If you have read my previous articles, you’ll know by now that I am a DVC Member from the UK. You may have also picked up on the fact that we tend to vacation for a 14-night stretch. Anything less than a 14-night stay has never really been an option for us. That isn’t to say we couldn’t do a smaller stay, we just chose not to. Generally speaking, most employers in the UK will allow a maximum of two weeks off work for vacation/holiday time so we tend to take full advantage of that, especially if we are going to be flying for 8+ hours. The challenge that I am talking about is very specifically for those who want to book a stay longer than 7 nights.
For us, we have come across challenges when it comes to booking a DVC reservation. In particular, there is one that I think is definitely worth bearing in mind if you are looking at purchasing and intend to have stays that are longer than 7 nights, which is exactly why I am writing this. As it currently stands, DVC will allow you to book up to 7 consecutive nights as soon as the relevant booking window opens (11 months for Home Resort, 7 months elsewhere). Essentially, if you require additional nights for your stay, you have to add those as each day falls within the booking window.
I will just add this in here now, I am not looking to be negative about the booking system in any way, I am just talking about our experiences with it. We have spoken with DVC about how this system ‘restriction’ affects us but we understand that it was put in place in relation to how the vast majority of DVC members make reservations, especially when it comes to length of stay. At the time, we were told that they were trying to close a ‘loophole’ where members were using all of their points to book extended stays just to reserve the room ‘in case’ they decided to take a vacation before then cancelling part or all of their reservation nearer the time. This, of course, would leave the resorts with availability that is less likely to be filled at the last minute. Apparently this was happening sufficiently enough to warrant having the restriction. I should add that this restriction was not in place when we purchased DVC.
From a business standpoint, I can totally understand why they have taken this approach and why they have chosen 7-nights and how that works with little to no problems for the majority of the bookings they handle. That said, going back to us being Brits and our penchant for 14-night vacations, the challenge exists nonetheless. You can approach tackling this challenge in one of two ways…
The first method is relatively simple. Wait until your entire stay is within the booking window. However, there is a risk element here, given that you will have to wait 7 days into the booking window in order to book the entire stay. By which point, you may find that availability is scarce, depending on the resort, room-type and season that you are looking for. We seem to struggle with room-type for our home resort of Animal Kingdom Lodge quite a lot. We find that if we aren’t online and ready at the precise moment (8AM Eastern) the booking window opens, we can’t get the room we want. Granted, availability improved over the years, but it is always something that we have to keep in mind.
The other method and the approach we have taken for our last few trips is to book that initial 7-nights as soon as the 11-month window opens. Then, as each ‘additional’ nights stay becomes available and within the booking window, we add on that night. Unfortunately, this is a rather clunky way of going about it and requires you to be able to log in and book those nights every day but we find that it carries less risk of being able to book the required accomodation.
Overall, we have been fairly lucky in terms of getting the accommodation and the season we require which is exactly why I made the point about not being negative or complaining about it. I should note though, that has always been when booking at the 11-month window. The only attempt we have made at booking after that resulted in a split stay which didn’t actually include our home resort. (If you were wondering, all we managed to get was Saratoga Springs and Coronado Springs!) However, I really do think it is something that is absolutely essential to bear in mind if you are looking at DVC membership.
How about you? How do you approach ‘extended’ stays at DVC resorts?
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