OK couple explanations to the questions posted.
With the Starwood program you do get a memebrship to Interval International so yes you can trade your time with anything else in the world but it's not point or option per point or option. The better deal is trading within the Starwood network to their hotels if you do not want to stay at one of the vacation resorts and yes Dubai has a resort/hotel. As far as the hotels go they are all Westin, St Regis, Le Meridien, Loft, Elements and W hotels. If you can't find one of those where you are going it most be a remote place.
Yes there are 2 types of TS programs; the traditional which I originally owned in the 90's and it sucked - you get one week same week same place period; There's also the vacation resort programs that the Marriot and Starwood pioneered which you buy points and can use those points at any of their properties anywhere, much more flexible and it comes with a deed which means it's a real property and can be willed or given away, once paid for it's yours or your families.
On the condo comment what I get is a two bedroom lockoff situation(I have even year my girl has odd year) so we effectively get one week each year. That gets you two separate rooms one a studio and one a one bedroom, each comes full bath, kitchenette, king size bed and queen size sofa bed you can sleep 8 people easily. On ours we can split the week up into two weeks by only using the studio side so effectivley if we are not travelling with family we get two weeks each year by using the studio side only. That's what we did when we went to Paris, we did Maui for a week studio only, convert the other half to points, added some of our extra points (we both have starwood AMEX's and use the crap out of them each have over 150K points on them) and booked a week at the Prince DeGalle in Paris for nothing but the plane fare.
Honestly if you travel and are a couple and like resort settings like Hawaii, Cancun, Bahamas St John etc. it's a good deal. We've had her's for 5 years, added mine 3 years ago and it pushed us into the "Gold" class where we get a few extra perks. We literally do two weeks usually each year at one of the above(was in Cancun end of September) usually May and September off times to escape kids. Gold perks is early booking times(we can book 4 months out, early check in, food and drink discounts vouchers etc). Her brother and his family spend 10K a year for a weeks cruise each year(3 kids). For slightly over two years worth of cruises they could have paid for a vacation property for life. Downside no food included but we do the CostCo thing when we land buy our food and alcohol for 75% of our time and go out to few nice dinners and still only drop @$750 for the week. Works for us but we work the system since she is very familiar with it, used to work in a similar industry so she has it nailed.
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