by Bob and Anita Worthington
Copyright 2021. All rights reserved!
Published in Midwest Flyer Magazine August/September 2021 online issue
Extensive cross-country trips in a small plane are not cheap. In addition to the plane expenditures, there are food and lodging costs. Examine outlays for a 1500-mile trip in a C-182 to a resort for three (3) nights and four (4) days. The flight plan is to fly about 6.5 hours each day, so one (1) night is spent on the road, three (3) nights at a resort, then another night returning home. With the nightly hotel rate averaging $160, including tax, the room costs are $800. Add to this $1,350 for fuel and the trip will cost $2,150, plus food. If we went on this trip, we would have no room costs! Why? Because we own “timeshares.”
For us owning timeshare property is a worthwhile asset. For others, timeshare ownership is not as beneficial. Now it seems that for many, timeshares are a bad purchase, even a financial disaster. We are aware of this. Timeshares are expensive, based on return versus investment. Each year owners must pay maintenance fees and even when a timeshare is not used, costs continue. Various timeshares use a “points system,” but it can be that points not used in the calendar year are lost.
A friend invested in a timeshare on Marcos Island, Florida with minimal maintenance fees. He touted how inexpensive his vacations were due to the low annual costs. Over time the yearly amount paid by the owners failed to sustain the upkeep and taxes, so the timeshare went bankrupt. Another friend had a timeshare in one location with a specific period to be used. But taking a vacation in the same place, at the same time, became boring and the maintenance fees excessive.
Our time shares are a valuable part of our portfolio. We accept that time shares are expensive. We do not consider them an investment. We understand that selling a paid-off timeshare is extremely hard to do (and if sold, could be at a fraction of what you paid for it). Conversely, a timeshare with a mortgage is almost impossible to sell. With all this dire information regarding timeshares, why do we own some?
For us, owning timeshares is because of the convenience and benefits attached to ownership. It has proven to be of immense value. Let us share with you the how and why of our timeshares.
First, it should be known that we flew all over the U.S. every year. As aviation journalists, we covered events and airshows around the country. We lived in the southwest but visited friends and family up and down the east coast. We covered around 28,000 miles a year. That added up to 30 to 40 nights spent elsewhere with a cost of several thousand dollars. We also love to take mini vacations at resorts and enjoy a few days of being pampered.
It started one day 15 years ago when we received an invitation to spend three (3) nights and four (4) days at a Hilton Grand Vacations Club Resort on The Strip in Las Vegas. The only requirement was to attend a timeshare presentation. Aware of the financial pitfalls of timeshares, initially we declined. On second thought we said, why not? Spending two hours in an intense sales pitch session seemed a fair price for three full days in Vegas, so we signed up. The presentation was scheduled for the morning of our second day.
Our first evening, at a casino next door, we were asked to visit another local timeshare operation. If we would attend a session the next morning, we would be presented a complimentary dinner. We ate a delicious meal and sat in the spiel. It was an education into buying timeshares. The sellers only had one resort, in Las Vegas (only one location like my friend). Calculating a cost analysis, we quickly realized it was not beneficial to us in any way. Now for the Hilton sales pitch, we had an idea of what we should look for.
Before the Hilton presentation, we wrote down questions to ask the presenter. Costly maintenance fees, yes! Loosing points if not used, yes! How much time do we get for how much money, yes! Can we only stay at the timeshare in Vegas, yes! Are there other places we could stay outside Las Vegas, yes! Before the presentation, we took time to do some Internet research on Hilton Hotels Resorts. What we found surprised and impressed us.
The next morning, we listened to the purchase performance, and at the conclusion, we were assigned to a sales consultant, Torry (known as a vacation counselor), who then began the sales pitch. We asked all of our questions and received what a timeshare costs (from a few thousand to several hundred thousand dollars) depending on what we bought. We did some financial calculations and decided to buy. In 2006, we bought our first unit. In 2007, another, and over the next six years, we purchased three more. Torry was our sales rep for each purchase.
Here is why we bought the timeshares.
