Flexibility is the key difference between a timeshare and a holiday club. For families who have fallen in love with a certain popular destination and are happy to return year after year, a timeshare can be a cost-effective solution to the annual booking rush. For those who enjoy experiencing new places when they spend time away from home, a holiday club is probably the better option.
Purchasing a timeshare means buying a period of time at a unit or apartment in a resort. As well as paying the cost of the timeshare, often through a finance plan, timeshare owners pay annual maintenance fees, which usually increase every year. What’s more, the owners may be responsible for major repairs or wear and tear costs as the unit and resort age.
Depending on the type of timeshare plan, the holiday period could be fixed or variable, but the resort remains the same. A fixed timeshare plan gives the owner the right to use the unit the same week or weeks every year for as long as the plan lasts. Some fixed plans stipulate a set number of years; others last a lifetime. Variable timeshare plans include floating plans, fractional ownership and biennial ownership.
- Floating plans: Owners book ahead to use the unit within a fixed period, often a season of the year.
- Fractional ownership: Owners are entitled to use the unit for a fraction of the unit’s total holiday time, like eight, 12 or 24 weeks.
- Biennial ownership: Owners have the right to holiday at the unit every other year.
The cost of a timeshare can be a significant investment, but they are not investment opportunities, per se. Timeshares rarely sell for more than the purchase price, assuming the owners can sell them.
Holiday club members (or owners) purchase points (or credits) that they use later to buy holiday time at resorts included within the club’s scheme. High-season holidays and in-demand resorts cost more points than off-season, less popular places, and they’re booked up earlier. However, holiday clubs provide more choice than traditional timeshare. As well as offering a range of destinations, a holiday club might suit a growing family for which the number of bedrooms required is going to increase over the years or a couple with older children who are about the fly the nest.
Holiday club criteria may allow members to bank the points they don’t use one year for future use, or to borrow points from the following year. Like timeshares, holiday clubs may also charge annual dues or management fees, and these usually increase.
Timeshare exchange companies provide a compromise between the benefits of timeshares and holiday clubs. Timeshare owners deposit the week they own, and the exchange company compares its value with other deposited timeshares. The value of timeshares is calculated according to the resorts and holiday periods. The company then offers equivalent timeshares for a straight swap. Timeshare exchange companies charge a fee for membership, though the resort developer often pays new owners’ membership for the first year.