Your dog’s so cute. What breed is she?
And thus begins the tale of how we ended up at a Wyndham timeshare presentation.
My wife (Shae) and I were visiting Myrtle Beach for a few days and decided to check out Broadway At The Beach with our dog one morning. While walking along, a woman at the Information Center called out to us and asked that question about Truffles.
We’re used to people asking about Truffles, so we went over to chat to her. She then asked what brought us to Myrtle Beach, so we told her about our 50 state road trip.
Given that she was chatting to people who obviously like to travel, she sensed her opportunity and asked us if we’d like to have a free lunch or breakfast. By this point, we were inside the Information Center and saw all kinds of Wyndham branded posters, flyers, etc.
Knowing what we were letting ourselves in for, we listened to her pitch and what we’d get out of it. There were two offers if we went to a timeshare presentation – either 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points or a certificate for a 7 night stay at a timeshare resort.
Seeing as we weren’t jumping on the offer, she came back with an additional option. We could get both those rewards if we paid $150 and attended the timeshare presentation. I’m sure you’re thinking what I was thinking: why would anyone pay $150 to attend a timeshare presentation?
After chatting to each other outside though, Shae and I decided to do it. Even if the 7 night certificate turned out to be worthless, 45,000 Wyndham Rewards gives you three free nights at any Wyndham property (or even better value than that.) Effectively paying $50 per night to stay at any Wyndham brand meant we wouldn’t – in my opinion – be losing out.
Still, it was probably a little naive on my part to accept that offer. In hindsight, I wish I’d tried to get both sets of rewards for free. If it’s any consolation, we paid with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and it coded as 3X, so we also earned 450 Ultimate Rewards.
With that, we dropped Truffles back at our Airbnb and headed to Plantation Resort which is where the Wyndham timeshare presentation would be taking place, arriving shortly before 1pm.
Just before going inside, we practiced our ‘No’ faces in the car. I call mine ‘Angry & Unshaven Blue Steel.’ Shae was a middle school science teacher, so she already had her ‘No’ face perfected.
Seeing as we were in Myrtle Beach on a dreary January day, Shae and I figured we might be the only ones there.
There were at least two dozen couples there, including a couple who were on their first anniversary.
This was our first timeshare presentation, so we hadn’t been sure if we’d be in a large group getting the hard sell or if there’d be a rep for each couple.
After a few minutes, they started calling up each couple pair-by-pair and introduced them to their own timeshare rep. Uh-oh, they were going for
man couple coverage rather than zone.
We were introduced to our rep whose name was Eric. He brought us through to the lunch area and waited for us to fill up our plates before showing us to our table. Each couple was seated at their own small table, with their timeshare rep sitting opposite them.
The lunch consisted of mac & cheese, pulled pork, chicken tenders, green beans, etc. It was OK, but hardly a Ruth’s Chris.
The bread rolls were the worst though. If I’d realized how rock-hard they were, I’d have grabbed a few extras in case we needed to throw them to make a quick getaway if it turned out they were immune to our ‘No’ faces.
We’d been told ahead of time that the presentation would last two hours. The paperwork made a vague reference to “about two hours” or something like that. Still, we didn’t want to get stuck there and so Shae set a timer to go off after two hours.
The only thing is, she’d turned her phone on silent which also apparently silenced her timer when it went off two hours later.
While we were eating, Eric asked us a few questions to get to know us and learn about our general travel patterns. Shae’s super-chatty (as in she always makes friends while in line at a store, even if it’s a 1 year old in a cart who can’t talk yet), so I’d warned her not to divulge too much info to our rep so that it wouldn’t give them anything to ambush us with.
We therefore didn’t tell him about the fact that we’re on a 50 state road trip for the next five years. Imagine the ammunition that’d give him.
Once we’d finished our food, Eric left us with a form to complete about our travel experiences and hopes for the future. We answered the questions truthfully, albeit in a way we hoped would stop him from getting a foothold.
How much did your last vacation cost? ~$3,000 for a month in Australia & New Zealand, including business class flights for two each way.
What trip do you most want to take? Kayaking in Antarctica (we doubted Wyndham have timeshare properties there.)
What was your favorite travel experience? Hiking to see the Susa group of mountain gorillas in Rwanda (we couldn’t imagine Wyndham had properties in Kigali or Musanze. Besides, it was genuinely our favorite travel experience.)
Once we’d answered all the questions, it was time for the actual timeshare presentation to begin. The starter pitch was given by a guy called Jordan whose father, father’s father, father’s father’s father, etc. had all owned Wyndham timeshares.
