With some regularity I get comments or emails related to time shares and how they are a great option for families. I have a small family of three, so we fit pretty well in a hotel room, but I absolutely think that timeshare rentals can be great options in some situations…it’s just not something I can speak to personally with a lot of experience. However, I was contacted by a reader who does have experience in time shares and was willing to share her thoughts via this guest post. Thanks to her for sharing her thoughts, and feel free to chime in on the comments section with some suggestions of your own!
A few days ago, I read a FlyerTalk thread about someone who was using 540,000 HHonors points for a week at the Hilton Kings Land. I thought “Wow, I need to get the word out to FlyerTalkers that sometimes a timeshare rental is a better deal than points!”
So here are the top four situations when a timeshare rental makes more sense than booking a hotel room with points or money.
1. They’re great for families!
I have three kids, aged 14, 12, and 9, and all of us sharing a single hotel room on a vacation sounds like…not a vacation.
Getting two hotel rooms sounds like a hassle and a huge expense.
When my husband and I travel alone, a hotel is perfect. But when we travel with the kids, renting a timeshare provides more space and extra amenities which make the trip more enjoyable.
Smaller families will do fine with a studio (comparable to a hotel room but with a partial or full kitchen), or a one bedroom (similar to a hotel suite but with a full kitchen). For our family of five, a 2-bedroom timeshare villa is a perfect solution. Most 2 bedroom timeshare villas have:
- Beds for 6-8
- Two bathrooms
- A full kitchen
- Washer / dryer
- A living room
- A balcony or patio
I remember a pre-timeshare trip where my husband and I put the kids to bed in the hotel room, then retreated to the bathroom to have a glass of wine and read. I was sitting in the bathtub, and he perched on the toilet. The kids didn’t fall asleep until late because they weren’t used to sleeping in the same room. It was…not fun.
The biggest benefit of a timeshare rental for families, especially those who don’t have elite status, is that you can eat as many meals as you want in your villa. Eating out with young kids can be stressful, and eating 3 meals a day out for an entire vacation is stressful and expensive! Having breakfast, lunch and simple snacks in your room (and maybe the occasional dinner if you’re not in a foodie paradise location) can save lots of money in addition to hours a day of getting cleaned up to go out, and waiting to get seated and served.
2. You can get great last minute deals
Timeshare ownership is quite rigid. You must book 12-18 months in advance, your location is locked in, and you cannot change dates or location without significant losses. This frustration for owners can lead to great last minute bargains for renters!
If you have a cancellable hotel reservation, it is worth checking 45 days out for a deal to your destination. Here are some examples of current last minute deals:
Grand Pacific Palisades, Mar 17-23, 2 bedroom
- Hotel Price: $2083
- Timeshare Rental: $1195
Royal Mayan, Mar 2-9, studio
- Hotel: $1,029
- Timeshare Rental: $300 (or best offer)
But be aware: Just as the owner could not change or cancel the reservation, neither can you as a renter.
3. You can get great deals in overbuilt areas
Orlando, Williamsburg, VA, Branson, MO, and Las Vegas are dense with timeshares. It is especially easy in these cities to get a large, luxurious rental for a price lower than a hotel room.
Wyndham Bonnet Creek, Orlando (highly valued for its great access to the Disney parks)
- Two bedroom, 2 bathroom villa at Wyndham Bonnet Creek, $699 for the week. It would be hard to beat that rate, even for a cheap single room hotel! (Redweek Listing R552720. Requires guest registration to browse.)
- FOUR bedroom Presidential at Wyndham Bonnet Creek, $2,600 for a week. Yes, it is $371 a night, but if you need two or three rooms, it is a great deal. (Redweek Listing R552883.)
4. You can beat the hotel’s price on very high end properties, or find space when they’re fully booked.
Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri is a five star luxury family resort on Table Rock Lake which shares property and amenities with the timeshare Wilderness Club at Big Cedar. Perhaps you read about it in Conde Nast or Travel and Leisure, and would love to stay in one of the private 2 bedroom cabins.
- Hotel: $639 per night (6/16/2013)
- Timeshare Rental: $239 per night (6/16/2013)
How about Thanksgiving at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui? For a 2 bedroom ocean-view:
- Starwood, Ocean View Villa: $7,057 per week (Nov 23 – 30)
- Timeshare Rental, Ocean Front Villa: $4,200 per week (Nov 23 – 30)
My family is traveling to Aruba after Christmas this year. Hotel rooms, when I can find availability, are $600-800 a night. (Hyatt and Radisson are both unavailable for my dates on points bookings.) For two rooms, I’m looking at $7,200 – $9,600 for the six nights.
A two-bedroom condo at the Marriott Ocean Club, while still very pricy at $6,000 for the week, gets me more space, everyone in the same unit, a full kitchen, and an extra night! (Redweek: several listings).
What to be aware of if you rent a timeshare
- You will not receive daily maid service. If you stay a full week, you’ll get a mid-week cleaning.
- You won’t be able to change or cancel your reservation.
- Elite status and benefits will not be recognized, and you will not accrue points or stays.
- Be sure to check reviews! The very best source for timeshare reviews is Timeshare Users’ Group (TUG). TUG reviews are available to members only but can be well worth the $15 membership fee!
- You are not required to attend a timeshare pitch if you rent from an owner. Skip it! (And if you take one and are tempted to buy, contact me first!)
Where to look for a rental
Check this link for my list of timeshare rental sites run by individuals. Also check the big dogs: Redweek, eBay, VRBO and vacationtimesharerentals. Or you can post the dates and location you want in the comments on this Timeshare Rental Wish List post, and if any of my timeshare-owning readers have what you need, they’ll respond.
Thanks again for the info on renting time shares! The author of this guest post has recently started blogging on the site Weeks + Miles in order to help bring the world of miles to timeshare owners, so feel free to find her over there if you want more info on how timeshare rentals can benefit your family!