Spring Break 2019: A Timeshare Fail, A Timeshare Strategy Success and An Unbelievable Windfall
Last week was spring break for many schools around the nation. It is a very hectic time to travel. Unfortunately, when you have children in school, if you want to travel, you are forced to travel on their schedule.
We usually take a ski trip during spring break and this year was no exception. As you may know, we are very fond of Park City.
The issue with this year was that our school district changed the standard week of spring break. Instead of it occurring during the 2nd week of March, they changed it to the 3rd week of March.
As an avid planner, this thoroughly disrupted my timeshare strategy of booking 2+ years in advance. I had various weeks and resorts selected for the second week of March and was patiently waiting for a match. Once the school schedule came out about a year ago, I had to revise the request first and only had one year to make a match.
Since this was almost the end of ski season, I wasn't extremely worried as I did not think that it would be very desirable week. We generally go to Park City for various reasons (easy travel, great skiing, good restaurants, and plenty of timeshare options) and we made the trip last year for the second week of March. Last years ski season was horrible and we skied on slush while it was 70 degree weather.
Fortunately, this year was much, much better but didn't think that getting a desirable timeshare would be an issue.
Unfortunately, I was wrong and nothing came through. I was quite surprised with that but I only put in requests for the top resorts in Interval International, which for Park City are the Marriott Summit Watch, Marriott Mountainside and the Westgate Park City. There are some nice properties with RCI including the Wyndham Park City, Sundial Lodge and Hilton Grand Vacations but do not exchange my week with RCI and only use RCI for Extra Vacation (cash bookings).
If I chose lesser desired properties, I may have had better luck.
In any event, this was a timeshare fail for this year. For those of you that need to travel during peak times such as Christmas and Spring Break, this is a good example of why timeshares may not be ideal. Getting top quality resorts during these peak time periods can be difficult, if not impossible, so if you have to travel during these time periods, you may be disappointed with timeshare ownership.
If you are flexible and can travel during cusp seasons or off-peak times, timeshare ownership can be very worthwhile.
As I have explained before, timeshare availability can be difficult which is why you need to always have a "plan B". Many times, my plan B entails making a reservation using hotel points so that in the event that my timeshare does not get confirmed, I still have a hotel reservation to use and can therefore buy my non-refundable airfare or use frequent flyer miles without worrying about accommodations.
Generally, hotel points have flexible cancellation policies so you can reserve a week using points and once you get confirmed into a timeshare, you can cancel the week and get your points back. If nothing gets confirmed, the worst case is that you use your points for a "free" vacation.
Here is a post I have done on the topic.
Here is also another one of my "timeshare fails" which actually worked out extremely well. This is a great strategy and definitely encourage you to use this strategy.
For this week, while a timeshare did not come through, I had booked a week at the Hyatt Place in Park City. The hotel is located on the main road and about a 2 minute drive to the base of the Canyons, 5 minutes to the base of Park City and about 10 minutes to Deer Valley. The location is ideal.
The hotel use to have a complimentary shuttle that would bring you to any of the above resorts but apparently discontinued it. Without the shuttle, you generally need a car or you can use the free bus system. While the bus system is free and convenient, a car is generally easier to go around the area when and where you desire.
The hotel is fairly new but without the shuttle, it is hard to recommend.
Regardless, the hotel is a category 4 hotel (will likely decrease if there don't reinstate the shuttle) which requires 15,000 points per night. During ski season, rates can be $300-$400 per night so it is a decent return on points.
Since I needed to buy non-refundable flights, I used my strategy and booked a week on points waiting for the timeshare to get confirmed. As months went by without any activity, I started to get a bit nervous and was thinking about alternatives. While doing so, I came across rates at the Hyatt Place for $132 per night for my needed week.
Hyatt points are very valuable to me and have been lucky enough to get almost 8 cents per point on some hotel redemptions. You can read about our recent stay in Maui at the Andaz Maui where we had $28,000 vacation for about $1,200 out of pocket.
Getting less than 1 cent per point is awful so I cancelled my points stay and booked using cash. I'll save my points for a better redemption value.
While I still wanted to get a timeshare, the "plan B" was to stay at the Hyatt Place for $132 per night. Not a bad alternative even though I really wanted a timeshare.
As you can see, you need to use a strategy to ensure no issues. If I didn't have this as a back up plan, I would have either lost my non-refundable tickets and not went on vacation or would be forced to book last minute rates during ski season which likely would have been astronomical in price.
