OK I admit it, I own time shares. I hear a lot of bad press about owning timeshares. I have friends who have paid people to take over their timeshares. I, on the other hand, love our timeshares.
First thing to remember is what timeshares are not. Timeshares are NOT an investment. Don’t let any salesman make you believe that you will make money on a timeshare. That is simply not the nature of the beast.
Here are the reasons you should consider when buying timeshares.
- You love one particular destination and go there every chance you get.
- You want to save money when you travel and love experiencing new destinations.
- You understand the benefits of having a kitchen and laundry when you travel.
I will admit that I don’t want to travel to the same place time and time again. I find that boring, but some people just love the consistency of going to a familiar place. Staying in one place time and time again may appeal to people who travel in order to participate in an activity such as golf or skiing.
I own timeshares in order to see new places and meet new people. I also like having a kitchen and laundry (See my January 1, 2012 blog post on Vacation Rentals vs. Hotel Rooms). Since these are my goals in travel, the byword for timeshare usage is “be flexible”.
Since I don’t own my timeshares in order to go to that location, my first step, generally is to “bank” my timeshares with an exchange company or to book within my timeshare “group”. Let’s talk first about booking within my timeshare group.
Booking within my Timeshare Group
I own two weeks of timeshare with Hyatt Vacation Club, which is a point’s based group of timeshares. (Please note this section is talking about Hyatt, only, since other timeshare points may operate differently.)
My timeshare points become available one year prior to my fixed week. One of the Hyatt vacation properties is the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn http://highlandsinn.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/. The Inn is a hotel that includes some timeshare units. We live in the HOT central valley of California, so a getaway to the cooler coast in the summer is a refreshing change. Room rates at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn in July are in excess of $400 per night, plus tax and a resort fee of $25 per night. I recently booked four nights mid-week Tuesday to Saturday with my Hyatt points for July 2012. The hotel charge for these same four nights in a Garden View room is $2,031. Because I booked a mid-week getaway, I used fewer points and still had enough points to bank with Interval International and book a week this fall at the Marriott Summit Watch in Park City, UT. If I had book that same week in the fall of 2012 online, I would have paid $1,483. So these eleven night’s accommodations would have cost me $3.514, had I not owned a timeshare. I booked these nights with the points I received for the week I own at Hyatt Pinon Pointe Resort in Sedona, AZ. My purchase cost for that week was $10,000 and my annual maintenance fee is $864.00.
How to Exchange Timeshares
All my timeshares are with Interval International (II), but RCI is another viable exchange network. I own a three bedroom cottage at Kings Creek Plantation in Williamsburg, VA. This unit can be split into a week in a one bedroom and a week in a two bedroom. I ALWAYS split my unit, which then gives me two weeks to exchange each year, instead of one. My other timeshares are point based and I’ve talked about that above.
I have friends who own timeshares and they called me and asked me to come and help them book a trip on line. The husband was sitting in a recliner with the exchange company catalogue in his hands. He proceeded to tell me which property he wanted to stay at and what week he wanted to stay there. I looked at him and said, “First lesson of timeshares. Throw the book away.” He looked at me incredulous. I said, “You will go where and when they have something available, that’s the way it works.”
There are basically two ways to approach a time share exchange.
- See where you can go during a specific time.
- See a specific location for a wide range of dates.
Remember the timeshare by word is “be flexible”.
Here are a few examples from my personal experience.
- We have three granddaughters who live in North Carolina (we live in California)
- I go to II’s website and enter a block of dates when the girls will be out of school.
- I search for units that can accommodate six people, and use the two bedroom unit I own in Williamsburg as my exchange unit.
- I limit my search to the South East, so we are within a day’s drive of where the girls live.
- I have booked two bedroom units at the following locations:
- Orlando, FL
- Myrtle Beach, NC
- Williamsburg, VA
- Hilton Head, SC
- If I’m looking for just my husband and I, then I exchange the one bedroom unit I own in Williamsburg, VA.
- We like to travel in the Spring and Fall, when resorts are not as busy. Since we don’t ski or golf, this is a viable strategy for us.
- I simply enter a wide range of dates (e.g. Sept to Nov) in the II search engine.
- The search engine will give me a list of anywhere in the world that has availability.
- I then looked at a location that is new to us and see what types of units and where the resort is located.
- Using this strategy we have gone to the following locations:
- The Lake District in England.
- Sanbornton, New Hampshire for fall colors.
- Branson, MO.
- Gatlinburg, TN.