Subject: Re: Timeshares
Hi Joan..

We've enjoyed timeshares for almost 15 years, exchanging thru RCI whose exchange fee began at $69 and is now $139 - a consideration to factor in if you plan on exchanging. And, the yearly RCI membership fee has also increased over the years as well.

Our experience has taught us:

1. Not to buy a timeshare as an "investment" but rather to use and enjoy. The majority of TSs have not increased in value...and if they do...sales commissions at some resorts certainly wipe out any potential profit.... Of course, there are exceptions.

2. If you enjoy a particular area and resort, buy to use there at the time you want to go, providing that you can swing the cost or are lucky enuf to buy one on a foreclosure ...otherwise, you run the risk of not being able to exchange there at the time you want to go, as well as the added exchange expense.

3. Check carefully the maintenance history resulting in added assessments..for example, our most recent purchases included a fee for revamping the entire resort which was payable in three yearly installments..our original timeshares are on the beach but in an older building and we have been faced with several assessments over the years.

4.. However, assuming that our maintenance/exchange fees run just over $700 per week, the typical cost for rental of the same units were we to walk in from the street are well over $1200 at the winter time we travel.

5. An RCI feature which makes it all the more palatable is that one is entitled to Bonus Weeks (excess inventory around the country) at a cost of $200-500 per week ... but do not require your week as deposit...Therefore, one can effectively cut the Per Week cost considerably, depending on how many of these Bonus Weeks one uses, i.e. your weekly cost = $700 but use 2 Bonus Weeks at $300 = 600 + $700 = $1300 divided by 3 weeks now and your weekly cost has come down to under $450 per week!

6. There are several, no cost, websites for potential buyers to browse, among them http://www.redweek.com and others Google can find.

7. The best advantage of Timesharing is enjoying the benefits of being "home" with a (most times) fully equipped kitchen ... breakfast in if desired, spread out room, etc...and not having to do housework since most resorts provide cleaning services, if not daily, sometime during the week.

8. A disadvantage might be that an Exchange may not be the same caliber as that you are trading, but many times this is wiped out by the advantage of being in a locale you desire...and if a real problem develops, RCI is pretty open to assisting one way or the other.

If I can help in any way, don't hesitate to ask.

Happy Travels... Lucille Gioello in Conn