Maximize Timeshare Ownership
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
Timeshare maintenance fees are one of the most unenjoyable aspects of owning a timeshare. These fees generally increase year over year. To most people, these fees may make timeshare ownership either unaffordable or undesirable.
While I do not like paying maintenance fees, I am able to maximize my timeshare week to get multiple weeks of vacation using just one timeshare. Therefore, even though I pay about $1250 in maintenance fees, I am able to get about 4 weeks of vacation and with exchange fees, pay about $400-$500 per week which makes it not only affordable, but a deal and many times, an absolute steal!
As with many things, if you understand what goes into the maintenance fees, you may have a better understanding of why they charge you what they charge you.
In my previous post, I showed you what one of my Hyatt Residence Club weeks maintenance fee bills look like. In addition to that bill, I received a few more details on what expenses are included in the maintenance fee.
In the following, I have uploaded a copy of the 2018 budget for the Hyatt Beach Club resort in Key West, Florida. This has all the details on the expenses likely to be incurred by resort in 2018, broken down on a per unit / per week basis.
2018 Budget and Maintenance Fee for Hyatt Residence Club:
I will not go through all the line items but it is interesting to see the actual categories and expenses of the resort and how it is broken down per unit.
For the Hyatt Residence Club Beach House, the maintenance fees have increased about 1.7% from last year. Considering inflation is about 2.5%, a 1.7% increase does not appear too unreasonable especially considering the various items that goes into these calculations.
As I explained in my previous post, the Hyatt Residence Club has reserve category for unanticipated expenses or those expenses that cost a lot of money that need to be replaced every so often.
In the chart below, the major capital expenditures are listed that includes the estimated useful life of the various components of the resort as well as the amount currently funded.
As you can see from the above chart, the Hyatt Residence Club Beach House has a certain amount of large items that will eventually need replacing.
Instead of waiting for these items to break down or fail to collect funds, they collect funds annually and keep them in reserve so that they may be replaced without having to do a special assessment or drastically increase maintenance fees during one year.
Paying maintenance fees for your timeshare is not very enjoyable but it is necessary to maintain the resorts and keep people wanting to come back year after year. Depending on how you use your timeshare, paying maintenance fees does not have to be painful especially if you understand the fees and are able to maximize your usage.
I personally think of my maintenance fees as a prepayment for my vacations.
While I do not like paying maintenance fees, it does make me feel better to fully understand how the resort compiled the maintenance fees each year and to make sure that there are not unreasonable items included in these figures.
Are the details helpful to you? Does disclosing the details help you better understand timeshare ownership?
Make sure to comment below!
Generally, most timeshares generate their annual maintenance fee bills towards the end of the year. As the year gets closer to the end, many timeshare owners are beginning to receive their maintenance fee bills.
Since timeshares are not very transparent, I thought that I would show my readers what my Hyatt timeshare maintenance fee bill looks at and what makes up the fee.
Here is my statement for my Hyatt Residence Club Beach House maintenance fee for week 47. Fort his particular week, I receive 2,000 Hyatt Residence Club Points.
While the scan is less than ideal, you can see that my maintenance fee for 2018 is $1265.03 which includes a voluntary contribution to ARDA which is the American Resort Development Association.
Here is the breakdown on how they came up with the total maintenance fee for 2018.
2017 Property Taxes: $16.40
2018 Maintenance Fees: $794.14
2018 Reserves: $341.49
2018 HRC Dues: $153.00
Voluntary ARDA Contribution: $5.000
The Meaning of these Categories:
2017 Property Taxes: This appears to be my portion of the 2017 Property Taxes. The Hyatt Beach House paid property taxes for 2017 and likely assessed each individual owner their pro rata portion of taxes based on owning 1 week for one (1) two (2) bedroom unit.
2018 Maintenance Fees: This amount is the bulk of the fee which covers all operational costs of the resort. This likely covers upkeep, staffing, utilities, and the various other items required to run the day to day operations of the resort. I will be posted a look at the 2018 budget that has more details on how this fee was compiled.
