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.
3 Week Christmas vacation in Hawaii: $28,000 value vacation for under $1200 out of pocket - How I did it
Last Christmas, in this post, I explained my “timeshare fail” where I stayed at the Andaz Maui resort using points instead of obtaining a timeshare for Christmas week.
Despite not getting a timeshare last year, we had planned on going back to Maui again for Christmas. The Andaz Maui was a great resort and while I hoped to get timeshare instead, I used my same strategy that I used last year and booked using points while waiting for a timeshare to match. Despite my efforts, I again failed to obtain the desired timeshare for Christmas week but was able to get a timeshare for the week before Christmas.
Christmas week is notoriously difficult so if you want to or must travel during Christmas, you always need a “Plan B” as getting a good timeshare will be difficult. DON’T BUY A TIMESHARE EXPECTING TO TRAVEL OVER CHRISTMAS. DISAPPOINTMENT IS LIKELY.
While I failed to obtain a desired timeshare for Christmas week, I was able to successfully plan a three-week vacation in Hawaii over Christmas break staying at extremely nice properties. While vacations like this typically cost at least $25,000, I was able to secure this trip for my family of four for approximately $1200 plus a decent amount of miles and points.
Here’s how I did it.
Before I get into the details on this trip planning, for any new readers, I wanted to direct you to review this post on my month-long trip to Costa Rica. In that post, I explained how I use multiple strategies, travel tools, multiple different points, credit card perks, and other “travel hacks” to create an incredibly affordable month-long vacation. This post is not that different but wanted to show my readers yet another successful trip that was planned using these strategies and resulting in a truly 5-star vacation for less most people spend on a long weekend.
While flights to Hawaii have been relatively inexpensive over the past year with some great deals (check out some of these), flights over the Christmas time period are always extremely expensive. Fortunately, by planning far in advance, I was able to secure flights using frequent flyer miles on both the outgoing and return. The key was diversification.
Diversification in points is extremely important. I’ll do a deeper dive into this concept in later posts but by having points spread throughout multiple programs and having transferrable points (Citi Thank You Points, Chase Ultimate Reward Points and American Express Membership Rewards Points), you have more options available to you.
For these flights, I could not locate 4 round trip tickets for the date and times desired at the lowest cost pricing. However, I did find 4 one-way tickets to Maui on United and did find 4 one-way tickets from Maui back home on American Airlines. I ended up booking one-way tickets using miles in order to further reduce out of pocket expenses. These tickets cost 22,500 each way for each passenger.
For the flights between Kauai and Maui, I booked them using United miles which was approximately 7,000 miles per ticket instead of paying about $140 per ticket. Not the best use of miles but decent.
Week 1: Kauai
As I explained in this post, I originally secured a timeshare property for the week before Christmas at the Marriott Ocean Club in Kaanapali Beach. The reviews of that property looked great and generally have a very high regard for Marriott Vacation Club properties. Despite being a Hyatt owner, I stay predominantly with Marriott properties since my Hyatt points trade favorable for Marriott’s. You can review some of these strategies here.
While I was looking forward to that stay, about a month before the trip, a 2-bedroom unit became available at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club property in Kauai. The last time I was in Kauai was about ten years ago and I actually toured the property at that time. I remember it being a very high-class property located directly on Poipu beach which is a top beach on the island. Due to the fond memories and additional space for a 2 bedroom unit, I switched timeshares. Fortunately, I used e-plus for my Interval International Exchange (read about it here) and was able to exchange my week into the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club. Despite the extra fee, I always add E-Plus as it has saved me multiple times by allowing me to switch resorts, times or vacation spots.
I originally had a 1-bedroom unit in Maui but was very happy to have secured a 2 bedroom unit. Having the additional space for a family of four is essential since we all have beds and ample space to spread out. I will be doing a review of that property shortly with pictures so stay tuned. Overall, the property was fantastic but had higher expectations for the finish out of the units. While decently appointed and while having a nice ocean view, it appears that the units are getting close to their end of life and need of a significant refresh.
In order to secure a 2-bedroom unit, I needed to use 1300 Hyatt Residence Club Points. Based on my current maintenance fees of approximately $1300 per week for which I receive 2,000 points, the cost per this reservation was $835 ($1300 / 2000 = $0.65 per point - $0.65 * 1300 = $835). In addition to the exchange fee of $219 and the E-Plus fee of $59, the total cost for this week was approximately $1123. This is not exactly cheap but considering that going rates for this week at this property in a 2-bedroom unit was approximately $900 per night, the price per week looks like a tremendous bargain.
Take a look at this post for further information on the economics of timeshare ownership.
Week 2 – 3: Maui:
After having failed to obtain a timeshare during Christmas last year, I thought that I would have success this year. As explained in my original post, I put in my request a full year in advance and waited patiently for a match. I also consistently looked for available inventory as some units can come available via bulk deposits or simply by luck. As discussed here, as I did in the years past and as I try to do for each and every timeshare trip, I booked a hotel using points which would be cancelled in the event that my timeshare came through.
