Over my adult life, I’ve been to several timeshare presentations. This most recent timeshare presentation was for Club Wyndham. Bob and I were at the Grand Prix of Long Beach and Club Wyndham had a booth to spin a wheel to win a prize, including a 7-night vacation. Initially we walked right past it but then thought, what the hell we might win the vacation. Well you can guess what happened…we won the vacation. But this wasn’t our first timeshare presentation rodeo so we knew what we were getting into, or at least thought we knew.
My History of Timeshare Presentations for Nice Gifts
Bob and I were in New Orleans in the late 1990s and got stopped on the street with an offer of a free dinner, carriage ride and riverboat trip. We traveled very low budget so those perks were a huge treat and worth a 90-minute investment of time. I don’t remember anything about the presentation but we had a great time taking advantage of the perks.
The next timeshare presentation was in 2003 on the big island of Hawaii. Again, I can’t remember anything about the presentation but the perks were great! Bob got a round golf on a championship course and I got a helicopter ride over Kilauea volcano, which I nearly vomited during but the views were amazing. We didn’t have extra money to do those activities so it was very special for us and worth a 90-minute investment of time.
That same year we went to a Marriott timeshare presentation at Newport Coast Villas. The gift was a $200 gift card. The property was very nice and so was the gift card but it was barely worth 90 minutes of our time.
Next was a presentation for Tahiti Village in Las Vegas. The gift was four nights and a free vow renewal at one of those cheesy chapels. Even though the presentation was for Tahiti Village, located a few miles off the strip, our accommodations were at the Frontier. Maybe you haven’t heard of the Frontier…when we checked in at the hotel we realized it was scheduled for demolition the following week and the place was nearly empty except for a few dozen of us presentation suckers. The wallpaper in the hallways was literally falling off the walls. It was like staying in a haunted hotel! Fortunately we found that to be funny and a good story to tell later on. Our vow renewal was very nice and we met a lot of interesting couples in the waiting room before it was our turn. We left after three nights but it was a fun quick trip and worth the time.
The Club Wyndham Timeshare Presentation “Free” 7-Night Vacation May Cost You…if You Use It
When we spun the wheel at the Grand Prix booth, the Club Wyndham representative either told us, or lead us to believe, we could use the prize at any Wyndham at any time, around the world. After we spent nearly 2 hours at the presentation and frustrated the sales people we were handed a piece of paper outlining the rules of using our 7-day vacation. Reservations can only be made within a 30-day window and only at properties listed on Resort Vacations Certificates’ website. We searched a few random date ranges within 30 days. (The Promo offered in Park City was to book within 90 days of travel.) Most of the properties required payment of $200-500 for 7 nights. The few that were actually free were really low budget in terrible locations. The only free property available in the entire state of California is the Knights Inn in San Bernadino. The cost per night on the Wyndham website is $65/night, not somewhere you probably want to spend 7 nights. I feel bad for the people at the presentation who actually paid $75 for this nearly worthless piece of paper.
Why I Think Timeshares are a Bad Deal
I guess timeshares might be good for some people. I know one couple who bought a week timeshare because otherwise they wouldn’t bother to take a leisure vacation but since they have an annual maintenance fee they “force” themselves to go on vacation. (If you are reading this blog, you probably can’t imagine forcing yourself to travel.) I have a relative who has owned a timeshare for several decades and uses her week to treat her adult kids and grandchildren to a week in Florida each year together in a 3-bedroom unit.
The main components of timeshare ownership are an initial investment usually starting at $10,000 but can be much higher, and an annual maintenance fee usually over $1000 or much higher. Other fees can including booking fees, cleaning fees, parking fees, etc. Of course, the sales staff is quick to let you know all of this can be financed!
The Wyndham deal they offered us, finally after 90 minutes of fluff presentation, was an $11,000 “investment” for an amount of points that can book 7 nights in most locations anywhere in the world and a maintenance fee of $1,400 per year. Just to break even on the maintenance fee we have to stay in a place more than $200 per night. The timeshare concept justification for all of this money spent is that inflation increases hotel costs over time but the annual fee never goes up. However since we tend to travel shoulder season to avoid crowds and try to use hotel points whenever we can, or stay in Airbnbs or small local inns, our nightly hotel costs rarely go over $150 per night anywhere in the world. Our most expensive lodging we have ever spent is for our safari lodge this fall in Kruger National Park at $470 per night but that includes all meals and 2 game drives.
Two Weeks Later…We Used our Wyndham Points (from a Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus)
Ironically, before attending the Club Wyndham presentation, we already had booked a 4-night vacation at the Wyndham in Park City, Utah. In fact, since the presentation, we just got back from that trip the other day, which I will write about in a separate blog post, however three times during that 4-night stay we were approached to do a timeshare presentation. We spent 15,000 points per night to stay in Park City, which is a really poor use of the points since a room was only $125 per night but we had to use the points because they were about to expire. We sat around the fire pit in the evenings and chatted with a few Club Wyndham owners, all of whom said they wish they hadn’t bought it. It’s hard to blame them because we stayed for free from a credit card sign-up bonus and even if we had paid 7 nights at $125 per night would be less than half the annual maintenance fee.
Lesson Learned about Timeshare Presentations
Next time Bob and I get the great idea to score a free gift by wasting 90 minutes in a timeshare presentation, I’m going to verify the value of the gift and read the small print in advance. In the past we have scored some great value but not this time. Actually, it left a sour taste in my mouth for the entire Wyndham company. Also, if we do another presentation, I’m going to set the alarm on my phone and when the-90 minute requirement is up, I’m going to say, “I’ve met my end of the deal now please give me my gift.”