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.
An accommodations certificate is basically an extra week that is given to Internal International members. These certificates generally randomly appear in you account at various times. It appears that some members get them and others do not. I anticipate that Interval International awards members for depositing high demand weeks or high demand resorts. If you are lucky to get one of the accommodations certificate, they generally entitle you to exchange into a week at various locations and times. These certificates tend to come with a lot of restrictions and the inventory allocated to these certificates can be quite limited. High demand locations and high demand weeks will almost never be included. However, there can be certain gems located in this inventory that provides tremendous value.
I was recently given an accommodations certificate that is valid until February 5, 2017 and up to a three bedroom unit which would accommodate up to 8 people. In order to use the certificate, Interval provides a grid with available times and locations. While the grids can change, they mostly include the same locations over and over again.
Here is the current list:
As you can see from the above list, there are some good destinations. You need to search daily as availability differs. Interval does charge an exchange fee for using the accommodations certificate. The current fee is $274 plus taxes.
In reviewing the current offerings, there are a few sweet spots:
I currently see the Marriott Grande Vista Resort in Orlando for October 30 through November 6. This is for a 2 bedroom unit. Using the certificate, the total cost for the week is $308.25! While not exactly free, just over $300 for week in a 2 bedroom unit is quite a deal.
For comparison purposes, if I chose to book directly with Marriott for the same week, the total cost is just of $1500.
1 room(s) for 7 night(s) Prices in USD
Sunday, October 30, 2016
Total taxes and fees 169.12
Total for stay in hotel's currency
This is just one example of how these accommodations certificate can provide tremendous value. While there is no telling when or how to receive them, they are valuable if you can use them. I am not positive if I can use my certificate this time around so contact me through Facebook if you could use it. I do not mind doing some searches and finding some gems for your use! Make sure to sign up to our mailing list for further details!
Travel planning can be easy if you have an unlimited budget and are not price conscious. I definitely do not fit it to that category and want to get the lowest price on airfare, rental cars, timeshares, hotels, activities, etc. Luckily, there are some fantastic travel tools out there that can be immensely beneficial in getting great deals on all aspects of travel planning.
One of my favorites for rental cars is a website called Autoslash.
Autoslash is an absolutely fabulous resource for car rentals. Autoslash has a few key functions. One function allows you to book anywhere you want for a rental car of your choosing (i.e, Hertz, Avis, National, Payless, Thrifty, etc.). Once you book, you can go to Autoslash and click on "Track a rental". You input the reservation number, the company you booked with and the total price reserved. Autoslash will automatically and constantly check your dates, location of travel and class of car reserved and e-mail you if and when the price decreases. You will then have the option to re-book or to leave your original reservation alone. Autoslash has a database of promotions and coupons and automatically applies the best discounted rate. 99% of the time Autoslash has found me a better rate than what I booked directly.
The other option is to have Autoslash provide you with a quote for a car rental. Autoslash will either immediately provide you with a quote or you input your specific details and Autoslash will e-mail you will potential options. You can book directly with Autoslash without any credit cards or fees. Once you book with Autoslash, they will automatically track your car rental. One of the best features by booking directly is that the will automatically re-book you if they find a lower rate. There is absolutely nothing for you to do as they will send you an updated confirmation e-mail with the lower rate. I have personally saved hundreds of dollars with this feature.
Additionally, booking with Autoslash does not prevent you from receiving loyalty points or getting upgrades with your rental car company status. You can still provide the rental car company with those details or use the confirmation number provided by Autoslash to locate your reservation on the rental car website and update the details with your loyalty number.
Overall, Autoslash is a fantastic tool for rental cars. Since they do not charge any fees and do not require any credit card information, I book a lot of speculative rentals based on my potential travel plans. When I book far in advance, the rental car prices can fluctuate dramatically and this saves me tons of time constantly rechecking for the various trips. Autoslash is definitely worth using and checking out.
As I have mentioned before, timeshares definitely have a bad reputation. This is the result of pushing sales practices, scams, hidden or non-explained fees and a general misunderstanding of the general complexities of timeshare ownership. However, with some practice, insight and knowledge, timeshare ownership is very good way to vacation at very nice resorts around the world. The key is to understand the intricacies of the programs, planning ahead and being flexible.
Timeshare ownership is definitely not for everyone but a large portion of the population would immensely benefit from owning a timeshare. I think the following non-exclusive list gives my personal opinion on who should own a timeshare:
1. Couples who enjoy traveling and make it a primary objective to take one or two week long vacations per years.
2. Families who travel at least once per year for a week and want or need to have extra space.
3. Couples and/or families who like to have the comforts of home on vacation and enjoy making meals while on vacation instead of eating out all the time.
4. Couples and/or families who travel extensively for multiple weeks per year and want to have full kitchens at their disposal.
5. Budget conscious travelers who enjoy luxury accommodations but don't necessarily want to pay hundreds of dollars per night for a hotel room.