While I definitely wanted a timeshare for Christmas week, the Andaz Maui is a truly spectacular property and would not mind using points for this stay. While I had some opportunities to secure a timeshare for Christmas week, they were not the top resorts that I generally target (Westin, Hyatt, Marriott, etc.) and elected to use my points for the Andaz Maui.
The Andaz Maui does play a lot of games with their inventory for point redemptions so if you want Christmas week, you need to book as soon as it is available – generally in November the year before. I booked this year’s trip last year while I was at the property last year.
In case you’re interested, last year, I wrote this post about how my stay at the Andaz Maui broke my loyalty to Hyatt. This was somewhat true and despite not making a tremendous effort to hit Globalist tier, a few beneficial promotions and the World of Hyatt card made it possible to hit Globalist again. We’ll see if I achieve it for 2020. I’ll give you additional details on how to achieve Globalist in a few creative ways in a later post.
Having Globalist for this stay is extremely worthwhile and arguably some of the best use of Hyatt points. In this post, I explained the various perks received. I was easily receiving about $270 per day in real perks at the Andaz Maui (breakfast, parking, waived resort fees).
For this stay, I was finally able to use a suite upgrade and stayed in a suite for 7 nights. The going rate for a standard room was over $1600 per night and the going rate for the suite was in excess of $2500. Outrageous!
While we were originally planning on staying 9 nights, a fortuitous weather event occured through our stop over city and a travel waiver was issued for our day of travel. While we could have easily gone to the airport and take our chances, I elected to call American and see if they could re-accomodate us for other flights. While there were some real chances that our travel plans could have been significantly interrupted, if timing works and things align with hotel/timeshares, I tend to always reschedule our flights when these weather events occur. Getting stuck in an airport with young kids or having to stay at a less than ideal airport hotel is a poor way to end the trip and would rather “wait it out” on the beach for a few extra days.
As I mentioned, the cost for a standard room at the Andaz Maui was going for $1600 which is simply too expensive for me. Rooms were not available using points which was a disappointment but there were points at the Hyatt Regency at Kaanapali Beach. I had been wanting to check out the other Hyatt hotel on the island and was curious to see the Hyatt Residence Club next door and the Marriott Ocean Club (where we were originally scheduled to be) so this made a good option. The Hyatt Regency on Maui was 20,000 points per night as opposed to the Andaz Maui which costs 25,000.
The general perk of most Hyatt Regency’s is that they have a club lounge which offer food and snacks throughout the day. I have been to a few stellar lounges and you could easily eat there all day long for free. I had high hopes for this Hyatt Regency but ended up being extremely disappointed. A full review on this property will also be forthcoming.
While we were upgraded to an ocean front room with a spectacular view, the rooms are in dire need of refurbishment. I was not impressed and neither was my family. We checked out the club lounge the next morning for breakfast and it was in stark contrast to the unbelievable spread at the Andaz. They provided a fairly limited continental breakfast with no eggs and some frozen waffles.
After breakfast, I immediately began checking on using points to get back to the Andaz. If you have a choice between properties, don’t even think twice and stay at the Andaz.
One of the “perks” of achieving Globalist is to receive a dedicated concierge to assist with travel plans. I reached out to her for assistance in getting us back to the Andaz for the last 2 nights. After a few e-mails, she simply said that there was no availability and could not help. This was troubling as the Andaz had plenty of rooms available and plenty of standard rooms with a slightly elevated view. As I mentioned, they play games with their inventory so that only a select few rooms are available for award nights despite having plenty of standard rooms available for cash bookings. The only difference is the view which is arguably different than the room types allocated for award nights.
After several more e-mails, she reached out the hotel directly and they were able to open up a room using points. The concierge handled the adjustments and contacting both hotels. Overall, the concierge perk has not been that worthwhile for me as there are only a select few times that I need assistance in getting something accomplished. I was frustrated that this request was not simply handled but rather required multiple e-mails and arguments to get it done. At the end, it happened as desired but it was not as smooth as process as I would have expected considering that these agents are supposed to be at Globalist’s beckon call to assist with their travel plans.
We checked back into the Andaz Maui for an additional 2 nights, all using points. In the end, we stayed 11 nights at the Andaz Maui and 2 nights at the Hyatt Regency. The total amount of points used was 315,000 Hyatt points – a very large number and while we had an absolute spectacular time, I can say with certainty that I still would have preferred a timeshare.
I am not saying this simply because I am “The Timeshare Guru”, but rather because I value space and value the convenience of being able to cook some meals in the hotel. The Andaz Maui is absolutely fantastic but drinks are expensive ($19 cocktails and $10 beers) and the food is extremely expensive. Saving a few bucks on having a few meals would have been nice and not having to share a bed with small kids is a nice convenience and becoming more and more necessary.
In another post, I’ll explain how to obtain points quickly through credit card sign-ups and spend. If you do it strategically and intelligently, you can rack up a lot of points quickly and book a similar “expensive” vacation for cheap.
