When timeshares first became available in the late 1960’s, there was no better value for families who wanted to vacation, than owning a timeshare. When you compared the individual cost of hotel rooms at some of the world’s most exciting and beautiful destinations, the value proposition was clear; you could get more bang for your buck, by owning a timeshare, than booking at a hotel.
So much has changed in an industry that was founded on the principals of keeping luxury vacations affordable for average families. Today, the number of private rental homes, and timeshare rentals (without the burden of a contract) make timeshares feel redundant, and over priced.
If the concept of timeshare rentals is new to you, don’t be surprised. Rentals are not advertised much by the resorts. The timeshare industry prefers to downplay rentals, so that they can lock in more consumers into restrictive owner contracts. Why buy, when you can rent? Timeshare rentals do not benefit the resort, or the vacation membership clubs that rely streams of income that renters do not contribute to; maintenance and membership fees.
If you have ever thought about renting a timeshare, our team has researched some steps that can help you achieve that affordable annual vacation, without the red-tape, additional expense, and legal complications of owning a timeshare.
1. Figure Out When (And Where) You Want to Vacation
This is the fun part; trying to figure out where you want to go, and the type of resort amenities you want to use while you are on vacation. The perfect vacation looks different to everyone. Do you like to fish? Are you ready to spend some time at the beach? Or perhaps you want a combination of a tropical vacation experience, with some historical site seeing.
Make a list of activities that define your own version of a perfect vacation. That will help you narrow down resorts by the type of amenities and services they provide. Next, choose a location based on the quality and safety of the resort. There are many high-quality five-star resorts, that do not have the same advertising budget as some of the bigger vacation conglomerates.
Remember, what is popular is also pricey. So if you plan to go where everyone else goes, you can expect a premium rental rate. If you are willing to go off the beaten path, and try somewhere new, you can save money on your timeshare rental.
2. Check and Compare Online Rental Rates
How do you know that the rental rate that is being offered to you, is competitive for the resort and class of accommodation? You don’t, until you do a little online research.
Here are some other reputable rental sites that we recommend:
Some vacation rental sites like Tripping.com, make it easy to see more than one timeshare rental listing on the page, for comparison. We recommend setting up an online profile for multiple timeshare rental websites, where you can also create a vacation ‘alert’ that will email you information about new listings, prices and new resorts in the area. Get those recommendations sent to your inbox a few months in advance of booking, to gather the information you need to determine your best rental rates.
3. Read Through the Reviews
We have spoken to hundreds of timeshare owners, who bought into a resort, without doing a scan online for negative reviews about the resort. We would all like to believe that renting a timeshare will give us the experience we are promised by the owner or resort, but we’ve also read some unfortunate stories, about travelers who had the vacation from hell.
Don’t expect every review of a resort to be a positive one. In general, people are more likely to post something negative about a business, than take the time to comment in a positive and public way, about their vacation. But if a resort has pages of negative reviews, and if the comments from vacationers are similar regarding safety, food quality, accommodations or cleanliness, pay attention to the common themes in the complaints. It can help you avoid renting the equivalent of a vacation ‘lemon’, and save you time and money.
4. Ask the Hotel About the Best Time to Visit
People who are experts at vacationing on a budget, know that it is important to look at the dates of your vacation, and research what you can expect in terms of weather for the period of your stay. It sounds like a common-sense fact, but it is one that frequently gets overlooked in the excitement of getting a bargain rate, at a five-star luxury resort.
Don’t get taken by the deal, ask some questions instead. Call the hotel or resort directly and ask important questions about the seasonality of their resort and accommodations. A week in Cabo in March or April may suit your vacation needs, until you find out that the area is usually overcrowded with college age spring-break tourists, that can make relaxing around the pool or on the beach a little more difficult.
Timeshare owners are also likely to want to rent out off-season weeks that they do not want, when they know that it coincides with disruptive holidays, events or inclement weather conditions. Do your research about seasonality and expect to book months in advance for popular destinations, during peak vacation periods.
Hotels and resorts also, are highly motivated to increase occupancy rates in the off season. As such, the information they give you regarding rain or months where tropical storms are more prevalent, may not be entirely accurate. Ask around, and research ideal weather conditions using sites like the World Meteorological Association, that allows you to search weather forecasts and seasonal patterns, to help you plan your vacation.
If you are thinking about buying a timeshare, try renting first.