Vacation Clubs Explained
IS THERE A BENEFIT TO OWNING A VACATION CLUB MEMBERSHIP?
I worked for a couple of Vacation Clubs in the Caribbean for over 10 years, and got questioned many times! Is it a scam, what’s the catch, is it not a Timeshare by another name?
As a Members Executive it was my role to ensure all members received support to ensure they got value from their investment. Especially overcoming “buyers remorse” because they did not fully understand the benefits of what they could enjoy in the future!
I hope by explaining in simple terms the difference of owning a membership versus booking a regular holiday or vacation via your local Travel Agent.
The most popular way most families book their seasonal holiday or vacationis through their local travel agent! Straightforward, convenient, simple booking process with flight and accommodation included. Sometimes food is included with your package holiday!
Usually the rooms you’re allocated are the basic accommodation provided by the hotel or resort. Unless, you pay for an upgrade where a benefit of better room or suite with Sea View is purchased at extra cost.
There is nothing wrong with this way of travel, which is enjoyed by millions of people each year. If however, you want the best the hotel or resort offers, you will have to pay extra for any of the benefits.
If I take Expedia for example, you will see a variety of room option based on a particular property you are searching. Each different room or suite will be priced accordingly to how big the room is, or whatever benefits are provided.
So, making a comparison with Independant Travel or Travel Agency packages holidays, the accommodation offered will start with the “basic room” price.
Remember, prices for rooms will rise over time due to inflation!
Vacation Club Membership
OK, you have been invited to a Vacation Club presentation! You are sceptical right from the off, especially listening from other travellers and their experiences.
Yes, you are going to be offered an incentive to attend the presentation. Clubs are not going to expect resort guests to give up their precious vacation or holiday time away from the beach or the sun!
They will incentify you with gifts, like Spa Treatment or Room Upgrade (if available), Resort Vouchers to spend within the resort or excursions. Gifts to persuade you to give up a little of your time to show you what is on offer.
People with open minds will go along and take advantage, because they are inquisitive!
Sceptical people will call it a “Timeshare Scam” or some sort of catch to extract money from you. There is nothing so far from the truth of many travellers making false accusations without knowing the facts.
From a Sales and Marketing perspective, what better way to capture prospective clients to their “Hotel Business”, by offering In-House presentations.
Resorts do not have the luxury to advertise to all corners of the globe via TV or Social Media outlets without a substantial cost being involved.
This is why Concierge’s from resorts offer you the option to attend or not!
If you decline to go to a presentation, the Concierge is still obliged to provide the same service throughout your stay. They may ask you once or twice, but be polite with your rejection! Concierge and Resort Staff in general do not get paid great salaries, therefore, any very small extra commission they can earn goes a long way (only if that guest buys a membership).
Vacation Clubs are not for everybody, but if you are a frequent traveller, and enjoys the best from your seasonal vacation, it could be for you!
What are the benefits?
I will try to explain this question in lay-persons terms to simplify what you are actually paying for.
For example, there is an upfront fee to pay for a membership, dependent on what level of membesrship you are offered!
They can range from 10’s of thousands of dollars/pounds to hundreds of thousands of dollars/pounds.
Example, you are offered Premium Club Suite for $20’000, and your membership is offering you a package of 50 weeks! This means for every week of your vacation/holiday the total cost of your accommodation will equate to $400 per week.
You are therefore locking in the cost of your accommodation at $400 per week. Irrespective if the cost of rooms increase, your price will not change. Remember earlier when I mentioned about Expedia, and paying extra to have access to better rooms or suites?
Your New Member Suite is now guaranteed for the whole duration of your membership. It might take you 5 years or 20 years to use up all the weeks of your membership. It does not matter, the cost of accommodation is capped.
On top of this, you will also be offered Member Benefits!
Example, Premium Drinks, Spa Treatment, Members Club, Unlimited Speciality Restaurants (depending on resort), Shop Discounts, and many other offers!
From the Vacation Club I worked at, the total value of the Premium Members Benefits were valued at $1500 per week! You are going to receive these benefits, along with your family and friends if you share your membership.
You have full flexibility to use the membership however you choose!
You will receive discounts on All Inclusive fees, special promotions through the year. Access to a dedicated Travel Specialist making reservation bookings easy. Flight assistance can also be provided, to enable your “package vacation” at Club Membership level.
Getting the most value from your club!
Do you own a Vacation Club Membership, and are you getting the value from it?
I suspect there are thousands of Vacation Club owners who do not know what is included in their membership. They are rarely using their own club because they have grown tired of the same place for their vacations!
