Timeshares & Vacation Clubs | Understanding the Differences & Our Personal Experience
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Timeshares & Vacation Clubs | Understanding the Differences & Our Personal Experience

Hi there, it’s Ernest from Trip Astute. In
this video, we’re covering a controversial subject. We’re discussing
the difference between timeshare resorts, vacation clubs, and hotels. (light chiming music) I want to
start out with a personal story. We recently took a trip to Mexico after
receiving a free four night stay from a family member. It was part of a raffle
prize, and once we redeemed it, we were able to choose our location and hotel
from most of the major tourist destinations in Mexico. We opted for the
Mayan Palace, just north of Playa del Carmen. Given that the stay was
won during a raffle, I was feeling a bit cautious about it.
I’ve been suckered in the past into attending timeshare presentations, and
definitely wanted to avoid spending our vacation time being pushed to buy a
property or join a vacation club. I looked on TripAdvisor
and saw several posts of travelers who complained about being bullied into
sales presentations. We decided to lower our expectations, especially since it was
a free trip, but we were going to stay firm and avoid any sales presentations.
Everything seemed great when we arrived. The resort offered transportation from
the airport, and when we got to the resort, we noticed that it was one of
many properties owned by a company called Vidanta. The service was
impeccable during check-in, but as soon as we received our keys, we were
immediately asked to meet with a manager. The manager explained the key
attractions and benefits at the resort, then asked if he could invite us to a
free breakfast. Red flags and immediately went up, and we politely declined over and
over. The manager kept insisting that we attend and wanted to show us all the
benefits of becoming a member of a luxury vacation club. We still said no.
The manager also asked about booking excursions, and when we told him that we
had already booked our own tours online, he seemed pretty annoyed. Fast-forward to
the evening and we noticed that the room was really noisy. The walls seemed thin,
and we had a connecting door that didn’t help. We
basically could hear our neighbors’ conversation and the music that they
were playing on their phone. Since we had an early morning tour, we decided to ask
the front desk if we could get a different room, preferably one without a
connecting room or at least a connecting room that didn’t have occupancy. We were
really surprised at what happened next. The front desk was unwilling to help us.
We went back and forth with the manager for about an hour, and at one point, they
agreed to put us in another room. We were asked to pack up our stuff and return to
the front desk, where we stayed there for about an hour, and then we were told that
the room was not available and that we would have to stick to our original room.
We decided to leave the resort the next day and forfeit our free stay. Using my
Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I transferred 60,000 points to Hyatt and booked a
stay at the Andaz Mayakoba down the road. The hotel was incredible and a complete
contrast to our experience at the Mayan Palace.
We’ll do a separate video on the hotel soon. So, with that story in mind, I wanted
to share the difference between a hotel versus a timeshare or vacation club for
those of you who don’t know the difference. Timeshares are agreements
where several joint owners have the right to use a property as a vacation
home, usually for a specific period of time. The key word here is “owner”, as
you’re actually purchasing the right to the property even if it’s only for a
week or two in a year. Timeshare owners typically enter a real-estate deed for
specific dates at a specific property. It’s like owning two weeks of a
furnished condo in Hawaii. You’ll have to pay some maintenance fees for the
property, but it should be less than owning a second home or property. With
timeshares, you can usually participate in networks where you can trade stays
with other timeshare owners, allowing you to travel to other properties in the
world. From what I hear though, this can be a bit tricky, especially around
popular travel times and locations. Vacation clubs are slightly different.
It’s basically a membership that gives you the right to access properties under
an umbrella of resorts. The key term here is “right to access.” Rather than buying
into a property, you’re paying a membership fee to use the
resort. You’ll get more flexibility on the location and time that you want to
use it, but you’ll sacrifice the equity that you would earn if you purchased a
timeshare. In summary, the pros for timeshares are ownership and built
equity, consistency in the timing, and also the flexibility to exchange your
timeshare with another owner. The cons for timeshares include limited
flexibility on the timing of your vacation, the annual maintenance fees, and
also less services than you would find with a regular hotel or resort. For
vacation clubs, the pros are more diversity of destinations and resort
types. You have a little more flexibility with the timing of your vacation, and you
get more hotel and resort services. The cons for vacation clubs are they’re
typically more expensive than timeshares, both upfront and annually. You’re also
