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It all started last February when I called Hilton to make a change to my reservation for our stay at the Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri. While that phone call didn’t go great, I was transferred to the Hilton Grand Vacations line at the end of my call. Apparently, Hilton randomly transfers people who call the customer service line to entice you to stay at one of their timeshare properties. Here’s my experience with Hilton Grand Vacations and my first ever timeshare presentation.
Aftering being transferred to the Hilton Grand Vacations representative, she explained that she was going to present me with an offer that I could accept or turn down, and I’d earn 500 points just for listening. Sure, why not? Basically, the offer was for a 4-day, 3-night stay in one of the Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare locations. My memory is a little fuzzy but I believe the options were Orlando, New York City, Washington DC, Las Vegas, and Myrtle Beach. I’d have to pay $199 plus tax now, but I’d be reimbursed (minus the tax which was about $20) upon completing the two-hour timeshare presentation. I also believe you could have up to 4 people come on the trip. You had to book your stay within a certain timeframe (I think 45 days), but the stay could be anytime within the next six months.
I initially said no, but I was intrigued since I was dying to go back to Universal to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After saying no, the deal got a little sweeter. In addition to the free stay , we’d get a $200 rebate on our next Hilton stay in the US.
I had to say no again since I didn’t foresee us traveling to any of these places in the next six months. The rep then offered the option to travel anytime within the next year. At this point, I was envisioning myself in Diagon Alley and I gave in.
We planned our trip for this past November over Veteran’s Day weekend since I had the Friday off from work. Since we booked about nine months out, they had availability at Parc Soleil, the timeshare property where the presentation would be held. Most people end up staying at the Hampton Inn or the Double Tree so it was nice to get to stay at the actual timeshare property.
All we had to do was book our flights, buy Universal tickets, and wait nine months!
Parc Soleil was about a 25 minute drive from the airport and 20 minutes from Universal. While parking was free at Parc Soleil, we opted to use Uber/Lyft instead of renting a car. The property was very nice. There was a huge pool with a waterslide and some onsite eating options. It’s definitely a family friendly resort. The sound of kids screaming as we walked down the hallway to our room was somewhat off-putting. However, I was pleasantly surprised that once inside our room, I didn’t hear any noise from the hallway. We stayed in a studio, which is essentially a hotel room with a kitchenette. It was nice, but nothing special. I’ll talk more about the two bedroom condo we toured during the presentation in a little bit.
The next morning we headed to the sales center for our 8:15 presentation. We were sent upstairs to a waiting area with a continental breakfast. This was a very nice touch. Who doesn’t love a free (and unexpected breakfast)?
After about 10 minutes, a salesman came over and introduced himself. He led us to a desk where we sat for the next hour and half. The entire floor was filled with desks where couples were receiving their own presentations. Apparently, they do about 150 per day! You can tell Hilton Grand Vacations is doing well since they are paying for a 3 night stay for 150 couples/families per day not counting any extras they thrown in. Our salesman said the conversion rate is usually about 1 in 10 for new salesmen and 1 and 3 for sales veterans like himself. I’m not sure if this is true, but I definitely appreciated his willingness to discuss it.
The presentation itself was good. He explained how the program worked. Basically, you buy a week for a certain size condo at Parc Soleil which is written on the deed. However, you receive points that you can spend flexibly through the RCI timeshare network. There are a few main benefits of Hilton Grand Vacations over other timeshare programs.
- Regardless of the size of the condo you buy, you have the option to stay in a smaller one by using fewer points or a larger one by using more points.
- You don’t have to stay at properties for a full week and there is generally an option to check in on most days of the week, not just Saturday.
- If you don’t think you’ll use it that much, you can choose a biennial option where you get points every other year.
- If you don’t want to use your points, you can stay at Parc Soleil and other properties at a very cheap cash rate. This as a very lucrative option if you travel frequently.
We also toured a two bedroom at Parc Soleil. The condo was beautiful with updated finishings. It was much more impressive than the studio we were staying in. It even made me feel bad about the small size of my apartment in Boston!
We went into it knowing we weren’t going to buy a timeshare and despite the “great deal”, we stuck to this. We were offered a one bedroom biennial timeshare at Parc Soleil for about $14,000. They also offered 7 bonus nights as an add-on for buying today. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad offer, but you do have to pay HOA fees and resort fees for certain stays so there are additional costs on top of the initial payment. Also, Hilton’s financing option was downright scary with an APR of 17%. Part of the deal was to lower it to 12%, which is still pretty scary. The scariest part of all was that they were having people sign up for the Hilton Honors no annual-fee card from Amex to put the initial payment on it. I could see people getting themselves into a pickle with these financing options…We got to see the Hilton Grand Vacations machine at work as we saw a couple signing the papers on our way out.
Despite the crazy financing option, I do think the presentation overall was a positive experience. The salespeople were very nice and not at all pushy. If you are genuinely interested in a timeshare, I think Hilton Grand Vacations is a great option. For us, we are too focused on points and miles/free hotel stays to be locked into a timeshare. If you’re offered a stay through Hilton Grand Vacations and you don’t mind paying your way (or redeeming your way!) to the property, I definitely recommend checking out the timeshare presentation. It’s a great way to get a free weekend getaway and if you actually want a timeshare, you may be able to get yourself a decent deal.