So you've done your research regarding timeshares. You know that you can save money buying on the resale market instead of purchasing directly from a developer. You have spent hours perusing timesharing forums and websites. You are well-versed on the difference between points vs. weeks, and your friends have even started emailing you regarding their timesharing questions. But before you take the plunge into timeshare ownership there is one more step I encourage you to take – try before you buy.Unbeknownst to most people, most timeshare resorts are also available for non-owner stays. You can sometimes book a stay at a timeshare using an online booking engine like hotels.com, but your best option is often to call the timeshare resort directly. When contacting the resort itself you will want to make sure you place a call through to their management office, and simply ask if there are any rentals available for non-members. I would also advise you to take advantage of the timeshare presentation they may offer you during your stay, it can provide you with valuable information about the resort. Before attending be sure to check out a previous post – Tips for Surviving a Timeshare Presentation. What if you want to buy at a high demand resort or new construction? Fear not, you can still test the timeshare waters before diving in. There are many different ways you can try out a resort without actually booking a stay. One way to get a feel for the resort is to attend a timeshare presentation being held on the property. This will give you a good picture of the amenities and features of that particular resort, in addition to information regarding the developer price. You will also be able to tour the resort during this showcase, as well as having your questions about the property directly answered by someone knowledgeable about the resort. Another way to gain information about a timeshare property without actually staying on-site is to book a hotel close to the resort. This way you can get an idea of how far the timeshare is from attractions, shopping, restaurants, leisure activities, etc. Staying within a close proximity to the timeshare of interest will also give you an opportunity to observe the day to day operations at the resort. Many resorts will allow you to enter the resort premises without being a guest of the resort. If you are able to gain access to the resort, talk to people. Gather their opinions, find out their likes/dislikes, and determine whether or not you seem to fit in with the guests on the property. Finally, search the web. The internet can be a great tool in helping you to decide whether or not to purchase at a particular timeshare resort. What to look for during your trial timeshare stay:
- Is the property adequately maintained?
- You will be paying maintenance fees each and every year once you become an owner at the resort, and you want to be sure your money will be spent wisely.
- Pay careful attention to sidewalks, grilling/pool/outdoor areas, landscaping, bathrooms, suites, linens, common areas, fixtures, parking, signage, windows, appliances and laundry.
- Is the staff professional?
- Does the resort possess all the amenities you are looking for?
- Is the geographical location suitable to your needs?
- Can you see yourself returning to the resort every year?
- Has the resort received favorable reviews?