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.
As you may recall, I was targeted for a free two night stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Residence Club in San Antonio a while back.
A few months ago, I received a similar call and was again targeted for a free 2 night stay at Hyatt Wild Oak provided that I attend another 90 minute timeshare presentation. In addition to the free 2 nights, I was also offered a $50 resort credit.
These deals are simply too good to pass up and depending on your tolerance for these timeshare presentations, can be a fantastic deal.
My family of 4 arrived and stayed in a nice 2 bedroom unit. It was spacious as usual and was a very nice unit. Hyatt Wild Oak ranch is one of our favorite resorts as it is quiet, close to home and have enough activities at or around the resort to keep us occupied.
We were originally scheduled to attend our presentation on Saturday, the day after arrival, but for some reason, thought it was on Sunday, the day of departure, and ended up missing our presentation. This was met with frantic phone calls indicating that if we did not show up tomorrow morning, we would be charged the full rack rate for the room.
For those of you who are curious on whether this could be a good idea, it is definitely not and will likely charge you exorbitant rates for your "free" two nights. It is not worth it to miss the presentation despite having zero desire to sit there for 90 minutes and listen to their pitch.
They miraculously found space for us the next morning and dragged my entire family to the presentation center in order to avoid being charged for the stay. The last time we visited on this particular presentation, the salesman was very nice, had a good 20 minute chat about Hyatt and how we use our points, and we left without a hassle. A very enjoyable experience and well worth it for 2 free nights in a 2 bedroom unit.
Expecting the same type of treatment, I grabbed a cup of coffee and begun listening to the same timeshare presentation that I have heard over and over again. I answered a few questions, explained how I use my points, explained how I almost never stay at Hyatt's since the exchange through Interval International is so beneficial and expected for him to recognize the non-sale potential and let us move on.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. We got the hard sell! Not the horrible hard sell like you receive in Mexico, but the hard sell, US style. He talked over and over about the new Hyatt Portfolio Program and how the "legacy" program, which we own (deeded week with the potential to convert to points) was going to be more difficult to use since the new Hyatt Portfolio members would have priority reservations and there would be little to no inventory left for the "legacy" owners.
The idea was for him to sell us the minimum amount of Hyatt Portfolio Points (this time it was indicated to be 1300) in order to make our 2 weeks "whole". Here is the initial offer presented.
As you can see, for the paltry sum of $26,000 plus $576.55 in closing costs, we could receive 1,300 Hyatt Portfolio points and make our 2 other units "whole".
Despite indicating that 1,300 was the minimum amount of points he could sell, the original sheet that he brought over was for 1,200 points. He quickly realized his error and it was replaced with the one above. It was clear that the "minimum" was whatever he wanted to indicate to that potential purchaser. If I wanted to purchase 1 points, I am positive that I could do so.
Making resale units "whole" means that instead of being restricted on your ability to convert your points into World of Hyatt hotel points, you can now make that the transfer if you desired even though the conversion ratio is absolutely horrible. The other "benefit" that was being touted was the ability to book one night stays under the Hyatt Portfolio program.
In addition to paying the $26,000+ fee to do so, you also had to pay $133 PER WEEK each and every year to allow you to make that week whole.
Overall, I thought that this was a horrendous deal. Not only is the upfront cost 13 times what I paid for my week, but the maintenance fees are extremely expensive. It is now $0.83 per point. For 1,300 points, you pay approximately $1,081 per year. As a comparison, I pay about $1,250 per week for 2,000 points. If my points were considered Hyatt Portfolio points, I would be paying $1,660 per week instead of $1,250, a sizable difference.
As I mentioned, we receive the "hard sell" this time so instead of saying no and leaving, they had their manager come over and indicate that since we owned our week for over 7 years, they had a special going on where instead of the minimum 1,300 points, they could offer me the ability to purchase just 660 points to make my weeks "whole". The cost was almost exactly half of the 1,300 point offer.
The salesman indicated that this offer was only good for today since they Hyatt Portfolio program was selling so well. They did not want these types of "offers" to be good for much longer.
