Last summer I wrote about the Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare offer I received when calling Hilton about an existing reservation. It took me over a year to actually book our trip to Las Vegas, and yes I actually received a phone call from HGV every business day from July 2018 until I booked it. Here’s my second experience with HGV timeshare presentations and it wasn’t as pleasant as the first.
I described the call where I received the offer in detail here. Briefly, I paid $225.53 for three nights in a studio at one of HGV’s Las Vegas properties. In return, we would get a $200 Spend A Night on Us voucher and 5,000 Hilton points. This is a worse deal compared to our Orlando presentation offer, but we had the flexibility to book any time within two years. With the Orlando offer, I had to book within 45 days and travel within a year.
I knew I was starting a new job this summer so I wanted to fit this trip in before then. My husband had a Monday off from work in July so we decided to arrive on Friday after work and come back Monday. Normally there’s a $99 supplemental booking fee to arrive on a Friday or Saturday, but the booking agent waived the fee as long as I didn’t make any changes to the reservation. He also added six $25 food/drink vouchers to our timeshare offer.
Since I booked the hotel only a few weeks in advance, the property options were limited. The Elara is definitely where you want to end up as it’s centrally located on the Strip. Instead, we ended up at the Trump which the initial booking agent warned me against due to its location (among other reasons…).
The Trump lobby was nice but the room was just okay. It was essentially a regular hotel room with a kitchenette opposite from the bed. As one of the taller buildings near the Strip, we thought we might have a good view. Unfortunately, our room looked out onto the unglamorous side of Las Vegas. There was also a train that went by the Trump multiple times throughout the night that woke me up each time despite being on the 20-something floor.
The Trump is about a 25 minute walk to Caesars Palace. The hotel runs a shuttle to and from the Wynn and Caesars Palace. We didn’t feel like waiting around for it so we made the walk a few times. I think the only real plus of staying at the Trump is that there is no casino. If you want quiet and time away from the Strip, you might choose to say here. For me, it’s not what I’m looking for when I go to Vegas.
Our presentation wasn’t until 3:00pm on Saturday so we used the morning to visit the Hoover Dam. At 2:45pm, a limo bus picked us and another couple up and drove us about 10 minutes away to the property, Hilton Grand Vacations on the Las Vegas Strip. While technically on Las Vegas Boulevard, it’s so far up the Strip that it’s essentially not even on the Strip. To put it in perspective, the Trump is in a better location.
We checked in and were brought to a waiting area with soft drinks, coffee, and packaged snacks. After about 15 minutes, the sale representatives found each couple and brought us to a 25 minute group presentation. The man who led the presentation was engaging and did a good job of getting us excited about the program. However, I felt that some of the marketing was misleading. They showed pictures of the multiroom villas at the Conrad Maldives and even the underwater Muraka, making it seem obtainable through the HGV program. While you can convert HGV points to regular Hilton points, it will cost hundreds of thousands of Hilton points per night to stay in the Family Water Villa. And I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the Muraka is not bookable on points.
After the group presentation, we were brought to a desk to meet one on one with our representative. We were upfront about having attended a presentation in the past. We also mentioned that we travel with points and miles and weren’t sure how this would fit into our travel plans.
Even so, he planned out a scenario were we spend $200 on a hotel ten times a year…so about $2,000 of travel expenses per year. With this math, he said we would spend about $150,000 on hotels during our lifetimes. So in Hilton’s mind, this is the number to beat. They went through the rules of the program and brought us on a tour of a two bedroom suite. Here’s a recap of what I think HGV has going for it and what it doesn’t.
- It can make sense for families who need multi-bedroom properties, a kitchen, and a washing machine for their vacations.
- You can pay very low cash rates to stay at HGV properties if you book a month out. There is a similar deal with RCI properties but you can book 2 months out.
- Points carry over so you don’t necessarily have to use it every year. You can also convert to Hilton Honors points if you want to stay at a regular Hilton hotel. By being an owner, Hilton Honors points never expire.
- Since Hilton sets the price, if you buy and decide to sell, I think there’s a good chance you will make money on it.
- On top of the initial price, you’re on the hook for HOA fees each year which start at about $800. You also have to pay a booking fee each time you use your points. They also said most people upgrade their package at some point so that means more money out of your pocket. It feels like an unfair comparison when they say we will pay about $150,000 on hotels in our lifetime but if we spend $60,000 today, we will be able to cover our hotel fees for life, but then fail to acknowledge these additional fees.
- It doesn’t really work well with the type of travel we do. We like to bounce around to different cities and don’t necessarily want to be staying in a multi-bedroom unit at a resort. We like trying out new hotels and having the freedom to stay with whatever brand we choose. Take Vegas for example. Part of the fun is trying different hotels. Maybe the Elara is really nice but sometime I might want to stay at Caesars Palace or the Bellagio. Will I pay more over time? Possibly, but there’s something to be said for flexibility.
- Since they do such a good job at making this something you want, it feels a little predatory. I think it could make sense for some people who want to travel simply, but people definitely buy into these without fully understanding what they’re getting into. They throw information at you for two hours and then say they need an answer today or you’re walking away from a great deal. That can be a tough environment to make an informed decision, especially when you have little time to review the contract, booking platform, or property listings on your own.
- The financing is 17% APR which is just criminal.
We didn’t go into this with plans to buy a timeshare, but we were open to hearing what they had to say. The initial offer was 8,500 points per year for $61,000 and $1,000 annual HOA fees. We declined and were presented with a lower offer of 2,500 points for $21,000. I think we could make use of the lower cost package, but I’m not convinced this or any timeshare program will ever be right for our family. If we had said yes, I know I would have buyer’s remorse and would be calling during the grace period to cancel.
Unlike our presentation in Orlando which was a positive experience and made me potentially consider HGV in the future, this one left a sour taste in my mouth. Not only did the presentation run 45 minutes over, but once we made it clear we wouldn’t be buying, the representative’s demeanor did a 180. He was clearly angry with us and walked away abruptly. I’m not sure if the amount of questions we asked made him think we were going to buy, but we wanted to make sure we understood what was being presented to us. At one point, he asked us if we think the program is a good value. My husband said, well how much is it? (they refuse to give a price until the very end). The rep kept saying, just tell me if you think it’s a good value or not. The value is tied to the price so I don’t know how we could have honestly answered that. In the end, is $61,000 for a timeshare we don’t really want and would feel trapped by a good value? For some people maybe, but for us, definitely not.
So will I attend timeshare presentations in the future? Maybe. I’m curious to see how other brands operate their timeshare programs, but am not sure it’s worth it to attend. I am pretty confident I’m won’t be interested in HGV at any point. I won’t actively seek out timeshare presentations, but if the opportunity presents itself with a company other than Hilton, I may give it a try.
Click here to check out my Hilton Grand Vacation timeshare experience in Orlando!