High Roller Treatment

I got a call the other day from those people who inform you that you've won a free trip. Usually, I just say no and hang up, but this time I actually listened, for some reason. It was one of those promotions where you go listen to their pitch in exchange for the gift. In our case, we had to go up to Garden City to let them try to sell us a membership in the WorldMark by Wyndham program. For listening to them for 90 minutes, we would get 3 days/2 nights in Anaheim, Reno, or Las Vegas (I'm not sure why anyone would pick Reno). We were also offered $20 in gas cards and $40 in restaurant gift cards (the latter to use on the trip). So we decided to go.

We got the terms and conditions of the trip via e-mail before we went. You have to book 90 days in advance, start your trip Monday-Wednesday, not travel near holidays, and leave from Salt Lake City. You also need to pay $95 in taxes. So the trip is possible, if you plan far ahead.

Before our presentation date, we got called the day before and the day of to remind us to show up. We made the drive to Garden City, and there was only one other couple there. A salesman took us to check out the pool and a 3-bedroom unit, then we went back to the main building. The salesman then sat us down and told us why this program is better than timeshares, vacation homes, or hotels. We were then shown a 15-minute video of happy, diverse members telling us why the program was great before being handed of to our individual salesman for the hard sell.

The program works like this: you pay $39,000 to get 20,000 credits per year, to spend on nights in their 66 or so resorts in the US and Australia. The price per night at each resort depends on popularity, day of the week and season of the year. From what we saw, this ranged from 550-2600 credits per night, although I suspect it goes higher than that. You get these credits each year (forever!), and you can pass them on to your kids. Credits can be rolled over, borrowed from the future, or purchased, if you need more of them. You can also use credits at resorts worldwide through a company called RCI. In addition to the purchase price, you pay $1,080 per year in taxes, utilities, maintenance, and insurance. And that, my friends, is the catch. MacKenzie and I could go on a vacation or two every year with that money, and save the $39,000 up front, although our accommodations might be less luxurious and spacious.

The individual presentation wasn't too pressure-packed. The salesman walked us through the program and how it works, and asked us about our vacation interests. He then went through the pricing. Despite the fact that we weren't, we acted somewhat interested, and asked a few questions. When we declined to buy, he offered us several cheaper packages that offered fewer credits. When we declined that, he went to "talk to the manager," then came back to offer us even cheaper packages. When we declined that, he said he'd go get the manager to give us our gift. She walked over, half-heartedly tried to offer us a plan that would allow us to try the service for a year, then gave us our gifts. The whole thing took about 2.5 hours, one hour longer than we were told to expect.

Reviewing the free trip information afterwards, we found that the trip will likely involve us getting to Vegas late the first day and leaving early the third day, so it will be closer a 36 hour trip. We could only find a few days in our schedules during which we can use this trip, so we'll see if we can actually get tickets for those dates. I'll mail the form tomorrow, and they'll let us know in a month or so. I also have no idea what kind of hotel we'll be in, or where it will be located. We'll let you know.

Other than the price, the program looks like it might be useful to older couples or families. Doing a little online research, I learned that if you like this program, you should just buy one on the second hand market (e.g. on eBay). You'll save big bucks.

I searched around online to read other peoples' stories about this experience. There are plenty of people who had bad experiences. Many of them, however, seem to have made it clear upfront to their salesperson that they weren't going to buy, or else they aggressively challenged the salesman about the value of the program. Other people were unable to say no, and ended up signing up for the program. I think MacKenzie and I approached this event properly, and we had no such experiences.

And that was our evening. We hope you find this primer useful if you should decide to attend one of these presentations.


  1. Max and I do love going to these. I never want to buy, but do enjoy seeing the places.

    My parents own a timeshare. Two weeks in St George every year. Luckily they only pay the taxes and maintenance. My grandfather had paid for the actual timeshare.

  2. I know a couple of people who own World Mark and really LOVE it. My experience is if you have a lot of travel miles it is really worth it.

    I also like their places...We stay in the one at Bear Lake a lot. You should have fun on your trip! (I know a KILLER cupcake bakery in Las Vegas that I have been dying to try. They have a blog, too. If you're interested, I'll email the link to you.)