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If you’ve ever visited a popular vacation destination and were offered a free meal, excursion, or perk in return for watching a presentation on an “exciting opportunity,” you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the world of timeshares and Resort Land Sharks

Beware Resort Land Sharks

Some, but not all, resorts sell timeshares which they pitch as an exclusive Resort Travel Club. These resort land sharks invite you to attend a presentation. This usually happens when you arrive at the resort early and your room is not ready until later in the afternoon, typically 3:00 pm. These relentless land sharks will offer you all sorts of incentives and perks, including free excursions if you attend. Remember, attendance is NOT REQUIRED. If you really want the free perk, decide if it is worth sitting through 3-5 hours of high-pressure sales pitch to attend. With so many wonderful locals and resorts to explore, do you really want to lock yourself into this one resort for the next 10+ years? 

If you go to the sales pitch, keep these things in mind:

  • The prices they show you to use for comparison (and make you think you paid too much) are called “rack rates” – rates that are rarely used. These resorts regularly offer 40-65% off with no strings attached and my agency also has access to deals and special perks. Plus, if you purchase a timeshare or book directly with the resort you lose access to my services. Remember the resort pays my commission, and they bake it into the price! You never pay extra for my services, you pay the same price either way.
  • Timeshares are not investments – they are travel clubs! They do not hold their value and the resale market is flooded. The truth is that you will never make your money back and you certainly won’t make a profit. While 50% may be an average loss of price, timeshares can lose as much as 90% of their “value” after the closing.
  • According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Alert, “If you sign a contract outside of the U.S. for a timeshare or vacation plan in another country, you are not protected by U.S. Contract Laws.” Learn more here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0073-timeshares-and-vacation-plans

How much do Timeshares cost?

The upfront cost of a timeshare can vary a lot depending on where you buy; the more sought-after a location is, the more expensive it will be to purchase a timeshare there. Upfront, timeshares can cost around $20,000. You’ll also pay a yearly maintenance fee, and other costs related to the purchase and upkeep of your property. According to the American Resort Development Association, the average timeshare maintenance fee is $1,000 but can be as high as $3,000 annually. Fees typically increase each year. Additionally, you may occasionally have to pay a special assessment fee that covers expenses that your normal maintenance fee can’t cover, such as an unexpected repair.

You may also be required to pay anywhere between $120-$200 per person, per night, when you check in to cover the all-inclusive amenities. This fee is on top of what you are already paying for the reserved resort time, as well as the high upfront purchase cost!

Say you purchase a $20,000 timeshare with $1,000 yearly maintenance fees. You plan on vacationing at your timeshare every year for the next 25 years. That’s $1,800 per yearly vacation, just for your lodging. Then you have to factor in flights, transfers, food and beverages (or all-inclusive amenities), and amenities. 

Don’t buy a timeshare on vacation

If you don’t like variety when you vacation, and want to buy a timeshare, you can get them for much less on the secondary market! Just search eBay or Google “Timeshares for sale” and you will find many websites full of couples desperate to get out of their timeshare commitment. 

Timeshare salespeople are often much better at selling than you are at resisting — especially when you’re relaxed and having a great time. That’s no state of mind to be in when you need to scan the details of a contract, assess potential exchange options and uncover things that can go wrong, such as rising annual maintenance fees or problems trading your share.

Beware Airport Land Sharks

Land Sharks are not limited to the resort! The airports in Mexico, Punta Cana, and other Caribbean destinations are teeming with land sharks trying to sell you all kinds of things like transportation to your hotel, timeshares, excursions, help with your baggage, etc. It can be very confusing, frustrating, and for some people a bit frightening. If you booked your resort vacation through my agency, round-trip airport/resort shuttle (or private car) transfers will be part of the vacation package. You will have a voucher and specific instructions on how to find your transfer service including what color of shirt they will be wearing and signage they will be holding. 

How to say No in Spanish

Just like in English, there are many ways to say “no” in Spanish besides simply saying no.

  1. No gracias — No thank you
    This is the basic, polite way to express that, “really, I’d rather not.”
  2. Nunca — Never
    This word is one of the most forceful ways to say “no” in Spanish. It leaves no chance of misinterpretation!
  3. Ni lo sueñes — No way
    This expression is close in meaning to the English “in your dreams!”
  4. De ninguna manera — No way
    This expression literally means “not in any way” and is actually the closest in meaning to the English “no way.”
  5. No! De eso nada — It’s not happening
    Use this one to express a firm negative answer to a suggestion.
  6. Dejar — to leave, to quit
    ¡Déjame en paz! (Leave me in peace! / Leave me alone!)
  7. Ya basta — Enough already
    When you have finally had enough, this phrase will declare that you are really not interested.

I like to start with “No, gracias. De eso nada” and follow up with “Ya basta!” 

…or you could just wear this T-shirt and point to it!

Protect your Credit and Debit Cards!

One last tip for before you leave on vacation, consider purchasing a reloadable Visa Debit Card and using it for making small purchases with local vendors. While your credit cards can be compromised anywhere, when it happens on vacation it can be extra upsetting. 

If you are looking for a resort that does not sell timesares let me know! I have a list. 🙂