Despite my desire for a timeshare, spending 315,000 Hyatt points for the Andaz Maui was a fabulous use of points. If I was paying cash for this stay, here are the total potential out of pocket spend:
7 nights in a Suite: ($2500 per night): $17,500
4 nights in a standard room ($1600 per night): $6,400
11 nights of complimentary breakfast ($180 per day): $1,980
11 nights of waived parking ($45 per day): $495
11 nights of waived resort fees ($45 per day): $495
2 nights at Hyatt Regency ($450 per night): $900
2 nights of waived parking ($32 per day: $64
2 nights of waived resort fees ($32 per day): $64
Total cash value of the Andaz Maui portion of the vacation (11 nights): $26,870
Total cash value of the Hyatt Regency portion of the vacation (2 nights): $1,028
Total Points Used: 315,000
Value per point: 8.9 cents – not too shabby!
My family and I had another spectacular vacation using timeshares, frequent flyer miles and hotel points for a fraction of the retail cost. It was truly a vacation that would be out of our price range to mimic if we were paying cash. While my timeshare strategy failed, my plan B worked flawlessly in that we were able to enjoy the Andaz Maui for yet another Christmas.
Timeshares are great but they do not work for all travel plans so the ideal strategy is to have multiple travel tools at your disposal. Diversification is key, not only in points and programs but also having multiple avenues for finding reasonable accommodations.
Getting a $28,000 three week vacation in Hawaii over Christmas for about $1200 out of pocket seems ridiculous but I did it and you can to with various strategies.
What did you do Christmas week? Any stellar redemptions / exchanges? Make sure to comment below.
As you probably know, I a big proponent on using timeshares to exchange. As a Hyatt owner, I am given access to Interval International for exchanging. I find that I get tremendous value out of exchanges as oppose to using my timeshare week or even trading my Hyatt Residence Club points for other Hyatt properties.
A few years ago, Interval International implemented E-Plus. Here is a general overview of the E-Plus benefit. As a quick refresher, if you purchase E-Plus, which is $59, in addition to the exchange fee, Interval International lets you exchange your exchanged week for up to 3 times for no additional fee.
The availability of E-Plus significantly changed the ability to use exchanges. Previously, if you exchanged a week and your plans changed, you would cancel your week and be given a replacement week to use BUT you had to pay an additional exchange fee which is currently $219 per week (a sizable amount). Since you need to reserve so far in advance to get good weeks (2+ years), you were taking on a significant risk that you would need to cancel the exchanged week sometime in the future.
E-Plus solved these problems and created a great loophole to extend the use of your points and see inventory for over 2 years. You can read about that here.
For this post, I wanted to showcase my recent use of E-Plus and how I was able to score a fantastic week.
Hawaii for Christmas
If you read my blog, you should definitely read this post about my timeshare "fail". In that post, in addition to showing some unbelievable perks of hotel status, I explained that my plan to receive a timeshare for Christmas week failed and was "stuck" using my hotel points. While it was hardly a fail, I definitely did not receive a timeshare week in Maui during Christmas despite putting in a request a year in advance and searching constantly.
Hoping for a change of luck, I attempted to try to get a Christmas week in Hawaii for 2018. I used the same strategy and booked a hotel stay using points and put in a request first for Christmas week. I was hoping that this year was going to be different.
To my dismay, I DID NOT get a timeshare for Christmas week again. This goes to show you how hard it really is to get a great timeshare for Christmas week. If you are thinking of buying of timeshare with dreams of traveling anywhere you want during Christmas week, think again. The harsh reality is that even with advance planning, Christmas week in prime resorts is almost impossible.
Despite the odds being against me, I put in a request first and did not get Christmas week but did receive the week before Christmas in a one bedroom at the Maui Ocean Club. I have not been to the Marriott property but I have heard good things. There are newer properties that I attempted to get (Westin Nanea and Hyatt Kannapali) but was satisfied with the Marriott.
Despite being a Hyatt owner, I predominantly stay at Marriott properties and have yet to be disappointed.
While I was satisfied with my confirmed week in a one bedroom at the Marriott in Maui, I ALWAYS add E-Plus. While I hate the extra fees involved with exchanging, E-Plus has a lot of benefits with the most important being flexibility. Timeshares are well known for being not flexible and E-Plus has changed that. Despite having a confirmed exchange, you can still view available inventory and make exchanges for no fee.
I find that some prime weeks and resorts are available sporadically throughout the year but a lot of times, some truly spectacular weeks become available at the last minute. As you are aware, plans can change at the last minute and if they do, people have to cancel their confirmed weeks which they may have made 2+ years ago.
When this happens, since the check-in date is so near, these weeks usually get tossed into the general inventory. As a result, if you exchanged into one property but really want to stay at another, keep checking until the day before check-in. E-Plus allows you to exchange your week up to 24 hours before check-in. Some great weeks show up at that point and you can take advantage of it for no fee if you paid for E-Plus!
In my scenario, I had a great week at a very nice property but a one bedroom with a family of 4 is a little tight. I have altered my timeshare strategy to get more points / weeks because I find that for a family of 4, a 2 bedroom is ideal as everyone has their own bed, their own bedroom with TV and there is ample space for everyone to enjoy their vacation.
