Royal Holiday Club Timeshares
Royal Holiday Club is the first timeshare I bought and I picked up my 15,000 points for a song on Ebay. My final bid was just over $100 and by the time you add in closing costs, transfer fees, etc. my total investment was $800. Not bad at all.
And so far I've used my Royal Holiday Club membership to go to Puerto Rico, Atlantic City, Del Mar (coastal SoCal), and Orlando. Next year I'll most likely be using it to visit Vegas and/or Palm Springs.
How the Royal Holiday Club Works
Royal Holiday Club is a Mexican timeshare company. So as a result of Mexican property laws, Royal Holiday Club membership is sold as Right to Use rather than as deeded. Mexican citizens may be able to get fixed deed, but since foreign citizens cannot technically own property in Mexico, the membership is RTU.
Any timeshare sold as Right to Use has an expiration date. For example, my use of my Royal Holiday Club points expires in 2024, so at the end of that year I'll stop paying annual maintenance fees and will no longer have use of Royal Holiday Club. Disney Vacation Club actually works the same way, except my DVC membership doesn't expire until around 2050 or so.
Royal Holiday Club advantages
The two major advantages of owning Royal Holiday Club are cost and flexibility. While I see far fewer Royal Holiday Club sales on places like Ebay than I would something like Wyndham or RCI points, the prices are usually a great bargain and you can easily get into a lot of Royal Holiday Club points for a few thousand dollars.
I bought 15K points for $800 total, but if I had been smart I would have waited for a bigger points package to come along. I would recommend between 30K and 60K points if you really want to take advantage of the range of RHC properties available. I do pretty well with 15K, but it blocks me out of some desirable properties unless I'm willing to fork over a one time payment for points or bank a year's worth of points into the next year. That's something I'm not usually willing to do since I travel A LOT. :)
The other main advantage is flexibility. Royal Holiday Club does not own all of the resorts in their system. While they do own quite a few resorts of their own, for the most part RHC has longterm lease arrangements with other resort properties, most of them small private holdings.
As a result, Royal Holiday Club members have access to urban locations in which there are relatively few timeshares -- for examples, as a member of RHC I can book a timeshare in San Diego, San Francisco, London, Paris and New York City. In fact, if you're buying Royal Holiday Club for its access to the city properties in its portfolio I strongly recommend that you purchase a minimum of 45K points especially if you travel for full weeks.
In addition to the great city locales, Royal Holiday Club also either owns timeshares or has lease arrangements with timeshares all over the world - with particularly strong presence in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the US. Because there are so many properties in their system, most owners usually will find it unnecessary to join one of the exchange companies. RHC has enough variety in their own holdings that generally you won't need to exchange.
While I did go ahead and sign up for RCI, (RHC's affiliate), I did it for access to the Extra Vacation and Last Minute cash offers. There would be no reason to ever actually deposit my Royal Holiday Club points because I can pretty much go where ever I like with them.
Discuss Royal Holiday Club
- Timeshare Users Group Points Forum
If you want to look into the pros and cons a bit more in depth, I recommend visiting the Timeshare Users Group and checking out the forum postings about Royal Holiday Club here.
Royal Holiday Club disadvantages
Okay, most of the disadvantages are hearsay, as I've never experienced problems yet, but I've only owned Royal Holiday Club for a few years. However, since these disadvantages are the primary reason RHC are sold at firesale prices in the resale market they are worth mentioning.
Reputation - The timeshare industry doesn't have the greatest reputation in the first place. It is an extremely hard sell industry, but RHC's reputation is pretty horrible even keeping that in mind. Many Royal Holiday Club owners who bought a timeshare from the developer in Mexico experienced extremely high pressured sales events and then paid far too much money for what they own, experiencing major buyer regret upon returning home. Couple that with Mexico's very short 5 business day cool-off period (which many vacationers are probably completely unaware of) and you have bad situation all around. But this is why you can buy these timeshares for pennies compared to other comparable offers.
Bookkeeping - According to some owners, Royal Holiday Club tends to have poor bookkeeping. Owners have reported being double-billed for maintenance fees, etc. and all highly recommend keeping close tabs on all financial paperwork. I personally have not had any problems with them.
Poor or Inconsistent Customer Service - Again, this isn't something I've had a problem with primarily because I don't call RHC. I use their website to book my vacations and pay my maintenance fees. While the website is kind of crappy and slow, it does the job and I have had no problems. On the other hand, plenty of other members report making bookings with RHC on the phone and never receiving confirmations, etc. Some resorts cannot be booked on the website so clearly it is something that can't be entirely avoided. I've just avoided it so far by not booking anyplace that cannot be booked online.
Availability - Resort availability is not always clear. Because RHC has lease arrangements, sometimes the availability at a particular resort will not be known until rather late in the year. This makes it difficult to plan very far ahead for some members. Also, customer service will tell you they'll call you back when resort availability is known, but then don't follow through. So it's best that if you have a concern, keep calling. I would say that it would be safest to assume that RHC will never call you back about anything.
Difficult to Get Rid Of - If at some point you decide you want to dispose of your Royal Holiday Club timeshare even giving it away will cost you money. Royal Holiday has more than doubled its transfer fees and it now costs more than $600 to transfer ownership. In most cases, it will be difficult to find another owner willing to pay that fee so I would consider it the cost of getting rid of the timeshare if you really want to do that.
With all of these drawbacks in mind I would think twice about picking up a Royal Holiday timeshare today, even for free, unless you are getting it near the tail-end of its available use. For example, if there were only five or six years left before it reverted back to RHC I might consider it. I mostly use mine for exchanges nowadays and if I had it to do over again, I think I would probably have been better off just picking up more cheap or free Wyndham points.