Whether you are a couple, a family with children, or even a solo traveller, you may be wondering which type of travel experience to choose for your next holiday. There are so many different options available, all with their own pros and cons, from budget hostels ranging right through to luxurious hotels or resorts. Many people even consider buying a holiday home in their regular destination of choice. One option which could be perfect for you and your family, especially if you enjoy returning to a destination regularly and have considered a holiday home, is buying a timeshare. While you may have heard of this concept and understand it to a certain degree, you may not know fully about the many benefits of a timeshare holiday. Rather than hear about these from us though, we thought it would be an excellent idea to find out from some timeshare owners themselves what their experience has been as an owner, and then share this with you, our readers. The first interview for this series with timeshare owners was with Olive Vale a long-term owner at Pearly Grey Resort based in Tenerife. Olive kindly agreed to speak with us and answer the following questions while over on her yearly holiday at Pearly Grey, where she has been an owner for 20 years.
Why did you choose to buy Timeshare?
We were going away for a weekend in Gibraltar for a family holiday and the same week we had a telephone call; someone was building a new timeshare resort in Spain which was in Benalmádena, less than two hours away from Gibraltar. So we went to the presentation with the intention that we could actually drive up to the resort which was called Pueblo Evita in Spain and see that it actually existed and that it was a good standard, and what we saw really impressed us! It was five minutes from the beach, it was near restaurants, a good place to go out in the evening and have a meal, a couple of nice swimming pools, the apartments were very nice and well equipped, perfect for children where you could put them in to have a sleep in the afternoon and you could sit on the balcony yourself. We went ahead and we bought two weeks and we actually continued to go out to that resort for some years. It worked well with small children and it worked very well with teenagers. Initially, we were looking for a quality property and the timeshare fitted that bill very well, and we really had no complaints at all. It was a very good location and now 30 years later one of my children has got that timeshare apartment.
What has been your most memorable Timeshare holiday and why?
There are probably two or three. We were coming out on a timeshare holiday here in Tenerife with RCI and we'd exchanged to a stay at Pearly Grey Resort for one week. Once we saw Pearly Grey we realised it would be perfect, because it was frontline, right on the sea, no pollution, there are no cars going by, there are no airplanes flying overhead, there's no loud music around the swimming pool which we've always hated, and there's a surplus of umbrellas and sunbeds. So once we saw Pearly Grey we bought a week down on the seafront and just loved going out and about and seeing the sun-setting over La Gomera. There was always something going on, but it was quiet and it was really nice. About ten years ago we were exchanging in (at Pearly Grey) and I said to the rep if you get two weeks back to back we would just come here, and he showed us an apartment that there was an elderly couple staying in at the time and they didn't like the noise of the sea. They had two weeks and we bought those two weeks and moved the time back a month. Then on the way out the door, I asked them so how many weeks have you got in the apartment and they said four. My eye gleamed and I thought this is what we're going to go for. This is my equivalent of the house near the sea. So we began coming here mid-February to mid-March every year ever since. We've been very pleased because the standard has kept increasing each year. So really that has been number one that I would keep coming back to. Another very memorable one was in Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. The standard was very high. It was delightful with people on roller skates serving drinks all day long. It was lovely and just delightful. That was back in 1996, give or take a year.
You can walk to a little marina with shops around and it was right on the beach. It's a very beautiful beach with people going around selling stuff like fresh fruit, different types of clothing and braiding hair. That was a very nice timeshare, I would definitely go back there again.
What do you feel are the benefits of owning Timeshare?
You have got the kind of accommodation that you want for the period that you have required, and you can keep coming back to a place that you know. To me, it is a second home, without having the responsibility of maintenance or looking after gardens or getting somebody in to clean for you when you leave. I've got a holiday house in Ireland as well and that's very seasonal as you can imagine. One of the problems of that house in Ireland is having to arrange for somebody to come in and maintain and clean the property when you're not there. So really timeshare has got a great advantage over that. I'd say it's pretty well a stress-free holiday, particularly when you've got an apartment with a fridge-freezer and washing facilities and it's really very comfortable. You're not paying all the electricity charges, the telephone charges, the wifi charges, the maintenance charges like leaky roofs or damp coming in, the garden. You've got nothing to worry about when you come out to a timeshare and you'll find that someone else has done all the work for you. You've got cleaners that come in every day and you'll find that everything about it works. Also, particularly when you come back to the same timeshare resort they welcome you and you build up relationships with people coming back to the same place. Here, there's a whole little sort of community of people that come back at the same time every year, so you catch up with people and quite a lot of them you keep contact with right through the year. People look out for each other. My grandkids come out here and they meet up with the same kids every year. It's exactly like the childhood home I used to have in Ireland, just on a different level, it works perfectly. That is all you want.
