Timeshare in a nutshell

Timeshare or shared vacation ownership products are inherently complex and can be bewildering. It’s often easier to understand the concept when you compare it to other timesharing examples as it is not unique to the vacation industry.

Other Timeshare Examples

The concept is used every day across many other business sectors – for example the timesharing of private jets instead of buying the whole plane. Or consider the vast majority of golfers who cannot afford to own a championship course but are still able to play golf and enjoy the benefits of the course by becoming a member of the golf club. The course is owned by the club, which is funded by the member’s joining fee and annual subscriptions to cover the running costs and maintenance each year.

In the same way, timeshare owners and holiday club members don’t need to own a luxury holiday home with an ocean view to be able to enjoy these benefits.

Choosing The Right Timeshare

Purchasing timeshare is like the principals of buying a car. You must decide whether your lifestyle calls for a convertible, bakkie, sedan or SUV. Do you want an entry level model or are you looking for a higher level of comfort with more features that comes with an extra cost?

Remember that timeshare is a ‘use product’, so to be happy you need to be getting the most out of it because it comes with a cost whether you use it or not – the same as a gym contract. Most importantly, it is advisable to have an envisaged long-term usage plan and to know what your exit options are should your circumstances change in the future.

The First Timeshare

The cost of buying a holiday home and funding its upkeep gave rise to timeshare more than 50 years ago as a more affordable way of having your own holiday spot.

In the early 20th century in Europe, families grouped together to purchase a holiday a home in which they each had a share in the use and maintenance costs thereof. This was considered far better value than renting hotel accommodation and provided a higher standard of accommodation. In the early 1960’s the concept became commercialised in France by Paul Doumier of the Société des Grands Travaux de Marseille development organisation when he created the concept for his company’s ski resort in the French Alps.

Later in 1963, the Swiss company Hapimag began acquiring resort properties and selling share packages that entitled purchasers to vacation accommodations. These two developments in Switzerland and France were the first introductions of timeshare in the world and the start of something big.

The Emergence of Timeshare in South Africa

In the 1950’s and 1960’s the most popular family holiday choices in South Africa were either booking into hotels, camping / caravanning or acquiring a second home as a holiday retreat. However, the rise in inflation and cost of living in the 1970’s pushed the annual hotel holiday out of reach for many families and those fortunate enough to own a second home found they were only using it for a few weeks and battling with the ever-rising maintenance costs. Timeshare offered an alternative. For a once-off purchase price plus a levy for service and upkeep, consumers eagerly bought into the principle of using a holiday unit for a specific period of the year, for years to come.

Global Hospitality Brands Enter the Market

The rising popularity of timeshare caught the attention of prominent global hotel chains who began introducing their own timeshare products. In 1984, Marriott was the first to enter the market, followed by the likes of Disney, Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham who took the plunge in the 1990’s.

In South Africa, Tsogo Sun was the first branded hotel company and among the first in the world to enter the market sector 36 years ago. Timeshare owners had the reassurance that the scheme was backed by a leading holiday hotel group Southern Sun, and that they would now own a share of this wonderful concept.

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