Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Time-Share Vacation Experience

The Ridge at Tahoe, Nevada-our home Resort
Time-sharing vacation purchases are not for everyone. But if you have patience, it is a good way to enjoy a vacation in 5 star resorts/hotels all over the world.

Some time in the mid 1990s, Macrine (my spouse of 54 years) and I purchased a time-share at the Five Star, Ridge Resort in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The resort is located at an elevation of over 7,000 feet above sea level. On the east side of the 8th floor of our 2 bedroom condo unit, you have a mesmerizing view of Lake Tahoe and on the west side the small town of Minden, Nevada. We purchased this time-share not intentionally, but we were persuaded by the high pressure sale pitch of an aggressive sales person. They offered us a free dinner for two by just attending their one-hour sales presentation and tour of the resort facilities. At that time most of the resort’s time-sharing program had no options for exchanges to other resorts. But the Ridge has that flexibility, so we signed up for a 2-bedroom unit for one week every year. We could exchange this to other five star resorts all over the world as long as they participate in the Interval International (II) Time Share Exchange Program. Since our purchase, we have exchanged our time share in Marbella, Spain, Cancun, Mexico. Puerto Rico, Aruba, Las Vegas, Nevada, Maui, Kawaii and the big Island of Hawaii. We had a grand time and fantastic vacations staying in five star resorts/hotel equivalent to The Ridge.

However, lately, I found it hard to do exchanges via II, even with resorts in the Philippines. So, this year we will spend our week at our home resort, The Ridge at Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

Purchasing a vacation time-share is not for everyone, especially if you do not plan your vacation ahead of time. To insure and take advantage of the exchange program flexibility, you need to be organized. With our time-share, my wife and I just cannot travel at the spur of the moment if there is a promo package offered by travel agencies. Our vacation time is tied up to our time-share program. Moreover, before you could exchange you need to reserve your week, then deposit it to II. After that you need to tell II to exchange it, listing three resorts and three time periods. This is the thing that takes a long time, especially if the resorts you select are popular resorts and the time periods are the busy vacation season.

Owning a time-share does not really save you vacation money as the sales pitches proclaimed. However, with your time-share program you stay in four or five star resorts, that otherwise you cannot afford or are willing to pay on your own. In addition, you have the flexibility to choose places all over the world. There are over a thousand resorts listed in the Interval International Directory available for exchange. However, popular vacations spots such as Hawaii, San Francisco or France are hard to get, even if you reserved two years ahead.

Availability of resorts is posted in the Internet on first come, first serve basis. So if you have patience, you may be able to get an exchange that fits your time and need. As an example, three years ago, I wanted to exchange my time share with a 2-bedroom unit in Las Vegas right on the Strip. There were about five hotels on the Strip with one bedroom units available on the week that I wanted, but no two bedroom units. I waited for another ten minutes and surfed again. To my surprise a 2-bedroom unit was available on a hotel right on the Strip but I had only 15 minutes to complete the transaction. I completed the transaction in 10 minutes and within 20 minutes, I received a confirmation via email. I was lucky and had the patience surfing in the Internet. Otherwise, I may have had to be content with a one bedroom unit not close to the Strip.

So what is my recommendation? If you are someone who does not plan ahead and does not have perseverance, do not purchase a time share. In addition, time-share will cost you maintenance fees that get higher every year. Put your vacation money in the bank or invest it. When the time comes for your vacation, then that is the time to get your money. Enjoy your vacation to a place anywhere in the world and at a time that is convenient for you.

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