I have been to a fair share of timeshare presentations. As stated before, some are friendly and informative while others are very high pressure.
Since I started this blog, I have attempted to go to more of these more out of interest than to receive any perks or gifts. My travel preferences tend to gravitate towards some of more well known brands (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Four Seasons, etc.) so I do not get the opportunity frequently to stay at some of the larger or well known strictly timeshare properties (Shell Vacation Clubs, Westgate, Diamond Resorts, etc.).
Over the holiday weekend, I had the opportunity to stay at the Westgate Park City. If you read this blog, you should know that I am a big fan of Park City, Utah. I tend to travel there at least a couple times per ski season.
I have never been during the warmer months so when the opportunity to stay in a 1 bedroom suite at the base of the Canyon mountain for a total price of $227 PER WEEK, it was hard to pass up. This price was offered through Interval Getaways and do not require any timeshare presentations to get these prices! You simply need to be an Interval member or know someone who is.
I have stayed at this Westgate property before and I think it is a great property. The location is hard to beat as it is ski-in / ski-out and their amenities are quite nice.
I inquired myself on how to get a tour on potentially purchasing a timeshare. They did not come after me but still offered me $150 cash for attending. In exchange, I promised them 90 minutes of my vacation time. They also offered free breakfast for attending.
We arrived at the timeshare presentation center and were told to help ourselves to some breakfast. The breakfast was truly atrocious. It was barely edible with biscuits and gravy as the main entree and frozen bagels and eggo waffles as other options. I didn't touch the breakfast as even the coffee wasn't good.
This was not a good impression but I was anxious to learn more about the Westgate system. We met with a very nice older gentlemen who indicated that he was not a salesman but was rather the notary and was filling in since they had overbooked the morning presentations.
He was very nice and began giving us the overview of timeshares and various benefits. Since I know a lot about how to maximize timeshares and exchange options, I did not want to hear that pitch so I kindly requested that he explain the Westgate system.
I did a post on the Westgate system here and as you can see, it is very straightforward. It is a week based system so you buy a week and can use the week or exchange that week into other weeks, subject to availability. I requested numerous times to see current availability and to see their online portal of how this works but my requests were simply ignored. They indicated that they do not have an owner account to log into to show me which is extremely hard to believe.
I wanted to see the system as an owner and see what type of availability would show in their internal system as opposed to what I can see through Interval International. Unfortunately, I did not get an opportunity to do that.
Once we got the general overview of the system out of the way, we were presented with a standard laminated packet that indicated that cost for particular size of units and whether this would be during ski season or summer seasons.
Here are the pictures:
These were the original offers. As you can see, they offer you a "generous" 10% discount for the first visit incentive. In case it does not come through while typing, I am being extremely sarcastic.
Also, as you can see, they offer a "no-credit check" financing option for 17.99% interest (.01% less than the maximum amount allowed by law!) and broke it down into "reasonable" monthly payments.
I am a big fan of timeshares or I would not have started this blog but these prices were simply ridiculous. I was absolutely floored that anyone would purchase units at these prices.
When I was pushed whether these interested me, I told them that this was not very appealing to me. Not deterred, the representative talked to his manager and came back with the following list of pricesl
Since I was fluent in timeshare talk and knew the Westgate property, they determined that I should be treated as an owner and brought out the above "Owner Pricing". These offers are only valid for owners but would make an exception for me. (again, sarcasm).
As you can see in the above, the prices were better than originally offered by about 50%. In as little as 2 minutes, I was already getting a 50% discount.
If anything, I wanted a ski week at this property so I requested information on that. They claimed to have "found" a ski week at the Owner Pricing and offering the following:
I was offered a ski week for $64,331 that comes with maintenance fees of almost $1700 a year. WOW!
When pushed on whether these prices were attractive, I politely declined and used the excuse that I did not like the week based model (this is actually true) and preferred a points based timeshare model. After a few more back and forths, they realized that a sale was not happening at our table and told to us to proceed to the gifting area for our $150 cash.
It appeared that some other people were about to purchase one of the units which I think escalated the desire to get us out of the room to avoid squashing their deal.
We were in and out in just about the 90 minute mark.
We proceeded to retrieve our $150 cash and we were on our way to go enjoy the mountains.
The presentation wasn't too painful and the representatives were nice. However, I was absolutely floored by these prices. Most timeshares do not have any resale value so the fact that they were offering units for about $100,000 meant that some people were actually buying these units. Even at the Owner Pricing, these prices simply do not make any economic sense. The maintenance fees alone were higher than most timeshares.
Out of curiosity, I did a search on ebay to see what these units were selling for on the resale market. Take a look!
The prices go from $0.01 and a $350 incentive payment to the Buyer to $9.00. This is significantly different than the selling price of $100,000.
As stated above, I rented a holiday week at this property for $227 for the week! No ongoing fees or financing options! I have seen plenty of weeks at this Westgate property for much less than the annual maintenance fees of $1700! Even ski weeks at this property become available for a few thousand dollars at most.
I really do think timeshares are great ways to travel and you can really travel for very reasonable costs. After attending this timeshare presentation, I was truly stunned at the system. While I know that the timeshare system is completely broke, I could not believe that these systems were preying on the uninformed to keep making tons of money.
Overall, I was taken aback by the offered prices. The economics of timeshare ownership at these prices do not make any sense.
The Westgate Park City is a very nice property and already have a few weeks booked for during next ski season. Instead of paying these prices, I was able to exchange my points into these weeks for a fraction of the offered prices.
Timeshare ownership is not for everyone and at these prices, they are for no-one. Timeshare ownership can make sense as I get a tremendous amount of value out of our weeks but you need to learn, understand and figure out the way to maximize ownership.
Do your own research and understand the systems, resale prices, resale penalties and exchange options before you commit. There are plenty of ways to enjoy timeshares without owning and will go into some of those options in other posts.
What have your experiences been? Please leave comments below.