Confused by Timeshare, Fractional Ownership and Vacation Clubs?

Do you think that the terms Timeshare, Fractional Ownership, Vacation Clubs, and Vacation Ownership all sound like the same thing? You are not alone. In truth, they are more or less terms for the same idea, but there are some differences that you should be aware of.

Read on to find out what the difference is between timeshare, fractional ownership and vacation clubs.


Timeshare is the original name for the model that first gained popularity in the 1980’s. In its day, the timeshare format was perfect for working families who often got the same two week vacation each and every year; this is why the concept was so simple, and why it worked so well!

In short, when buying a timeshare, you got a set amount of time in a particular unit on the same dates each year. This was achieved by the splitting of the cost of the room/unit into 52 weeks and selling these individually; some of the weeks (those during school vacations, for example) were more expensive, but once you buy them they are yours for a set term (usually 25 or 35 years). Once you buy this kind of product, however, you’re stuck with what you have; if you want to change location or dates you need to enter into an exchange program. This lack of flexibility accounts for much of the dip in popularity concerning this format, opening the way to vacation memberships.

Vacation ownership and membership

As the world evolved, the Timeshare model also changed to meet the ever growing need for flexibility. Fixed week timeshares gave way to floating week models which allowed for movement in a particular season (for example Summer, or Fall).

From this point there was a shift to the points based systems that the average vacation club today uses. This format offers the ultimate level of freedom and flexibility to the consumer. These points often allow for longer vacations in less luxurious units, shorter more extravagant stays, and even changes in location. Better still they can be banked and borrowed where necessary, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of money if you can’t vacation in one particular year.

So, as you can see, terms like vacation ownership, vacation membership, and timeshare are much the same; they refer to different models of the same idea. They indicate execution rather than concept.

Vacation Clubs

In many cases the term “vacation club” is used to describe a number of timeshare products including those that offer a wide range of services and properties to their customers. These services may include travel agency services, flights, international exchanges, and cruises. Some will simply offer discounted vacations; it depends on which kind of club you join and what they have on offer.

Fractional Ownership

Fractional ownership is the one of these models that stands out from the crowd; when you are a fractional owner of a property you actually have deeded ownership of your fraction in perpetuity. Fractional ownership is also sold in larger chunks (usually monthly or seasonally). This means that your investment can gain value, and that you don’t need to make a reservation to use the property during your allotted time/season.

If you have any questions about fractional ownership, timeshares, or vacation club membership let us know in the comments section below.

Add Comment