I politely turned down their offer and was getting up to leave when yet another saleswomen came to sit down. We were really getting the hard sell this time.
She wanted to get our feedback on the presentation AND offer us the one time offer to come back to visit them. Here is what was presented to me this time around.
As you can see, they offered me a 4 night stay for $1,675 PLUS a $199 processing fee as well as 48,000 World of Hyatt points, World of Hyatt Discoverist status and Leisure Time Passport Program.
I thought that this was extremely expensive as with my current week, I can stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak ranch for at least 14 days (depending on season and size of room) for my $1,250 maintenance fee.
While I love World of Hyatt points, there was just not enough there to even peak my interest. The total cost of this was just too astronomical to even begin diving down into the specifics.
The one item that did jump out at me was the Leisure Time Passport Program. I have never heard of that and did some reach and found the following:
"Leisure Time Passport is a proven membership program that creates another opportunity to close the deal and optimize marketing spend. Designed to provide a seamless transition for developers who use Interval Gold or Interval Platinum at the point of sale, it includes a portfolio of year-round lifestyle and leisure benefits - excluding exchange and Interval Options. Developers can package Leisure Time Passport® membership with a return stay at their resort, and if they want to enhance their program value proposition, include a Dream Vacation Week certificate."
I do not have access to this program so I can't say with certainty that it does not offer anything, but I am fairly confident that this doesn't provide much value and potentially allows you to book a week at surplus inventory at very low demand time periods or low quality weeks. My instinct says that it is completely worthless.
I really do love my timeshares and think that it is a great way to travel with family and friends. Many of the resorts are top quality resorts that easily compare to top rated luxury hotels.
However, I hate the timeshare industry. Every time that I attend these presentations, I am shocked and dismayed at the amount of non-truthful information that is being dispensed throughout these presentations. I cannot say that they are completely lying, but most statements are half-truths, only applicable in very limited situations or are scenarios that likely will never be relevant. Every single statement that these salespeople state have some element of truth but simply do not tell the entire scenario. They have really fine tuned the pitch so that they are not lying, just not telling the entire situation.
Every time that I participate in these timeshare presentations, I realize how needed a blog / informational resource like mine is needed in order to provide more complete information on timeshares, how they work, how they DON'T work, and why it may or may not be a good vacation tool.
Timeshares work great for my travel preferences and flexibility but for others, timeshare ownership will be nothing but a constant headache and liability.
What are your thoughts on these timeshare presentations?
The Frequent Miler is one of the few blogs that I read daily. The information that The Frequent Miler puts out is very good and I have received some excellent deals thanks to his contributions.
Here is a recent post about a Wyndham Timeshare Presentation. It is a good and entertaining read and I definitely recommend The Frequent Miler blog!
It seemed like they experienced the standard timeshare pitch.
What are your thoughts?
Free Two Night Stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio Texas (Targeted to Existing Hyatt Owners living in Texas)
Last week, I received a surprising phone call from a representative of the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch. They indicated that they were offering a free 2 night stay at the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch in San Antonio for the month of January and February in exchange for taking a tour of the newly constructed building on premises and learning more about the Hyatt Portfolio program.
Many of these timeshare offers usually require some upfront free such as one of their current offers that was found on my facebook feed which is for a studio unit at a rate of $130 per night.
In contrast, this offer is completely free and the offer is for any size unit! Many of these offers are very restrictive in that they only allow a certain size unit or block out weekend nights. However, I was able to book this offer in a 2 bedroom unit for a Friday and Saturday night stay.
The total cost: $0.00! No resort fees, no deposits, no credit card.
While I will have to attend another timeshare presentation, (you are welcome yet again) hopefully I can find out some more good information on the Portfolio program that I can share with my readers.
As I mentioned, this offer appears targeted to current Hyatt owners who live in or around San Antonio. This may apply to those existing Hyatt owners who live in the State of Texas. However, if you could potentially use this offer, I would simply call the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch and see if they can accommodate.
They have a new building and appear anxious to get new owners acclimated to the Portfolio Program so even if you were not targeted, you may be able to take advantage of this offer.
