When it comes to hotels, these days $200 is the new $100 (per night that is.) Whether planning a business trip, or just a weekend getaway to the beach, I'm amazed at how hotel costs have risen. Not to say there aren't still deals for the savvy shopper, but many of these 'deals' come with restrictions, or don't allow you to see where you'll stay before committing to book.
My family still hasn't forgotten our first timeshare vacation - We arranged to rent a week at the
Atlantic Terrace, in Daytona Beach Shores, FL. When we arrived at the resort the first night, our room key was waiting for us in a lock-box on premises (not unusual for late check-in at timeshare resorts.) After unloading the car, and waking our son, we eagerly made our way up to a 4th floor unit. Once the door was open, it was clear this was not a hotel! The first thing that struck us was the spaciousness - our son immediately began running in circles through the two-bedroom unit. Even the largest suites at luxury hotels don't offer the space of a typical timeshare. With a full kitchen, comfortable furnishings, and a huge patio overlooking the ocean, our vacation felt more like borrowing a friend's beach condo, than renting a room by the night. The cost? $900 for the week.
If you're the type of traveler that likes to order room service, wants their car valet parked, and expects turn-down service in the evenings, you should not rent a timeshare. However, if you are interested in preparing at least some of your own meals on vacation, if you are traveling with family/friends, if the quality of accommodations is more important to you than the artwork in the hallways, don't book your next vacation before checking nearby timeshare rentals!
A quick search of the internet will provide you easy access to numerous timeshares for rent. It's a good rule of thumb to avoid rentals directly from the resort, as they typically require attending a sales presentation. Look for timeshares for rent 'by owner' - where the only cost is what you agree to pay the owner for use of their week.
You'll find some rentals offered during specific numbered weeks; consult a timeshare calendar to determine the week number that corresponds to your vacation dates. Other rentals will be listed as 'floating' - meaning the travel dates are flexible. After locating a timeshare you want to rent, contact the owner. Let them know what you will pay, when you want to check-in/out, and give your contact information.
Once you've agreed on the terms of your timeshare rental, the owner will need to let the resort know you will be using their week. The resort will issue a guest pass with your name on it, showing the dates you've agreed to. Once the owner forwards you the guest pass, you can confirm everything's correct with a quick call to the resort. After this, you'll need to pay - most owners will let you mail them a check (or cashier's check.)
When you get to the resort, you'll pay nothing! That's right, NO ROOM TAX, NO HIDDEN FEES! You'll need a credit card in your name to check-in, just like a hotel, but the only costs at a timeshare resort are incidentals (i.e. movie rentals, drinks at the bar, etc.)
Next, relax and enjoy a great vacation, and the quiet confidence of knowing you got the best deal around.