My family returned a few weeks ago from four nights at Disney’s newest resort, Aulani. Located on O’ahu just 20-30 minutes from Honolulu Airport, we knew that it was the perfect getaway for an extra-long weekend jaunt from the West Coast. We had some Alaska Airlines vouchers burning a hole in our pocket that had to be spent by this summer (thanks to a crazy flight cancellation last summer). So when we spotted fares about 6 weeks ago from Oakland to Hawaii for under $300 round trip, we snagged them quickly! There’s nothing like a free flight to Hawaii to drive the winter doldrums away.
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Aulani is currently undergoing an expansion, so they have been offering some deals lately around non-spring break periods. Even with those deals, room rates were over $400 a night for a simple hotel room, which is quite expensive! Acting on the tip of a friend and some internet research, we decided to look into “renting” Disney Vacation Club points to see if we could beat that rate.
Like other Disney resorts, Aulani is a participant in the Disney Vacation Club — the fancy name for Disney’s timeshare program. Members in DVC purchase a number of points that can be traded in for rooms at any of the DVC properties. Members have a “home” resort within DVC which gives them slightly better perks at that home resort when they choose to stay there. As with many timeshare programs, there are times when members simply can’t use all of their points, so they are allowed to “rent” those points to others by booking a stay for a friend using their points. To be sure, renting DVC points isn’t an option for in-demand resorts during peak periods, as rooms will be hard to come by. But if you are traveling off-season or have some flexibility, it is an option worth exploring to save a lot of cash.
There are two major ways to rent DVC points. First is to rent from an owner directly. If you know someone who is a DVC member, this is a fantastic option. But even if you don’t, the internet has ways for you to connect with someone… the MouseOwners message boards being the most commonly used forum. As renting DVC points is a private transaction, this option does involve some risk, similar to the risk you might expect using VRBO to rent a privately-owned condo.
The second option is to use a service, the most prominent of which is David’s Vacation Club Rentals. You’ll pay slightly more per point to rent, but there is some security in having a guaranteed middleman to make sure you aren’t being scammed.
We opted for the first option, and had nothing but success. We found someone on the MouseOwners board who had rented many times before and we were able to verify who he was and that he was legitimate. He found us a room quickly, we paid him via PayPal credit card, and he even called the hotel with some special room requests for us. He gave us the confirmation number, and we were able to look up the reservation on Disney’s website to be certain a room was reserved in our name. All in all, the whole transaction required just a single phone call and maybe a half dozen emails and was a resounding success. We were able to secure a studio condo (with a kitchenette) for under $300 per night — a savings of more than $100 a night for a better room. In addition, renting through DVC means that parking is included, so we saved an additional $35 per day by not paying the Aulani’s rack rate for parking.
Coming soon…. A full Aulani review!