Many timeshare owners have made complaints in respect of online accommodation agents such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor and trivago advertising vacant weeks in many timeshare resorts where there are still owners paying their maintenance. These resorts are also allocating rooms out to major tour operators such as Thomas Cook and even going as far as letting rooms privately to non-owners on their own websites.
All of these agencies are offering the accommodation rental at a considerably lower rate than the maintenance fees owners are expected to pay, in some cases as much as 25-60% lower than a yearly maintenance fee.
Most timeshare resorts are not owned by the companies that manage them, these management companies provide you with membership points and collect your maintenance fees but you are members of their scheme and not really members of the resort itself. Initially, when timeshare was sold, the timeshare company would lead you to believe that the resort was only occupied by other timeshare owners, making it sound exclusive and elite. This was a big draw to potential buyers; owning something unique.
This has turned out not to be the case, the management companies running the resorts may only have a limited allocation of units/rooms, with the resort only receiving a fraction of the maintenance fees. Therefore, the resort still has free units/rooms to rent and has to make the extra income to keep them afloat, so they rent out the excess of units/rooms not being used by the management company.
A lot of the time these available units can be booked up far in advance with the tour operators and agents, which leaves restrictions in availability at the resort for regular paying points members. There is a slim to impossible possibility of being able to book your desired unit at certain times if you are not able to book so far in advance.
A points management company may own 60% of the resorts space, in many cases, the points club has more members than units/rooms; which makes availability extremely difficult to come across. At certain peak times of the year, such as Christmas and New Year, tour operators and agents may charge more than the regular annual maintenance fee for a week’s rental, but on the whole it is generally cheaper.
Another thing to take into account is that an owner has already made an initial outlay to purchase their ‘exclusive timeshare unit’, whereas someone that rents a unit privately for a week has never had that initial outlay. Therefore, the price, even if slightly more expensive per week than the yearly maintenance fee, is cheaper overall.
Maintenance fees are believed to go towards the upkeep of the resorts, but when you consider that even if a points club owns 60% of a resort, which could potentially be 150 rooms, and only sells each room once for each week of the year that would be 7800 owners. If each owner paid £500 a year in maintenance fees that would be a total of £390 thousand. Is there evidence to support this amount of upgrades and improvements in the resort each year?
Then, another point to take into consideration is that each room has probably been sold more than once; which is why there is limited availability. Surely there is an excess amount of money, which is now believed to subsidise private renters’ holidays in these resorts, they receive VIP treatment, meal upgrades, free Wifi, etc.
We have to ask, is this fair? It seems that there is not many benefits to being a points member, we at the TCA would like to hear from anyone that has had experiences with limited availability, and how it has been dealt with (or not) by the management company.
Posted on: September 15, 2017
For more information regarding this article or assistance in any other timeshare related issues please contact the TCA on 0203 519 3808 or email: info@TimeshareConsumerAssociation.org.uk