What to know about timeshares, why Millennials and Gen Z are buying in

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What to know about timeshares, why Millennials and Gen Z are buying in

For their September honeymoon, Ricky Berns and his wife Allie went to their dream destination: Santorini, Greece. The couple stayed at multiple hotels for the “truly unforgettable” trip, including the Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort and Mystique, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Berns, 29, told USA TODAY.

In 2022, the average honeymoon cost $5,100, according to a study of over 12,000 couples by wedding website The Knot. To cover the trip, most couples said they used their own savings and some set up a honeymoon fund as part of their wedding registry.

The current average rate for the two Greek hotels is up to $503 and $978 a night, respectively.

But the couple didn’t have to pay that in cash. They were able to use points already accumulated with Ricky’s family’s The Marriott Vacation Clubs timeshare to cover these two resorts. The timeshare has been in the Berns family since 1997 and has allowed the family to travel to Maui and Oahu in Hawaii, Spain, the Caribbean, Disney World in Florida and more.

Now that Ricky Berns and his sister Carlee, 25, are adults, they said they’re looking forward to inheriting the timeshare. Carlee Berns, for her part, said she cherishes the memories made on those family trips, recognizing “what this investment can give to me in my future and for a future family.”

The Berns siblings are part of the growing group of younger Americans who are turning to timeshares as a way to travel the world.

Today, over half of timeshare owners are Gen Z and millennials and the average age of a timeshare owner is 39, according to a 2022 report by the American Resort Development Association. Not all of these owners are inheriting their timeshares either – 53% of millennials and Gen Z account for new sales purchases. For The Marriott Vacation Clubs, over 66% of first-time buyers are under the age of 42.

Here’s how timeshares evolved and why they are appealing to younger Americans.

More: We’re among the first guests at the Villas at Disneyland Hotel. See what we found.

What is the appeal of timeshares for younger owners?

Many younger Americans work remotely these days, opening the door to more flexible travel schedules. Timeshares have also turned more customizable and robust, according to the ARDA. For those who want to travel each year and can afford it now – the average purchase price for a new buyer is $22,000 – timeshares could save them money in the long run.

“The timeshare helps me accomplish my travel goals because there are endless possibilities all around the world,” Ricky Berns said. “Knowing you can go anywhere in the world with the same top service helps ease the stress of travel.”

Timeshares now often include more than just a week in the same destination. They offer cruises, guided tours, houseboat rentals, off-property outdoor adventures and more. You can even get in on specialty packages for events like The NHL Stanley Cup Program, which includes hotel accommodations (with daily breakfast), a rental car and two tickets to one of the final games.

Some timeshares, such as The Marriott Vacation Clubs, can even be exchanged for airline miles or to book rental cars.

For some travelers who are especially brand-loyal, timeshares can ensure you’re enjoying your favorite service and amenities.


“Timeshares can also feel more approachable for younger generations than other potential options such as purchasing a vacation home in one destination or saving for each vacation on a year-by-year basis,” Brian Miller, President, Vacation Ownership, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, told USA TODAY.

How are current timeshare models more flexible?

Instead of a single fixed week or a floating week, some companies now go by a point-based system. The points work similarly to airline miles in that they can also be banked or used in advance one year into the future. If you still don’t have enough points, you can purchase additional points to lock that dream vacation in.


The Marriott Vacation Clubs timeshare owners can use their points at any traditional Marriott hotel or property within The Marriott Vacation Clubs portfolio, which includes over 90 destinations, plus those more unique experiences mentioned above. Hilton Grand Vacation Club and Disney Vacation Club also function on a similar points-based system.

How can someone get out of The Marriott Vacation Clubs timeshare?

There’s a common notion that timeshares lose value over time and are very difficult to get out of. While timeshares do offer the opportunity to travel each year, they won’t appreciate in value — unlike investing in a vacation home. Plus, there are annual fees, which are usually around $1,000 on average, according to the ARDA.


The Berns siblings do admit they’re both worried about managing the maintenance fees of their family’s timeshare in the future and are learning closely from their mother how to manage the financial obligations.

The Marriott Vacation Clubs offer various ways for owners to get out of their timeshares for whatever reason – but sometimes those come at a fee. The company has a resale program, which offers guidance to help them plan their timeshare exit, Miller said.


If an owner has no outstanding fees or balances, there are fee-less options like a deedback and listing program, where the company will act as the broker on the owner’s behalf. Those broker fees are deducted from closing proceeds, so the owner doesn’t have to pay anything in advance.

That being said, the resale market for timeshares is competitive and a buyer’s market.

Other programs, like the Disney Vacation Club, sometimes ask for a first right of refusal for buybacks.


Who should not buy a timeshare?

The structured payment program of a timeshare means you’re locked into paying for a vacation each year, whether or not you take it. If your ability to travel isn’t very flexible and you’re also not committed to annual trips, then a timeshare is probably a bad investment for you.

You’ll also want to make sure you can afford those annual maintenance fees, which can increase over time if the company chooses to do so.

Do The Marriott Vacation Clubs owners get any discounts on property?

Not really. Depending on the owner level, there are some benefits you could receive with The Marriott Vacation Clubs, such as discounts at select restaurants or getting 25% off your points usage.

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