Guest Author - Kara Williams
Honeymoon lodging options abound: oceanside hotels, on-mountain ski resorts, overwater bungalows, small bed-and-breakfasts, even European castles.
Another consideration: timeshares.
Timeshare properties are a form of vacation property ownership. They can be found in Mexico and the Caribbean, Las Vegas, Florida and many other locations (including ski resorts) throughout North America. Condominium-style units can range in size from studios to three-bedroom condominiums, but usually folks purchase the use of a one-bedroom unit for one or two weeks a year. Resorts typically have on-site amenities such as swimming pools, spas and fitness centers.
One reason I like condominium vacations when I'm traveling for more than a long weekend - even when it�s just my husband and I making the trip, is because they're always outfitted with a kitchen. We hit the local market on arrival, and stock up on coffee, breakfast foods, snacks and fixings for picnic lunches. By eating out only once a day, we save a ton of money.
Anyone who has traveled to the major resort cities in Mexico has likely been offered an opportunity to tour a timeshare resort or consider a "vacation ownership" club. For a cool $100 cash on the Riviera Maya and a free car rental in Puerto Vallarta, my husband and I sat through two of these hard-sell presentations. (The sales folks weren't thrilled when we chose not to buy; in Puerto Vallarta we were escorted out the back alley of the resort!)
Buying a Timeshare
One way to avoid the hard-core sales pitches is to consider a timeshare resale. These vacation properties are previously owned, and you're buying someone else�s fixed week or floating week at a resort. Resales are generally thousands of dollars cheaper than buying directly through the resort developer.
You can find people selling their timeshares online, including on eBay, or you can go through a timeshare resale company like Holiday Group. This outfit has an inventory full of properties in popular honeymoon destinations, like Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Aruba and St. Thomas.
Actually purchasing a timeshare for a few thousand dollars (plus yearly maintenance fees), which you can use over the course of several years (or your entire life, depending on the sale agreement), could cost the same as just one week's stay in a four- or five-star hotel. As a timeshare owner, you can re-visit your honeymoon venue year after year. Sounds like a nice anniversary celebration to me!
Also, most timeshare resorts are members of Resort Condominium International or Interval International exchange companies. That means, for a couple hundred dollars in exchange fees (as well as the annual, approximate $80 membership fee), you can take your week at your home resort and exchange it for a week at one of RCI's or II's thousands of other member resorts worldwide.
Renting a Timeshare
If you don't want to shell out the bucks to purchase a timeshare, or would rather check out the resort in person before committing to a purchase, you can rent timeshare condominiums, too. Book through vacation rental agencies, individual property owners' websites or via eBay.
If you are renting directly from a property owner, be sure to ask for previous renters' contact information as references. Make sure you have a rental agreement that clearly spells out your dates of occupancy, the agreed-upon price and if you are responsible for housekeeping charges or any other sort of user fees.