During our stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui, we decided to take a tour of the next door Hyatt Residence Club Ka’anapali Beach. It was the first timeshare presentation I’ve ever been on, and I’ve heard awful things about them from some people. But ours was actually quite pleasant.
Is it something I’m looking to buy into right now? No. There were some persuasive arguments about value, but I can think of other things I’d rather buy, and I do get a lot of value from booking regular hotel stays and accruing elite status. However, it didn’t seem to be a bad value for people in other situations. If I were five years older with a couple of kids, I can see myself being more interested.
You might want to know more about the residence club anyway since you can book a stay there as a regular person. I have yet to find a date when it’s available, and I expect the cost for a two-bedroom unit will be over $600 per night. But this may make sense for some people. Two readers asked questions yesterday about adjoining rooms or getting a microwave in a suite at the Hyatt Regency. A full kitchen and two bedrooms seems like a better deal to me.
Are Timeshare Salespeople Awful?
But first, let’s address the annoyance factor. The hallway between the main lobby and the Napili Tower where our suite was located has been converted into a timeshare sales center. It was impossible to miss them on our way to or from the room unless we took the fire escape. Another kiosk is located in the middle of the Atrium Tower.
That said, I didn’t find the pitch to be very aggressive at any time during our stay. Most of the staff stayed inside the sales center, which has its own rooms. There was usually someone at a separate desk in the hallway, but they only approached me if I lingered by the model of the complex. Would it be better if they weren’t there at all? Sure. But they realize everyone is on vacation. I can’t say that they created a reason to avoid staying here.
We were offered a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts and a tote bag for signing up to take a tour. And 10,000 Gold Passport points at the end. Between that and my interest in your edification, you know I had to agree. 😉
Visiting the Hyatt Residence Club
Something worth noting is that nearly every unit has oceanfront views. Exterior hallways in the rear of the building provide access to each unit, with the drawback that this creates much more light pollution than other nearby hotels at night. But you don’t really have to worry about a bad view. We toured a two-bedroom residence about halfway up (~6th floor?).
This unit’s entrance was a real foyer, which lead to a smaller guest bedroom to the right or ahead to the living room and kitchen. The guest bedroom didn’t have much in the way of windows, but it did have some sitting space and a nice private bath.
The kitchen wasn’t enormous, but compared to my downtown apartment it wasn’t bad. I could definitely whip up a few meals here and save on the cost of a resort meal. Additional appliances were located in the pantry next to the desk.
The living room and balcony were definitely important to me. If I’m going to pay to own an interest in what is basically a giant suite, I want more than a bed. I didn’t care as much about the sofa and television indoors since I don’t think that’s what you should be doing in Hawaii. But the outdoor patio was enormous and stretches the length of the master bedroom and living room, with its own dining area.
Finally, the master bedroom benefits from an ocean view and a large bathroom. There were separate sinks on either side of the door, a tub in the middle, and a shower and toilet to either side of that. Compact, but it ticked every box.
For good measure, here’s a view of the pool area below. There’s a large main pool with several levels and a small waterslide that surrounds the pool bar. In the back is a market and a few barbecues near the street. (I’m not sure why these aren’t near the beach like at other timeshares, which seems more fun.) Remember that you can use these pools if you’re a guest of the Hyatt Regency next door. We opted for the infinity pool to the right of this photo.
The Tour Experience
Our saleswoman started the tour with about 20 minutes of chatting with Megan and me about our jobs, background, and vacation habits. I admitted I write a blog and we quickly realized I might know more about the value of Gold Passport than she does. But it was actually a very pleasant talk. And besides, we timed our tour for the mid-afternoon when we figured we would want a break from the pool.
We were originally promised a tour of about an hour. I think it took closer to an hour and thirty minutes, but that could be due to time lost during conversation. I could have sped things along if I tried.
My only real complaint was when the finance guy was brought in at the very end. In a bit of good cop/bad cop routine, our sales agent had buttered us up with all the value opportunity while the finance guy was there to tell us how much things really cost. I’m not sure why she couldn’t handle both jobs. He gave up quickly, though, when I made it clear that we weren’t in the mood to make a decision that day. Ask my wife: I like to take my time, whether it’s a $3 ice cream cone or a $100,000 timeshare.
Is It a Good Value?
Timeshares will always be more expensive if you want to secure a week during a popular vacation period. Megan and I were more than happy to pick mid-February, when there are whales about and the prices drop (a bit) after Christmas and Thanksgiving. And with the idea that kids are in our future, a two-bedroom was a must. Add in a mid-level view, and we were looking at $90,000 plus an annual maintenance fee of $2,406 (see the comments).
Despite the maintenance fee, I still think this isn’t too bad if you compare it to 30 years of paying for a 5- to 7-night hotel stay next door. Remember that this is a two-bedroom unit with a kitchen and living room, so at a minimum I think it should be compared to the cost of an oceanfront suite and adjoining room — whatever that cost may be, since I definitely don’t pay full price to stay in a suite.
You can also convert that week into Gold Passport points to use elsewhere or trade with another timeshare. This is Maui, so every week is peak season and delivers maximum value if you decide you want to go somewhere else. Here are some of the conversion charts we were shown. The residence club in Maui is at the “Diamond” level (in light blue) all year long.
But you do need to pay it all up front or find your own financing. Hyatt gives you a grace period, after which they charge close to the ~15% interest rate of most rewards credit cards.
I can’t really tell you if it’s the right decision for you. I can only say that, from our perspective, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. We do travel to Hawaii — and particularly Maui — on a regular basis. When I have kids, the residence club will probably make more sense than booking two rooms at the Hyatt Regency next door. And I stay often enough with Hyatt that I’m sure I could find a way to trade the vacation club credits or convert them to Gold Passport points. Key selling points were:
- It’s cheaper over 30 years than booking hotel rooms.
- The residences are much nicer than most hotel rooms.
- We were offered 200,000 Gold Passport points (worth about $3,000) if we signed up that day.
Ultimately we chose not to proceed because we have other financial priorities in the near future. A timeshare is more like an investment that you pay for up front because (you hope) it’s a better decision in the long run.
Furthermore, I didn’t really see how becoming an owner would help me with my status qualifications, or how my existing status would benefit me. If I stay at the Hyatt Regency, I get a few discounts, some upgrades, and access to the Regency Club. And I might earn a few nights toward my Diamond status. If I stay at the residence club, I’m on level ground with everyone else.
Evaluate the Residence Club Ka’anapali Beach Yourself
Hyatt has been sending out lots of promotional offers to its Gold Passport members offering discounted stays at either the Hyatt Regency or the Residence Club Ka’anapali Beach if you agree to take a tour. Maybe I lost mine, but they seem to be targeted primarily at Platinum members — even infrequent guests like my wife, who has status through her Hyatt credit card.
We’ve since lost the offer my wife received, but for $599 and a couple hours of her time I recall she was promised a six-night stay at the residence club and 10,000 Gold Passport points. She’d probably get another box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, too. She does like chocolate.
It may not be for everyone, but I’ll consider offers like this again when I’m in a better position to take advantage.