Family Vacation Destinations
Our experience with timeshare ownership

Caveats and other useful info...

Most importantly: if anyone books a discounted vacation package, like Westgate's "4 days & 3 nights for $99" deal, you must attend the sales tour, you must meet their qualifications, and you must adhere to all requirements within the package deal. Failure to do so can revert your package rate to something more along the lines of a typical nightly hotel rate (which is WAY more expensive).

- During any sales presentation, you are never obligated to purchase. Always remember that.

- Whenever you stay at a Westgate Resort, pets are allowed within reason, however the resort will charge a cleaning fee upfront.

- Timeshare owners in Florida are included in a publicly-accessible list of deed holders. Many competing timeshare companies will sift through that list and take note of any timeshare owners that they find, then send endless solitications in the mail to them. Most often they include offers of free or discounted cruises, or long stays in various places for a discount. Unless you're interested, don't be afraid to tell them "no."

- When purchasing a timeshare, it's similar to buying a car from a dealership; you should be a good negotiator and not be scared away by the initial offering price.

- Owners who are unable to use their week during a calendar year have the option of banking their week for later use. Banking a week is free, but pulling that week out of the bank and using it will incur a fee. Furthermore, if you don't use a banked week within 2 years, you will forfeit it.

- Even if you are an owner, you will have to secure the room with a credit card regardless of whether or not you have a balance due for your stay. This is a precaution on the resort's part in the event that there was any damage to the room or an item was listed as missing after your stay.

- If you are already an owner, the person at the check-in desk may attempt to steer you to a different counter where they will try to sign you up for another sales tour and presentation. Such tours are not obligatory, so you merely have to say 'no thanks' and then request an escort to your timeshare unit. Part of any timeshare experience is the persistent attempt by the sales staff to sell current owners on upgrades. If you're able to accept that part of timeshare life as a given and are able to shrug it off, then you should have no problem enjoying your stay at the resort.

- Most of what Westgate sells now are 'floating week' timeshares, which means that the owner gets to choose any week he or she wants out of 52 possible ones. One thing to remember about this is that Westgate will charge an 'event fee' if the week you choose falls in a premium timeslot. Those premium weeks will vary from resort-to-resort, so be sure to check the schedule of event weeks at the location you wish to visit and plan your vacation around them. For example, if you were intent on spending spring break at Walt Disney World and wanted to stay at any of the Westgate resorts in Orlando, you would have to pay the extra fee at booking.

- During the initial sales presentation, we were informed that, depending on which property we'd decide to purchase, our one week in Orlando could be exchanged for multiple weeks at some of their other resorts (like in Branson, MO, Williamsburg, VA or Gatlinburg, TN). This was said to be due to the 'premium value' of an Orlando timeshare. Whether this policy is still in effect is unknown; we've yet to exchange a week at a different location.