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Back from the Timeshare and My Final Thoughts - HGVC on International Drive in Orlando

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Back from the Timeshare and My Final Thoughts - HGVC on International Drive in Orlando

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Back from the Timeshare and My Final Thoughts - HGVC on International Drive in Orlando

We made it back in one piece and no worse for the wear! It really wasn't as bad as friends and family had predicted, and we ended up having a great time at a more upscale resort. Even my hubby admitted that much! In fact, I was so excited, I wanted to sign up right away at a competitor's program but caught myself. Hey, we're supposed to be getting ready to move...we've got a day trip to Disney to plan for my younger son's birthday and a wives coffee to host, all this upcoming weekend...what was I thinking? Anyway, let me tell you how it went should you decide to do the timeshare thing and get free Disney tickets, free cash, restaurant giftcards or whatever they are handing out at the time.

We stayed four days at the Hilton Grand Vacation Club on International Drive in Orlando. It's one of the newer resorts, with a dozen buildings situated around a nice-sized lake with a fountain and a walkway crossing the lake, all in the Tuscanny style. They have two heated pools, fountains to play in, waterfalls and spouts, as well as plenty of hot tubs, activities for the adults as well as the kids, not to mention two restaurants, bars, workout rooms and few other nice places to hang out, depending on whether you want peace and quiet or a little more action.

We arrived Friday afternoon and were quickly given our keycards to our studio. In hindsight, I would've come up with an excuse to ask for the one bedroom, even though it was just the two of us. Even though the studio was nice, it was more like a hotel room. Yes, it had the granite counters, nice wood cabinets, topshelf TV, DVD player and even an alarm clock to hook your mp3 player up too, we would've had a washer and dryer, more floor space, a full kitchen with stove, a living room and a jacuzzi tub, not to mention a half bath in the one bedroom...ah well. I would've also requested a room away from the construction on the outlet mall side, although on the weekends, no work was being done there...and, I would've asked for a room other than on the ground floor. All the rooms had screened-in balconies or porches with a table and chairs, but at the higher floors, you at least have some kind of view, and if you didn't feel like taking the stairs, there were plenty of elevators available.

We decided to eat-in Friday night and just enjoy each other's company. We called Outback Steakhouse across the street to place our order, ran over to Publix to get some breakfast essentials, drinks and some snacks (our room only had a microwave, small sink and small refrigerator). By the time we finished that, our food was ready at Outback curbside pick up, and we carted it all back to our room. Let me say it was fantastic, eating a romantic meal in private on our little porch. It was just as nice as a catered dinner. We were so busy, we never did make it out to take a bigger look around...that would have to wait til Saturday.

The next day, we did make it to the outlet mall next door for some shopping. I couldn't get over every other voice we heard was either British or German. When I saw the Brit with the rolling duffel bag on wheels, bigger than him, I realized what good deals foreigners must be getting now over here. We heard one Brit tell another Brit, he just came over here for a day to do some shopping....get outta here...really?

At 12:30pm, we showed up for our appointment with our resort rep. No one says the timeshare word, but we all knew why we were there. Each couple had their own personal rep explaining how the program worked. I was astounded at all the little tables and chairs, each seating a rep with his or her target couple (yes, you have to be a couple to attend). The noise level reminded me of the time I went to a livestock auction and the auctioneer was going full force...it was that loud. Our rep offered us lunch and snacks...darn, we had already eaten...and then got right down to business. She explained that this was basically a plan to prepay for your vacations...for the rest of your life. She asked how many days per month and per year we vacation, then she did some quick numbers showing how much we would pay for that in the next 10 years. I guess this was prepping us for the big numbers she would later pull out. Then she talked about Hilton's point system. Yes, you buy the points here at this resort, let's say 7,000, which should cover about two weeks of vacation in prime season per year. You can also use these points to stay at other resorts...all 40 of them, in the Hilton system, as well as use your points at the conglomerate timeshare giant RCI. All you pay is a booking fee, and you never have to trade weeks or resorts or deal with RCI, which we were told has a poor record of customer service. Everything goes through Hilton, and they make all the arrangements. She hammered into our heads, call the 1-800 #, tell them what week or weeks you want to travel, and they'll take care of the rest. She said most times you can find something nice...except in NYC. It's almost impossible to get in there.