6. Families with children who want space for children to sleep separate from the parents.
7. Families who travel with extended family members and want to avoid having to have multiple hotel rooms.
8. Couples and/or families who travel in and out of the United States by plane.
These are some general parameters where I think timeshare ownership can make sense.
Conversely, I think the following are general characteristics where timeshare ownership will not make sense and renting can be more advantageous.
1. Vacations are not done annually.
2. Vacations are usually done for long weekends or only for a few nights away from home.
3. Vacations are usually done within driving distance of your home.
I came across an interesting article put out by the American Resort Development Association that put out an updated overview of the demographics of a timeshare owner. My initial thought of the demographics of timeshare ownership usually consisted of retirees in their golden years who had purchased a timeshare decades ago.
However, it appears that the demographics have significantly changed from my initial perception. According to ARDA, the demographics of timeshare owners are as follows:
New owners are nearly 10 years younger
39% are Gen Xers
30% are Millennials
Median age is 39
42% are African American or Hispanic
72% are college graduates
23% also have graduate degrees
And this new owner has plenty of disposable income:
Median household income is $94,800
47% made just a single payment to cover their timeshare purchase
57% spent $10,000 or more on their timeshare
They are savvy consumers:
75% had some form of interaction with a timeshare resort before purchasing
44% initially stayed at the resort where they bought as a guest of another owner
42% experienced timeshare vacations through renting first
35% attended multiple sales presentations before buying
In my opinion, this information is fascinating as timeshare owners are not being duped into purchasing timeshares with the lure of reasonable priced vacations. Rather, they are wealthy, educated and savvy consumers. I personally fit right into the demographics above and think that they accurately portray may unofficial assessment of timeshare owners that we have met throughout our travels.
Here is the great depictions of the new demographics of timeshare owners.
I highly encourage you to subscribe and to follow me on facebook at The Timeshare Guru and follow me on Twitter @thetsguru for more information.
The timeshare industry tends to have a bad reputation because the fees and financial responsibilities of the owners are generally not highly discussed during the purchase period. Only afterwards, when the owner begins getting bills do they fully understand the financial commitment of a timeshare. As a timeshare owner, you will be responsible for annual fees to your home resort each and every year, regardless if you use the timeshare or not. This basic understanding seems to be a surprise for a lot of people as all timeshares are not a pay as you use system. Each year, the owner will be billed for maintenance fees regardless of use.
The maintenance fees generally include the owners pro-rata portion of all operating expenses of the resort as well as reserves for future upgrades and maintenance. Operating expenses include property taxes, furniture, management fees, landscaping, advertising, and basically any other expenses that the resort incurs. The resort passes through all expenses to the owners.
In addition, resorts reserve the ability to access its owners special assessments. These are non-budgeted or unplanned expenses that are incurred by the resort and need to be paid for. These can include damage from storms, flooding, roof replacements, pool refinishes, or any other large scale expenditure that was simply not in budget.
These special assessments are usually an unwelcome surprise to timeshare owner since it is an unexpected expense. Most timeshare companies recognize that this is not a popular way to build trust with its owners so they generally only do special assessments in those truly unforeseen circumstances that warrant immediate expenditures.
Maintenance fees can vary widely and will depend on the size of the unit, resort location, operating expenses of the resort, age of the resort and other factors. Since maintenance fees are a recurring expense that will almost always increase over time, it is extremely important to understand the financial commitment before going forward with a purchase. Maintenance fees almost always increase year by year so do not assume that the expense will remain the same at the time of purchase.
Maintenance fees and special assessments are definitely not the best thing about timeshares but you need to understand them and understand the ongoing financial commitment. Timeshare ownership is not for everyone. However, for those people who do travel every year and know that they will travel, timeshare ownership can make real financial sense and save you money over time on accommodations. Exchanging for prime weeks or for highly sought after timeshare resorts or destinations can easily exceed the maintenance fees as compared to nightly rental rates.
Make sure to subscribe to the Guru Deals to keep informed of valuable exchange opportunities and other travel deals to show you how to maximize timeshare ownership and take advantage of the various systems and exchange opportunities.
One fantastic perk of owning a timeshare is the ability to reserve additional weeks through the various exchange programs. RCI and Interval International both have programs where you can reserve a week with cash instead of exchanging your timeshare. You have to be a member of RCI or Interval International to be able to reserve a week but it is well worth it.
Today, I want to review the Interval Getaways. Interval Getaways allows you to reserve a week in a studio, 1, 2, 3 or more bedroom units at timeshare resorts throughout the world. The inventory that they make available is different that if you exchanged your timeshare. The pricing for these getaways can be absolutely fantastic. They have some weeks that you can reserve for as little as $277 a week. Yes, $277 PER WEEK, ONLY $40 PER NIGHT. I challenge anyone to find a better deal that this for a hotel room.
Interval Getaways have recently changed so that you can reserve a week up to 18 months in advance. Inventory constantly changes so it pays to constantly check.
In order to be able to reserve a getaway week, you need to be a member but it does not take any points from your account. Here are some current deals that I can locate at the moment.
Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino
Apr 07 2017 - Apr 14 2017
0 2 2
$399.00 $374.00 $349.00
Marriott Grand Chateux in Las Vegas
Mar 25 2017 - Apr 01 2017
1 4 4
$857.00 $832.00 $807.00
The Grand Bliss in Riveria Maya, Mexico
Aug 28 2016 - Sep 04 2016
0 2 2
$329.00 $304.00 $279.00
There are tons of other opportunities available at 5 star resorts throughout the world. Many times a week vacation will cost as much as one night in a 5 star hotel.
Interval Getaways offer fantastic opportunities to stay in great resorts around the world and could offer better opportunities than exchanging your timeshare. It is definitely worth it to check out Getaway options before exchanging your unit to see if you can save money by using a Getaway instead of exchange options.
Exchanging into any timeshare during Christmas vacation is difficult since it is the most popular week to travel. While it is difficult, it can be possible with enough planning and flexibility.
We were just informed that I was able to exchange one of my timeshares into a one bedroom unit at the Westgate Park City - a ski-in / ski-out timeshare during Christmas Week. We have stayed at this timeshare before and it is located on the base of the mountain. The facilities are top notch. Due to the construction, the property is quite a maze and it takes a few days to orient yourself but it is a vice nice property with all the amenities you would expect from a 5 stay hotel.
I was able to trade my timeshare using the request first option which I will cover in more detail in later posts. In reviewing the applicable prices on Priceline, the same accommodations would have cost over $7400!!!
Summary of Charges
Room Cost (details)$926.14
Taxes & Fees$758.52
Total Priceline Charges$7,241.50
For the particular timeshare that I traded, I pay maintenance fees of approximately $1200 for a 2 bedroom unit. I only had to trade enough points for a one bedroom unit so I still have enough points to reserve a full week in a studio. Basically, in doing the math, the portion of my maintenance fees was about $800 for this week plus interval international's exchange fee of $239. For basically $1000, I was able to reserve a unit where the going rate is over $7400 resulting in over $6000 in savings for this week.
This is just one of many examples of a successful exchange and an example of how timeshare ownership can really save you tons of money. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your exchange successes.
Planning vacations can be a very difficult endeavor. Finding flights, costs, routings, destinations, availability, etc. can be daunting. Luckily, there are some fantastic tools out there that make the process much easier. I will go through others over time but one of the best tools for locating flights is Google Flights. Google Flights allows you to put in an origin and destination and will show you the lowest priced flights month per month and day by day. This way, you can choose flights that work for your schedule but can also decide whether moving a vacation from one week to the next or changing a few days could save you thousands. Google flights make it very easy to see the costs allowing you to make these decisions.
Another fabulous feature of Google Flights to the ability to explore destinations. You provide the dates and Google will provide you with a map and you can click on any city in the world and they will tell you the cost of the flights. This is a great tool so that you explore the costs of flights throughout the world and make an educated decision on where you want to travel.
I highly encourage you to review Google Flights and see the capabilities.
The one downside to Google Flights is that it does not allow you to book the flights but instead directs you to the specific airlines website to complete the transaction. I tend to find the flights and dates that I want and head to Priceline to complete the booking. The 24 hour cancellation policy is very flexible and will allow you to solidify the timeshare or other accommodations.
Timeshares are extremely complicated. It is a topic that comes up over and over. In order to try to make things as simple as possible, I want to include some basic understanding of various flavors of timeshares and the overall way to fully maximize ownership and plan fantastic trips.
Generally, a timeshare gives the owner the ability to use a specific week at a resort. This general concept as changed overtime and various mutations of this general concept has emerged. There are now fixed weeks, floating weeks, rotating weeks, fractional ownerships, points based systems, vacation memberships, travel clubs, and others.
In order to uncomplicate things, lets briefly review each type.
Fixed weeks: Fixed weeks are just that. The right to use a specific week at a resort.
Floating weeks: The owner has the ability to reserve one week out of many weeks. These floating weeks are usually tied to a certain season.
Rotating weeks: The owner can use one week one year and another week another year. These generally rotate annually.
Fractional ownerships: Fractional ownerships generally allow the owner to use a specific unit for a certain amount of time per year. This can be monthly or based on a specific amount of days. Many times, a fractional ownership will allow an owner to use a specific week along with a certain number of additional nights.
Points systems: Instead of owning a specific unit, you are giving points which act as a currency to reserve units. The amount of points will vary for different weeks, resorts, and size of units.
Vacation Memberships: Generally, you would pay an initial fee or membership fee for the ability to use a certain amount of time a resort. You could also obtain a vacation membership which would allow owners to receive discounted accommodations.
Travel clubs: Travel clubs are similar if not identical to vacation memberships. Each program is different so it could just be a difference in marketing terms.
Overall, each type of "timeshare" allows an owner to use or reserve a unit at resorts during specific times during the year or based on availability. Each program is different and we will go through various programs and highlight the benefits and issues with each one along the way.