Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn
Recently, we sat down with Miriam Domingo, director of marketing at Maui’s newest oceanfront resort — the Westin Nanea Ocean Villas on Kā‘anapali Beach — to learn what makes vacation ownership so popular.
MNKO: I know very little about vacation ownership, so let’s start with “What is it?”
MD: Vacation ownership is a way to purchase a share of a resort; it guarantees you accommodations at least once a year. With some properties, you purchase a number of weeks; with others, you purchase points, which work like currency. Still others use a combination of the two. At Westin, vacation ownership involves an actual deed. You purchase points that get attached to the deed, and can use them however you want: for a stay at your original property, or, as in Westin’s case, to stay at any of our Vistana Signature Network resorts around the world. Last year my husband and I used our points to book hotels in Europe and Thailand, staying at several properties rather than spending all our time in one place.
Resort-hopping internationally? Wow, I like that idea! And if ownership involves a deed, does that mean it can be inherited?
Let’s say that I purchase enough points to stay for four weeks in an oceanfront condo at The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. Rather than purchasing a share in a specific unit, I’m guaranteed a comparable oceanfront condo at the time I specify. Is that right?
Yes, when you vacation at your home property, you receive the same level of accommodations for the time you request. Points used at resorts in the network are subject to availability, so that takes planning. We have a dedicated owner-services team — similar to a concierge department — to help you find the properties and time period you desire. You have a team working for you.
What happens to my points if I can’t use them in a particular year?
You can bank them for the next two years, and use them to stay longer or perhaps reserve a bigger unit and bring extended family. You can also borrow points against future years. The beauty of vacation ownership is that you can use it to fit your needs, even if your needs change. We recognize that families grow and mature over the years. Owners may choose to rent their units, or even give the time to friends or family.
That sounds a lot more flexible than the old timeshare system. I remember when timeshare first came to Maui. One of the biggest complaints was that there were no activities or cultural experiences for the guest, no retail or dining, no sense of place.
There’s been a huge evolution, thank goodness! The industry has come to realize that, to be successful, it has to focus on what matters: connection to community, comfort and amenities. At Westin, the guest’s experience is on a par with any great resort, and offers the same amenities: concierge, valet, housekeeping, bellmen, even room service. If you want to make an omelet, you have a lovely kitchen, but you also have restaurants, markets and bars. And groceries can be delivered and stocked before you arrive.
Even more important, we offer experiences to engage you in as much culture and as many activities as you wish. We have lei making, hula lessons, fitness classes, yoga . . . even culinary classes and wine socials. Exceeding expectations, creating memories — these are our goals. And of course, you don’t have to be an owner to rent a villa. We operate as a full-service resort, as well.
The Westin Nanea Ocean Villas is a community, and we embrace it wholeheartedly. We have families who come back year after year — and they make friends they enjoy seeing again and again during their vacation. To us, our guests are our family, and Maui is our home.