On March 4th of this year, we welcomed the newest addition to our family: Violette Owen Jex! She joins our other daughter Penelope (4) and our son Jeremiah (6). It's been a really busy year for our family, but we feel incredibly blessed.
My husband and I decided we were overdue for a weekend alone, so we booked a getaway weekend at Wyndham's Hotel Canterbury in San Francisco. We left the kids with the grandparents on Friday night, got up early(ish) Saturday morning, and made the two-hour drive to the city. We are still fairly recent (2.5 years) transplants from San Diego to Northern California, so I won't pretend we have special local knowledge about the city. But we try to make a couple trips a year, and always get great recommendations from our friends, so we're starting to get more familiar with the city. We had an *amazing* dinner this trip at LihoLiho Yacht Club, a Hawaiian restaurant a block up the street from the hotel.
Parking at the hotel is expensive - about $40/day to valet your car. However, there are plenty of public parking garages within a couple blocks of the hotel. We dropped our bags at the hotel, and went to lunch at a seafood restaurant in the Fillmore district. We came back a couple hours later and checked in at 2pm. Check-in time is normally 4pm, but they had a room available for us.
The hotel is very nice! Here's pictures of the lobby, fitness room, and rec room (with free arcade games and billiards). There's also a nice media center (where I'm writing this post), with a couple free computers, DVDs for check-out, books left behind by other guests (thank you for the worn copy of "Treasure Mountain" by Louis L'Amour), and TV.
We're staying in a nice 1BR suite. It's nicely updated and furnished, although the bed is a little small, and (unfortunately) our room is facing Sutter Street, so we heard lots of sirens last night. Still, we really like this property, and it's definitely somewhere we would stay again while visiting San Francisco. We'll probably stay at Club Donatello next time to compare the two properties. We don't currently have any listings for this site, but please contact me if you are interested in purchasing a timeshare at the Wyndham's Canterbury, and I will be happy to find one for you. Happy New Year's!
We spent Christmas of 2016 at the Lawrence Welk Resort in Escondido. As you can see in the pictures, the weather was perfect! We stayed in an upstairs unit in the Evergreen building in Melody Hill. Although we had stayed at the Resort before, the first thing we noticed was just how big and nice the unit was! We’re used to staying in 1BD units, so having a full double-suite felt so spacious! One of the nice things about staying in Melody Hill was being walking distance to the newly remodeled Melody Hill Recreation Center. It was nice, and we worked out each day we stayed there. Although we didn’t use the adults-only pool, it sure looked relaxing!
During our stay, my husband rode his bike from the Resort up to Valley Center and the hills overlooking the resort. A word of caution - although it may look like it on Google Maps, the road behind the resort going up the hills is closed to through traffic, so if you ride up to Valley Center, don’t expect a quick descent on the back-side of the hill coming back to the Resort.
Another thing that really impressed us was the great activities offered by the Resort through the Welk Resorts Inspired! Program. We can definitely see our kids doing the Game of Drones and 3D Printing activities when they get a little older, and of course the Craft Beer Tasting looked amazing!
Besides visiting family in the San Diego area, we also made time for a couple excursions to some of our family spots. Our kids love the San Diego Zoo, so of course we had to devote a day to seeing the animals. I love the beach, so we spent another day at Coronado Beach - about a 45 minute drive from the Resort, but well worth it. All-in-all, it was a great trip, very comfortable, and a very fun way to spend the Christmas holiday.
Are there legitimate timeshare exit companies? It's hard to say, but one thing is for sure, the timeshare developers are taking a very aggressive posture against these companies. In recent timeshare exit company litigation, a law firm in Tennessee was shut down for scamming consumers. Click HERE to read the full article.
September can sometimes be a difficult transition for our family. Although we love the cooler temperatures, we miss the summer vacations and time together. This is also the time of year when many resorts start mailing next year's bills for maintenance fees to their owners. Not surprisingly, our call volume tends to increase this time of year. For buyers on the sidelines, this can be a good time to purchase from motivated owners.
If, like us, you own a week at a winter destination resort, like Marriott's Timber Lodge in Lake Tahoe, or Welk Resort's Northstar Lodge, don't wait any longer to make this winter's reservations. Choice weeks fill up fast, and planning your winter escape to snowy mountains can be a great antidote to the end-of-summer blues.
Last month, Welk Resorts made a big step forward with the construction of their new Breckenridge resort, called "The Ranahan." Welk officially broke ground on construction of the Phase I development, and celebrated the opening of their new preview center. According to Welk:
"Completion of the first phase of construction is expected, weather permitting, in late 2019. This first phase will be comprised of two-bedroom villas — 7 standard and 30 lock-off — for a total of 67 keys."
Sounds like a great family trip for the winter of 2019-2020!
In addition to the new resort in Breckenridge, Welk is currently projecting they will start construction on a new resort in Poipu, Kaui in "2020-2021." Welk also confirmed they do not currently anticipate any further expansion of their Cabo San Lucas resort. Until the new resorts are completed, timeshare owners can explore different resorts by exchanging through Welk's internal exchange - the "Experiences Collection", and through external exchanges like Interval and RCI.
TOP FIVE REASONS WHY WE OWN TIMESHARE WHEN PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNISTS SAY OWNING TIMESHARE IS A BAD IDEA
A common tenet of financial planning is that owning a timeshare is a terrible idea. All the articles on this subject read the same and make the same points. To be fair, many articles qualify their advice by saying owning timeshare is a bad investment, but they don’t discuss whether owning a timeshare can be a good way to pay for the next 20 years’ of vacations.
I agree that owning a timeshare is a bad investment. With the sole exception of Disney Vacation Club timeshares, I don’t think I’ve come across a single timeshare that has either increased in value, or generated enough income to qualify as a “good investment.” But we didn’t get into the timeshare industry to peddle investments, we got into this industry because we wholeheartedly believe that, when done right, timeshare ownership can help people take longer, more enjoyable, and more comfortable vacations at a lower cost. With that in mind, here is our top five reasons why we own timeshare when personal finance columnists say owning timeshare is not a good decision.
Every new timeshare owner quickly learns about the largest timeshare exchange operators, namely RCI and Interval International. However, when deciding on selecting the right timeshare exchange operator, the answer can be difficult, as there are are many exchange operators, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. But when done wisely, using an exchange can open up exciting new destinations, or even allow you to exchange your week for a more valuable week, such as when we exchanged a week worth $902 for a week worth $1,469.
Here on the West Coast, one of the best exchanges is GPX, the timeshare exchange operated by Grand Pacific Resorts. GPX is exclusive to owners of timeshare at one of the Grand Pacific Resorts, such as the Carlsbad Inn, Grand Pacific Palisades, and Red Wolf - Squaw Valley. There is no annual membership fee. GPX is a “look first” exchange, meaning you can search for availability before you are required to deposit your week. Deposits must be made at least 14 days or more from the arrival date. Late deposits can still be made, but they incur a fee of $99 - $149. The exchange fee is $189, and GPX allows owners to upgrade when exchanging for an additional fee of $85 (studio to 1BR) or $185 (studio to 2BR or 1BR to 2 or 3BR), depending on availability.
Why do we like GPX so much? First, we love the option to look first before you have to deposit. Second, we love the opportunity to exchange a lower value week (like a fall week in Lake Tahoe) for a higher value week (like a summer week on the beach in Carlsbad). Third, the fees are very reasonable. Fourth and finally, Grand Pacific Resorts has lots of great properties on the West Coast and Hawaii.
If you live in San Diego county, you should consider buying a cheap week at the Carlsbad Inn or Coronado Beach Resort for two reasons: 1) year-round day use at the Carlsbad Inn and Coronado Beach Resort; and 2) the opportunity to exchange your “cheap week” for a higher value week using GPX. It’s usually easy to find cheap off-season weeks at these resorts for under $1,000.
Earlier this month, we spent our summer vacation in Oahu. We used credit card miles for the flights and rental car, and were lucky to have friends that hosted us in their beautiful home in Kailua. We also used the remaining 2018 points on our Disney timeshare to book a 1BR suite for one night at Disney's Aulani resort in Ko Olina. Well, after visiting the resort earlier in the week to use the public beach and grab lunch at one of the resort's restaurants, we knew we wanted to spend more time at the resort. Unfortunately there was no last-minute availability through DVC (or I would have borrowed some 2019 points), so instead I booked a 1BR room through the hotel portion of the resort.
First, let me get the obvious out of the way, and tell you that the resort is incredible. It was so nice, and so fun. The beach, the pools, the on-site snorkeling, the Disney character experiences - everything. It was, without a doubt, our favorite resort. There's no shortage of information about the Aulani online, so I'll just share a couple pictures of our family, and then move on to the timeshare analysis.
