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The promise of being able to enjoy endless warm, sunny holidays in truly spectacular locations has tempted many individuals into making the decision to purchase a timeshare.

Yet when it comes to signing the all-important documentation and contract, can you be sure that what you think you’re buying is a timeshare, or are you, in fact, joining a holiday club?

Since the timeshare industry began back in the 1960’s, it has certainly witnessed a number of changes. Once offering a fixed amount of time in one location, so now the possibility of being able to visit new and exotic destinations worldwide appear endless.

However, the timeshare business was somewhat reinvented with the introduction of holiday clubs, especially during the 1980’s. Unsuspecting individuals were approached and told that they could join an exclusive club with the advantage of being offered discounts on flights or accommodation.

The truth of the matter is that the “too good to miss” deal doesn’t quite turn out to be what it claimed to be, with additional costs and no guarantee that any such vacation accommodation is even available at a given time.

Here is a quick guide to distinguish the differences between timeshares and holiday clubs, and how can you ensure that you aren’t being misled into thinking that you are purchasing a timeshare when in fact, you are actually signing up to join a holiday club.


Timeshares can be defined as the right to be able to spend a set amount of time in a villa or apartment which one shares ‘time’ in with other part owners. Consequently, one can only stay in the timeshare for a fixed period of time over a set amount of years.

Under certain criteria, you have the right to be able to cancel over a specific period of time which is referred to as the cooling off period, and for timeshares is a 14-day period. This is also applicable for product add-on resale contracts and swaps.

In term of costs, timeshare owners pay an annual service charge for each week which is owned. Additional cost can provide timeshare owners with the option of being able to swap the time they are away for as well giving them the opportunity to travel to other destinations.

Holiday Clubs

The flashy, pushy sales pitch and tactics commonly used in the timeshare market were also adopted by holiday clubs in an attempt to lure individuals in.

In an article published in Moneywise, The Office of Fair Trading found that ‘holiday-club scams cost the UK public an estimated £1.17 billion each year – a whopping loss of £3,030 per victim.’

The concept of holiday clubs differs in that a company acquires resort-style complexes throughout various locations which are then divided into saleable units. These units are then divided into salable weeks which are then given a certain number of points based upon criteria such as saleability, value and desirability.

The individual is sold points valued accommodation and is then entered into the holiday’s company system.

Although the notion of holiday clubs should accommodate for more flexibility in individuals being able to vary their vacations, they could, in reality, find that they have much more difficulty in booking time for their vacation due to limited availability.

Not only can it be a tricky business to ensure that you are able to secure availability for your location, but there is also no industry body which represents holiday clubs which a number of timeshare companies try to ensure.

In terms of the cooling off period for holiday clubs, a new law came into force in 2011 aiming to help control how timeshares were sold which also included.

From 23 February 2011 onwards, all holiday clubs within the European Union had to obey to The European Timeshare, Long-term Holiday Products, Resale and Exchange Contracts Directive 2008. Most importantly, this regulation ensured holiday clubs, as well as timeshares, had to provide buyers with a 14-day cooling off period.

We hope that you’ve found this article taking a brief look at timeshares and holiday clubs useful. If you have any further questions as to how the criteria involved in timeshares and holiday clubs differ, as well as advice on how to avoid being misled into making a purchase, or even assistance on exiting your timeshare, then please feel free to contact our team here.

Posted on: 23rd July 2016