Exchanging Hawaiian Time
Even Hawaii residents are looking into timeshares in the Islands as a new way to travel. But are they right for you?
By Aimee Harris
(page 2 of 4)
Photo by Robert Sheetz/Courtesy of All Island Timeshare Rentals
High-end timeshares, such as Ko Olina Resort, often include luxury amenities such as outdoor dining, walking paths, spa treatments, golf courses and other services.
In much the same way that hotels rate the times of the year as “peak season” and “off season,” most timeshare resorts color code the year’s three seasons, according to demand. For instance, red weeks are hot, high-demand times. Conversely, white or blue weeks are cooler, less popular periods.
“All of Hawaii is red time,” says Sonya Kunz, operations manager of Hawaii Timeshare Exchange. “Owners of a red-week timeshare can request the prime times at popular destinations when exchanging with others. If someone on the Mainland is trying to deposit their week with us, their week has to be a red time, too, for it to be a fair exchange.”
Currently, Hawaii Timeshare Exchange’s request list for the Islands is two years out. “Right now we’re booking all the way up to 2010 and we have a huge wait list,” she says.
In short, owners of Hawaii timeshares can request any of the 52 weeks of the year, and can easily exchange their time for any destination in the world.
Lupton notes another reason that a Hawaii timeshare may be a wise asset: the steady hike in room rates. At the end of 2007, the average room rate on all islands increased to $308, up 8 percent over December 2006.
Lupton argues that “there’s a line … and if it’s crossed over, people will shop other destinations. And I think we’ve just crossed over. However, it doesn’t necessarily impact the timeshare industry, except it fortifies the value of owning rather than renting.”
He explains that, unlike hotel rooms, timeshares offer a great amount of flexibility. Owners can elect to: 1) stay at their resort during their scheduled week; 2) rent out their week to recoup on maintenance fees; 3) give their week as a gift to friends and family; or 4) exchange their week to stay at one of the of other resorts worldwide.
Vacation vs. InvestmentAccording to the experts, timeshares are not investments for profit and should be viewed as an enjoyable, luxury purchase. “We have owners at Lawai Beach Resort who own anywhere between four to 8 weeks because they know they’re going to come here every year to get away from the winter on the Mainland,” Kunz says. “It’s not an investment for them, it’s just a getaway.”
In 2005, the ARDA reported that the average national timeshare price was $16,278. The annual maintenance fee per unit was $471. The median income of timeshare buyers was $81,000. Some of Hawaii’s most lavish resort timeshares are in the $120,000 range.
Timeshares should not be considered an investment or a source of profit, because when a timeshare is bought directly from a developer, it loses much of its value (as does an automobile) at resale. “It’s a different marketplace,” explains Lupton. “When you buy from the developer, you’re often offered some incentives and perks that will encourage you to buy. When you try to sell your timeshare, those benefits usually don’t follow the sale.”
There’s also more competition in the resale market, and financing is more difficult, both of which drive down the resale values.
The three most basic criteria to use to determine if a timeshare is right for you are: