Compared to Hotels, Do Timeshares Make Sense?

Timeshares vs. Hotels

If you and your family own a timeshare, can afford the associated fees, and love the destination, then maybe you made the right choice. However, if these fees have become insurmountable and the destination is getting stale, this blog might prove beneficial. I’m going to take a moment to compare the costs and benefits of hotel travel as compared with timeshares.

Timeshares are a luxury item that most people simply can’t afford. Ignoring for a moment the staggering special assessments and maintenance fees, even the fundamental cost of buying a timeshare is just too much for the average family to manage. Unfortunately, these fees can’t be ignored, and they often rise to more than $1,500 per year for timeshare owners. So when typical people want to take their family on a vacation, they do it the old-fashioned way – by spending their time at a hotel. This method may not have the sexy glitz and glamor of timeshare ownership, but what these trips lack in water cooler status, they make up for in affordability and the freedom to choose a new destination every year.

Destination Freedom

One of the major drawbacks of timeshares is that, by signing a contract locked in perpetuity (i.e. the contract is eternal and will be passed down to your kids), you’re committing to an annual vacation to the same location every year for the rest of your life. In high school, I went to Clearwater Beach, Florida two years in a row for Spring Break. I had a great experience on both occasions, but I soon learned that it’s easy to get bored with a vacation destination. When I visited my sister who had moved to that area a few years after I graduated, it just wasn’t the same. The beaches were still beautiful, the sun still shined brightly, and the jet skiing was still a riot, but that flair was somehow lacking.

It’s true, there’s nothing quite like the excitement of an entirely new, fresh experience, but with repeated use, that excitement can become ordinary very quickly. However, when you’re able to choose a new vacation destination every year, your trip will always yield new and exhilarating adventures! Most timeshares don’t afford the owner the opportunity to explore different locales, but by visiting hotels, you open up a world of travel possibilities.

Oh, the Financials

It’s time for everyone’s favorite subject: math! I’ll try not to bore you with the figures, but please bear with me for a moment. Let’s remain conservative and say that you purchased your timeshare for $20,000. If you’re planning on using your timeshare for the next 30 years, that works out to roughly $670 per year. This works out to be roughly the same amount that most families of four would spend to reserve a mid-range hotel in a trendy vacation spot. But we left out the maintenance fees. Even if we kept these numbers relatively low, most timeshare owners would still have to tack on an extra $500 annually. Put together, these figures work out to $1,170 that would come out of your bank account every year.

For the sake of objective comparison, I did a little travel research on I entered in a six-night stay at the Westin in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for one of the busiest times of year – the end of March, which traditionally marks the Spring Break period for students. I found accommodations for $136 per night, which, when multiplied by the six nights that most people would spend during this time, the number comes out to $816; that’s more than $350 less than the annual cost of timeshare ownership!

To be fair, the average hotel room can’t compete with the fancy amenities that many timeshares offer, but for the family that prefers to spend their vacation actually enjoying the sites and activities of a new place, the money saved could easily be used for several big-ticket activities such as ski-lift tickets or a trip to an amusement park. Not only that, but there would probably still be money left over for a nice meal or spa visit.

In the end, vacation options will vary from person to person. The most important thing is getting the most enjoyment out of your trip for the least amount of money. Some people feel this is achieved by visiting their timeshare, while others prefer to scope out new places every year and stay in a hotel. If you already own a timeshare, but would rather save money and travel to new destinations every year, perhaps it’s time that you consider transferring your timeshare contract.