Timesharing started in France, where buying a cabin in the alps for a ski vacation was too expensive for most people, so friends got together to buy shares or blocks of time to trade off using a cabin. It made sense to share a place since no one would be there all year, and most people only wanted a couple of weeks use anyway. The concept grew to involve developers and real estate agents who sold specific weeks of time in a set location for a set price (holidays fetching a premium). Timeshare evolved to include "floating" weeks, points, and trading, so that an owner could literally trade a week in one resort for another one almost anywhere, at anytime of the year. With all these choices and flexibility, timeshares have become a much better choice as a way to spend vacation dollars, especially for retirees who know they will actually use the time they buy. The one cardinal rule of purchasing a timeshare is to use the time bought. Some people have the best of intentions but they find they simply can not afford a vacation anymore with a new house, baby, or job change. As in all things, the cost is ultimately calculated by the number of times you actually use what you buy, so the more you use what you have bought, the more value you ultimately get from your purchase.
Unfortunately, timeshare sales have a very bad reputation for being high pressure and offering questionable products for the price. A few big companies do a good ethical job and provide quality since their corporate reputations are on the line e.g., Disney, Four Seasons, and Marriott.
For those who want to save some money, there is a timeshare company with a stellar reputation for integrity, ethics, and the added benefit of resale pricing which can save you up to 90% off the original sales price (they have a hotlist property at Villas of Sedona for a 1 bedroom + loft for only $995 which originally sold for $12,000). People who can either no longer use or afford their properties, sell them or rent them, so you can reap the benefits of owning properties without having to pay full retail.
Triwest, a Realtor and member of ARDA and RBA (resale brokers alliance), sold timeshares through live auctions for many years in Los Angeles before going online and setting the gold standard with the first international live auction back in the days of dial-up modems. Mario Collura, the owner, is the godfather of the timeshare resale business; he was in the business before all the real estate companies jumped onto the bandwagon, and because Triwest only sells and rents timeshares, their database and expertise is head and shoulders above the other companies. They created the famous timeshare MLS bluebook, with thousands of resorts listed along with all the vital information found in other real estate listings; number of bedrooms, yearly maintenance fees, and the amenities found at the resort. The bluebook works like the auto bluebook, it allows buyers to compare different resorts and prices of properties within the same resort before making an offer to buy, and it allows sellers to price their property competitively.
Triwest also offers timeshare rentals for people who don't know if they would like to buy (it's like renting a car before you buy it); rentals also work for people whose vacation needs change and who don't know what they will be needing from year to year. Mario's lieutenant, Viccie, handles all the rentals, so ask for her if you are interested in renting a property you own or are looking to rent from an owner. They have great deals like a Four Seasons 2 bedroom in Scottsdale for $2100 for the week; where else can you get that kind of price for a 2 bedroom Four Seasons property?
One sign of a good company is the education and information they will give you free; an educated consumer is ultimately a happy consumer. Triwest offers free tips for sellers and buyers on their website and they will give you personalized recommendations as a buyer or seller if you call them. There is never any pressure to buy or sell your property because this is where people go AFTER they have been through the retail priced, high pressure sales pitch. If you are lucky or smart, you come here first, but even if you didn't, now you have a place to sell or rent the place you bought and get a good deal on a better place. Buying or renting timeshare is like pancakes, the first one rarely turns out, but by the second one, you know what you are doing.
Triwest is a good timeshare company which proves that for every bad thing you have heard about timeshare there is always an exception.