We also quickly found out that this wasn’t a timeshare presentation but a chance to participate in “Vacation Ownership.” After all, you only rent hotel rooms, but you can own your vacation with Wyndham 🙄
I think all the
timeshare Vacation Ownership reps chat before the main presentation to discuss who has the most outgoing person. That’s because they ask one of the guests to help write stuff down on a whiteboard during the presentation.
Unsurprisingly, Eric asked Shae if she’d be Jordan’s Vanna White. This worked out perfectly for them as a) Shae makes everything more fun and b) she was a teacher so she’s part of the 1% of the population who can write legibly on a whiteboard.
The purpose of this initial section was to find out where people most wanted to go on vacation and how much they expected it to cost.
It was jokes. Not because of Jordan or Shae, but because of the answers people gave. Being so focused on points and miles, it’s easy for us to forget that many people pay huge amounts of cash for vacations. People said they expected to spend $15,000+ on a trip to Hawaii, $8,000 on a week in Italy, $6,000 to visit Scotland.
My eyes were wider than that scene in A Clockwork Orange.
After ascertaining that people like to drop large sums of money on vacations, Shae’s glamorous assistant job was done and the
timeshare Vacation Ownership pitch continued.
The presentation was extremely interactive, with Jordan getting the crowd involved as much as possible. He asked how much the average amount we spend per night at hotels was. I wanted to answer 4,500 points, but restrained my British cynicism and allowed others to answer.
Their answers allowed him to complete the vacation calculator which put the 25 year hotel cost in excess of $110,000.
With this huge figure in mind, it was time to find out how Wyndham could fulfill our travel dreams and more. After all, look at what 400,000 Club Wyndham Plus points (for an undisclosed cost) can get you!
After a couple of short videos showing off Wyndham properties and some
timeshare vacation owners extolling its virtues, Jordan finished his presentation.
To be fair, it was an interesting enough presentation and he explained the whole concept in a way that it was easy to understand. There were disingenuous aspects though which I’ll come on to later.
With the initial hour-long presentation over, it was time for Eric to try to work his magic. First up, he told us about all the free things we’d get if we signed up for
Timeshare Vacation Ownership that day. I’ll admit – I was a little disappointed when he didn’t say “But wait! Buy now and we’ll send you an additional Vacation Ownership for free (just pay separate shipping and handling.)”
Apparently RCI are used by companies like IHG and Hilton for their
Timeshare Vacation Ownership. However, they’re actually owned by Wyndham which is why that benefit’s offered for free.
We were also told about the great value we could get from our points if we booked our accommodation within 30 days of travel.
By this stage, we were upfront with Eric that we had absolutely no intention of becoming t
imeshare vacation owners. He didn’t seem dissuaded though, saying that no one came in expecting to say yes.
Still, I think he knew he was on to a loser with us. So much so that Shae had to ask him how much their packages actually cost as he hadn’t told us. This was a dangerous move – and possibly the angle he was working – but to be fair I was curious too.
He went out for a minute and came back with a laminated sheet, always the sign of something being official.
Yep, with a down payment of more than $15,000, we could be the proud (vacation) owners of a $642 payment for the next ten years. Even our old mortgage wasn’t $642 per month (although we did live in what many regarded as the New Jersey part of Virginia.)
That wasn’t the craziest part though.
Look at what’s in bold at the top of the sheet.
200,000 Club Wyndham Points.
Now think back to the presentation. I’d mentioned I thought some of it was disingenuous and here’s why. During that, Jordan showed how many nights (20) you could get for 400,000 points. (That turned out to be misleading too – more on why later.)
That meant for our $15,000 down payment, $642 monthly payment and 200,000 points, we could only expect 10 nights per year. From what I gathered, you get these points every year for as long as you live. If you live 20 years, that’s $460.20 per night. If you live for 40 years, that’s $230.10 per night. Even if you live for 60 more years, that’s still the equivalent of $153.40 per night you’ve paid.
The per night cost obviously goes down if you don’t finance the $35,664 balance. That’s because the interest adds more than $40,000 to the final total. Still, even without financing I doubt it’d be a great deal for most people.
I think Eric sensed our incredulity, so he went out back and returned with some “better” offers. I say “better” in that the effective cost was halved, but still nowhere near being worth biting on. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of those offers, as I’d taken the other photos above when he’d gone out back.
Something important to note is that he also mentioned that there’d be additional maintenance fees payable every year. They were likened to HOA or condo fees as the resorts needed upkeep. However, it meant you’d be getting an even worse deal than expected and unavoidable (and presumably increasing) fees every single year.
By now, our two hours were up. Eric knew he wasn’t getting a sale, so by 3:20pm his pitch ended.
