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Where's the Value in Timeshares?

As he walked into our little land office in Placerville, California (about sixty miles west of South Lake Tahoe), he said, "I've got the keys to the bank" and proceeded to tell me about this new concept called timesharing. I responded with "Forget it, Jack. It won't work." Jack was persistent, persuasive and before long we were the developers of one of the first timeshare projects in the country (RCI #0078). And so I began what would become a lifetime journey.

Fast forward to several years later after Jack's retirement. Along came Larry who became another close friend and sales associate. During this time the two of us were selling it. I would tell Larry that this was no scam and really had substance. His response was, "Yeah, yeah, sure", but he kept going until it was done.

Now it was time for the first general Owner's Association meeting. I coerced Larry into attending. After the very upbeat meeting, one of the Owners' wives approached us. Larry kind of slunk over behind me thinking I would absorb most of the blows. She took my hands and with tears in her eyes said, "Thank you, thank you so much! You have really improved our lives!" One of the funniest things I have ever seen was the look on Larry's face. His jaw had dropped and he was absolutely stunned. It would be a few more years before he would completely accept that this concept was so sound, but he eventually became an active owner of several timeshares himself.

As we were selling that property in the early 1970s I would tell people, "You better buy one of these now, because if you don't, you will be paying a hundred dollars a night for a hotel room." They would say, "Nah, that will never happen." Today it is hard to find a Holiday Inn room for under a hundred dollars a night.

Guess what the rack rate of the Mark Hopkins hotel in San Francisco (Top of the Mark) was in 1942. It was $5 single and $7 double. For servicemen it was $3 single and $5 double. By 1974 it was $45 single and $55 double. Now it is $210 to $270 single or double depending on the location. Projecting this ahead another fifty years and you will be paying $9,058 a night for a hotel room there! And I can just hear most people saying, "Nah, that will never happen."

The reason for owning a timeshare is the same as the reason for owning your own home. It will cost you much less in the long run and you will end up with something of value. Just think of the value to your children who stand to benefit the most from your foresight. It is a shame that more of them don't realize how important this is and only focus on the upkeep. The smart ones will be enjoying vacations that are way beyond their means for the rest of their lives.

After thirty years, my take is this: You will save about half of what you are currently spending on vacation lodging. But the real kicker is that you will be staying in facilities that are more luxurious than anything you would even consider. How many of you will spend $350 to $500 a night for a place to sleep? Not me! Ever! But I do enjoy that level of vacationing through my timeshare ownership.

So much for the financial side. Now how about the real value? What do you remember the most about your childhood? Isn't it the family holidays? The times you spent together and felt so close to your family? An observant doctor once said, "I never saw anybody who, on his or her death bed said "I wish I had spent more time at the office." In today's crazy world no one has time for even the most basic activities. The family is under the greatest stress ever. The sad fact is that in the time of the greatest need most families don't even get that so important vacation together.

One of my greatest satisfactions in life is selling a timeshare to a family that really needs it! They can be in a family business and prone to never taking a vacation. Or they can simply be stressed from having to pay for meals and lodging for themselves and three or four children and blowing the family budget for the next three years. That situation with the woman who thanked me so much at the first Homeowner's meeting has repeated itself many times. Whatever the situation, I know that I have improved their lives in terms of real value. Whether I end up rich or poor, I will always be rich for the good I have done for people in terms of helping them to achieve the real values of life.

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