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: 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!
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.
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?
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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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.