Many of us have bought and used timeshares for affordable vacations. For some, it was a great investment, for others an albatross. But timeshares are no longer “buy a week at a specific resort and either use it or exchange it for a different resort or week.” They’re now a side hustle where you can make thousands of dollars each year and still use the investment to enjoy great vacations at little or no cost.
Let’s look at a retired couple who own 3 traditional timeshares in the Marriott system. For years they used them ourselves as part of what they called their “Ski and Sea” vacations where they skied for a week in Park City, UT and then flew to Aruba for a week of relaxation in the sun. Since they no longer ski, they now use them differently. They book attractive weeks and rent them out. For example, they reserved the Sundance Festival week in their Park City, UT resort, listed it with a realty company, and netted $3,500. They did something similar with their other two timeshares. The three traditional timeshares netted them $9,000 this year. The maintenance costs for those weeks are $5500. So that yielded a profit of $3500. The only thing they had to do was reserve the weeks and let the realty company know the details.
They also own 8,500 Marriott Trust points, which are deeded properties similar to timeshares but not tied to specific resorts or weeks. Using the profit from the traditional weeks, they paid most of the Trust points maintenance fee, leaving them with all of the points to use for other opportunities or vacations.
Recently they used some of those points to book a studio unit in Palm Desert, CA for the weekend coinciding with the Coachella Festival, rented the unit, and netted another $1,000 profit.
And they still have almost 8,000 points to use, either for more profit making or to take vacations. In the past few years they have used their points to stay 6 nights at a 2-bedroom unit at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas (and brought friends along at no cost to them); stay at the Pulse in NYC and in Washington DC (Mayflower Hotel); trade for thousands of airline miles; and trade for hundreds of thousands of Marriott Bonvoy points. Using Bonvoy points they’ve stayed in incredible hotels around the world at no cost, including Athens, Paris, Bordeaux, Doha, Istanbul, Milan, Nairobi, Zagreb, Phnom Penh, and Saigon. Marriott, like other hotel and timeshare companies, now offers opportunities to use points for vacations like wildlife safaris, expeditions, or cruising, and attending special events such as Hamilton on Broadway or the Miami Beach Culinary Extravaganza. In addition, there are vacation homes that they can rent using points. There’s great flexibility with points and you can bank them for later use or draw next year’s points for use in the current year. While it does take considerable organizational skills to keep track of and manage all the points, the profits have been so lucrative that as semi-retirees, they have no problem managing the details.