2018 Reserves: Like most businesses, the ongoing monetary needs of the resort can be estimated but there are always items that come up that were either unplanned or cost more than estimated. These reserves are additional funds that are kept by the resort for unexpected expenses and for those expensive items that will eventually need replacing. This includes major items such as buildings, elevators, roofs, HVAC and other expensive items. Instead of having to go out to the owners for additional funding, the resort includes a reserve amount for these unexpected costs.
2018 HRC Dues: These HRC dues are for use of the Hyatt Residence Club name, reservation systems and management services. Most resorts are not owned by Hyatt but are rather branded with the Hyatt name and are operated by Hyatt management services. These dues cover those services and fees.
Voluntary ARDA Contribution: According to ARDA's website:
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is the Washington, DC - based trade association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries (timeshares). With nearly 600 corporate members and 5,000-plus engaged associates, ARDA members hail from privately held firms to publicly traded corporations with extensive experience in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate. Developers, exchange companies, vacation clubs, resellers, and timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, industry vendors, suppliers, and consultants - as well as owners, through the ARDA-Resort Owners' Coalition (ARDA-ROC) - all experience ARDA.
The voluntary $5.00 contribution apparently goes to ARDA to assist with ongoing legislation that attempts to help the timeshare business and timeshare owners. I have posted some information that has been generated by ARDA which is helpful. $5.00 is a nominal amount but you can easily elect to opt-out of this contribution.
The timeshare industry is not very transparent so a lot of information is simply not able to be found unless you own a particular timeshare. My goal is to make timeshare ownership more transparent so that you can decide whether timeshare ownership makes sense for you and your travel style.
I do not own all timeshare brands so it would be helpful to share other bills that you receive so that readers can see how different timeshares and brands bill their maintenance fees. Please send your bills to email@example.com so that I can post additional bills to show readers what to look for and how different brands differ on their bills and amounts.
Southwest is a fantastic airline. While it does not have the bells and whistles of a lot of the foreign carriers or have a first class cabin, they are efficient, friendly, and still have tons of customer friendly policies.
Southwest is the last domestic carrier to offer free bags, no change fees and provide refunds (in the form of travel funds) for cancelled flights.
One of the biggest perks of Southwest is that all flights booked with rapid reward points are fully cancellable without any penalties.
For those who use timeshares, the above customer friendly policies are great in that you have a lot of flexibility to book fares at decent rates and potentially cancel them without a fee if other timeshare destinations become available.
I wrote a longer article about Southwest here.
As of November 3, 2017, Southwest has opened its schedule to August 6, 2018. On February 8, 2018, Southwest will open their schedule until September 28, 2018.
With their schedule opened for the summer, now is the time to begin to solidify your summer travel plans. Summer is a busy time of year for travel and flights can get extremely expensive quickly.
With Southwest's customer friendly policies, the best option is to book flights with Rapid Reward Points. You can book your flights and if your plans change, you can simply get all your points redeposited without a fee!
During a recent booking session, I cam across an unknown policy with Southwest. For Thanksgiving, we had flights booked to Cabo, Mexico. We were on the fence on whether to take that trip or to book somewhere else. Flights with decent rates came available to Costa Rica so I booked them with points.
At that point, I have overlapping reservations to Cabo and Costa Rica. I figured that I would cancel whatever flight we opted not to take once our accommodations were solidified. Unbeknownst to me, Southwest's system will automatically cancel duplicate flights without notice and without contact if they overlap with the same travelers.
After I completed our flights to Costa Rica, I woke up the next morning with cancellation e-mails from Southwest. In a panic, I called Southwest and they explained this policy and why it happens.
This policy was new to me and I had no idea that Southwest's system would automatically cancel the reservation without a phone call or e-mail to tell you of the pending cancellation. They just do it! For me, I had booked with points, travel funds and gift cards so I had to recreate the bookings and find out where all the money had gone.
This was frustrating and really wish that they would have simply called me to explain the policy before cancelling my flights.
Despite this hiccup, Southwest is generally a pleasure to deal with and generally enjoy dealing with their representatives.
Now that I know if this policy, I will make sure to not do this in the future.
