29-2013, 03:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
Hello,

I've been toying with buying DVC and thought I was finally narrowing down some decisions - direct vs resale, how many points, which home resort, etc. But now after reading some of the other posts, I'm second-guessing everything.

My problem is that I don't tend to plan my trips 11 months in advance. 7 months will even be a stretch. For me, 3-5 months in advance is more realistic. Does this mean I won't have a chance of getting the type of reservation I want? For most trips, I would probably want a studio or 1-BR, standard view, for travel in May or October-November.

What is the liklihood of getting the type of accommodations I want? If I have to use twice as many points as I am budgeting for, then that kind of defeats the purpose.

Your insight and experience is greatly appreciated.
We were just like you before we purchased DVC. It was definitely a change to plan vacations out so far in advance. Our first few trips were planned way within the 7 month window. And it meant that we needed to do split stays. We however, are not opposed to split stays because we wanted to become familiar with the different resorts.

So jump a few years later and it is becoming easier and more natural for us to plan farther in advance. This means that we are able to stay at one resort.

Your vacation 'style' will change if you purchase. Unused points kinda sit there burning in your pocket until you know how you will use them so that means you will start planning out scenarios and dreaming of your next vacation pretty quickly.

If you are unable to change and must book only 3 to 5 months out, it will be very important that you become very flexible and happy with what's available. The only time we were not thrilled beyond belief was when we went to OKW. However, there are plenty of people who love that resort; it just wasn't for us.
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Old 01-29-2013, 04:43 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
Hello,

I've been toying with buying DVC and thought I was finally narrowing down some decisions - direct vs resale, how many points, which home resort, etc. But now after reading some of the other posts, I'm second-guessing everything.

My problem is that I don't tend to plan my trips 11 months in advance. 7 months will even be a stretch. For me, 3-5 months in advance is more realistic. Does this mean I won't have a chance of getting the type of reservation I want? For most trips, I would probably want a studio or 1-BR, standard view, for travel in May or October-November.

What is the liklihood of getting the type of accommodations I want? If I have to use twice as many points as I am budgeting for, then that kind of defeats the purpose.

Your insight and experience is greatly appreciated.
Please know that your situation does not make you a poor candidate for DVC. You will still find that you can book stays within that time frame as long as you are flexible as to what resort you want to stay at and the exact dates. Although you may not be able to find Standard views at the more popular resorts, you will most likely be able to get studios at OKW, SSR or even Standard views at AKL.

The real impact that your vacation habits should have is on what home resort you buy. Because you will most likely not be taking advantage of the 11 month window, it does not make any sense to buy a more expensive resort like BLT. If you are consistently going to be booking within the 7 month window you should look at the lowest price per point and maintenance fee resorts. Ideally you should be looking at OKW or SSR as your home resort.

In most cases, you won't be able to find any Standard view rooms. However, many of your other options should only require 10-30% more points, so I don't think that you will be setting yourself up for failure if you buy with a short booking window. That being said, your best bet for a successful DVC ownership is your ability to plan your vacations 11 months in advance. So if you're willing to settle for a less than optimal result, you should still be ok.
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:05 PM   #8
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If you are in a position to spend the money and you are happy not always getting the resort/room that you want then booking 5 months before arrival shouldn't be a problem today.

What happens tomorrow is anyone's guess. As more resorts are added and owners increase in number, the competition will increase.

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Old 01-29-2013, 07:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
Hello,

I've been toying with buying DVC and thought I was finally narrowing down some decisions - direct vs resale, how many points, which home resort, etc. But now after reading some of the other posts, I'm second-guessing everything.

My problem is that I don't tend to plan my trips 11 months in advance. 7 months will even be a stretch. For me, 3-5 months in advance is more realistic. Does this mean I won't have a chance of getting the type of reservation I want? For most trips, I would probably want a studio or 1-BR, standard view, for travel in May or October-November.

What is the liklihood of getting the type of accommodations I want? If I have to use twice as many points as I am budgeting for, then that kind of defeats the purpose.

Your insight and experience is greatly appreciated.
October-November can be very hard to get because that is a very busy time for DVC and WDW. Studios usually go first, as do standard views because they use the least amount of points. So you would have to count on getting a preferred one bedroom most of the time and not for a full week in a row. You'd be a few nights here and a few nights there most of the time. You could pretty much kiss your point budgeting away.
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:29 PM   #10
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At 5 months your choices are very often limited to AKV (savanna or standard), OKW and SSR. May gives some shot at others, Oct or Nov less so, and standards at BWV and BLT, and AKV value, are very often gone before 7 months out many times of year. Be aware DVC's highest demand quarter is last few days of Sep through the Monday after Marathon weekend in Jan. At 7 months out, it is easier to get many things during spring break weeks than most times in that quarter.
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Old 01-29-2013, 07:54 PM   #11
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I have to agree with most that booking 3 to 5 months out may not yield you the results you want, especially during the fall months.

