“Like a hotel…but better”
Timeshare has had something of a global makeover since the concept was first introduced to Europe in the sixties.
Modern timeshare is the original holidaymaker’s flexible friend: fixed weeks have become flexible, timeshare owners have become more discerning, and timeshare is now more about the lifestyle itself than just “a product”. Yes, the average age of a timeshare owning couple is still mid-fifties but timeshare owners are ‘getting younger’, with young families beginning to see the benefits of buying into the lifestyle. Owners these days expect high standards and want to try out new destinations – hence the rise of destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, the Dominican Republic, Cape Verde and parts of Eastern Europe.
One of timeshare’s big plus points is its inherently “eco”- and economical – vacation model – it solves the problem of what to do with your holiday home during those forty-eight weeks when you’re not in it, and year-round occupancy rates as a percentage hover in the high 70s. The choice of destinations on offer all over planet earth has never been better: summer on a Greek island, autumn on a Scottish golf course, a spot of skiing in Austria to melt away the post-Christmas blues and then when spring arrives (or early February, if you’re British!) anywhere on the map where the sun still shines looks good.
Points-based ownership is the most flexible form of ownership because it generally opens the door to additional holiday options such as cruises, safaris or yachting holidays, and thanks to the facilities offered by the leading exchange companies, you can exchange your week(s) and can savour the flavours of different destinations. You’re not “stuck” at the same resort, country or even continent.
The timeshare industry historically has been surprisingly resilient over the years. It has grown beyond expectations and survived more than a couple of economic downturns. But perhaps more importantly for owners, the beauty of buying upfront is that you reap the rewards of taking your future holidays at “today’s prices”.
If you feel like dipping a toe into the shared ownership pool, a number of well established vacation ownership groups offer trial memberships, which are well worth a look at , as they’re affordable and a “hands on” way to test drive the product and resort(s) before you commit completely.
Resort models have also changed since the first small apartment blocks with a communal pool and not a lot more. New timeshare and fractional resorts mirror the four and five-star hotel and resort models – in other words, you can expect a boutique-style hotel at the heart of the development, onsite dining, live entertainment, a gym, beauty salon or spa, kids’ club and so on to be part of the resort mix. And
the old “check in, check out” reception desk has evolved into 24/7 concierge services at the majority of leading resorts.
Timeshare genuinely is a value-for-money holiday model, primarily because most two-bed apartments have sofabeds and will sleep up to six, and because you can self-cater for all meals it works out considerably cheaper than hotel accommodation when you may find yourself having to eat out at least once, possibly twice a day. [member]
2011, a Landmark Year for Timeshare
In February, the New EU Directive was introduced to enhance consumers’ rights across the European Union and one of the main aims of the Directive is to keep an eagle eye on the way timeshare is actually sold which is good news for those may be toying with the idea of trying timeshare.
In 2011 the Resort Development Organisation (www.RDO.org), the official trade body and watchdog organisation in Europe made significant strides in its efforts to investigate bogus operators. Thanks to ongoing investigations by RDO’s Enforcement Division, a number of fraudulent operators were closed down by the local and national authorities in the popular coastal destinations in Spain such as Alicante and the Costa del Sol, the Canary Islands and the UK. RDO’s Enforcement Team continues to crack down on fly-by-night companies that cold-call consumers with too-good-to-be-true offers.
RDO’s trade member companies represent all sectors of the industry, from resort developers to resale specialists, including many leading names the very forefront of the global vacation ownership and fractional property industry. As a result of RDO’s media awareness and consumer education campaigns, the message about the benefits of owning timeshare and the lifestyle is reaching not just consumers but the media, who, quick to criticise timeshare in the past, are now beginning to understand why timeshare appeals to millions of families worldwide.
