If you don’t want to go the conventional tour operator, holiday company route and you’re wary of committing to a full-blown time share holiday membership clubs can be a useful and affordable way of having a holiday. Holiday/Vacation Clubs offer high quality apartments in most major resort destinations and can be found in more than 50 Countries worldwide.However, there are a number of questions you might want answered before you go ahead and join. First of all, there are the obvious issues of ensuring that the company is reputable.Ask questions about the club’s history of operation and if it’s relatively new, without a history, make sure you are satisfied with the club’s credentials. For example, is it affiliated to any of the major industry trade organisations?Sales presentations at a resort while on holiday are one way people get to know about holiday membership clubs. No matter which way you’ve come across them you should ensure they comply with consumer protection legislation by offering a 10 to 14 day cooling off period with no retention of funds should you decide to cancel?
You should satisfy yourself that the club has adequate sources for its stock of available holiday apartments in the areas of the world you’re interested in. Some clubs have limited inventory sources that restrict holiday access to mostly mid and low season. Check out the examples of past resorts visited by its members.You could also ask to be put in touch with a member to find out about their experience. After all, a reputable company shouldn’t have anything to hide and should be happy to accommodate your request.Take a close look at the resort facility fees. Resort maintenance fees, on average, range from £350 to £550 per week, depending on whether it’s a studio, one or two bedroom unit together with the level of onsite facilities. Therefore, the holiday club will need to sell on the week at these values plus a small handling fee. Be cautious if the club is offering weeks at a low price. Carefully read through your membership documents and ask the sales staff about anything in there that you are not sure about.Is the club supported by a travel agency? The presence of an in-house travel agency provides credibility as they must meet rigorous trading standards. If you have satisfied yourself that the organisation is reputable and you’re thinking of going ahead, also ask yourself “Is a Holiday club for me?”. Next on the list is to check out what facilities there are at the resorts the club uses, such as swimming pools and other sports facilities and whether use of them is included in the membership offer.Holiday membership club accommodation is usually self-catering units owned by time-share companies in resorts but unbooked at the time you want to take your holiday, or on the company’s books as awaiting onward sale. This is how they manage to keep the costs to club members lower since they’re generally let at wholesale prices which are obviously preferable to the owner than leaving them empty.This means, however, that your club may ask for up to three choices of date and location as this system may mean that availability cannot be guaranteed at the time and location you want. Are you able to be flexible enough and adventurous enough for this? Do you enjoy exploring new places or do you like to go back to a favourite place year after year?
Self catering is another issue. The last thing some people want to do is to spend a holiday shopping for food and cooking it. If you’re part of a family or a holidaying group of friends where everyone’s prepared to do their share, that’s fine. But it’s not great if one person ends up doing all the cooking and washing up!On the other hand if you prefer your holiday to be flexible and independent so you can organise your day as you wish without having to worry about hotel meal times then self-catering accommodation through a holiday club may suit you.It is no different from any other major purchase. You would research the make, reliability, price and performance if you were buying a new fridge, cooker or car. Do the homework before joining a holiday club and you can be sure you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers
If you want a self-catering holiday at an affordable price but don’t want to get involved in a Time-Share arrangement the holiday membership is a good, affordable alternative, as long as you do the research properly. Consumer journalist Ali Withers consulted an expert, Brian L Wates, of Club Labourse.