Timeshare and Marriott Vacations – Caution Required !

I had been thinking about buying a timeshare or vacation property for some time and just before Christmas finally took the plunge. Timeshares are one of those funny things that people think of as financial investments, but in point of fact are really lifestyle investments. The difference being if you expect to make some money, then there are far better ways do to so than buying a timeshare – and in fact many people lose significantly.

Over all, the general reputation of timeshare salespeople is on a par with the ‘used car sales’ person caricature that most Canadians are familiar with, and there are many scams and outright thefts in the market. A good source of independent information about the whole business of timeshare is the Timeshare User Group (TUG) who operate a very useful site loaded with information. One thing they and other timeshare user clubs and support locations emphasise, is that buyers of new timeshare properties need to be prepared to loose up to 50% of what they originally paid if buying new. Definitely, this is a factor to be fully aware of, and potential buyers need to set their expectations accordingly.

A number of companies are considered to be ‘luxury class’, and these include companies such as the: Disney Vacation Club , Hyatt Vacation Club , Raintree Resorts , Embassy Vacation Resorts , Club Intrawest, Four Seasons Residence Club, Marriott Vacation Club and the Hilton Grand Vacations Company. These are for the most part large, well known brand names in the hotel and resort industry with a reputation to maintain, and as a result you can expect to pay a premium price but potentially may receive better quality and service. In some cases also, owners trying to sell their timeshare may benefit from a degree of price protection. Some resorts may require sellers give the resort first right of refusal to buy back your unit, so as to protect the ‘luxury’ image. At the end of the day however, if you do choose to buy new from one of these companies, you are dependent on the level of training and integrity of the sales staff involved, which as may be expected can vary widely.

Certainly our own experience buying from Marriott has been quite mixed – while my dealings Marriott Resortwith the Marriott agent in the US has been straight forward and so far without incident, this is not the case for my experience with the presumably well intentioned, but skill challenged folks I’ve had to deal with selling units for Marriott at their new facility in Spain. If it were not for the well trained and courteous customer support staff in the support centre that Marriott maintains in Cork, Ireland, I would have given up long ago and called in the lawyers as there has been one silly error after another. This ‘Laurel and Hardy’ level of competence was capped this week when, after waiting two and a half months for the deal to close, I finally received my ownership certificate from the Spanish sales office for a property I hadn’t bought, and which was of less value than what I’d paid ! I was less than pleased. Again, the good folks at Cork have had to step in to sort out this latest fiasco.

Overall, it has been an ‘interesting’ learning experience, but frankly not one I’m interested in repeating any time soon nor would I wish it on anyone else. One thing I am sure of – for my next timeshare purchase, I think I will probably look elsewhere than Marriott !!

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