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So, how much do timeshares cost and are they worth it? The answer to the latter question will be different for everyone. It depends on where you like to travel and more importantly when you like to travel. Now that we have to travel around the school calendar, travel is more expensive.
For a timeshare primer, please refer to Timeshares 101
Pre-kid, we travelled when there were fewer people – Italy in March, Paris in September. We can’t do that anymore. We are at the mercy of spring break, summer and the occasional long weekend.
Have you checked out spring break prices compared to a few weeks later? The difference is huge!
Buying our Westin Lagunamar timeshare
Let’s talk about a specific timeshare my husband and I bought in 2010. All of the timeshares we own are with Starwood Resorts (now Vistana, owner of Sheraton and Westin timeshares). We did an internal Starwood exchange and stayed at The Westin Lagunamar in Cancun. An internal exchange is trading for another Starwood timeshare resort. The resort was relatively new at this time. Remember, this is also right after the 2009 recession – I’m guessing that had some influence on pricing, but since I don’t work for the developer, I can’t say for sure.
We did our ‘resort update’ as it’s called for current owners. This is where they tell you about upcoming things they are doing and any possible new resorts planned. They also try to get you to add more to your current portfolio. You do get compensated for doing these resort updates. Most likely it’s a certain number of Starwood points – I believe I have seen anywhere from 8,000 – 10,000 Starwood points – or a resort credit of $100-$125.
Of course, we went into the update saying we weren’t going to buy anything. Doesn’t everyone?
However, in our opinion, we liked what we saw. We bought an every other year studio unit week in the platinum plus season for $7,200. This yields us 67,500 StarOptions (the Starwood currency for timeshare trades) on a bi-annual basis.
Our annual maintenance fee for 2017 was $253.73. Even though it’s an every other year usage, we pay half of the annual maintenance fee every year. This total does not include the Interval International membership fee because you pay that on the first 3 timeshare ownerships only and this was our fourth. We also received 50,000 bonus Starpoints which are valued at approximately $1100. These Starpoints can be used at the Westin and Sheraton hotels, as well as Marriott hotels since the merger.
Okay, let’s look at what we can do with those 67,500 StarOptions!
In 2017, we went back to the Westin Lagunamar for spring break. However, we stayed for 6 nights only. Different nights of the week cost a different amount of StarOptions. Friday and Saturday nights are the most expensive, while Monday through Wednesday is the least expensive. In addition, I didn’t want to stay in a studio, but rather a one bedroom (remember, I like my space!). Staying for a Sunday through Saturday stay (6 nights) in a one bedroom cost us 64,800 StarOptions.
Paying cash for the same room
Let’s look at what this would have cost us to actually book this room paying cash. These numbers came directly from the SPG.com website for a Sunday to Saturday spring break stay (these prices are for 2018, but the number of StarOptions doesn’t change). Unless I had travel insurance, I never purchase a pre-paid rate, so I will use the SPG Member Exclusive: Flexible Rate.
For March 25 – 31, a Sunday to Saturday night stay during spring break, it would cost $587 dollars per night for a total of $3522. If we stayed here 3 times in 6 years and paid out of pocket assuming rates didn’t change, we would pay $10,566.
Our timeshare cost was $7200 initially, plus the $253.73 per year. Our maintenance costs for those 6 years would be $1522.38 giving us a grand total of $8522.38. In those 6 years, we would have spent $2044 more if we paid out of pocket as opposed to buying the timeshare.
And that’s just the beginning…. Now after those first several years, we recouped our money on that timeshare and now that same $3000 vacation costs us our maintenance fee of $507 ($253.73 each year for 2 years).
Again, the math doesn’t always work out like this. This is an expensive spring break spot. I could have chosen Myrtle Beach, but I don’t really want to go there in March. I could have chosen Orlando, but I have already made the mistake of visiting Disney during spring break and that was a madhouse!
Going to Cancun for spring break was an example that we actually did in 2017. It’s up to you how you use your timeshare and like I said earlier, where and when you want to go. For my review of Westin Lagunamar Cancun, please click here and see why I love it!
Now, of course, I have said I would never pay $300 a night for a hotel! True statement. So, I definitely wouldn’t pay $587 (like in this example) either.
This is the fine line that each individual has to think about. You have to look at what would you pay and what are you getting. Personally, I love the comfort of a timeshare. That’s what keeps me coming back. I like the space and I like having a kitchen. I also enjoy the resort feel and the daily activities. So, I guess I am paying extra for those comforts.
It all depends on what works for your family. I love snuggling on the couch after a long day. Many of the timeshares we stay at have fireplaces (no, not the one in Cancun!). It’s the comforts of home, yet the amenities and benefits of a resort all in one package.
I enjoy spending quality family time and for us, spending a week at one of our timeshares creates the right ambience with the right amount of comfort and things to do.
Do you think you have received a good value out of one of your timeshares? Let me know in the comments!