Ten reasons to love timeshare
If you’ve been thinking about buying timeshare, here are ten reasons owners recommend it:
1. More than a hotel room
It’s more than just a hotel room – timeshare accommodation is usually much more spacious than a hotel room, and ranges from studios to 3-bed apartments that sleep up to eight, as well as larger villas at some resorts. Some may even have a Jacuzzi or pool.
2. The world’s your oyster
It’s a cliché, but the world is your oyster – you’re not necessarily restricted to “same time, same place” next year and depending on the type of timeshare you own, you could be staying at affiliate resorts worldwide. Around six million families are members of the two leading exchange organisations combined, who between them offer holidays at well over 6,600 affiliated resorts worldwide on each major continent.
But it’s not all about jetting off to far-flung, sun-soaked destinations. One third of European timeshare owners actually own at a resort “back home”, usually within a driveable distance from home. In the UK, it’s the beauty spots – think the Scottish Highlands, Welsh beaches, Kent, Cornwall and Devon – where you’ll find Britain’s most popular timeshare resorts and there’s nothing like a trip to Dublin to tempt American timeshare owners to “cross the pond” for some Guinness and golf.
3. Quality control
If the five star style of top of the range timeshare resorts feel more like a boutique hotel or a private club, that’s because that’s what they are, and the trend is to develop in five star locations – adjacent to, or near golf, coastline, a vineyard, or a ski centre.
4. Family time
As well as kids’ clubs, babysitting services and play facilities, many resorts offer entertainment specifically geared towards the little ones and teenagers, from pirate parties and face paintings to tennis lessons.
Flexibility is the name of the game, particularly if you opt to buy points-based timeshare which means you can take a number of short breaks instead of a longer break, or add hotel nights on to a holiday if you feel like exploring a capital city while you’re away from home.
Although a two bedroom apartment is probably the most popular and “standard” timeshare accommodation today, options will include cottages, villas, lodges, house boats, cruise ships, canal boats, private yachts and for the freedom orientated, RVs!
7. The hassle-free factor
With timeshare, the peace of mind factor is huge. Unlike owning a property outright, the maintenance and any property emergencies are the responsibility of the resort management company so you can just switch off and relax without worrying about severe weather, damage, or an unforeseen emergency either while you’re away, or while you’re at the resort.
Quite simply, you’re paying for tomorrow’s holidays at today’s prices.
9. A sense of community
Timeshare owners frequently mention the community feeling you get when you own at a resort – meeting new friends, forging longlasting friendships, that lovely Spanish receptionist who remembers the name of your 6 year old daughter every time you visit.
10. Happy families
The numbers speak for themselves. The vast majority of Europe’s 1.5 million timeshare owners are happy with their holidays – in fact almost three quarters say it’s better than other self-catering holidays. The Christel DeHaan Tourism and Travel Research Institute at Nottingham University Business School carried out a survey a few years ago on behalf of the RDO and of those surveyed, 87% were happy with their decision to buy timeshare.
The Big Picture
If you took a snapshot of the European timeshare industry it would reveal an interesting picture: statistics show that timeshare generates over €3.2 billion of expenditure a year and the industry employs about 70,000 people. There are some 1,500 resorts in Europe (that translates into 67 million bed nights) and owners tend to spend on average €1,600 while they’re on holiday – in restaurants, on car rental, on souvenirs, food and clothes – which is good for the local economy.
While timeshare continues to thrive in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the newer “winter warmer” destinations such as Dubai, Thailand and South Africa are attracting more and more British and Northern European owners to their shores, not least during the deep freeze winter months in Europe. There’s nothing like a week on a Dubai beach, or a fortnight visiting the vineyards on South Africa’s Western Cape to recharge those frozen batteries.
At the end of the day, it’s the happiness factor that matters most on holiday. Sometimes (value for money and quality of accommodation aside) it’s the small things, like being able to pop in for fresh croissants at the on-site mini-market on a sunny Sunday morning, or the fun kids’ club where the little ones can make new friends while dad squeezes in a round of golf or mum escapes to the spa, that matter the most. [/member]