We went down to the Oranges in New Jersey for a couple days around T-day. R.'s sister and her family had a new (to them) place and were hosting. Lots of people there. R.'s brother was absent, but both his sisters and all of their family (children and husbands), their mother, their father and their stepfather were all present, as were stepfather's son and his family. We had a great time. My children were angelic about the (long) drive down and back, and did very well at the hotel and at the house. We set up a rebounder in the basement at the house, where T. could escape to. He also had an iPad and headphones he could use whenever he wanted, including at meals. It got really loud at meals; ordinarily he would have been trying to leave the house entirely. Instead, he voluntarily sat at the kids' table, _ate_ (granted, a waffle), and requested the headphones early on to help with the noise. R.'s sister A. was excited to be the one he asked, and even more excited that she understood the request.
R.'s other sister and her husband had recently attended a timeshare presentation. J. (brother-in-law) is very, very smart, and he actually knew about the resale market and asked why he would ever buy from a developer when he could buy for $1 online. This got him into another room, where he ultimately signed for a three year deal at Fernwood : essentially, an agreement to pay dues for three years and (as near as I can tell) no other commitment (no upfront money). The arrangement got him points at RCI; I don't know whether he has to pay an annual exchange fee. Presumably he must be paying exchange fees when using RCI because there doesn't seem to be any obvious way around those, or around the additional fees for all-inclusive resorts and so forth.
Nevertheless, it sounds like an unusually good deal for "buying" from a developer, and it got me wondering. Timeshares have been a mess for the last couple years: lots of people trying to get out from under their maintenance fee commitment, leading to increased fees on the remaining owners. It seems like this kind of deal might be more widely available. Initial attempts to find this kind of deal online (or even a description of someone getting this kind of deal) have not been successful. It sounds like a variation on trial ownership, which has been around for a while, altho in this case, the upfront cost of the trial ownership is zero. Regular readers know from my musings about DVC from months (years?) ago that I believe the true cost of timeshare ownership is almost entirely in the maintenance fees, so this isn't necessarily a screaming deal. More about that in a later post.
I'd love to hear from anyone else who can add to the wisdom on this particular kind of deal: whether you've been offered it, know someone who has, can point me at online descriptions thereof, etc.
ETA: I'm not sure what they got at Fernwood. Fernwood is a hotel and resort in the Poconos (Bushkill, PA) that has more than one timeshare associated with it: Greenhouse (no rating at TUG and only one review from 1996), Villas at Treetops (which has a mediocre TUG rating) and Villas at the Fairway (which has a pretty good TUG rating). And for all I know, I missed one. Or more than one.