What is Timeshare Anyway?

If you have no idea what a timeshare is you might be one of a few, but you’re certainly not alone. Even those who do know are often misinformed, or wary due to misconceptions gleaned from 1980’s and 90’s horror stories. Here’s what a timeshare is all about today:

  • Not New – for a start, the concept is neither new nor alien. For decades, maybe longer, families and friends have been sharing the costs and responsibilities of a vacation home amongst each other. The timeshare industry has simply allowed this to be done amongst strangers.
  • Varied – timeshares come in all durations, prices, and forms these days.
  • Secure – unlike in the very beginning (in the 1980’s and 1990’s) the timeshare industry is heavily regulated and is subject to many laws (both local and international) which protect the consumer above all other things. This means you are safe from unethical selling practices, and that you have a cooling off period in which you can cancel any purchase without hassle.
  • Beneficial – timeshares allow you to get all the benefits of vacation home ownership alongside the perks of a five star resort, and they let you do it all at a fraction of the cost of buying your own vacation home in full.

So, you see, the timeshare industry has come a long way since the 1980’s and 90’s. These are the main kinds of timeshares and memberships available to consumers today:

  • Fixed week – fixed week memberships are the earliest and most old-fashioned examples of timeshares on the market today. The concept is simple; you buy a set week in a set suite from the resort and can enjoy it every year until your contract is up (or possibly in perpetuity, depending upon your contract).
  • Floating week – much like the fixed week timeshare, floating week memberships see you buy time in a set property, but allow you the flexibility to book a week in a certain season year on year. This mean you’re less restricted, and have some wriggle room if you want to reposition your vacation.
  • Points based – a points based system is the most popular these days as it allows for extreme flexibility. Rather than buying weeks in a set place, you simply buy points and can spend them how you wish. This allows you to change your destination, suite type, and the duration of your vacation year on year if you wish to. Some companies even let you use points for services and meal plans!
  • Full and fractional ownership – these are new concepts which see you mix the privileges of home ownership with the benefits of resort living. Such purchases are either of a full property, or of a larger fraction than a timeshare would be; one to three month slots are the most common. These purchases are made permanent unless you sell, and entitle you to some or all of gained equity.

Exchange opportunities

Now there are also companies like RCI and Interval International who will, for a membership fee, allow you to exchange your points or weeks for a stay in a comparable resort elsewhere in the world.

So, as you can see, the timeshare industry has never been more flexible or secure!

Still have more questions about the timeshare industry? Leave your question in the comments box and I will try and answer in my next post.