A studio or one bedroom just isn't big enough to fully stretch out without being on top of one another. While it is doable, a 2 bedroom is ideal and that is predominantly what I aim to get when traveling with a family of 4.
Since I had E-Plus on my confirmed reservation, I started searching periodically for other potential options. Since I know that a lot of good inventory gets deposited at last minute, I increased my searches about 30 days out and made sure to check for any other weeks that was superior to what I had already confirmed.
In another post, I can review Interval International's new app, but the gist is that they now allow you to exchange weeks on the app instead of just getaways. While we were out for dinner, I was playing with the app and saw that a 2 bedroom unit at Marriott Waiohai Beach Club became available for the same week that I had reserved in Maui.
I have never stayed at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club but we did visit the property about 10 years ago on our first trip to Kauai. It appeared to be a stunning property and the reviews are phenomenal. Since the exact week that I needed came up, I quickly exchanged my week on the app and got confirmation of a 2 bedroom unit at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club. SCORE!
It did not cost any extra in fees although I did have to "pay" the difference in points which was an extra 430 points.
Therefore, by having E-Plus, I was able to exchange 1 bedroom into a 2 bedroom unit at the last minute for no additional exchange fees and got the desired 2 bedroom at a very prime property in Kauai.
E-Plus is a fantastic addition to Interval International as it provides significant flexibility. Timeshares have never been very flexible but the timeshare companies realize the appeal of flexility which is why so many programs have gone to points instead of weeks and now allow single night stays instead of the historical minimum of 7 nights.
I use E-Plus for EVERY reservation that I do since I love having the extra flexibility. Even I end up getting a great week, I still add E-Plus as you never know when plans can change or life gets in the way of a vacation. Knowing that you have the option to exchange the week for something else in the future without added fees can be very valuable and find that the $59 for that peace of mind is well worth it.
Also, even if you are planning on using the confirmed week, spend some time searching close to check-in as something better could even come along!
Have you used E-Plus? Any wins that you want to share?
Interval International has been a great resource for me to exchange into high quality weeks. My primary strategy has been to use my Hyatt Residence Club points and exchange through Interval International.
The easiest way to set yourself up for success in getting the week that you want is to put in a Request First or Deposit First Request. I talked about these here.
However, it always surprises me that there are great weeks that come through just by searching current inventory. A lot of time, bulk deposits, for some reason or another do not immediately match with ongoing requests so there is a potential to grab a prime week through searching current inventory rather than putting in a Request First or Deposit First request.
In this post, I wanted to alert readers on the "proper" way to search Interval International.
I have gone through the basics on how to use the search functions of Interval International, but one item that I have left out is that you should be searching over, over and over again using the same search.
Doing Multiple Searches
Most people know that Interval International inventory changes constantly. Deposits and exchanges are constantly being done. However, when you do a search, Interval International does not simply provide a list of all resorts that are available for your particular search but rather they use a search algorithm that includes metrics such as trading power, preferences, deposited week, timeframe before check-in and so forth.
It has to be a fairly complex algorithm but it is one that does not always produce the same results. Most times it does but I am always surprised that different resorts and weeks come up at certain times and disappears at others despite using the same search parameters.
My thought is that the algorithm is not perfect and does not always produce consistent results. Therefore, you need to search multiple times for the same search. You could be surprised on some results.
The key to being successful with Interval International is to be diligent with your requests and to constantly search. While putting in a Request First or Deposit First ongoing search is an extremely good tactic, the other tactic is to simply search often and when you do so, do multiple searches for the same thing. My preference would be to do both.
Did you know that you can exchange a "Request First or Deposit First" reservation that has not matched? I'll do a follow up on this item on a later post.
When I search, I generally do about 10 searches and if nothing changes, I move on to something else and will revisit it later in the day. The key to remember is that you should not just do one search and think that these are all the results. It can definitely be the results but often times, when you do multiple searches one after another, the system displays additional results which could be your desired week.
The key is to consistently search over and over. You could be surprised by some results that come up using this tactic. Also, if something comes up that you want, BOOK IT IMMEDIATELY. If you don't, the chances are that it will disappear and not come back either because it matched an ongoing request, someone else booked it before you or simply that the system shouldn't have displayed it and it was a glitch.
Have you used this tactic before? Were you successful?
Make sure to comment below!
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?
Purchasing a timeshare on the resale market can be difficult solely because there are so many timeshares to purchase. Picking out the right timeshare for the right price is not an easy endeavor. As I state many times before, all timeshares are not equal. There are some great timeshares and their are some truly awful ones.
There are many places to purchase timeshares but one of my favorite places is actually eBay. eBay is a legitimate marketplace to buy and sell just about anything and timeshares are no exception. I actually recommend using eBay to determine what your timeshares is potentially worth.
Are eBay Purchases Legitimate?
eBay has a vast amount of timeshares being offered with many with a list price of $1.00, (yes One Dollar), or even one cent ($.01). The question is whether these are legitimate purchases.