Timeshare availability can be unpredictable so you need to have good backup plans in place to avoid an undesirable expensive vacation or be stuck at home.
Despite not getting a timeshare, we had a great week in Park City. The conditions were great and the weather was perfect. It was ideal spring skiing.
We headed to the airport on Saturday, checked in and patiently waited for our flight. The airport was extremely chaotic as there were a lot of people traveling. It was spring break in a lot of destinations. The customer service representatives indicated that the flight was oversold and they were looking for volunteers. I immediately sprang up and ran to the desk and put our family of four on the list.
The entire day of flights back home were full so they offered to book us on the next flight or would give us additional compensation if we wanted to fly out the next morning. Being a Sunday and flexible, we took them up on their offer. We got a decent amount of compensation, gave each of us $15.00 per meal voucher (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and put us up in a hotel for the night. We were very happy with the deal.
In the past, the airlines generally offered vouchers to be used for future flights. After the United incident where they dragged a passenger off the plane, the airlines re-thought their compensation offers and now offer about a dozen options for gift cards. This includes retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Gap and others. They also allow you to receive an Amex prepaid card which is basically good as cash.
We all chose an Amex gift card for our "troubles" and had an enjoyable day exploring Salt Lake City.
The next day we returned to the airport and found the same chaotic airport. We again headed to the gate and were again greeted by customers service representatives requesting volunteers. Again, I sprang up and volunteered again. Unbelievably, they needed our seats again and offered us even more compensation. We again got Amex gift cards, meal vouchers and another hotel stay. We headed back to Salt Lake City for another enjoyable day of sightseeing.
As you know, we fly a lot and travel a lot and if we are flexible, I am always looking to get bumped and receive some compensation. I have probably volunteered about 3-4 times in the past year and they never seem to need me. Getting bumped 2 days in row was lucky and extremely beneficial and extended our fantastic spring break without too much inconvenience.
The next day we went to the airport again and were met with the same situation. I couldn't even believe that they still needed volunteers but they did and we volunteered again and they gave us even more compensation. 3 in a row. We got our hotel, meal vouchers and compensation and went on our merry way yet again.
By day 4, we were a little tired of this routine and our kids were missing school so we were prepared to get on the plane and finally make it home. It was unbelievable but they still needed volunteers. My wife and I looked at each other and said why not. We put our name on the list and went for 4 bumps in a row. Instead of offering overnight accommodations, they put 2 of us on the next flight and 2 of us on standby with us confirmed for an evening flight.
I didn't think it was possible and was prepared to go home. However, they needed our sits again and we received even more compensation and more meal vouchers. WE GOT BUMPED 4 TIMES IN A ROW!
We all proceeded to the next flight and it was truly unbelievable but they were still asking for volunteers. We were on a roll and put our name on the list again. Unfortunately, another family beat us to the list and we didn't get bumped again. However, 4 bumps in a row was great and we were nicely compensated for our troubles and enjoyed our added time in Salt Lake City.
The craziest thing about all of this was that our original flights were FREE! I booked us all using frequent flyer points so they essentially paid us to get back their free seats! Crazy!
I hate traveling during the busy time periods as everything is more of challenge. Getting timeshares, getting to your destination, getting rental cars, getting restaurant reservations and just getting around is more difficult. However, when you have school age children, we don't have much choice if you want to travel.
For those of you that need to travel during this time, plan as far in advance as possible and use my timeshare / hotel point strategy. It has saved me multiple times and highly recommend it. Take a look at this post for some good ways to get a bunch of points quickly.
While I hate traveling during these peak times, this ended up working in our favor. I won't give you the final tally of our compensation but we arrived home with large smiles on our face having had our entire week paid for by Delta plus much more! This was definitely a very memorable spring break! I'm not sure whether we will ever experience a similar windfall but it was fun while it lasted.
Have you been bumped multiple times before? Share your story below!
I have done a similar post on this type of timeshare strategy before but with new readers and a new example of why this could be a very smart and economically prudent strategy, I thought I would go into some additional details.
As I mentioned in my past article, I spent three weeks in Hawaii over Christmas break. It was a great holiday vacation. Almost immediately after I returned, I had an additional ski trip planned for Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Of course I used American AAdvantage miles for this trip as well as I flew in Eagle / Vail airport which makes it a very easy drive to Beaver Creek. I won't go into the savings for flights but flights into Eagle / Vail can be very expensive so it is generally a very good use of frequent flyer miles to fly into EGE.