limited to the availability. It may be difficult to book during certain high
peak seasons. You have no equity or ownership, and you don’t have the ability
to exchange outside of the vacation club network. If you do decide to purchase or
join one of these resorts, here are some things to consider. Number one: Higher
resort costs and prices. My experience at vacation clubs is that
the prices at the resorts are generally higher for the value that you receive.
While I expect prices for meals to be more expensive at a resort or hotel, I
generally don’t mind if I feel like that quality is also high. Unfortunately, we
found the prices for meals, drinks, and groceries outweigh the quality and
customer service. Since it’s sometimes difficult to leave the resort too, you can
become quite reliant on what’s available and being charged. Number two: Prices may
not be competitive. There are a ton of stories online of folks who research to
stay at the exact same location and timeframe and found it to be the same
cost or cheaper than their timeshare or vacation club rate. Also, with services
like Airbnb, you now have more options when booking a vacation stay, so keep
that in mind when considering the fees associated with a vacation club or
timeshare. Number three: Limited flexibility. This primarily
applies to vacation clubs. I found that these resorts typically want to control
the customer experience, and when you deviate from it, you tend to find
problems or a lack of support. Our story from earlier is a perfect example.
Everything seemed great until we deviated from the structure. We refused
to attend the sales presentation and booked our own independent tours. When we
wanted to leave, we were forced to have our luggage transported back to the
resort’s main lobby rather just having a taxi pick us up and our luggage from the
specific resort. When I spoke to the manager, he was unwilling to make an
exception even though certain guests were allowed
to have a direct pickup from the resort. This added another 45 minutes to our
checkout experience, and we felt uncomfortable giving up our luggage
since we already were in conflict with the resort. Number four: High-pressure
sales. I can speak from personal experience that the sales tactics used
by timeshare networks and vacation clubs are extremely aggressive. They usually
try to lure you in with gifts or free services like meals, tours, and event
tickets. Then you’re stuck in a long presentation where the price keeps
dropping and the pressure to sell increases. I know it’s the nature of the
industry to sell, but I personally can’t stand spending my vacation time being
pressured and bullied into a deal. Number five: Difficulty getting out. One tactic
that’s often used by timeshares and sometimes by vacation clubs is the idea
that you can commit now, and if you change your mind, you can just call and
cancel within a certain period of time. These sorts of clauses are called a
“cooling-off period.” This is often mixed in with justifications like “why not lock
in the price now. There’s no penalty if you change your mind.”
The trick is is that they make it very difficult to cancel. You’ll often have to
call different offices and send in all sorts of official paperwork. Some
vacation clubs don’t even allow cancellations, so make sure to check the
agreement if you’re considering entering a deal. Number six: Payment disputes. This
goes for any hotel or resort stay, not just vacation clubs and timeshares.
If you encounter a payment dispute with the hotel, I would suggest refusing to sign
the credit card receipt or invoice. While the hotel and resort can still charge
you the fee, you basically forfeit the right to a
dispute by signing the invoice since you’re agreeing to the charges. We made
this mistake at the Mayan Palace and were stuck with four nights of resort
fees when we only stayed there one night. They refused to waive the fees and told
us to contact SFX, which is a company that booked our stay.
When I called them afterwards, they said that we were misled since they don’t
deal with or receive any of the resort fees. Since I had signed the credit card invoice,
I basically waived my right to a charge back. So definitely don’t make the same
mistake as us! And those are our tips and considerations. I will add a caveat that
this is just my personal opinion. I have friends who love their timeshare and
really find value in it. I guess I just really value having more flexibility in
my travels. And with points and miles and Airbnb, I feel like I’m able to travel
and afford things that would normally be out of my reach. One other thing that’s
really important to me is customer service and intention. I don’t expect
things to be perfect, but I expect there to be an intention to resolve issues. My
experience at the Mayan Palace versus the Andaz Mayakoba was like night and
day. While we felt trapped unsupported at the
Mayan Palace, our experience at the Andaz made us appreciate the importance of
customer service and our desire to feel like valued guests when visiting a hotel.
What are your thoughts on timeshares and vacation clubs? Have you had good or bad
experiences with them? If so, please share your experience in the comment section
below. If you enjoyed this video or found it useful, please hit the “like” button. For
those of you who may be new to this channel, please consider subscribing. It’s
free and you’ll get notifications on our updates. Until next time, travel safe
and travel smart.


