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Let’s Talk Timeshares: Presentation Horror Stories and Cheap Vacation Rentals

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting guest post by The Timeshare Guru on Doctor of Credit. Reading through the comments on this post reminded me of a few experiences and shenanigans my own family has had with timeshares.

Timeshare Presentations and Vacation Rentals

Timeshare Presentations: What Is Your Time Worth?

When I was a kid, my family traveled to Disney World several times, where timeshare companies abound. I remember on one of those trips, my parents agreed to sit through a timeshare presentation in exchange for a “special gift”. The special gift turned out to be a table clock.

My brother, sister and I were escorted to a kids club waiting area while my parents got a tour and attended the timeshare presentation. In the “babysitting” room, the childcare workers were clueless. One kid decided to turn on the TV, and the movie Friday the Thirteenth was on. I was about 8 years old and scared to death!

My siblings and I decided we would leave to go find my parents. Nobody stopped us! We wandered around the resort until we found them, trying to fight off the advances of multiple sales people. All for a stupid clock!

Fast forward to my young adult life, and my boyfriend (now husband) got an offer to go to a timeshare presentation in Tyler, Texas. He asked me to go with him. The incentive for sitting through the presentation was quite large: a 3-night trip to Disney World including flights and hotel! Yep, I’m in.

We toured the complex, and honestly we weren’t impressed. It was in the middle of nowhere with hardly any amenities.

The presentation dragged on and on, way more than 90 minutes. Multiple supervisors came to pressure us. Finally, after close to four hours, we escaped with our prize.

My boyfriend used the prize to take me to Disney World, where he proposed to me at Cinderella’s Castle after the fireworks. Totally worth it.

A few years later, we attended another timeshare presentation at a local timeshare office for a $50 Outback gift certificate. Worth it? Not even close!

Why the Math Doesn’t Work For Me

We’ve always gone into each timeshare presentation knowing that we would not be buying the timeshare. The math just doesn’t compute for me.

In every presentation, the sales people ask us to add up the cost of our previous vacations, including flights, hotel, food and activities. Then, they compare that to the cost of owning a timeshare for each year and try to say that a timeshare is cheaper. Except here’s the thing: you still have to pay for flights, food and activities in a timeshare! Those costs do not go away. Tricky!

My brother and sister-in-law own a Wyndham timeshare they bought for just $1 on the resale market. They have gotten really good use out of it, in part because their kids were in year-round school and they were able to go on vacation during off-peak times and get a lot of value for their timeshare points.

Even if we bought a timeshare for $1 (which is somebody desperately trying to unload it), we would still have the monthly maintenance fees. And now that we travel mainly by miles and points, we try to cover lodging with those. So, the math just doesn’t make sense for my family.

Someday, however, I would like to buy Disney’s version of the timeshare, Disney Vacation Club. Nope, the numbers still don’t add up, but it’s still a dream of mine. I’d love to be able to share our Disney points with our kids as they grow up and have families of their own to give them the gift of travel. I’m a sentimental sucker who hopes that her kids will love traveling to Disney with their own families. (Plus, DVC properties are some of the most valuable ones in the timeshare trading market).

Cheap Timeshare Rentals

Even though we don’t want to own a timeshare, I’m not opposed to renting one on vacation. We have gotten great deals in the past!

When my daughter was just three months old, we traveled to San Diego and rented a two-bedroom condo at Welk Resorts in Escondido. It was spacious, well-appointed and cost less than $600 for the entire week!

Let's Talk Timeshares

Chilling in San Diego at the Welk Resort

Before that, my extended family rented a four-bedroom condo at Wyndham Bonnet Creek for around ~$1600 for 10 nights. We split the cost, and our portion was only $400. The condo was huge, and the amenities at Bonnet Creek were amazing! The biggest downside was that the resort called us every day to try to lure us to a timeshare presentation.

Let's Talk Timeshares

We loved to eat outside at Wyndham Bonnet Creek

I have also rented DVC points directly from owners to stay in condos at Disney’s Saratoga Springs and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Although not dirt cheap, the cost was cheaper than staying in the regular rooms at those resorts through Disney.

So, I am all for renting timeshares for inexpensive vacation rentals. Combined with hotel points and flexible points for free hotel rooms, I just don’t see the need to actually buy the timeshare.

Wasting Vacation Time?

After reading that guest post on Doctor of Credit where The Timeshare Guru talks about ways to get good offers to sit through timeshare presentations, I started to get ideas. What if we tried to get an offer for our upcoming vacation in Hawaii?

We could see if Marriott has any timeshare presentation offers in Kauai that would provide a deeply discounted stay at one of its current resorts. It would only take 90 minutes of our time, right?

I suggested this to my husband, and he responded by rolling his eyes. These things never take 90 minutes, and why add that stress into our blissful Hawaiian getaway?

He’s right.

What About You?

Do you own a timeshare? I’d love to hear your stories about sitting through timeshare presentations (and the prizes you got!). Have you found any great deals on renting a timeshare condo for vacation?

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Author: Nancy

Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

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30 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Timeshares: Presentation Horror Stories and Cheap Vacation Rentals

  1. We inherited a timeshare from my in laws. Would I ever buy one? No way. Would I sit through a presentation? Nope. We are very happy trading into popular places like Florida but if you want to go someplace different, it’s practically worthless. However, my kids love the timeshare. They roll their eyes if I mention staying in a hotel even when we get them their own room. I’ll never forgot my youngest child’s first stay in a hotel room. She walked in and said “where’s the rest of it”?