Here is their direct phone number: 210-647-9500
Wild Oak Ranch
If you have not been to the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch, it is a spectacular property. The rooms are fantastic, they have tons of activities going on, they have water slides, a lazy river, fire pits and more.
While January / February will be slightly chilly, it is a great property and there should be enough activities in and around the resort to keep you busy for two days. Also, the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, a full service hotel, is about a 2 minute drive from this property and guests at Hyatt Wild Oak can use those facilities.
Overall, this is a great offer and definitely worth 1 1/2 hours of my time to see the new buildings. I am curious to see if they are the same or better than the existing units. The existing units are very nice so we will see how much of an improvement, if any, the new units will be.
Have you been to the Hyatt Wild Oak Ranch?
If you can use this offer, please post below on your success or failure! It will be helpful to see whether this offer is really targeted or open to anyone who can use it.
As you probably know, I spent a week at the Marriott Summit Watch in Park City. It is a spectacular resort and we really enjoyed our time there.
A review of the resort will be posted soon.
You can see our room here.
You can read about why I really enjoyed this resort as compared to our recent hotel trips here.
In addition, it has been a while since I attended a Marriott timeshare presentation so I decided to do so again here. YOU ARE WELCOME!
They offered me a $150 Visa gift card or a $150 gift card to various restaurants around Park City or 15,000 Marriott Reward Points. I chose the Marriott Reward Points as I had an immediate need for these points for an upcoming stay.
While I did receive a gift, I went through this presentation solely for the benefit of my readers so you can get a better idea of what the process is and be more informed on these programs.
Even as The Timeshare Guru, I really do not enjoy these timeshare presentations. While most of the major timeshare brands (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, etc.) are fairly non-pressure, every time I attend one of these presentations, I know that this blog will be successful some day.
The reason is that the timeshare presentations make timeshares look great without going into the various issues that come with owning a timeshare. I love my timeshares and actually just completed a another purchase (stay tuned for that post), but I really despise how these presentations simply give you an overview of the system and make generalizations on how you can travel any time and at any resort.
While I get excellent value out of my timeshare, if you read this blog, you know that there are multiple strategies to use and even planning 1+ year in advance, you are not guaranteed your desired destination or desired resort. You can read about my timeshare "failure" here.
The Marriott timeshare presentation started like most others with a general discussion of your travel style, destinations and future desires. This process is meant to give the representative a better idea on what timeshare or what "package" to offer.
I tried to speed this process along and indicated that I was familiar with Marriotts and the program but wanted to see more details about how it worked.
Before we got there, the representative provided some details on the ownership structure of the program.
As you may know, Marriott Vacation Club previously sold weeks at various resorts. This is the standard timeshare product that most people know and one of reasons why timeshares have a bad reputation. You own a week at a particular resort and you can use that week each year.
As travel styles changed and people wanted more flexibility, Marriott Vacation Club moved to a points based system. Instead of purchasing weeks, Marriott Vacation Club now only sells points.
Despite only selling points, the legacy week program is still available through resale purchases.
In another post, I will go through the differences between the two.
As you can see in the chart above, Marriott Vacation Club has contributed properties to the land trust and they created a point system where you purchase a certain allotment of points and you can then exchange those points for nightly stays at resorts.
This is extremely similar to hotel loyalty points or frequent flyer points but instead of being given points for certain activities (flying, staying in hotels, shopping, etc.), you purchase points and use those points for various stays.
The Sales Tactic
The representative started discussing our travel plans and the amount of money that we spend on vacation. I indicated that we spent approximately $5,000 per year on vacations. It truthfully fluctuates greatly depending on how much or how little we travel but this seemed about right as an estimate.
Many times, we actually travel extensively for free or for as little as $400 per week through various credit card points, hotel points, frequent flyer miles and other travel tools. In case you missed it, this is a good overview of a recent trip and the various tools that I used.
The representative then created this chart.
As you can see, he estimates that we will spend $50,000 over the next 10 years and instead of receiving nothing after those ten years, after ten years you will have a deeded interest in "property" that can be sold, gifted, rented, or given to your heirs.