Since Southwest has such flexible policies, it makes sense to book your flights now and figure out accommodations. If you need to change flights to a different destination or change dates by a few days, it is easily done with a couple of clicks or a quick phone call.
Book your flights now. Even though Southwest is a low cost carrier, this does not always mean that their fares or low cost. During peak travel times during holidays, I have seen some very expensive fares.
You should book early as even if fares drop, you can even call Southwest to get the difference in fare refunded. This is yet another reason why Southwest is the best customer friendly airline left in the sky!
Where are you going this summer? Leave you comments below!
If you read this blog, you should know that I am an avid skier. It is a fantastic activity and enjoy it even more now that my small children can enjoy it with me.
For those of you that have been skiing, you know that the accommodations during the ski months are astronomically expensive. Most locations have a fairly short season so to make their money for the year, they increase room rates appropriately. For nice accommodations, it is not unheard of to spend over $500 per night for a basic hotel room!
Upcoming Ski Season
For this upcoming season, I currently have three weeks booked in Park City, Utah. All three are booked using timeshares. One of the best uses of timeshares can simply be to use them for ski weeks.
The reason why it is great to use timeshares for ski weeks is because the out of pocket costs for a ski week can be prohibitively expensive. Doing a quick couple of random searches for a ski week this winter in Park City, Vail, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge all brought up rates ranging from $300-$700 per night.
Therefore, a week rental in a hotel room will easily cost $2,100-$5,000, not even factoring in the ridiculous resort fees that all nice accommodations now require despite not providing any real value.
A lot of the timeshare deals and strategies that I discuss on this blog may require a couple of hoops to jump through in order to maximize timeshare ownership. If you want to maximize ownership, you generally need to do some things which are not as easy as just booking a hotel room with cash or being flexible with your plans.
Many times, people do not have the time, energy or patience to learn these techniques. I can understand this which is why using a timeshare for ski travel can be a simple strategy and a huge economic win.
Since hotel accommodations are so expensive during ski season, if you can exchange your timeshare for a ski week, it not only will make tremendous economic sense but it could be the difference between actually taking a ski vacation or not.
Spending $2000-$5000 on hotel accommodations plus car rentals, ski rentals, food, lift tickets, etc. can easily surpass $10,000 for a week vacation. While I love skiing, I simply will never spend that type of money for a week vacation
Exchanging into Ski Weeks
Luckily, timeshares are quite abundant in ski destinations. Many people who have been accustomed to spending $10,000 per week tend to jump at the chance at purchasing week and "locking-in" their cost for the next 10+ years. Instead of paying $10,000 each year, they pay a one time fee and probably around $1,500 per year as maintenance fees per week.
Depending on your spending history, it may make sense to buy a ski week. However, if you are flexible, I find that the best way to get ski weeks is through exchanging a timeshare with low maintenance fees.
Since there are tons of high quality timeshares in ski destinations around the world, if you plan far enough ahead, you can likely grab very high quality resorts for a fraction of the retail cost for a week.
Destinations with Timeshares
Here are a few destinations that have plenty of high quality, luxurious timeshares (Hyatt's, Marriott's, Westgate's, Wyndham's, and others):
Park City, Utah
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Lake Tahoe, California
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
If you are the type of person who simply does not have the time, energy or patience in trying to maximize timeshare ownership, a simply strategy can be to own a timeshare in any part of the world and use it to exchange into ski destinations.
Even if you own a timeshare and the maintenance fees cost you about $1,500 per year, exchanging your one week for one week in a ski destination during ski season can easily make financial sense and save you money versus paying cash for a hotel room during ski season.
For example, I have already booked a ski week at the Marriott Summit Watch hotel in Park City for December 15-22, 2017. If I was paying cash, it would cost me $3,112.80 for these seven nights.
Astronomical if you ask me. Instead, I exchanged a portion of my Hyatt points and exchanged into this exact week for a fraction of the cost.
Here is my out of pocket breakdown:
I pay about $1250 for 2,000 Hyatt points. I used 430 Hyatt points for this week stay. Therefore, it cost me about $270 in Hyatt points plus another $189 for the exchange fee for Interval International.
