Maximize Timeshare Ownership
The ultimate resource to understand, maximize and leverage timeshare ownership to travel in luxury accommodations on a reasonable budget.
As I stated over and over, there are tons of ways to maximize timeshare ownership to travel in luxury for significantly less than booking hotels, vacation rentals and even airbnb. Outside of complicated strategies, I have found that one of the easiest ways to maximize timeshare ownership is booking timeshares for a ski vacation.
If you ski, you know that accommodations during the ski season can be exorbitant in costs. The ski season generally lasts only about 4 months and most hotels will make the vast majority of their money during this season. Booking a week during this time can be prohibitive to most people including myself. It is not unheard of for a hotel to cost between $3,000 to $6,000 for a ski week. Booking a suite or two bedroom will likely increase this amount by even more.
Luckily, there are a lot of very high quality timeshares that are located in highly desirable ski locations. Park City, Beaver Creek, Vail, Aspen, Whistler, and others are just a few examples.
Generally, I would assume that most maintenance fees for timeshares run between $750 to $1500 for the year so if you can exchange your one timeshare and all of your points for a one week ski vacation that would normally cost over $3,000, you would come out significantly ahead.
I am a big fan of Park City, Utah and generally take a few ski trips per year. A couple of years ago, Canyons and Park City Mountain, the two main ski locations in Park City, were bought by Vail Resorts. Last year was the first season where both resorts became connected by a Gondola ride to create the largest ski area in North America.
Here is a good article on the development.
Park City has many things going for it but for timeshare owners, it is actually a great destination since there are multiple timeshare properties that are ski-in/ski-out or within easy access to the lift.
Interval International is one of the two large exchange companies where you can exchange your points or timeshare week for other weeks. Interval International (II) does offer various membership levels.
II recently offered a great deal for upgrading your membership level for 50% off. I discussed this offer here.
As a quick reminder, II offers three membership levels, General membership, Interval Gold and Interval Platinum.
Due the offer, I upgraded my membership and I am now a Platinum member. While platinum membership does not help you with giving you priority trades, there are some decent benefits that you should be aware of.
The first benefit is that each Interval Getaway is discounted $50. Interval Getaways allow you to book weeks with cash instead of using your points or weeks. There are often times some significant weeks that can be had for under $300 for the week. I have seen prime weeks in Cancun, ski weeks, Caribbean weeks and others. Now, in addition to those great prices, you will receive $50 off making it an even better deal.
The second benefit is the ability to issue guest certificates for free. These guest certificates usually cost $59 per reservation but it is now included as II platinum member. If you have friends or family, you can reserve getaways and issue a guest certificate for free. This can be a great way to give vacations to friends or bring friends with you on vacation. Getaways can make travel really affordable!
The third benefit is what II calls Platinum Escapes. Every now and again, II runs a promotion that offers significant discounts on available weeks. These are only offered to platinum members. I have seen entire weeks for under $150 for the week.
The fourth benefit is Priority Getaway Viewing. II claims that you can see different inventory than others for Getaways. I have not seen this benefit in action but it is an advertised benefit so I assume it must happen every so often.
The fifth benefit is shortstay exchange. Shortstay exchanges allow you to reserve rooms by night instead of by the week. If you do not normally travel by week, this may be a decent benefit but the exchange rates are generally higher than booking by the week. At times, this may come in handy but generally, I have not found this to be an exciting perk.
The sixth benefit is called Interval Options. This allows you to trade your week or points towards the purchase of a cruise, tour, golf or spa vacation. I will look into this benefit more closely in other posts. I personally have not used it since I value exchanges very highly.
The seventh benefit is a hotel discount of 10% for hotel stays booked with Orbitz. In other posts, we can look to see whether this is truly a perk.
The eight benefit is bonus points on Hertz rentals that are good for 2 free days. If you book through II, you will get 550 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards with your first rental and another 550 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards with your second rental. This can be redeemed for 2 free days or you can accrue your points for other rewards.
The ninth benefit is discounts through Saversguide. There are dining discounts such as 50% off or BOGO offers. We'll look into this benefit further but on a quick review, there does seem to be some decent offers.
The tenth benefit is Airport Lounge Membership. II includes a standard priority pass membership which can get you access to some lounges. This is decent but there are a lot of credit cards that offer better access but in any event, it is a good perk. We can discuss the Priority Club membership in other posts but lounge access can make traveling a lot easier.
The eleventh benefit is VIP concierge. The offer a personal assistance for dining, activities and others.
