If you’re invested in the world of vacation ownership, you are most likely familiar with Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV). A publicly traded entity separate from the Hilton Hotels Company, Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. brands itself as a top-tier timeshare provider with real estate all over the world.
As with most timeshare companies, HGV offers many different types of memberships. This includes the standard Hilton Grand Vacations Club membership along with its newest offering, Hilton Grand Vacations Max (HGV Max).
So what exactly is Hilton Grand Vacations Max, and why should anyone care about upgrading to this new membership tier? Does it really come with perks that current club members simply can’t miss out on? Or is it just a clever way of getting members to spend even more money with little benefit? Let’s dive into the details of the HGV Max program and determine the worthiness of its offerings.
If you’re a Hilton timeshare owner, you’re probably aware that Hilton Grand Vacations Club has multiple levels of membership, each with more perks than the last. Within this multi-tier membership system, you’re granted ClubPoints, which are used to book vacation stays.
So with this fairly convoluted multi-tier membership already in place, why add another? What additional benefits does the HGV Max program offer club members that they can’t already get? The answer stems from HGV’s acquisition of another prominent timeshare company, Diamond Resorts International.
According to CEO of Hilton Grand Vacations Mark Wang, this merger gained the company 380,000 new owners in the form of Diamond Resorts timeshare owners. As a result, the combined inventory of the two timeshare providers jumped to 140 resorts, providing quite the selection of vacation destinations for Hilton Grand Vacations owners to enjoy.
Hilton Grand Vacations Max was thus developed out of a need to incorporate Diamond Resorts properties into their current catalog of lodging options. Existing HGV timeshare owners can become Max members by upgrading their membership while new owners are automatically enrolled in the program.
Once you become a Max member, here are some of the benefits you will receive:
And what about existing Diamond timeshare owners? Since Diamond Resorts has been bought out by HGV, all of their properties will be rebranded as Hilton Vacation Club properties. Taking “Grand” out of the title indicates that these properties will be considered the lower-tier option.
This is making it so Diamond Resort members will need to upgrade to HGV Max to access premium HGV properties or be left with the dregs of their current inventory.
All of the HGV Max membership perks are just HGV’s way of getting their current customers and newly acquired Diamond Resorts customers to increase their already-pricey timeshare expenses. They want you to believe that having a Max membership is like combining the best that Diamond Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations Club have to offer. But just like any deal in the timeshare industry, nothing is as good as it seems.
Though this new membership program provides access to both Diamond Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations properties, is it a worthwhile investment for current HGVC members?
To figure this out, let’s look at the numbers. If you want to upgrade your current membership to Max, the costs are pretty steep. The initiation fee is $7,000 — much more expensive than most timeshares on the resale market. This fee simply gives you the option to book vacations at Diamond Resorts properties. You must also pay a membership change fee of $450 and an “activation fee” of $199 to finalize your membership.
The inconveniences of upgrading to HGV Max don’t stop at these excessive fees. Its booking system is also not as convenient as it should be. Hilton Grand Vacations insists that Max members have “exclusive booking windows” that offer “priority access to accommodations.”
But in reality, Hilton Grand Vacations Members converting to HGV Max can only book six months in advance. So by the time their booking window comes around, people who own timeshares with Diamond Resorts have already gotten the first pick of which property they want to book their vacations at and when.
What does this mean for HGV customers who want to use their points to stay at a Diamond Resort for their annual summer trip to Hawaii? It means that by the time their booking opportunity finally arrives, all the best places and most preferred weeks at Diamond Resorts properties will probably not be available.
They’ll be lucky if they can reserve a stay at a lesser resort in Myrtle Beach or upstate New York. Needless to say, upgrading to a Max membership will not guarantee you’ll find a Diamond Resorts stay that aligns with where and when you want to vacation.
Another underwhelming benefit of becoming an HGV Max member is that the Diamond Resorts properties you’ll now have access to aren’t nearly as nice as HGV’s properties. While Hilton Grand Vacations is lauded as an upscale timeshare company, Diamond Resorts is considered lower tier. The amenities and resorts themselves are noticeably inferior to the level of luxury that HGVC members are used to. While their properties are by no means dilapidated or uninhabitable, Diamond Resorts are definitely a budget version of HGV’s luxurious lodging options.
The quality disparity between these two timeshare providers can be exemplified by sorting through a timeshare resale listing. A quick look at properties from both companies will show you that HGV timeshares are noticeably pricier than Diamond Resorts. You’ll see a myriad of Hilton Grand Vacations resales starting in the mid-thousands while many Diamond Resorts resales can be found for less than $500.
However, you can also find resales from both companies listed for little to no money. These are from timeshare owners who have been so financially drained by their providers that they’ll do anything to get the property off their hands. Unfortunately this situation is not so uncommon, and it could be one you end up in if you’re manipulated into paying thousands for a Grand Vacations Max membership.
Hilton Grand Vacations wants you to feel like you’re giving yourself a whole new world of opportunities by buying into a Max membership. Yet, these opportunities may be at lesser resorts for a higher membership fee. But at least you get more options, right? If you ask us, these options are not worth it.
The way Hilton Grand Vacations is framing this new program may actually be a reflection of their desire to pressure Diamond members into upgrading to an HGV Max membership tier. It may also be a way for them to convince current Hilton Grand Vacations Club members that even though their existing benefits are already plentiful and maintenance fees are already high, thousands of dollars worth of initiation and activation costs are totally worth it to have access to a whole new catalog of lesser properties.
If you’ve already been tricked into buying a Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare and are tired of being pestered to give them even more money in membership fees, Centerstone Group may be your ticket out.
We are a full-service advocacy group that works with victims of the timeshare industry to resolve their contracts and return them to a life of financial stability. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, high-pressure sales tactics, or misrepresentation, contact Centerstone Group and see if timeshare cancellation is an option for you.