My total out of pocket cost is $459 for the week instead of over $3,000 - a savings of over 85%. AWESOME!
Using Hotel Points
Another great strategy for ski hotels is through hotel loyalty points. Hotel loyalty points can be a great way to get outsize value out of your points.
The difficulty in using them for ski destinations is availability. A lot of programs may block out certain dates so you need to plan ahead. The second issue is that even if you can get a hotel room, you will not likely be able to use your points to get suites, 1 or 2 bedroom units or larger accommodations.
Even if they are available, the amount of points for anything larger than a hotel room is generally cost/point prohibitive.
Ski trips are ridiculous expensive and the price of accommodations alone may prevent you from taking these types of trips. Fortunately, high quality, luxurious timeshare accommodations are abundant in many top notch ski destinations.
Simply exchanging your timeshare for a ski week can make tremendous financial sense and allow you to take one or more ski trips that normally would simply be too expensive otherwise.
I find that using my timeshare solely for ski trips makes tremendous financial sense and find that it is one of the easiest and best use of timeshares. I simply wouldn't be able to visit some of these spectacular ski destinations without the use of timeshares.
What do you think? What trips to you have planned for this ski season? Do you have a favorite ski destination timeshare? Make sure to comment below!
Timeshare ownership may not be for everyone but for many, owning a timeshare can open up new destinations and provide you with spacious accommodations for much less than the cost of renting hotels or even through Airbnb. There are so many negative views on timeshares that most people simply shut down the thought of ever buying one since their reputations are so horrendous.
Despite many issues, my view is that if you understand timeshares and understand how to maximize their use, they can be very worthwhile.
The older timeshare systems generally had people buying week intervals for use at that resort year after year. Over time, exchanging became popular where you could exchange that week into other weeks at other destinations. As the system progressed, many timeshares evolved into points based systems where owners purchase points or get allocated a certain amount of points based on their owned week which can be exchanged into a certain amount of nights stays at resorts.
Today, most timeshare systems have evolved into points based systems. Timeshare systems are actually quite familiar to hotel, airlines, or credit card loyalty programs. Instead of earning points through stays or credit card spent, you purchase your timeshare points or your timeshare week.
Once you have the points, you can use them in various different ways. Like loyalty programs, you can use them for top tier properties or spread out your points for staying at lower quality properties.
Unlike hotels, generally speaking, timeshare points systems do not vary based on the quality of the resort. Timeshares are not based into categories or tier levels but rather use seasons or time periods to change the amount of points necessary. For lower demand periods, less points are required whereas in high season, more points are required.
Hyatt Sweet Spots
In other posts, I explained some portion of the Hyatt system. While the Hyatt system is undergoing a switch to an all points system, their existing system for owners will remain in place. For the purpose of this post, I will discuss the current system.
Here is the exchange chart for Hyatt:
As you can see, the amount of points are based on the season, size of unit and amount of nights. The choices are 2, 3, 4 or 7 nights.
While this chart may be a little daunting, if you do some math you can see that there can be tremendous value in using points for 2 or 4 nights. These 2 or 4 nights stays are midweek stays so they must be either a Sunday and Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday night or a Thursday and Friday night. The 4-night stays are Sunday through Thursday or Monday through Friday.
For example, if we take a 1-bedroom week during Diamond season, it would cost 1,450 points per week. Per night, this is approximately 207 points. If you elect to use 2 nights during Diamond season, this would only cost you 145 points per night. If you elect to use 4 nights during Diamond seasons, this would also cost you 145 points per night. This results in a 30% discount on the amount of points – not too shabby.
Basically, if you owned a 1-bedroom week worth 1,450 points, you could either use it for a one week stay for all 1,450 points or you can use it for two 4-night packages and one 2 night package and receive a total of 10 nights instead of 7.
Hyatt Mountain Season
I have mentioned mountain season before but it should be mentioned again since it is such a tremendous deal. Mountain season is for the ski properties in Aspen, Avon, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Park City. Mountain season occurs during the absolute lowest time as it is between seasons but the amount of points to stay in these properties is absolutely miniscule. For an entire week in a 1 bedroom unit is only 130 points – about 18 points per night.
