told them where we were stay- ing, and they got disgusted with us faster than the other place. Again, the units and the grounds were gorgeous, and I was wishing we had the money to buy one. I got the taste of luxury vacationing, and somehow I knew I would never be satisfied in a regular motel room ever again. Then, they brought out the RCI book, that shiny catalogue that held the keys to the world I wanted to be a part of. Ha- waii, Aruba, Europe! I almost felt faint! And the best part, they told us, is that these vacations would be virtu- ally free! You never have to use your week, they told us. You can rent your luxury condo for at least $1,400 per week! People pay premium rates to rent in such a luxurious place! Pay your maintenance fees and use the rest of the money to buy bonus escape weeks for $199. You can travel any- where you want on other people’s money!
Wow, I said to my husband, we can vacation for free! Listen, he said, we do not have the money to buy the week. You can make payments, like a mortgage, they told us. No, he said, as he is the levelheaded one, we can not make any more payments.
As dejected as I was, I knew he was right. But I also knew I wanted to be a part of this thing called time- sharing.
Then, I saw a flyer in a visitor’s brochure rack - some company was selling used timeshares! No one had ever told me about a secondary mar- ket. I tucked the pamphlet in my suit- case, and called when we got home.
The salesman told me he had units at the very resorts I toured! No, they
weren’t the brand new ones, but the one you buy from the developer today will not be brand new in a couple of years either. The resort keeps updat- ing the furnishings so they are just as good as new. You get the same privi- leges as the buyers of the new ones. And yes, you can exchange your unit for the same locations in the RCI book. The price? About 1/3 of what the de- veloper was charging!
My husband finally agreed that this was within our means, and we became buyers. I waited anxiously for that RCI catalogue to arrive, dreaming and planning.
Then the timesharing reality set in. No, you can’t really rent out your unit for $1,400 or more per week. At least, not our unit. And those bonus ex- change weeks are not available every- where. And they are not available during the time when your kids have off from school. They are “excess inventory,” which generally meant that they were only available during times we could not go, or to places we would not want to visit during the off-sea- son. So forget about travelling around the world on other people’s money.
And our personal financial reality set in, too. We still can’t afford to fly the five of us to exotic locations each year. What good is a 2BR in Hawaii if you can’t get there? It will be a few years yet before we take off without the children on a long vacation, so we have had to adjust our game plan.
We have found that you do not have to be wealthy to enjoy the ad- vantages of timesharing. We still drive to our vacation destinations most years, and have enjoyed exchanges to Cape Cod, Poconos, and Williamsburg. We save money by cooking some meals in the units. We have been able to take advantage of the Vacation Es- capes. For the last four years, I have booked 3 units in Williamsburg or Massanutten to host a family reunion. We were only able to stay a weekend, but at those prices, it was still much cheaper than a motel room. We have
booked escapes for our friends, and everyone with families rave about the joy of spreading out in the units.
We flew back to Orlando to our home resort once. We loved it, and are proud to say we own there. My brother paid our maintenance fee one year and his family used it. He raved about it, and we have had several of- fers from others to pay our mainte- nance fees as a rental as well.
So, we know that we won’t ever get stuck losing weeks, paying main- tenance fees for nothing. If we aren’t able to vacation, we know someone who will be glad to go in our place. We will continue to avail ourselves of the Escape Weeks. Our kids are spoiled now. They don’t want to go anywhere unless they can stay in a timeshare. Only one bathroom? A rollaway bed? No thank you! They have come to regard as normal the luxury that I had thought was so amaz- ing. Times sure change.
And what did I get for my birth-