We love to travel to Palm Springs and use our timeshare because it’s only a three hour drive and a lot like being at home without actually being at home! This resort has received some negative reviews, but as a Starwood Owner, I know they have a great deal of construction still ongoing at this property and this property will improve upon most of the negatives as it continues to grow! It’s only a 1/4 of it’s true size! Starwood Vacation Ownership Properties vary a bit in how they are set up and run from standard Westin resorts, so that too lends itself to some confusion if you are not accustomed to the Vacation Ownership experience. For example, you won’t get room service here, nor should you expect it at SVO properties. Also, they usually will not recognize your Starwood status. You get what you book. It’s very rare that they will upgrade, but it has happened. You will earn points for your stay if you book using the timeshare option, but you do not earn points for anything else since your room cost is part of what you own. So my suggestion is that if you want a true resort experience with Starwood, make sure you do not book at a SVO property.
As I mentioned above, Desert Willow is a growing resort. The first phase thus far is very nice, with an exceptional golf course and friendly pool side service. You can choose to bring your own food or drinks with you to the pool, as we normally do, but we always reserve one or two days to be pampered. We actually just end up walking back to our room at lunchtime and cooking our own meals in our own kitchen. At Desert Willow, you also have the option of taking the golf cart shuttle to and from the room! The rooms are very modern, with colors to reflect the desert. Tans and greens create a soothing environment, just like a typical Westin. We stayed in a one bedroom unit, but took a peak at the larger portion of the of the lockoff suite and thought that much nicer. Not that our room wasn’t nice, but I like having the larger kitchen. We actually own a 2 bedroom lockoff, but stayed in the smaller one bedroom to save on StarOptions. When Desert Willow is complete, it will have more than just one pool area swarming with families, better access to dining, and it will be much more spread out. Construction will continue well into 2012 or beyond. They had some buildings under construction while we were there, but we did not notice any noise or issues.
I can say that the whole timeshare thing is a mixed blessing. It has saved us a lot of money, because going to Palm Springs costs the same as just being home, but having the timeshare locks you in to a set vacation each year. For me, it’s difficult because I’m always traveling to different places. Timeshares are great for those who really enjoy an area and want to go back each year, and I guess in my case, going to Palm Springs every other year (I don’t own annually there) is not so terrible! I may end up selling my unit at some point, but until then, we’ll plan on our Palm Springs adventure in 2012!