A Peek at Hotel Timesharing Ownership

We received a couple promotion packages to enjoy a 6 days 5 nights stay, with 90% off the cost, at some exclusive residence clubs, including IHG, Westin and Hyatt. We unsurprisingly tried all of them! Want to share some experience and learning here.

TL;DR: say NO at any sales presentation from developers (hotels).

TL;DR 2: if you have bought it at sales pitch, rescind NOW! You have 5–15 days (not much) to rescind.

TL;DR 3: if you are interested in the time sharing ownership, which is actually a pretty cool idea, you could buy one from a resale market.

I am SPG member, IHG member and Hyatt member thanks to Chase credit cards offers (which all offer free nights now) and I hold no doubt that all my credit and bank information were sold “for marketing and sales purposes”; we also normally stay in those hotels while traveling, either business or personal leisure, thus their marketing teams have every right to put us on their hunting list. ;)

The offers from those Residency Clubs are Irresistible: $1200 for a 6 days 5 nights 2 bedroom 2 bathroom stay, in an exclusive beach resort like Ka’anapali. A stay normally costs $1200 for a 2br here.

The experience of staying is extraordinary for family vacations, especially if you travel with your kids or parents:

  • Best locations.
  • Cozy 2 BR 2 BA to host the entire family.
  • Fancy private hotel pools (kid pools, adult pools, SPAs).
  • Stunning ocean view right in front your hotel room.
  • Luxury interior furnitures and linens — better than what we bought at home..
  • Vallet parking.
  • Tons of hotel activities: hula dance, photo shooting, keychain making etc..

ALL of these are contingent on you attending a sales presentation from them, it ranges from 90 minutes to 180 minutes, there is no free food. You should expect that:

The sales presentations are high pressure nightmares.

Believe it or not, we experienced it three times.. in order:

Westin at Palm Spring

  • This is the first time we received this sort of promotional package. It was a Westin resort in Palm Spring, southern California. Very relaxing experience and we could also cook at home.
  • We went to a sales presentation on the 3rd or 4th day there. The offer sounds amazing!
  • 1. Most hotel night normally costs $200–300 per room and if you have a 2 weeks vacation plan every year, you spend $3000–4000 every year on crappy hotels. If you have kids or live with parents, you need 2 rooms, that is $3000 * 2 = $6000. This is also pure cost with nothing return, like renting houses. Here at Westin Residence Club, you put a $60K down payment and pay an annual $2500 maintenance, you own a share of the residence property and you could spend 2 weeks in quality 2 BR apartments!
  • 2. You are not limited to this residence club and you could choose any of the 20 residence clubs under Westin brand. Westin Residence Club might also join force with Marriot to expand the offering (this is bs). If you want to explore other locations, you could also use Interval International to exchange with other owners around the world. In worst case, you could convert the stay as Westin points and stay in SPG hotels, super flexible!
  • 3. This is a real estate, aka. investment! Original customers pay only $6000 for a share and now it costs $60K, what about 10 years later, it is gonna cost maybe $600K! Real estate is scarce resource.
  • 4. You got SPG lifetime Gold status, 150000 SPG points ($2000 money value), SPG credit card with 0 APR the first year ($20000 credit line)

We didn’t even know what is time sharing before we made a purchase with finance. The sales person literally spent little effort to convince us. We actually felt fantastic after going back to hotel: “We own an investment property now! We bought a gift for our family!”, till we did some online research and found tug2.com. I was shocked by our genuine human stupidity. Good news is: it is not too hard to rescind.

Even though we were fooled once, the experience was not bad. We thought time sharing is actually a pretty good idea, so when the IHG and Hyatt offers arrived (almost same time), we accepted again to have another budget stay and learn a bit more on this business. We could rescind anyway.

IHG at Smoky Mountain

  • This was a horrible nightmare experience, and we regretted that we accepted this offer. We were also a bit panic about the future Hyatt sales pitch coming up in a couple months.
  • The pitch was supposed to be 90 minutes, but actually went on for more than 3 hours. Even though after the first 90 minutes, we politely indicated we have no intention to purchase today, the sales guy became anxious and walked us to a couple more show case rooms. Later, he even grabbed his manager to give another 45 minutes high pressure talk. It was nuts, at some points, we felt we could not get out of the sales office if we don’t make a purchase..

Hyatt at Ka’anapali

  • We know this is the last time we attend any time sharing sales pitch..
  • Interestingly, the sales representative here is much lower pressure than the rest. On a retrospective later, Ka’anapali is a much better location than any of the other two locations we stayed. Actually, in the sales office area we attended the pitch, there were two other tables, both tables made the purchase..
  • They all offered a return offer of $1999 for coming back to have another 5 nights stay but we are really exhausted by those 3+ hours sales presentations..so we declined this offer.

Why do they sell so hard?! Isn’t this a good idea?

The idea is good but the price is like a fraud. You only need a fraction of the initial downpayment at a resale market. They only tell you what is your current traveling cost and what is their offering, but there is no horizontal or apple to apple comparison.

Tell me what is a fair market price!

The fair market price for a one week stay in an Ocean View 2 Br Ba in Maui Ka’anapali, at Westin, Hyatt or equivalent levels, is roughly $17K. If you purchase at sales presentations, it will be more than $60K. The annual maintenance fee is around $2500.

I reckon the time sharing business is actually a pretty good idea for family vacations. We did more and more research and found quite some good resources discussing this:

  1. https://tug2.com/Home.aspx Timeshare Users Group. This makes us realize we were ripped off by the sales representatives at Westin and instructed us how to rescind the purchase. A lot of educational information there, which are super awesome, you could find a lot of helpful tuggers sharing their experience and knowledge in the forum. There is also a market place on the forum, haven’t tried yet.
  2. https://timeshareresaleshawaii.com/#/listings?resortCode=HGW Timeshare Resales Hawaii. This is a local time share resales company in Maui (has operated for 30 years), which we bumped into while staying there. The staffs are very welcoming and helpful. They explained different types of time sharing properties and gave us super useful recommendations.

If you are interested in time sharing as well, or have experienced similar, feel free to comment below!