We arrived early the first day of our stay (about 11am), with the intent of storing our luggage and using the pools until our room was ready. However, we were pleasantly surprised when the staff informed us our room was already ready! We dropped our luggage, changed, and hit the pools! Our first night, we stayed in the hotel portion of the resort, in a 1BR (island view). We were very comfortable, and the room was really nicely furnished and updated. However, there was no kitchen to speak of, no in-room laundry, and the bathroom was about average sized. Here's a couple photos of the hotel room...
The next morning, we packed up, and told the bell desk that we were doing a room change. The staff handled it perfectly, and even put our cold food and drinks in cold storage all day until our room was ready at 4pm. We spent another great day at the pool, doing the lazy river, volcano slide, snorkeling in the on-site lagoon, meeting Moana, and generally having an overall wonderful day! When our 1BR suite (island view) was finally ready at 4pm, we were blown away by how much nicer it was from the 1BR hotel room the previous night. Here's a couple photos that (hopefully) shows how much bigger it is. There was also an in-room washer/dryer, and full kitchen!
Now for the dollars and cents. Booking the hotel room last-minute, and paying full "rack rate" cost us $556.42 after all taxes and charges. On the other hand, booking the suite through DVC cost us 44 points. As Grand Californian is our "home resort," and 2018 maintenance fees were $5.88/point, the value of these points is $258.72. Adding in the $16.99 state tax, total cost for this one night was $275.71. Obviously this does not factor in the initial purchase price of these points. So, for 1 night, the cost of staying in the much nicer villa was $297.70 less expensive. If you stay for a full 7 nights, you end up with a savings of about $2,100. Hopefully this analysis can help you determine whether purchasing a Disney timeshare is a good way to finance your family vacations. Currently, we're seeing resale prices of about $160/point for Grand Californian, and $88/point for the Aulani. Call or email us if we can help you with your purchase!
For us, we LOVE using our Disney timeshare, and with little kids (3 & 4!), we know we have a lot of Disney trips in our future. I calculate our break-even is about 8 years (4 trips), and I have no doubt we will take at least 4 Disney trips over the next 8-10 years. Sometime in the future, we also plan on renting our points, and using the proceeds to off-set the cost of a Disney cruise. It was a great Mother's Day at the Disney Aulani resort, and we cannot wait to get back there soon!
We spent this last Easter weekend at Welk Resorts' incredible Northstar resort on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Having previously stayed at other ski resorts during holidays in the Lake Tahoe region, including Labor Day weekend at Mariott's Timber Lodge on south shore and President's Day weekend at Red Wolf Lodge on the north shore, it's fair to say this resort really amazed us with just how modern and luxurious it is. In fact, it is by far the nicest resort of the three. We were so impressed that we decided to buy a 480k Platinum Points package so we can stay there every year - it's that nice!
The Welk Resorts already had timeshare resorts in San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Palm Springs, and Branson when it purchased the Northstar resort in 2013. At the time of purchase, only 1 of the 3 resort buildings had already been built. In the past 5 years, Welk completed construction on the other 2 buildings, and they are incredible! The units are spacious, the appliances are new, and the building materials are of excellent quality. Fireplaces in just about every living space (bedrooms, living rooms, balconies) contribute much to creating a warm and cozy ambiance during ski season.
For skiiers, Northstar is a true ski-in/ski-out resort, with valet service on the ground floor. Here's a little known fact for people serious about skiing, besides the three main buildings, Welk also owns 10 units in One Village Place, which is located literally right above the ski lift on the other side of the village. Owners and their guests have access to an exclusive line that lets you bypass everyone else in line. Here's a photo of this magic door, showing an empty line next to the crowd of people waiting to hit the mountain:
The three main buildings of the resort anchor one end of the village at Northstar. The village is full of great shopping and restaurants (we had sushi at Yamakai; Mexican at Los Arcos). There is an ice skating rink during winter, which our kids loved. We also took the pulse-operated ski lift up to the Ritz-Carlton for some mid-mountain drinks and souvenir shopping with the kids.
There is so much more to say about this resort. Please call us if you want more info on the different buildings, recommendations about where to go, how many points you would need to book a 2BR vs. 3BR during ski season, how much these packages cost on the resale market, or any other questions you may have. We have already assisted many buyers with purchasing packages from 240,000 up to 1,920,000, and we love talking about this resort! See you on the slopes!