  • Jose Perez

    Ernest thank you for sharing, wow sorry to hear you had a bad experience. I definitely took notes, you always provide some awesome advise !! 

    Jose P.

  • lfutrell82

    I am a member of a vacation club. I haven't had any problems with it so far. I typically travel twice a year. One week in May, and one week in September. Luckily that's the off peak season in Mexico and the Caribbean, which is where my resort groups are, so I've never had a problem with booking or availability.

  • Trip Astute

    We received some awesome info via email from one our viewers (Micha): "Great site guys! Only one point I'd like to highlight. I am not aware of any situation where a person gains equity in a timeshare. There are tons of sites that sell them at a steep discount. These companies/brokers help timeshare owners get rid of them so the new buyer can get a much lower price than the original owner paid. I loved everything you talked about except that while a timeshare is a form of ownership, it is rarely a product that gains equity.
    Actually, they typically depreciate as the property ages and people get tired of the very high monthly maintenance fees. Owners are willing to sell them at a loss just to avoid having to pay upwards of 700 dollars a month or more for maint. fees. Timeshares are different from Fractional ownership, which is a different talk altogether. Love your content!"

    Wanted to share since it's useful info, especially for those of you considering a time share!

  • Patty Blank

    I have owned a timeshare in downtown San Diego for over 20 years and never stayed a week there. I joined RCI and have enjoyed yearly vacations at fabulous resorts all over the world! San Diego is a RED resort, meaning it is popular year round. Recently they changed there program. For the last 5 or 6 years I have had 2 or 3 resort vacations for depositing my one valuable week in SD. My maintenance fees are $500/yr and it costs me $139/179 per vacation, plus a small yearly RCI membership fee. Last year I reserved 2 2 bd condos next to each other at Disney World for 8 family members for $500 for a week, less then $65/person for a weeks lodging. I have stayed in a castle in Ireland, a small apt. on Crete, many times in Hawaii and Mexico, a room over the ocean in Moorea. I suppose I am one of the happy timeshare owners!!!

  • Rodolpho Baptista

    I am a member of DVC (Disney Vacation Club). I haven't had any problems until now. For me DVC is awesome I receive discount at Disney's stores and Parks tickets and you can book fast passes 60 days in advanced. reedom and flexibility to use your points . The properties are very good and also you can use your points to enjoy Disney cruises.
    Disadvantages: To compensate the price you need to travel at least twice an year, villas do not receive housekeeping every day, the points are only good for one year,


    Not all timeshares or vacation ownerships are created equal, WorldMark by Wyndham for example is at the top of the list and has been a blessing for my family and friends. Some presentations are awkward and pushy for sure, but also we as consumers are stubborn and close minded at times. Ever have to go through something a few times and get hurt before you found a better way or the right person? If every person gave up on things at the first sign of resistance we’d be far behind and unsatisfied. God bless and safe travels.

  • Jim Vez

    México holds the 8th place of The most visited countries. Riviera Maya, Cozumel Island and Cancun's international ranking is on the top 10.
    To people that travels with rci, interval, sfx can spend weeks in the best resorts in Mexico and mostly all of the have a timeshare.

  • GONZALO gomez

    Thanks for sharing this info. Great video, do you have more videos about timeshare? I just bought one in Westgate resort in Orlando

  • Margaret Newer

    Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership, check this article, good luck https://www.timesharescam.com/blog/158-how-to-cancel-a-timeshare/

  • Max Pell

    And also, resorts in the United States DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT to refuse rescission as this is mandated under federal and state law. The period can vary from 3-7 days.

