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Hello, Newbie seeking opinions

Tintexas99

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Hello everyone. Another newbie here. :wave: I've been lurking on the forums for several months and reading as much as possible and we are considering getting in the the TS world. So I finally registered and am considering joining as a paying member. There is a lot of great information on the this site, but like all other newbies, I still have questions for the experts and am hoping to get some good answers and advice.
Let me start by saying that we have been to a few TS presentations, mainly for the freebies, and have never bought from the developer-I just couldn't ever see the value in the deals they were offering. We have seen resales from some of the local real estate companies and still thought they were too high. Now that I have found TUG, I have seen that we should be paying almost nothing for a TS from the resale market. I know everyones situation is different and everyone has different opinions, but it seems as though I'm still getting a lot of conflicting information from the threads. For example, some posts I read say do the research and look for a good deal on either weeks or points, still other people say just rent from other people who own and some posts say things like "I would not buy a timeshare at all right now." I am confused! :ponder:
So, my number one question will be, what is the opinion from the experts on here? Should we even be considering purchasing a TS at this time or are the comments like the one I just mentioned from people who have either been burned or they have a TS and want to keep people from buying so they can rent their unit out?

With that said, I would request advice from all of you on what you think is the best option for us.
I'll start off by answering the list of questions I see asked:

1) Where do you want your home resort to be? Doesn't really matter to us. We live in Texas, so everything is a minimum 5 hour drive for us. :(
2) Do you want to visit your home resort at least half the time, or do you want to trade more than half the time? We probably wouldn't visit a close home resort very often since we have family in most of the areas that have timeshares, and we don't like visiting repeat locations a lot so we would trade more than 1/2 the time.
3) What are your 5 top trade destinations? I have pondered over this question each time I have read the other threads, but keep coming back to the same answer--we don't have a top 5, we have a top 500. We want to go everywhere and have very rarely been repeat visitors to the same destination. Other than Cancun/Riveria Maya. And that is only because of how cheap we can go there for two people, All Inclusive. If I had to just pick ou next 5 planned trips, it would be visits to Orlando, Maui, Boston, France and Italy.
4) How many people do you usually travel with? 2, My wife and myself.
5) Can you travel any time, or are you locked into the school schedule? Yes
6) Can you make firm plans 12 or more mos. in advance? Sometimes, but we more often make plans within 1 or 2 months when it is just the two of us.
7) Can you vacation for a full week at a time? Yes, but we don't do the typical Sat-Sat, Sun-Sun, etc. We usually do something like Wed through the following Sunday to take advantage of airfare savings.
8) What level of accommodations do you prefer on a scale of 1 to 5 stars? 4 to 5 stars and resort
9) How much can you afford to spend upfront, without financing? $5k, but would rather buy in much cheaper
10) How much can you afford to spend every year for a maintenance fee that will come due right after Christmas, and increase each year? $2,500
11) Are you a detail oriented planner? Yes
12) Do you understand that once you buy a timeshare, it may be very difficult to sell or give away, and you are responsible for all fees, until you do? Yes

A little more about us and our habits. We are early 40s, work full time and We take anywhere from 4 to 8 trips a year. We aren't retired, but do get at least 5 weeks of vacation time per year and sometimes more. About 75% of the time it is only the 2 of us traveling, so the "off season" has worked nicely, but we have a granddaughter that just turned 4 and we are planning on having 1 of our trips per year include her and her mom. (hence the reference to Orlando above) Also we are the type of people that when we are on vacation, we want to be totally on vacation in the fantasy world-no
cooking, no cleaning, etc., so we eat out almost all the time. I know that is usually a selling point of timeshares-the savings kitchen.

From my reading, I'm thinking a points based system, maybe Wyndham is the way to go, but I'm still not sure since I keep seeing references to them "nickle and dimeing" you if you don't do basically full weeks. Plus the fees for RCI, the exchanges, etc.

So, what are the thoughts from the experts here? Should we even consider buying a TS?

