So with all of the travel I have done in my life and on this blog, I may have briefly mentioned time shares once – like in passing when I explained that we have a timeshare in Hawaii – but otherwise my interaction with this concept has been rather limited.
The fact of the matter is the idea of time shares – or at least the opinion on time shares – has a tendency to be a polarizing topic. In one camp, you have those who see these as a money leak – you pay in all year to get a limited time in one location (that you can sometimes switch if the company you use has multiple interchangeable locals) and if you don’t have time to go every year or forget to book, you loose that money. On the other side, this guarantees a week or two (depending on your agreement) of vacation of your choice and you get to pick where you invest so you can pick a place you will want to go to over and over again or that you know has great trade-ins.
For us growing up, I had no idea we had a time share in Hawaii – we never went! what we did instead was go to Disney World a lot; mom worked for the company so we all got to go to the parks for free and our time share (as it turned out) let us trade in for Orlando, Florida. Even though I had no idea this was happening, it all worked out really well for my family – we had pretty frequent vacations or we could lend it out to others; plus we have now used the time share properly which is nice too!
But what else is there and why did I call it a micro-world of travel?
Well, this is exactly what I experienced at London Bridge Resort, Arizona with Ryan at the Owner’s Weekend.
So what the heck is this, you may be asking.
The owner’s weekend is a week or two that a timeshare will advertise for people who have a time share with the resort or company to come together and spend that time that they pay for all together. This ends up being like a one or two week reunion with people who go every year – the competition over rooms for the next year happens on the Sunday and cam get crazy fierce!
Yes, it is really a weekend where they are trying to get you more involved, spend more time, and spend more money, but you also get to talk to the people in charge to air complaints or talk about any changes you can expect in the upcoming year.
This isn’t to say it’s all costly and that it isn’t a lot of fun. You will get a lot of discounts both in the resort and from local businesses that depend on the resorts for revenue and a lot of these discounts and activities are put on for this week only – at least, at the prices offered at that time. Ryan and I got to do a mixology class for free – including drinks! – karaoke, there was a club, a fancy dinner, breakfasts, and different boat ride offerings.
The odd thing for us was the age difference. No one will be surprised when I say that (especially in this odd owner weekend situation) that the people who own timeshares tend to be in the latter part of their lives. At 26, Ry and I were 17 to 20 years younger than the couple closest to us in age and there was probably an equal age group between there group (minimum) and the main subset of owners. The world geriatric association was thrown around a lot. Still, with Ryan at my side, we jumped right in and had a lot of fun – and a lot of people who had many opinions on our life going forward which was another interesting experience.
So while experiencing this kind of weekend was interesting, just because you decide to buy-in to a timeshare, doesn’t mean you need to use it like this. As long as you book far enough in advance, you can use your time whenever you want during the year, so it is a lot like pre-buying a vacation. The biggest factor is figuring out what you are going to do with it, how functional it is, and demographics.
Ryan’s parents have two or three of these and they use them for really specific reasons. London Bridge tends to be for the parents – besides pools, there isn’t much in the way for kids. There are other lodges (I think he mentioned on in San Diego) that have full water parks and kid centers which are built more for young couples and young families – these also tend to be the more transferable locations in higher traffic areas.
The other cool thing is that these are inheritable – one of the timeshares that Ry’s parents have were his mom’s parents’ first. This means you can take over the existing contract and keep paying on it with your name on the lease without having to start from scratch.
I still feel like for most of my travel, I am more of a free-bird – I want to be able to pick where and when I go somewhere and spend my time and money rather than feel like I have to go to a specific place (or a shorter list) because I’ve already lost the money otherwise. I do really see how this investment can make you actually use your well earned vacation time – something not many people take advantage of and has been proven to improve your life and health!
Next week, I’ll talk more about the resort and give you a better picture of what was so fun about this crazy long weekend in Arizona, but for now…
This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.