The journey of Timeshare
Where did timeshare all begin?
Timeshare has changed significantly over the last half of a century. In the early 1960s, timeshare as a concept was practically unheard of, but by the 1970s it was starting to emerge across the globe – albeit with various different names and forms. In the UK, timeshare actually started in the 60s but was managed within family or friendship groups rather than by external companies. It was known as ‘vacation home sharing’ where perhaps 4 families might all combine their money together to purchase a holiday home and then divide up the weeks of each year fairly between themselves to make use of the property.
This concept then started to become more commercialised and two companies, one from France and one Switzerland, were the first to actually offer timeshare to purchase. The French company was called ‘The Societe des Grands Travaux de Marseille’ and they started their timeshare journey at their ski resort in the French Alps named ‘SuperDevoluy’. This French company were actually the first to develop a slogan to attract new buyers towards the timeshare concept and they said: “No need to rent the room; buy the hotel, its cheaper!”. Around the same time, In Switzerland, a company called Hapimag started to offer a similar model. They actually went one step further by buying properties further afield in countries such as Spain and Italy – meaning that they were the first club to ever offer their members a choice of holiday destination.
How did the timeshare industry get so huge?
It didn’t take long for this concept to become widely spread across different countries, due to its growing popularity. In America, there were various different timeshare models, from points systems offered in Hawaii, to the first purpose built ‘interval ownership resort’ in 1974 – built in Florida and known as Sanibel Beach Club – this was a 31 unit build which sold out in under 18 months. From there, vacation exchange, or timeshare, was taken on by both RCI (Resort Condominium International) and II (Interval International), and today these companies are household names and the largest in timeshare representing over 7,000 resorts across the world. By the time of the 1990’s timeshare companies were trading on the stock market and soon after in the U.S timeshares were in 47 states and 95 countries showing just how huge this industry had become in a relatively short period.
How has the reputation of timeshare changed?
When timeshare began nearly 50 years ago, it was primarily for the upper-class elite and for many it was a real point of pride to be able to boast ownership of a property in an exotic location – even if that ownership was only for one or two weeks. But, as the industry has grown so has its appeal and affordability, and today timeshare appeals to people of all economic social backgrounds and more and more younger buyers are now committing to timeshare.
Timeshare as an industry has had a very diverse reputation – going from coveted and praised at the beginning to having a somewhat rocky reputation as more people started to try and make fast cash and acted immorally to make money out of customers looking to get into timeshare. Many timeshare sales tactics were accused of being very pushy and intimidating – often offering free short vacations to a resort if the potential buyer would attend a timeshare presentation. The unfortunate reality was that many felt forced into buying a week at the resort for years to come that they didn’t really want. During the 1980s, many corrupt developers operating within the industry were out of control and using very aggressive sales tactics and being referred to as ‘used-car-salesmen’. For a time, if you were to tell someone you owned a timeshare you might be given a sympathetic look and people often thought you had just been bullied into a bad deal that you would regret for years to come and feel trapped within.
These days, timeshare doesn’t have such a negative reputation as it once did and this is perhaps due to the fact that many more companies now offer more diverse types of timeshare such as Disney. These offers can be great for young families who want to enjoy a ‘home away from home’ style vacation with their families in a resort they know and love. As well as this, more points based systems are being used across the world with companies like RCI which means families and timeshare owners have more flexibility with where they want to travel. Some older couples truly love their timeshare resorts and are extremely happy with their purchase which they have enjoyed for many years.
What happens if I’m not happy with my timeshare?
It is important to remember though that what is right for a buyer right now at the point of sale – might not still be right in say 10 – 15 years. For example, a young family buying into timeshare at Disney, Florida may well thoroughly enjoy and love their holidays with their young family but when their children grow into teenagers – the magic may have worn off and they may find themselves wanting to experience new places. Unfortunately, despite some positive attitude changes towards timeshare, the fact remains that the years timeshare contracts bind you to often far exceed the buyers interest in a particular resort or location and this is where it can get problematic.
Due to a huge shortfall in the ability to re-sell or give back timeshare units to resorts, if a family finds themselves in a situation where they no longer make use of their timeshare, it can become a trapping situation. If you have found yourself in a similar situation then Get in touch with Athena Law today for professional, friendly advice that you can really trust. Our team of dedicated, expert timeshare solicitors will work closely with you to carefully consider your case and advise you on your legal rights and options going forwards. We have years of experience in this industry and many success stories for clients who have been in your position, and we may be able to help you too.
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