Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to be Timeshare Smart! What You Need to Know Before You Visit a Resort

Timeshare Iguana
Many of the resorts you see for rent on Expedia, Travelocity are timeshare resorts.  Before you leave, be aware that they will try to sell you a timeshare.  Be smart, be armed and be wary.  

My husband and I have had a timeshare for many, many years. Recently we moved up to a Grand Mayan timeshares called The Bliss with 3 weeks (can be converted to 6 one week units) for our family's use or to rent. It has been a roller coaster of good and bad. This last week I decided to do some deep digging and talk to a variety of people. But first....

Does anyone actually listen to all the information that says don't buy a timeshare at the resort? The nightmarish pressure to attend sales presentations before the resort will even give your the keys to your room is only the beginning! It is all downhill from there. I hate those presentations, abuse the sellers, don't even wash before I go. NONONONO does not mean a thing to these people.  Getting up and walking away is the only recourse and I am not sure they will let you. But they are not going to stop talking until you are out of earshot. Having said that, you can find a timeshare that will work for you if you have the right information and go to the right place. Just not the resort itself!

So here is what I have learned after talking to the typical pay up front listing and the website owner that is reluctant to list my unit until he actually knows what we have.  It was quite an eyeopener.

Mayan Palace, Puerto Vallarta, MX
  • Don't pay upfront to list your property for rent. A person in the know said these are scams.  I would go with a agency that has you pay the fees after they have rented your unit. I would also want to see the agreement in writing before I decided to do anything.  These rental companies can charge up to $600 with a renewal fee each year. They claim to have a link to Expedia and other bargain travel companies. Try Craigs List first! It is free.
  • If a timeshare promises that you can rent your purchases to re-coop your purchase money, don't believe it. When looking for a rental agency be aware that a company that rents for a commission is probably the best deal.  But, they do not take all the listings they are offered so you may be turned down. The one I talked to charged 20% for booked units.  A 2 bedroom at the Grand Mayan, The Bliss rents for around $2000.  You pay over $1000 in maintenance when you rent the unite.  When you take the 20% away that leaves you with approximately $500.  The profit is better than nothing but you are not going to get your money back for the purchase anytime soon. Better yet figure out how to do it yourself.
  • If you buy a timeshare and you think you will get an ocean view room think again.  In the Grand Mayan resorts for example, you must have upgraded or purchased more than one timeshares with the company before you are eligible for one of those view rooms.  
  • Some timeshares like WorldMark by Wyndam charge maintenance fees quarterly whether you use the units or not.  If you buy it, use it!  It just doesn't make any sense not to. What you have done if you don't, is pay $1000 a year for a vacation you have never gone on.  Be and then use!  If you can accumulate weeks for that trip of a lifetime it may be worth saving them up...but if you do that for three years, you have just paid $3000+ for three weeks of accomodations.  Keep that in mind.
  • Before you even leave for a resort, check to see what timeshares at that resort are selling for. Then, if you give in to the pressure to go to a presentation (that will take your whole day), you are armed with good information as to values and perks.  Print and take this information on your vacation.  Darn...!  
  • If you check websites that are selling timeshares be sure to note those shares that are being dumped.  There could be a reason for dumping.  For example:  a) there may not be many years left on the contract,  b) older contracts may not have the amenities you want, c) it may be a basic unit with a view of the parking lot , d) it may be a week that is undesirable.  You can check the resort link to find out about the, beach access, cost of food on the resort etc.  A good deal is always relative to the not so good amenities or weather.  In Mexico you can run into hurricanes in the summer.  The locals call that monsoon season.  Humidity can be very high.  After looking into all these things, you still may be able to score a timeshare at a very good price. Just be careful.
  • When you go online to look at timeshares, the first links on the page are the ones that get most of the business.  It could be that those are the very best.
  • Having said all this, you will find that both of the resorts (WorldMark by Wyndam and Grand Mayan) beautiful ...honestly you will feel like royalty when you stay there.  People like us could never in a million years afford to stay in these type of accommodations year after year had we not made some upfront investments.  Our initial investment was so small that we have earned our money back over and over again.  
Here's a thought:  Consider donating a week to charity with the idea that they can auction it off and pay the maintenance fee and still have money in their pocket.  You might get a tax write off.

Oh, and to answer your question...yes we will rent our unit.  Send me an email. ;)  Let's talk!



  1. I really appreciate the honesty you've displayed in this post. Intrigued, I did a quick search on the Grand Mayan Bliss and found a Timeshare resale site selling two bedrooms for $25,000 plus $1,000 annual maintenance fee. They also list dozens of two bedrooms available for a one time rental fee of $1,500 a week.

    Since there appears to be only a $500 difference in the one week rental cost for owners vs. renters, can you explain what the appeal of putting down $25,000 to buy would be? I'm assuming that at some point during the presentation buyers become convinced that owning makes more financial sense than buying, but I've never been able to figure out when or where that point is. (I've actually avoided timeshare invites like the plague out of fear that they put something in the water - people do appear to lose their minds at these presentations on a fairly regular basis! :-)

    In any case, I enjoyed the information you presented in your post, and sincerely hope you continue to use and enjoy your timeshare(s) for years to come!

  2. My apologies - I meant to say that at some point during the presentation buyers become convinced that owning makes more sense than RENTING . . .

  3. Yes, I agree with you Tamara. However, you need to be aware that as an owner we got three two bedroom lockouts. That mean that we or our family can stay a total of 6 weeks in Mexico or use a timeshare exchange for the same thing.

    The down side is that we can only sell 1 of the lockouts. The value is our familie's only. We can, however, rent all of these. That is where the work comes in.

    Is it a good idea? NO, I don't. On the other hand, we would never vacation if we weren't somehow obligated to. In that regard, it has worked for us. Nuts huh????


  4. Wow! This is a lot of useful information for folks interested in timeshares! It always helps to talk to someone who's been there!
    Hugs, GraceinAZ


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