The Deal Mommy

Skyauction: How I get $35/night condo rentals, anywhere in the world!

Breakfast from my balcony, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Espana, 2012 skyauction

Breakfast from my balcony, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Espana, 2012

I mentioned the Skyauction $249 vacation certificate deal a couple of days ago and wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little more about excess time share rental. It’s one of my top tips for traveling with families as you save so much money on food and get to stretch out. In fact, I bought two certificates on this promo I’m thinking of using for Camp Mom this summer. I’m just keeping an eye on Europe and when something opens up that I like, I’ll grab it. If the $249 price is not available, check the site listing for other certificate deals in the $299-$399 range.

However, buying a certificate like this one is not without risk, and I wanted to talk about the process of renting timeshare and what to expect.

To summarize:

Endless Vacation Rentals is owned by Wyndham, which also owns RCI, the largest holder of timeshare exchanges in the world. I have bought numerous weeks through them, including my week in Tenerife last summer, a week we’re taking over Memorial Day in Williamsburg, and weeks in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Guatemala, St. Maarten, and New Orleans, to name a few.

Skyauction is one of their primary venues for selling these weeks, and the $249 is as low as they go: even better than the price the military gets through the Armed Forces Vacation Club ($349).

So what you do is buy a certificate, and then you search for a week that you can use it. In this specific case you have until 8/31 to book, and 7/31/14 to stay (reservations are available 11 months out). You do have the opportunity to search availability before buying, but I usually buy the weeks “on spec”, meaning I don’t have a specific booking in mind, I just know I’ll find a use for it.

When I search units, I always compare their ratings on Tripadvisor so I have an idea what I’m getting.  Their search engine is pretty simple to use: you just enter an area, then a calendar shows months with availability.  Click on the month and a list of properties will show up.

There will be two options: the ones that default on the screen are your “no charge” options-the ones your certificate will pay for in full.  Just book and you’re all set!

The second option is the “upgrade” tab.  The upgrade fee is an extra fee to the $249 paid at the time of booking. The fee in some cases gives you larger rooms, or in some cases opens up more dates and resorts. I’ve paid it a few times when it was $100 to go from a studio to a 1 bedroom for instance (I really value that door!).  But sometimes the options they show at “upgrade” are just loony: $1000 a week?  No, thanks!

Reader Nicki also reminded me of something else to be sure to check: along the right side of the listing are the policies. Usually they’re pretty standard stuff like occupancy limits and “must be 21 to check in”, but, especially in other countries, some can seem weird such as power surcharges, paying for TV service, etc. I’ve never paid more than $50 extra for this stuff, but it is a good reminder to check. Tripadvisor is also a good gut check for that kind of stuff as past guests will rat out any property that tries something too shady.

For instance: I’m reviewing properties right now for “Camp Mom” and Tripadvisor busted one that had a coin operated TV…that would SO not fly with the Deal Kids! Now, I was willing to pay the 20 Euro deposit last year for the remote control to the TV in Tenerife (again, weird, right?), but I got it back at the end of the week…who steals a remote from a Bubble TV?

The downsides are basically two:

1. There’s always the risk you won’t find something and you’ll lose your $249 (hasn’t happened to me in 15 years, but it’s possible).

2. The reservations are non-refundable. At $249 I’m willing to take the risk, but if it’s being bundled with paid airfare I always take out travel insurance. That decision paid off one time when I had to cancel and I had no problem getting refunded.

Is this deal for you?

The Answer is NO if:

1. You’re not comfortable booking a reservation you can’t cancel.

2. You’re expecting 5 star service.  Timeshare are APARTMENT rentals and should be thought of as such.  They usually have mid-week housekeeping, and if you’re lucky daily trash removal.  If you need turn-down service, Timeshares are NOT for you!

3. You want this for Paris in the springtime. At $249 a week, you’re getting one of two things: excess inventory or last minute availability. If you are looking for peak travel times and peak destinations, these certificates will not help you.

4. You are not comfortable booking THE MOMENT YOU SEE SOMETHING YOU LIKE. If you need to gather your thoughts, call a bunch of family members, check the calendar ten times, consult your horoscope, etc. etc. etc. before booking, YOU ARE GOING TO DRIVE YOURSELF CRAZY.  Timeshare inventory sells in REAL TIME, meaning the entire world sees that apartment over Christmas week in Maui also, and someone with less, ahem, baggage than you is going to steal your booking right out from under you.

The answer is YES if:

1. You’re traveling to an destination on this list:

Orlando
Williamsburg, VA
Las Vegas
Lake Tahoe
Poconos
Cancun/Riviera Maya
The Canary Islands

All are overbuilt with Timeshare units and I’ve never NOT seen a unit available in those locations.

2. You’re a last minute traveler.  Peak locations often come available 30 days or less before departure, just like award tickets.

3. You love Ski Resorts in the summer and beaches in the Winter.  Pretty much anywhere is available off-season.

4. You’re willing to think outside of the box. If you use availability for inspiration, as I do, you can have some real adventures.  I would never considered Tenerife last year and now I’m thinking of taking the kids there this year, because for $35.57 a night I can have a 1 bedroom Ocean-view condo, in Europe, in July. Where (and how) else am I gonna do that?

Please share your timeshare rental experiences!

 

 


19 thoughts on “Skyauction: How I get $35/night condo rentals, anywhere in the world!

  1. Susan T

    Thanks for such great info. I saw for Orlando for instance, there is an upgrade fee available. Is it the upgrade fee plus the 229 for the certificate or does the upgrade fee include the 299 price?

    1. The Deal Mommy

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for mentioning the “upgrade” feature. I need to add some text in the blog post to explain how that works.

