1 “Own the Fun”2 Why Consumers Buy5 How Vacation Ownership Works8 Purchasing Tips12 Exchange Tips13 Tips for Selling Your Timeshare18 Tips for Purchasing a Timeshare at Resale19 Be an Owner!20 Timeshare Terminology"OWN THE FUN!"Vacation ownership, also known as timeshare, isredefining leisure travel. This guide will detail how youcan get more out of travel by taking control of yourfuture vacations.Owning a timeshare is your ticket to better vacationing.This means an ever-expanding choice of accommodations,amenities, locations, pricing, use plans, andtimeshare exchange. You can tailor vacations to meetyour lifestyle needs and travel dreams at more than5,000 resorts in almost 100 countries around the world.Learn how you can enjoy the flexibility as well as thediscipline of better vacation planning and consistentquality accommodations. Whether you want to enjoythe beach, a snowy winter ski break, a pampering sparetreat, an Alaskan cruise, or an annual Thanksgivingreunion for three generations at a favorite resort, youcan choose the vacation option that works best for you!
Why Consumers Buy 2Spacious, high-quality accommodationsTruly a home away from home, the high quality ofaccommodations offered at timeshare resorts typicallyinclude:d Spacious floor plans and home-like amenities,compared with traditional hospitality accommodations;d Flexibility and space, from studio units to spaciousthree bedroom villas;d Fully equipped kitchen with dining area;d Washer and dryer, stereo, televisions, DVDplayers/VCRs; and more.Timeshare resort amenities often include:d Swimming pools, tennis courts, Jacuzzi, spa andfitness facilities;d Golf, boating, skiing, water sports, and amusementand theme parks on-site or nearby; andd Planned children’s activities.Flexibility 3Once you own a timeshare, the vacation choices areendless. The inherent flexibility of the timeshare conceptis offered through many alternatives in location, unitsize, time of year, and the opportunity to exchange toother resorts. Vacations can be at a fixed time or canvary each year, and accommodations can range from astudio to a two- or three-bedroom villa. As an owneryou can opt to visit your home resort or exchange toother resorts, spas, cruises, hotels, and specialty toursthroughout the world!Credibility of the industryAccording to industry research, trust is a key purchasemotivation cited by satisfied timeshare buyers. ARDAresort developers include some of the world’s mostrecognizednames in hospitality as well as establishedindependent resort developers.For more than 35 years, ARDA members have workedwith federal and state government officials in supportof legislation to protect consumers. As a result, inmost states, you have a right of rescission—a periodof time typically five to seven days during which youmay cancel a purchase contract for any reason withouta penalty. In addition, most states have laws or rulesthat ensure truth in advertising, that your timeshareinterest is protected from any financial problems thatmay affect the developer, and that you receive detailedinformation about the timeshare plan you are purchasing.These laws are designed so that you get the vacationsyou bargained for.
How Vacation Ownership Works 5Vacation ownership takes the hassle out of secondhome ownership. You purchase your future vacationsat today’s prices and for just the time you need.Make a one-time purchase of furnished resort accommodationsat a fraction of whole ownership costs andpay an annual maintenance fee. Each unit of a timeshareresort is divided into intervals most commonly by theweek or some other combination of days. Often theamount of time you purchase is expressed in terms of"points"– a popular trend that is aimed at increasingthe range of options for the use of your timeshareinterval.In a majority of resorts today, your vacation ownershipinterest will include a deeded interest in real estate.Other timeshare programs do not include an interest inreal property, but are structured more like a membership.How you actually use your timeshare vacation isgenerally not affected by the absence or presence of areal estate interest.The accommodations are priced according to a varietyof factors, including size of the unit, resort amenities,location, and season of use. You own the vacationaccommodations but only for the amount of time youchoose – typically one or two weeks each year for atraditional timeshare. There are other types of timeshareprograms, such as fractionals, offering longer useperiods (as long as three months), but these are pricedmuch more like a traditional vacation home.
