Full disclosure: I have only been to 3 timeshare presentations in my life (Hilton Elara in Las Vegas, Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui, and Hilton Waikoloa Village in Kona), so I am no timeshare expert. I am not married, so I go to the presentations by myself. I have never gone to a presentation outside the US, but I have heard nightmare stories about timeshare presentations in Mexico lasting hours. Proceed at your own risk!
Good morning everyone, greetings from my local Peet’s Coffee at the SF Ferry Building. Between the pushy salespeople (usually a small sales team), lengthy presentations, and overpriced fees, timeshares get a bad rap in the travel community. But, if you can sit through the presentation and leave without buying a timeshare, the sales presentation can be worth your time. To illustrate this point, I want to tell you about my 2 timeshare presentations in Hawaii last week.
The first presentation was at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui, Hawaii, where I was staying thanks to the targeted vacation package offer I received a few months back. I wrote about the offer details here, but to recap, I received 6 days / 5 nights in a villa studio, 5,000 SPG points, and a 6 day Avis car rental for $798. I value 5,000 SPG points at $100, the Avis car rental at $150, so that means the stay in the studio villa cost about ~$550 for 5 nights in Maui. That’s a great deal if you ask me. The property is very nice, I loved the $5 Mai Tais during happy hour (4-6pm and 8:30-10pm) and the pools were great. Valet parking is only $12/day or $10/day for self parking.
As an incentive to attend a timeshare sales presentation, I was offered my choice of 6,000 SPG points, $100 resort credit, $100 spa credit, or a sunset sail for 2 people. If I was on the trip by myself, I would have chosen the 6,000 SPG points, but my travel companion wanted to do the sunset sail for 2 (since she would “never see the 6,000 SPG points” – very true).
We enjoyed our sunset sail on the Teralani 2 catamaran and even got a nice picture souvenir of our trip. The catamaran does have an open bar and appetizers. The ride was a little choppy at the beginning, so if you get seasick, I recommend taking some medicine prior to boarding.
After spending 5 nights in Maui, we flew to Kona for another 5 nights and stayed at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, which comes complete with its own monorail that connects the lobby to all 3 towers. I used a combination of cash and points for the first 2 nights (20,000 Hilton HHonors points + $125 for each night) and 3 free night certificates. 2 free night certificates came from my new Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card and the third was from my old Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Credit Card after spending $10,000 on the card in a cardmember year. By staying on points/certificates, you avoid the $30/day resort fee, but the valet parking was $30/day not waived (self parking is $25/day). The hotel has a ocean-fed lagoon (pictured below), where you can rent snorkel gear, stand up paddle boards, kayaks, and more. There are 3 different pools with a few water slides and a dolphin tank where people can swim and train the dolphins.
As a Hilton Diamond elite member, I received 10 $10 dining credit vouchers for my stay. Since I was staying there 5 nights, I figured 2 vouchers per night. I’m not sure if Hilton Gold or Silver elite members get these vouchers, but you can use them at all restaurants and cafes on the property and apply as many as you want toward the bill. I used 6 vouchers for breakfast and my final bill was under $4.
While I was waiting for my breakfast check, a Hilton Grand Vacation Club (timeshare rep) came to our table and asked if we needed help planning any activities. She also asked if I was a Hilton Grand Vacation Club owner. I said no, but I am a Hilton Diamond elite member. Her ears perked up and she asked me if I would be interested in attending a timeshare presentation in exchange for $100 resort credit or 40,000 Hilton HHonors points. I quickly choose the points option, but I am sure I could have bargained for 50,000 Hilton HHonors points or more. The following morning, I attended the timeshare presentation and left with 40,000 Hilton HHonors points in my account. 40,000 Hilton HHonors points is worth about $200 to me and covers the “points” portion of the cash and points stay for the first 2 nights.
Just as I was working on this post, I received a timeshare offer from Hyatt for a stay at their Hyatt Pinon Pointe in Sedona, Arizona. For $249, you can stay 4 days / 3 nights in a 1 bedroom suite, and receive 10,000 Hyatt points (worth about $150), making this stay about $100 / 3 nights, or $33 a night. You must purchase by October 31 and complete your stay before June 30, 2017. If you have any interest in a cheap vacation to Sedona, I would definitely consider this timeshare offer.
