Hotel Awards at Timeshares
I never thought we’d be here. Over the past few years, my family and I have booked hotel awards at timeshares three times. We won’t ever buy a timeshare. I’m not masochistic enough to just sit through a presentation for the freebies, either (bravo to those who can). Consequently, experiencing timeshare properties hasn’t been something historically on our radar. But in recent years, we’ve been more open to the idea. Here’s why.
A Plethora of Award Options
Over the past several years, it seems that more timeshare properties have become bookable with prominent hotel loyalty program currencies – with points or free night certificates. To many this isn’t big news, but in my view, the major hotel programs have recently done a better job incorporating these award options into their overall programs.
We’ve used IHG free night certs from multiple Chase cards with Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Marriott free night awards with their Vacation Club, and points for stays at Club Wyndham. Award rates can be competitive and sometimes better than a traditional hotel redemption. We couldn’t pass up a Club Wyndham redemptions recently. We were coming up empty on viable hotel redemptions in the Williamsburg area. Instead, we opted to redeem Wyndham points at Patriots’ Place for 7.5k nightly. And those economical redemptions can go a long way.
At Patriots’ Place, the 7.5k nightly rate was available in multiple suite types, including a one bedroom deluxe suite, approximately 870 square feet. The suite is basically a one bedroom apartment, including a large living room with fireplace, dining room, kitchen, sprawling bathroom, and washer/dryer. Our Marriott and IHG rooms during timeshare stays were a bit smaller but still spacious, including full kitchens and plenty of dining area.
Timeshare properties obviously tend to offer more family/kid activities than traditional hotels. During our current life season, that’s a big plus. Our two little ones have enjoyed a variety of onsite activities – pools, bike trails, game rooms, scavenger hunts, campfires and s’mores, etc. When we bring up these past trips, our young ones primarily remember all the fun stuff we experienced at the properties.
The Vacation Mindset
Everyone’s different, so perhaps this doesn’t apply to you. But I’ve noticed we firmly enter “vacation mode” when staying at timeshare properties. The overall surroundings, activities, and space contribute to the aura. We’re unwinding in a more detached, relaxed environment. There’s no waking up for a free packaged muffin and rank fruit. The pool isn’t overlooking an interstate.
It ain’t all pretty, though. I must say we wish timeshares had more convenient dining options. On these vacations, cooking isn’t something we’re interested in pursuing each meal. I fully understand the irony here – wanting timeshares to have more restaurants is expecting them to operate more like hotels. Nonetheless, we miss easier options in these properties.
Service isn’t exactly the same. We’ve noticed the willingness to please guests isn’t the same at timeshare properties as compared to hotels. Most timeshare owners are locked in, so there’s less incentive for staff to going over and above. Meanwhile, if you’re not happy with a hotel, you can take your business elsewhere next time.
To be clear, I’m going to keep hotel awards at timeshares an arm’s distance away. Moving forward, I expect we’ll redeem hotel points this way once every one or two years, at most. In my view, staying at a timeshare is like eating Chili’s. One visit after a long break can be satisfying. Visiting too often is unhealthy, and I’d probably end up despising myself. But I’ll consider both periodically, especially if either brings back the Awesome Blossom.
Have you redeemed hotel awards at timeshares? Where did you stay and how was your experience.
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