There may be some confusion as to what the difference is between a holiday club and a timeshare. So what are they? Although there are similarities in their sales techniques, in reality there are actually huge factors that make these very separate products.

Access VS Right To Use

First of all, the concept is not the same. They may both be to do with jetting off on holiday but in very distinct ways. A holiday club will likely have a website where you can browse through hotels and you receive a generous discount for being part of the club. The clubs offer you access not ownership. You might also have VIP access to penthouse level suites and luxurious accommodation that any other typical person wouldn’t. The downside to having access over ownership is that there are never any guarantees that you can visit a specific place at a specific time.

Whereas with a timeshare, you have the right to use a property on a resort for a specific time during the year. It is similar to real estate but you don’t have ownership. The plus side to this is that you always have the certainty that you can go to your chosen accommodation with the comfort of knowing exactly what to expect.  Please note that many resorts have introduced a points system or floating time which means there is no particular week or unit for annual use.

Warning – Many timeshare groups don’t like to call themselves timeshares, as they typically have very bad reputations due to their well known pressure selling tactics. For this reason, some timeshare groups might actually call themselves holiday clubs so be aware of this. With a holiday club you have access – not right of use. If you have to physically buy the right to use the accommodation in order to take advantage of it then you are dealing with a timeshare.

Annual Fee VS Maintenance Fees

A holiday club will charge somewhere in the range of £100 a year for you to be a member. You will then get discount on your accommodation through them, if you are a frequent traveller it is well worth it to save money.

With a timeshare you’ll find yourself in a situation where you are obligated to pay substantial fees annually that shoot up in price year after year. They are called maintenance fees and cover the overall upkeep of your resort, taking into account the services provided for you while you are there too.

Don’t Use, Don’t Pay VS Don’t Use and STILL Pay

Depending on contract type, if you don’t use the holiday club because you’ve decided not to go away that year then you don’t have to pay the annual fee for that particular year as long as you cancel your membership or don’t renew it.  Owning the right to use a timeshare means that you still own it whether you are present or not. So you have to pay your maintenance fees whether you decide to use your allocated time in the resort or fly to another country and use a hotel for your holiday instead.  

New Location VS Revisit

You can choose to travel the World and go to a new place each year if you are part of a holiday club, whereas with a timeshare you go to the same location every time. Unless you take advantage of one of the exchange organisations which means paying extra money. This would mean you could essentially swap your accommodation with that of another timeshare owner and go to another place but it is really difficult to find a space in the place you want to be at the right time. The exchange organisation will let you know what exactly is available.

All Year VS Limited Time

You can use holiday clubs any time of the year you desire without needing permission from anyone else in the World. Timeshares limit you to only visiting within your allocated time unless you want to go through the hassle of trying to swap your weeks around. The issue is that if you want to exchange your weeks to acquire more enticing ones such as in the peak of summer you won’t have much luck convincing people to do so. This again would have to be through the exchange organisation and not you personally, they do of course charge a fee for this.

Opt Out VS Perpetuity

You may choose to cancel your holiday club membership at anytime and starting it back up would be easy enough too, no strings attached. On the other side of things, timeshare could be for life. The perpetuity clause in your contract could make your timeshare be for your whole life with the possibility of one day being a liability of your deceased estate, which would reduce the amount available for distribution for next of kin. The contracts in timeshare are so binding and designed not to ever let you out making it virtually impossible to get out of them, even through passing away.

Both holiday clubs and timeshare resorts have their pros and cons. Essentially, if you want a cheap and easier option it is better to join a holiday club that will give you access to the types of accommodation you require in the locations that you want to visit. A holiday club membership doesn’t keep you tied down legally or physically to one spot and you don’t have commitments with it. For a more solid base, the idea of a fixed timeshare may sound better to you as you would be guaranteed to have your holiday at your specifically chosen time of year in your known resort. Although the cost can be considerably more and it is a huge commitment with no easy escape route. Please note this does not apply to right of use through floating weeks or points.


Posted on: February 19, 2020

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

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