Although the world is closed for business right now, it is important to look ahead to a better time when we can leave our homes, and even our countries, to get out and see the world again. In the meantime, while the majority of us are housebound, we can fill some of that time thinking about what we'd like to do and how we might holiday when the time comes... Timeshare, or shared-holiday ownership, is enjoyed by millions of people each year the world over, as it has been for more than four decades now, since its inception. There are lots of reasons owners tell me they are happy with their timeshare, though value and quality are often the key words in their feedback. If you don't own timeshare already, take time to get a taste of that experience now; and if you are an owner, remind yourself of what you have to look forward to in, hopefully, the not too distant future.

How about a winter timeshare getaway to snowy Finland for a truly magical experience? There's lots to do, including snowsports, husky rides, visiting Santa Claus, and cosy nights in front of the fire. Best of all, timeshare accommodation in this country often comes with its own sauna room as standard!

How about a winter timeshare getaway to snowy Finland for a truly magical experience? There's lots to do, including snowsports, husky rides, visiting Santa Claus, and cosy nights in front of the fire. Best of all, timeshare accommodation in this country often comes with its own sauna room as standard!

What is timeshare?

Timeshare is a way of holidaying in which you pay, up front for several years ahead, for a number of holidays in spacious, quality accommodation, which means that your holiday accommodation costs are taken care of for however long your ownership runs. You purchase a week, or several weeks, of timeshare at your chosen resort and then you get to decide whether you make that your go-to holiday home and return to it each year, or whether you exchange your owned week for a completely different holiday experience somewhere else in the world.

At some resorts you can buy into a points system which allocates a points value to your owned week(s). You can then use your points to book an exchange holiday in the destination and resort of your choice, subject to availability, of course. With RCI membership, you can also put those points towards other holiday lifestyle bookings, such as car hire.

Timeshare has come a long way since its inception in the 1960s. It has survived some rather bad press due to the use - by a relatively small number in the business - of unethical sales tactics that made headlines back in the ‘80s, when timeshare weeks were sold on in-perpetuity contracts which have proven difficult to get out of. With almost 50 years longevity, the timeshare business has had to be founded on ethical and professional sales strategies to stay the course. Today, the professionals in the business have listened to their timeshare owners and have now started addressing those aspects of ownership which had become issues. Many resorts are starting buy-back programmes for owners who no longer use their timeshare, while the industry governing trade body, Resort Development Organisation (RDO), worked closely with owners' representatives and legislators in Brussels to write and implement the most robust consumer protection legislation in the form of the EU Timeshare Directive, which became law across Europe in February 2009.

Situated in prime coastal, mountain and lakeside locations, and enjoying excellent on-resort facilities, including multiple restaurants and bars, swimming pools, spas and wellness centres, child care and kids' clubs, as well as priding themselves on high levels of service from friendly and welcoming staff, it may surprise you to learn that there is yet more to a timeshare holiday offering.

Timeshares are valued, above all else by many RCI members, for the quality of the accommodation, which is typically in well-appointed, self-catering lodgings. Most resorts can offer a variety of accommodation, from studio flats to three-bedroom apartments, and even cottages and villas in some cases. The properties offer privacy for families or larger holidaying groups, with many having balconies and private terraces on which to start or close the day with a suitable drink in hand. Kitchens and dining facilities are there in your apartment if you fancy a relaxed night in, while the on-resort restaurants and bars, often providing live entertainment during the peak season, are close at hand and easily reached with a minimum of effort at the end of an exciting day of sightseeing.

With approximately 20 million owners worldwide, the industry generates an impressive £3 billion in tourism revenues as an annual average in Europe alone, according to industry body, RDO. This, in itself, demonstrates just how popular holidaying with timeshare is.

For those wondering how to get the most out of timeshare - or for those who want to know a little more about ownership and how it measures up against the standard hotel holiday booking, read on.

The mountain retreat of Macdonald Monchique Resort & Spa (DH74) in Portugal's Algarve makes for the perfect escape from the stresses of everyday life. Relax by the resort's beautiful pool overlooking the Monchique Mountains, spoil yourself in the spa, or go for a hike or cycle ride with the family in the surrounding area. Then come back to lounge in this beautiful accommodation - the perfect way to end the day.

How does timeshare work?

Once you have selected your favourite ‘home resort’ and paid your up-front costs, you have a guaranteed destination to holiday in, each year, for the duration of your tenure. Contracts are much more flexible today than ever before. Timeshare weeks are now sold on short-term ownerships of three, five and ten years, letting a buyer sign up for the short term to see if this way of holidaying is for them, before diving into a longer term ownership contract. It's a great way to get a taster of the lifestyle benefits shared-holiday ownership can offer you and your family without committing to a long-term financial proposition.

