Family Vacation Destinations
Our experience with timeshare ownership

What has it been like to be owners?

Overall it's been very good for us, and our friends since they were able to join us on a couple of excursions. We have two young children now and we've taken advantage of Westgate's properties on several occasions. The resorts that we've visited/stayed at so far include:

  • Westgate Blue Tree Resort - Orlando, FL
  • Westgate Lakes - Orlando, FL
  • Westgate Vacation Villas - Kissimmee, FL
  • Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort - Gatlinburg, TN
  • Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino - Las Vegas, NV

We visited the Smoky Mountain Resort before the forest fire that hit that region back in 2016. We were pleased by the big, log-cabin style features of the buildings and the scenic views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. Since we weren't exchanging weeks, and only planned on staying in the area for four days, we got a nice owner discount on the one-bedroom suite. Also, we were able to score several discount tickets to many of the attractions in Gatlinburg.

The resort lost almost 90% of their buildings during the fire in 2016, but those have since been rebuilt and additional structures have also been erected. Fortunately, the on-site water park survived the fire and remained open during the reconstruction effort. It is an absolutely huge indoor facility with a lazy river, wading pools and water slides. Admission is free for owners and their guests; you just need to arrange the proper number of passes at check-in. We are definitely going back there when we have time.

One thing we have learned to keep in mind: whenever we travel to our resort to stay the week, we have to exhibit some patience on check-in day. A lot of people show up at the same time because the weeks run from Friday, Saturday or Sunday to the following Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so check-ins are a flurry of activity. We had to either show up at an odd hour or be patient and wait in line. A vast majority of the people in line with us were also owners, so it wasn't like we were entitled to better treatment than the rest of the people. Once we went in with that mindset, checking in wasn't a big hassle. Note: pre-registering online is a smart move, as it can shorten your time at check-in substantially!

For the most part, being owners gives us benefits that we wouldn't necessarily see from a big hotel chain. We've never gone away disappointed or upset with our stay, and we're happy for that. Also, we both like to cook, so we've managed to save hundreds of dollars on routine dining out at restaurants by simply visiting an offsite grocery store and stocking the pantry for a week-long stay.

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