Most people only take one or two weeks holiday a year and even if they own a house, most of the year it's going to be empty and if they allow friends to stay there, then they've got the responsibility of cleaning up after them which isn't always ideal. Everything works for families with a timeshare. You've got the kitchen, you've got your fridge, you can put your children to bed and you can sit on your balcony and keep an eye on them. It offers everything for a family. So all the way through, that's why I've had a timeshare for over 30 years, from a family point of view and then just as a couple you go at a different time of the year that's all.
What are the drawbacks of timeshare ownership?
First of all the positives totally outweigh the negatives. The negatives that are there, are that at the peak times during the school holidays there is huge pressure on the parents because the flight prices go up and after you've paid for your flights which are often doubled or tripled during school holidays that puts a lot of pressure on. The apartments aren't always available. There are some places where you go for timeshare presentations where an intense pressure is put on people to buy. That's never happened at Pearly Grey though, as the resort owner James Beckley keeps a good eye on that. The sales reps here are more like friends really. What I don't like is that they (in a general way in the industry) keep finding new ways to part you with your money. In the second year or the third year, they'll come up with a new scheme to make you spend more money. That can suck people in, it can annoy people. I don't go for it because I'm so convinced that what I've got is perfect. You couldn't sell me anything better than what I've got.
Are there any improvements you feel that could be made to the timeshare product/experience in the future?
I think a really good social manager would be a much wiser choice to replace half the timeshare reps. A good social manager who is really good at going around chatting to people and helping to organise events. Some resorts have made cuts in the different events that they put on, such as the entertainment after dinner, but they don't realise that it's these events that are what gels the people together. When the guests start talking among each other, they do all of the networking themselves. The bulk of sales is always one-to-one when people are sitting around the pool, or enjoying their meal, particularly when they've had a few drinks. Digital marketing is a great idea, because it helps show people what the resort has got. In the past the website looked outdated, so it's great that resorts like Pearly Grey have updated their websites and are investing in digital marketing, as this is very important. I think you've got to keep looking to the future.
What would be your 5 top tips for new owners?
If you have bought what you thought was desirable initially then you were probably right, so go when you've bought, the apartment you've bought, the time that you've bought and enjoy it and build up a sense of familiarity, warmth and trust with people. The more people will get to know you and the more you will get to know them, the more satisfying the experience will be. That relationship and community is important. Part of that is coming out at any time that you like, but part of that is also coming out when that has worked for you initially, like the same time of year.
Get to know the local restaurants and local supermarkets, and the facilities on your doorstep. Get to know what's going on, on the island. Book up a couple of excursions. You don't want too many, maybe one per week. For example in Tenerife the Submarine Safaris excursion.
Network while you are at the resort and during different excursions, so you get to know different people and build up this community spirit on your holiday.
Find out which trips there are going on the island organised by the resort you are staying at (or where your timeshare is based) and go on some of these. It can be a bit stressful sometimes driving abroad, so if your resort organises trips or excursions, such as a shopping trip then this takes any stress out of doing different things.
Keep coming back and enjoy your timeshare holidays as much as possible!
Many thanks again to Olive for taking the time out of her holiday in sunny Tenerife to stop and have a chat with us about her experiences as a long-term timeshare owner at Pearly Grey Resort and other destinations, including mainland Spain and Mexico. Clearly, timeshare has been working very well for Olive and family over the last three decades, and she is certainly a huge fan of this type of holidays. Of course, as with anything, there can be some downsides, but in her opinion, the benefits far outweigh those, especially if you take her advice and make the most of your timeshare purchase. Once you find a resort that you really like and start going back regularly, you can really build up an amazing sense of community with the other guests and staff that work there. We hope to see you back here for our next interview in this series.
Until then, happy travels!