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Harbor Vacations Club
Reviewed December 2, 2010

This is not only a timeshare review of going “mainland” from the island of Maui, (where we live), but also a review of the unique experience of exchanging a land based timeshare for a catamaran at the Harbor Vacation Club in San Diego.
Included in this review are a couple of tips regarding exchanges where the company has no reviews or information about the particular timeshare, other than the location and basic facts.
Following is the review of Cheri’s Hilton Del Mar timeshare exchange and her catamaran timeshare exchange experience.
In February I needed to go to San Diego for some oral surgery. We had booked at the Hilton Del Mar using our points. It worked out great for my husband and me.
The Hilton Del Mar is in a great location and close to everything. San Diego is only about 20 min. away and the beaches in North County are beautiful. Great restaurants are very close by. My husband stayed the first week with me and then my son came to stay with me. The hotel room did not work out very well since my son is in his mid 30’s and I am in my mid 50’s.  As I was recouping from surgery, I needed my own space and a little privacy, i.e. a separate bedroom. It just happened to be President’s Week so we were a little concerned about the availability of timeshares. This is a very popular time to vacation and timeshares go quickly during any holidays in the San Diego area.
I called Interval International to see if there was anything in all of the San Diego area available.
There was!
Sea Where The Adventure Begins

There was a Catamaran available starting the next evening at Harbor Island – right across from the airport in San Diego. The name of the timeshare is Harbor Vacation Club, an affiliate of Shell Vacations Club. They said it was a two bedroom. The woman at II had no input from guests who had stayed at this property – other then how great San Diego is. We packed up at the Hilton and headed over to Harbor Island. We knew this might be a different kind of timeshare experience but we were open to the idea and it sounded like a fun and interesting experience. So, we traded our Villa del Palmar Studio one day before check in and thought the exchange to a catamaran was still better then a hotel room.
When we got to the Harbor Vacation Club the lady (Apple is her name) checked us into our timeshare and explained that it is a lot like camping. She was right!
Apple said that Shell had taken over the Catamaran and there were also three houseboats which looked like they might have been more comfortable. They were more spacious anyway. Having not seen our new accommodations yet we were still excited about recouping and vacationing in the beautiful San Diego Harbor area.
So Down The Plank We Walked To Our On The Bay Accommodations.
The accommodations were very small but we did have two separate bedrooms. This was the big plus. The kitchen/living/dining room was one small area. The size of the kitchen did not matter. We were in the heart of San Diego with many restaurants to choose from.
We were told we could not move the vessel. That was fine too. That could have created other problems anyway.
We were also told that if we turned the TV on you could not run the space heater on high or it would blow the fuses. Ok I fess up we were cold and wanted to watch TV so we did try it and It did blow the fuses just as Apple said it would!
The bathroom had a shower head on the bathroom sink that pulled out so you could shower. Again, much like camping. As far as my concern about the airplane noise from the close by San Diego Airport, I was surprised that after 10:00pm there was no noise. It was totally silent at the Harbor.
Can You Say Snug As A Bug.
The bedding was very nice, comfy and warm. But, by the third night we just couldn’t stand the cramped quarters anymore. My son said if I made him stay one more night he was going to sleep in the car. The car was one of those Dodge station wagons.
We laughed and said THIS is the sign of a bad timeshare exchange when you would prefer to sleep in the car!
Tip #1: Even seasoned timeshare exchange travelers can experience this type of an event. I should have taken the time when Interval II did not have any reviews or information about this catamaran exchange, to call the resort directly to inquire about the accommodations. By calling direct before we exchanged, we would have known although unique and in a prime location the “camping experience” was not what we were in need of at that particular time.
Observations:  It really wasn’t too bad for 3 nights. However one week would seem very long especially if you like space, want to watch tv and be warm at the same time. Even though Interval said it would accommodate more than two people I don’t think this would be possible unless you like being very close. If you don’t mind a hand shower or are “camping” types than this could work for you.
The positives are: San Diego has so much to see and do. If you intend on being out and about a majority of the time and just need a clean warm bed to sleep in and are looking for a timeshare that is conveniently located to all of downtown San Diego attractions in a quiet area – the catamaran is a unique, one of a kind option. The staff at Harbor Island Vacation Club was friendly and helpful as well.
Tip #2 Since the Catamaran was not exactly what we were looking for in an exchange, we should have listened to Apple’s hint that the houseboat was bigger and better equipped for a week long stay – especially for a mother and adult child arrangement. Remember, the staff is your best resource for information. So when given subtle hints, I would suggest paying attention to those hints, as the staff are only trying to help you have the best experience during your stay.
Next time we are in San Diego we plan to tour the houseboat to see if this would be a better Harbor Island Vacation Club accommodation choice. Considering the prime location spot, this could be a great option for the perfect San Diego timeshare vacation – if it is well appointed, with plenty of space and more outside of the “camping” experience.

