I joined WorldMark in February 2002 by accident.
I'd booked to attend a presentation evening, as the gift for attending at the time was a voucher for a few nights free accommodation. Being the lover of travel I am I was looking forward to my free nights away. I had absolutely no intention of signing up to anything.
Before the presentation I knew very little about timeshare or vacation ownership and what I did know wasn't positive. I was aware of what I'll call the 'old-fashioned' model that had no appeal to me, the one where you 'buy into' a place and can holiday there each year often at the same time. What I saw with WorldMark was new for me and by the end of the night I'd signed up.
I recall having a glass of champagne to celebrate before going home where I began to question the wisdom of my decision.
I was having a mild case of panic and potential buyer's remorse. I worried about whether they were legitimate, whether it would work as they promised, whether the places were nice and whether I would regret committing to a loan that at the time was the cost of a small car.
In the years since, I've visited at least 12 of the WorldMark locations and loved every experience. From my first WorldMark trip I have never regretted my decision which was a massive relief. I have also opted to purchase extra credits twice since joining.
So how does it work? With WorldMark I have a certain amount of credits available to use each year across a wide range of different locations. How many credits each stay takes depends on the resort, which nights you stay, the size and style of the room you book and the time of year you're travelling e.g. whether it's peak season. What really appeals to me is the flexibility of the program. You can book just over a year in advance and by planning ahead I've normally found it easy to lock in the holidays I've wanted to take, when I wanted to take them. The credits are valid for up to 2 years and you can also 'borrow' from the next year if needed.
My first trip was using my travel voucher from the presentation as part of a trip to Fiji with two friends in 2003. Since then one of those friends has joined the club and upgraded her membership many times. She and her husband have been using the resorts continuously often taking several trips a year with their children and regularly sharing the experiences with friends and family. They joined me on a WorldMark trip to Cairns before they had children and I joined them on a WorldMark trip to Tasmania sometime after they'd had their girls.
Why am I so happy I joined? I've found that buying the credits was essentially like pre-paying for holidays and I've taken enough trips to feel I've got great value for what I've spent up to my most recent upgrade in April 2017. At the resorts you can choose whether to stay in a 1 bedroom apartment that can sleep 4 (e.g. 2 couples with one on a fold-out in the living area) or 2 bed apartments (which can sleep 6) etc. and this has enabled me to share many of my holiday experiences with loved ones. Had the accommodation not already been paid through the programme I wouldn't have been able to invite my family and friends to join me on different trips and it has meant a lot to be able to share the benefits of the programme with others. A couple of times I've also been able to give a free holiday as a gift to friends and family which has been amazing.
I think the best part in terms of the club value is that you can keep using your credits every year, so unlike many holidays where you pay the money once and then need to pay for a new holiday the next time you travel, with a quality vacation ownership programme you get to keep travelling, using your original spend over and over.
Where have I travelled with WorldMark? So far I've stayed in Fiji, Port Macquarie, Port Stephens, Hunter Valley, Sydney, Gold Coast Crown Towers, Gold Coast Kirra Beach, Tasmania, Port Douglas, Cairns and Margaret River.
The resort in Fiji has been upgraded since I visited and I am very keen to go back at some stage in the future. High on my list for an upcoming trip is also a new option in Thailand.
My sister travelled with me to Fiji and she also joined me on the Margaret River trip, which is when she decided to join the club as well. Whilst anyone joining the club now can start with Privileges status, it was introduced as a new option many years ago as part of the club growth linked to Wyndham and I made the decision to upgrade to Privileges in April 2017. What's exciting for me about the new level is that it gives me permanent membership also to RCI, which opens up an extensive catalogue of global opportunities and ICE which may lead to some more cruise experiences for me.
I have my first trip with RCI planned for February 2018, where my sister will join me again and we'll spend a week in the Scottish Highlands before doing an extended trip catching up with friends and family.
Who is the club for? I think anyone that loves to travel and wants to travel regularly would benefit from becoming an owner. I think it is also ideal for people wanting to travel regularly and affordably with friends and family.
Should you decide to attend a presentation and I inspired you to get in touch, please let Wyndham know. Owners can receive invitation rewards e.g. a $25 gift card or extra vacation credits for referring people to the information sessions, which would be a lovely surprise! :)