While the past year was a tough one for hotels, it was a great time for villa rentals and condo rentals in popular vacation locations. Few people wanted to get on an airplane, so lots of travelers hopped in their car to get a change of scenery. They felt safer having a place to themselves where they could prepare meals rather than risking it daily with restaurants.
If they didn’t plan ahead though, they found a slim selection to choose from. It has gotten even worse lately as vaccinated travelers are venturing out on flights again and pent-up demand is pushing occupancy up in places with good air connections like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. If you want to widen your pool of choices, it can make sense to check out timeshares to rent.
The Pros and Cons of Fractional Ownership
A timeshare, or “fractional ownership agreement” as the industry likes to call it now, can make sense in some situations. If you return to a place frequently at the same time of year, for example, this means you always have your familiar place available. You also tie into a network that offers options in different places that you’ve essentially already paid for via your purchase and the annual fees. These units are generally larger than standard hotel rooms and come with a kitchen, so they’re better suited to family travel.
If you buy a timeshare on the secondary market, it’s like buying a reliable used car: you’ve skipped all of the initial depreciation for something that nearly always goes down in price, not up.
The downsides of this arrangement are obvious though, beyond just the potential financial loss over time. One of the most common problems is that life gets in the way and owners can’t always use their week or two weeks as planned. Maybe they can’t get time off from work, or school schedules change, or a flight route gets canceled. Or the original owner dies and the working children that received the unit in a will aren’t as likely to use the timeshare at all.
So the place sits empty and unused for that period. That creates a market, of course, and an opportunity to get a good deal on a condo suite or villa for your vacation. These units are generally much bigger than a standard hotel room, complete with a kitchen, lots of amenities, and room to spread out. Often they’ll have a living room and furnished balcony or terrace. The extra space and cooking facilities are especially useful for families.
How to find Available Timeshares to Rent
Many of the big companies in this space have some kind of timeshare rental program set up, whether that’s Wyndham, Disney, Vail Resorts, RCI, or Vidanta in Mexico. Some of the best beach resorts have a separate set of timeshare units that go into their rental pool, or it’s an all-suite hotel where the only difference between the hotel suites and the timeshare suites is how they’re classified for the paperwork. That’s the case in some of the luxury resorts in Mexico that we’ve reviewed in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and Cancun. Naturally, those big corporations take a hefty cut of the rental proceeds for their service if they’re the ones finding the customers.
The insider secret most travelers don’t know about, however, is that Mexico timeshare rentals by owner are available that you can work out directly via companies like SellMyTimeshareNow.com. You can get a significant discount over the official prices through the resort’s own system by going direct to whoever “owns” that week for a unit in the resort. They list some of the best timeshares in Mexico, from well-known companies. So you still have the peace of mind that you’re renting a place in a well-run resort, not a one-off villa with no local team to turn to if something goes wrong.
That photo at the top of this post? It’s the view from a Mexican timeshare resort you can rent near downtown Cabo San Lucas, on one of the few beaches in the area where you can safely swim.
Sample Prices to Rent Mexico Timeshare Properties
To give you an example of what kind of price differences you can find when you rent from owners, let’s take a look at the gorgeous Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort near Cabo San Lucas. If you go to the hotel website, it has room-only rates starting at $5,602 for a week in October in a master suite with full kitchen that can sleep four. That comes out to around $800 per night. But if I go to that timeshare rental site, the same kind of unit, with a similar ocean view, goes for $2,600 for the week instead, or $371 per night. Smaller suites that only sleep two or three are available another week for $1,700 to $2,000.
Or at Cabo Azul in Los Cabos, you can go through their website and find a suite with a kitchen for $4, 331 after adding in all the extra fees, which comes out to $619 per night. Or you can rent a timeshare there instead, same layout and same week, and it’s $1,561 per week (which comes out to $223 per night).
Other times you’re not comparing apples to apples, even at the same resort. I have stayed at Velas Vallarta twice: once on vacation with my family and once when attending a travel industry convention. Both times at this all-inclusive resort the food was excellent, the drinks were made with quality spirits, and the staffers were really friendly. The resort is not as upscale as the Grand Velas a few miles away, but it’s under the same management when it comes to staff training and standards. If you want that all-inclusive experience though, it’s best to book a hotel room or suite from $400 to $900 per night. If you don’t plan to chow down and drink a lot of booze, however, you can rent a unit with a kitchen in the same complex directly through an owner for $172 to $274 per week, the upper range being a two-bedroom place for a family of four.
If you prefer Cancun, you can walk out onto this beach from the Westin Lagunamar, then spread out in your condo with a kitchen later when it’s time to mix up some cocktails. You’ll pay $1,561 for the week, or $223 per night. If you rent a hotel room there the same week, the rate coming up when I search the Marriott site is $2,584 for a week, or $369 per night after factoring in all the fees. And that’s without any kitchen facilities.
As with any big travel purchase, do your homework and shop around. These units in timeshare resorts in Mexico are perishable inventory though, so you can plan ahead and get a good deal or wait until the last minute and occasionally do even better. The timeshare unit is going to sit there empty if no owners and coming and no renters are lined up, so sometimes the prices are artificially low just because there’s only one chance to cover that annual fee.
How about you? Have you ever found a timeshare to rent or rented out one you own yourself? How did it go?