I love to travel. As much as I love Los Angeles, there’s really nothing better than seeing new places for the first time. I’d much rather vacation somewhere I’ve never been before than revisit a place I’ve already seen.
So it makes my husband crazy that I’m a big advocate of timeshare properties. I can’t resist the offers that arrive by mail for next-to-nothing room rates and other goodies. I’ve dragged him to more free weekends and made him sit through those high-pressured presentations more times than I would care to admit. I’ve calculated the numbers, pitched him the idea again and again. He hates it. He wouldn’t own a timeshare if they gave it to him for free. Really.
I guess he should’ve known that he was in for a lifetime of timeshare hell just a few months after we moved to L.A. back in 1984. I’d dragged him to a timeshare meeting for a new place in Big Bear. Now if you know my husband, he’s really not a Big Bear sort of guy. And talk about pressure. We weren’t leaving that room unless we submitted to one-on-one arm wrestling with the sales person.
We managed to take a “spin” at the wheel of prizes and won an exercise bike. We took the bike home and after spending three hours assembling it, we discovered it was missing the right pedal.
Hey, what do you expect for free?
So when I grilled my husband to find out why he thinks there isn’t a timeshare in our future, I was surprised at his response. It’s not just the cost, he said, nor the commitment to knowing where and when we’re going to vacation for the next 20 years.
No, the thing that irks my husband the most about the timeshare experience is having to go back to the same place, over and over again. He has nightmares about it.
Now he knows all about the trading and swapping that is supposed to happen with these things. That’s all part of the pitch. But as he so keenly pointed out, who wants to swap their fabulous villa in the south of Spain for ours in San Diego? And then there’s the possibility of spending every vacation with my family (which is my big pitch for this purchase).
Everybody’s getting into it, I told him. There must be some place out there that would appeal to him. Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Westin – they’re all developing their resort real estate into upscale timeshares and villa homes run by hotel management companies to attract people like us.
Nope, no interest.
So it surprised me that he recently left a magazine open to a page advertising, “Exclusive Resorts.” The program enables you to rotate your choice of luxury villa or home (like a timeshare) but you never have to go back to the same place twice. And new and beautiful mansions are on the list. There’s a seemingly endless choice of fabulous places to go, and additional days when you want them. “Effortless travel.”
Impressed by the ad, I immediately checked out the Web site to investigate the offer.
And there it was: a $375,000 (80 percent refundable) membership fee. $375,000? Are they talking to us in this ad? Plus, you’ll pay between $15,000 and $25,000 annually for maintenance. Yikes! That sounds more like a home purchase.
I guess the joke was on me. Because when I looked further to see how to score the “free weekend,” there wasn’t one–not even if I listened to a presentation.
But I can “make the world my second home,” the ad stated. After all, that’s what my husband was looking for anyway.Julie Brosterman is a consultant to the real estate technology, mortgage and servicing industries. After she spent 15 years in the title insurance industry, the Internet “spoke” to her and she has never looked back. She lives in Los Angeles and can be contacted at email@example.com.
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