One of the best ways to get the most out of your timeshare purchase is to take a membership out with a holiday exchange company, such as RCI. With RCI membership, if you don't fancy using your home resort week(s) stay, preferring instead to holiday somewhere else, you simply give RCI the week(s) you don't want to use; RCI will then put your unwanted week(s) into its RCI Holiday Exchange pool. The many other RCI members who want to holiday in a different place to where they bought their week(s) of timeshare will be doing exactly the same thing and so, once you decide where you'd like to go off on holiday, you take a look at the resorts and destinations available at the time you want to book, and then take a holiday week out for you to use and book it. That is known to RCI members as depositing their week(s) and making an exchange. Basically, you are swapping your holiday week for a different one, which is how timeshare can work to give you much more variety and holiday choice than if you owned a holiday home outright and felt you had to go back to visit it each year to justify the expense.

There is a yearly RCI membership fee and a nominal charge for facilitating the swap, or exchange as RCI members term it. With RCI, you can holiday at more than 4,300 resorts in over 110 fabulous countries, rather than returning to the same resort each year, making it a great way to see the world in comfort and style. It is worth checking which accommodation is available on a regular basis, as the holiday swapping or exchange system is dynamic, meaning that as RCI members put weeks in and take weeks out, that availability will, literally, change by the minute, hour, day and week.

You can also move your holiday week around. There is a belief that you must take your timeshare holiday at the same time each year. That is not the case. You can give your week to RCI, when it will be put into the RCI Holiday Exchange pool, allowing you to take out another holiday week at a different time of year, as well as in a different destination. So if you fancy lounging on the beach this summer, then a post-Christmas ski getaway next year, you can do all of that with RCI membership.

The developers of some of the original timeshare resorts, such as the family-owned Pearly Grey Ocean Club (1786) in Tenerife, invest heavily in refurbishments of the accommodation and the guest areas on resort to ensure that the value of its owners' weeks is maintained across the years, and that guests have the best accommodation as a base for their holiday experience. Spacious and comfortable apartments with fully-equipped kitchen facilities and plenty of room for the family to spread out in would come with a high price tag on the high street as a rental apartment. As such, the fantastic pool area, The Edge Bar, eateries, entertainment and high service levels would all also come as extra on the high street.

If you do become an RCI member, each timeshare week you want to use to swap for different ones will be allocated a value so that members are swapping like-for-like holiday weeks and resorts in a fair exchange. At RCI that value, or currency, on which the fair exchanging system is based is called trading power or points - depending on which system the resort you purchased with uses. Those values are assigned based on a range of rating criteria, including seasonality of the week, demand for it, size of the accommodation, level of on-resort services and facilities, as well as RCI's own member ratings, fed back by members on return from holiday at RCI's request.

You will need to look at the trading power or points values of both the week you put into the RCI exchange pool and the week you want to take out - as they may have different values. But you can get credits back onto your RCI account if the week you give to RCI is of greater value than the one you are taking out; the credits on your account can then be combined with the trading power or points value of the next full week you have available to use to go on another RCI Holiday Exchange. RCI flexibility also lets you save trading power, credits and points from the previous Use Year, borrow from the next, and combine what you need to take more holidays or access a week that is of higher value than your owned week. Whether you want to experience a long-haul holiday to a far-flung shore, or stay closer to home, there will be a place for you in the RCI Holiday Exchange membership programme. It is a really flexible way to holiday that can take you further, in every way!

For RCI members, searching on RCI.com will give them all the information needed to make a flexible timeshare holiday work for them. RCI members can see live availability, narrow their search down to what is important to them and all the members of their holiday party, as well as to find out all about the resorts. A growing number of the resorts in the RCI online Resort Directory now have member and TripAdvisor reviews.

Timeshare ownership - the value

We all know holidays are a significant expense, especially if you’re looking to book in peak season, or during the school holidays if you have little ones to consider. Holidays for a family of four or more can work out to be very expensive, particularly if you want that space for the children to run around in and the privacy afforded by separate bedrooms, all of which you get with timeshare accommodation.

The up-front cost of a standard timeshare can be anything from £1,000 up to around £20,000, depending on many factors, such as the size of the accommodation, whether you buy a peak season week which will have a higher holiday exchange value, whether you are buying into a three- or ten-year ownership contract - or more, its location, the specification of the accommodation, together with the on-resort facilities and service levels offered. Once that initial payment is made, you have paid, in advance, for your holiday accommodation for each contracted year that lies ahead. And if you buy into a longer term ownership, you have future-proofed your holiday buying against inflation, as no matter how much the price of holiday accommodation might rise in the ensuing decade, you have bought and paid for yours at today's prices.

In addition, each resort sets its own yearly maintenance fees to cover cleaning, refurbishments and upkeep of the resort facilities. Again the annual maintenance fee levied will vary with the specification of the resort you own at, but they average £350 per owned week, per year, which is a good deal less than you'd be paying out for a gardener, cleaner and pool maintenance engineer each year if you owned a holiday home outright. And you'd have to go back to that place, year in, year out; start to get it ready for holiday habitation before you could even think of starting your holiday; and spend a day or more towards the close of your stay packing it all away again and making it secure for when you leave. With a timeshare, your holiday starts the minute you step into the resort, and ends the minute you leave - no days of your break are 'wasted' on cleaning and packing away.