The last thing I want to mention is that if the consensus is that we should consider purchasing, should I jump in quickly since several posts mention the best time to buy off ebay is at the end of the year since the MFs start coming due and people want to get rid of them. Which would suggest a
lot more listing and better deals. We would like to take the grand daughter to Orlando and Disneyworld in October 2012 and would like to be their 2 weeks.

Sorry for such a long initial post, but I am trying to provide as much information as possible on my initial post.
Thanks for all the help.
 

ampaholic

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This comment:

8) What level of accommodations do you prefer on a scale of 1 to 5 stars? 4 to 5 stars and resort

Pretty much locks you in to Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt or Disney I would think.

Only you can "pull the trigger" on buying - I'm not going to pull it for you.

I do think the old real estate rule applies - always keep your exit plan in mind when you buy.
 
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ronparise

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Many of us here are timeshare junkies...we love this stuff...However you probably cant get all of us to agree on anything, So if you are looking for a consensus, I doubt that you will ever get an answer.

I generally dont like pre-paid anything. I would rather pay a little more per use than be locked into a contract ....However, I would rather own a car, than lease; own a house, rather than rent; be in a cell phone plan rather than pay per use.

I guess what I am saying is that for those things I know Im going to be using all the time and on a regular basis...I own. For occasional or irregular use stuff I rent.

So my question for you is: Will your use of timeshare properties be regular use thing or a once in a while thing? Remember you will get a bill for those maintenance fees every year, whether you use it or not.

Once you decide to buy then the decision is where or what system. . I can tell you what led me to Wyndham, but remember, my needs are different than yours....lots of choices, and an affiliation with RCI for even more choices.....reasonable cost for better than average quality; neither high end or bargain basement....a monthly pay plan for maintenance fees....locations in two cities, where I have family and visit regularly (no other system has properties in both Washington DC and San Francisco)....several locations within a 5 hour drive from my home, and several more within 12 hours (a long day, but still do-able)

Those are my reasons for choosing Wyndham...you will have to develop your own...once you do, the choice of resort or system will become clear(er)
 

vacationhopeful

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Being one of the persons who cites the Wyndham "nickle and diming" mode of business, there are ways to avoid that problem. Basicly, using the product for yourself, planning several trips at a time, and NOT changing your plans truly helps.

There are 3 costs which resale buyers hit: Guest Certificates are $99 each after the first one. Reservation Transactions - get 1 per 77K of points owned, but only 1 is needed for each calendar day YOU book or add a guest to your reservation or deposit to RCI (better planning saves this cost). Housekeeping Credits - for short stays you use HKs based on a week's stay. But if you stay at the newer resorts (Bonnet Creek for example), you will use your points faster than your HK credits.

But as you like to plan at the less than 60 day mark, YOU must be on top of the Resort Specials which Wyndham has on their online system. You can get discounts of UP to 40% off the points needed by booking these. Mainly, they are a resorts which have blocks of unbooked inventory or VERY high demand resorts which as some very limited inventory (to make the masses of owners happy).

Also, the resorts are kept up to date for the most part. Many great locations like inside the DIsney gates (Bonnet Creek), in the immediate Washington, DC area (Old Town Alexandria and sort of National Harbor), San Franciso (Union Square). Plus. alot of others.
 

jkkee

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It's also important to remember that booking at the 60 day mark means that you may have less options as many timeshare users make their plans in advance. That said, I've often been able to get great last min. deals with my Wyndham points.

Of your 5 top travel destinations 3 of them would require exchanging with RCI, and afaik would need more advance planning and may be more difficult trades. Remember many timeshare resorts are not located right in a major city, but based outside of them.
 

Rent_Share

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I would try a Wyndham point rental exit cost zero
 

DeniseM

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Only the hotel branded TS's will give you 4 and 5 star accommodations - Wyndham is a step or 2 down.

Hotel branded timeshares - Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton.

Since you want to trade internationally, I think Marriott would be a good match for you - of the 4 listed above, they have the most international resorts by far.

*TS Kitchens - We seldom cook a full meal in a timeshare either, but we do buy snacks, cold drinks, cereal, bread, fruit, sandwich stuff, etc. It's very convenient not to have to go out every time you want a drink, or quick sandwich. It's very convenient to be able to pack a lunch to go to the beach or sightseeing. It's a big money saver, too. Especially with your grandchild along - you will find a kitchen to be priceless.