  • Dennis Stone

    sorry to hear about your experience i own a time share and i love it i only had one bad experience with my timeshare only because of construction i own the time share for 8 years

  • Charles W

    You appear to sound sincere in trying to 'help' folks, yet your video has fatal flaws.
    Your video is already biased before you made the video.

    Have you ever taken any statistics of actuarial courses?
    The reason I ask this is because, to make the video you are making, you should gather your own data from both owners and folks who went to presentations and became owners recently, as well as those who did not.
    Then build a report based on your findings.
    Your video only depicts your one experience, and you yourself mentioned that you've been to these presentations before, hence have already a biased attitude against vacation ownership: you seem to enjoy the discounts, yet choose to not own.
    Had you been educated in stats or actuarial sciences, you would have already benefited by owning and holding stocks with Marriott and Hilton Grand Vacations, as examples. Basically you would have almost doubled your investments from 2017 to 2018.
    We have queried our family members, friends and others who own with Disney, Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn and came to the following conclusion: They enjoy their clubs just as anyone being part of a Golf club, or Marching Band club at a high school or Kiwanis Club.
    We will have you do your research in the following, but let me share a little of what we came to find out:
    It appears that, based on over 10 million vacation club owners, you focused on the less than 1/2 of 1% of folks who are owners: basically those who complained about timeshare. .
    Let's look at that small number of owners; Wow! We see they want to stay at the significantly more exclusive resorts and expecting access, for less, when they could have the same access as anyone else by paying retail.

    As an example, even if you bought year long passes to Universal Studios' Volcano Bay, YOU WILL NOT HAVE ACCESS DURING PEAK SEASON, no matter which passes you buy. Why? Universal is a business! LOL! They will maximize their profits by renting by the day. Why should hotels and resorts be any different? Yet, resorts do give you the option to purchase higher club packages specifically to get better access.
    Same is true for many, many industries.
    We have a friend who was a financial adviser and now works for a large timeshare company.
    He, Miguel, very quickly found out that owning is better than renting, as long as you have money to vacation regularly. If you are unable to vacation, then ownership is not for you. Many of the folks who complain simply purchased an ownership without realizing airfare, dining and leisure/entertainment costs per person and solely focused on saving in hotel stays.
    Many of these folks earned less than 60k combined income.
    However you must do your own research here.
    Miguel also informed to 'beware of Dave Ramsey' who gains financially by sponsoring a 'get out of your timeshare' company. He will have you use that company to get rid of your timeshare for thousands of dollars when in reality you can do this for a few hundreds of dollars donating your timeshare to Wounded Warrior, as an example.
    Digging deeper, those who get out of timeshare become repeat offenders. How? They buy timeshare again, many do, because they miss the condominium style vacations at resorts using points instead of cash.
    Bottom Line: Always buyer beware, remember, owning is better than renting, and do your due diligence.
    The one recommendation to be made is: always go for the company that offers the best locations, the easiest program to use for you and a brand that you trust. Enjoy your vacations and let nay sayers and free loaders eek for left overs 😉

  • Deby Cole

    I've spent a lot of money and i was scammed by other companies trying to cancel my timeshare.

    My advice is that if you're going to hire a company to help you with the problem, DO NOT PAY ANYTHING UPFRONT, because it use to be a fraud.

    I did a research on internet and i found some interesting articles, i recommend you to read this one:


  • Dianna Monks

    There is no equity in a timeshare. You can’t get rid of them if you want to and if you try to change a week, you will be charged. Maintenance fees are constantly rising . DON’T BUY A TIMESHARE!!

  • matt peters

    Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership, check this article, good luck https://www.timesharescam.com/blog/158-how-to-cancel-a-timeshare/

  • judeanwhoremonger

    both vacation club and timeshare raise a certain aversion when i hear these terms … thats why i always only checked in to a hotel of a chain.

