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The History of Timeshares: Part 1

A timeshare sounds like a great idea at first. For certain costs, you can take care of one of the biggest uncertainties in any vacation: Where are you going to stay? A timeshare gives you a place to rest your head in your favorite destination spot, and it comes along with many of the benefits of ownership. You can get comfortable in your property the way you can’t with a single visit in a hotel room. You get to know the area around your timeshare, so you don’t have to spend time finding grocery stores and figuring out which are the good restaurants. This means you can spend more of your vacation relaxing and enjoying yourself.

Unfortunately, the reality of timeshares doesn’t always live up to its promise. Once you add in annual maintenance fees and other costs you might not have been told about or you may be shocked at the constantly rising amounts, a timeshare can become a financial burden. In addition, it can be hard to use your timeshare. Even though you might have been sold on the flexibility of your arrangement, it’s rarely easy to take full advantage of it. Even letting someone else use your timeshare can be nearly impossible.

If you’re having trouble with your timeshare and wish you could get out of the contract, you’re not alone. The truth is that the problems with timeshares have been “baked in” over their history. Understanding the history of timeshares will help you see why you might want to escape from your current arrangement.

Will the True Inventor of Timeshares Please Stand Up?

Although we know much about the history of timeshares, one thing that is up for debate is who actually invented the timeshare.

Historians note that for many years, people had been buying vacation homes. Since most middle-class people could not afford to buy their own vacation properties, some would band together to buy a property and rotate occupancy. This informal arrangement in the UK led to the English word, timeshare, but it’s not very similar to what we now think of as a timeshare.

For something more like what we recognize today, we have to look to Switzerland and France. In 1963, Dr. Guido M. Renggli and Alexander Nette established Hapimag AG (originally “Hotel und Appartmenthaus Immobilien Anlage AG”), in Baar, Switzerland. This company acquired properties, then allowed shareholders to use these properties. By 1964, the company was using a points system, where each share gave owners a certain number of points and staying at properties cost points depending on the property, the length of stay, and the season of the stay.

About the same time, the development company Societe des Grands Travaux de Marseille founded the Superdevoluy ski resort. At Superdevoluy, owners of the resort each had a reserved time to occupy the resort’s rooms. The idea is that owning a room at the hotel is cheaper and more reliable than renting one. From this point, we can see one of the big problems with timeshares.

The developer-owners wanted to make sure that they all got time to ski. They all got weeks in the prime season. This meant that there was a surplus of weeks in the off season that were sold to the general public. One of the big complaints people have about their timeshare is that they were forced to accept a less desirable time for their share.

Timeshares Take an American Turn

While the concept of the timeshare has a European origin, it was readily adopted in the U.S. By 1965, American developers were breaking ground on their own timeshare developments. The first was the Hilton-Hale Kaanapali on the Hawaiian island of Maui. As this was the first such property in the US, investors liked having the proven revenue model of the hotel alongside the very new “right to use” (RTU) contract model.

However, the revenue from this combined model worked so well that it took off quickly. By 1969, companies like Vacation International were selling RTU contracts at their existing hotels. This allowed them to quickly generate money, and it proved the long-term value of timeshare sales.

Seeing the success of the timeshare concept, people began construction of more dedicated timeshare properties. In the early 1970s, popular vacation spots from California to Florida received new timeshare resorts.

In order to sell these properties to investors, the developers had to codify what they meant by a timeshare program. Their codification included the rigid use restrictions that many people strongly dislike from their timeshare contracts. However, this “fixed week” strategy was necessary to convince investors that the timeshare concept would essentially guarantee full or nearly full occupation of the property in a financial sense, even if people didn’t always use their time.

The “Wild West” Period of Timesharing

Once developers and investors got a taste of the lucrative potential of timeshares, they immediately began to look for ways to make the strategy even more profitable. Unfortunately, many of these strategies were shady, to say the least.

In the absence of laws and regulation, and without tools for consumers to find good information about timeshare companies and properties, scams proliferated. In addition to outright scams, many timeshare contracts were sold without fully educating buyers on the terms of the contract. Property owners got hit with surprise fees and frustrated by the inflexibility of their terms.

Barely a decade after its origin, the timeshare concept faced an untimely demise. The industry was so riddled with bad operators that it became tainted in the minds of consumers. Soon it would be impossible to sell the product to buyers or investors. It would take dramatic action from within the industry and from the government to turn around the timeshare concept.

The Enduring Bad Reputation of Timeshares

Although we shall see how the timeshare concept was saved by a major transformation, many of the elements of the early days of timeshares persist. There are many developers who do not fully disclose all the terms of their contract, making the timeshare a much worse bargain than it appears. In addition, people often find that usage restrictions make it difficult to get the value they hoped out of their timeshare.

If you find yourself in this situation, help is available. At Timeshare Termination Team, we have an in-house legal team that helps us devise a strong legal strategy to help you get out of your timeshare. We’ve helped countless families just like you to safely, legally and permanently cancel their timeshare. And, we offer you a Money-Back Exit Guarantee™ that if we don’t legally get you out of your timeshare, you’ll receive a full refund.

Using our You First Approach™, your unique needs and goals will be our main focus throughout the process. As part of this approach, you’ll be armed with the educational material necessary to fully understand your options and make intelligent choices. This includes our Straight Facts Exit Guide™ containing detailed insights about the exit solutions available to you, and our Step-by-Step Exit Map™ explaining what to expect from the process.

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Please contact us today to take your first steps to being free from your timeshare obligations. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options.

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