If you look more into your signed agreement you will realise there is more!
Most Vacation Clubs come with other affiliations to enable you to travel to many places in the world. Giving you access to certain club benefits associated with your Travel Affiliation.
Their official website boasts access to over 600,000 hotels, and 4,200 Affiliated Properties in 110 countries. With over 40 years in business they are the leading Vacation Exchange company in the world.
What's in my membership, what are the benefits?
No matter the level of your Vacation Club Membership, usually you will be offered a Travel Affiliation. This goes for most Timeshare Owners too, especially the RCI Membership!
With Timeshare owners they may only own 1 or 2 weeks per year in their property. Which gives them less opportunity to use an affiliation. Unless they have the opportunity to buy weeks!
Wherehas Vacation Club Members usually have a lot more flexibility to travel to their “home resort”. Sometimes giving them multiple times in the year to have a vacation, or travel with their Affiliations.
For instance a VC Member can have their typical family Summer Vacation at their home resort. They can then spend a Winter Vacation in another part of the world with their Travel Affiliation like RCI or 7Across.
If you have a RCI Affiliation you may not be aware that this company is owned by WYNDHAM HOTELS GROUP. Including Vacation rentals, club resorts & condos, for example Worldmark, Club Wyndham, Margaritaville Vacation Club & Cottages.com.
An example below of the Grand Sirenis Platinum Presidential, Riviera Maya, Mexico.
In some cases you can have extended vacations in your “Home Resort”, booking as many Club Suites you need to accommodate your family (subject to availability). All of the family taking advantage of the Club Benefits.
The important thing is you need to look more closely at your Vacation Club Agreement and understand what you have included.
WHAT MEMBERSHIP LEVEL DO I OWN
Typically Vacation Club Membership come in two categories, PREMIUM & PLATINUM.
⦁ PREMIUM usually has 3 levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold Suites.
⦁ PLATINUM usually has Junior Presidential & Grand Presidential Suites.
*Vacation Club Memberships differ from resort to resort.
Both membership come with Members Benefits, although these will differ based on the level you have purchased and your Home Resort.
Importantly, each Membership level provides a VIP service associated with their ownership. Members Suites accommodate the finest refinements than those of the the regular suites. This does not mean the Regular Hotel Suites are of a low standard, the Club Suites have the best the resort can offer.
Of course if you are a Platinum Membership owner these benefits have huge value. The Club Members Suites of course will be larger, more luxurious, with many more added extras. Including (subject to the resort) the offer of your own Butler with full 24 hours service available.
Why Vacation Club versus Timeshare
Typical Vacation Club Memberships do not have maintenance fees associated. Which in the case of Timeshare Ownership, they most certainly will. These fees will increase year by year due to inflation.
You therefore have the security the value of your Club Members Suite is capped at the original price you purchased your membership.
Why Vacation Club versus Travel Agents
If you have ever been to a Vacation Club presentation and been scared away by the price of a membership. Then this way of travel is probably not for you, and you should stick to your regular 1 or 2 weeks vacation per year.
If you travel on holiday regularly each year, then Vacation Club ownership could benefit you for many years. Simply because anything you would like extra from your Travel Agency package is going to cost you extra!
Room Upgrade, Ocean View, Spa Treatment, Private Dinners, and anything else a current Vacation Club Member already has included.
The biggest benefit I find, especially from members in the UK, is you can travel anytime of the year!
You don’t have to only go for 1 week, 10 days, or 2 weeks Holiday Packages which is typical of Travel Agency offers.
Vacation Club Membership offers you the option to extend your vacation time to a suit your travel needs. For example, If you find a return flight from your nearest airport for a reasonable price covering 17 days for instance.
You can contact your club and reserve your Member Suite for the 17 days, enjoying a nice extended vacation.
If you live closer to your home resort and you just have a few days available. Book your Club Member Suite for 3 or 4 days, and you will only be deducted the days you utilize, not a full week!
Always check your Membership Agreement for what flexibility you have with your club!
Finally, if after you have finished all your Membership Weeks and it is fully paid, you have the option to walk away from your Membership Agreement, or upgrade to another membership!
In my experience all of the members have upgraded to a newer or higher membership. Importantly using their initial investment to be deducted off the new price of their upgrade!
Travel Agencies are going to provide you with Photographs & Memories!
Vacation Club Membership will provide you with shared experiences, and value for the future!
Disclaimer – This information is not extensive! Do your own research and judge whether this is suitable for you! I have serviced thousands of satisfied members for over a decade, and the majority are very happy with their investment.
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