The answer is that they are generally legitimate but you NEED to read the fine print. While the auction for the timeshare may be for that low price, the eBay description might have various other details that will cause the "purchase price" to skyrocket way beyond the winning price.
For example, the timeshare purchase could require the buyer to pay many years of maintenance fees, pay off loans, closing costs, future maintenance fees and so on.
The actual price for the timeshare may be thousands of dollars even if you ended up winning the auction for a $1.00.
Here is a screen shot showing some recent listings of timeshares on eBay. As you can see, all these offered timeshares having selling prices for $1.00
Some of these timeshares are legitimately selling for a $1.00 and DO NOT have any "catches". Unfortunately, despite what you may think, the resale value of some timeshares is almost completely worthless and selling for $1.00 may actually be the fair market value for these items.
As discussed many times, sometimes timeshares simply do not have any resale market despite their initial purchase price. There are NO buyers for these timeshares which is why a vast majority of them sell for $1.00 or are at least offered for $1.00. There are even plenty of timeshares where people will PAY YOU money to take them.
Why Purchase a Timeshare?
While many timeshares are essentially worthless, there are plenty of others that will retain some value or at a minimum, be able to sell them when you are done using them. The timeshares from the main timeshare brands (Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Starwood / Vistana, etc.) all tend to retain some value where you should be able to sell them or give them away without too much effort. The key is to purchase them at the "right" price, use them and understand how to maximize their value!
The problem is that there are a lot of smaller / independent timeshares where there simply isn't a resale market or enough buyers to create one. There are not too many buyers looking to purchase one week at one location anymore. While all of the timeshares can usually be exchanged, these smaller / independent ones do not trade that well.
These types of timeshares give timeshares a very bad name as many owners are disgruntled about having these items where they don't use them, can't get rid of them for any price and they continue to have to pay maintenance fees.
While buying a timeshare for $1.00 can look like a good deal, a lot of these "deals" are not really deals at all as once you take them over, at some time in the future, you may be the one trying to sell it for $1.00. There are always some diamonds in the rough and there could be some fantastic timeshares out there selling for $1.00 but my recommendation would be to always stay with the big name timeshare brands.
The big name timeshares will not hold their value but they usually will retain some value which will make them worthwhile to somebody, someday. They have more brand awareness so it will be easier to try to find someone to buy them.
eBay is a great place to find and purchase timeshares. However, you need to carefully review the description to fully understand what you are getting. You also need to fully review the timeshare that you are purchasing and make sure that you understand how it works, how it trades and how you will use it. If you purchase something and you don't use it, you can get yourself stuck with a ongoing bill that is tough to get rid of.
Have you purchased a $1.00 timeshare and if so, what has your experience been?
Message from The Timeshare Guru: I definitely enjoy a few drinks on vacation and tend to indulge quite frequently, especially when on vacation. However, there are some trips where indulging definitely has its downsides and you ending up "paying" for it the next days. In this post, Peter, from The Recovery Village, has generously agreed to provide this guest post for your reading pleasure. While I enjoy my drinks, abstaining does have a lot of perks which The Recovery Village explains below!
The Benefits of Staying Sober on Vacation
You're probably stoked if you're planning a vacation with your loved one or your spouse. The strong urge to drink and be festive may fall upon you. It's very common for alcohol to be involved in people's vacations. However, there are some health-related and fun-related reasons to choose sobriety on your next trip. Your choices may enhance your enjoyment of your vacation, as well. Here are some of the benefits of staying sober on it.
More Energy to Do Things
Alcohol is a depressant, so one of its most prevalent effects on the body is a deprivation of energy. It puts your entire body in a relaxed state and promotes sleeping, resting and general non-alertness. The vacation is usually a time when people want to do as much as they possibly can. If you ditch the alcohol, you could stay awake longer, and you could increase your energy level so that you can partake in sporting activities and fitness activities like hiking, skiing, boating or some other vacation-related activity.
Greater Enjoyment of Foods
Vacations are usually full of visits to the local restaurants and dessert spots. Vacationers always want to try new exotic foods. Alcohol dulls all your senses, even your sense of taste. Thus, you won't get the full enjoyment of those meals that you travel hundreds of miles to try. Why not forsake the alcohol so that you can savor every mouth-watering drop of your meal? You'll remember the sharp and robust taste of every bite that you take. You'll be able to share those vivid memories with your family members, friends, co-workers and others. You have the rest of your days to drink alcohol. Try skipping it for at least the first meal so that you can see what it's like.
Greater Stamina During Personal Time
If you are going on vacation with your spouse, then you are most likely going to want to engage in some pleasurable personal activities. Abstaining from alcohol will allow your circulatory system to operate full blast. Therefore, you will have increased vitality and stamina in the personal area. Additionally, you'll get more enjoyment out of the whole activity. Just as alcohol dulls the senses when it comes to food and eating, it dulls the other physical senses. So your personal experience will be sharper and more dynamic for you and your spouse if you say no to the alcohol during the vacation.