    • Michelle–Ha ha! Sometimes I feel the same way your daughter does when walking into a hotel room. It’s nice to have the space of a condo, for sure!

    • Hi Michelle! My name is Rebecca and I work for a consumer advocacy group where we specialize in helping people who have been taken advantage of, like yourself, get out of their timeshares. If you still need assistance in getting out of this nightmare I would love to speak with you. You can contact me on my direct line at (949) 535-2536

  2. I’d say stay away from anything time share related, even renting one becasue then they hassle you all the way!

    • @Momma To Go when we stayed at Wyndham Bonnet Creek, the timeshare folks called us every day. We just stopped answering the phone. 🙂

    • Just unplug the phone. Anyone important should have your cell number. I would never miss out on a great condo because of someone calling about a presentation. When you check in if they ask you, simply say “we already own and one is enough”. I’ve never been pressured after saying that.

  3. I think renting, not buying, is the way to go. We loved the Wyndham Bonnet Creek condos in Orlando. But there’s way too many rules to deal with, renting is easier. I saw you could rent some timeshare condos on airbnb as well!

    • @Clyn6 glad you loved Wyndham Bonnet Creek! I would stay there again, even with the timeshare calls during our stay. As my kids get older, I see us renting more timeshare condos in the future for the extra space.

  4. We took advantage of the Hyatt Kaanapali Residence deal ($1695 for 5 nights = $340/night; free valet parking and no resort fees and you could use all the amenities/swimming pools at the Hyatt Regency next door as well. We got a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom oceanview suite on the 7th floor — it’s the most beautiful place I have ever stayed, and the lanai was just wonderful. The catch — you MUST sit thru a timeshare presentation or they’ll charge you $1,000 per night for the room — hubby and I sat thru 30 minutes — the guy gave up because we said we never travel to the same spot. Worth it — I loved it and we brought my parents (who loved it as well); hubby hated sitting thru the presentation and asked me never to sign up for that again.

    I got another invitation for the new Westin in Maui — I had to laugh because I was so tempted, but I had already booked a condo for Maui via VRBO. I would only rent a timeshare or book condos if we needed the space. Owning one would be a waste of money for us.

  5. I’ve never owned a time share. I did however sit through my 1st time share presentation in Mexico in exchange for an all-day tour. It definitely went over the 2 hour time but they weren’t pushy at all when we said no. Still, not sure if I would do it again.

  6. We did a timeshare thing in Vegas 5 years ago. It wasn’t worth it! We sat through the presentation and the nonsense only to be told that the show we were supposed to be getting tickets to see wasn’t showing. But I do not have any problem RENTING a timeshare! Hecks to the yes!

    • @itsahero Sorry that you never got your reward for enduring that long presentation. 🙁 That stinks. We will continue to rent timeshares, until I win the lottery and can buy the Disney DVC.

    • @platformsandpacifiers–I understand. My brother and SIL have gotten around this by trading their timeshare week/place for others. In fact, they have never actually stayed at the timeshare place they own! But ownership is not right for my family.

  7. We did one last year from IHG. Got a 3 night vacation from it. Ended up being our anniversary trip. They let us pick, and alot of nice locations were options but we picked Cocoa for the convenience. Totally worth our time. And we got $100 IHG gift card. Our salesman was super cool, young guy… Obviously successfully at his job and immediately said “you’re not the type to buy this kinda of thing are you?” I explained how we travel on points and he was super impressed. Ended up mainly having a nice conversation with him while we walked around the resort. I wish we could do them more often and we would but the fine print says 2 years I think. I would do it again in a heart beat for a free vacation.

  8. Pingback: Recap: Free Breakfast, Timeshares, Kmart Data Breach & More - Doctor Of Credit

  9. I’m going to Orlando in November for a presentation through Hilton. Three nights at their property for free and a $200 Hilton voucher. It’s my first one so I’ll have to see if it’s worth it. I never considered doing one but Hilton caught me at a time when I was itching to go to Harry Potter world!

    • @Cristi–that sounds like a great deal! I hope you have a great time. Harry Potter World is on our list to do, hopefully next year.

  10. Already staying at the Marriott on Kauai we were offered our last night free. They stuck to the 90 mins for the presentation but added about 10 extra mins for the final salesman to pitch at us.

  11. Great article! Me and my wife are planning to attend one of the timeshare presentation. I would like to hear what do you usually do to fend off the sales pressure?

    • Hi Prasanna! I know that some people are honest from the get-go and just say that they are there for the incentive. In the past, I have said that we were getting ready to sign a mortgage and we couldn’t take on any more loans until then (which was actually true). It’s tough sometimes, because they will have a comeback for almost any excuse you give. Stay strong!

  12. I keep getting a Sheraton offer by email. 3 nights in Orlando for $199 and some SPG points. Considering it for a future trip but right now not doing it.

  13. Nancy, Thanks for posting this and referring to my site. Timeshares are not for everybody but can be a great tool in addition to the points and miles game. Happy to answer any questions that you or your readers have on timeshares.

    The timeshare presentations can definitely be brutal but I am surprised by the amount of comments concerning the constant nuisance of the timeshare hawkers. I have exchanged into tons of awesome resorts and they rarely bother me. Maybe its because they can see that I am an owner already.

    In any event, people rarely complain about the quality of the resorts. It is the sales tactics and up front exorbitant fees.

    Happy to provide any information.


    The Timeshare Guru

    • Thank you for providing information, The Timeshare Guru! I really enjoyed your article. You’re right, nobody ever complains about the quality of the resorts. I hope to rent more timeshares in the future as my kids get older and need more space.

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