When buying a timeshare the difference between fixed week purchases or the points system is important to note; the former securing you specific weeks in the year while the latter offering you greater flexibility of when and where you vacation.
Blocked Week (Fixed, Floating and Rotating)
When timeshare first began in the 1960s, the blocked week format was introduced offering buyers the chance to purchase units of real estate, which are divided into weeks. That is, you own your own property but for only a certain number of weeks per year. These weeks can be fixed, floating or rotating.
Fixed Week Ownership
The advantage of fixed week purchases is that you are guaranteed the same week every year. For example, the year is divided into 52 and you buy week 10 or week 36 and can use your property during those weeks no matter what. The popularity of the week you purchase will also affect the price, the holiday periods being in high demand and therefore more expensive as well as the school vacation times. The advantage of fixed week ownership is that your dates are secure every year and you can plan in advance, getting the best flights and organizing your family with plenty of time.
Floating weeks do not have specified dates, but rather owners are allocated a general period from which to choose the weeks they prefer, such as the summer (weeks 22 – 36). While this offers a little more flexibility, floating weeks often exclude prime holidays.
Sometimes called Flex weeks, this blocked week system is intended to offer all owners a chance to use the most popular weeks of the year. The weeks allocated move forward or back a week every year, so that one year you are week 1, the next year week 2 and so on.
It is worth considering that in the case of blocked weeks, the general misconception is that they are totally inflexible should owners wish to vacation outside their dates or visit another destination. In fact, there are now various exchange companies where you can exchange your weeks for other destinations or dates. With larger timeshare operators, you are also able to exchange within the same company without problem.
The more recent approach in timeshare is the points system intended to offer buyers greater flexibility. In this case you buy points that are equivalent to the cost of a timeshare property and they act like currency. Timeshare properties are then allocated a value based on popularity of the location and resort, size and rating of accommodations, popularity of dates selected and so on. You then select a timeshare property depending on how many points you purchased.
The points system is very flexible as you can select the elements of your vacation property depending on your specific needs for a particular trip. For example, you might have bought enough points for a luxury three bedroom ocean view property in a prime location for one week during peak school vacation times, but now that you have retired you want to spend three weeks during the winter in a smaller apartment in a quiet location. Your points will determine what you can reserve and you can use a three bedroom property in a prime location the following year when all your grandchildren join you! Flexibility is key with the points system.