I recommend that you start doing some reading on out Marriott Forum - start with the stickies at the top of that forum.

Here is a recent Marriott Newbie thread - http://www.tugbbs.com/forums/showthread.php?t=158311
 
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Tintexas99

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Thank you all for your replies so far.
They have generated some new thoughts and questions.
First I think I should change my top 5 trade destination to maybe Orlando, Maui, Boston, Chicago and Seattle. It seems like the International travel is becoming some of the focus and I don't want that to be a factor in the long term use of this purchase. That was just being used an example of how we vary our travel. I doubt we would seriously consider a TS for internationl vacations since we would be hopping from city to city.

Next, is there a different "star rating" for Timeshares that I may have missed? I'm really having trouble grasping that Wyndham properties may only be 2 stars. In my hotel experience, 2 stars usually is something like a Holiday Inn express and 3 stars could be an Embassy suites. 1 stars are usually Super 8, Motel 6 etc and I can't believe Wyndham is only a star level up from those. If there is an alternate rating, can someone point me to it? And if Wyndham is truly only 2 to 3 stars, I would like to drop my preference down to 2 stars and up.

Regarding the 60 day planning, that is our current travel habits, but we are open to planning further in advance. We just usually base our trips on last minute travel deals and we have saved over $400 per person on airline tickets by being flexible. ($1200 savings goes a long way for other things) I always use kayak and the +/- 3 day option. How do all of you book your airfare when you make your reservations 1 year or more in advance? Do you just wait and hope for a good deal to come along?

This TS will be a regular use for us. If for some reason we cannot use it one year, I have seen many references to banking the weeks/points. Couldn't we then use this option and then the following year we could use the banked points for a trip with twice the number or nights or even stay at a much nicer location or larger unit? Am I understanding that correctly. Additionally, we could gift the year to a family member or try and rent it to recover some of our MFs for that year. Either way, I am not concerned about paying the MF for one or two years and not being able to use it. Now doing that for 3 or more years, I will have a major problem with it.

Another question I have is, are most of the timeshare junkies on here retired (or self employed) which gives you more time, flexibility and options for your travel plans? I could see this as a major benefit in timeshare use.

Thank you all again for your helpful replies. I am just trying to do what is right for me and my family and don't want to get stuck in something that we are not able to get out of. I have seen too many of those horror stories.

PS. I'm still trying to figure out how some of you are getting your per night cost down to around $46 per night. :ponder: If anyone has insight or good examples of this please let me know.
 

ampaholic

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We chose timeshares for vacation for these reasons:

1. Tired of driving the RV to "get to" our spot.
2. Hated being stuck in a hotel room with no kitchen (like Denise)
3. There are plenty of them within driving distance of our home.

I winnowed down till I decided RCI Points was the "system" for me for these reasons:

1. We prefer more "mom and pop" (read owner controlled) type timeshares - no glitz or glamor and no presentations - just a clean unit with a pool at a location we want.
2. I find it MUCH easier to understand and thrive in than the other points systems (even RW MROP).
3. You can do all your reservations and shopping online or over the phone.
4. RCI Points give you the most bang for your buck - if you know what you are doing - IOW skillful use is rewarded as in all points systems, just more so in RCI Points.


Lest you look down at it - I have stayed three times at my resort at Meadow Lake and it is certainly NOT a step or two down from Marriott - maybe a half step only.
 

ronparise

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Regarding "stars"; When I travel its not the hotel that interests me...its the place Im visiting...In New Orleans or San Francisco, Im not interested in my kitchen; Im eating out. At the beach, I dont much care about the bathtub, Im in the ocean. In the mountains I dont care about the room decor, Im walking in the woods, enjoying the colors mother nature paints in the fall. And in Orlando its all about the Mouse, not my room. The Wyndham properties I have stayed at work for me; comfortable beds, lots of room and in locations I want to visit

Im retirement age, but not retired...I am self employed and can do a lot of what I do with an internet connection...So as long as the money holds out, I can go where ever and when ever I care to.
 

