Owning a small technology services company and being a part time airline pilot gives me a very flexible schedule. It also means I am in hotels a lot. The big benfit of for both my wife and I working two jobs each, is we get to live in a pretty nice home and have some nice toys. In fact we are entertaining at our house 4 of the next 8 weekends. As Dorothy said “There is no place like home”
Between the business and the airline I am in hotels 10-15 nights a month. I have some favorites and generally you can narrow it down with two criteria, either the room is a suite, or it has a large sitting area. I like to write my blogs on my laptop in the hotel since I am too cheap to pay $12.95 a day for Internet and to lazy to tether my Blackberry to get Internet.
One of my pet peeves is a hotel room with a desk that doesn’t have a good writing or keyboard height and a chair with no Ottoman for your feet. I think better with my feet up and keyboard in my lap. Call me funny that way. I feel funny putting shoes on the bed and normally that makes my feet so high I end up with stagnate hypoxia from the blood pooling in lowest spot of my anatomy.
Since I am paying for these hotels through my company about half of the time, I get the timeshare pitch from everyone. I will say we haven’t bought one yet, but they are starting to look better each time.
My wife on the other hand quickly gets cabin fever. Our friends are always telling us to get a timeshare since it forces you to take time off. The very first “free weekend” timeshare presentation we went to was the Sheraton in Puerta Vallarta. The room was such a pressure cooker for sales you could see the pool of sweat on the floor. The first night and day were great, then the breakfast. The food was ok, and this guy joins us like he is our best friend. Then he turns up the heat. How we got out I will never know. The truth is we liked the location, and the price wasn’t bad. I was flying more for the airlines back then so I really didn’t need any more time away from home.
A couple years after the Sheraton, the “Pilots Paradox” kicked into high gear. I was flying 8 days a month in my military squadron touring the world, 15 days a month at the airline touring the world and only 7 or 8 days a month at home. When I got home I had no desire to go anywhere, and my wife had a huge case of cabin fever.
She announced that we would be going to Newport Beach, CA to a Marriot for Vacation. This blew my mind as we had just finished a new office for the business I was starting so I could retire from the reserves. Personally I was feeling a bit poor at the time. This wasn’t free either. The fees were about the same as a good hotel in the area with the airline discounts we used to get.
The Marriot folks put us up a few blocks away at the Fashion Island Marriot. The location was fantastic, the rooms, well another hotel room. Then we went to the Timeshare location. Just up the hill from the beach, it looked great. At the end the guys says “What do you think?” I told him I didn’t think it was for us and waited for the pressure to kick in. Instead he politely said, “Sir, I learned a long time ago, if you just take one swing at each pitch, you get a lot more total hits.” and escorted us out.
We were stunned. Later when we got the postcard offering 3 nights at the actual location for $399, we jumped thinking we might buy in. When we got there we couldn’t even get into the sales office let alone buy in. We both figured timeshares had changed.
Another hotel chain I stay in quite often is the Wyndham. The by request offer to have a small snack in your room waiting is a nice touch. When they called about their timeshare program we jumped at the chance. Free weekend in San Antonio at a Wyndham, Deal!
When we checked in at the mall we knew this would be different. They sent us to a Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn was totally booked so we went back to the mall. Our entire plan to go to Sea World was shot by this hotel shuffle. Eventually they found us a room in a quaint older area of town and we went to the symphony as our consolation prize.
The next morning we went to the sales center that resembled a pediatricians office. My wife and I clearly didn’t fit. There were a dozen families clearly from a different economic category. The lady that gave us the tour was nice, and we really weren’t interested at all in the location or the facility after the tour. Then came the closer. Our one hour “no pressure review session” turned into the worst 3 hours of negotiating I have ever sat through. My wife was almost in tears so when he made an offer for a one year “trial”, I pulled out my Amex and bought my way out.
We ended up with enough points to buy three different four day vacations. The first was to Myrtle Beach where we saw the first evidence of our current economic implosion. We brought down the entire family and got great Tee Times and had the Hard Rock Park almost to ourselves. I heard it is closing already. Too Bad it was a fun park.
The second vacation was to Nashville, So far even a little better. Not many kids at the faciility, and just across from the Grand Ole Opry. Overall the trip was a blast. What we have learned about all time shares is the difference in service. When I am home I like to cook and do home kind of things. We don’t microwave food much, we actually cook when we are both home. On the road the waste of all the stuff you need to cook that gets tossed bothers me.
We have realized that the difference of a suite hotel and a timeshare is the size and services. Most hotels at least have a mini market and possibly a bar-restaurant to unwind in. So far the pool bar at the Marriott closes at 6, and the Wyndham had no service at either location.
If you travel with kids, I think a timeshare can be a great way to make sure you really take a vacation every year. We did enjoy our Myrtle Beach and Nashville trips. The difference in owning your own place is that you don’t need to bring nearly as much stuff when you go. You leave some of it out there. With the deals you can get on timeshares now, it may be the time to buy. Looking on craigslist, I found timeshares for as little as $1.00. One caveat, make sure the seller doesn’t have a big maintenance bill they haven’t paid.
So, now the question, it is time to timeshare? Take a look and tell us what you think.