Chances are, if you have ever toured a timeshare, you will probably get an offer for a timeshare vacation package at some point. These discount timeshare vacation packages are often even offered while you are on tour at a property or sometimes they can be dangled as an opportunity if you are on vacation someplace and don’t have time (or the inclination) to take a tour.
For example, recently I went to Las Vegas for a week. The first few nights I stayed at the Golden Nugget before checking into my Wyndham resort. On my way out of the Golden Nugget, after checking out of the hotel, I was accosted by a couple of fellows who were signing up guests to go and tour a Vacation Village property in Vegas.
Now I’m a bit crazy and I actually like to go on these tours. I like to see new timeshare resorts and usually I can negotiate a good enough incentive to make it worth my while. But this trip, I wasn’t really in the mood and I had already scheduled a tour for another resort in California for the following week. And I certainly did not feel like doing two tours in seven days!
As a result of my turning down the tour, I was then invited to return to the Golden Nugget for a future trip. The offer was for $99 for two nights at the Golden Nugget or $129 for three nights. Now I love the Nugget and I definitely love the Fremont Experience in downtown Vegas so this was an easy decision for me to make. I pulled out my credit card immediately and purchased the three night package.
To sweeten the deal though, once I’ve returned to Vegas and actually completed the tour, I will get all of that money back — either as a refund back to my credit card, or in the former of vouchers for dinner or shows in Vegas. So essentially it is a free timeshare vacation package — my favorite kind.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every timeshare promotion is a great deal. I’ve had two other opportunities that I’ve taken advantage of in the past two years and one was “just okay” and the other was decidely NOT okay.
Let’s talk about the okay one first. This was a vacation deal offered to me by Wyndham. They actually called me on the phone. I had attended a tour at one of their resorts in Vegas a few months earlier so I wasn’t too surprised at the call.
The offer was to go back to Orlando, but I had no particular desire to do that at the time so I asked what else they had (destination is usually negotiable as most of these companies have resorts located in many places). So I was offered Myrtle Beach for three nights for $239, I believe. (It was under $250, but now I’m having trouble remembering the exact details.)
At the time I thought this was a great offer and it actually might have turned out that way if I’d ended up going to Myrtle Beach. One thing to keep in mind with these discount vacation offers you get from the timeshare companies is that the accomodation offered is usually NOT the timeshare resort itself. No, no. You’ll be staying at a hotel or another resort, not the place you will be touring. There are exceptions, but they are rare and usually more expensive.
Now originally when I booked the Myrtle Beach trip, Wyndham made reservations for us at a nearby resort, instead of a hotel. This would have been great, especially since the unit was a 2 bedroom. So it might have been a nice trip.
Unfortunately, I had reason to be in Myrtle Beach at some point before that trip was scheduled and decided I pretty much hated everything about Myrtle Beach so I when I got home I cancelled the upcoming trip. I rebooked to visit Oceanside in California instead.
On rebooking the trip, Wyndham this time put me up in a hotel in Carlsbad, about five miles from Oceanside. Now Carlsbad is actually a nicer town than Oceanside, but the hotel itself wasn’t anything special at all. In fact, it was right next to the freeway and it was just a room. Goodbye to my 2 bedroom resort condominium. Oh well.
It wasn’t awful, particularly since the timeshare tour at Wyndham’s Oceanside resort was very low key and no pressure. But in the end, I actually checked out a night early and headed up to Los Angeles. So in the long run, I don’t consider the money I spent to have been worth the trip. Especially since I’m sure I could have easily booked the hotel they had me stay in for under $100 a night, maybe significantly under.
Oh, and then there’s my third trip. This was a bargain basement deal of a timeshare vacation package that I found on the internet. I head down to Florida for several weeks every winter so I had been looking for a way to save a few bucks on one of my weeks.
I ended up finding a deal where, in exchange for touring a resort, I would be able to stay at the hotel that the resort owned for an entire week. Now you would think that if a timeshare resort owns a hotel as well, that’s probably a fairly decent property as well, right? Not so!
I ended up checking out four day early because I could not deal with the musty smell and the dampness in the room. So all in all it would have been much better for me to simply book the Howard Johnsons down the road.
So after these three experiences I have a few tips for deciding whether a particular timeshare vacation package is going to be worth taking.
1. Know where you will be staying and what it costs normally to stay there
I have no worries about my Vegas trip because the Golden Nugget costs more than I’ll be spending to stay there, and I also know I already like the place.
If I had done some research for the Orlando trip, I could have avoided the hassle by checking a site like Tripadvisor and finding out that the place they were going to have me stay at was horrible.
2. Make sure the package can be canceled without penalty
Usually the person who calls you to offer the timeshare promotion does not know exactly where you will be staying. So you want to make sure that there is an adequate period allowed for cancelling the package.
Then I recommend that you book the trip immediately as soon as you get the paperwork. At that point, you will find out where you are supposed to be staying and you can do a little research online to see what the accommodations are like.
As you can see, some deals are well worth the timeshare tour and the money you’ll need to pay upfront. But other timeshare vacation packages aren’t much of a deal at all.