DeniseM

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Thank you all for your replies so far.
They have generated some new thoughts and questions.
First I think I should change my top 5 trade destination to maybe Orlando, Maui, Boston, Chicago and Seattle. It seems like the International travel is becoming some of the focus and I don't want that to be a factor in the long term use of this purchase. That was just being used an example of how we vary our travel. I doubt we would seriously consider a TS for internationl vacations since we would be hopping from city to city.

Next, is there a different "star rating" for Timeshares that I may have missed? I'm really having trouble grasping that Wyndham properties may only be 2 stars. In my hotel experience, 2 stars usually is something like a Holiday Inn express and 3 stars could be an Embassy suites. 1 stars are usually Super 8, Motel 6 etc and I can't believe Wyndham is only a star level up from those. If there is an alternate rating, can someone point me to it?

TUG has an entire ratings and reviews system based on a 10 point scale. If you join TUG ($15) you will have access to that area, plus other member's only features.

BTW - I OWN two Wyndham weeks and love them. But it's not a 4-5 Star resort. I'm not putting Wyndham down - just being factual and trying to figure out what level of accommodations the OP really wants.

Regarding the 60 day planning, that is our current travel habits, but we are open to planning further in advance. We just usually base our trips on last minute travel deals and we have saved over $400 per person on airline tickets by being flexible. ($1200 savings goes a long way for other things) I always use kayak and the +/- 3 day option. How do all of you book your airfare when you make your reservations 1 year or more in advance? Do you just wait and hope for a good deal to come along?

Timesharing works best for advanced planners, because you can put in a request at your home resort, or for an exchange, 12 or more mos. in advance. Savvy owners know that, so the high demand weeks, holidays and prime resorts, are usually reserved well in advance and are not available 60 days out. However, since you can travel any time, last minute travel will work for you if, you are very flexible about when and where you go. For instance, at 60 days out you are not going to get New Years week at a ski resort or a top Hawaii resort.

This TS will be a regular use for us. If for some reason we cannot use it one year, I have seen many references to banking the weeks/points. Couldn't we then use this option and then the following year we could use the banked points for a trip with twice the number or nights or even stay at a much nicer location or larger unit? Am I understanding that correctly.

You can deposit your timeshare with an exchange company like RCI or Interval International and use it the next year, but you usually would get a comparable exchange to what you deposit - not twice as much time or an upgrade. There are so many variable I can't really cover them, but in general you can trade for about the same quality of timeshare as the one you deposit. It's not the norm to get a fabulous upgrade when trading.

Additionally, we could gift the year to a family member or try and rent it to recover some of our MFs for that year. Either way, I am not concerned about paying the MF for one or two years and not being able to use it. Now doing that for 3 or more years, I will have a major problem with it.

Renting takes some know-how and effort, and you also have to own a resort with high demand and be able to reserve popular weeks. Don't count on renting.

I'm still trying to figure out how some of you are getting your per night cost down to around $46 per night. :ponder: If anyone has insight or good examples of this please let me know.

Although the price is important - in my opinion it's not the most important thing. It's great to spend $46 a night - but not if that puts you in a quality of timeshare you aren't happy with, or a system that doesn't have the locations you want, or a TS with poor trading power. Instead of focusing on price first, you should figure out which timeshare system works the best for you, and then figure out the best price within that system.
 
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Rent_Share

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Next, is there a different "star rating" for Timeshares that I may have missed? I'm really having trouble grasping that Wyndham properties may only be 2 stars. In my hotel experience, 2 stars usually is something like a Holiday Inn express and 3 stars could be an Embassy suites. 1 stars are usually Super 8, Motel 6 etc and I can't believe Wyndham is only a star level up from those. If there is an alternate rating, can someone point me to it? And if Wyndham is truly only 2 to 3 stars, I would like to drop my preference down to 2 stars and up.


Having stayed at Four Seasons Aviara (rental) and Westin/Starwood (Exchange) for the most part wyndham would be a 3 and the other hotel chains a 4-5

Essentially its' the difference between granite and formica with the remaining finishes and amenities esentially the same difference in quality.
 