A particular quote that grabbed my attention was the phrase located on top of the white board:
"ALWAYS REMEMBER MORE POINTS MORE FUN!!"
Exchanging your Points
It is usually during this point in various timeshare presentations that gets me upset. You can definitely exchange your points into nightly or weekly stays in various resorts, but the presentations never seem to go into detail. They simply show you a few destinations that you are interested in and tell you the amount of points required.
I do not want to go through the entire Marriott Vacation Club program here but here is the overview of the program in case you wanted to learn more.
Generally, you purchase a certain allotment of points and you can use those points for stays at little as one night and up to as many nights as you want (subject to availability and amount of points you "own").
In this particular case, the representative showed us the website and he gave some specific examples of the amount of points required to travel.
The reason that I get upset at this point in most presentations is that, while they are not lying to you to on the amount of points required, they provide you no way to see specific inventory at the time of the presentation.
It is great if I can reserve a prime ski week in Park City for a few nights using my Marriott Vacation Club points, but they simply could not tell me if there was any availability. They indicated that they do not have an "owners" account in order to see real time inventory. They were not able to show me current inventory for this current season or for anytime.
To me, this is extremely frustrating in that they are essentially telling you that you can travel when and where you want but they leave out the tremendous issue of availability. Availability for prime resorts and prime weeks is scarce and you need to plan far in advance and be flexible in order to get that inventory.
I despise the fact that they "hide" this issue as it is a major downside for timeshares and a major issue on why timeshares have a bad reputation.
In regards to price, the first chart that they showed me was the following.
As you can see, when the points system was first introduced, they sold points at $9.20 per point in June of 2010. Today, they were offering points at $13.90. As you can see in bold, a 66% price increase to date.
In other words, BUY NOW BEFORE THE PRICE GOES UP FURTHER!
As we continued on through the presentation, they priced out a 4,000 point package. 4,000 points is not a lot of points and will significantly impact the weeks that you can travel and the destination. While they did not share the following chart with me, I think that is very helpful to see the various tiers and where 4,000 points fall on the spectrum.
As you can see, 4,000 points is one of the smaller packages. The representative then proceeded to create the following offer.
Here is a bit of math. 4,000 points at $13.90 per point equals $55,600. They generously (sarcasm) offer financing where you can put 10% down, pay a closing costs of $1252 which will create monthly payment of $520. As you can see, there is no mention of the interest rate offered. (I believe it is 18%).
Additionally, since I was a first timer (kind of - everyone gets this offer), I was given a choice on the various incentives. They would give me an additional 4,000 points for the first year or 300,000 Marriott Reward points AND an additional 2250 points.
If I had a Marriott Rewards Credit card and put the purchase on the card, I would receive an additional 288,000 Marriott Reward Points.
The Marriott Rewards Card provides 5 points per dollar spent on Marriott purchases so with the purchase price and closing costs, I would get this additional 288,000 Marriott Reward Points.
BUT, THATS NOT ALL.
Additionally, as a first time incentive, they are offering a 25% discount off the purchase price for a total purchase price of $41,680.
Another thing that I despise about timeshares is that you never really know the price. After some back and forth regarding the high price for this package, a new representative came in and explained a "new" program that was being offered.
This program (not sure how new this is) is where you purchase a standard week at various resorts under the legacy program AND, at the same time, you purchase Marriott Vacation Club points, which will convert the week that you bought into becoming eligible to exchange that weeks for points.
The legacy week program does not allow you to convert your week into points. They treat these two systems completely different. However, this program allows you to circumvent this rule and you receive a legacy week and points and you magically now have the option to convert your newly purchased legacy week into points.
This is a bit confusing so here is the chart that they provided.
If we take the first resort on the list, the Marriott Sabal Palm Pink.
They are selling this week for $4,600. This week is worth 2,050 points. This week has maintenance fees of $1,320. By purchasing this week and converting to points, your purchase price is $2.24.
$4,600 divided by 2,050 is $2.24 per points - a significant discount to the original selling price of $13.90 as stated above.