Our level of membership is now at the top tier, so we receive numerous benefits (for instance, we pay no fees for any transactions regarding reservations or converting points) and additional perks when staying at any Hilton property. We never lose any points because we convert any unused points at the end of the year to Hilton Honors points, which are never lost. These points can be used at any of Hilton’s 15 brand hotels or resorts covering most market segments of travelers. Located in almost 600 locations in six countries around the world, we have never been disappointed during any of our stays.
This is how it worked for us. On a cross-country flight, we may not be certain where we would stop for the night (sometimes we would fly until tired; other times weather might force us to land, sooner than expected). Upon landing, in the FBO while the plane was being fueled, I would call an 800 number, explain where we were and ask for a reservation at a local Hilton property. We would then call the hotel, and they would pick us up. The next day, the hotel provided breakfast (free) and a ride back to the airport. Our bill would be zero.
Our annual timeshare maintenance fees run about $6,467, and we get 35 to 40 nights a year on our points at hotels or resorts. The cost of rooms and breakfasts (if we had to pay) would run around $6,700 to $7,800. To calculate precisely over the 15 years of timeshare ownership what we received versus what we paid would be impossible (the 2016 value was almost $215,000, but we did not pay close to that). What we enjoy is the ability and convenience to use the Internet or phone to make any reservations we want at first-class properties, knowing that we will be treated as respected and valued guests, and not have to consider any costs. Now that is convenience!
Over time, we have flown to and vacationed at resorts in Key West, Fla. Jamestown, Va., Palm Springs, Calif., Las Vegas, Nev., Scottsdale, Ariz., in the Rocky Mountains, the southern Blue Ridge Mountains, and dozens of other retreats, around the country. And we realize we can point out how much we spent on acquiring the timeshare and the annual fees. But what would a cottage on the shores of a beautiful lake cost? It would have a multitude of expenses. We see our timeshare in the same light.
As we said, timeshares are not investments, and we do not plan to sell them. When we pass, our daughters will inherit them. We are traveling less, yet we still can use the points. One daughter and her family (daughter, husband and their two daughters) from Hawaii, will be spending several weeks on the mainland visiting us and friends and other relatives. For overnight travel stays, we have booked 34 nights using our Hilton Honors points. No one gets a bill.
For us, our timeshares are and have been a worthwhile venture. Other hotel and resort chains offer timeshare options. Your due diligence research can determine if it will benefit you. It works for us.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Pilot, Viet Nam veteran and former university professor, Bob Worthington of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is the author of “Under Fire with ARVN Infantry” (https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/Under-Fire-with-ARVN-Infantry/), and producer of the 2019 film “Combat Advisor in Vietnam” (www.borderlandsmedia.com). Facebook: Bob Worthington Writer. Website: www.BobWorthingtonWriter.com. Worthington has placed excerpts about combat flying in Vietnam (from his books) on his website. Here is a direct link to those excerpts: www.BobWorthingtonWriter.com/combat-flying-in-vietnam/. Every couple of months he will add another excerpt.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this column is the expressed opinion of the author only, and readers are advised to seek the advice of their personal flight instructor, mechanic, attorney and others, and refer to the Federal Aviation Regulations, FAA Aeronautical Information Manual and instructional materials before attempting any procedures or following any advice discussed herein.
Anita Elliott Worthington
It is with great sadness to report that contributing editor, Anita Elliott Worthington, passed away on July 14, 2021, from multiple health issues.
Anita was born in Washington, D.C. on September 3, 1938, and graduated from Marjorie Webster Junior College with an English degree, earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in 1973, and a Master of Business Administration from Trinity University in 1980. Anita and her husband, Bob, founded Worthington and Worthington Management Consultants, with Anita as president, and she began her professional writing career.
Traveling was one of Anita’s and Bob’s shared passions, and together they flew their aircraft to four countries and landed in every state except Hawaii. Her experience in aviation led her to create and write a column, “The Right Seat,” for a national aviation magazine.
Anita requested that any memorial contributions be made in her honor to Mesilla Valley Hospice, 299 Montana Ave., Las Cruces, NM 88005 or www.mvhospice.org.