DeniseM

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Having stayed at Four Seasons Aviara (rental) and Westin/Starwood (Exchange) for the most part wyndham would be a 3 and the other hotel chains a 4-5

I agree, except I think some of the older Wyndham resorts that have not been renovated are probably 2 Star and some of the brand new ones are 4 Star. I think the quality is more consistent in the hotel branded resorts. But again, our 2 Wyndham weeks on Kauai are our favorites - above our 4-5 Star Starwood timeshares.
 

glypnirsgirl

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Howdy neighbor - One of the disadvantages of our location is not having good choices, other than San Antonio and Galveston, within driving distance.

I have a wide variety of TS - 2 of my weeks are not on my list - both are Sheraton Broadway Plantation (SBP) which is in Myrtle Beach.

I use my weeks as follows - Disney I use for Disney.

The South African and Rayurn Country Club I use for depositing into RCI. I have made more trades with the RCI traders than with any other TS. I have used them for Virginia, San Diego and usually for trades into Disney. And then I use my Disney points to get the extra nights that I need to get cheaper air fare.

I have also used RCI to trade into the Hilton Club in New York City - that trade is for the middle of February next year. I am not looking forward to the weather, but it's New York.

And the SBP I have used for trading into really nice starwood resorts in Hawaii. This year, for the first time, I used SBP to go to places other than Hawaii. I traded into Marriott Surf Club in Aruba - beautiful beach, but not tropical like Hawaii. And I have a vacation planned for Hyatt Wild Oak in San Antonio.

I am self employed and my husband is employed. He has been with his company and receives 5 weeks of paid time off (it includes his sick time). It is harder for me to get away than it is for him.

I have way too much TS for a couple. We frequently travel with other couples or extended family - we have adult children and siblings without children so we frequently all go together.

I am happy with the variety of what I have. Only the SBP maintenance fees come due right after Christmas, for me. I pay all of them well in advance and I usually use the weeks up before they happen (I have used and/or booked all of my 2012 weeks already).

My husband has gotten tired of planning our trips around where there are timeshares. So this year we went to canyon country in Utah and Arizona - staying in cabins and hotel rooms after being used to the space and privacy in a timeshare is quite a shock to the system.

Soon I will be joining my husband in China. The hotel rooms there for two weeks cost more than all of our maintenance fees put together.

Negatives about timeshares - most do not have room service, almost none of them have daily housekeeping. Many of them are not in convenient locations. Many places where you may want to vacation do not have timeshares.

In addition, there is a necessity for planning in advance if you will be traveling during peak times. It is not necessary to plan in advance if you are not traveling in peak times and you are flexible about where you are going.

At one time, I was ecstatic about timesharing. I am still happy, but i am beginning to agree with my husband that I do not want to be planning all of our travel around where we can get in.

elaine
 

funtime

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You definately would benefit from a point based system of some sort rather than a full week. Although I love the Marriotts - there are no Marriotts in the Pacific Northwest. RCI has more NW resorts and more Mexican resorts in my opinion than II (Interval International). I would look into buying a Wyndham points timeshare on ebay or other timeshare on ebay - but be careful of maintenance fees. In that regard, at least in II, we have done almost just as well trading a one bedroom as a two bedroom and the maintenance fees are a lot lower. Good luck. Funtime
 

ampaholic

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Vacation is like a three legged stool - it works or tips over depending on the equality or unevenness of the three legs.

One leg is "time crunch" for vacation.

Leg two is "funding crunch" for vacation.

Leg three is "distance/difficulty" of vacation.

For example: An unemployed person in Atlanta might have all the time available in the world (a very long leg one) - but their vacation tips over because of funding - thus "any" distance fails and they must vacation in their back yard - even though Orlando is only 5 hours away.

Another example: A (really) well off family I know only stays at Four Seasons Hotels because the location choices and amenities match their TALL stool. Tall because of no crunches in time or money or distance/difficulty.

Me: I have medium "time crunch" and self imposed (I'm cheep) medium "funding crunch" so I have to choose medium "distance/difficulty" to keep my stool upright.

