I have a job that requires me to make predictions. When something new is announced, I’m often asked about my opinion. Heaven knows when it came to Riviera, I had my opinions (along with everyone else). It wasn’t so much the announcement of a new resort that engendered my disapproval of Riviera. Rather, it was the terms and conditions of the resale restrictions. Nonetheless, I’ll give you a preview of where this article is going. I was hard on Riviera when it was announced, and I now own a 150 point contract there. If I’m going to criticize something, I have to be willing to say that I’ve changed my mind – kind of.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me a moment to explain. Up until the creation of Riviera, when you purchased points at any DVC resort – either direct from Disney or thru a DVC resale broker, the points were basically the same. They could be used interchangeably at any of the DVC resorts. In January of 2019 DVC announced that resale contracts purchased on any new resorts (meaning any resorts opened after January of 2018) would be good ONLY at that resort. By doing this, Disney was attempting to make points purchased directly from them more ‘valuable’ than those purchased on the resale market. They followed this up by restricting the kinds of discounts available to resale members, among other annoying and petty restrictions. The fact is that Disney left loopholes the size of Texas in their business model. Those loopholes allowed for resales and now they’re trying to change the game. But that’s not the point of this article. However, it was a MAJOR factor in my original impression of Riviera. It would be beautiful but tainted. That stigma would prevent me from purchasing a contract there – or so I thought.
One of the things that made Disney Vacation Club such a good purchase is its resale value. Historically, the price of DVC resorts would appreciate considerably over time. Someone who purchased a 200-point contract at Beach Club when it first went on sale in 2002 was paying about $84 per point direct with Disney. That same contract today would sell for $156 per point on the resale market.
By restricting resale contracts at Riviera, DVC was hoping to start gutting the resale market. A question that was asked repeatedly (and still is to some degree) is how the restrictions would affect its resale price. Well, we’re getting a good look at the answer. Riviera went on sale in 2019 (a year before the resort opened) at $188 per point. Today, a 200 point contract would go for $155 per point. Keep in mind, the resort is only open for 2 years. By contrast, the previous resort (Copper Creek, which has no restrictions), debuted at $176 per point in 2017 and now sells for $158 – $184 depending on the size of the contract).
Early indications seem to suggest that the restrictions have depressed the price of its resale contracts. But I’m not so sure that’s necessarily a bad thing.
While I DESPISE the resale restrictions on Riviera, I am absolutely in LOVE with the resort. It has an understated elegance that reminds me of my experiences in Europe without beating me over the head with it. It’s stylish without being uncomfortable. It boasts what is arguably the BEST gift shop at any Disney resort, and certainly has one of the best restaurants (Topolinos). It also serves as a stop on the Skyliner, offering direct access to Epcot.
But then we get to the rooms. I’ve been reviewing Disney hotels for nearly 25 years and these have to be among the very best Disney has to offer. They have both style (a palate of taupe and gold, wood laminate flooring, and marble bathrooms), and function (queen size bed, queen size murphy bed, twin bed trundle) that provide sleeping accommodations for up to 5 people without crowding the room with furniture. The implementation of the split bathroom design (two separate showers, one with a tub) is a popular addition for families.
Disney was billing Riviera as “the Grand Floridian of Epcot” given its easy access to the park via the Skyliner. When I first heard that, my eyes rolled back in my head as it sounded like typical Disney marketing hyperbole. However, as time has gone on, I’ve come to realize it is – in fact – the Grand of Epcot, but in the best sense (I am NOT a fan of the Grand Floridian hotel – the Villas are another matter).
For months after the Riviera opened, I was scoping out resale contracts. I came close a few times to purchasing one, then decided I had to have the courage of my convictions and resist. However, after a recent visit to the resort, I broke down and put in an offer on a contract. The fact of the matter is I’m perfectly fine with a resale contract that restricts me to using those points at only one resort because it’s a resort I desperately want to stay at. The rooms, the ambiance, the charm of Riviera won me over. I’m now the proud owner of 150 points at Riviera that I paid a very reasonable $144 per point.
I’ve also added some direct points to my ‘collection’, so I have options with new resorts. However, the fact remains that I’m excited to have 150 points to use exclusively at Riviera. And as a 57-year-old gay man, I can be a bit jaded. However, the emotional reminders of Europe, the quality of the rooms, the artwork in the rooms and on display around the resort, the outstanding staff, one of the best restaurants on property (Topolinos) all combined to overcome even my most jaded instincts. I’m a fan of Riviera and look forward to many years of enjoying all it has to offer.