Sunday, July 10, 2005


Allow me to share a lesson learned with timeshares. The allure of timeshares never interested me. I prided myself on a life fraught with spontaneous travels and city-jumping agendas. The notion of a single room for a whole week was ridiculous.

Then my wife had to go and get pregnant! I love saying it like that. We're at two and looking towards three, and to put it frankly, kids aren't a bunch of fun on long plane trips. Plus under 5 they don't appreciate the subtleties of a culture.

Unexpectedly overwhelmed by the seeming deal of a Mayan Palace timeshare Kyndall and I became owners. Overcome with remorse we returned the timeshare, compliant with Mexican rules, and only costing us the delta of our original room cost with that of the upgraded room they "gave" us.

Here's our deal in short. It was $18k for a single bedroom, regular Mayan, every other year for 25 years. The annual maintenance was $460, subject to a 5% increase cap. Additionally, every 5 years we had to pay our maintenance fee one extra time as a "new furniture" fee.

Look at this math:

$18,000 - up front cost
$11,469 - maintenance over 25 years
$03,257 - furniture fee over 25 years

$32,726 - total cost
$02,517 - average per week (13 weeks)
$00,360 - average per night (7 nights per week)

In the end, it was the numbers that got us out. The nightly cost is insane no matter what they argue about the inflationary nature of room costs. Instead of buying, we're renting from other owners and spending an average $171 a night at the Grand Mayan (a substantial upgrade from the regular Mayan).

Final tip: Here's where to go - you get all the benefits of being an owner without having the commitment, the upfront cost, or the recurring maintenance fee. If it turns out you hate a resort, just stop going there - you don't "own" it after all.

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