Timeshare Or Vacation Club — Which One Is Right For You?
Sometimes you can have the best of both worlds. There’s something to be said for being at a vacation property that offers a resort experience as well as a personalized vacation rental experience.
It’s a winning combination I enjoyed on Maui at Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club – Molokai, Maui & Lanai Towers and The Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas. You can book a stay at a vacation club property like you do traditional hotels. What better way to introduce you to the concept of vacation ownership?
Vacation ownership is done in a couple of ways. Timesharing is a method of use and/or shared ownership of vacation real estate in which purchasers acquire a period of time in a vacation accommodation. A vacation club usually involves use or access to more than one resort location and other vacation and travel services. Vacation ownership isn’t just for older folks. According to the American Resort Development Association, as of 2022, Gen Z and Millennials account for more than half of all timeshare owners (57 percent) and more than half of new-sale purchasers (53 percent). This influence is driving a shift to new destinations and experiential travel.
What You Need To Know About Vacation Ownership
But is vacation ownership for you? Your first order of business is deciding whether you want to go the vacation club or timeshare route.
You’re likely wondering how a timeshare differs from a vacation club. How do they work? Every company operates a bit differently, but traditionally with timeshares, you generally purchase a specific week or weeks at a resort property. You’ll have partial ownership of that property, use the property for a designated time each year, can sometimes exchange weeks with other resorts, as well as have an upfront purchase price and annual maintenance fees.
Typically, with a vacation club, you have an initial purchase price, there is a membership or points-based system, you have access to a network of resorts, you use points to book stays at various locations, you have the flexibility to choose when and where to vacation, you have the potential to exchange points for stays at affiliated resorts, and there are annual dues or maintenance fees.
What’s The Upside Of Joining A Vacation Club?
You can keep visiting a property you absolutely love, or you have the flexibility of tapping the many properties and experiences in the company’s portfolio. For example, for owners with the Marriott Vacation Clubs, the Abound by Marriott Vacations Owner program provides access to over 90 vacation club resorts across Marriott Vacation Club, Sheraton Vacation Club, and Westin Vacation Club. These owners have access to more than 8,000 Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 2,000 vacation homes, and 2,000 unique experiences like cruises, guided and culinary tours, premier events, outdoor adventures, and more. Owners will also have the ability to exchange ownership to stay at properties outside of the branded portfolio through Interval International, the company’s premier exchange partner. Locations are not limited to the U.S. and include bucket-list destinations like Bali and Thailand.
Furthermore, the properties are often luxurious and top-tier with benefits like concierge services, fitness and spa facilities, onsite dining, and active programming. Expect perks like master suites, private balconies or patios, washers/dryers, full kitchens, and separate living and sleeping spaces.
What Can I Gain By Getting A Timeshare?
You’ll get more space and privacy than a typical hotel room. You can rent out your unit when you’re not using it. You can finance a timeshare purchase. You can trade your weeks or points on a vacation exchange network. According to the American Resort Development Association, the purchase of a timeshare can insulate owners from the economic pressures that affect daily rental rates, including inflation. By 2021, the annual maintenance fee paid by timeshare owners only rose 15 percent compared to a 24 percent increase in the cost of a 7-night hotel stay before fees and taxes. From January 22–March 22, 2022, a 7-night hotel stay at the same property rose from $1,571 to $1,864.
What Do I Need To Keep In Mind When Considering A Timeshare Or A Vacation Club?
Make sure you know how to cancel if you don’t want to be enrolled anymore. According to the Federal Trade Commission, most timeshares have an annual maintenance fee. Those fees can rise at rates that equal or exceed inflation. Find out if your plan has a fee cap. You’ll have to pay fees and taxes even if you don’t use the unit. It can be tough to sell a timeshare. Inquire about whether there is an exit program and how it works.
Be clear about all costs involved. Assess whether the financial benefits, like discounts on travel, are significant enough to justify your costs over the long run.
Understand the fine print in club rules and timeshare documents. How long is the commitment? Are there cancellation penalties? What are the guest policies? You also want to be clear on how you earn points, redeem them, and their expiration policy. Are there restrictions on when you can use your points?
Research the various benefits and features of different clubs and timeshare opportunities so you can determine what best suits you. There are some big-name players in the industry. Check out offerings from companies like Wyndham Destinations, Hilton Grand Vacations, Westgate Resorts, Disney Vacation Club, and Resort Condominiums International.
Is A Timeshare Or Vacation Club A Good Investment?
For those who travel frequently and want access to discounted rates on vacation packages, a vacation club could be a great investment. However, for those who don’t travel often, it may not be worth the money. Realize that timeshares are generally not considered good financial investments as they often don’t appreciate and can be challenging to sell. Vacation clubs can provide value in terms of flexibility, access to multiple destinations, and additional perks, but their financial returns are typically limited.
When investing in either, it’s not a conventional investment per se. Don’t think of it as an asset like your home. This is more about the investment in your quality of life, the time you will spend with family and friends, which indeed may be priceless.
Is A Vacation Club For Me?
For sure there are perks, but if you can’t handle the initial and ongoing costs, a vacation club may not be for you. There are non-financial considerations too. Understand that many of the properties will be in popular tourist destinations and if you’re someone who prefers the road less traveled, this could be a sticking point for you. If you don’t travel frequently, you may not reap all the rewards of membership to offset costs. If you prefer going to the same place again and again, a timeshare may be a better option. This isn’t a black-and-white issue. Much depends on you, how much you travel, what kind of accommodations you prefer, and what’s on your bucket list.