While I normally exchange my Hyatt Residence Club points for other timeshare properties, for this particular ski trip, I actually used Hyatt’s internal trading options to secure a four night stay at the Hyatt Mountain Lodge in Beaver Creek.
4 night stays are the sweet spot in Hyatt Residence Club points redemption as it is a lot less points to stay 4 nights instead of a 3 over a weekend. While a 4 night stay does not include a Saturday night, these 4 nights stays can be a very good use of Hyatt Residence Club points. Take a look at this post on more details on the 4 night stay sweet spots.
In a separate post, I’ll do a review of this property but for this post, I’ll outline the economics of this stay and you can see why owning a timeshare can actually be economically advantageous.
I ended up needing two rooms for this vacation so I booked one room for myself using Hyatt Residence Club points and another room for my family members using cash. While I would have booked an extra room using points, an additional room was not available using points.
I used 280 Hyatt Residence Club points for a four night stay in a studio unit. The Studio unit was actually quite large and will post some photos of this unit and a review in a later post.
As discussed elsewhere, my points cost me $0.65 per point so this 4 night stay cost me $182 (in points) plus an exchange fee of $39 for a total cost of $221 or $55 per night. This stay is in the beginning of January – peak ski season.
For my family members who did not have access to timeshare points, they booked a cash reservation for $337 PER NIGHT plus taxes, resort fees and fees for a total cost of over $1600. Basically, my family members paid over 6 times the amount that I spent using Hyatt Residence Club points.
Also, for those of you wondering, even though the cash reservation was in my name and I am a Globalist, I did have to pay a resort fee for the cash room since Hyatt Residence Club properties do not offer almost any perks for World of Hyatt members.
Additionally, to further show you the value of a timeshare relating to this particular vacation, the total cost of their 4-night stay was $300 in excess of my annual maintenance fee of $1300. Essentially, if they had a Hyatt timeshare, instead of paying cash for 4 nights, they could have paid $1300 for maintenance fees and stayed 28 nights (if they are available) in a studio unit during ski season. Quite a remarkable difference.
Here is the math in case you are interested:
2000 points per week for $1300 maintenance fee / 280 points needed for a 4-night midweek stay = 7 vacations of 4 nights each or 28 total nights.
If you just elected to use your 2000 points for 7 vacations of 4 nights a piece, you would be paying about $46 per night for luxurious accommodations during peak ski season where room rates are easily $300+ per night if not significantly more.
Timeshares may not work for every type of travel or travel style but if you enjoy skiing, many top tier, name brand hotel and timeshare brands have very luxurious ski-in/ski-out properties at popular mountain resorts. Hyatt has a few properties that can offer tremendous value and as you can see from this example, it may only take one trip to more than make up for the maintenance fees for the year and still end up saving you money.
This example does not include my initial cost to buy the timeshare but if done right, they can be had for a reasonable up-front cost which will ultimately decrease each year in which you use it. As discussed here, my up front cost has been fairly reasonable and still believe that even if you factor in the initial cost, the savings are material.
Did you book a timeshare for ski season this year? Where are you going? Make sure to comment below.
Timeshares are complicated and generally have an awful reputation. The awful reputation is due to many things but one complaint that comes up over and over again is availability.
While the timeshare salespeople will show you hundreds of potential destinations, getting great resorts during peak time periods is difficult. Planning ahead very early is crucial in order to get tremendous value and maximize timeshare ownership.
Since you need to plan very early, I am constantly booking trips 1 to 2 years in advance. For some people, this can be difficult but for those of you that can schedule things that far in advance, the quality of resorts and actual cost of these trips can be a tiny fraction of the going nightly rates at hotels or even AirBnB's.
Timeshare Strategy - Using timeshare for Ski Weeks
For those of you who do not want to deal with a lot of exchanges, one timeshare strategy that I advocate is using timeshares solely for ski weeks. I wrote about this particular strategy here.
Ski trips are expensive. Aside from the lift tickets, ski rentals, food, and airplane tickets, accommodations cost a fortune during the ski season. The majority of resorts count on making their money during the 3-4 months of the season so nightly hotel rates during ski season is atrocious. $500-$1,000 per night is not unheard of.