  • Stayed: May 2010
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
6  Thank trippin5122
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 17, 2010

After reading about the houseboats/yachts on their website, we had such high hopes that this would be the location of our dreams. The reality, while adequate, was not quite what I expected. First off, the description of the units says that the units we had (Capistrano houseboat and Antigua yacht) says that these boats have washers and dryers. In the Capistrano the washing machine had a sign on it saying out of order and the sign had obviously been there for a long time due to the condition of the sign. Our friends in the Antigua said that they did not have a washer or dryer. The office person told us that we could use the washer at the marina adjacent to the one where we were moored. But each evening when we went to do our laundry, the building was locked. Turns out you can only do your laundry during the day when the maintenance staff is around. So that was a major inconvenience as we had planned to do sightseeing during the day. Now, our next complaint is not totally the fault of the vacation club (which seems a bit strange to call it that when there are only 8 boats) We arrived near the end of a week of rain. Our houseboat obviously does not react well to rain. The bed in the master bedroom was pushed over to the side to accommodate a bucket catching drips. Most of the windows leaked and there were signs of water stains on lampshades, blinds.etc . We checked, and most of the windows had the drainage plugs clogged. Meaning that the leaks had been preventable with basic maintenance. The sun room/bedroom above the master bedroom was obviously the source of the dripping ceiling, and the carpet up there was wet. So we just shut the door and stayed out of there.
Now don't get me wrong, dripping windows/ceilings are not the end of the world. We only needed one bedroom, and the second one worked just fine for us as long as we did not leave anything on the floor under the windows when it rained. The beds were extremely comfortable. The unit was spotlessly clean. And spacious!! The Capistrano was 1200 sq feet. It was nicely decorated as well. The dishwasher worked fine. I know it was not the fault of the managers that it rained. And had it not rained so much before we arrived, we would not have known about all the leaks. And no doubt the place would not have been as damp. Being a boat, there is no heating aside from two space heaters, which you have to keep in separate rooms to avoid blowing fuses. No problem, we just wore socks and sweaters in the unit. Our friends in the Antigua yacht found their place especially damp and cold - but that just could be them. The main complaint we had was not the fault of the management but rather the nature of boats. The toilets are not like land toilets. The houseboat had a regular looking toilet, but with such low water pressure,etc, that it took repeated flushes to get even one piece to toilet paper to go down. Our friends in the yacht said that their unit had marine toilets that were even harder to flush effectively. After our stay at the harbor was over and we had moved to a traditional hotel, my husband said that it was so nice to get back to civilization with a toilet that he knew would flush!!
Our friends on the yacht said they would not ever want to rent a yacht again due to the small bedrooms and even tinier toilets (although the living and dining room area was a good size. Our houseboat experience would have been a pleasant experience if the weather had been better. We might have been able to overlook the difficult toilets. My husband says he is not up to another stay. But I would be willing to consider it seriously if I had need of two bedrooms and two bathrooms. As I said, the beds were extremely comfy and the spaciousness of the living areas was great. I looked inside some of the other units while they were being cleaned. I was impressed by the other houseboats, even though they were only half the size of our unit. I would consider any of the houseboats, but never the yachts. Even getting your luggage aboard the yachts is a struggle if the suitcases are large or heavy. The houseboats are just so easy compared to the yachts!! So, in summary, the good things are the spaciousness of the houseboats (especially the Capistrano unit), the comfy beds, the value (if you need two or more bedrooms). The bad things are the toilets, the dampness (weather dependent), the poor maintenance (washers and windows).
But unless you are an experienced yachter, stay away from the yachts as I doubt you will be happy with your stay in a yacht - stick to the houseboats.
When we checked in , no mention was made of internet access and there was no mention of it on the website or in the unit. After checkout we got an online survey to fill out and it asked if we were happy with the internet. So I have no idea if they had it and didn't say anything, or if it was a generic questionnaire. If you plan to go there, phone and ask about the internet. The staff was very helpful (but note that there is only someone there from 9 - 5 daily).
If you are planning to stay there, be sure to have a car. This is not a location where you can catch a bus to get around. But it is a good location with a car - easy to get to the places you want to go to.
So overall , it was an ok place (as long as you overlook the toilets). We have stayed at three other Shell Hospitality resorts and found that this place is not up to the standards of the others in the chain. If you think that you are going to a resort, you will be disappointed. 8 boats at one side side of a marina does not a resort make.

  • Stayed: January 2010, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
7  Thank BJPToronto_Canada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Harbor Vacations Club

Address: 1880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101-1019
Location: United States > California > San Diego
Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Kitchenette Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #28 of 66 Specialty Lodging in San Diego
Price Range: $150 - $500 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Harbor Vacations Club 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A fun alternative to a hotel in San Diego is the Harbor Vacations Club stay aboard your own private yacht or houseboat, docked in picture-perfect San Diego Harbor. Every yacht or houseboat is spacious and captures the charm of the sailing life. Enjoy your morning coffee on your own patio or balcony, cook up a delicious meal in the galley, or just relax and soak up the sun on deck. You’ll just need to step ashore for nearby dining, shopping, and popular attractions such as the Gaslamp Quarter, world famous beaches, Seaworld, San Diego Zoo and more. Come aboard Harbor Vacations Club, and discover what makes San Diego such a favorite port of call for business travel, romantic getaways and family vacations to Southern California. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Harbor Vacations Club Hotel San Diego

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