Whether you vacation via a fixed, floating, or points-based arrangement, maintenance fees are a continual element of your timeshare ownership experience. If you’re just embarking on your vacation ownership journey, maintenance fees and dues are annual (or biennial) expenses allocated towards the upkeep of your home resort. This can include renovations and repairs, utilities, and insurance. Check out our guide to maintenance fees for a full overview, and read on for our take on how maintenance fees are impacting owners in one of the most challenging years on record.
Maintenance Fee Industry Alerts
Before we take a look at upcoming maintenance bills though, a quick note on some misinformation that has been circulating the timeshare industry as of late:
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) issued an alert this year of a new wave of scams that has emerged during the COVID pandemic, including unsupported claims from timeshare exit companies about an increase in maintenance fees due to the coronavirus.
Vacation clubs like Club Wyndham and Hilton Grand Vacations have also alerted owners of 2020 scams directed at points and reservations, such as claims that points can be exchanged for cash. Be wary of any unconfirmed timeshare messaging – especially if the company asks you for an upfront fee.
How Are Brands Responding Where It Counts Most?
According to a 2018 ARDA study, average timeshare maintenance fees had increased by about 4% each year from 2013-2017. Let’s take a look at how a few of the major brands measure up in a year defined by COVID-19:
DVC’s fee inflation sits at the higher end of the spectrum, rising an average of 3-6% each year. 2020 fell generally in this range, but the final breakdown varied significantly by resort, with owners receiving fee increases from less than 1% to over 8%.
This year at Disney’s Hawaii-based resort, Aulani, owner maintenance fees broke down to $8.33 per 100 points. (For an idea of point value at DVC, next year you’ll need 483 points for an oceanside 2-bedroom villa at Aulani during off season, and 588 during peak).
Westin owners also sit on the lower end of the maintenance fee increase spectrum, with many Westin owners encountering fee increases in the neighborhood of 3%, with a number of Westin resorts even seeing declines in 2020 (although costs associated with a particular booking or resort can drive the total up).
Complications – Even When Brands Are Trying to Help
Overall, two thirds of owners who responded to KOALA’s Facebook poll reported an increase in their fees, while one third reported that their fees either declined or stayed the same. Suzanne C. noted that “many adjustments, credits and extensions of points have been made by Wyndham & RCI, however consideration of a rebate for a portion of fees due to closures and lower labor cost would be helpful.”
Smaller Bills Have More Room to Grow
Our data also shows that the size of a 2019 maintenance fee had a significant impact on the percentage increase in 2020, with resorts/brands charging lower maintenance fees inclined to raise those fees by a larger percentage relative to resorts or brands whose fees were already high. The viability of continually increasing maintenance fees – even for resorts/brands where such fees are currently low – continues to pose questions about the value proposition of ownership, particularly for younger buyers who are unfamiliar with the product.
With so many variations amongst the different vacation clubs though, it’s best to contact your resort for a more comprehensive breakdown of your bill. And keep an eye on those due dates: unless you’re paying monthly, annual due dates are steadily approaching. Hilton maintenance bills, for example, are due by January 1st, while DVC is due by January 15th.
Tell Us Your Story
What was your experience with your brand or resort’s maintenance fees in a difficult year? Good, bad, or otherwise, we want to hear from you! To let us know your thoughts, let us know on Facebook – to let us know your experience, simply click here.
Maintenance Fee Management
Whether due to health concerns or financial challenges, you may have decided not to travel this year. And if you haven’t traveled to your timeshare this year, you may especially be stressing this year’s maintenance bill. But staying organized and being aware of assistance can help keep your ownership in good standing, and bring you peace of mind as you walk into 2021.
Remember, unpaid maintenance fees and club dues can severely impact your credit score. And if you’re closing your vacation ownership experience, being caught up with your payments can help you achieve a successful sale, or be eligible for exit assistance from your resort.
Options to Alleviate Costs
Back to this year’s bill, though. If you’ve experienced financial upset during the pandemic, you may be able to receive special hardship assistance from your resort. You may also be able to convert your points towards maintenance coverage. For example, both Club Wyndham points and Wyndham Rewards points can be redeemed to help cover some of your maintenance fees. Be advised, however, that you’re often better off renting your ownership first, as the returns on even a competitively-priced rental can offer better returns than what you’ll get for converting your points to cover maintenance fees.
Discover Rental Solutions with KOALA
Looking ahead, if you anticipate you may not be traveling to your resort in 2021, or are in the process of selling your timeshare, renting out your unit can help relieve next year’s bill. As the travel community looks with hope towards a post-COVID world, resort timeshares are poised to meet the needs of travelers seeking spacious and secure accommodations.
Ready to get started? Our customer success team can help walk you through the listing process. Contact us today at 1-833-KOALA-CO!