A search on a well-known holiday booking website for a one week’s hotel stay in Spain for two adults and two children during the school summer holidays, staying in a two-bedoom four-star resort with kitchen facilities - which is what you would expect to get with timeshare accommodation - came out at £3,233 for the week. You wouldn't need to take many of those holidays before you start to spend more than you paid for your timeshare week!

Spain is great for family holidays, having so many sandy beaches to choose from, its traditional 'White Towns' to visit, and year-round sunshine. That all comes at a price for families looking to book to stay there during the school holidays which makes a timeshare purchase over a number of years into the better value approach to holiday purchase planning for those who know they are going to holiday each year.

Spain is great for family holidays, having so many sandy beaches to choose from, its traditional 'White Towns' to visit, and year-round sunshine. That all comes at a price for families looking to book to stay there during the school holidays, which makes a timeshare used over a number of years the better value approach to holiday purchase planning for those who know they are going to holiday each year.

As a timeshare owner and an RCI member, you benefit from staying in resorts which are closely monitored for all aspects of the quality of the holiday experience, from cleanliness and comfort of the accommodation, to the hospitality and service levels of the resort staff.

RCI has three quality awards for resorts which consistently meet RCI's quality criteria and score highly in the ratings given in the Welcome Home feedback RCI asks its members to submit on their return from an RCI Holiday Exchange. If you see the blue RCI Hospitality Award icon on a resort or in the RCI.com online Resort Directory, that means the resort scored highly on member feedback for its check-in and check-out experience, and for its generally high levels of hospitality.

The RCI Silver Crown Award is presented to resorts which have proven they regularly provide outstanding holiday experiences. Resorts with this RCI status have met specific standards for housekeeping and maintenance, as well as the set criteria of the RCI Hospitality Award requirements.

RCI Gold Crown Award status is the highest quality recognition RCI can give to an RCI-affiliated resort. Those carrying the RCI Gold Crown icon have met, or exceeded, the RCI Hospitality and RCI Silver Crown Award criteria, plus they must have scored highly for their resort facilities, amenities and services offered to guests.

What members tell us

Here's what some of our members had to say about the value of their timeshare holiday purchases.

"After a hotel, the accommodation seemed amazingly luxurious. Because I own a unit that sleeps eight at an RCI Gold Crown resort in the US, I can trade my US week for as many as three weeks of holiday at European resorts." - Tracie Bushell, RCI member since 1996

"It's hard for me not to compare our holidays to those of other families. For instance, both my family of four and a friend's visited Greece, staying in apartments of comparable size and quality. However, while they paid around £4,000 for their week's accommodation, we paid £650 and that included the cost of our annual maintenance fee on our week. Getting accommodation of equal quality on the high street for the same price as your timeshare, costed out over years of ownership, just isn't possible." - Donna Merrick, RCI member since 2000

"In all the years we have been travelling with RCI, we have never had a bad experience with our accommodation or destination, they have all been exceptional. We definitely prefer being in an apartment, rather than a hotel - it's just a much more comfortable experience. It's such a relaxing way to holiday." - Janine Hemblade, RCI member since 1999

"For the price we paid for our timeshare, we've had our money back, many times, in the holidays we've had over the last 30 years. We've exchanged into resorts in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Orlando, New York, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Germany and the UK. If we didn't have our timeshare with RCI membership, we wouldn't have been able to travel to the amazing places we've been lucky enough to visit." - Valerie Nicholas, RCI member since 1987

Three happy, timeshare-owning RCI members who are pleased with the value they have got from their timeshare ownership. Pictured from left, Tracie spending quality time with her family on an RCI Exchange Holiday, Donna and her family out in Tenerife, Valerie and her husband out in the US on a special anniversary holiday.

If you own timeshare but are not a member of RCI, you can become part of our holiday exchange community today. By becoming a member of RCI you will be able to widen your holiday horizons and travel the world using your timeshare without having to compromise on the quality of your accommodation, wherever you are in the world.

By clicking on the Join RCI button below, you can sign up and start exchanging in a few simple steps.

Once you are on the RCI member website, after clicking through on the link below, be sure to have a browse around the site to find the many videos and guides to help explain how timeshare ownership works with RCI membership giving its members a great value, quality holiday lifestyle.

JOIN RCI

If you are already a member of RCI's holiday exchanging community, give yourself something to look forward to in the future for when travel opens up once more, and browse the online RCI Resort Directory to get some inspiration for when we can all start travelling once again. As a member of RCI, you have a choice of more than 4,300 resorts in more than 110 countries, click on the RCI Resort Directory button below.

RESORT DIRECTORY

Hotel Pricing Source

The hotel prices are correct as of 18/07/19 based on a search on Hotels.com for four-star, two-bedroom accommodation with kitchen facilities.