However, you NEED to purchase points in order to be able to convert this legacy week. You MUST purchase a minimum of 2,250 points.
2,250 typically cost $13.90 per point which equates to $31,275. By purchasing through this combined program, they offer a 20% discount on this side of the purchase so that your purchase price for 2,250 points is $25,020.
Therefore, by purchasing a legacy week and points together, the total purchase price is $29,620 (4,600 for the legacy week and $25,020 for the points).
By doing this together, you would have the ability to use 4,300 points for a total purchase price of $29,620.
As you recall, I was JUST offered the ability to purchase 4,000 points for $41,680.
Therefore, in a matter of minutes, I was given an additional discount of 28.9%.
I really do love my timeshares as they typically provide great accommodations that are spacious and luxurious. I get tremendous value out of owning timeshares and have had tons of affordable and luxurious vacations for a fraction of the cost.
As I mentioned, I routinely get prime ski weeks for about $400 for a week where most hotels are charging in excess of that amount for one night. I just received confirmation for a 1 bedroom unit at the Marriott Ocean Club for the week before Christmas in 2018. My out of pocket cost for this week is approximately $800 but rates easily exceed that amount PER NIGHT!
However, when I attend these presentations, it is so apparent on why they have awful reputations and most people think they are a scam.
As you can see in the above, the only time that maintenance fees were even discussed was when there was a line item on the spreadsheet. They simply did not disclose the amount of maintenance fees required for the point purchase. Maintenance fees are a tremendous expense and you need to be aware of them upfront!
Additionally, it was very difficult to access availability. While they easily can say that you can make great exchanges, I was unable to see real time inventory to actually see what is available. A beach vacation in the middle of winter is probably not ideal for most people even if it is available.
The other item that was overlooked was the ability to exchange through Interval International. To me (and most people), this is where timeshares shine and where you can get the most outsized value from owning. I inquired about the exchange rates for Interval International to determine the amount of points needed for weeks and the representative pretended not to know and actually got a manager to discuss.
They indicated that most owners prefer Marriott properties are rarely exchange through Interval International. As a result, they leave it out of their sales pitch. A TREMENDOUS OVERSIGHT. In another post, I will explain the potential reason that they do this and how these points actually exchange through Interval International
I do not own a Marriott week or Marriott points but actually stay in Marriott's more often than I stay in other brands of timeshares. The reason is that they are fantastic properties and I can generally get into most desirable properties that I want for a fraction of the retail cost AND the fraction of the amount of Marriott points required. Stay tuned for this!
However, a Marriott purchase will likely occur in the future and I will explain the strategy for this and what I may purchase.
Overall, the presentation was fairly low pressure and non-eventful. We were in and out within the 1 1/2 time allotted, I received 15,000 Marriott Reward Points for my time and got to get interesting information for my readers.
I am always disappointed by the lack of transparency in these presentations so I hope that this is helpful.
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What has your experience been with timeshare presentations?
Timeshare presentations can be tough to attend and vary from friendly to extremely pushy. Since I was staying at the Breeze Residence Club which I discussed here, I thought that I would attend the presentation to see what their program was all about.
In exchange for our time, we were given daily housekeeping and wifi which would have cost $210 for the week. It was optional and not really needed but I did not go on the tour for this perk. The Breeze Residence Club was really nice and was interested to learn about their system and see if there was potential value.
My family of four were treated to a nice breakfast at one of the local restaurants on site. The breakfast was quite delicious and the entire family was well fed. The person who was assigned to us was pleasant and we did small talk during breakfast on our travels, cost of vacations, where we would like to go and so on. The standard small talk.
I quickly tried to bypass this small talk and get down to the actual system. The point of the small talk is to assess your vacation style and vary their pitch based on how often you travel and your desired locations. The pitch is different based on whether you travel a lot or little, spend a lot or a little, do multiple weeks or go once per year.
My family and I travel a lot so they presented us with a 4 week package. They claimed that it was the minimum amount of time offered but when I pushed a little more, we can get as little as a week if we wanted.
The pitch clearly tried to differentiate itself from a timeshare. They were NOT a timeshare but rather a club and they do not have ongoing maintenance fees, just usage fees.
