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Vacation bargains found in timeshare rentals

February 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Dying to go on vacation but short on funds? Consumer Specialist Ric Romero says renting timeshares can offer bargains.Timeshares are a great way to vacation with the whole family since many of the properties have great amenities such as space and kitchens. But when ABC7 teamed up with Consumer Reports, we found that you don't need to buy one to enjoy one.

Caryn Alexander says the vacation timeshare she and her husband purchased has allowed her family to take some great trips together.

"I like to try different experiences. I think that's what makes vacation fun," said Alexander.

But Consumer Reports ShopSmart says these days, you don't have to buy in order to enjoy the amenities many people like about timeshares like resort facilities, a lot of room with a kitchen and living room and their exotic locations.

"In this economic downturn, timeshare owners are anxious to rent. So you can negotiate a really good deal. We found some as low as $400 a week and many in the $600 to $1,200 range," said Mandy Walker of Consumer Reports.

Some good Web sites to check are My Resort Network, which is free, as well as Timeshare User's Group and Red Week, which charge membership fees of $15 a year for full access.

"The sites we checked out have plenty of rent-from-owner listings and are categorized by location and even activities, like skiing or golf," said Walker.

Be sure to check out reviews of the resort where the timeshare is located, either on the rental sites or on free travel sites like TripAdvisor and Travelocity.

"Keep in mind that most timeshares require at least a weekend and sometimes a week-long booking," reminded Walker.

But with a few clicks of the mouse, getting in a getaway this year just may be within reach.

When you're looking for a timeshare rental, Consumer Reports says to check out prices for comparable properties. That puts you in a better position to negotiate. Also, don't forget to ask the owner about what amenities are available, including restaurants, and if you have to pay extra for housekeeping.