Types of Timeshares: Vacation Clubs, Vacation Ownership and Fractional Ownership

Timeshares, vacation ownership, vacation clubs, and fractional ownership might seem like strange and mysterious terms, but there’s a secret to it; they all mean more or less the same thing. The concept is much the same, even if the execution differs in some places. Fractional ownership, for example, is slightly different, but is often mistaken to be exactly the same as timeshare.

Read on to find out what the differences between these concepts are…


Timeshare is the general name for vacation ownership and vacation clubs when in their original format; the reasons for the name change are varied.

Firstly, when timeshares became popular in the 1980’s the concept was much simpler; the value of the hotel unit or lot was divided by 52 weeks and the weekly slot were sold as “timeshares”. The idea was that you were buying a set share of time at the location… hence “Timeshare”. Some of the weeks, those during “peak times” like summer vacations for schools, were more expensive than others, but once you had reserved these weeks they were yours for a set amount of time. Terms generally ran between 25 and 35 years, and if you wished to change the dates you would need to enter into an exchange program.

Vacation ownership and membership

As the model evolved to meet the changing needs of the average consumer programs were introduced in order to offer greater flexibility. Fixed week timeshares were offered in addition to new “floating week” models which gave a little more range. This saw you buying a set amount of time within a particular season; these week could be moved around your chosen season.

The next step after this saw many timeshare resorts changing to a points based system which offered the ultimate in freedom and flexibility to the consumer. These points were transferable to other times of the year, and even other resorts within a chain.

So, as you can see, terms like vacation ownership and membership were introduced to reflect the varied options on offer within the timeshare industry. As a result, timeshare owners were no longer buying set weeks in a set unit, but a flexible “bank” of points to use as best suited them.

Vacation Clubs

In many circumstances, the term vacation club is used to describe many different timeshare products, and in particular those that offer a variety of properties and suite types. Vacation clubs will sell memberships and provide multiple additional services which can include travel agency services, flights, international exchanges, and even cruise vacations. The benefits that come with being a vacation club member vary depending upon your specific membership. Some vacation clubs offer discounted vacations whereas others will act more like a timeshare.

Fractional Ownership

Fractional ownership closely resembles the original timeshare model, and for this reason is often confused with a timeshare. However, whereas a timeshare sees you signing up to an agreement for a set amount of years, fractional ownership is a deeded purchase of a fraction of a home. While timeshare sees you reserving one or two weeks, fractional ownership generally entitles you to a longer time in the property. For example, you may buy two months, or one full season per year in a property. Likewise, you will not need to make a reservation during your allottedtime.

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