Regardless of what they call it, this was pretty much a standard timeshare.
Here is a picture of the pricelist:
As you can see, the price for 4 weeks is $75,150 which is definitely expensive. Almost immediately, they offered me the pre-construction pricing of $51,600 even though they were already constructed.
The pricing above gets you 4 weeks but you choose what type of unit - 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom or 3 bedroom. The pricing above is for 10 years. If you do not want to participate after 10 years, you can simply stop paying. If you want to keep using it, you need to pay the property taxes which they claim is 20% of the purchase price so basically another $10,000 in ten years. I was hesitant to believe any of this and did not get to see the fine print.
They claim that there is no maintenance fees so if you do not use your weeks, you do not pay anything. If you do actually want to use it, you pay a usage fee per week which ranged between $500 for a 1 bedroom to over $1000 for a 3 bedroom. Again, very skeptical on this function.
The Breeze Residence Club trades through the Registry Collection which is an affiliate of RCI. The Registry Collection is supposed to be the highest quality resorts within RCI. The review of the Registry Collection did appear interesting as these did appear to be very high quality resorts.
They claim that if you did not want to use your week, you can exchange it into the Registry Collection by paying your "usage fee" which turns your week into points. Here is the exchange amounts:
These credits were per week and can be exchanged through the Registry Collection. Fortunately, the Registry Collection actually has a transparent site so that you can see the exchange grids for each property.
They are here for your review:
Interestingly, the exchange grid on the Registry Collection has weeks associated the amount of points where some weeks at the Breeze Residence Club require as little as 350 points for a 3 bedroom week. During our presentation, no weeks were mentioned and they simply claimed the above points in exchange for the week. Again, very skeptical on the amount of points actually given.
They also claimed that we could give them our existing timeshare and they would give us credit for purchasing through them. I did not pursue this as I doubt that this was really worthwhile and told them that I actually enjoyed our timeshare and would not be getting rid of it.
They also claimed that by owning through Breezes we would get access to something called the Advantage Program. They claimed that we can get access to every single type of timeshare regardless of affiliation (Interval or RCI) (Marriott, Hilton, Four Seasons, Hyatt, etc) as this was basically a consolidator which purchased inventory from the developers and resold it at the "guaranteed lowest prices". Guaranteed lowest prices is completely meaningless as you cannot see prices through a lot of avenues without logging in. I doubt that this had any validity.
When I pushed to see availability, we did a couple of brief searches and saw a couple decent properties for costs than ranged from $1000 - $1500 for week. Without a login and ample time to review, it was difficult to see if there were viable options.
When we were pushed whether this was attractive, I told them that I needed more time to review the program. This did not go over that well and they sent in their manager who offered us a foreclosure option for around $15,000 for the same four weeks.
Again, I stayed firm and told them that I wanted to review the program and see if this was a viable solution for us. After a few more "nos", we were on our way.
Truthfully, I was actually very confused about what they were offering. They claimed that we owned it outright but had to pay 20% again in the next 10 years. They claimed that there are no maintenance fees but had to pay for "usage fees". They claimed that we could exchange into any unit but did not show us how and the resulting cost.
They claimed that there were no exchange fees or other fees but I don't believe that for a second.
Overall, this was another example of why timeshares have such a bad name. They change the terminology for everything and claim that you can travel the world anytime you want in luxurious accommodations for cheap. This is simply not true as availability is always an issue.
While the Breeze Residence Club is an extremely nice property, I left the presentation confused about what they were offering and what we would purchase. Despite the prices being hefty, I could not assess whether there were any great values to be had in the Registry Collection or the Advantage Program. They simple made over broad promises without showing any real examples.
I was disappointed with the experience as I really did want to learn abou the system. The timeshare was a little pressure filled and tried to make me feel like an idiot for not believing in their promises of being able to travel wherever and whenever I wanted to.
Despite, this the Breeze Residence Club is a stellar property and definitely recommend a visit.
What have your experiences been. Have you participated with the Breeze Residence Club? Leave some comments below.