When we use the word timeshare, we are not always talking about exactly the same vacation product. Some people use the word timeshare to mean a fractional purchase of a vacation property, others mean vacation club and for others, it is somewhere in between. So let’s take a look at what timeshare really means and the different variations of timeshare vacation ownership products.
Fixed Week Timeshare
A fixed week timeshare is what most people think of as timeshare who don’t own one. This was the most popular variation of timeshare in the 80s and 90s when timeshare first had its boom. This meant that you purchased one week intervals in a unit at a hotel or condo and would visit your suite at the same time every year, unless you made an exchange or swap. Later came flexible weeks, which meant that you bought week intervals for use within a particular season. The benefits of fixed week timeshare is that you know exactly when you will be taking a vacation or you can purchase the top holiday weeks like Christmas, New Year and Thanksgiving and be guaranteed a great accommodation.
Fractional ownership is much like the fixed week model with a key difference. Fractional ownership is deeded ownership, meaning that you own bricks and mortar rather than a membership of a timeshare club. Usually fractional ownership is for a month or more, and is more likely to be a property divided into 4 or 8 parts, shared amongst owners. There is no time limit on fractional ownership (it’s yours forever) and this investment can be gifted, bequeathed in a will, rented or sold like you would any real estate.
Right to Use
Most timeshare clubs offer right to use vacation ownership, in that you purchase a membership rather than a bricks and mortar investment. The advantage of right to use timeshare is that they are generally cheaper than fractional ownership investments. Right to use timeshare simply means that you invest in the right to use your property during certain times of the year. In fact, most timeshare models these days are right to use.
Points Based Residences Clubs
Nowadays, the best timeshare models are those based on points. A points based timeshare gives you greater flexibility about when you stay and what kinds of units you occupy. For example, you buy points to cover a one week stay in a particular level of accommodation in a hotel or resort and then those points can be used like credit towards any accommodations, staying for a shorter time in a more luxurious unit or a longer time in a lower level unit. Most points based timeshare clubs will also let you bank and borrow points to cover the kinds of accommodations you wish to use. It the resort is an all inclusive resort, you might also find there are schemes where you can use your points to pay for all inclusive meal plans and services at the hotel like spa treatments.
Vacation Club Discounts
Then there are those vacation clubs whose membership provides you with high discounts on associated hotels in the chain. That is, your level of membership will offer a certain level of discount to be a applied when you make reservations at the hotels within the resort chain. These kinds of vacation clubs tend to be large, global corporations, offering accommodations and experiences all over the world.
Vacation Club Exchange Networks
Finally, there are also vacation clubs that are exchange networks for timeshare weeks. Like an agent, these timeshare networks will match your timeshare week with other opportunities in other countries. You have the choice of joining these vacation club directly, or adding your timeshare week to their inventory for swaps.