It Saves Money
Another huge benefit that you can get from staying sober is that you can save money. Mixed drinks are expensive, especially when you're in a vacation area. This is one of the best ways to save if you are on a budget and watching all of your expenses. You can try virgin drinks or something that they call mocktails if you want to have the feeling of being on vacation and having drinks. The chances are high that those drinks will be extremely delicious, and you'll have fun trying new things, and you'll save money. Non-alcoholic beverages are usually less expensive then alcoholic beverages are, but check the menu first.
More Creative Activities
You can access a world of creativity in your mind if you don't cloud it with alcohol. That means you'll be able to think of interesting and mindblowing activities that you can do while you're on your vacation. You may even think to delve into the artistic realm and find some painting supplies or stop at a recording studio if you're in one of those areas. Maybe you can join a pottery class or something like that while you're on your vacation. There are more than a million things you can do with a sober mind.
It Helps Avoid Accidents
Finally, you can decrease the chances of getting into an accident if you leave alcohol out of it. More than 5 million car crashes occur each year, and many of them involve alcohol. Even if you are not past the legal limit, the alcohol could still cloud your judgment. Therefore, you can still get into an accident that's not necessarily your fault just because your reaction time and your judgment are lower. It's best to decrease the chances of that happening by just avoiding it altogether.
Those are just of some of the valid reasons for and benefits to staying soberon vacation. Consider them and try to do your next trip alcohol-free.
Message from The Timeshare Guru: I owe Peter and The Recovery Village a sincere apology as this has been in my inbox for way too long. Please visit their website and see if their services can be of any use to you. I think that there is some great information in here and hope my readers feel the same.
The quality of timeshares differ drastically from resort to resort. Some timeshares can be greatly in need of renovations while others are luxurious and spacious accommodations that rival many luxury hotels.
In an attempt to help timeshare owners exchange into quality timeshares, both Interval International and RCI have designations for the timeshares that indicate the quality of the resorts.
Here is an overview of Interval International's resort recognition program.
Here is an overview of RCI's resort recognition programs.
For Interval International, you can see, they have three main recognitions / designations being: Select, Premier and Elite.
I generally try to only exchange into Premier or Elite properties as I do find those to be the best quality resorts. I have not stayed at any "Select" properties but some of them look decent.
In a few recent searches, I came across the Premier Boutique Resort designation.
I was intrigued as many of the timeshare properties that we have stayed with are large resorts and while we have enjoyed many of them, sometimes finding the smaller quieter resort is nice depending on the type of vacation your are looking for.
According to Interval International, these Premier Boutique Resort provide outstanding accommodations in a desirable location with limited amenities. My understanding is that these are smaller "boutique" type properties that have limited rooms and provide more of an intimate vacation experience.
Intrigued with this type of offering, I found the following list of all Premier Boutique Resorts within Interval International.
Full List of Interval Premier Boutique Resorts
Sanur, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia Mahagiri Vacation Club
Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan Kira Kira
Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan Yama Shizen
Kutchan, Hokkaido, Japan Youtei Tracks
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario 124 on Queen Hotel & Spa
Kelowna, British Columbia Grizzly Ridge Estates
Ucluelet, British Columbia Embarc - Ucluelet
Whistler, British Columbia Powder's Edge
Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet, St. Lucia Bay Gardens Beach Resort All Inclusive
Rodney Bay Village, Gros Islet, St. Lucia Bay Gardens Beach Resort
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club
Soriano nel Cimino, Viterbo, Italy Palazzo Catalani
Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo, Mexico MÍA at Riviera Maya
Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil Residence Waterfront I and II
Anapoima, Cundinamarca, Colombia La Gran Reserva Anapoima
San Francisco, California Club Donatello
San Francisco, California Inn at the Opera
San Francisco, California The Suites at Fisherman's Wharf
Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii Alii Kai Resort
Branson, Missouri D'Monaco Private Residence Club
Branson, Missouri Trophy Run
Pacific City, Oregon The Cottages at Cape Kiwanda
Telluride, Colorado Bear Creek Lodge
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina The Inlet Sports Lodge
I rarely see these resorts come available through a general search but I have seen a few pop up. There are definitely some great locations and some interesting resorts available.
My plan is to put in a request for a few on the above list and see what becomes available. If I get a week at one of those properties, I will be sure to do a full review.
In case you wanted to do a complete search for only these Premier Boutique Resort properties, here is the complete list of Interval International codes.
MGI, KIR, YAM, YOU, VVR, GZE, CIU, POE, BG1, BGD, GBR, PZZ, MMY, WFR, GRI, CL3, CLD, IN1, INN, SFW, SW1, AIK, DMO, TRJ, CCK, BKL, ISN
Make sure to also take a look at this post for a review of all of Interval International's "best' resorts.
I am definitely interested in visiting one or more of these properties. While staying at a large resort has its benefits, sometimes a smaller, more intimate resort is what is needed. I'm glad that Interval International has these options.
Have you stayed at one of these Premier Boutique Resorts? Make sure to comment below.