  • Anthony Perez

    I just went to a Wyndham presentation. It was 4 hours long. They wanted me to make a decision today, but I told them I could not decide that fast. This is not something I could just decide in a couple of hours without researching. They did not look so happy about me needing to think it over. I just recently got into the Points and miles game. I was trying to decide what to add after my Chase trifecta, so I figure I should look into Hotel cards or other options. I do see what they mean when referring to everything costing more in the future, but I think I like having the flexibly of only paying when I decide to go somewhere (no maintenance fees). I could also shop around, and not worry about being stuck to one Hotel line, etc.

  • Jonas Bernholm

    Don´t Stay, Don´t Pay

    I was surprised to see that WYND (Wyndham
    Destinations) has 6 buy and 7 hold recommendations out of a total of 13 stock
    analysts.  It is in fact strange that the NYSE listed companies WH (Wyndham
    Hotels & Resorts) and WYND (Wyndham Destinations) still uses the name
    WYNDHAM. They are hotel operators. But they have dumped their properties to a
    number of Vacation Clubs.

    I was invited to a meeting and a 50 usd week at a
    resort of my choice but I made the mistake of becoming a member of Club Wyndham
    Access. It cost me 58379 usd (sic). Tom Aiello and the staff in PANAMA CITY
    BEACH used a hard sell technique during 8 hours and I finally gave up.
    Afterwards you are left with lies and promises – that are not kept. While the
    staff disappears and e-mail to their addresses bounce back… When you google on
    search words like “Wyndham Scams” a flood of dissatisfied people tell their
    sorry tales. Whistleblowers, who reveal the Wyndham unethical selling
    technique, have to be paid 20 million usd.

    The vacations offered and promised are seldom
    available and extremely expensive. Besides, it is a club for Americans and most
    resorts are in the USA. I have after 15 months only received two “perks” (25 %
    discount on car hire) that can be used here. I wanted to go to Sri Lanka.
    Wyndham Club and subsidiary RCI have only 5 places on Sri Lanka (but nothing
    was available when I was there).

    The Club Wyndham currency is called points. A Club
    Wyndham member like me get 400000 points every year (as a sort of interest on
    the 58379 down payment). Instead, if I invest and get a 5 % interest/dividend
    on my down payment of 58379 usd, it will give me circa 2919 usd/year. And the
    Condo maintenance costs for my Wyndham Club membership cost 2632 usd/year. (I
    have stopped paying it). These 5551 usd will give me and other Club-members a
    maximum of 27 days of vacation in Sri Lanka. (It cost us 15000 points/night)

    I used hotel booking site Booking.com instead. They had more than 10000 items to choose from on Sri Lanka. They
    were mostly close to beach, clean, air-conditioned and with private toilet and
    bath etc. I paid circa 25 usd/night. This way I could stay on Sri Lanka much
    longer and in fact get 222 hotel-nights and save the 58379 usd for myself. But
    Wyndham Club never told me about it so I wasted 58379 usd. I believe that most
    people scammed by Wyndham like myself don’t use their services any more. And
    don’t want to stay in their hotels and their 20 assorted hotel chains. I
    certainly won’t.  This badwill will hurt WYND and WHs stock market
    performance.  Remember, WYND has a negative booked value of  – 6.04
    usd/share. It is in fact technically bankrupt!

    Don´t Stay, Don´t Pay

    Jonas Bernholm, Blekingegatan 25, 11856 Stockholm, Sweden
    [email protected]  ph:0046-8-6426358

  • Destination Timeshare

    We are timeshare owners with four weeks. We have bought and sold several others over the years. We really love our timeshares and find that they allow us to travel to places we probably wouldn't have considered before on a relatively decent budget. I know many people that love the Vidanta property in the Riviera Maya, however the Mayan Palace is the lowest level property they have there so the quality of the unit you got doesn't surprise me.

    The high pressure pitches are notorious in Mexico. They don't like to take no for an answer. Good for you for standing your ground.

  • J F

    Thanks for creating this video (now 2 years old). We too had a very bad experience of being suckered into purchasing a timeshare/vacation club. The bottom line for me was, that I could book the exact same vacation (many times, even better) at the same location for less money WITH FLIGHTS. Huge rip-off! Whenever anyone tries to get you to sign onto a contract in the spur of the moment (no time to examine the materials), RUN!!!

