We were in Hawaii at the Ko Olina Beach Club in Oahu when the woman standing in front of the black board asked, “Do you honestly think you travel differently than everyone else? That what you’re looking for in a vacation is not what everyone else here wants.”
As I glanced at the others staying at the resort, most of whom were either families vacationing with children under the age of five, like myself, or senior citizens enjoying the fruits of their labor, I nodded my head. I do truly believe I travel differently than most people. I’m a flight attendant! And that’s what I told her.
Like most flight attendants, when I go on vacation I don’t want to stay anywhere that even remotely feels like a layover, which means I’m not a big fan of resort like properties with hundreds of rooms and thousands of guests milling about the pool. Regardless of how pretty that pool may be.
For the record, the pool at the the Ko Olina Beach Club is wonderful. My three year-old couldn’t stay out of it. The beach, a man made lagoon, is beautiful, so very relaxing at night under the stars. And the rooms, particularly the villas, are more than comfortable with their sunken tubs, full size kitchens, and a washer and dryer to boot. But that’s another story. This story is about how I’m a flight attendant and how flight attendants, not unlike most frequent fliers, do not want to spend their vacations in the same hotel-type room year after year. Even though this was our third year in a row at the resort. It was also the first time we’d agreed to partake in one those vacation club package deals.
“Travel, for me, is an escape,” I said to the woman holding the chalk after she asked me what, exactly, I wanted to get out of my vacations. “When I go on vacation I just want to relax, eat good food, and let the vacation come to me.”
“So you’re telling me that you appreciate a quality hotel? That you want to know you’re getting the best you can get for your dollar when you’re on vacation? she asked.
“Umm…no…that’s not exactly what I said,” I said, and as I said that she drew two big columns on the board with a piece of chalk, the words RENT and OWN scribbled above each one.
“There’s no need to go there,” I said, watching her make a list of reasons to own, not rent. “Because when I go on vacation I really do like spending hours online searching for the perfect place to stay. I like the excitement of not knowing what to expect and the thrill of sliding the key card into the door and SURPRISE! Seeing what’s on the other side – whether it’s good or bad. Because sometimes you get the Calla Lily Inn in Palm Springs and other times you get the Villa Rosa in Positano. You see, that’s the fun part for me.”
“Are you telling me you don’t mind throwing money away?”
“I’m telling you that I’m a flight attendant and my husband travels more than I do,” I said, motioning to my husband who was just seconds from shoving an Ipod in his ear. “So when we travel it’s last minute travel. We can’t plan our vacations a year in advance. We can’t be bothered with trading our weeks. And we like change and diversity. No offense, but timeshares are just not for us.”
But the timeshare pool, on the other hand, was for us. Because that’s where we spent a good portion of our getaway discussing the pros and cons of owning a timeshare with a few of the owners in our complex. While none of these owners knew each other, they all had one thing in common, love for the timeshare. One woman told me that if I was really interested in purchasing one, not to bother with the sales people at the resort because there were some pretty amazing deals to be found on Ebay. That’s where she’d not only been snatching up quite a few timeshares, but had actually bought one for just $500! Not including the maintenance fees.
I actually tweeted that bit about timeshares being sold on ebay and two seconds later someone sent me a link to 10 Reasons Timeshares Are A Bad Deal. Of course I shared the 10 reasons with my husband over a magnificent sunset dinner in Waikiki. A woman sitting alone at a neighboring table who just so happened to be eavesdropping in on our conversation told us about redweek.com, the largest online marketplace for renting, buying, and selling timeshares. I told her I’d check it out.
As for renting a timeshare, sure, why not, great deals are out there and redweek.com is one of the best places to find one. When it comes to buying, I don’t think so. The best part about traveling, for me, is doing something different and getting outside the comfort zone, not making a second home. As far as selling a timeshare goes, good luck with that in this terrible economy. Because in order to sell, one must be willing to buy – regardless of what the really nice timeshare sales lady whose company stands to make a 40% commision on the resell says.