Excuse this looooong email but I have lots to say. =p I worked very briefly as a sales rep in a timeshare company so I know a bit about it and I also own a membership myself so I am an interested party. Although I bought it a while ago, I only just finished payment and will be using it for my honeymoon end of this year, just like the rest of you.
Some of you may be wondering if you were conned. Well, I calculated like mad as well after I bought it and found it is worth it for me. Let me explain here but before I do, let me just answer one of the questions above. Someone asked if you have to go for 7 days at a go. The answer is yes for resorts outside asia and no for resorts within asia. In Asia you can split the week into 2 periods of 3 days and 4 days. Someone, TinTin I think, said her hubby travels often so it makes the timeshare worth it. I don't understand how that works. Can someone explain? The more you travel, the more you chalk up on airfare isn't it? 7 days at a go seems to be the most economical.
Prices for different resorts vary and prices for the same resorts also vary if you go to different marketing companies. I know a few companies in Singapore sell the same resorts and their prices vary by quite a lot.
First of all, if your resort is in a highly popular place, your exchange power will be higher and it will be easier for you to resell the membership. Naturally these will cost more. $11k for 1 1BR alternate years is reasonable. I've never heard of RTC though. I know of RCI and IRI. RCI is the largest with about 3500 resorts in 90+ countries so you have the most choices when it comes to exchanging. The membership I bought comes with a 10-year buy-back guarantee, which means, after owning the membership for 10 years I can sell it back to the developers at the market price then, no questions asked. You might even profit from it, but at least your capital is guaranteed.
Timeshare does have additional costs besides the membership, just like country club memberships. I don't think they are hidden costs, unless your sales rep never told you about these things. A decent company should tell you such things before you buy. Besides the membership fee, you have to pay RCI membership, maintenance fee, as well as exchange fees when you exchange for other resorts.
Let's do a comparison here. Assuming you pay $13000 for a 60 yr membership and maintenance is about $400 and every year you exchange to a country outside Asia (exchange within asia costs $138 and going to home resort is free), it will work out to...
$13000 [membership] + ($400*60) [maintenance] + ($125*60) [RCI membership] + ($198*60) [exchange fees]=$56380
This works out to $939.67 per year. Assuming each time 4 persons go, each person will have to pay $234.92, or $33.56 per night. It will be very hard to find a resort or hotel of similar quality for this price. Maybe you challenge the 60 years assumption, but most resorts give 60-year memberships, which you can transfer to your children or sell away. But you musn't forget that if you give to your children or sell away, they pay the maintenance, RCI membership and exchange fees so you cannot factor that into your cost. But just for argument's sake, suppose you pay for all 60 years and only use 30 of those years without transferring the membership or selling it, each person per night will cost $67.12, still a very reasonable sum. Perhaps you question the 4-person assumption but 1 BedRoom suites are for up to 4 persons, otherwise you might as well buy the studio which is for 2 persons. In any case, even if you calculate for 2 persons, over 60 years it's $67.12.
All in, it might sound rather costly for 1 person. For 2 persons, it will be a lot more reasonable since the cost is halved. I see that many people buy 1 bedroom, which can accomodate up to 4. For a family of 4, or a group of 4 friends, the price will be hard to beat, for similar quality. No matter how you calculate, you may find local tour agencies giving cheaper tour packages but you have to compare apples with apples. Ask your travel agent to quote you a suite and compare the price. If you are more concerned about price than quality, and don't care about living in luxury or staying in castles or log houses, etc. then timeshare is not for you. Go get those "deluxe" hotel rooms instead.
Before buying you can do some homework and check out the published prices. Most are at least $100+ with some even $500+ per night! Suppose you get Manhattan Club, it's about US$280 per night which makes it S$3528 or $882 per person, or $126 per night. In this case it is definitely a good deal. If you already own a timeshare or are buying one, make sure you go for all the expensive ones and make it worth it. But even those cheaper ones like Australia will cost >$900 room it's still ok.
If you sell it at a later time, your cost will be even lower.
You have to consider your needs and your budget. Timeshare is definitely a good product, but if it doesn't meet your needs then it's not for you. For those with the right needs and budget, timeshare is definitely worth it.
For those who are interested in getting timeshare, I can recommend you to the company I worked in. What I heard is it will be cheaper as they can deduct commission. (alas! nothing for me to earn) If you're interested, just send me an email la. The company also does resale so if you want to sell you can go to them. No upfront cash. They will collect commission upon successful sale. I just found this site www.maestro.com.sg
which does buy/sell of timeshare so you might want to take a look as well.