Timeshare Owners Case Study: Breakfast on the balcony and a mountain view
Alliance members, Ian and Margaret, have proved a tricky couple to track down. Each time I suggested a date for us to meet up so they could tell me about their experiences of timeshare ownership they had to decline as they were out of the country using up their vacation points!
Finally we met on a blustery autumnal afternoon in October, and the couple, from Hampshire, have just returned from a vacation to Palm Springs.
“Welk Desert Oasis in Palm Springs is one of our favourite resorts – we return there often.” Ian tells me. “I love to sit in the morning on the balcony overlooking the golf-course, surrounded by the mountains enjoying a bacon roll. Their villas have so much space, we can spend all day without going out just enjoying the surroundings and watching the action on the course, with all the facilities of a home right there.”
Margaret chips in, “We do a bit of shopping just after we arrive and fill up the fridge with some white wine and cold meat and salad and snacky things. Then we can choose whether to venture out to eat or whether to just relax in the villa and eat when we want. This year we we also took advantage of one of the excursions which was a four-wheel drive adventure into the desert.”
“And we saved 20% off that with our membership!”exclaims Ian.
Ian and Margaret are unsure just how long ago they bought their timeshare, “I think it was 15 years”, says Ian. Margaret disagrees, “no, I think its more likely 20. Think of all the places we’ve been and times we’ve been away”.
The couple had friends who were owners of a week at the luxury Cameron House resort on the banks of Loch Lomond. When they decided to adventurously swap the week for one at a Welk Resort in San Diego, California, they invited Ian and Margaret along. So impressed were both couples with the spacious Mountain Villa in Escondido that they each bought a week in the resort.
“It was about £12,000 back then for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom that slept 8” recalls Ian. “As our friends had been owners of timeshare already they understood that by getting a larger unit it would give us greater flexibility when we wanted to swap, so that’s what we did. The resort had two golf courses, recreation centres and a theatre and has added even more facilities over the years.”
Welk Resorts, Escondido, San Diego
They never looked back. As fans of the US already (they had lived previously in New York where Ian worked for many years before retiring back to England) it gave them a great base to explore the California area. “We also realised that by placing our week into the exchange system, we automatically received a second week for free” explains Margaret. “This meant our yearly maintenance fees really went a long way and was great value when you see the type of accommodation we can use. We can also buy Getaways without using our points and they work out incredibly cheap through the exchange company. We recently had a week in fabulous apartment with a jacuzzi in the bedroom at Sheraton Desert Oasis in Scottsdale for just over £350.”
Interior at Sheraton Desert Oasis, Scottsdale, Arizona
The Lawrence Welk Show
Welks Resorts has its own fascinating story. Founder Lawrence Welk, born in 1903 was raised on a farm in a German-speaking town in North Dakota and didn’t learn English until he was 21 which left him with his trade-mark accent and signature line “Wunnerful, wunnerful!”. Welk decided on a career in music initially, and performed with various bands before starting his own Orchestra. They performed across the country and in 1951 he produced his own TV Show, The Lawrence Welk Show which ran successfully on ABC and then other networks until the early 80’s.
Welks resort owning journey started earlier in 1964, when driving out in San Diego he came across a motel and nine hole golf course which he bought – staging a show and turning it into an instant hotspot for Lawrence Welk fans across the globe. An astute business man, he and his son Larry had the vision to expand and so Welk Resorts now operates five spectacular vacation ownership properties in San Diego, Palm Springs and Lake Tahoe in California, Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Baja, Mexico, and in Bransan, MO. Run now by Lawrence Welks grandson Jon Fredricks the CEO keeps the tradition of family hospitality alive with the resorts providing first-class accommodation.
Back to Ian and Margaret (and friend) at Welk Escondido below!
“We have tried all of the Welk Resorts and they are all fabulous. So much space, gigantic balconies and in such scenic areas.” Margaret tells us. “We normally holiday with friends who also have timeshare weeks which works really well. We often book a ‘lock-off’ which is a unit that can be divided into two separate sections so we have our own space but can choose to be together if we want. We’ll spend one week of our points and then one week of their points and so we each get to choose where we go.”,
Ian takes over, “We’ve had some fabulous places over the years. Once we had tried all the Welk sites out, we had a few holidays in Europe with exchanges through Interval International. We had a huge luxury villa in Quinta del Lago once that had electric gates. We couldn’t believe it was all ours, private pool and patio and close to the beach – it was a real treat!”
“Do you remember the place in the Lake District?” says Margaret. “Whitbarrow? We had a charming little stone lodge, on a cobbled street. It had a heated indoor swimming pool on site and a restaurant and we only used up a few of our points so we could still book our trip to the States and get the sun we really enjoy. It was an experience – glad we did it but really we love Palm Springs best!”
Ian and Margaret also used their exchange points one year to try out the Marriott Vacation Club Resort at Palm Springs. “It really is beautiful,” says Margaret. “Breathtaking views, huge villa, fantastic facilities including a shop on site.”
Marriott Vacation Club Resort at Palm Springs
New affiliation with RCI
Welk had a long relationship with Interval International but just recently they have signed an affiliation with RCI. “We’ve attended a few of the RCI presentations at the resort and it looks very promising as we will now be able to go to brands like Hilton and Wyndham”, comments Ian.
For now the couple are back in the UK but they are already planning next year’s vacation to Yellowstone. “We’ve cleared out all our points for this year but we’ve still got a few vouchers from some of the presentations we’ve attended including theatre tickets so we’ll get those used and then be back on the resort directory seeing what we fancy.”
Ian’s bacon roll on the balcony beckons!
Ian and Margaret’s Top Tips for Maximising your Timeshare Ownership
Use all your points up if you can – we take advantage of the short breaks and getaways and try and make sure we don’t lose any points.
When booking an exchange, you to need to commit some time if you want something specific – put time aside before the weekend if possible, and you may have to sit on the computer for several hours as you wait for weeks to come up. Its time consuming but worth it to get what you want.
Use a John Lewis Card for currency exchange as you get awarded John Lewis points and you can order online the day before and pick your money up from the local Waitrose.
When at home use a credit card for all purchases rather than a debit card that builds up Avios points. As long as you pay the amount off each month you won’t get charged interest and you can then use those Avios points to book plane tickets on BA.
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