Range of products 6The wide range of timeshare products available aredesigned to suit many lifestyles.The traditional interval week program offers owners theuse of their resort for one week, either for a specificperiod or season. With a points-based program, youmay purchase points that can be redeemed for all kindsof accommodations, resort locations, amenities, numberof days used, and other travel services. Many timeshareresort developers link their points program with otherlodging and travel loyalty programs, allowing you tomaximize your purchasing power and travel choices.Vacation exchangeExcitement, Adventure, and Luxury: Vacation ownershipoffers a lifetime of exciting travel adventures andluxurious services through exchange programs.Variety: From ski slopes to beaches, spas to luxurycruise ships, modern cities to quaint villages, championshipgolf courses to dude ranches, exchange offers avariety of vacation experiences. And accommodationchoices abound, with villas, efficiencies, condominiums,cabins, and more.How it works: You trade your interval or week for newand different vacation experiences at comparable resortsacross the country and around the world. Many resortsoffer owners the opportunity to exchange their timeshareto another resort within the home resort’s own portfolioof properties. Most resorts are also affiliated with anindependent exchange company that orchestratesexchanges to other resorts on behalf of members.To exchange, the owner places his or her interval into theexchange company’s pool of available resort weeks andchooses an available resort and week from that pool. Theexchange companies charge an exchange fee plus anannual membership fee. Often the resort developer paysthe new owner’s first year membership fee.Owners choose when: Most exchange companies andresorts offer their members the added benefit of saving(called "banking") vacation time for use in a subsequentyear. Timeshare intervals and points can also sometimesbe exchanged for airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars.Maintenance feesThrough their homeowners association (HOA) or clubmanagement, owners help maintain the quality andfuture value of the resort property. Yearly maintenancefees, which are set and directed by the HOA or club, payfor onsite management, unit upkeep and refurbishing,and utilities and maintenance of the resort’s commonareas and amenities. Depending on where the resort islocated, the annual fee may also include applicable realestate taxes or they may be billed separately. Theamount of the yearly maintenance fees typicallydepends on the size, location, and amenities of theresort and is paid by each owner in proportion to theamount of time and/or unit owned.
Purchasing Tips 8Buy because you plan to use your timeshare in thefuture. Consider your purchase as an investment infuture vacations, not in terms of a real estate or othertype of financial investment.Choose a vacation that fits your lifestyle. Think carefullyabout what you value most in a vacation and travelexperience, then explore the wide variety of vacationownership products and options available. Choosethose which will best suit your family’s needs todayand into the future.Visit a timeshare resort on your next vacation, or rent aunit to experience the quality accommodations andrecreational opportunities. While there, talk to existingowners about their experiences. Many developmentcompanies also offer mini-vacations or "sampler"programs which may provide discounted options for astay at the resort.
Read all documents carefully and understand what typeof product you are being offered. Ask for a clear explanationof the terminology and terms, such as "feesimple" (a real estate interest) or "right-to-use" plan(no real estate interest).Ask if the resort is an ARDA member. Membercompanies of ARDA agree to adhere to the ARDA Codeof Standards and Ethics.Look for signs of good management, such as wellmaintainedfacilities and resort amenities, good housekeeping,and friendly service. Take a look at the resort’sannual budget.Verify the resort’s affiliation with an exchange companyand learn about the resort’s internal exchange policiesand member benefits.To maximize your opportunities for exchange, buy themost desirable unit in the most popular season or thelargest points package you can afford. If your primarygoal in purchasing is to take advantage of theexchange benefit, know that the greater the demand forthe unit or resort you "bank" for exchange, the greaterexchange flexibility you will gain.Vacation ownership is one of the most highly regulatedvacation products in today’s consumer marketplace.Individual state timeshare laws govern the purchaseprocess. These laws usually address financial requirementsfor the developer, rescission rights, disclosuresabout the resort for consumers, and provisions forresort management. Be careful when purchasing avacation product that sounds like a timeshare, but isn’tregistered as one under state timeshare laws.
Exchange Tips 12Focus on the vacation experience as well as thedestination when exchanging.Think "what" before "where." With so many resorts inso many places and units and destinations not alwaysavailable at all times, think about activities andexperiences you would enjoy during your vacation.Allow vacation exchange representatives to assist youin finding the perfect destination.Advance planning pays off. Place your request as faras possible in advance of the dates you want to travelto maximize your chances of securing the vacation ofyour dreams.Tips for Selling Your Timeshare 13People purchase a timeshare to enjoy vacation experiencesyear after year that meet their lifestyle preferences.Occasionally, those preferences change, and an ownermay decide to sell. As with any sales transaction, duediligence is important.Timeshares should be considered a product to useand enjoy future vacations, even though they are oftena purchase of a real estate interest. Many factorsinfluence the resale price, including season, location,unit size, age of the resort, and availability of newproduct in the market. The value proposition of vacationownership is designed to come from use, not fromreal estate appreciation.Be as flexible as possible when requesting travel datesand resort locations. Listing several options enhancesyour chance for a timely confirmation.Consider a trip in the off-season or visit a lesser knowndestination that offers a similar vacation experience.Remember that resorts may have more small unitsthan large ones. If you are willing to accept a unit thataccommodates the number of people traveling,regardless of the size of the unit you are relinquishing,you enhance your exchange opportunities.