      The upgrade fee is an extra fee to the $249 paid at the time of booking (so in this case the total cost would be $548). The fee in some cases gives you larger rooms, or in some cases opens up more dates and resorts.

      I’ve paid it a few times when it was $100 to go from a studio to a 1 bedroom for instance (I really value that door!). But sometimes the options they show at “upgrade” are just loony: $1000 a week? No, thanks!

    1. The Deal Mommy

      Hi Nikki,
      I listed it as $249 because the certs are $229 plus SkyAuction’s service fee. Do you mean individual resort’s service charges? Some have them, and a few are pretty high, and they are listed on the booking pages so you see them up front, but I’ve never paid more than $50 a week in over 20 bookings. Guess I just stay away from resorts that charge high fees. Good catch, though, people might know to look for that. I’ll add to the post.

  2. Kelly

    Thanks so much for this info!! I never knew about this. Is the $229 price a limited time thing? I’m just wondering if I really need to buy right away or if this price is standard.

    1. The Deal Mommy

      Hi Kelly,
      It comes to $249 with the service fee. Skyauction always sells the certificates, but they’re usually between $299-$399. So there’s definitely a discount, but they have extended the price discount (it was ending last week). I’d say $249 comes around 1-3 times a year. Skyauction also lets specific resort weeks go sometimes for as little as $1 with no service fee on auction! Definitely worth getting on their mailing list.

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  4. Jay

    Hi!
    I just came across this (amazing) blog doing research for a trip to Orlando.

    I read that you’ve bought many weeks worth of vouchers from them, but have you redeemed any?

    I came across this offer- http://www.skyauction.com/action/offer/2223205

    and then I came across this-
    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/travel/skyauction.html

    Only 1 stars.

    Makes me very very suspicious. Would love to hear about your experience using them, because that resort at $299 is a good deal.

    Thanks.

    1. The Deal Mommy

      Hi Jay,
      Thanks for the compliment! I’m headed back down in three weeks to yet another timeshare rental. I’ve bought at least 10 certificates from Sky Auction since the early 2000s and never had a problem, and just bought two more. Here’s what I think happens (and it’s common): There’s a real disconnect between TIMESHARE rental and hotel stays, and I don’t think some of these auctions give a really good distinction between the two. You also see that in reviews on tripadvisor. Someone will give a property one star because “they didn’t even have maid service” when it’s not supposed to.

      So people who book and don’t understand it’s non-refundable, or people who have expectations that aren’t going to be met, etc. leave terrible reviews because they think they’ve been “ripped off”. IMHO, they weren’t ripped off, they weren’t properly educated. That’s why I wrote this post.

      My experience with the units has ranged from “It’ll do” to “wow!”, but I’ve never felt ripped off, and I’ve never been unhappily surprised because I did my research before booking.

      I encourage you to keep following my blog as I have a bunch of stuff on Orlando, and will be updating more since it’s fresh on my mind. I have some especially great stuff about discount attraction tickets and souvenirs in the archives, and the article I posted just yesterday about Kennedy’s rocket garden is one of my favorite spots.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Jay

        Thanks for the reply…

        I understand the difference between hotels and time-shares, but what my question REALLY is, how good is SkyAuction at honoring these vouchers?

        From what I read, almost 95% of the bad reviews are from people who paid for something and then later realized that SkyAuction had never paid the hotel/airline/cruise.

        So, that’s got me worried.

        My girlfriend and I see each twice a year. I live in CT and she in U.K.
        What happens if I purchase the aforementioned deal, and we fly into Orlando, and realize that the resort wasn’t booked at all?

        🙁

  5. The Deal Mommy

    Hi Jay,
    I hear you, and I have no relationship with Skyauction so no incentive to tell you one way or another, but here’s my thought: if it makes you nervous, don’t do it. Period. Not every deal is for every person.

    I can only relate my experiences with Skyauction and the vacation certificate vouchers. I bought my first over 10 years ago, have done at least 10 since, have two booked in the next three months, and just bought two more.

    I ALWAYS email or call the hotel I’ve booked right after booking with some little request (like high floor, view, early arrival etc.), just to confirm the reservation and to have a named point of contact. I find it helps secure upgrades, but it might also help with your peace of mind.

    I would just throw out this food for thought: on that listerv there were maybe 3 or 4 complaints of the nature that would concern me, most were more of the “my voucher expired” variety. Also, look at the dates…SkyAuction is a huge company so things are going to go wrong from time to time. Most people don’t report when something goes right. Google “Holiday Inn Sucks” and you’ll get 28,000 hits, for instance.

    Hope this helps!

    1. Jay

      Thanks for the replies.
      That deal looks SO good and for once the resort has excellent reviews as well.

      But I’m going to pass. I can’t deal with the number of negative reviews claiming that either
      A. they could never find available dates, SkyAuction kept pushing things until the voucher expired.
      or
      B. they booked everything and arrived at the resort only to find out that SkyAuction never paid the resort.

      If this were to happen to me, it would ABSOLUTELY ruin our vacation.

      Pass.

      P.S- thanks for the replies though.

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  7. Kenny

    You alluded to this, but it’s also not for you if you can’t sit still. I can count the number of times I’ve booked four nights in one place on one finger. I try to imagine spending a week in one place, other than on a small island. Can’t do it. And if the island is that small, we’re probably moving on to another one in 3 days anyways.

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Good point. I’m a big fan of minimizing transitions and we tend to sit for at least a week.

  8. jason andre

    Could you explain when/how to find the certificates currently available for sale? I’ve clicked on a number of links (as well as google searches) purporting to lead to the vacation certs, but they are all expired sales from prior years.

    This seems like a great deal, but their website is pretty cryptic and littered with out-of-date deals they haven’t bothered to remove. Any help?

    thanks!
    jason

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