Therefore, if you owned the 1 bedroom above, you can literally stay in a 1 bedroom unit for 11 weeks for the same amount of points.
Here is a post on this subject for those of you interested.
Marriott Sweet Spots
Unlike Hyatt, Marriott has exchange charts for each individual resort. Instead of seasons, Marriott uses dates to determine the amount of points required. Unlike Hyatt, Marriott owners can reserve as little as one night.
For example, here is the chart on the Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club.
As you can see, the amount of points will be based on the time of travel, the size of unit, type of view (Island View, Mountain Garden, Ocean View or Ocean Front) and the day of the week.
For example, if you have a one-bedroom island view unit for August 25 to November 15, it would require you to use 2,525 for a week. This would be about 360 points per night. Instead of using a week, during the same time frame you could reserve four nights (Sunday through Thursday) and only use 325 points per night – a savings of about 10% per night.
Since each property has its own exchange chart, you need to dig through to see the various potential savings. The key is that most mid-week stays (Sunday through Thursday) are significantly cheaper in points requirements that staying a full week or during the weekend.
Here is the link to the Marriott Vacation Club charts.
Timeshare and Points Strategy
As I have mentioned before, I am an avid fan of travel points and have tons of frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty points and exchange credit card points. For those of you that are familiar with this, you realize that there is a tremendous value in obtaining these types of points and determining how to maximize their use.
Like these types of loyalty points, timeshare points systems are similar in that there are ways to maximize them if you understand the exchange charts. As shown above, some of the easiest ways to maximize timeshare points is to use points during mid-week stays (Sunday through Thursday).
Depending on the program and depending on the resort, traveling on these times can produce a significant savings on points and can turn your one week of timeshare ownership into multiple weeks of travel.
Like most people, I am sure that you are thinking that while it may be cheaper, no one travels mid-week as most people would want to take advantage of two weekends so that they only have to use 5 days of vacation for a 9-day trip.
The way that I use a lot of my timeshare points is to book them for a 4-night stay and use my hotel loyalty points for the weekend portions. Most hotel loyalty programs do not change the points requirements for staying over a weekend as opposed to staying on a Monday night.
Therefore, in order to maximize both types of programs, I use my hotel points for weekend travel and my timeshare points for weekday travel. This can be a great way to maximize both types of programs and can be great for those types of travelers who either do not like to travel for a full week at a time or prefer to stay in different hotels / locations.
My favorite way to use this strategy is for ski trips. I can book a Saturday night stay at a hotel and then book a four-night mid-week stay using timeshare points. A lot of the timeshare ski properties are ski-in / ski-out and can cost multiple hundreds of dollars per night so using timeshare points for mid-week stays can be very advantageous and literally can save me thousands of dollars.
Without timeshares, most ski trips would simply be prohibitively expensive for me!
Timeshare points systems are very familiar to other popular loyalty systems and both systems, if used correctly, can really stretch the value of your points. The key is to really understand the systems and find the various sweet spots. These sweet spots described above relate to the internal exchanges but there are others when dealing with external exchanges as well.
We'll cover those in later posts!
What are your timeshare sweet spots? Leave your comments below!
Unbelievable Information on Timeshares
Almost every article I write, I begin by saying how controversial timeshare ownership is and what a truly horrendous reputation that timeshares have. Most timeshare owners, including myself, The Timeshare Guru, always pause before I tell someone that I own a timeshare. Most people immediately think that I have been scammed and try not to make me feel bad that I fell for a timeshare purchase.
Before I started The Timeshare Guru, I attended plenty of timeshare presentations. The sales presentation rooms are almost always filled thanks to the very generous perks that they offer to attend. In case you missed it, check out this post on Getting Free Stuff from Timeshare Presentations. I also did some research on the overall timeshare market. I knew that I really enjoyed my timeshare so I figured that there must be others.
