Hotels Getting Pricier, Timeshares Getting More Affordable

What is the first big clue that timeshare resorts are edging out the hotel market, claiming more and more vacation business and a bigger piece of the hospitality and tourism pie?


The fact is that most major hotel chains are devoting as much or more attention (and more dollars) to their timeshare and vacation ownership divisions as to their regular hotel business. There are the Disney Vacation Club Resorts, Marriott Vacation Club International, the Hyatt Vacation Club, Hilton Grand Vacations, Wyndham Vacation Ownership and even the Ritz Carlton Club and Residence, to name a few of the big dogs now on the playing field.

Timeshares, or vacation ownership, as some providers like to call it, are giving hotels such serious competition that in top tourist destinations like Orlando, Florida, hoteliers actually blame the decline in room night bookings on the excellent offerings in timeshares, timeshare resales, and timeshare rentals.

Today, most leading hotel companies have a timeshare division, even though many like to avoid use of the word “timeshare” and replace it instead with phrases like vacation ownership and vacation club. No matter what you call it, it’s still timeshare. Ritz-Carlton Hotel spokesperson, Vivian Deuschl, says the Ritz-Carlton Hotel company will no longer even manage a hotel unless it includes a residential component, according to a July 6, 2005 article published in USA Today.

A recent Time Magazine article about the newest trend in hotels, makes me wonder if one specific trend isn’t a direct response to the competitive pressure hotels feel from timeshares. The Time article states, “Global tourism is thriving, and the luxury segment, the top 15 percent of the market by price, is driving it. With rates as high as $25,000 a night, these are the most profitable rooms in a hotel, and they consistently have the highest occupancy rates”. The Time Magazine article, titled “The Grander Hotel”, goes on to cite Smith Travel Research as showing that luxury room revenues increased more than 10 percent from 2005 to 2006.

Let me make something clear, we are not talking about the type of luxury you find in a fabulous beachside Marriott Vacation Club timeshare, where the suites are spacious and the amenities are practically perfect. Time Magazine is talking about uber-luxury, targeted at a market willing to pay thousands or tens of thousands per night for hotel accommodations, sometimes referred to as “ultraluxe”.

While this may be a growing market, I’d say that it is not one that most of us are going to be part of, at least not on a regular basis.

Let’s see, you can pay $25,000 for one room night—one time—at an ultraluxe hotel. You can buy a fabulous timeshare week from the timeshare developer for about the same amount of money and use it for 7 days, each and every year, for the rest of your life. Or, for that kind of money, you can deal directly with timeshare owners who want to sell timeshare they currently own, and you can buy the right to enjoy anywhere from 14 nights to perhaps as many as 30 or even 60 or 70 nights, per year, every single year, as long as you own the timeshare. Own a timeshare for 20 years, and you conceivably could get 1400 vacation days and nights from an initial expenditure of $25,000.

I suspect many of us will be passing up ultraluxe and “settling” for more affordable (and more logical) levels of luxury.