Without timeshares, there is no way that I would be able to take as many ski trips as we do. Based on my previous math, ski trip weeks in Studio Units cost me just over $400 for the week - generally less than one night at a hotel.
Timeshare Math Review
As a summary, I pay about $1200 per week in maintenance fees for one Hyatt Beach House week. For this week, I receive 2,000 Hyatt Residence Club Points. When I exchange my points through Interval International, it requires 430 Hyatt Residence Club Points per week in a studio unit during the highest peak time. The exchange fee per week is $199.
Therefore, by exchanging my Hyatt Residence Club points through Interval International, my cost per week in a studio unit is approximately $457.00. For a 1 bedroom unit, my cost would be about double at $721 (870 points multiplied by $0.60 plus $199) and for a 2 bedroom unit, my cost would be about $979 (1300 points multiplied by $0.60 plus $199).
$1200 divided by 2,000 Hyatt Residence Club Points = $0.60 per point
430 Hyatt Residence Club Points multiplied by $0.60 per point = $258
$258 plus a $199 exchange fee charged by Interval International = $457.00
2000 divided by 430 = 4.65 (about 4 weeks)
Basically, with the above math, I can pay $1,828 for FOUR weeks of ski vacations in studio units.
Most people probably spend $5,000 for one week where I am paying $457.
While availability can be difficult, I wanted to show my readers some top notch resorts that are available NOW by booking through Interval International. Although we are in the tail end of the 2018 ski season, I am already looking at 2019 and beyond and found a few great trades that can be booked now.
Mont Trembant, Canada
Park City, Utah
Vail and Beavercreek, Colorado
Exchanging timeshares is an easy process but finding top quality resorts when and where you want to go can be challenging. You simply need to plan FAR AHEAD to get great resorts.
While I definitely can complain with many timeshare owners concerning availability, I have had very good luck during my 12 years of timeshare ownership. The trick is to constantly search, do request firsts and be somewhat flexible. If you can do that, timeshare ownership can be extremely financially rewarding in that you will be able to travel for a fraction of what nightly hotel rates go for.
Using your timeshare solely for ski weeks is a very viable strategy since even if you pay $1200 a year in maintenance fees, $1200 for a ski week in a top quality resort is still a decent price. If you can get multiple ski weeks for the same $1200 (like I do), it is an even better bargain.
If you see any weeks in this post, that you may want, search Interval International quickly and book these immediately. It is somewhat rare to finds these high quality resorts available for ski season so grab them now if you can use them!
What ski destinations do you travel to? What ski timeshares have you visited?
As you probably know, I am a big fan of Park City, Utah. There are many reasons for this.
The first reason is that it is a simple 30 minute drive from Salt Lake City airport (SLC) that is all on highways. Even in a snow storm, the ride is fairly easy.
The second reason is that the skiing is fantastic. The weather is usually quite pleasant with beautiful sunny days. It makes skiing a pleasure as opposed to the east coast skiing that I grew up with where temperatures could easily be in the single digits and icy. In addition, Park City and the Canyons recently merged so it is the largest ski area in the United States. There is ample choices for all ski levels. There is also plenty of other ski resorts in the vicinity in case you get bored with Park City.
The third reason is that there are plenty of great timeshares. I rarely have a problem getting a great ski week at many of the top rated timeshare resorts.
Marriott Summit Watch
As I have written about before, my family and I stayed at the Marriott Summit Watch resort the week before Christmas. The snow conditions were a little weak this season but the resort is stellar.
In my previous post, I compared some of the perks of the resorts as compared to many of our recent hotel stays. In this post, I wanted to give a more detailed review of the resort as compared to some of the other properties that I have visited in Park City, Utah.
Since I travel to Park City a decent amount, I have had the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt Centric Park City (technically a fractional ownership property), the Westgate Park City , the Marriott Summit Watch and the Hyatt Place (hotel). The two other timeshares that I want to visit but I have not had the opportunity to visit is the Marriott Mountainside and the Hilton Sunrise Resort.
The Marriott Summit Watch is located directly on Main Street. The benefits to this location is that there are tons of restaurants and bars within seconds of the resort. There are a few very good restaurants literally right outside the front doors.
The resort is a one minute walk to Town Lift. While it is not a ski-in / ski-out property, it is a simple walk and as I mentioned in my other post, they have free ski storage right at the Town lift which makes it very convenient.
As I showed you in my other post, the studio units are quite nice. If you are accustomed to Marriott properties, this property is definitely on par with other high end Marriott properties.