So while I can go to the Puget Sound area to enjoy the whales and beach-combing - I can't reasonably toss in mountaineering on Mt Rainer since the increase in difficulty would increase the time and money requirement.

Only you can judge how long you want your vacations legs to be. :wave:
 
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djohn75087

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2500? Mf's go up more than you might expect

Hey guys I’m kinda new to the timeshare. I own 385k Wyndham points paying about $1800 per yr in mf’s. On the question of what can you afford in Mf’s I think you have to look at what you will be able to afford in 10 yrs. Before I bought I took a look at the Wyndham forums mf’s spread sheet from 1994-2010. Mf’s just about double every 10-15 yrs. So, the question is not can you afford $2500 now, but do you think you can afford $5000 in 2026 or sooner. I can afford $3500 now, but I don’t want to pay $7000 in 2026. You also have to keep in mind that timeshares can be very hard to sell. So, be sure to buy what you can afford later. I’m betting that the timeshare will always be cheaper than renting similar accommodations but who knows.
 

Cheryl20772

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For example, some posts I read say do the research and look for a good deal on either weeks or points, still other people say just rent from other people who own and some posts say things like "I would not buy a timeshare at all right now." I am confused! :ponder:
So, my number one question will be, what is the opinion from the experts on here? Should we even be considering purchasing a TS at this time or are the comments like the one I just mentioned from people who have either been burned or they have a TS and want to keep people from buying so they can rent their unit out?
Something to consider is value for money to be paid. We own a float week in Daytona Beach and the Maintenance fee/comparable rental fee ratio is becoming worrying. When I see us paying $827.36 fees for an after-Labor Day week and rentals going for $70 to $110 per night, I begin to wonder if it's better to rent than to own. Renting doesn't come with the continuing fees or potential for special assessments and problems associated with getting free of the contract in the future. We are wondering today if this is a temporary thing from the bad economy and maybe in the future, rental prices will rise. Probably, if rentals rise, resale prices will also rise, but will we still be around to enjoy that?

So rental advice is not necessarily selfishly motivated, but possibly realistic.
 

WinniWoman

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With life the way it is and the economy not doing well, and the fact that you do not like to go to the same place twice , why not just rent a timeshare from an owner when you want to? I still think that the only time you should own a timeshare is if you would be happy going to the same place year after year, just in case you couldn't get the exchanges you wanted, within driving distance so you don;t have to worry about airfare, and to own a very long time to at least break even on your purchase price and/or maintenance fees.

We go to the same home resort 2x per year most of the time. I don't bother with exchanges and worrying if I can get what I want. I just rent from another owner and go to our home resort the other two weeks. I only subscribe to RCI just in case something happens and I can't use the timeshare, I can deposit the week and trade back in!:hi:
 

djlvi

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I would rent if I had a "Do Over"

I think if I had to do it over again, I would definitely rent rather than buy. I purchased week 52 at Westgate Park City--we were a ski family and enjoyed the amenities of this 5-star ski in ski out resort. But times change, kids graduated from college, divorce, etc and I still have the time share. Maintenance goes up every year. It is not as easy to rent as you might think although I was successful for two recent years. Exchanging with Interval International is a complete joke--another poster indicated that if you have a high demand week to request where you want to go first--I did it the other way and there is virtually nothing attractive to exchange to. Unfortunately, I am not an advanced planner ie, not making vacation plans a year in advance.

I would recommend that you rent from places that you might be interested in--here or Redweek.com. The owners are also often willing to negotiate. It will relieve you of the pressure, the maintenance fees currently and in the future as well as the fact that the timeshare is almost impossible to get rid of--especially close to a price that you paid.
 
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ronandjoan

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Telemark, Townhouses at St Augustine Beach and Tennis Club, Stoneridge Resort (ID)
You have been one of best Newbies for your research and planning. The Wyndham point system offers easy to get short and midweek stays like you like. You can read our BLOG to see how we do it.

We used to own Hilon GVC, but they had many fees, hard to reserve the right times and most of all, they were not nearly so nice as the Wyndhams. We've stayed at over 30 of the Wyndham collection and have not been disappointed.
 
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