In 2014 we opted for a “cheap” Florida vacation by using a free hotel voucher which included a time share presentation with Holiday Inn Club. Having been through a time share presentation with Wyndham and having a less than stellar experience, I was not looking forward to it. I went into that meeting fully prepared to say no to every question, seem as disinterested as possible, but polite… I know those sales people are just doing their jobs. We all gotta make a living. We had a very nice sales lady and I felt bad pretending to be an incredibly rude person. So I politely listened, asked a few questions, praised the property we toured (Orange Lake) and sat down ready to say no, we aren’t interested. However, my husband took my politeness for sincere interest and the next thing I know, he’s asking pricing and negotiating a deal. 😳
We’ve now been owners for 7yrs. I have a hard time answering the “is it worth it” question. I guess it depends on how you plan to use your points and were you successful in that plan. Our first four years, we were not really successful. Our lives changed since we bought in. Daniel went from a job with very little travel to one with a lot of travel. Which means we can’t plan vacations very far in advance. Maybe a few weeks notice, or maybe a day…
Let me give a little info about how this time share works. You essentially “own” a period of time for a certain villa. You never have to step foot in that villa, but it’s worth a dollar value during that week (or more) that you own. Some weeks cost more than others (holidays, summer, spring break). We do not own an expensive week. Our dollar amount is broke down into points. We get 133,000 points every two years. Those points will expire at the end of the two years. Holiday Inn Club owns several resorts all over the country and continue to add more. You can also convert your points to IHG and use them at any IHG hotel. (Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental, etc…). Holiday Inn Club works with RCI, The Royalty Collection and Interval International, as well as the ability to call the Holiday Inn Club travel agents and use your points for cruises and flights. I don’t recommend the latter as you can find cheaper options rather than blow through your points for cruises and flights. Anyway, with the ability to convert your points for use with the other partner companies, you could find a location to stay pretty much anywhere in the world you want to. I have found that it can be harder to find availability at certain locations for last minute travel though. Such as our Germany trip last year. I did not luck out at all with 2 months in advance looking. So, for us, we’ve only used the Holiday Inn Club resorts, they currently have 29 resorts.
Some other numbers to keep in mind. On top of your price tag that you agree to, you’ll also have property taxes, maintenance fees, and your yearly membership dues. Also, if you choose to convert your points to IHG, you’ll pay a conversion fee. Every time you book you’ll pay a booking fee (currently $69). These are our current fees for what we own, your pricing will be different dependent on the time frame/villa you would buy, and of course, we purchased in 2014… so take these prices as an example only as everyone will likely be different. Our villa/time frame cost was $15,000, which converts to 133,000 points every two years. One year we pay property taxes, currently around $125, the next year we pay maintenance dues, currently around $850. Those prices can fluctuate of course. Our yearly membership fee is $125 I think.
That all sounds like a lot of money… so this is where that “is it worth it” gets tricky. You have a lot of resort room options that all cost something different depending on location and size of villa. Maybe you have a large family and need three bedrooms, maybe it’s just two adults and a studio or one bedroom villa is fine. Location also plays a factor in pricing as well as when you vacation. A 2 bedroom poolside villa in River Island (Orange Lake Resort in Orlando) during Christmas week will cost you roughly 198,000 points for 6 nights. My two years worth of points can’t even purchase that… you would obviously need a bigger package than we bought. But we are a family of 3. We can usually manage to travel during a cheaper time frame. We also do not need a large space or a pretty view as we don’t stay in our villa much except to sleep and eat a couple meals. While I’ve rented a two bedroom and brought my mom along, basically blowing all my points on one trip because they were about to expire… I’ve gotten much more frugal with how to get the most out of them.
For example, we’ve visited Orange Lake in Orlando twice in the last 3 months. During Halloween and the last week of February. Not expensive weeks. I picked the studio room in the West Village. That provides 2 queen beds, a twin size pull out sofa, table with 4 chairs and a kitchenette. First visit was 7 nights for 52,000 points, second visit was 4 nights for 32,000 points. That still leaves me with 49,000 points to get another stay in a studio room this year, or maybe a couple days in a one bedroom if we choose to go somewhere else during a cheap week.
Each resort offers something different. Many have golf courses and a pool. But they might also have mini golf, arcades, activities such as bingo and karaoke, restaurants, horseback riding, indoor water park, etc… we do prefer Orange Lake as we are close to family that lives in FL and of course, the theme parks. Orange Lake has 4 resorts on one property. You have access to all of them. Multiple pools, golf courses, restaurants, paddle boats, jet skis, tennis courts, lazy river, walking paths, arcades, ponds with white sand beaches… I’m missing so much. You can easily just park your car and stay at the resort for a week and be pretty happy. They’ve also got a Publix right outside the property so we do quite a bit of cooking from our villa and save money rather than eat out every meal. We’ve also stayed at the Williamsburg VA location and loved it. It has a beautiful indoor/outdoor pool and a bowling alley. Super cute rooms too.
Some downsides… sometimes you’ll get a room that’s ready to be remodeled and a bit rough. I’ve never had a dirty room. But I have had one with chipped cabinets or a stain on a couch, maybe a bit dated looking… but don’t feel like your maintenance fees are being waisted. The grounds are immaculately landscaped, amenities always top notch, and the rooms do get regularly updated. We’ve had several with granite countertops and high end furnishings to make up for the couple old ones. Once a year, they like to get you in to an “owners meeting.” Essentially, another time share presentation. I usually get out of these, but did get roped in to one in Williamsburg. We actually had a really nice lady that told me some tricks at getting those RCI bookings I wasn’t having luck finding availability for. And got $100 for a restaurant in town. Didn’t buy a larger package and she wasn’t pushy about it at all. It was relatively painless, but I still wiggle my way out of them if I can… 😂
So, would I do it over again? Gosh, I really don’t know. Orange Lake feels like our home away from home now, but we also have a camper and could have used it or did an Airbnb if we wanted somewhere with a kitchen… on the other hand, we love the amenities, service has always been top notch, the grounds are always lovely and I’m getting a lot more out of it by being frugal with my room choices. In the end, I think it really depends on how you use it and what you want out of it. Not a very definitive answer, I know. It’s the best I’ve got. We’ve certainly had a few years that I wish we hadn’t gotten it, but lately I’ve been very happy with it.
If you read all of this and interested in getting a stay at a Holiday Inn Club resort, please send us a message with your email and I can refer you to a 4 night stay for $199 at resorts in Orlando, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, Williamsburg, Branson, Scottsdale, Gatlinburg, Cocoa Beach, or New Orleans, if you are ok going through a time share presentation. No obligation to buy. Gives you a cheaper resort vacation and us a small bonus of points to use for our future stays.