Holiday Club Membership Can Be a Cost Effective Alternative to Timeshare

Flexible holidays at affordable prices are available through the number of stand-alone holiday clubs that have evolved Since the 1980s.Holiday Clubs, also known as Vacation Clubs, use a combination of unused resort inventory and in-house stock to provide its members with a wide range of mostly self catering apartment holidays at affordable prices. Members do not own but rather rent apartments through the club, usually at around the wholesale price level.The quality of the units tends to be higher compared to what is generally available from the mainstream tour operators selling self-catering holidays because the majority of the units offered are from within the timeshare sector.Most units include fully kitted kitchens, cable TV/DVD and en-suite bathrooms (two bedroom units). Facilities on the sites usually include swimming pool, tennis courts, restaurant, bar and mini-bar.It is important to distinguish between holiday/vacation clubs and holiday/vacation ownership programmes. The latter use their own pool of resort inventory, which is collectively purchased through new membership sales.Resort holiday clubs originally evolved in the early 1980s as a secondary product to offer to clients not prepared to purchase a timeshare while at the resort sales presentations.In most cases the resorts offer prospects a three-year membership which gives them user rights within particular timeshare resorts.The logic is simple. The holiday club membership offer would cover a portion of their sales presentation costs and a nominal commission to the sales agent. The resort then had the opportunity to try to “convert” the holiday club member into a timeshire purchaser while they were staying at the resort. Most clubs permit the owner to pass on their rights to a friend, thus the resort in many cases would have the opportunity to sell to third parties.These ‘Trial Memberships or Start Up packages’ became a solid secondary product among most timeshare developers throughout the world. The ‘club’ concept increased in popularity in Europe when EC legislation imposed a 10-day cooling off period with no up-front deposits on all new timeshares as they fell outside the legislation, if they were sold for less than three years. The developers were permitted to continue their marketing and sales programmes within new EC legal guidelines following a minor change of the documents from three years to two years and 364 days or equivalent.One holiday club known in the marketplace as a travel and leisure club due to its varied products, was established in 1987 as a low cost means to test drive a timeshare programme.To allow potential timeshare purchases to try them out it established a three-year programme using acocmodation the group had listed for resale rented out weeks at roughly the amount of the maintenance fee.The club members were encouraged to convert from the club into timeshare ownership with the incentive that a portion or the full amount of their club membership would be credited toward their timeshare purchase.As membership rapidly expanded – it became obvious that many members preferred the flexibility of the club to the purchase of timeshare.So in the early 90s it was established as a stand alone travel and leisure club offering a one time enrolment fee together with an affordable annual renewal fee and a resort facility fee to cover the apartment weeks drawn down and eventually set up a travel agency to providing a complete range of travel services to its expanding membership base from can booking flights, cruises, hotels and weekend breaks including hotel, theatre, and restaurant reservations.Members could draw down from three to six weeks resort accommodation per year at a wholesale price which usually amounted to the annual resort maintenance fee, together with a small handling fee. Eventually it provided annual savings on their holidays to more than 25,000 families in 25 countries.Unlike timeshare or ‘Vacation Ownership’ programmes however, the scattered inventory within holiday and travel clubs usually requires its members to be flexible when choosing their holidays, for example asking members to provide three locations with a date window for each holiday requested.Properly run holiday clubs are a very viable alternative to timeshare purchase as the outlay is lower (usually from £495 to £3000), members only pay for what they use and may draw down multiple weeks per year.With a well-chosen holiday club you will get quality assured resort apartment holidays from year to year usually with significant savings.Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

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