Variety - this term often has a positive connotation; however, with private residence club (PRC) and luxury fractional reservation systems, variety can equal confusion. There are dozens of clubs out there and several different ways to organize usage plans.
PRC reservation systems can be easy to use and are designed to heighten the luxury vacation experience. All systems help to define how members use their vacation time and additional bonus days (if included) each year. (Note we'll refer to PRCs in the article below, but the comments apply equally to all luxury fractional properties)
Plan by plan we will outline each system variant to help take away any guesswork on your part. The most common plans include: fixed, floating, hybrid, rotation, and space available. There are also additional features clubs use to heighten customer satisfaction during the reservation process.
Property-to-owner ratios in PRCs can be anywhere from 1:4 to 1:12 or even 1:24. With a fixed plan members initially choose the weeks/months they want to use and keep them year after year. This can take several forms:
A. One member can take January and February, another March and April, and so on.
B. Months/weeks are spread out, for example: someone has January and May; and someone else gets February and June, etc.
C. A third variation would be owners getting every fourth week.
Regardless of how the time is divided among members, fixed means set or permanent, the months/weeks initially reserved will stay the same over the years. Keep in mind; most fixed plans do have options for space available reservations throughout the year.
Floating plans allow owners to reserve vacation time during a specific season or time period, but unlike fixed plans the owners do not have a specific week each year. Although owners have a fixed amount of vacation time, the usage is much more flexible with a floating plan.
Clubs commonly offer vacation time on a first come first serve basis, or have a rotating system, or have some sort of lottery in place to ensure that members have equal access to the property during high seasons. See the section labeled "Rotating" (below) for specific examples.
The hybrid plan is a blend of floating and fixed plans. The typical use plan for a private residence club provides for two weeks of prime winter and summer use with unlimited flexible use during non-peak periods year round. Often key holidays are also fixed under this system.
An excellent example of a hybrid plan is that of the Villas at Trapp Family Lodge. They run at a 1:12 ratio where owners get four weeks per year. The hybrid plan is as follows:
- Two weeks are fixed. Owners select two prime weeks that they will use every year (i.e. an owner likes to ski so they choose two weeks in prime ski season either back to back or spread out.)
- The third week of usage is a rotating week during the second season (the seasons are prime 24 weeks, 12 weeks and 12 weeks). The first year they get the first week of the season, the next year they get the second week and so on.
- Finally, an annual reservation schedule is in place for owners to book their fourth week of vacation. This simply means owners call in to the reservation desk each year to see which weeks are available for their final getaway.
Rotating priority systems were developed to equally distribute usage time among owners of clubs using floating plans. This can be accomplished many ways, below are two examples.
A. An example of this would consist of owners being assigned a priority number at the closing of ownership interest. This number rotates each year so owners have equal access to the property. For instance: In the winter season, the first planned reservation request is offered to the owner with the highest priority number, the second reservation is then given to the lowest priority number. The following season it changes to give the lowest priority number the first pick and the highest number the second pick.
B. A slightly different rotating system, which offers a minimum of four weeks of usage per year, split between the summer and the winter. However, the planned weeks at are scheduled in two selection rounds, based on a rotating priority reservation system.
An example of how this can work is: At the start of the year, each owner submits a list of top ten dates during which they would like to use their residence, then each owner based on the order they purchased is allowed to make his or her selection. If the first owner makes the first choice in the current year, then the following year the second owner gets to make the first choice. After all members have finished reserving their planned vacation quota, the balance 20 weeks, in the case of 1:8 homes, can be reserved using the open or spontaneous reservation system.
Space Available (a.k.a. Open)
Many private residence clubs offer space available reservations, these are the weeks available after all owners have been allocated their respective vacation time for the year.
For instance, in a 1:10 property ownership, with each member receiving four vacation weeks per year, there will be 12 remaining weeks available for owners to book additional vacation days. Usually, booking plans define how space available time is reserved. Members may have to book within a specified amount of time (i.e. 45 days) or will only be allowed to book one extra week at a time.
For example, an owner can only hold one-seven days or under-space available reservation at a time. Once the owner has used their reservation, they can make a new booking under the same guidelines. There is often no limit to the amount of space available time an owner can use.
HOLDING MULTIPLE RESERVATIONS (OPEN AND SPONTANEOUS)
Several PRCs permit members to hold more than one reservation at a time. At Timber Crest members can reserve vacation time using the open and spontaneous style reservation plans. Used during space available periods, an open vacation can be reserved at any time during the year, while a spontaneous vacation can be reserved 2-14 days in advance. Timber Crest members can hold one of each type of reservation at any given point of time.
RESERVING MULTIPLE RESIDENCES
Some PRCs go further and allow members to reserve several different residences for simultaneous use.
For instance, if an owner has bought into a two bedroom residence, that owner can reserve four similar residences for up to seven nights each for use during the same time period. Members can do this using all planned, space available and short notice privileges as long as units are available.
BREAKING UP TIME
There are some PRCs that allow owners to break free of the week long vacation. For some owners, getting away for a full seven days might not be as practical as taking two long weekend trips.
Sometimes, when booking vacations 200 plus days out, personal schedules change and owners can no longer use the week(s) they originally reserved. This is why quite a few private residence clubs have an option in place for owners to exchange reservations with other owners. Club managers assist in making such exchanges.
All PRCs have an option for members to login to their websites, enter their reservation choices, and also request reservations online.
As you can see there are a variety of ways that fractionals and residence clubs allocate time to their members. This is a key area to spend time on, to make sure you understand all the rules before joining any club.
If you know of other variations do share them with us using the comments section below or by contacting us.