Despite economy, timeshares drum up big business

Insiders recommend buying resale instead of directly from developers

Timeshare buyers are cautioned about labeling their weeks as "investments." Think of it as "prepaid vacations," timeshare developers famously say. While an investment, especially in real estate, often stands an excellent chance of making money, the usual return on a timeshare typically centers on enjoyment rather than cash. Timeshares continue to be big business -- more than $8 billion a year -- despite the sluggish economy. The American Resort Development Association ("ARDA") reports that more than 4.5 million U.S. households own one or more timeshares in 1,604 timeshare resorts. A growing number of entrepreneurs with an exceptional grasp of timeshare purchasing, closing and selling have begun to acquire inexpensive weeks at upscale resorts via resale channels, which they then rent out weekly or on a per-night rate comparable to what a nice hotel would charge. "We have people who will go to our Web site and buy 10 weeks at a time,"...