I have got a lot of feedback on my last post where I have suggested that for people loving travel and vacations, a Timeshare is indeed a good investment. This is really a lifestyle and experience issue and cannot be viewed solely though the prism of financial calculations. Yes, it is quite expensive and one can get a holiday in a fairly good hotel at the price you will be paying for it today. However, there is much more to it and I think it will be useful for readers to know about my experiences to understand about it.
Let me start with the circumstances in which I bought my Timeshare unit. This was in 1996 November when we lived in Noida. An invitation from the Royal Goan Beach Club ( RGBC ) had taken Lipi and me to attend their presentation. It was early days of Timeshare in India and we knew quite less about it. Though the hard sell element was present in the efforts of RGBC, it seemed to me that there were some good points in what they were proposing. In summary the deal and the associated benefits were as follows:-
- 1.1 lacs for a Studio unit in their new unit Haathi Mahal in Goa. This was in the White season. A welcome week in Goa to another of their resorts were part of the deal.
- AMC to be paid every year.
- RCI membership for the first year was free and had to be paid for after that.
- The week could be exchanged well within RCI as it had reasonably high trading power, being in Goa and the White season.
- The lease of the week was for 99 years, which enabled it to be used by later generations too.
Now at that time the amount of 1.1 lacs was quite high and one could argue that keeping it in a FD will give you 12000 per year which could be used for your vacations. However, the prospect of a defined vacation every year, at a place of our choosing, seemed rather attractive and we went for it. As we were able to pay off the amount in cash and credit card, the final amount was discounted to 96000 Rs.
We went for our first welcome week to Goa in March 1997 and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. The studio apartment had cooking arrangements and this helped with Rinki being only 2 years then. Starting from 1999 till this year we have taken a vacation every year. A few of these have been to Goa but they have mostly been to other places in India through RCI exchanges. We have been to places such as Coorg, Ooty, Munnar, Manali, Jodhpur, Khandala, Puri, Bhimtal, Kumbhalgarh, Mussoorie, Shimla over the years. In the past couple of years it has been just Lipi and me but till the children went off to college it was always the four of us. We needed to upgrade to a 1 bedroom apartment in those years.
It will be apt to say that all such vacations were a source of joy then and remain great memories even today. We did go for other trips too but a one week vacation in a nice resort where you can both relax and be active in anything you like is a different experience, from the short and hurried trips where you are always short of time. Also, contrary to many Timeshare horror stories I read about, my experiences with both RCI and RGBC have been quite positive. Yes, they do charge a great deal of money but their service standards are excellent and the dealings quite professional.
With the children out of home now, Lipi and I have plans to visit more places outside India. RGBC has Karma resorts in Thailand, Bali, Greece and Australia all of which are great vacation choices. Of course, through RCI we will be able to have a much wider choice too. Assuming we will not be keen to travel a lot after the next 10 years or so the children can continue to use it, pretty much over their lifetime.
The bottom line – I think the investment in Timeshare has been a great personal investment for me and my family. The experiences have enriched our lives immensely ans it has clearly been something that cannot be measured with money.