The twelfth is called the Golf Connection. As an II platinum member, you can get access to private golf courses. A 15% discount on golf equipment is also available.
The thirteen benefit is called Dining Connection. We can take a closer look at this benefit in other posts but they claim to offer you special amenities including tours, complimentary appetizers and desserts and other special items.
The fourteen benefit is called City Guides. II has compiled guides for you to review and use while you travel.
Overall, I think that there are some significant benefits to getting II's Platinum Membership. I generally use the $50 discount off Getaways and the free guest certificate. Using just these two perks can easily make up for the fee. The other perks can be beneficial at the right time.
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A full review of all the fees associated with timeshares are necessary so that you fully understand the financial commitment of owning a timeshare. Each program has various fees that are associated with various aspects of timeshare ownership.
A lot of owners get disgruntled about ownership due to the fees associated with ownership rather than the quality of the accommodations. Therefore, I think it is important to understand what these fees are and how to minimize them or least accept them when determining whether owning a timeshare makes financial sense.
While fees are annoying, the financial benefits of owning a timeshare can be very appealing if you do travel each year and want the extra space and full kitchen benefits, among other things.
For this particular post, I will review the fees associated with the Hyatt Residence Club. As discussed in the Hyatt Residence Club guide, there are various options for reserving your home week or reserving a 2,3,4 or 7 night stay at various properties.
As discussed in the guide, the Hyatt Residence Club is a hybrid system where owners own a specific week and that week is allocated a certain amount of points.
In the event that you want to use all or a portion of your owned deeded week, there is no fee to make that reservation. You can reserve your specific owned week for no additional transaction fees. You must reserve the week 6 months before the beginning of your deeded week. This is the Home Resort Preference Period (HRPP).
However, here is a listing of the various other fees associated with the Hyatt Residence Club. As shown below, there are different costs depending on whether you book online or over the phone.
Transaction Fee: $41
Cancellation Fee: $51
Gold Passport Exchange Fee: $133
Guest Certificate: $30
Returned Check Fee: $65
Split Week Resort Fee: $39
Transaction Fee: $47
Cancellation Fee: $57
Gold Passport Exchange Fee: $143
Guest Certificate: $36
Returned Check Fee: $65
Split Week Resort Fee: $39
As you can see, the fees for over the phone are slightly more than booking online. Generally, you should save a few dollars and book online.
The Transaction Fee is applied when you make a specific booking using points. This will apply for each transaction that occurs. As explained in the guide, when you use some of your points for a reservation, you will incur a transaction fee for each reservation. Depending on the time period, size of unit and number of nights, there is a potential to make multiple reservations using points.
GOLD PASSPORT EXCHANGE FEE:
The Gold Passport Exchange Fee applies when you want to convert you Hyatt Residence Club Points into Gold Passport points (soon to be World of Hyatt Points). The exchange rate generally does not make for a favorable exchange and their fee ($133/$143) further makes this type of transaction unfavorable. Unless there is a specific redemption, there are better ways to obtain Gold Passport / World of Hyatt points that to use your timeshare points.
Additionally, if you purchased your week on the resale market, the Hyatt Residence Club prohibits you from exchanging into Gold Passport / World of Hyatt points.
GUEST CERTIFICATE FEE:
One benefit of having a timeshare is the ability to allow friends and family to use it in the event that you cannot use it. Most programs encourage you to show the benefits of timeshare ownership. The Guest Certificate Fee makes sure that the guest is on the reservation upon check in so that the owner will not be liable for any fees or damage that occurs.
In the event that you cannot use a reservation, Hyatt does allow you to cancel the reservation. If you cancel more than 60 days prior to arrival, you will pay the fee but you will receive your points back into your account. You will not receive a refund of the transaction fee so the entire fee for cancellation is really the Transaction Fee AND the Cancellation Fee.
Cancellations made less than 60 days to arrive causes your points to be restricted. You can only make additional reservations with those points for reservations occurring 60 days of the date the reservation is made.
Due to this restriction, you should try to cancel more than 60 days prior to check in. Otherwise, your points can be significantly impaired and you will only be able to use those points for that limited inventory.
SPLIT WEEK RESORT FEE:
The Split Week Resort Fee is charged directly by the resorts for reservations of less than 7 nights. This is annoying fee as you will be charged $39 (same for online or phone) for any reservation less than 7 days. Therefore, you will be charged this fee for a 2, 3 or 4 night stay. The fee is to cover the costs of cleaning the room but I find this fee to be obnoxious. It can significantly add to the cost of the reservation and it does not change whether you have a studio, 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 3 bedroom or larger.