I really think you'd want to plan for the resorts mentioned--Ssr, OKW, and AKV. Since AKV is the only one with standard, I think that is the only one I would count on--and even the would be hit or miss.

While nothing is impossible, those short notice trips require a lot of flexiblty, possibly split stays, and even wasted points.
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Old 01-30-2013, 06:55 AM   #12
EllieBride
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Thank you, everyone, for your input. I'm a little bummed, but also glad that I didn't rush into a purchase. I think I may need to give this a little more thought and see if we can adjust our habits and plan farther in advance.

To dig a little deeper, do you think that most standard views (i.e. low-point options) are snatched up right at the 11-month mark, or would we still have some success at the 8, 9, 10-month mark, so long as we are ahead of the 7-month booking window?
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:03 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
Thank you, everyone, for your input. I'm a little bummed, but also glad that I didn't rush into a purchase. I think I may need to give this a little more thought and see if we can adjust our habits and plan farther in advance.

To dig a little deeper, do you think that most standard views (i.e. low-point options) are snatched up right at the 11-month mark, or would we still have some success at the 8, 9, 10-month mark, so long as we are ahead of the 7-month booking window?
Depends on the time of year.

If you are talking Christmas or BW Standard during Food and Wine - they are snapped up at eleven months. If you are talking about a trip in early May, you may find availability six months out.
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Old 01-30-2013, 08:15 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
Thank you, everyone, for your input. I'm a little bummed, but also glad that I didn't rush into a purchase. I think I may need to give this a little more thought and see if we can adjust our habits and plan farther in advance.

To dig a little deeper, do you think that most standard views (i.e. low-point options) are snatched up right at the 11-month mark, or would we still have some success at the 8, 9, 10-month mark, so long as we are ahead of the 7-month booking window?
We have stayed AKV value (cheapest category) in October 2011-booked 11 month and May 2011- booked 7 month. I have a AKV value reservation booked for this August that I just booked last week at the 7 month mark. We have also gotten BWV standard in May 2011 and BLT standard in late April 2010 and October 2012 all booked at the 7 month point. All units were 1 bedrooms.

Most of our points are at SSR. We calculated what we needed to stay there in the accomodations that we need as a worst case scenario to determine the number of points we need. SSR is kind of the mid-point in room costs of all the DVC resorts and has one of the lowest costs per point to buy in and one of the lowest maintenance fees. Since we have been lucky enough to get the cheaper room categories on most occassions, we have some extra points which allows us to stay an extra night or two. We would be ok with SSR though if it wouldn't work out but so far we have gotten lucky getting what we want. We are realistic though with knowing what we can and probably won't get due to time of year. AKV and BLT are our favorite resorts though so we usually try for them first.

ETA: And anytime we take an early-mid December trip we always book at the 11 month mark.
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Old 01-30-2013, 09:19 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by EllieBride View Post
To dig a little deeper, do you think that most standard views (i.e. low-point options) are snatched up right at the 11-month mark, or would we still have some success at the 8, 9, 10-month mark, so long as we are ahead of the 7-month booking window?
The problem is there's no way to answer that with any absolutes.

You've left a lot of variables in your query. You have mentioned three different months (May, Oct, Nov) and two different room sizes (Studio, 1B.) I don't recall any specific resort mentioned and if you're looking to book more than 7 months out, that comes into play since you will presumably only have that Home resort advantage at one location.

To address some extremes, getting an AKV Standard View 1B in early May will be a lot easier than a BWV Standard Studio during the Food & Wine Fest (Oct) or Thanksgiving.

I think fixating on the Standard View rooms is a bit of a mistake. To me, it implies that you're looking to buy a very small number of points to fill an expected need. And that could be a recipe for disaster.

Bear in mind that DVC does rebalance the point charts from time to time. That means adjusting daily values to better reflect member usage; some days go up in cost while others go down. If you buy an exact number of points to fill a certain need, you may soon find yourself a few points short if DVC happens to adjust your costs upward.

A BoardWalk SV Studio is currently 104 points for a week in May. Will you still be happy if the SV isn't available when you try to book, and you can only get 5 nights in a Preferred View? Will you still be happy if DVC adjusts the points and it costs 108 points for that May week?

IMO, the safer approach is to at least buy enough points for one of the more plentiful views--Pool/Garden at BWV or Lake View at BLT. And if you happen to snag a Standard View, regard it as a bonus which allows you to extend your trip or bank some points for future use.

And realize that if you CANNOT change your booking pattern and start making reservations more than 5 months out, options will be much more limited.

This may sound like "doom and gloom" to some extent, but I think it's important to have realistic expectations. The last thing you need is a bunch of sycophants saying "DVC is great...buy now and you'll never have problems getting what you want!"

It is certainly POSSIBLE to find a BWV Standard 1B available at 5 months for May. But I would not buy with the expectation that such a room will be available year-after-year.
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