Here are the complete terms and conditions of the above offer:
ELIGIBILITY/HOW TO REGISTER: To participate in this offer and receive 10,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points, guest must book by October 31, 2016 for a 4 day, 3 night stay in the best available room up to a 1 bedroom, 1 bath suite at Hyatt Pinon Pointe, a Hyatt Residence Club Resort during the Promotional Period and meet the following qualifications:
• Attend a 90 minute sales presentation (not exceed 120 minutes) at the Hyatt Residence Club sales center during their stay.
• Have an annual household income of at least $75,000 and be at least 25 years of age and cannot have attended a sales presentation at any Hyatt Residence Club resort in the past 12 months.
• If you are (i) married, (ii) cohabitating, (iii) engaged or (iv) single and bringing a companion, we require that both parties travel together as part of the package and attend the private sales presentation.
View complete Details of Participation.
PROMOTION PERIOD: Promotion begins October 17, 2016 and ends June 30, 2017 (“Promotion Period”).
BONUS POINT POSTING: Please allow 30 days from the end of your sales presentation for bonus points to be posted to your Hyatt Gold Passport account.
GENERAL CONDITIONS: Inventory availability is limited and varies by Hyatt Residence Club resort location and unit. Inventory is typically offered on a relatively short term basis. Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this promotion with a suitable substitute offer of equal value (if legally required) at any time due to actual circumstances. This promotion is subject to the complete terms and conditions of Hyatt Gold Passport, available at goldpassport.com. Void where prohibited. The trademarks Hyatt®, Hyatt Gold Passport®, Hyatt Residence Club® and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation.
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THE PURPOSE OF THIS ADVERTISING IS TO ATTEMPT TO SELL YOU A TIMESHARE INTEREST IN ARIZONA.
What is it like to go on a timeshare presentation?
- You speak to a friendly timeshare rep who asks you how you like to travel, how many nights a year you travel, how much you pay per hotel night (on average), and how many years you plan to travel. After factoring in inflation, they show you a huge number (mine were both $600,000+) and then they tell you that is how much you will spend on travel over the rest of your lifetime. They then try to sell you on buying a timeshare presentation for a fraction of that amount. You may go on a tour of the units and talk about peak times of the year.
- The “inventory manager” comes in and tells you that they have a perfect room for you, that just came available and that there is a promotion for this unit. He/she tells you this offer is too good to last and you need to act fast. You politely decline stating the price is too high. They then scour their inventory sheet for the cheapest room available, do some calculations on total purchase price, down payment, closing fees, and financing (usually 15% or higher). Politely decline that offer due to price.
- The rep and “inventory manager” will leave the room and then the “quality assurance” / “customer satisfaction specialist” will come in and ask you some questions about the presentation. Were you treated professionally? Were you unsure of anything mentioned in the presentation? Then they lead into these questions… Does the idea of vacation ownership entice you at all? Yes? Would you be interested in coming back in the next 1-2 years, staying at the property in a nice 2 bedroom unit and attend a followup presentation? Yes? We have a great offer for you for $2500 + a bunch of bonus points.
- At this point, you can accept their offer and get a discounted vacation next year, or you can decline the offer. Both times, I declined their offers since the price was too high for me. At that point, they thank you for coming, walk you out and get you set up for your gift/bonus for attending the sales presentation.
As always, going to timeshare presentations can be tricky. The salespeople are very good at what they do and make vacation ownership look very enticing. They can work the numbers to make an expensive purchase look very affordable. I equate going to timeshare presentations like going on a test drive in a new car (like test driving a Cadillac CTS for 7,500 American Airlines miles). If you are not planning on purchasing, just go with the flow, enjoy the conversation, and walk away after your time is up. If you know what you are doing, going to timeshare presentations can be very informational and rewarding (for the free gifts/bonuses). If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great day everyone!