Timeshare Presentations and First Time Purchasers:
Timeshare presentations have become a finely tuned science. NO ONE ever goes into a timeshare presentation wanting to buy a timeshare. They have refined their sales process where they know exactly how many people will buy a timeshare based on the number of presentations.
I obviously advocate owning a timeshare as I think that they can be a great travel tool to travel well, affordably and comfortably.
However, timeshare ownership ONLY makes sense if the upfront cost is reasonable, maintenance fees are reasonable considering the amount of potential weeks you can receive, and you purchase with a reputable high quality brand (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Four Seasons, Wyndham, etc.) that give you a reasonable opportunity to sell your timeshare if you no longer want to and cannot use it.
Timeshare ownership also will ONLY make sense if you understand the systems and how to use them to maximize their value.
If you purchase a timeshare and use it for one week of travel during the year, it will rarely if ever make sense (with the potential exception of ski weeks). The key is to obtain more value from your week and transform that into multiple weeks of vacation. Then, the numbers make more sense and timeshare ownership can be very worthwhile.
The vast number of first time timeshare purchasers end up purchasing from the developer through these timeshare presentations. They have responses to every question you can throw at them and their pitch makes a lot of sense.
Even the main players like Hyatt and Marriott have fine tuned their presentations so it is no longer a high pressure environment but now they have transformed these pitches into a fear of losing out (FOMO). Buy now before you lose the opportunity or before the price goes up!
It is effective but it is not the best way to purchase a timeshare.
What the timeshare salespeople rarely disclose is the economic value of the timeshare. They sell timeshares for a lot of money and as soon as you purchase from the developer, the economic value of the timeshare just plummeted. Timeshares are sort of like cars. The moment you drive it off the lot, it loses value.
Some timeshares literally can lose 99% of its value after purchase and some can almost lose 100%. When you purchase some timeshares, there is literally no resale market for them so it is difficult if not impossible to sell. Even though you may have purchased it for $10,000 - $20,000, the value can be almost $0.00.
These facts continue to perpetuate the ideas that timeshares are scams and not worth purchasing. I agree that some timeshares are never worth purchasing even if they are selling for one dollar or someone is paying for you to own them.
However, there are plenty of other timeshares that are re-sellable and will retain "some" value. Again, if you stick with the main timeshare brands, you will likely have a much better experience.
In my opinion, buying a timeshare on the resale market is the most economical and can actually make timeshare ownership beneficial and can make tremendous economic sense.
As I mentioned, most timeshare owners purchase their first timeshare through a timeshare presentation. The pitch made economic sense and the ability to travel around the world was intriguing.
Many times, immediately after signing the purchase documents, these buyers will race to google and attempt to confirm that they received a great deal (as likely stated by the salespeople) and find glorious stories of many happy owners traveling around the world.
What they normally find is a bunch of information discussing how timeshares are awful investments, many disgruntle owners and sometimes, they even find their week that they just purchased selling for pennies on the dollar.
Unfortunately, this is common and people should do research on timeshares BEFORE going to these presentations. If you understand some of these simple facts concerning timeshares, you can go into these presentations with more information and ask tough questions concerning the program and their broad statements concerning usage.
For those people who made a purchase and immediately have buyers remorse, all is not lost.
Almost all timeshare purchase contracts have the right of rescission. The right of rescission gives the purchaser a set number of days to cancel the contract with no fees and receive their money back. It will essentially be like the agreement never occurred.
The time period for rescission varies from state to state but is generally around 3 to 15 days.
The Rescission Process
The terms of the rescission process will normally be buried in the fine print of the contract. They do not make it easy but you actually will need to read the fine print, find the rescission clause and FOLLOW THE STEPS PERFECTLY!
Unfortunately, it is never as easy as simply going back to the developer and requesting a refund. Even if you go back the next day, the sales people will tell you to read the contract and will likely not be much help.
The general process is that you need to send a written letter to the specific address in the contract with details of the specific timeshare that you purchased including the contract number with a clear and concise statement that you would like to cancel the contract pursuant to the right of rescission found in the contract. I would specify the exact clause as stated in the contract.
The letter should be signed by all people who signed the contract so if both spouses signed, both spouses should sign the rescission letter.
I would also include a copy of the timeshare agreement.
MAKE SURE TO SEND IT WITHIN THE REQUIRED TIMEFRAME AND MAKE SURE TO USE TRACKABLE MAIL WITH A SIGNATURE!
SEND IT VIA TRACKABLE MAIL WITH SIGNATURE, VIA REGULAR POSTAL SERVICE AND VIA CERTIFIED MAIL! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PROOF THAT YOU SENT IT TO THE RIGHT ADDRESS WITHIN THE REQUIRED AMOUNT OF TIME!
It is extremely important to make sure that you abide by the rescission dates. If you miss it by one day, don't expect them to cancel it. The salespeople were likely very friendly and easy going during the sale. Expect the exact opposite in their assistance in cancelling their sale.
Despite their reputation, timeshares are not that bad provided that you understand what you are buying and how to maximize use. The vast majority of timeshare owners do not understand everything when they first buy and get roped into a purchase by smooth talking salespeople.
