As someone who owns several timeshares, here is what I know. This is the 2nd year in a row, where using my timeshare, I am staying in Vail for 2 weeks.
Don't try and compare hotel rooms to timeshares. If you want something to compare with hotels, then compare them to a min 4 star Hotels high end Suite.
Also understand with timeshares you have a large upfront cost with much smaller annual dues as compared to other lodging costs where you may pay less than large upfront cost but less than the annual maintenance fees. That's why the average breakeven point is 12 to 15 yrs. At that point, if you totalled up all the lodging costs of non timeshares plus other costs like food for those years and then compared that to the orignal cost of the timeshare plus maintenance fees they would be be very very close to each other.
First, you need to understand the basics of the various timeshares and/or timeshare networks. What networks is the timeshare resort affliated with. Many can be affliated with more than one or are you locked into a specific developer network. Are you deeded real property or is the property held in a Trust and you get ownership within the Trust Fund.
Timeshares work best when used in a network. That allows you to have access to any resort in the network. Two of the biggest one's are Interval International (II) and RCI. Within RCI, there are 2 different programs, Weeks and Points. Which program is entirely based on the resort timeshare you own. The Weeks Program is just that. You trade your 1 week for someone else's 1 week. Recently, they've started using a purchasing power value, where if you have a high value property, you can trade for a lower valued property and have remaining power points available to possibly book a 2nd week for your single timeshare. The Points program is where in return for giving up your week, the program gives you X number of Points. The benefit is with Points resorts, you do not have to book a full week at a time. If you only wanted to do a long weekend in Vegas you can do that with Points. Members in the Points program has access to all the Weeks resorts in addition to Points resorts. Weeks members do not have access to Points resorts. As you can see it is very complex and if you don't educate yourself you could be stuck in a situation you don't want to be in.
As to whether it is worth it, You have to ask yourself these questions, 1. Can I plan vacation trips 10 months to over a year in advance? This is the prime timeframe where most availability. Most timeshare owners book close to a year in advance. 2. How many more years can you vacation? Normal breakeven point is 12 to 15 yrs. 3. Can you afford the annual Maintenace fees(can increase from year to year)? Remember, Maintenace fees includes your portion of property tax. We all know how local govt loves to increase property taxes on your home. Same thing here.
Bottom line, You have to do your research. Understand which timeshare networks the resort is in, what kind of network is it? Do you own real property or a member of a vacation club? Which network gives you the most flexibility and give you the most for your timeshare.
4 of the 5 timeshares I own, I have never stayed in. However, in 2010, was in NH to ski for New Years, Spring Break a week on the island of St Martin, a weekend in Apr to Vegas, Memorial Day weekend in Hilton Head, Late June a week in Aruba(daughter's HS graduation my MBA/MS graduation celebration), long weekend in August back to Vegas, Labor Day week in Napa, CA, and then for Christmas and NY's 2011 in Las Vegas. I did all this with my timeshares.
There just isn't enough room to try and explain everything about timeshares. Timeshares are not for everyone. If you can't plan well in advance when you can take vacation, then timeshares are not for you. Send me a message if you would like to talk more.