In this post I’m referring to renting a unit from a timeshare owner. I’m not talking about the promotions where you listen to a sales pitch to get a discount on your stay. If you rent from an owner, there is no obligation to attend any presentation. You might get asked to do it but you are free to decline. Anyway, there’s a website where timeshare owners post rental offers within a 45 day period at a capped rate. If you’re someone who likes to book last minute travel deals, this is perhaps a good site to know about.
A Little Background
I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t know much about timeshares but my view is generally negative. People get convinced by skilled salespeople to buy something for a high price that is often literally worthless on the resale market. A lucky few discover their error in time to reverse their purchase.
A good website for information on the topic is the Timeshare Users Group. Many people have apparently saved a lot of cash by rescinding their contract on the advice of forum members. They claim to have saved regretful buyers more than 14 million dollars. Those who missed the rescission window can use the forum members’ tips to make the best of their situation.
Conversely, there are others who go into the world of timeshares with their eyes wide open and are able to make good use of the various programs. Like points and miles, the key is to be well informed about all the rules and nuances. On a flight a couple of months ago I spoke to someone who has worked the programs to get cheap stays for many years.
Timeshare properties vary greatly. However, many are affiliated with major hotel chains such as Hilton Grand Vacations, Marriott Vacation Club, Hyatt Residence Club etc. and I expect those would have particular appeal as having a certain base standard of quality.
The Rental Market
Owners can’t always use their timeshares so there is a market for renting them. A couple of rental websites I’m aware of are Redweek and SkyAuction. In addition to those, the TUG website has a searchable marketplace where owners can list their units for rent.
Last Minute Deals
My interest lies in the listings posted on a special board for last minute rentals on the TUG website. These are capped at $115 USD per night or $800 for a week. The rental must begin within 45 days of the listing.
I like that you can see the TUG profile of the owner so you know if the person is a long time active member of the forum. It’s a bit reassuring to know that the person is likely legit. Truthfully, this is what makes the whole timeshare rental idea worth considering for me.
There are also rules associated with posting rental offers. My understanding is that stays booked through exchange companies are not permitted and I have seen posts removed for that reason.
I suspect the listings come from two different groups. The first are owners who have to cancel their trip or can’t travel for some reason and want to recoup some cash against their annual maintenance dues. As is the case with one of the current listings (the Marriott Playa Andaluza one), the circumstances behind the rental may be very unfortunate so it’s nice if that owner can find someone to rent the unit.
The second group, I think, have points and are able to book an available unit somewhere they believe is easily rentable. I’m assuming if it doesn’t rent, they just cancel the booking. That would explain the users with multiple listings although I suppose the individual could be a broker of some sort.
Although I’ve never personally rented a timeshare, I’ve been checking listings occasionally for a while. Most are for warm weather resorts in vacation destinations like Florida, Arizona, Hawaii or the Caribbean but there are urban properties offered from time to time as well. I’ve seen San Francisco, Boston, New Orleans and New York. Sometimes pricey ski destinations will pop up too.
Not all rentals are for one week. I’ve seen weekends, 4-5 night stays as well as 2 week periods.
If it’s a really super deal it goes quickly. If not, the owner might drop the price as the check-in date approaches.
Avoiding the Sales Pitch
Even if you’re renting from an owner, you might still get hassled to go to a sales presentation. I’ve heard of people unplugging the phone in the unit if they call repeatedly. I imagine at some places they will listen to you the first time and it’s fine for the rest of the stay, but at others you have to decline more firmly. If you decide to go to the sales pitch be prepared to get up and leave after the allotted time because they tend run long and you don’t want to waste your precious vacation hours.
I thought it was worth putting this on the blog today as the last minute rental period for Nova Scotia March Break will open tomorrow. Anyone looking for somewhere to go can monitor the listings in case something great appears.
If you don’t have any hotel points to redeem and are not inclined to rent an apartment or house through a site like Airbnb or VRBO, these timeshare rentals are an interesting potential budget option. They are especially enticing if you have flexibility to travel last minute and can score a cheap vacation at a nice property.