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Timeshares vs. Vacation Clubs vs. Travel Clubs - Is There a Difference?
If you're a part of the travel or vacation industry or you just enjoy traveling, you've probably heard the terms timeshares, vacation clubs and travel clubs being used interchangeably.
You may wonder, are they all the same thing or does each concept have a different offering?
Here's all that you need to know about timeshares, vacation clubs and travel clubs.
- A timeshare is a shared vacation property ownership model where multiple individuals or families jointly own and use a property for a certain period each year
- Vacation clubs are membership-based organization that provides members with access to a variety of vacation destinations and experiences
- Travel clubs are organizations that offer discounts, perks, and other benefits to members for travel-related services and experiences.
- Some pros of timeshares, vacation clubs and travel clubs include; you are guaranteed quality vacations and as a member, you are not obligated to take care of the property
- Some cons include restricted destinations and limited travel dates
The contents of this article are for educational purposes only. They are not intended to be a source of professional financial advice. You will find experts on financial planning, financial management, and real estate here. More on disclaimers here.
A timeshare is a shared vacation property ownership model where multiple individuals or families jointly own and use a property for a certain period each year. In a timeshare agreement, the property is divided into "intervals" that are usually one week long, and each interval is sold to a different owner.
Typically, timeshare properties are condominiums, apartments or resort units in popular vacation destinations. Owners have the right to use their interval each year or may choose to rent or exchange it with other timeshare owners.
There are different types of timeshare ownership, including fixed-week ownership, floating-week ownership, and points-based ownership. Fixed-week ownership allows the owner to use the same week every year, while floating-week ownership allows the owner to choose a week within a certain period. Points-based ownership provides the owner with a certain number of points each year that can be used to book accommodations at different timeshare properties.
With more unconventional vacation properties coming into the real estate market, the traditional timeshare industry is slowly expanding and adapting to these changes.
Timeshares can be an attractive option for those who want a predictable vacation experience and are willing to invest upfront.
Vacation clubs are membership-based organizations that provide members with access to a variety of vacation destinations and experiences. Unlike timeshares, vacation clubs typically do not involve ownership of a specific property or week. They were originally designed to provide vacation club members with access to a variety of resorts and vacation properties where they can book for their future vacations.
To attain vacation club membership, one is usually required to pay an initial membership fee after which, you continue paying monthly or yearly maintenance fees.
Vacation club ownership basically allows club members to get access to any vacation property that is under the vacation club's inventory.
Vacation club programs may also offer additional perks and services such as travel planning assistance, concierge services, and exclusive experiences. Some vacation clubs may have restrictions on booking during peak travel periods or require members to book a certain amount of travel each year.
Travel clubs are organizations that offer discounts, perks and other benefits to members for travel-related services and experiences. These clubs can be either free or paid memberships, and they usually offer a range of services, such as discounted airfare, hotel bookings, rental cars and travel packages.
Many travel clubs operate on a membership-based model, where members pay a fee to access the club's discounts and benefits. Some travel clubs are affiliated with specific travel providers, such as airlines or hotels, while others offer discounts and perks from a variety of providers.
In addition to discounts on travel-related services, some travel clubs offer exclusive access to travel experiences such as tours, events and activities. Some travel clubs may also provide travel planning assistance such as itinerary suggestions and travel advice.
It's important to carefully evaluate the costs and benefits of a travel club membership before joining, as some travel club memberships may not offer significant savings or benefits compared to other travel booking options.
**Are Timeshares, Vacation Clubs & Travel Clubs Worth It? **
For people who enjoy traveling, timeshare ownership, vacation clubs and travel clubs might be a more convenient way to travel.
So, should you sign up for a membership or not? Here are a few pros and cons to consider if you're on the fence about timeshares travel and vacation clubs.
1. You are guaranteed quality vacations
As a timeshare and vacation club member, you are guaranteed a holiday each year. This of course depends on the nature of your contract or vacation periods as agreed with your respective entity(ies).
Whether you purchase a fixed-week, point based, floating week or fractional timeshare, vacation ownership guarantees you an excellent vacation experience. The specifics of your vacation are guided by the nature of your agreement with a specific timeshare company.
That means that you no longer have to worry about affording yearly vacations as the annual fees that you pay will cater for that.
2. You are not obligated to take care of the property
If you're among the timeshare owners of a property or are a member of a vacation club, you are not directly responsible for handling maintenance or making improvements to any property that you have access to.
You will of course contribute financially to the general maintenance of the property through the annual fees paid, but the major maintenance of the property will be handled by the respective owner(s).
3. The concepts can be more affordable than purchasing your own vacation home
Buying a home can be very expensive. Most of us are already aware of that.