The Marriott Summit Watch also has one bedroom and two bedroom units. I have stayed in a 2 bedroom unit at this resort in the past and it is very spacious with a large living room and kitchen facility. It is definitely big enough for a family of 4 to spread out comfortably and could easily accommodate 6 people.
The Marriott Summit Watch does a great job with various activities around the property. They constantly had plenty of free things going on and had many adult activities that were fun. I really enjoyed the constant offering of free wine and beer tastings. In case you missed it, here are a few photos of the various activities that were being offering during our stay.
The pool area at the Marriott Summit Watch is quite nice. They have an indoor outdoor pool that is heated. You can spend your time in the inside pool or you can swim under the divider and get to the outside pool. Despite it being less than 30 degrees outside, the pool was quite warm.
In addition to the pool, they have 4 hot tubs, one on the inside and three outside. The biggest hot tub can easily fit 15 people if not more. Overall, the pool facility is quite nice.
Kids Club / Activity Center:
The kids club / activity center is located in the pool complex. It is a ten step walk from the last building. The activity center has a lot of different options for both kids and adults. It is on the smaller side but they have video games, arts and crafts, chess, checkers, air hockey, and various board games. It is a well stocked area with plenty of things to keep you busy.
One downside to a lot of timeshare properties is the lack of food outlets. The Marriott Summit Watch does not have any food and beverage outlets on premises but there are tons of restaurants right out the front door. In addition, they have a marketplace where you can get some simple items such as beer, ice cream, coffee, drinks, and various other snacks. In addition, they do have tons of DVD's where you can rent them nightly for a nominal charge.
The Marriott Summit Watch is one of the nicer timeshare properties that I have stayed at. The location is stellar since it is so convenient to Main Street, restaurants and town lift. I also really enjoy being able to bring a car without a fee so you can explore other areas.
I really enjoyed our stay at the Marriott Summit Watch and would highly recommend this property. I did do a timeshare presentation here and will report on those findings soon.
Have you stayed at this property? What are your opinions?
Hotel Fees versus a stay at a Timeshare: A close look at various standard hotel fees as compared to the Marriott Summit Watch timeshare in Park City, Utah
If you are a regularly reader, you can probably see that we have done some extensive traveling this past year. I think that we easily traveled for at least 90 days this past year.
Traveling for 90 days is quite a lot of time and while I definitely love timeshares and highly prefer them as compared to hotels, we have utilized hotel points and frequent flyer miles to stay quite a bit in hotels this past year. In case you are interested, here a few posts concerning some of our recent travels.
While I still owe you a full review of the Marriott Summitt Watch resort in Park City, Utah, the stay was really fabulous. In my previous post, I showed you the details of our studio unit which was actually very comfortable even for a family of four.
One of the key reasons why the stay was so fabulous was the lack of being nickeled and dimed throughout our stay.
Since we have actually stayed a lot in hotels this past year, the constant extra fees, add ons, resort fees and ridiculous other charges that hotels now treat as customary, the Marriott Summitt Watch had very few, if any of these fees. In this post, I wanted to do a quick comparison on the various items that hotels routinely charge that the Marriott Summitt Watch did not.
I HATE RESORT FEES. It is such a ridiculous charge that these hotels now treat as mandatory that provides close to zero value. However, hotels have become fee happy and now charge these fees constantly. Unfortunately, these fees continue to expand as they have been reports of even "Urban Destination Fees" - RIDICULOUS!
In our most recent travels, the Marriott Los Suenos Resort in Costa Rica charged $32 per day for their resort fee even though we used points. Our "free" week ended up costing us over $200 simply for their ridiculous resort fee.
The Andaz Maui charges an obscene $40 per day resort fee. While they provide some "value", it is still a completely ridiculous fee especially considering rates were in excess of $1000 per night during our stay over Christmas.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch charged ZERO DOLLARS as their resort fee. A welcome alternative to the standard nickel and diming tactics of the hotels.
Having a car on vacation can be a necessity for some destinations. A car allows you to explore the surrounding area and not be held hostage for the resort restaurants. However, renting a car is expensive and parking your car now has become a tremendous added expense. In addition to resort fees, many hotels now routinely charge for parking even though they never had in the past.