If you are interested in selling your timeshare, checkfirst with the resort developer or resort managementcompany to see if either offers a resale program or isaffiliated with a licensed broker that handles resales.If so, ask for the statistics on past resales.If you purchased in a resort area, there may be localbrokers who handle resales. Unless you are selling thetimeshare yourself, deal only with licensed real estateprofessionals. Check the real estate or classified sectionfor listings or with the state Real Estate Commissionwhere the resort is located. Commissions can rangefrom 10 to 30 percent because prices are low whencompared to home sales.Run advertisements on wide-reaching Web sites thatprovide an open marketplace so owners can obtainbroad exposure for a small cost. There are alsopublications and newspapers with appropriate timesharesub-sections in real estate or travel sections.Never relinquish the right to use your timeshare forany reason while selling. An unscrupulous companycould rent or exchange your timeshare without yourknowledge.Think twice before agreeing to pay large fees up frontto sell your resort property. Under most state realestate laws, resale companies without a real estatelicense can only "advertise" the timeshare on yourbehalf (which you can do yourself), but cannot legallyassist you in the negotiation or sales process. Askabout any upfront fee and how it is used to sell yourinterval.If you sell your timeshare, notify both your resort andyour exchange company in writing. Be sure to includethe date of the sale and sufficient information to identifythe timeshare interest and resort.
Timeshare Terminology 20Banking or Deposit - Depositing a week of timeshareinto an exchange system or inventory pool.Biennial - Use of a timeshare week every other year.Owners are often referred to as either "odd" or "even"year owners.Developer - The company owning the resort.Responsible for constructing the accommodationson-site and selling the product.Exchange Company - The system that allows timeshareowners to trade the accommodations they own forcomparable accommodations or travel-related services.Most resort companies are affiliated with an exchangecompany. Many resort companies offer an internalexchange mechanism that allows owners to exchangeto resorts within their company’s portfolio of resorts.Fixed week - A type of timeshare ownership in whichusage rights attach to a specific week of the year eachyear in perpetuity.Floating week - A type of timeshare ownership wherethe use rights are subject to the owner reserving his orher week within a season purchased (winter, summer,etc.) or sometimes throughout the year. A year-round"float" is most often found in resorts with similarseasons, like Hawaii or the Caribbean.Fractional Ownership - Leisure real estate sold inintervals of more than one week and less than wholeownership. Fractionals are usually associated with theluxury segment of vacation ownership, offering greaterservices and amenities.Home Owners Association (HOA) - The group ofowners that administer the rules and regulations of aresort. Creation of an HOA is often required by statelaws.Home resort - The resort location where a new purchaserowns his or her week or designated as the home resortin a club or points-based program. Ownership isusually tied to this home resort and generally involvespriority reservation rights in that location.
Interval or weekly interval - Vacation ownership asmeasured by a set number of days and nights of annualuse, usually one week.Lock-off - A type of timeshare unit consisting of multipleliving and sleeping quarters designed to function astwo discrete units for purposes of occupancy andexchange. The unit can be combined to form one largeunit or can be split or "locked-off" into two or moreseparate units, allowing the owner to split the vacationinto multiple stays or bank all or a portion forexchange purposes.Maintenance fee - A fee that timeshare owners arerequired to pay, usually on an annual basis, to coverthe costs of running the resort, including dailymanagement, upkeep, and improvements.Points - A "currency" that represents timeshareownership and is used to establish value for seasons,unit sizes, and resort locations. Points are used bysome developers for both internal and externalexchange.Points conversion program - An offering wherebyowners of a timeshare interval(s) pay(s) a fee to converttheir interval for the equivalent in points.Rescission - Sometimes called a "cancellation" or"cooling off" period. A period of time during which aconsumer has the right to cancel a purchase contractand obtain a full refund of his/her deposit with no penalty.Dictated by state statute and company policy, rescissionperiods vary from state to state, but range on averagefrom 5 to 7 days. This is another example of the strongconsumer protections built into timeshare sales.
Resale - A vacation ownership interest that is sold onthe secondary market by the original purchaser to athird party.Right to use - A timeshare owner’s right to occupy aunit at a resort for a specified number of years andhaving no real estate interest conveyed.Timesharing - A term used to describe a method of useand/or shared ownership of vacation real estate wherepurchasers acquire a period of time (often one week) ina condominium, apartment or other type of vacationaccommodation. Timeshare is also known as "vacationownership."Trading power - A term used for the value assigned forexchange purposes to a member’s deposited vacationtime.Trial membership - A product offered after the initialsales tour consisting of travel-related products andservices packaged with an opportunity to experiencethe resort developer’s primary vacation ownershipproduct within a defined period. Sometimes called a"sampler" program.Vacation Club - A term used to describe various typesof timesharing and usually involving use or access tomore than one resort location and other vacation andtravel services. However, the term is used for many differentpurposes, including "clubs" which may havenothing to do with timesharing.Vacation ownership - A term often used to describeresort timesharing.
The American Resort Development Association is theWashington D.C.-based professional associationrepresenting the vacation ownership and resortdevelopment industries. Established in 1969, ARDAtoday has over 1,000 members ranging from privatelyheld firms to publicly traded companies and internationalcorporations with expertise in shared ownershipinterests in leisure real estate. The membership alsoincludes timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resortmanagement companies, and owners through theARDA Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC).For more information about the vacation ownershipindustry and ARDA, visit www.arda.org or call202-371-6700.
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ARDA1201 15th Street NW, Suite 400Washington, DC 20005202/371-6700202/289-8544 (fax)www.arda.org