we (and probably most everyone else who owns a timeshare) received an
invitation to participate in a free webinar offered by The Holiday
Group. The Holiday Group offers a number of services to both timeshare
buyers/owners and timeshare developers. The subject of the webinar is "Timeshare
Demystified - A Beginner’s Guide to Timeshare".
Some topics the moderator will cover:
1) So, what is Timeshare anyway?
2) Why doesn’t timeshare have
a better reputation?
3) Who should or shouldn’t
buy a timeshare?
3) What’s the best timeshare
4) What’s better –
fixed weeks, floating weeks, or points?
5) What’s the deal with
A lot to cover in a half an hour!
More importantly, the moderator has written two books that also might be worthwhile: Timeshare for Dummies and Surviving
A Timeshare Presentation…Confessions From The Sales Table. We would appreciate any comments from those who have read either or both of these books.
We started our ownership adventure by "buying a timeshare". We backed out of our first purchase, which was a beautiful spot in Purerto Vallarta but had no beach. It was the lack of beach that turned us against the purchase we made, and we endured the humiliation of saying we changed our minds. Of course, the Timeshare Sale people were very upset and made us feel upset as well. But, we did not have the beach we wanted and that was that!
So, we no sooner ditched our first Timeshare offer, when by the end of the week, we were in our second encounter. This time, the resort we were close to (Paradise Village, Nuevo Vallarta) hooked us. Huge beach, great facilities, large penthouse, you get the picture. The space was perfect for our family of five and we had the opportunity to make reservations at Christmas, which was our goal.
What did we know about Timeshare Ownership? Nada!
After some time owning a timeshare, we have become more familiar with the term. Sea Garden, Mayan Palace or Grand Mayan resorts sell timeshare interests. We are not sure about the Bliss and Grand Bliss interests, and maybe someone can help us out. We have not seen a Bliss or Grand Bliss contract. On the other hand, the Grand Luxxe interests are memberships in a residence club.
So, for those who have an interest in such things, here is the Wikipedia contribution to knowledge about Timeshare Ownership:
This article is about type of property ownership. For the computing term, see Time-sharing.
A timeshare is a form of ownership or right to the use of a
property, or the term used to describe such properties. Timeshare
properties are typically resort condominium
units, in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property, and
each sharer is allotted a period of time (typically one week) in which
they may use the property.
Timeshares may be on a part-ownership or lease/"right to use" basis, in
which the sharer holds no claim to ownership of the property. 
According to one account, this notion was originally created in Europe in the 1960s. A ski resortdeveloper (Hapimag) in the FrenchAlps
marketed his resort by encouraging guests to "stop renting a room" and
instead "buy the hotel". Subsequent success followed, and the concept
was quickly embraced by developers worldwide, boosting sales of surplus
condominium units at a time when the resort industry was depressed.
Due to the promise of exchange, these units, called "vacation
ownership" by the industry, often sell regardless of their deeded
resort (most are deeded into a certain resort site, though other forms
of use do exist). What is not often disclosed is that all differ in
trading power. If one is in Hawaii or Southern California it will
exchange extremely well, however, those areas are some of the most
expensive in the world, subject to demand typical of a highly
trafficked vacation area. The vast majority of inventory flows briskly
through two international exchange companies: Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International (II).
This concept has attracted many resort developers and prominent hoteliers, such as Starwood, Wyndham, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and Disney.
Vacation ownership has proven to be lucrative for stakeholders in these
major resort families, due to its popularity with vacation-goers. This
form of lodging has spawned a variety of products sold on similar
occupancy schemes; cars, planes, condo-hotel units and luxury
fractional properties (at which affluent guests may stay for as long as
a quarter of a year, and which often command a six-figure price tag)
The scope of today's time share industry in the USA is well-documented. The ARDA International Foundation ("AIF"), which is the research arm of the American Resort Development Association ("ARDA"),
reports there are 1,604 timeshare resorts, with 154,439 units, in the
USA as of January 1, 2006 (AIF 2006). Though reportedly fewer than six
percent of U.S. households own one, the prevalence of vacation
ownership continues to expand.
Approximately 4.4 million households own one or more U.S. weekly
intervals or points-equivalent as of January 1, 2007, an increase of
sixteen percent from the prior year.
About half of the resorts in the USA are currently selling, generating sales of $8.6 billion in 2005 (AIF 2006).