    Also, most people that I know who SAY they enjoy their timeshare/club membership confess to me that they have NO CHOICE but to make the best of it, now that they have been pulled in.

  • Margaret Newer

    99999999999999Timeshares can be a terrific purchase for some families, as they also can be a giant rip off for others. 50 years ago, also known as Holiday Home Sharing or timeshare travel timeshares were created with the idea of offering fully furnished accommodations for a lower price than a full-time ownership, check this article, good luck https://www.timesharescam.com/blog/158-how-to-cancel-a-timeshare/

  • Alec Horn

    Marriot timeshare is complete ripoff. Whatever they say is a lie because they can say anything to get your money then withdraw it afterwards. Marriot in huge lawsuits by. People trying to get out. The obligation to pay maintenance fees lasts forever and that obligation is passed to kids when you die. You can’t give timeshare back. Marriot will take back if you pay &15000-$30000 (8 yrs maintenance fees with 6.8% interest). I bought it and regret it. Run

  • Alec Horn

    Get in writing the cost of cancellation of timeshare in future. Fun for a few years until you get tired of it and want to give it back. Of course it has no resale value.

  • Shaun Recommends

    We joined a vacation club two years ago and we’ve loved the experience so far. Overall we will probably not save a whole lot of money, (since we’ve paid upfront to get discounted trips later). But we know we will get great service and quality resorts.

    What works well though is we’ve “forced” ourselves to take a Caribbean trip every year and we can take family and friends – who actually DO save a couple of hundred dollars compared to booking the same trip on their own.

  • Jessica Jasinski

    doesn't end up costing you more money to own a timeshare. all the money you pay into it and can only use it a couple weeks out of the year. what costs are related to the owner if they buy into a timeshare. do they get to stay in their unit for that week without any extra room charges. I went to a timeshare meeting once. And they are pushy and bullies. They will keep lowering the price until u say Yes. thank god. we were smart enough to say NOOOO

  • Jessica Jasinski

    It seems like You would save money by just booking your vacation when you want to go rather then paying every month for a property you can only access 2x a year. Just doesn't make sense to me. I'd have to see a break down on how it's saving me money paying a few every month VS booking a resort for a week on my own. like. If I booked a resort for a week and it cost $2,000. What is the total cost yearly someone would pay into a timeshare.

  • JavaMan

    Years ago I bought a one-week timeshare, later the resort was bought by Diamond, which is a points-based timeshare. We were forced to pay to convert our timeshare to the new program, for thousands of dollars. A couple years later, we needed to purchase again because the previous conversion was not done right. A couple of years later, we had to pay again. On the third purchase, they finally made the conversion correctly, however, we were forced to purchase more points after a couple years because of some other error on their part. After 15 years, we've paid them $115k dollars in loan payments, plus $12k worth of down-payments put on credit cards, plus $21k in maintenance fees; we still owe $35k with 9 years left on our 10-year loan.
    Due to their crappy high-pressure sales tactics, which are primarily them lying about everything, they work very hard to ensure that we never get very far into our 10-year loan before they have some reason to force us to purchase and reset the load to 10 years again.

    Every member-update meeting we went to turned into a sales presentation, and they would send salesperson after salesperson to try to convince us of the gravity of the mistake that needed correction, and the dire consequences of not buying more. They never threatened to take away our timeshare, they were careful to threaten that we'd lose the use of our timeshare or encounter high fees and court costs if we did not purchase more.

    Stay away from the timeshare vultures.

  • Auditing the Auditors

    Stay away from the retail market for any timeshares! Buy second hand! People practically are giving them away on line because the maintenance fees are NOT worth it….in other words tell the pushy salesman NO! If it was that good, they wouldn’t have to force it on you!

  • dana m

    You are correct on the high pressure sales tactics used in the timeshare. They would harrass us by constantly calling the room or trying to get us to join a meeting if they caught us in the lobby. Once they get you in a meeting, they keep you for hours trying to get you to continuously upgrade. We paid a company to help us get out. I'm so happy we are free of that burden. I would not recommend anyone to get locked into that nightmare.

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