According to the American Resort Development Association, or ARDA, the average cost of a timeshare in 2023 is roughly $22,180. For travel clubs, they can cost you anywhere between $2,500–20,000 annually.
Compared to the price of buying a vacation condo or home resort and maintaining it, it might just be more cost effective to buy a timeshare or join a vacation club.
4. You have the ability to buy a secondhand timeshare for less
Timeshare owners at times want to opt out of this arrangement because they can no longer afford it or maybe just because they don't use it.
It is possible for you to buy a secondhand timeshare in the timeshare resale market, which typically goes for 0% to 10% of the retail price, according to Timeshare Users Group. Purchasing it this way means that you may not have to pay the upfront fees of the timeshare.
A thing to note however is that, in case the current timeshare owner is behind on annual maintenance fees, this cost also transfers to you as the new owner.
5. Greater affordability as compared to one-off annual vacations
Planning a one-off vacation can be quite costly especially if you're making bookings during peak seasons or if you're traveling with your entire family.
With vacation ownership, you don't have to worry about this. You are assured of going to the holiday of your dreams as scheduled as long as you're up to date with the payment of your maintenance fees.
1. Restricted destinations
Timeshares can restrict you as you only get to visit the same place every single year.
With travel clubs and vacation clubs, you might only have access to resorts and properties that are club-owned. If the vacation club doesn't own the property, you won't be able to spend your holiday at that destination unless you make your own separate arrangements. Of which, what's the point when you're part of a travel or vacation club?
2. Limited travel dates
With a timeshare, the different owners can only use the property on specific dates as allocated. That means that you won't have access to the property whenever you want.
On the other hand, you might think that since vacation clubs have access to several resorts, you have more holiday spots to choose from, right? Wrong.
Club members still face restrictions as a result of blackout dates. These are basically dates where the resorts won't allow club members to vacation because they contain holidays. The way out of it is to basically pay more money, which beats the whole purpose of the arrangement.
3. The fees may become unaffordable
Based on historical data, annual dues paid to vacation clubs are set to rise each year. A great example is the Disney Vacation Club (DVC). In 2010, annual dues per vacation cost roughly $4 to $7. In 2023, the annual dues per vacation cost roughly $8.
The same case also applies to timeshares. Timeshare owners of a vacation home might be required to pay a special assessment when the property needs to be upgraded, since these costs can't be covered by the reserve funds.
Such factors might lead to these memberships becoming unaffordable.
4. Restricted family access
With a timeshare, you can travel with whoever you want to the vacation home. Just as long as it's within your allocated time slot.
For vacation clubs, this isn't the case because club membership is usually given to only the person who pays for it.
This means that you might not be able to bring your whole family on your next vacation, depending on the type of membership that you bought.
5. Price for initial purchase
To join a vacation club, you have to pay an initial membership fee which can be expensive. Membership fees can range anywhere between $5,000 to $30,000. For a luxury membership, it can range anywhere between $100,000 to $1 million.
On the contrary, an American vacation cost an average of $2,037. Much cheaper than most deals that vacation clubs would offer you.
Can you find better vacation deals without having to break a bank?
Yes you can!
With a group of luxury vacation rentals like Resthaven Properties, anyone can rent the available properties or even become a member by paying the traditional way or using NFTs.
Resthaven Properties is a collection of Black-owned luxury vacation properties. Resthaven Properties focuses on acquiring vacation property across the world's best travel destinations for predictable income and appreciation.
So far, the luxury properties under the Resthaven Properties portfolio include: Resthaven Los Angeles, Resthaven Tahoe, Resthaven Zihuatanejo and Resthaven Portugal. Resthaven Properties operate under membership options that disrupt traditional lodging and timeshare accommodations by implementing a pay once and use for a lifetime strategy.
For more information on the properties, contact us today.
The Bottom Line
Before you opt into any sort of club membership or buy timeshares, do an analysis and see how a vacation ownership program can be of benefit to you and or your family.
We all deserve some vacation time to desirable destinations every so often. Just make sure that holiday is within your budget and that you're getting your money's worth.
Bay Street Capital Holdings
Bay Street Capital Holdings is an independent investment advisory, wealth management, and financial planning firm headquartered in Palo Alto, CA.
The firm manages portfolios with the goal of maintaining and increasing total assets and income with a high priority on managing total risk and volatility. Although many advisors may focus on maximizing returns, they place a higher priority on managing total risk and volatility.
Founded by William Huston after 13 years of supporting the United States' largest retirement plan ($650B) Thrift Savings Plan, Bay Street was founded to advocate for diverse and emerging fund managers and entrepreneurs.
In 2021, Bay Street was selected as a finalist out of over 900 firms across the US in the category of Asset Manager for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).