You should note that the following properties DO NOT charge the split week fee:
Hyatt Main Street Station
Hyatt Grand Aspen
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Basically, 5 out of the 16 properties do not charge this fee which is nice but still annoying for the other properties.
Like most fees, they are annoying and wish that they did not apply. However, fees seem to be a part of everyday life as travel is full of fees all over the place. Resort fees, baggage fees, priority boarding fees, upgrade fees, seat reservation fees, rollaway fees, etc.
While the fees are annoying, it does help to be aware of them so that there are no surprises. There is generally little reason to make reservations and other transactions over the phone as Hyatt's website is a decent online tool. It most circumstances, it makes sense to save some money and book online.
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A timeshare purchase is a significant financial decision. Even if the initial purchase price is not large, the ongoing maintenance fees can be significant and it can be difficult to sell your timeshare down the road.
Before you jump into a purchase, you need to review the various programs and see what works best for your vacationing style, budget and family. There are material differences between various programs and timeshares so you should not jump into any purchase without thoroughly reviewing the options.
One of the best ways to get information is through the timeshare presentation. If you vacation at all, you most likely have been targeted to participate in a timeshare program in exchange for gift cards, events, activities, diners, etc.
As I recently described here, almost all of the major timeshare developers offer some type of heavily discounted vacation packages in exchange for sitting through a 90 minute presentation.
Some timeshare presentations can be difficult to sit through but some can be very casual and provide you good information on the programs. There is no obligation to purchase and I highly recommend that you take time to think over any purchase and do your research before committing to anything at these presentations.
If you are interested in potentially owning a timeshare, these introduction packages can be an absolute steal. In order to begin the search, you should request information from the various programs. By providing your e-mail address and indicating that you are interested in more information, you will likely begin to get targeted for these types of offers.
A new offer that just arrived is for Diamond Resorts. Diamond Resorts is a large timeshare developer but perhaps not as well known as Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott or some of the other companies that have more notoriety. I have stayed at one Diamond property and thoroughly enjoyed it. The Point of Poipu in Kauai, Hawaii is one of their nice properties but they do have many others.
In other posts, we can go through their program in more detail but this offer that I received is for 3 nights in Sedona, Arizona or Scottsdale, Arizona.
For this offer, you can stay Stay at Arabella Hotel Sedona or Best Western Cottonwood Inn and tour Sedona Summit or The Ridge on Sedona Golf Resort Sedona, Arizona. As you can see by the reviews below, both properties are highly rated.
Sedona, Arizona is a very nice destination and great for a three day trip. In this particular offer, you receive 3 nights and a $100 Restaurant.com gift certificate for $199.
The issue with this particular offer is that they are not putting you up in the actual resort that they are trying to sell. I think that this is very unfortunate. However, despite this downfall, a long weekend for $199 is cheap by any means.
Additionally, this offer is providing you with an opportunity to tour the Scottsdale Villa Mirage. They will put you up at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Phoenix North - Scottsdale or Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix/Scottsdale. Again, unfortunate that they will not put you up at the actual property but still a potentially good deal. The reviews are fairly good for this property.
Scottsdale is a great city and home to spring training. If you can grab a time slot during spring training, it can make for a fantastic trip.
In order to participate in this particular offer, you need to have an annual income of at least $50,000. If married, both spouses must attend. This may be targeted but you can call and give them your information and see if they will offer you the same deal or something else.
You can call 1.844.952.9030 for more information on this offer and see if you are able to participate.
These types of offers come around regularly and can provide you with a great deal on a very affordable vacation. The timeshare presentations can be pushy but I have generally found that most people are nice. I have found that presentations in the states are less pushy than elsewhere in the world.
If you are potentially interested in a timeshare, these are great opportunities to get a very affordable vacation while learning about the programs.
Some of these types of offers are much better than others. This particular offer discussed above is not great since they are putting you up in a lower quality hotel. There are many offers for Hyatt, Hilton, Westgate, Marriott and others where they put you up in the particular resorts that they are selling.
If they want you to buy into a resort, I would think that they should at least give you the opportunity to stay at the resort for a few days.
I will post these types of offers in the Guru Deals section as they arrive. As mentioned, some are better than others so you need to be choosy on which ones to participate with. Most offers prevent you from doing multiples presentation offers so you can likely only do one a year with each company.
If you are potentially interested in timeshare ownership, I think that these types of offers are very worthwhile to get an introduction to the properties and the various programs. Again, do you research before committing to anything. There are no shortage of timeshares so learn as much as you can before purchasing! Make sure to subscribe below!