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I get a lot of questions about time shares in Mexico. They seem to be everywhere, and of course, the minute you get off a plane in any destination, you seem to get bombarded with the “take a tour and get this free” approach.  The idea behind this guerilla marketing of course is to attract you, before anyone else can.

As a matter of fact, very few resort properties in Mexico don’t have a timeshare equation or inventory built into their sales systems. It is an affordable travel option for many. But there is some confusion about what it is and what it really means.

“time share” was a concept dreamt up in Europe in the 60’s. It so happened that a ski resort developer in the alps of France thought that a great way to market his resort was to offer an alternative concept, and instead of renting a room, you bought a piece of the hotel. Obviously the  marketing campaign caught on, because it’s widely used now, and many corporations are specifically designed to capture the market share.

While many of the fractional ownership options are available the way in which you own, and the transfer or trade power is different dependent upon the contracting timeshare company. The ownership location, such as Nuevo Vallarta or Nuevo Vallarta, for example have greater trade value than one you might find in the Dells of Wisconsin. The demand determines the trade value. The greater the traffic of tourism the better the trade value.

Additionally, while you think you are purchasing specific to the ownership of the hotel brand or property on which you discover yourself touring, the truth is, there are two highly acclaimed exchange companies in the market, and the flow of inventory is subject to their systems. They are Interval International (II), and Resort Condominiums International (RCI).  This will be name on the contract regardless of the property from which you purchased your fractional ownership.

Fractional ownership or “timeshare” means exactly that. You are purchasing the right to share a specific period of time in the year, and you own it. Generally done on weeks (52 in a year) with peak periods, you purchase specific weeks in the year in which you get to travel under the ownership plan.

Where once upon a time, the options of ownership were subject to independent companies and hoteliers, today the names are branded and familiar, and include Starwood, Wyndham, Hyatt, Marriot and Disney. In Mexico the Grupos Emporios, Pueblo Bonitos, Mayan Resorts and Fiesta Americana’s are as well-known resort chains. With the considerable growth in the industry, the product is full of variety, and now includes autos and planes, condo-hotel units, and luxury fractional ownership. As a matter of fact, on this high-end, luxury travelers with more time on their hands can own their share for as much as 3 months of the year for a small pittance of six figures.

It is reported that there are roughly 6000 timeshare resorts globally, 16% in Latin America and 40% of that belongs to Mexico. However these numbers may be off, as this report is as old as 2004. This does however account for billions of dollars in revenue in the industry.

Okay, so here is the deal, Once you buy your fraction, or week, or time period, as an owner you can use the time, rent out the time independently, gift it, exchange within the same program or group, or sell it. There is a market for second timeshare acquisition, and resources for this is found all over the web. Wholesale travel companies are additionally making timeshare acquisitions to their inventories to subsidize for limited inventories over peak holiday and travel dates.

In addition to this, the usage time can be applied or assigned to a point system, exchanging for airline tickets, travel packages and theme parks.  Partial points can be applied; additional points can be purchased for larger accommodations or a better destination, or saved from one year to the next. The contingencies are dependent upon the developer and options available at the time of application however.

Okay, so the next question is always about “deeded” and “right to use”.  Deeded contracts entail the use of the resort by week-long terms. You, as owner can use it, rent it, give it away, sell it, or will it to someone. As owner, you pay Real Estate taxes, which in some cases can have tax exemptions for related expenses.  There is some complexity regarding time allowances and years in this scenario, worth investigating further.

A “right to use” is a shorter ownership term, and at the end of the contract reverts back to the property owner, or developer. So, you get to use it, specific to the allowances of the agreement for a specific period of time, usually set in years. The risk here is that the right to use can be construed or dictated under a “club membership” classification and availability is dependent upon a reservation system which can change with the controlling company. If the owning or controlling company changes, your rights can be altered, revoked or unavailable all together.

So why am I explaining all of this? Because most resorts in Mexico offer the program in one form or another, and upon check in, you’re going to be asked about taking a tour and interest level. The hook is a free meal,cash to spend, even if you say “no” after 90 minutes, a free breakfast, and some very aggressive sales tactics. The timeshare tour is not for the faint of heart, nor the weak in resisting the impulse to get out your check book and the incentives are innumerable and alluring.

Personally, I have travelled on timeshare, having been hooked and purchased a week. My parents, while accommodating in Mazatlan, need their space and privacy, so we thought, and travelling with kids created chaos. So we decided that buying the secure Christmas week in Nuevo Mazatlan at Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay would be ideal. It provided proximity without being underfoot or an intrusion. We planned on saying “no” and had an agreement, my husband and I about the “secret sign”, but in the end, we wrote the check. For us, for a few years it worked out well. Later we sold it.

We have also travelled on someone else’s ownership. We found the website http://www.skyauction.com,  and bid on a 7 night stay, also in Mexico, and also a Pueblo Bonito Property. If I recall, this might have been the trip we did the tour and bought our own……

Nonetheless, we procured a beautiful one bedroom, ocean facing suite with kitchenette for $280.00 USD for the entire week through the auction site. Clearly an owner could not use the week, and did not want to forfeit the week without gaining something, and we were fortunate enough to have the winning bid. Be careful on Sky Auction however, some have been known to mistakenly bid against themselves, not understanding how it worked, driving up the costs inadvertently.

We have travelled with reservations on the resort properties and we have travelled through private villa rentals. Any way you travel to Mexico, what remains the same, regardless of how you do it, is the extraordinary level of service and the commitment to quality you find with each property.

Staff is on hand to meet your every need. They do it with a smile, and upon the utterance of “gracias” or “thank you” the response you get is always “para sirvirle”. Translated: “to serve you”.

It is a way of life and a mentality because Mexico’s economy is driven by travel and tourism. The industry accounts for 64% of the country economy. With this in mind, the gracious management and handling of consumers by Mexico’s people is imperative to the survival of the country, and the continued travel and tourism market.  This blogger, in consideration of the places she has been and her personal experiences in Mexico, feels that this attitude is cultural and has everything to do with how they treat one another on the whole.

There is humor and joy in the day-to-day living. There are beautiful destinations and gorgeous resorts to be experienced. There are people to meet and cultures to immerse in, all just south of the border. So, grab a week, or a weekend. Buy your own fraction, or the whole thing. Whatever you do, just go there. You won’t regret it, no matter how you did it.


Mexico, Mazatlan, Los Cabos, Cancun, See Ixtapa, Merida and Akumal, visit the Mayan Ruins, Cancun, and the Yucatan….So much to see and do…..JUST DO IT!