How Timeshare Resort Brands Are Responding to COVID-19 (and are they doing enough?)

published on April 28, 2020 by

This pandemic hit nearly everyone faster and harder than expected. Most travel companies (including RedWeek) have had to re-consider nearly all policies multiple times throughout the past six weeks, resulting in a bumpy transition for all involved. The timeshare brands are no exception. Some have taken excellent care of their owners, allowing ultimate flexibility (which can then be passed along to their renters), and some have offered some flexibility, but less-than-ideal solutions.

Just as there has been confusion over state and country responses to COVID-19, there has been confusion in the timeshare and travel industry as well. Rumors abound. Travel restrictions can prevent owners and renters from getting to resorts, but some resorts have opted not to close, or are only closed to renters, but not owners. Information is often conflicting. At some resorts, when shelter in place orders were issued, guests were asked to leave, but the resort still stayed open and accepted check-ins.  Many resorts stayed open, despite nearly all amenities being closed.

A recent Travel Weekly article indicated, “world-wide a few owners, particularly in less-populated and more desirable locations, have chosen to shelter in place at their resort.”  How safe are those resorts that have remained open in March and April with shelter in place restrictions?

Some resorts have closed until shelter in place restrictions are lifted – typically waiting to do so until a government mandate insists on it. Several brands have extended more lenient cancellation and rebooking policies, but some are falling short. Here is what we’re hearing from some of the brands — we would love to hear from owners below, based on your first-hand experiences.

bike path timeshare resort

Club Wyndham 

Wyndham Resorts, like many others, says the health and safety of owners, members, and guests is the resort’s top priority. Following CDC guidelines they’ve implemented enhanced standards of cleanliness and safety aligned with federal, state, and local health authorities.

As all Club Wyndham resorts are temporarily closed until May 15, 2020, the cancellation policy was adjusted.  Reservations for arrivals prior to May 15, 2020, will be automatically cancelled. Owners and members do not have to take any action with Wyndham, but if they have a renter planning to use those weeks, they should make contact as soon as possible and arrange for refunds. Vacation points, housekeeping credits, and reservation transactions will be returned to owners and guests. Use of the owner website is the fastest way to cancel and rebook.

Marriott Vacation Club

Marriott Vacation Club adjusted to a more fluid cancellation policy and increased health and safety standards as well. Their website attempts to offer COVID-19 updates for properties and destinations (though sometimes inconsistent with what the resorts themselves report). In mid-March, Marriott moved to a more flexible cancellation policy with changes or cancellation without charge up to 24 hours prior to arrival, as long as the change or cancellation is made by June 30, 2020. Some owners have reported the only option they were given was to receive a certificate with Interval International, which some cost and restrictions on usage, which is less than ideal.

During this time of crisis Marriott found multiple ways to support and contribute to the communities where their hotels and resorts are located. Their properties are contributing food, pre-packed and cooked meals to crisis relief efforts, as well as cleaning products, masks, gloves, and sanitizers to frontline works.

Disney Vacation Club

The “happiest place on earth” wants its members to be happy and healthy as well. Vowing that their top priority is the safety and well-being of their members, guests and employees, they are committed to following health experts and government officials’ recommendations for safety protocols and all resorts and theme parks. Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort and Disney Vacation Club Resort properties are closed until further notice. DVC will be proactively cancelling reservations for owners at closed resorts. Flexibility is also offered for previously purchased theme park tickets.

When the coronavirus subsides, Disney has plans for new security measures at their parks to prevent illness from spreading. Temperature screenings, masks, and social distancing may be a new part of their entry requirements.

Diamond Resorts

Diamond Resorts has also closed many of its resorts in North America and Europe. Those resorts that remain open are providing complimentary accommodations to first responders and medical professionals at all of the open Diamond-managed properties around the world.

