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We love traveling and that’s one of the reasons why we’re in the travel business.  Traveling is exciting and fun, but it also has its headaches. We hear people complain about missed flights, poor service, mediocre food, poorly maintained accommodations, language barriers and more, but to us, the worst travel nightmare is the timeshare or vacation club.

When you get through customs and immigration at many international destinations, particularly resort destinations, you must run the gauntlet of locals pitching timeshares.  Even if you don’t get snagged into a “free lunch” or “free tour” at the airport, walk down any major street in a resort town and you’ll encounter someone pitching you a timeshare.  Then, when you finally get to your resort hotel, for which you’re paying $400 to $800 a night, you’d think you wouldn’t have to worry about a timeshare pitch, but you do.  Most resorts will entice you with free massages, champagne, robes, lunches and other gifts so that you will sit through their timeshare pitch.

What is a timeshare?  There are different names for timeshares including vacation clubs, premier clubs, fractional ownerships and fixed week ownerships, but the concept is virtually the same.   You pay a large sum of money to the resort in exchange for the opportunity to stay at the resort for a set period of time, in the future, for what appears to be a discount on the room rate.  The timeshare pitch often includes special status at the resort and the ability to trade the time you have purchased for time at other resorts.  Many of these timeshare sellers use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to buy, and once you’ve bought, there is no turning back. 

It is estimated that resorts spend as much as 50% of the money they receive from timeshares to promote and sell them (the sales staff makes a huge commission to convince you to hand over your money).  Part of how the resort makes money is banking on you not using your timeshare.  Some major timeshare companies estimate that only 3 to 4 out of every 7 nights sold will be used.  In some places with poor regulations, a single hotel room or condominium can be sold more times than actual weeks available.  In theory, a resort can only sell 52 weeks in a year for each room, but some resorts will sell many more weeks, hoping that not everyone decides to take their entitled vacation time.

Why shouldn’t you buy a timeshare?  Here are a number of reasons to avoid them:

1)    By the time you add in your annual fees, fees you have to pay the resort when you stay there, interest if you financed your timeshare, and the time value of money, in many cases the timeshare is no bargain.
2)    It limits your flexibility.  Even if you try to exchange your timeshare week for another property, the property you want to stay in next may not be part of the timeshare program.
3)    Many perks awarded timeshare owners are of little value.
4)    Most timeshares have little or no resale value.
5)    Many resorts have high seasons and peak periods and it is difficult to get into the property at certain times even if you own the timeshare (as an example, all 52 week owners for a single unit cannot come over New Year’s Eve).
6)    Many timeshares have complex rules regulating reservations, use by friends and family, and reselling. As an example, you may want to stay Wednesday to Wednesday, but some timeshares will only let you stay Saturday to Saturday.
7)    Any timeshare purchased outside of the United States is subject to the laws of the country in which you purchase the timeshare.  Resort properties go bankrupt, go out of business, are sold, and change formats, all of which can affect the value of your timeshare and your ability to use it.  As an example, imagine buying a timeshare at a clothing optional resort, only to find that the resort owners sell to Disney and the next thing you know, your resort has been taken over by screaming children (this type of thing happens).
8)    Do a quick Internet search.  The world of timeshares is populated by scam artists, crooks and fraudsters.  Complaints abound.  That doesn’t mean all timeshare sellers are that way, but really, how do you know who you’re dealing with?
9)    Many timeshares require a yearly fee.  If for any reason you stop paying that fee, you can be reported to a credit agency and it will affect your credit rating.

The following is typical of the types of complaints we see about timeshares:

“I paid $17,000 and $23,500 for two resorts. There have been several times as a timeshare owner I could not get into my resorts, but non-members could by using Expedia, Orbitz and other websites that had rooms for the dates I wanted, but the resort could not give me my timeshare weeks.”

And this is from a former timeshare salesperson in Mexico:

“I am a former employee of a large timeshare company in Mexico. I know all the lies, misrepresentation and deceitful sales pitches they use to scam people who purchase in good faith. I asked around and confronted my colleagues, only to find out that most people in the sales room were part of these scams.
I confronted my sales manager, asking him to stop this ordeal and, as you might expect, he fired me.”

The solution – we believe the flexibility of being able to travel when you want, where you want, not being tied into one property or having to go through complex arrangements to trade for other properties, and not having to pay fees in years you may not be able to travel, outweigh the benefits of a timeshare. 

 A final note.  Does that mean you should never buy a time share?  We’re not saying that.  We know someone who bought a time share at a ski resort a couple of hours drive from his home.  He and his family all ski, and for many years their tradition has been to go to this resort just before high season begins, the first week of December.  Based upon the predictability of their travel patterns, the time share they bought may be a good deal and they are very pleased with the value they believe they are getting for what they paid. 

However, if you do decide to buy a time share, don’t do it while you are on vacation, after having been plied with four or five free cocktails and while you are in the presence of high-pressure sales people.  If the time share bug hits you, research time shares on the internet, read all about the issues and problems, check out the secondary market, talk to others who have bought where you are thinking of buying and make sure you are really getting what you pay for, and that you will be able to take full advantage of what you are buying. 

Dream Pleasure Tours – Specialists in couples only travel and vacations, swingers travel and vacations, swingers tours, swingers trips, adult only travel and vacations, lifestyle travel and vacations, erotic travel and vacations, romantic travel and vacations, clothing optional travel and vacations, nudist travel and vacations, swingers cruises, lifestyle cruises, Hedonism Resorts, Hedonism II, Desire Cancun, Desire Pearl, Desire Los Cabos, Caliente Resorts, Couples Cruises, Shoes Only Travel Cruises and the sexiest and most sensual vacations on the planet.

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