Timeshares are extremely complicated. It is a topic that comes up over and over. In order to try to make things as simple as possible, I want to include some basic understanding of various flavors of timeshares and the overall way to fully maximize ownership and plan fantastic trips.
Generally, a timeshare gives the owner the ability to use a specific week at a resort. This general concept as changed overtime and various mutations of this general concept has emerged. There are now fixed weeks, floating weeks, rotating weeks, fractional ownerships, points based systems, vacation memberships, travel clubs, and others.
In order to uncomplicate things, lets briefly review each type.
Fixed weeks: Fixed weeks are just that. The right to use a specific week at a resort.
Floating weeks: The owner has the ability to reserve one week out of many weeks. These floating weeks are usually tied to a certain season.
Rotating weeks: The owner can use one week one year and another week another year. These generally rotate annually.
Fractional ownerships: Fractional ownerships generally allow the owner to use a specific unit for a certain amount of time per year. This can be monthly or based on a specific amount of days. Many times, a fractional ownership will allow an owner to use a specific week along with a certain number of additional nights.
Points systems: Instead of owning a specific unit, you are giving points which act as a currency to reserve units. The amount of points will vary for different weeks, resorts, and size of units.
Vacation Memberships: Generally, you would pay an initial fee or membership fee for the ability to use a certain amount of time a resort. You could also obtain a vacation membership which would allow owners to receive discounted accommodations.
Travel clubs: Travel clubs are similar if not identical to vacation memberships. Each program is different so it could just be a difference in marketing terms.
Overall, each type of "timeshare" allows an owner to use or reserve a unit at resorts during specific times during the year or based on availability. Each program is different and we will go through various programs and highlight the benefits and issues with each one along the way.