For owners, Diamond is currently offering to waive cancellation fees and penalties for reservations before May 15, up to 24-hours before arrival.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club (HGVC)

Using the slogan “You are our Top Priority” HGVC concentrates on inspiring future trips to Hilton Resorts. HGVC Club Members who want to cancel or modify reservations, penalties are waived for check-in dates before May 31, 2020. Member response has been positive:

Thank you for extending the expiration date for saved points! I agree, this is great customer service and shows why I chose HGVC when buying a timeshare! Can’t wait to book our next trip!

Hilton Grand Vacations, Thank you for contacting me and resolving my issue with my cancelled (March 14th -19th) travel plans to your Ocean 22 resort. Fantastic customer service.

Thanks for rescheduling my April 1 trip to Elara Las Vegas you all have excellent customer service.

Westgate Resorts

Westgate has adjusted its cancellation policy to allow cancellations up to 24 hours prior to arrival for bookings for stays before May 21, 2020. The company is following preventative quarantine steps issued in an Executive Order by Florida’s Governor for travelers coming from certain areas with substantial community spread.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations

All Breckenridge Grand Vacations resorts are following government and local mandates for COVID-19 to close all resorts. The resorts are planned to reopen for owners and guests on June 1, 2020, though that may change.

For reservation inquiries and changes owners and renters are directed to contact the Owner Relations Team by email or LiveChat. BGV’s reschedule/open reservation policy states that, “every effort will be made to reschedule a reservation without penalty within one year of the original departure date, based on availability”. However the site also states that, “no guarantees can be promised at this date.”

BGV continues its spring grants program, accepting applications for local organizations involved in community support programs. The program’s focus on health and human services (among other issues) will well serve the community well after the effects experienced during COVID-19.

We want to hear your thoughts

Have you had to change a reservation with one of the timeshare resort brands listed here? Were you happy or frustrated with their proposed solutions?

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Comments (13)

    • Avatar for Linda M.
      Linda M.
      May 13, 2020

      We had a booking with Marriott ko olina for july 2020. Booked via Vacation Candy. They were unable to guarantee travel to Oahu or thaty the Marriott would be open in July. But Final payment for the trip was demanded in full 2 weeks ago. When no guarantees could be given that any monies would be refunded or bookings moved to same time next year, we did not pay the final balance. They threatened legal action and they cancelled my booking . I lost a substantial deposit. I will never use the Mariott again! Extortion!!

      • Avatar for Andrea N.
        Andrea N.
        May 13, 2020

        @lindam1424 we are in a dispute w VacationCandy Over a trip to Marriott’s Shadow Ridge. They are threatening legal action as well. They refuse to engage and just send emails stating their position. They are trying to keep money from both sides - renters and owners. I will not have them as party to any of my transactions.

        As both an owner and renter I am not happy w Marriott’s response but these are difficult times and I am trying to be balanced however having to deal with interval and the restrictions there are appalling.

        • Avatar for George H.
          George H.
          May 13, 2020 (edited)

          Hi...what are my options if my rental weeks do not rent?

          • Avatar for Edward H.
            Edward H.
            May 13, 2020

            As a Marriott owner in the Aruba Surf Club (multiple week) I am disappointed in Marriott. While they cancelled my 2 reservations in March, they tried to tell me they were doing me a favor by depositing the week into Interval, which they own. They gave me a reasonable time to use the weeks, BUT I can only book 120 days out, which means I will not be able to get into the Surf Club, as normal time for booking is 12 months. SAD

            • Avatar for Bonnie A.
              Bonnie A.
              May 13, 2020

              I am not happy with Marriott!!!! I complied with their policy of cancelling between 60-14 days out from arrival but what I got in return was a deposit of a "certificate" into Interval (which Marriott now owns). I am unable to book more than 120 days out and not to all resorts. I also have a week I deposited to Interval some time ago. When I look at that inventory, I can see the available units. When I look at the Interval certificate Marriott so kindly offered me, that same inventory does not show up. Only inventory Interval has in excess shows up( beds they need filled). I lost a penthouse ocean at Ko Olina on Oahu during spring break only to be offered much less in quality and only in places I do not want to go at times I cannot travel. Going to ski resorts in summer and beaches in winter are what Marriott wants me to accept for a spring break ocean penthouse in Hawaii for an additional charge. Not worth the maintenance fees!!

