The Best Deal in Town!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Downside of Time Share Vacations

It’s amazing how enticing time share marketers and sales people can make the idea of owning a time share and how disappointing the reality is. I’m not saying that I haven’t enjoyed all of the vacations we have taken through our timeshare (except that trip to St. Maarten I wrote about a few weeks ago), but the process of scheduling the vacations is far from ideal. We own a timeshare with one of the big hotel chain’s vacation club. This sounds ideal since you can earn “points” to be used in the club trough purchases made on an affiliated credit card and with stays at any of their extensive chain of hotels. They are also partnered with several other timeshare companies, expanding the choice of vacation destinations.

The problems my husband and I are having with this service is that we are almost too busy to take time for week long (or more) vacations, which is the best way to use the timeshare. This was actually why we were originally sold on the concept, because we thought if we had these vacations that we paid for over time, we would be compelled to take more time for ourselves. The reality is that to get the most out of the service, you really have to be able to determine well in advance when you will be available to take the time and where you want to go and you have to have some flexibility. Like the rest of the world these days, we are very last minute about making plans and by the time we determine that we can both get away at the same time and we decide on a location we want to go where the weather, etc. will be favorable, all the “good” places are unavailable. And if you don’t use the points you have paid for, you loose them!

We have to take a “nice” vacation by the end of this year or risk losing a substantial number of points and the only time we will be able to get off is around Thanksgiving. We want to go somewhere amazing since we are celebrating a significant anniversary but the problem is that travel in November is not an ideal time weather-wise (unless you are skiers). In November, almost half of the world is too cold or too wet and about half of the places where the weather is warm are too far to travel to with only one week off. We have settled on the Caribbean, but all of the resorts that are available at this time are “all inclusive” and the fees that are charged, per person, per day, to use their facilities, to drink like a fish and to eat in the same restaurant at the same location for 21 meals in a row are outrageously expensive even in the shoulder season. And of course, these fees are not part of the timeshare agreement!

And the reservation process for these vacations is far from easy, although the new online tools that they have added are certainly a big help. Ultimately, I think the best thing to do is to find someone “in the know” on the inside that you can call and have them take care of everything from hotel reservations to airfare and all of the extras. That person used to be called a travel agent…I wonder if there are travel agents that can work their magic with your timeshare? I suspect there is no money in it for them to bother…

Those who are best suited to take full advantage of this kind of travel club are active retirees…my husband and I only have 15 more years to go before we can enjoy our timeshare! Will we make it that long? Only time will tell.

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