The global scope of the industry is not as readily quantified. Interval International,
one of the two major exchange companies, reports there are 1800 resorts
in nearly 80 countries, with 2004 worldwide sales estimated at nearly
$11.8 billion (Interval International 2006). RCI has 4000+ resort in
nearly 100 countries.
Worldwide exists 5,425 timeshare resorts, of which around 31% are situated in North America, 25% in Europe, 16% in Latin America (where Mexico leads with 40% in the region). Emerging resorts in Asia offers 14%, led by Japan, but with Thailand and India increasingly prominent.
Timeshare industry is regulated in all countries were resorts are
located. In Europe it is regulated by European and by national
legislation. In 1994 the European Communities
adopted the "The European Directive 94/47/EC of the European Parliament
and Council on the protection of purchasers in respect of certain
aspects of contracts relating to the purchase of the right to use
immovable properties on a timeshare basis", which was subject to recent
Exchange internally within the same resort or resort group
Exchange externally into thousands of other resorts
Sell it either through traditional advertising, online advertising or by using a licensed broker
Recently, with most point systems, owners may elect to:
Assign their usage time to the point system to be exchanged for
airline tickets, hotels, travel packages, cruises, amusement park
Instead of renting all their actual usage time, rent part of their
points without actually getting any usage time and use the rest of the
Rent more points from either the internal exchange entity or
another owner to get a larger unit or more vacation time or at a better
Save or move points from one year to another.
Some developers, however, may limit which of these options are available at their properties.
Owners can elect to stay at their resort during the prescribed
period, which varies depending on the nature of their ownership. In
many resorts, they can rent out their week or give it as a gift to
friends and family.
Much lauded is the idea of owners exchanging their week, either
independently or through several exchange agencies, to stay at one of
the thousands of other resorts worldwide. There are many exchange agencies, of which the two largest are Resort Condominiums International (RCI) and Interval International
(II). They have resort affiliate programs and members can only exchange
to affiliate resorts. It is most common for a resort to be affiliated
with only one of the larger exchange agencies, but it isn't rare to
find a dual affiliate resort. Together they have over 7,000 resorts.
The time share resort one purchases determines which of the major
exchange companies can be used to make exchanges. RCI and II charge a
yearly membership fee and fees for when they find an exchange. They
also bar members from renting weeks for which they already have
Owners can also exchange their timeshare through independent exchange companies. Dial an Exchange, Trading Places International,
Platinum Interchange, The San Francisco Exchange, Timex, and
Redweek.com are the main independent exchange companies. Owners can
exchange without needing the resort to have a formal affiliation
agreement with the companies.
Sometimes, owners may also arrange a direct exchange. This requires
locating an owner with the location and weeks both mutually desire.
This form of exchange is rare but since it can save in exchange fees it
is often sought after. Several bulletin boards have been created to
help timeshare owners meet others and swap.
This type of lodging may take different forms depending on the
seller. The vast majority consist of one week of ownership, i.e. 1/52
year, but some developers sell point based systems that are a different
form of vacation currency that allow hotel stays, car rentals, and
stays at large networks of resorts.
Individual - owner of timeshare can also turn to secondary market to
sell (or buy) timeshare. Resort - owner of timeshares can also resell
(or buy) timeshares on these markets. ARDA has developed guidelines on resales activities in order to prevent unethical and unprofessional trade.
A major difference in types of vacation ownership is that between deeded and right to use contracts.
With deeded contracts the use of the resort is usually divided into
week long increments and these are sold as fractional ownership and are
real property. As with any other piece of real estate the owner may use
his or her week, rent his or her week, give it away, leave it to his or
her heirs or sell the week to another prospective buyer. Owner also
liable for his portion of real estate taxes, which usually are
collected with condominium maintenance fee. Potentially owner can even
dedact some property related expenses, such as real estate taxes, from
his taxable income.
While this form of ownership can offer additional security to the
owner as a form of physical ownership, deeded ownership can be as
complex as outright property ownership in that the structure of deeds
varies according to local property laws. Leasehold deeds are common and
offer ownership for a fixed period of time after which the ownership
reverts to the Freeholder. Occasionally, leasehold deeds are offered in
perpetuity however many do not convey ownership of the land but merely
the apartment or 'unit' of accommodation.
