A timeshare resort is a resort property that specializes in providing accommodations to owners who have purchased the right to stay in the resort during a set period of time. Timeshare resorts are often located in areas that are traditionally considered popular vacation destinations and are often very similar to a conventional hotel. In fact, timeshares typically offer the same level of amenities, attractions and features of conventional hotels and resorts.
Ownership in a timeshare is often referred to as fractional vacation ownership, since the owner purchases a fraction or share of a property. Ownership of a unit in a timeshare resort is generally divided into 52 shares or one share for every week of the year. Therefore, an owner who owns a 1/52 stake in the timeshare has the right to use the unit one week out of the year.
In a timeshare’s simplest form, an owner purchases a set amount of time and then stays in the resort for the same duration and during the same period every year. This type of plan offers the least amount of flexibility, but is generally the most economical. For those who prefer the ability to vacation in different locations and times of the year, there are other options that can be considered.
Some timeshare resort programs allow consumers to own shares during a season of the year, as opposed to only owning a specific week during the year. This is a popular option for those who like to vacation during a particular season of the year, but are unable to commit to the same week every year. There are also fractional ownership programs that enable consumers to purchase points or flexible shares. Owners purchase a set amount of points that they are able to use towards a resort stay. The amount of points required for a given stay may vary on the room, the time of year and the resort location.
Some programs no longer limit owners to only one resort. Companies that own multiple properties may offer clients the ability to stay in resorts other than their home property. Owners may also use the services of an exchange company. An exchange company connects timeshare owners and enables them to swap the use of the timeshares they own with another owner’s comparable timeshare.
As with all real estate purchases, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to owning a timeshare resort. The main advantage of owning a timeshare is that it enables owners to stay in vacation resorts at a generally lower cost than renting a comparable hotel room. The purchaser also locks in the price of staying in a resort during the duration of ownership. By essentially pre-paying for their vacation lodging at the time they purchase their shares, owners are able to lock in the price of their lodging at current rates for as long as they own shares.
Some disadvantages of owning a stake in a timeshare resort includes an often substantial down payment and an annual fee charged to owners for maintenance, utility fees and property taxes. In addition, there are typically fees and charges associated with swapping or exchanging stays with another owner. Another factor to consider is that while timeshares are often sold as a real estate investment, studies have shown that most owners sell their timeshares for less than the original purchase price.