Doctor of Credit has been a solid supporter of The Timeshare Guru since inception. I wrote a guest post about the Economics of Timeshare Ownership and particularly the economics of one of my Hyatt weeks.
Please take a look and support Doctor of Credit's site. There is great information on bank accounts and overall travel deals!
Timeshare systems are very complicated but once you get a handle on the various in and outs of the programs, there are some clear strategies that you can use to maximize ownership.
EXCHANGING YOUR WEEK
The general strategy that I use is to exchange my weeks through the exchange companies. By doing so, my weeks turn into points and my points are worth more through the exchange companies then through many of the internal trading systems. This is not always the case but I can say that this is generally the case for my particular weeks that I own.
As I discussed on Doctor of Credit, one of my weeks is at the Hyatt Beach House in Key West, Florida. I have never been to this resort and will likely never go. While I would like to visit Key West at some point, my existing week is too valuable through my use of points to simply use my one deeded week. As a result, I will never use my deeded week
WHY I BOUGHT MY WEEK
I bought my Hyatt for a couple of key reasons.
1. I really enjoy Hyatt hotels and resorts. While their footprint is smaller than some of the other hotel chains, their properties are generally top notch.
2. Hyatt has a timeshare property close to where I live. We use it a few times a year and I wanted to be able to have a resort close to home for any years where we did not or could not travel by plane.
When I first bought this particular timeshare, I recognized that there was some value based on our travel and vacation style and the system but did not fully understand the ins and outs of the program. Most first time timeshare owners do not do a ton of research and end of purchasing a timeshare without a plan. I got lucky in that despite not knowing everything, this week continues to work out very well for my families use.
INTRICACIES OF THE HYATT SYSTEM
One of the interesting parts about the Hyatt program is that you can trade it through their interval exchange system or use Interval International for the external system. The interval system allows you to book 2, 3, 4 or 7 nights for various amounts of points.
Here is the overview of the Hyatt system:
There are some ways to maximize your points in the internal system but the amount of points required for the external exchange is generally much better. For example, you need 750 points to get a studio during the highest demand times through the internal system but you only need 430 points to get a studio during the highest demand times through Interval International.
The fees with Interval International are much higher but I still find this to be a better use of points despite the additional cash outlay.
THE HYATT INVENTORY BLOCK
The interesting thing about Hyatt and Interval International is that Hyatt owners cannot trade into Hyatt properties through Interval International. If a Hyatt owner wants to stay at a Hyatt property, you NEED to book through the internal system. Interval International blocks all inventory from Hyatt owners so you cannot see any available exchange weeks or any Hyatt getaways.
I find this a little frustrating as I really enjoy Hyatt properties. However, as a result of this, I actually stay in more Marriott properties than Hyatt properties despite being a Hyatt owner.
It is somewhat surprising than this is what occurs, but since the external exchanges are more advantageous and since Hyatt inventory is blocked through the external exchanges, I end up looking for other high quality resorts which many times are Marriott properties.
Marriott is obviously a large hotel chain but they are also one of the largest timeshare operators. All of the Marriott timeshare properties that I have been to have been high quality accommodations.
BUY A HYATT FOR TRADING TO MARRIOTT
Getting back to the point of my post, if you are interested in staying predominantly in Marriott properties, it may actually be advantageous to purchase a Hyatt timeshare rather than a Marriott property. This is completely counterintuitive but can be a fantastic strategy.
I am actually currently looking to buy a Marriott timeshare solely to be able to trade in Hyatt properties and to get access to Interval International's Hyatt getaway weeks. I'll post more about this process including what property I will choose, the cost and additional strategies resulting from this purchase.
You can definitely exchange into Marriott properties with other timeshare brands that trade through Interval International but I wanted to highlight this particular strategy of buying one brand of timeshare even though you actually prefer staying in an alternate brand of timeshare.
This particular strategy can work in various ways with various different brands but the point of this post was that you need to see what exchange company a timeshare trades through and if there could be some limitations. If there are, you need to fully understand them so you can figure out how to maximize it.
In other posts, I will go through other intricacies of particular programs and what other strategies may work to your advantage.
What strategies do you use? Did you ever consider a similar strategy before purchasing your timeshare?
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.
I continually say that timeshares are misunderstood. They definitely have plenty of negatives attributes but if you learn the systems, you can really maximize their value and ownership can actually be worthwhile.
If you are like most, you have preconceived notions that timeshares are almost certainly a scam and ownership is for suckers.
I got hooked on travel points and frequent flyer miles about 10 years ago when I signed up for a credit card, got tons of miles and then booked my first free flight. Since then, I changed my view on credit cards and now carry about 30 which constantly change. For some people, you would think that having 30 credits would cause me have a horrible credit score and have tons of debt.
This is simply not true as my score is in the 800's and I never carry a balance. I bring this up because I think that the best way to show my readership that timeshares could be actually be an affordable way to travel cheap in spacious and luxurious accommodations is to show you some of my own personal trips.
I am currently finishing a trip in Costa Rica where I spent the July 4th week. I booked a timeshare through RCI, the Breeze Private Residence Club, for $278.99 FOR THE WEEK in a 2 bedroom unit. This was an Extra Vacation meaning that I did not need to deposit on timeshare week or points to get this - I simply needed to be an RCI Member.
Here is my confirmation.
For $278.99 for the week, I was a little skeptical but the reviews of tripadvisor were good and the pictures of the unit and amenities were nice. Here are my actual pictures from the unit:
As you can see from the above photos, the unit was spacious, contemporary, and very well appointed. My family of 4 slept very comfortably in this unit and the grounds were well manicured. The units were part of large community where there were many fully time or vacation home owners. A few buildings were set aside as "timeshares".
I did do a timeshare presentation out of curiosity which I will post more about in another post.
The property was about a 10 minute to the beach of Playa del Coco which is a vibrant beach. The sand is black so it looks a lot like mud but it is soft and pleasant. The Breeze had a private beach club for use where they have shuttles to drive you to the beach club about 5 minutes away. The beach club was very nice with infinity edge pools overlooking the beach.
For $278.99 for a week in a 2 bedroom, this was an absolute steal and yet another reason why I actually love owning a timeshare.
These deals do not show up everyday and you need to constantly look but this property is impossible to beat at this price.
Costa Rica does not have a lot of timeshares and the few that they do have are not highly rated. This was is definitely well worth it and if you can book it at anything close to what I paid, I highly recommend it. I originally had booked a hotel for this week for approximately $200 per night. When this become available, I quickly cancelled that and booked this!
It was a fantastic move and saved us thousands!
What has your best bargain week been? Post in the comments below!