When Bad Timeshares Happen to Good People

Have you ever wanted to go to a very high-demand place where it is almost impossible to secure a timeshare week? And then, when you think it will never happen, a place pops up—BUT, it has a less-than-stellar reputation and downright lousy TUG and RCI ratings. So, what do you do?  Well, we have taken a chance twice now, doing just that kind of thing, and I honestly would have to say that we are glad we did it and we would stay at those places again.

The first time we did this was at a place called The Kuleana Club in Maui. The reviews were pretty negative, with good reason.  No air-conditioning, only 500 something square feet, old furniture and appliances, no activities, etc., etc.  But the very worst thing was actually the garbage truck that came every morning at 6:30 (our unit was close to the road) that sounded like a demolition derby amplified 50 times.  But, hey, this was MAUI, and we WERE on the ocean, and we could see whales from our balcony!  There was a nice pool, and the landscaping was beautiful.  Nothing is all bad, right??!

Fast forward 5 years to our recent trip to Yellowstone.  For 2 years we checked RCI, and couldn’t find a timeshare even close.  We considered staying in Jackson Hole for a few nights, then in the park for a few more, but that seemed so disjointed, and expensive.  Then, Yellowstone Village came up for mid-October, right at the West Yellowstone entrance to the park! The TUG rating was a 5 out of 10, the RCI reviews were terrible. We found one review that said it really wasn’t so bad, so we decided to go for it. After all, we had survived the Kuleana Club, so how bad could it be??!

What we found out was that attitude goes a long way toward making something acceptable.  First of all, we had to let go of the idea of “timeshare” as we know it.  We tried to think of it as an adventure, kind of like camping, only cushier and more comfortable.  After all, people don’t usually go to Yellowstone to relax at a pool or spa, eat in 5-star restaurants, and go to wine and cheese parties.  So why would those even be offered at a resort in that area?

Once you kind of adjust your thinking like this, then you’re kind of prepared for the worst (or, at least, the not-so-good).  When we arrived at Yellowstone Village, we discovered that our unit was one of the duplexes that had a carport in the middle. Great, we thought!  We like privacy, and this will be like having our own house.  And it was, but it was not at all like a timeshare.

The “house” consisted of living room, adjacent dining room and kitchen, a laundry room with ancient, rusty washer and dryer, one bathroom and 2 bedrooms with one queen bed each.  This was the breakdown, or the nitty gritty:

Living room: attractive, wood-burning fireplace, (wood could be purchased at the office) bentwood rocker, and sleeper sofa couch, all in good shape.  Coffee table was scuffed and marred, sofa table was okay, beige carpet was stained in several places (maybe fireplace burns?).

Dining area:  Large wooden table and 6 chairs, all very scratched and beat-up looking. Drapes were missing a couple of hooks, creating a tacky look. Sliding glass door had a nice vertical blind.

Kitchen:  Appliances were dated, but serviceable.  Dishes and utensils were not clean—don’t know if it was dishwasher residue, but we felt we had to wash everything before using.

Bathroom:  Basic.  Floor was kind of icky and shower curtain was “groaty.”  Everything in here needed cleaning.

Bedrooms:  Fairly large, lots of closet space and beds were comfy.

There were decks in the front and back of the place, which desperately needing staining or painting.  The TV in the living room had only 4 channels, which didn’t bother us, but would send some people into orbit.  The internet ($15 for the week) never did work, because I think we were too far away from the office.

Speaking of the office, my husband only saw the manager once during the week. This timeshare has sold off all but 9 of its units, making it one of the smallest in RCI.  There is an emergency number to call if you have a problem, and there are lots of homeowners nearby, as you are really plopped down in the middle of a regular neighborhood.

On the plus side, we did enjoy the privacy and the spaciousness of our quarters.  We had a lot more room than we would have had at a park hotel—and many of those don’t have private bathrooms!  We had a decent kitchen, and it was very quiet at night (did lots of reading!).  This was not the worst  place that we ever stayed, and we would stay again– but those illusions of timeshare grandeur have to go on the back burner!

So if that timeshare pops up in an impossible-to-get area, and you’re wondering what to do—our advice is to do your homework, read the reviews, and decide what you’re willing to live with for a week.  If you decide to go for it, adjust your attitude and forget about what a timeshare is supposed to be.  Keep telling yourself:  THIS IS BETTER THAN CAMPING!

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