I truly could not believe the statistics on the timeshare industry. The timeshare industry has such a horrendous reputation that I couldn’t and still can’t believe these figures. Here are a few good ones that I thought I would share:
Who are Timeshare Buyers?
From my previous posts, you can see tons of negative comments on timeshares. Based on my informal review, many of these comments were from people who have a negative perception of timeshares or who had a bad experience with ownership or know someone who did. Timeshares are not perfect and many people have had unfortunate experiences in the harsh reality of some aspects of timeshare information. There are definitely a lot of negative attributes of timeshares but there are also a ton of great benefits provided that you know how to maximize them.
The vast majority of people think that timeshares are scams, for those people who can’t afford a true second/vacation home or those who get roped in to a purchase while on vacation. While there are plenty of disgruntled timeshare owners, there are actually a lot of timeshare owners who really enjoy their timeshare. I absolutely love our timeshares and I am currently in the process of buying even more.
Here are a few statistics on timeshare buyers that I thought I would share:
My true belief is that if you understand the timeshare systems, you can definitely maximize timeshare ownership and get outsized value. As I stated in my other post, Economics of Timeshare Ownership, I can get 4+ weeks out of one timeshare week which equates to under $500 per week for very high- quality resorts (Four Seasons, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.) in quality destinations (ski weeks, Hawaii, Caribbean, Mexico, etc.).
For those of your that are wondering, I did not make up these statistics on timeshares. The American Resort Development Association puts out various research and facts on timeshares. It is a trade association that represent developers and owners. Some statistics may be developer friendly, but ARDA is the ultimate resource for trade information on timeshares so there is little reason to doubt its accuracy or authenticity.
Timeshare ownership will likely always remain a controversial topic. My main complaint about timeshares is their sales practices. They are simply not transparent in the way that timeshare operates. They may educate owners on the general ways to use timeshares but they generally over promise on how easy it is to trade into desirable properties, the ability to travel at peak times, the requirement to plan, far, far in advance to get those prime weeks and the economic value of their timeshare.
I also despise that they try to get people to make a significant financial decision based on a 2-hour sales presentation. They do not give potential customers the time to think about their purchase or research a financial commitment that can last a lifetime.
I truly believe that if the sales process changed and full transparency was accomplished, the reputation of timeshares may actually change. However, based on the statistics above, it appears that these sales tactics work and I highly doubt that change will happen soon.
Despite these negatives, there are almost no complaints on the quality and spaciousness of the resorts. It is very hard to vacation in a hotel after getting use to the comforts of a timeshare resort.
What are your thoughts on these statistics? What is your perception of timeshares?
Guest Post from The Fit Well Traveler: A Budget Does Not Have to be a Burden When it Comes to Vacation
Message from The Timeshare Guru: This is a guest post from the Fit Well Traveler. He has previously written another article "The Benefits of Travel for Mental Health and Addiction". I definitely recommend that you check out his blog for more great articles at The Fit Well Traveler.
This post is about traveling on a budget. This post provides some good information on traveling on a budget. While I definitely enjoy the finer luxuries of life, traveling does not have to cost a fortune. While I travel extensively and in nice accommodations, it rarely costs me much thanks to credit card perks, points, and timeshares. While the world may feel small, the world is actually quite big and there are many places to see. Don't let money get in the world of travel. You will be glad that you get away.
Thanks again to the Fit Well Traveler for this post.
Wouldn’t it be nice if money trees actually existed? Yeah, it would, but they don’t. Which means most of us have to find ways to get the most out of the activities we love while living within our financial means. One of these activities that we all love is traveling, which HealthNet explains is not only fun, but good for our mental and physical health. To reap these benefits without running up credit card debt, follow these cost-conscious tips for traveling on a budget.
Consider Destinations with Built-in Beauty
Activities tend to cost money, especially in tourist towns. Staring at and basking in the natural beauty that Mother Nature has humbly provided us mere mortals is often free, aside from the National Park admission fee where that applies. So, plan a trip to a place where the natural beauty is abundant, it’s the first step in a budget-conscious jaunt.
