In the meantime, the property was going bankrupt and I was even more upset at what we had done. Finally in 2007 we went on a mini vacation. We were offered a free 4 night stay at the property as owners to get updated on what was happening. Being newbies to traveling we were stoked with the condo. We had a “house” in vegas. Having a full kitchen, bathroom, and balcony was awesome. We felt so blessed and privileged. No one else our age owned timeshares. Our room was right under the monorail and we got a key that took us straight up to it. It was a little shady at night, but we were directly behind the Flamingo. Sweet!
In the owner update meeting we learned that our property was being bought out by Harrah's and they were upgrading the entire resort. We were now going to be a RCI gold crown resort. They were putting in millions of dollars per unit in upgrades. Corian counter tops, plasma tv’s, washer and dryers in every room, etc. We got to tour model units that were set up EXACTLY the way the condos were going to be.
We were excited. Maybe this wasn’t a bad idea after all? Well, then we were told, we needed to convert our timeshare from weekly deposits to RCI’s point system. To do that, it would cost money. We could pay a conversion fee OR we could buy a studio unit for $XX and it would INCLUDE the conversion fee with it. Mind you, the conversion fee was nearly the price of a used vehicle! The price that included a unit was manageable and when the renovations take place, they will NOT build studios. That means we pay a studio price but automatically get upgraded to a 1 bedroom unit. So, again, SUCKAS!! We signed the dotted line. Now, we own TWO timeshares. We convert to the point system. And now we can use our points to book air, car, cruises, etc via RCI. Great. Awesome. Now, when do I find time to travel? We didn’t.
A few years later, we are asked AGAIN to come up. I believe this was in 2009. They offer the same free weekend stay at the new and updated property. When we get there, we’re completely blown away. We now realize the original unit we stayed in years before was a complete DUMP! The newly renovated property was GORGEOUS. Although it was moved one block behind the Flamingo, the place was still amazing. The rooms were fabulous. We brought my mom, sister and (now)ex- brother in law in tow. We were so happy. It now truly felt like a home away from home. Again, we sit through an owners update meeting (required), and they try to sell us another unit. NOPE! No way. Walked out. Thank you!
We tried our best to do a Vegas trip every year and it didn’t really happen. That means for the years in between, we were literally losing money in point value by not taking a trip. In 2012, we used our zillions of points to book two 2 bedroom units at the Grandview. This time we weren’t staying at our home resort. We wanted to be closer to our friends and the location was right next door to South Point. We went with my family (myself, husband, and three kids), Mother and father in law, sister and brother in law and son. Yes, we all went. We stayed in two units side by side. Because we were using our ownership points, we paid NOTHING for the units.
Of all the trips we’ve taken, this was by far the best one. Each bedroom had a Jacuzzi tub. That’s right, each ROOM. The kids used it as a huge bubble bath. It was great to relax in it after long days of training. I flew straight there from work in Minneapolis and was exhausted! My inlaws cooked breakfast every morning. We got ready for the day and we head out all over town. It was so much fun. You wanna talk vacation. It was so relaxing to come home to a “house” where you could bake a cake if you wanted to or lounge on the couch and watch tv all day.
It was my husbands class reunion which was the main reason for the trip. We had a great time. The weather was perfect and it was from this trip that we made the decision to travel every month in October to Vegas.
Why Vegas? For one, we own there. Two, our friends are there. Three, it’s cheapest to fly there and just drive to other places. Eventually when our youngest gets older, we’ll do ski trips and such. For right now, we enjoy seeing our friends every year.
In 2013, we went back to Vegas with just my two daughters. My son had to stay back for school. College life. While there this time, we had to attend an owners update meeting because we were staying in our home resort. It’s always required. In this meeting, they tell us they were once again bought out. This time, by Holiday Inn Vacations Club. SIGH…………..So yes, you got it. We once again were told we had to convert our points from RCI to Holiday Inn. Well, we “didn’t” have to per say. But, if we didn’t we’d be throwing away a TON of points by not converting. Now, before we even head out to these meetings, my husband and I both agree, we are NOT getting duped again. This time, I came prepared with paper, pen, and a calculator. The sales guy tried to get us to buy another 1 bedroom unit. NO WAY. I flat out told him that if all we need to do is convert, what’s the conversion fee? I’ll pay THAT. I’m not buying another damn unit! After hours of back and forth discussions, he finally comes back with a deal. We buy a “studio” unit and pay $XX and the conversion is included. There are NO studio units in the resort. It was just a way to “label” the documentation to make it legit if you ask me. The bonus part of it all, is we now get even MORE points added to our bank to use for trips without a large loan and owning another 1 or 2 bedroom unit. We agree and now we’re banging our heads on the table cause we just snagged ourselves another loan. Small, but still. We had to. If not, we may as well throw all our years of ownership in the trash. On top of that, Holiday Inn membership includes RCI under their wing so my annual fee includes both IHG properties AND RCI. Bonus.
I’m going on another business trip next month. I’m including a week of vacation on top of that. I call Holiday Inn to use my points for the very first time. It was a piece of cake compared to using RCI. So on top of seeing Seattle, I’m going to San Francisco. It is NOW that all our timeshares are paid off that the benefits of owning are meaningful. Because we own 3 units, we have a lot of points to burn every year. I used my points to book a nice hotel at the wharf. Yep, pretty snazzy. I used the points to secure a car rental for the week. We’re going on a paid day tour of SFO and Alcatraz. We’re hitting up a ton of places in the surrounding area including Napa. You know what my out of pocket cost is for the air, hotel, car, tours, etc for two people is? $1300 That’s a 8 day trip for two people hitting up TWO cities.
Now, because I was booking my arrangements for April, the agent told me to hurry and secure my timeshare for October. The window was open for the public to book the units so the 2 bedrooms were going fast. So, I did. I am now working on our family itinerary for our annual Vegas/Cali vacation. So far, I’ve secured our 2 bedroom timeshare for 9 days, a car rental for the length of our stay, and a hotel for 3 nights and 4 days in Anaheim. You want to know how much I paid out of pocket so far? $237.
Now, pick your jaw up off the floor. I still need to secure airfare and the Disney hopper passes. But guess what? I’m going to use points for airfare and pick up the hoppers on post. I can tell you right now that we’ll probably be spending about $3500 for our entire 9 day vacation for this family of five.
FINALLY! We can enjoy the fruits of our labor! All those years of kicking rocks and making monthly payments is now gone. I can honestly tell you today, that we are PROUD owners of timeshares. What we once thought was a waste, is now a blessing. We were even at the point of selling it. I’m glad we didn’t.
Owning a timeshare forces you to take a vacation every year and we love it! What I love the most so far with Holiday Inn Vacations is the properties we can stay at are all BEAUTIFUL. No dives. And because there are so many, we can honestly go wherever we want without worrying about where we’re going to lay our heads at night. It’s a wonderful feeling!