With right to use, the purchaser has the right to use the property
in accordance with the contract but at some point the contract ends and
all rights revert to the property owner. In other words, the right to
use contract grants the right to use the resort for a specific number
of years. In many countries there are severe limits on foreign property
ownership, so this is a common method for developing resorts in
countries such as Mexico. Disney Vacation Club
is also sold as a right to use. Care should be taken with this form of
ownership as the right to use often takes the form of 'club membership'
or right to use the reservation system. Where the reservation system is
owned by a Company not in the control of the owners, the right of use
may be lost with the demise of the controlling Company.
The most basic unit is a fixed week; the resort will have a calendar enumerating the weeks
roughly starting with the first calendar week of the year. An owner may
own a deed to use a unit for a single specified week. For example, week
26 normally includes the Fourth of July Holiday, week 51 - Christmas and so on. If an owner owned Week 26 at a resort he or she could use that week every year.
Sometimes units are sold as floating weeks. The ownership will be
specific on how many weeks the owner owns and from which weeks the
owner may select for the owner's stay. An example of this may be a
floating summer week where the owner may request any week during the
summer season generally weeks 22 through 36. In this example there
would be competition for prime holidays such as the weeks of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
The weeks when schools may still be in session would not be so high in
demand. Some floating contracts exclude major holidays so they may be
sold as fixed weeks.
Some are sold as rotating weeks. In an attempt to give all owners a
chance for the best weeks, the weeks are rotated forward or backward
through the calendar, so one year the owner may have use of week 25,
then week 26 the next year and then week 27 the year after that. This
method does give each owner a fair opportunity for prime weeks but it
is not flexible.
Vacation clubs are organizations that may own units in multiple
resorts in different locations. Some clubs consist only of individual
weeks at other developer's resorts. They are sold both as deeded or
right to use and club members may reserve vacation time at any of the
owned resort units based on availability. Vacation clubs cater to a
wide range of economic backgrounds and income levels.
Resort based points programs are also sold as deeded and as right to
use. Points programs annually give the owner an amount of points equal
to the level of ownership. The owner in a points program can then use
these points to make travel arrangements within the resort group. Many
points programs are affiliated with large resort groups offering a
large selection of options for destination. Many resort point programs
provide flexibility from the traditional week stay. Resort point
program members, such as WorldMark by Wyndham, may request from the entire available inventory of the resort group.
A points program member may often request fractional weeks as well
as full or multiple weeks stays. The number of points required to stay
at the resort will vary based on a points chart. The points chart will
allow for factors such as:
The popularity of the resort;
The size of the accommodations;
The number of nights;
The popularity of the season;
and the specific nights requested.
There is flexibility in point programs.
RCI is the only exchange network to allow for network point
exchanges throughout. Whereas, I.I has resorts within the network
allowing only internal resort point. II is not offering a points based
network exchange, such as Disney, Marriott and Wyndam resorts have the
These properties tend to be apartment-style
units ranging in size from studio units (with room for two) to three
and four-bedroom units. These larger units can comfortably house large
families. Units normally include fully equipped kitchens with a dining area, dishwasher, televisions, VCRs and more. It is not uncommon to have washers and dryers
either in the unit or easily accessible on the resort. Kitchens are
equipped to the size of the unit, so that a unit that sleeps four
should have at least four glasses, plates, forks, knives, spoons, and
bowls so that all four guests can sit and eat at once.
Units are usually listed by how many the unit will sleep and how many the unit will sleep privately.
Sleeps 2/2 would normally be a one bedroom or studio
Sleeps 6/4 would normally be a two bedroom with a sleeper sofa
Sleep privately refers to the number of guests who will not have to walk through another guest's sleeping area to use a restroom.
Timeshare resorts tend to be strict on the number of guests per unit.
Unit size can affect demand at a given resort where a two-bedroom unit
may be in higher demand than a one-bedroom unit at the same resort. The
same does not hold true comparing resorts in different locations. A one
bedroom with a great location may still be in higher demand than a
resort with less demand. An example of this may be a one bedroom at a
great beach resort compared to a two bedroom unit at a resort located inland from the same beach.
Critics contend timeshare units are often overpriced, especially in places such as Mexico and Florida where almost every resort offers this style of accommodation. Individual timeshare owners also complain about annual maintenance fee (which includes property taxes) being too high.
Unhappy customers created several websites were they listed
timeshare related businesses, which in their view should not be trusted.