For example, the Andaz Maui charges a hefty $35 per day for your car. This is in addition to their mandatory $40 resort fee. Not cheap.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
Despite being on Main Street where parking is tight, the Marriott Summitt Watch charges an impressive ZERO DOLLARS for parking if you are staying at the resort. They have an underground parking garage that is a pay to park facility but it is complimentary for guests. A very welcome perk for all guests - not just those with status as Hyatt now offers for their Globalist members.
While doing laundry on vacation is not something that you want to do, having access to facilities can be helpful especially for ski vacations as well as beach vacations where your cloths can get pretty disgusting. Most hotels provide laundry services where they charge exorbitant fees for laundry. Usually they charge per piece so doing laundry for a shirt, jeans and socks can easily cost over $20.
Even at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, they had a "special" where they would do a small bag of laundry for $25.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch has complimentary laundry facilities for use. While the laundry facilities were in a less than ideal location in their garage, it was completely free and they provided laundry detergent for free. Again, a nice perk.
A lot of ski-in / ski-out hotels will offer you ski storage. It is a nice option to be able to get off the mountain and have the hotel store your skis until the next day. However, most hotels will charge fees for this service. Some may include it in their resort fee but many charge an add-on fee for this service.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch is located a one minute walk to Town Lift. It is not technically a ski-in /ski-out property but it is close. They have made arrangements with a ski storage company to hold guests skis right at town lift. The cost - ZERO DOLLARS. Again, a very nice perk considering the ski storage place charges about $15 per day per ski set for this service for non-guests.
Resort activities can be a lot of fun and there are some great activities to keep kids and adults occupied. Unfortunately, a lot of these resort activities come with an extra charge. At the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo resort, my wife and I did the mixology class where it cost us about $50 per person for this despite the resort charging a 10% resort fee on top of whatever room rate you reserved.
The Andaz Maui had plenty of activities but most came with some extra fee despite charging guests their mandatory resort fee. Most hotels, even though they charge a resort fee, still find it ok to charge fees for resort activities.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch had tons of activities going on everyday. I was actually very surprised on the amount of activities that they had. They had wine tasting, beer tasting, excursions, kids arts and crafts activities, and various other things. Here are a few pictures of the daily activities.
As you can see, they had some decent activities going on every day. I did not mind the various nominal charges as these generally covered the cost of the materials. I think that those types of charges are actually reasonable.
Most hotels have lobby bars where you can grab a drink at your convenience. Drinks in nice hotels can cost quite a bit. During our stay at the Andaz Maui, the cocktails through the resort were $19 per cocktail! Quite pricey to say the least. Beers cost $10 per beer - completely ridiculous if you ask me. The other hotels were somewhat similar with cocktails generally costing somewhere between $12-19 dollars.
Comparison to the Marriott Summitt Watch
The Marriott Summitt Watch did not have a food and beverage outlet on premises. They have a small market where you can get some essentials but almost every day from about 5-6 pm, they provided complimentary wine for their guests. You can drink as much as you want without a problem. In hotels, a glass of wine would easily cost $15 per glass. Again, a nice perk for all guests regardless of status!
I really enjoyed the Marriott Summitt Watch property. It has a prime location right on Main Street which is in walking distance to everything including the ski lift. Additionally, their rooms were quite comfortable. The biggest thing that stood out to me was the vast amount of items that were included in the stay as compared to the constant fee hungry hotels.
As a reminder, my total out of pocket cost for one week at this property (week before Christmas) was just over $400! Room rates at hotels throughout town were easily in excess of $400 per night.
Regardless of the cost, I get very annoyed at the constant efforts by hotels to get every dollar out of your wallet. Despite charging obscene resort fees, these fees still do not cover almost anything and they are constantly looking for new ways to charge you for something that was routinely part of your daily nightly charge.
Timeshares do have a bad reputation of charging a lot of fees, but I truly think that the tables have turned and hotels are much more to blame than timeshares. My stay at the Marriott Summit Watch really solidified this view.
What do you think of all of these fees? Did I miss anything that also annoys you??
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!
I'm a huge fan of Park City, Utah. It has some tremendous skiing available and the ride to the mountains is a quick 30 minute trip.
I stumbled across this deal where RCI, through its Extra Vacations, is offering a 4 Bedroom unit (Yes, 4 BEDROOMS), at the Raintree's Miners Club in Park City, Utah for only $869.99 for the week.
This is for a prime ski week of January 13 - 20, 2018. I really wish that I could use this week as I would grab it immediately.
If you are interested, grab it soon as this will not last.
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.