1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Vacation Ownership 101

What you need to know about timeshares and vacation clubs.

By

Sitting through a timeshare presentation has for a long time been associated with rewards – free theme park tickets, free lodging for one or more nights, or even perhaps a free cruise – whether you purchase or not. However, enough complaints have surfaced over the years about high-pressure sales tactics, sub-standard properties, and difficult resales to scare many away from even considering timeshare ownership.

Those days of the once-shunned timeshare are becoming history as the industry is cleaning up its act with new regulations and presenting a new image and product. Along with that new image comes the new term, vacation ownership. The new image is being polished by better products marketed by trusted name brands like Disney, Four Seasons, Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton who offer consistently high quality properties with upscale amenities.

So, it is not surprising that demand for vacation ownership is surging, making it the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. travel and tourism industry. It has reportedly grown in popularity at the rate of nearly 16 percent each year since 1993 until today about two million U.S. households own vacation intervals at over 2,500 resorts. Worldwide, approximately five million households own vacation intervals at nearly 5,000 resorts located in 110 countries.

What is vacation ownership?

Vacation ownership offers consumers opportunities to purchase fully-furnished vacation accommodations sold in a variety of forms – weekly intervals and points-based systems. A one-time purchase price and payment of a yearly maintenance fee buys purchasers their own vacation – either in perpetuity or for a predetermined number of years.

How does vacation ownership work?

Each unit of a vacation ownership resort is divided into intervals – either by the week or a points equivalent. Each unit is sold separately. Unit prices vary accordingly to a variety of factors – size of the unit, resort amenities, location, and season. Unit owners share the use of their unit and the common grounds of the property, and monthly maintenance fees go toward maintaining their unit and the common grounds.

Timeshare and vacation club owners enjoy unparalleled flexibility through vacation exchange programs. Owners are often able to travel to other popular and luxurious destinations around the world. Emerging trends in vacation ownership properties extend today to hotels and resorts in major cites, adventure resorts, and gaming resorts.

Why pay now for future vacations?

Consumers lock in the purchase price of accommodations helping to assure future vacations at today's prices. One vacation club projects up to a 70 percent savings on future vacations. Most will pay for themselves in about five years. Current timeshare owners often cite the cost effectiveness of vacation ownership and the flexibility offered as reasons for purchasing.

How is vacation ownership financed?

Vacation ownership purchases are often financed by consumer loans of five to ten years, with terms depending upon the purchase price and the amount of the buyers' down payment.

What are the advantages of vacation ownership?

Vacation ownership provides the space and flexibility to suit the needs of any size family. Unlike a hotel room or rental condo which requires a payment for each use and often escalates in cost every year, vacationers make a one-time purchase to lock in today's price. Therefore, ownership provides substantial savings on the escalating cost of vacation accommodations year after year, for the lifetime of their ownership, while enjoying all the comforts of home in a resort setting.

Amenities of vacation ownership rival those of top-rated resort properties both in on-site facilities and nearby sporting, recreational, and social activities and opportunities. The properties are well-staffed with well-trained hospitality professionals and some even offer concierge services.

How do I become a vacation owner?

Potential vacation owners are solicited in many ways – direct mail, owner referrals, and off-site booths. Some resorts have on-site sales and will try to lure you into a presentation while staying at their resort.

Vacation ownership sales presentations usually require one and a half hours or more of your time. During this time, the product and exchange system is explained. Details concerning the type of vacation ownership being sold and how it can be used should be clear. If the sales presentation occurs on-site, you will usually be given a tour of the resort and its facilities.

The consumer is under no obligation to purchase after the presentation. If the consumer chooses to purchase, there is normally a period of time – mandated by the state – which new owners may consider their purchase. Regulations vary from state to state. Florida's grace period is 10 days. If you should change your mind during that grace period, you are entitled a full refund reduced by any contract benefits the purchaser has used.

Related Video
How to Secure Your Home Before a Vacation
Ensure your Maui, Hawaii Trip is Your Best Vacation Ever
  1. About.com
  2. Travel
  3. Florida Travel
  4. Florida Index
  5. Vacation Ownership 101

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.