Saturday, January 30, 2016

Our Timeshare Dilemma

We bought our first timeshare fifteen years ago. It's in Whistler, British Columbia at Whiski Jack at the Cascade Lodge. It's a one-bedroom place that we can use for a week each year in either the spring or the fall.

We have never used our Whistler timeshare. Instead, we have traded it through one of the international timeshare pools. You "bank" your week and then you have access to everyone else's banked week for a nominal exchange fee. Through our Whistler timeshare we - or someone in our family - have spent time in Vermont, Hawaii, Williamsburg and Shenandoah in Virginia, Baja California, Las Vegas, West Yellowstone, the Washington coast, and Sedona. At the present time, we have three years of our Whistler timeshare banked. We are trying to figure out how to use the weeks, because they expire after three years.

We bought our second timeshare, in Sedona, Arizona, about nine years ago. With one of our banked Whistler weeks we traded into the Arroyo Roble Resort, on the banks of Oak Creek. We loved the place. When we got home, we bought a week of our own there, in what's called the "aftermarket"; someone wanted to sell their week, so we bought it for an excellent price.

At Arroyo Roble, we get seven days each year in a two-bedroom, 2.5-bath condo. Plus, during January and February we can combine last year's week and this year's, for a two-week stay or the use of two units in the same week, like for a group gathering. We have never banked our Sedona timeshare; in fact, we're there this week, with friends John and Joan visiting for three days and our daughter Melissa and son-in-law Scott for another three.

Then we have timeshare points through Shell Vacations Club. We can use our points at numerous resorts; usually we go to the Big Island in Hawaii, but we've also visited Kauai, Whistler, Napa, Las Vegas, the Oregon Cascades, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Ontario, Canada. Right now we need to use about four days of time by the end of March or we will lose them or have to bank them.

We have too many timeshares. For one thing, we like to travel rather than going to one place and staying a week (except Sedona, which offers endless opportunities for beauty and experiences). For another, we now have a park model (trailer) in Tucson, where we spend four months in the winter. These days it feels like the timeshares are an obligation - a burden, almost - and we have to keep track of dates by which we have to use the timeshares to avoid losing them. For example, right now we're using last year's Sedona week. We'll need to come back again by February 2017 to use this year's week. As we get older, keeping track seems more complicated.

Then there are the maintenance fees. We pay about $2000 a year total for our three timeshares. We set an amount aside each month during the year to pay the fees, which all come due in December or January. This year our mail hasn't been forwarded to Tucson consistently by the USPS, so our payment to Shell was late and we got charged a late fee. From now on we'll be sent our bill electronically, but still....

So, we're thinking about what to do about our timeshares.

Originally I thought we should divest ourself of the Sedona timeshare, since we're already in Arizona in the winter, when we have customarily used it. But we've enjoyed ourselves so much this week with friends and family, we've decided we want to keep it. Even daughter Melissa says, "This is a great place. Don't sell it." So I suspect this is one we'll want to pass along to the next generation. She and Scott have visited us here twice, and so has our daughter Laura.

As long as we enjoy Hawaii, the Shell points are the best way to go. We have a place on the Big Island where we live quietly for a week or two. We've explored most of the Big Island, and we often have guests with us, so we get to show them around.

That leaves the Whistler place. We've decided to let it go, but we have to find a buyer. Timeshares are a depreciating asset, which is not a problem. But the maintenance fees are a continuing expense. If we use the timeshare it's worthwhile. If we don't, it's not. And if we simply decided not to pay the fees, it would affect our credit.

So we will be looking for a buyer for the cost of the transfer of ownership - about $500. There are places we can advertise, and services that will do the work for us. Selling our Whistler timeshare is near the top of my project list for spring.

Once we have only the two timeshares we use, our dilemma will be resolved. For now.

We have several trips planned for this year: to a wedding in Oklahoma in March; to Buffalo in July (just me); to Maine in September (our wonderful schooner cruise); to the Big Island in November. We'll feel better if our Whistler timeshare belongs to another family by then.


#1Nana said...

Definitely a first world problem!

Linda Myers said...

For sure, a first world problem. I'm a little embarrassed I even posted this, but since 30 people have already read it I'm going to leave it up.

Linda Reeder said...

Interesting. I have never had any experience with time shares, although I know my sister has traded lots with hers and allowed her kids to have some wonderful vacations.
We are fortunate to have family cabins on the Oregon coast and Whidbey Island. They require an investment too, so in a way they are like time shares where only family members participate.
Tom and I are not stay in one place resort people either. we like to explore. We love to fly somewhere, rent a car and do road trips, staying in inexpensive motels along the way.
Good luck with your sales project.

Saku said...

I'm sure you'll have no problem divesting yourself of the Whistler time share. I've never been but I understand from friends who enjoy skiing it is beautiful.

I've looked at timeshares (after market) but never purchased. Friends of mine have one in San Diego for a week in October. They love it and someday I'd like to join them there to check it out.

Sounds like lots of wonderful travelling coming up this year. Enjoy!

Barb said...

I'm curious. Does that mean that for $500 someone else "owns" the place. In a place like Whistler I'm sure you will have interest!!

Terra said...

This post about time shares is interesting to me, as I have not owned one. Now I know a bit more about how that works. I think you are right, it is time to sell the Whistler time share.

Olga said...

We never got into the time share investment. Like Linda and Tom, vacations usually meant road trips and camping or cheap motels along the way. Now I am thinking about doing more traveling. Am I going to go on my own or join a tour--that is what I am wondering about.

Deb Shucka said...

A bag lady with too many time shares. Who would ever have thought. :-)

Arkansas Patti said...

You have certainly gotten the best out of the ones you have but it must be confusing keeping up. I'm sure you will have no problem selling it. Good luck.

Karen said...

Try listing it on Craig's List on the Seattle site.

Bob Lowry said...

I had three weeks of a time share on the west coast for Florida for almost twenty years. When the kids were young it was well worth the cross country flight, rental car, and maintenance fees. As our children got older they became tired of going to the same place and urged us to sell the units so we wouldn't feel like we had to go. The units had been an important part of our family history but it was time to let them go.

About 5 years ago we finally sold all three weeks. It was a decision well past due. Not having to worry about hurricanes, maintenance fee increases, special assessments, and the like was a pleasant experience.

Jackie McGuinness said...

We own several as well and do use them. We got rid of one last year which we traded for a new one.

Friends of ours just bought their first tuneshare using

Bonnie said...

I could really use some advice on getting rid of a timeshare. My father has one, pays $3K a year for it and he and his wife no longer travel as they have gotten elderly. Where do you go to sell the thing? From what I can see, they aren't worth it. $3K in maintenance fees PLUS the airfare and car rental when you get there or driving and gas if you don't fly, so I'm not interested in "inheriting" it. I can do some pretty nice vacations on my own, on my schedule for $3K. He's ready to just stop 85 his credit is not a problem. Can you point me in the right direction?

Janette said...

We never got into time shares. My sister loves hers.
I do know that, at times, they are tough to get rid of. Even at death, my sister In law's timeshare was passed to her son. He had no interest, but could not get out of it!

Bob Lowry said...


Often the place where the timeshare is located will help you sell the unit. You pay a commission but you will get out of the constant drain of the maintenance fees.

If that isn't an option there are dozens of national companies that sell unwanted timeshare units. Do a Google search for timeshare sales and you will get lots of hits. Just be careful to select a company that has been in business for a long time, has a good reputation, and represents other timeshare developments in your area.

retirementreflections said...

I found this post very interesting and informative, Linda. Thanks for leaving this post up.