We then had to move around a room with lots of glitzy photos and widescreen flatscreen tvs showing all the different resorts, the benefits of vacation ownership and the highlights of what she had told us so far...still no mention of how much this whole shebang will cost. Off to the quick five minute movie, showing how glamorous and fun our lives will be, being a part of Hilton's program. Then, off to see their model suites. This is where I first saw the one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom suites. All rooms can be connected, so take as many as you need for your next vacation. Of course, the bigger rooms cost more points, but hey, if you want to take your whole extended family and book up a slew of rooms, you can.

Back to our little round negotiating table...out comes the pad and pen and some numbers get hastily scribbled down. So, what do you think, she says. She finally asks us if we are interested in buying. Bottom line....you can buy in for the now price of $34,000. Oh, of course you can finance it...at just over 16% for about 10 years. And, since you asked, the other fees involved are about a $1,000 taxes and maintenance fee you pay every year. Yes, that fee can be raised year after year, but look how low that is per month! Of course, we hadn't planned to shell out any money at all to begin with, so we immediately said it would not fit into our budget. Here comes the supervisor, who writes down a new deal...up-side down no less...the numbers equating to $11,000 but now you take vacations every other year and have less points...is he high? That's a better deal? Do they realize we can do math too? To not ruffle their feathers to quickly, we did grab the calculator and randomly punched in some numbers and nodded and grunted now and then...and said again, that won't fit into our plans either. We also threw in a few other excuses for good measure...and then just stopped talking and let the silence do its thing.

To be fair, our rep didn't bat an eyelash after we started saying no. She was still her cheerful and smiling self, even up until the time her supervisor left (after not convincing us either) and another lady sat down with a clipboard. The clipboard lady asked us on a scale of 1 to 5, how we liked the presentation, our rep, etc and then why we didn't buy...she was just collecting statistics. She then ushered us to the elevator...we stood and waited in dead silence and went down in dead silence. She shook our hands and then dropped us off at the "gifting office"...that's what the sign said. There a young lady asked if we were promised anything...we were...and proceeded to print out two one day passes to Disney...and that was that...our obligation was over.

Once we got back to our room, I thought I'd check the internet..yes, we had high speed internet in our room. There I found the timeshare resales...not just on eBay through legitimate timeshare resellers but also sites that had hundreds of timeshare resales..most through RCI, but I saw plenty of Hilton and Marriot as well. Come to find out, our exact 7,000 point plan through this particular resort in Orlando would've cost us anywhere from $5,400 to $15,000 on the resale market, depending on who we bought it from...that's a far cry from the $35,000 retail price! Thank God we didn't get talked into anything! Not that we had planned on it...but I did figure these guys were expert salespeople and never say never, cause it can come back to bite you in the a**. Also, under eBay vacation packages, travel agents were selling timeshare presentations (like the weekend we just went on) for anywhere from $75 to $200, depending on where and for how long. Be sure to read the fine print and restrictions too. Most were in Orlando and Las Vegas. So, if you are looking for a cheap vacation, and don't mind sitting through a few hours one day, consider it the next time you want to travel.

We ended up thoroughly enjoying ourselves after we left the presentation. We swam in the pools, enjoyed the hot tubs and even had a casual dinner by the bar. Before we left we even tried out the fitness rooms...not better than your average hotel...as well as some of the other amenities on site. It ended up being a nice relaxing extended weekend for my hubby and me for just over $100...and that made it priceless!

Before you take the plunge yourself on one of these vacations, keep these things in mind:

  • Visit this timeshare message board and read the worst timeshare experiences as well as advice on how to shorten your presentation. We found that being polite and firm worked well. If needed, I was also ready to remind them on the two hour presentation limit they themselves had imposed. We were out in an hour and 50 minutes, and I bet it would've been shorter had I not lingered on the model tour.
  • Do not feel guilty. They are paying for your time to be there and that is why you are getting the free Disney tickets, cash or whatever else they promised. Time=money.

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2 Comments:

Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Be sure to read other great travel articles at the Carnival of Travel Guide #16 at

http://www.airlinecreditcards.com/travelhacker/carnival-of-travel-guide-16/

April 23, 2008 at 1:16 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

My husband and I rented a week from an owner we found at the Vacation Trader. We enjoyed the tickets from taking HGVC's tour but wound up buying the same thing from www.vacationtrader.org
for $5,000 less! If you like it I suggest buying resale like we did.

March 9, 2009 at 5:16 AM  

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