For those looking to go tropical, U.S. News and World Report recommends their top 10 budget-friendly Caribbean destinations. Forbes offers their own version of the cheap destination list, basing theirs on where the dollar is a particularly strong currency. This consideration makes a huge difference in how costly a trip is or isn’t. Destinations you may not expect to be on such a list include Crete (an island off of Greece), Morocco, and Costa Rica. Seriously, a tight budget doesn’t have to mean thinking small when it comes time to consider destinations.
If you want to stay in the States, Travel + Leisure offers some suggestions that provide quite the bang for your buck. Nashville is a music buff’s paradise, Charleston has a harbor scene that’s to die for, and New Orleans is the cultural and food mecca of the entire nation. You can’t go wrong with any of these travel spots.
Once You’ve Chosen a Destination
Picking a place to visit is only the first step in saving money while traveling. If you’re going out of the country, CNBC advises finding a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction and exchange fees, a surprising fee your credit card company never bothered to tell you about.
Thrillist recommends several options for traveling on a budget, some more feasible than others. You’re unlikely to track down the free commune-type living situation they recommend, and even if you did, it’s best to consider what that could look like . However, their recommendations about taking advantage of mileage points and budget airlines are prescient.
Some rental properties will not only be cheaper than hotels, they’ll provide a way better experience once you’re there. From a full-sized kitchen, to the at-home feel of a rental house, it’s better than a hotel in virtually every way, as Travel Channel points out. Another tip, especially if you do find a well-priced rental, is to cook most of your meals at home. Most cities, especially ones that cater to tourists, are filled with restaurants whose prices are nothing short of exorbitant.
Before heading out, make sure to secure your home. Check all doors and windows; be thorough. This will ensure that you don’t question whether you forgot to lock up while you are trying to enjoy your trip.
Also, put outside lights on timers to avoid the impression that you’re gone, and let the neighbors you trust know you’ll be away so they can keep an eye out. If you aren’t bringing your pet on the trip with you, make arrangements for it to stay with a friend, family member, or professional caretaker.
Who wants to travel? There’s an easy answer to that question: Everyone wants to travel! And, with few exceptions, everyone can travel. A small paycheck shouldn’t mean a life lived in one neighborhood, city, state, or even country. Getting out and experiencing new sights, sounds, and cultures is great for our health, and it typifies what the “good life” is all about. And, most importantly, it doesn’t take a fortune to embark on an awesome expedition, whether domestic or abroad.
It appears that the world of timeshares may be getting smaller. As I previously reported here, there were some rumors concerning International Leisure Group (ILG) (the company that owns Interval International, Hyatt Residence Clubs and Vistana resorts) and Marriott Vacation Club.
At the time, the rumor was the ILG would potentially acquire Marriott Vacation Clubs. It appears that the roles have reversed and Marriott Vacation Club has apparently made an offer for ILG.
Here are more details of the story here.
What does this mean? I have no idea at the moment but it is definitely an interesting development. Stay tuned as more details emerge.
It would probably seem strange that you would be reading an article titled "I hate the Timeshare Industry" on The Timeshare Guru, a place meant to show readers how to maximize timeshare ownership but the fact is, the title says it all.
I continually have to do research on the in and outs of these timeshare programs in order to get the information to publish on this site. There is sparse information on the internet as the entire industry attempts to rely on the in-person sales presentation in order to close the deals.
I have sat through plenty of timeshare presentations and knowing timeshares and knowing the systems well, it always gets me extremely aggravated to hear the number of false statements or half-truths that the sales representatives say. These range from exaggerating the ease of exchanging into prime weeks to the "financial" value of the timeshare when you are done using it.
Marriott Vacation Club Resale Solicitation
In my latest dealings, I received an e-mail from the Marriott Vacation Club concerning resales directly from Marriott.
As a quick bit of background, Marriott has two programs, its legacy week program which is the standard timeshare system of owning a week at a specific resort and its points program, where you purchase points to be able to exchange into the properties.
Marriott no longer sells its weeks directly but does have a resale arm that sells these legacy weeks. Almost all third parties are selling the weeks program as there are not many resales on points since Marriott allegedly buys them back through their right of first refusal if a owner wants to sell them.