Too often, buyers only realize the mistake after the purchase and only do research on timeshares once they are owners.
The goal of the blog is to educate people BEFORE a purchase or help you maximize ownership after the purchase.
As I stated, most timeshare owners purchased a timeshare directly from the developer for their first timeshare purchase. They likely overpaid but hopefully they get enjoyment from it.
If you purchased a timeshare from the developer and you missed the rescission period, don't dwell on it. Try to understand the program and use strategies to maximize its use and have great vacations. Use this information to make a different decision for your next purchase.
Buying resale for a fraction of the price of the developer pricing makes a lot of sense and can make timeshare ownership very beneficial. The general idea is to rescind if you are within the applicable time period and search for another timeshare on the resale market.
You will always be able to find a timeshare to purchase so do not worry about FOMO! (Fear of Missing Out!)
Have you rescinded a timeshare purchase before? Share you story below!
A Few Interesting Items Concerning Hyatt's Reservation Windows: Request First and Extended External Exchange
As most readers know, I own two weeks at the Hyatt Beach House. I predominantly use those weeks to exchange into other timeshare brands through Interval International. Hyatt has very lucrative exchange rates so I am able to covert EACH week that I own into about 5 weeks of vacation in studio units.
For those of you who don't know, there are two ways that you exchange your Hyatt Residence Club points into Interval International.
Request First allows you to make a pending request in Interval International with various time periods and resorts. When you make the Request First request, you pay the exchange fee and Interval International takes the points from the Hyatt Residence Club. If you cancel the request or it does not make, those points get returned to the Hyatt Residence Club.
Extended External Exchange
Extended External Exchange allows you to transfer your Hyatt Residence Club points to Interval International. You need to transfer the points you desire within 6 six months from the date of issuance. Once you converted your Hyatt Residence Club points to Extended External Exchange, those points MUST remain with Interval International. There is no way that they can be used for Hyatt internal exchanges.
The most significant difference between the two is that with Request First, the points can be returned to the Hyatt Residence Club.
The other difference is that the Hyatt Residence Club points are only valid for 1 year and the Extended External Exchange points are valid for 2 years.
Therefore, by transferring your Hyatt Residence Club points to Extended External Exchange, you now can use those points for 2 years instead of 1 but you can ONLY use those points within Interval International.
This is complicated but unfortunately gets even more complicated.
In my recent experience, I put in a Request First exchange for Christmas week, 2019. I try to book out as far as possible to get the highest demand weeks. Since it takes a lot of time for some of these high demand weeks to match (some never match), you actually need to be aware of what points are being held by Interval International in order to avoid them being expired by the time a match occurs.
For example, in my actual example, I received points for one of my weeks in June 2017. I made a Request First reservation for Christmas week, 2019. As of June 2018, no matches had occurred. Since I used Request First instead of Extended External Exchange, I was recently informed that the points being held for the pending request expired so even if a match was found, I could not use the points already taken.
Essentially, since your Hyatt Residence Club points are only valid for one year, you need to make sure that some match occurs BEFORE the one year anniversary of the point issuance. Otherwise, your points will expire and you cannot use them.
I tend to use Request First request more often as it gives me more flexibility. If I decide to not use Interval International and confirm a Hyatt week, I can cancel any request, receive my exchange fee back and still have Hyatt Residence Club points to use.
However, there are a couple important considerations. If the Hyatt Residence Club points are older than 6 months, if you cancel your Interval International request, they will be put back as Hyatt Residence Club points. However, instead of CUP points (club use period), they will become LCUP points (limited club use points) which means that you can only use them for reservations 60 days or less. This is severely restricting.
Based on this experience, if I am almost positive that I will use Interval International for my exchanges, it is highly beneficial to do the Extended External Exchange since you can now use your points for 2 years instead of 1.
If you want to potentially use Interval International but may want to use Hyatt for its internal exchange if your week does not match, make sure that you cancel your request before the six month date. Otherwise, you will receive restricted points.
If you miss the six month window, you need to make sure to make a reservation before the one year anniversary. Otherwise, the points will be expired and no-useable, effectively throwing away money.
If the one year mark is coming up, it is highly beneficially to book ANY week as far out in the future as possible and include E-Plus. By doing this, you then allow yourself to exchange that week for 2 years from the potential date of check in for no fee. By doing this, you can effectively stretch the expiration of your points to 3 years.
Hopefully, this chart can help you understand this process
Timeshare reservation windows, points expiration periods, internal and exchange exchanges, etc. make timeshare ownership very confusing. However, a solid understanding of these issues can help clarify these items and prevent point expirations.
In my real world example, the points technically expired but fortunately, I was able to talk with Interval International and Hyatt, and they agreed to make an exception provided that i confirm a week while on the phone. I did this and added e-plus so that I can now book 2 years out from the date of check in.
The purpose of this post is to make sure that you understand these time periods. If you are in doubt, you can call the Hyatt Residence Club or Interval International. Otherwise, post below or comment in The Timeshare Guru Group on Facebook! I am hopeful that other like-minded timeshare enthusiasts and travelers can assist.