But that’s not all…
Next up was his sales manager. She came over to chat to us, ostensibly to get some feedback on our experience, but it seemed like it was a last chance to get us to bite on something. She was friendly though and didn’t give us a hard sell either. With that final obstacle out the way, we were done at 3:35pm.
The sales manager gave us a form to hand to the front desk where we’d get our rewards. That process was painless too, so by 3:40pm we were 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points and a 7 night certificate richer. We got a better deal than some, as Shae overheard the couple ahead of us only getting a gas card.
With that, we went out to our car, breathing a sigh of relief that we’d said no.
Redeeming The Rewards
The 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points were easy to redeem. We simply entered a code on their website along with my Wyndham Rewards account number and they were credited to my account immediately.
The 7 night certificate isn’t going to be as easy to redeem. We created an account at Resort Vacation Certificates and entered our certificate number. We now have 12 months in which to use the certificate.
They have a decent enough search functionality on their website, allowing you to filter by continent, country and state / city. I filtered to include all the states we’ll be visiting this year (Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Wisconsin – they didn’t have any resorts in Alabama or Ohio) and there were 76 resorts listed.
The wrinkle for us is that we’re traveling with our dog. When filtering for pet-friendly properties, this is what we’re left with:
Yep, a grand total of three properties.
The good thing is that their filtering might not be correct. When researching some of the 76 properties on the original list, some of them are definitely pet-friendly, so it looks like they might just not be tagged correctly on the Resort Vacation Certificates website.
I’m therefore hopeful that we’ll still be able to use our 7 night certificate before it expires. I’m also hoping we’ll be able to do so at no further cost.
The reason why is because not all the locations seem to have ‘No Charge Accommodations.’ Those are properties where we can use our certificate for what’s presumably a studio suite.
Instead, many of the properties only list ‘Upgrade Accommodations starting at $xxx‘ and which appear to be 2 bedroom suites or larger. Some of the upgrades don’t seem to be too unreasonable, such as $149 for 7 nights.
Having said that, there are more than 20 costing over $400 for 7 nights. If we wanted, we could even drop almost $8,000 on a week at Beaver Run Resort in Breckenridge, CO
The other thing to be aware of is travel dates. It looks like we’re only able to book up to 10 weeks ahead of time, so that makes it harder to redeem the certificate.
We’re visiting Vermont in May, Wisconsin in June/July, Illinois in July/August, Oklahoma in September, Texas in October and November and Colorado in December. We can’t properly check our options for those as we can only book up to mid-April right now.
We’ll therefore likely book the first resort we can, simply so that the certificate doesn’t go to waste.
Behind The Scenes Info
After attending the presentation, we mentioned what we’d done to the Airbnb owner where we were staying. It turns out that he did Wyndham
Timeshare Vacation Ownership sales pitches for a short amount of time but didn’t stay too long.
He shared that some of the examples they give aren’t particularly truthful. For example, in the presentation Jordan had a slide showing how 400,000 Club Wyndham Plus Points could get you 20 nights at all kinds of wonderful resorts.
Our Airbnb host explained that although that’s possible mathematically, you’d never be able to get those redemptions in real life. Your 400,000 points would therefore likely get you closer to 10-15 nights.
That means the 200,000 point offer we saw (the one requiring a $15,000 down payment and monthly payments of $642) would more realistically get you 5-7.5 nights per year.
It’s easy to see why sales reps earn good money if they can get people to sign up.
Timeshare Vacation Ownership presentation was much less painful than we expected. It was interesting enough and it didn’t go over two hours by too far.
Our rep Eric seemed genuinely nice and although he was a bit sales-y, it wasn’t in a sleazy way. I was glad we didn’t get the rep at the adjacent table as he was incredibly obnoxious.
Overall, it was worth attending the presentation for the points and (hopefully) the 7 night certificate. It’s also good to know that we’re able to stay firm with saying no. We’ll therefore probably check out IHG, Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt & SPG timeshare presentations in the future to get more free nights. If we do, I’ll try to see what we can get without having to spend anything for the rewards.
As for the timeshares themselves, I’m sure that there’s some kind of value there for the right person. The more that I’ve thought about the offer and calculated the numbers though, the harder it is to find that value.
With the high upfront cost, unspecified maintenance fees every year and property availability issues, there’s no compelling reason I can see why you’d choose to invest so much money in a timeshare.
One of the key selling points mentioned in the presentation was the benefit of having access to a larger space with more bedrooms so that families can travel together. That might have been useful in the past, but Airbnb would be a better option for most people nowadays.
Have you ever been to presentations like this? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comments below.