Before I get to the stuff about renting a timeshare, I’d like to mention a bit of important info. If you know someone who just recently bought a timeshare directly from a developer for a lot of money, please remind them to check the rescission period in the contract (for example, it’s 10 days in Florida) and examine the re-sale market for the one they purchased. I know there are exceptions, such as winter weeks at ski resorts, however many timeshares can be purchased resale for a tiny fraction of the retail price or for free.
An excellent website to learn about timeshares and see resale prices is Timeshare Users Group. Anyone who wants to learn anything about timeshares should read some of the articles and discussions on TUG. I’m certainly no expert on the topic but I’m more aware of the realities of the timeshare world after reading that site and watching the documentary “Queen of Versailles”.
For a bargain hunter with some flexibility, the deal is renting a timeshare from an owner, not buying one yourself. There are some things to be aware of though. First, most of the rental periods will be for one week so if you tend to take shorter or longer trips it might not work for you. Second, it’s apparently prohibited to rent an exchange. So if a timeshare owner exchanges his or her week to use at a different resort, it cannot be rented to a third party. Thus, care should be taken to ensure the rental is a permissible one. The upside to renting a timeshare is that you’ll be getting more spacious accommodation than a typical hotel room. And the rental price will be less than a direct booking with the timeshare property.
The website mentioned above is a good one to check for rental options. You’ll find them in two places: 1) In the Discussion Forums there is a ‘Last Minute Rentals” section with “Rentals Offered” and “Rentals Wanted” forums. These rentals must be for stays within the next 45 days and the price must be no more than $100 USD per night. 2) At the top of the site there is a link called “Marketplace”. There you’ll find additional rental listings.
The Last Minute Rentals on TUG often offer great bargains for someone who can book a trip on short notice. One can click on the username on the rental ad to see how long the person has been a member of TUG and perhaps read some of his or her contributions to the forum.
Many of the rentals will be at resort properties but occasionally you will see ads for city based accommodations. One example where you can save a lot by renting a timeshare in a city with high hotel rates is San Francisco.
Other websites with rental listings include Redweek (membership fee) and SkyAuction, where, as the name indicates, one may bid on a stay as well. There’s also an interesting option through SkyAuction where you can purchase a vacation rental certificate for a 1 week stay for $250 USD + $20 USD processing fee. Click on the “Hot Deals” heading to see details and check availability.
The other way to get a deal through a timeshare is by booking a special discount rate that requires attendance at a sales presentation. Be advised that these presentations usually run long and can be high-pressure. I know that some people consider them a minor inconvenience in light of the low price for the stay. Others find them extremely unpleasant. I have a vague recollection of going to one with my parents back in the ’80s. I found it boring and remember my parents saying “no thanks, we’re not interested” multiple times to multiple people.
If you stay at a timeshare and attendance at a sales presentation is not part of the deal, you may be offered various incentives to go to one. Don’t go if you have trouble saying no.
One final note to anyone who happens to own a timeshare. Be very cautious about anyone who says they have a buyer for your timeshare. If you’re required to make any sort of payment – it’s a scam. And with anything timeshare-related, remember to read the fine print.