              • Avatar for Walt C.
                Walt C.
                May 13, 2020

                Sounds like your issue is with vacation candy, not Marriott.

                • Avatar for Jennifer R.
                  Jennifer R.
                  May 13, 2020

                  I had the same issue as lindam1424 with Vacation Candy! They are a terrible business and I reported them to the BBB. No options for rescheduling and no offers to work with us. The only way to reach them now is through email. Had a trip booked to Ko Olina 8/8/20. Traveling with family including my 75 year old diabetic father-in-law. Second half of payment was due. VacationCandy says pay it or your trip will be cancelled and huge deposit lost. But if your trip time comes and all amenities at the resort are still closed, if Hawaii still has a 14 day quarantine for visitors, if Los Angeles still has a stay at home order in place, oh well. You lose twice as much now. We were willing to work with the owner and VacationCandy- they were not willing to work with us. Disgusted.

                  • Avatar for William H.
                    William H.
                    May 13, 2020

                    Westin is owned by Marriott and has that 120 day restriction too which makes it almost impossible to book this year. Really poor owner support.

                    • Avatar for Patrick V.
                      Patrick V.
                      May 13, 2020 (edited)

                      If you got a certificate from Interval, then call Interval. They can work with you often if you explain the problem and you can escalate up the ladder to the "unhappy customer managers" so to speak and they are very helpful.

                      There are MANY places you can go that are fabulous. Malaga Spain is awesome and it will open up soon. Going there off season is actually better because no obnoxious germans or brits there drunk and making noise. And its a warm weather location.....Marriott has awesome resorts there. Trust me. Been there. Done that. Interval has computers that look at the date of deposit and the code for what you gave up in size and then requested travel dates. But their customer service agents can do a bit more sometimes. COVID is not Marriotts fault ....the resorts are inundated with TENS OF THOUSANDS of displaced owners and renters and vacation seekers. Tough task. If you owned that week.....and lost out I am sorry. I would have requested a new reservation with Marriott early in the crisis.....just to be safe.

                      • Avatar for Patrick V.
                        Patrick V.
                        May 13, 2020

                        And George...your options are what they always are. If they dont rent you can use them. Or call the resort developer now and reschedule them. Renting is always a matter of location, dates and pricing. Lower your price. In the old days before the internet and travelocity etc. renting them was those travel sites often get lower prices....and people who dont own there snap them up. If there are available units. VRBO is another option. Or TUG.

                        • Avatar for Murray L.
                          Murray L.
                          May 16, 2020

                          Pueblo Bonito, the owner of several resorts in Mexico, has been very accommodating. They are allowing reservations to be moved to later in 2020 or even to 2021 and they offered refunds on all-inclusive and other optional purchases. Through June 1 they are giving a 12% discount for paying 2021 maintenance fees early. They also kept all their employees on the payroll and paid most of them about 70% of their regular pay for March, April, and May despite being closed.

                          • Avatar for Joe A.
                            Joe A.
                            May 19, 2020

                            Marriott needs to provide clarity in their offerings. As a vacation club owner, we canceled our July trip and was told we were restricted now to a 120 day prior to arrival restriction. We were under the impression that we had until June 2020 to cancel with no restrictions as you mention in your Marriott Vacation Club section above. The advisor said the June date was for Marriott hotels. We missed it by one day and they were not willing to make an accommodation. Not very customer friendly in these unique pandemic times.

                            • Avatar for Christina A.
                              Christina A.
                              Jun 11, 2020

                              Also experienced the same situation with Vacation Candy! Terrible experience. We were booked at the Marriott Ko'Olina in July as well. No options to reschedule at a later date. Just emails asking for final payment and then they cancelled our reservation since we didn't pay the remaining balance. Duh! Like I'm going to fork over another few thousand dollars to a fraudulent company that does terrible business. Never again will I use Vacation Candy. I wouldn't be surprised if they change their name an operate as something else due to the outrage from customers. BEWARE OF VACATION CANDY or any other DBA they are associated with.