08 Jul

Club La Costa

Last Autumn we went to one of those timeshare presentations in Leeds. We listened to the blah blah and then, because we had friends in that club, we bought a trial membership. It was £3k for 6 weeks vacation over 34 months, which seemed difficult to beat.

We have just returned from our ‘Prelude’ week where they basically try and get you to upgrade to their ‘points’ scheme, at a cost of between £10-14k over and above the initial £3k which they will ‘trade-in’. We said no, after a very jolly day of hard sell from a quite nice but competent sales guy. [Remember that I am a Purchasing Manager by training and Ann had 25 years in Sales and Marketing, you might find the sell a little too hard.] They then came back and very quickly made us a more traditional and lower cost (maybe not better value for money, maybe it was) offer for a floating timeshare week at £7k. We said no. The week was GORGEOUS in a huge penthouse apartment with a roof, jacuzzi and opulent luxury. We haven’t got our full value from that week alone, but it goes a long way to making the money worth it.

Now we wait with nervous sweaty palms to actually book and use our 5 trial weeks. I have joined a members BBS and read all the ins and outs and ups and downs, I have looked closely at the resale market and seen that you can pay a fraction of what they want to sell to you new at.. We want it all to go well, and in fact we want it to be great and then we may well decide to buy in on the resale market sometime in the next 2 years.

Why have I told you all this? Well, timeshare is scary, it looks like you can spend a vast amount on it, you can get tied up in finance for a product that actually has a very low resale value and is not an investment. The maintenance fees are quite high, you still have to buy your flights and your food and the hard sell can be quite obnoxious sometimes. On the other hand, if you aren’t tied to school holidays, can play the system and have a moderately tough skin, you can get some great vacations in what look to be very nicely maintained resorts (I only speak now of the Club La Costa resorts I have seen, and they varied even on the same site.)

1: If you are tempted, do your research, find out what the second hand market is, what the terms and conditions actually say, check what you are actually buying, and who owns what.
2: If you can’t resist full on hard selling then IMHO avoid the whole thing. If you can face it out and simply keep saying ‘thanks but no’, then maybe you should try it and then make a decision in the resale market afterwards.
3: Always check your rights, if there is no cooling off period (and for products less than 36 months outside the UK there may not be) think very very hard.

Which? reports on clampdown on holiday clubs.
CLC Members Forum
Help Me Out Before I Sign!

and lastly, a fairly accurate report from the Guardian in 2003: http://tinyurl.com/37b3dl

I’ll keep you up to date, let you know how it goes..