One of the most material differences of purchasing through Marriott directly is the ability to convert your timeshare week into Marriott Reward Points. These functionality disappears if you purchase anywhere except Marriott.
I find that the value to exchange into hotel loyalty points is generally very poor but it can make sense in limited situations. It does however give you a ton more flexibility on how you travel even if the value is poor.
The solicitation that I received was for resales directly through Marriott for its legacy weeks program. I was interested to see the price for these resales as compared to other third party sites and eBay.
Fortunately, they actually provide a transparent way to see the available units and the cost of these units. This can be found here:
Marriott Vacation Club Resale Information
If you sift through the information, you can see prices for what they offer but you cannot see the amount of maintenance fees.
While the purchase price is important, maintenance fees are potentially even more important since these are the ongoing fees each year and will almost definitely increase each year.
I spoke to the Marriott representative for about 15 minutes quizzing him on the various differences between the programs and why it may make sense to purchase directly through Marriott instead of a third party.
The particular representative that I received indicated that he worked for the Marriott Vacation Club for over 28 years and owned through their legacy program and their points programs. He was an expert in the Marriott Vacation Club.
I continued to quiz him on various functionality and then asked him what property, in their legacy program, had the lowest maintenance fees. Generally, I use almost all of my timeshare weeks by exchanging them so the best way for me to get tremendous value out of my timeshares are to own weeks that have the lowest maintenance fees.
As long as the week has a decent demand and the property is nice, they can trade very well through the programs so that I can exchange into prime weeks that would have a much higher maintenance fees.
The general idea is to own a week with low maintenance fees and trade into weeks where the maintenance fees are much higher.
I asked the representative and he indicated that "he does not know what property has the lowest maintenance fees" as each week and property was different.
I pushed back and asked him how he does not know the answer to this question considering he worked with Marriott Vacation Club for 28 years and looks at prices and maintenance fees every single day.
From this point in the conversation, he basically wanted nothing to do me and abruptly ended the conversation and wished me the best.
I HATE the Timeshare Industry
It appeared that once I started asking real questions and wanted to know real answers, he sensed that I was simply not a purchaser and didn't want to deal with me any longer.
The truth of the situation was that I wanted to know what property had the lowest maintenance fees so that I can focus my search on those properties and see whether owning with Marriott can be worthwhile.
After the conversation, I was truthfully incensed with the way that the representative handled the situation. He knew the information but didn't want to tell me the answer. He simply wanted to sell me on the "lower priced" resale inventory since they were apparently selling these for 50-75% of the original developer pricing.
After this latest run in with the timeshare sales representatives, it really made me think that I HATE the timeshare industry. I love my timeshare, love the accommodations, love the value but absolutely despise the sales process.
The sales process is truly atrocious as I always feel as though the sales representatives are hiding the truth or only sharing information that be used to turn their presentation into a sale.
What can be done?
I do not think that I am unique in my feelings as there are plenty of "owners" that really love their timeshare but hate the process. The goal of this blog is to educate readers on how timeshares work so that they can be knowledgeable on the timeshare systems and decide whether timeshare ownership can work for them and what system will work best based on their travel needs.
My hope is that readers can review the information and make the decision themselves on what they want to own, the price they want to pay and where they want to purchase.
If you are equipped with that knowledge, you can purchase a timeshare with ease since there is no sales pitch and you know what you want and know the pros and cons of timeshare ownership.
I really do hate the timeshare industry. The horrendous reputation is accurate for the sales process but unfortunately spills over to timeshare ownership.
The sales pitches and my interactions with all timeshare representatives are generally all self serving and I rarely receive complete transparency when asking questions.
I have called up a couple timeshare programs and they simply won't tell me anything over the phone as all information must be disclosed during a sales presentation.
I find this to be a horrible business practice and it makes me livid that the entire industry uses this method to sell timeshares.
Timeshares can be absolutely fantastic but obtaining the information and obtaining the truth can be very difficult. I hope that this blog change this issue.
What have your experiences been with timeshare representatives? Leave your comments below!