Who doesn't love the idea of owning a holiday home? But why own just the one when, by buying a timeshare and joining a holiday exchange programme such as RCI, you can enjoy holidaying at more than 4,300 resorts in over 100 fabulous destinations worldwide?

In a nutshell, that's exactly 'why timeshare?' The British in particular, have long had a love affair with the dream of owning a restful retreat in a rural idyll or within striking distance of a sunny shore. But most of us are not able to use a second home, or a holiday home as they are known, for more than five or six weeks of the year. And would we really want to keep going back to the same place, year in, year out? I know I don't!

When you start thinking along those lines, you start to question the value in finding that £150,000 to buy a two-bedroom apartment in Tenerife or some other exciting holiday destination; handing over all that money for an apartment that will sit empty for 10 months or more each year and, when you can get to visit it, having to spend precious holiday time cleaning it on arrival, and then cleaning and packing it away before you fly home. My holiday is far too short and precious to spend any of it cleaning!

Timeshare ownership and RCI membership is the answer. You can buy annual use rights in a beautiful two-bedroom shared-holiday ownership or timeshare apartment in Tenerife, Malta, Greece, Florida, and so many other fabulous worldwide holiday destinations, for a fraction of the full property purchase price. Timeshare prices vary, depending on the length of your ownership/membership. Many resorts now offer trial memberships and short-term ownerships of between three and 20 years, with prices ranging from £3,000 to £20,000 for a week's use of your home resort every year of your ownership, or you can holiday swap into another resort in a different destination. You can also swap the week you want to holiday - it doesn't have to be the same week year after year. The purchase price will also include your RCI Exchange Holiday programme membership in some cases. And a real bonus is that the one-off upfront payment for your holidays, every year, in the years ahead, means that you have more money to put towards your flights and spends each year, as your accommodation costs have been taken care of.

Pestana's Madeira Beach Club (1390) has been a popular RCI Exchange Holiday choice for members since it started offering timeshare ownerships 30 years ago.

Timeshare residential leisure properties are to be found within gated holiday resorts in prime locations, enjoying a range of amazing facilities such as swimming pools, landscaped gardens, kiddies' clubs and crèches, on-site bars, restaurants, spas, gyms, beauty salons - even access to a variety of great sporting activities for the energetic among your group, such as diving schools, jet skiing and horse riding, as well as golf, tennis and other sports at many timeshare resorts. Quality is paramount, and RCI members feed back on their stay experience after each RCI Exchange Holiday and RCI's locally-based resort operations staff will monitor the standards of accommodation, guest facilities and service levels on a regular basis so any RCI exchanging timeshare owner can be assured of consistent quality - wherever in the world they stay. While we are talking about value, I've just been on a hotel price comparison site to look at prices for a single family hotel room in Tenerife accommodating two adults and two children for a seven-night stay from 21 - 28 July 2018. Hotel accommodation costs range from £4,039 in a four-star hotel to £1,000 in a two-star, through to the £500 price bracket for a standard hotel. And remember, this is the cost for just one room in which you all have to sleep, with no catering facilities, nor any privacy for a family or friends holidaying together.You can imagine only too well how that cost would escalate if you were looking to book a second room...

In Tenerife, the Pearly Grey Ocean Club's (1786) sun deck and Edge Terrace Bar are fabulous examples of timeshare in-resort hideaways to kick back and chill out after a day out under the sun.

Timeshare holiday experiences are so varied. In just one example of the contrast to the sun and sand getaway, the iconic Italian hospitality resort group, Domina, offer timeshares at destinations with a difference, such as the spectacular Domina Home Piccolo (3094) in Portofino, Italy..

In my experience of staying in a supposedly four-star hotel in Ibiza a couple of years ago, comfortable furnished spaces in which to relax can often be in short supply in hotels. I did wonder if the room and balcony furniture in our hotel room had been made to be uncomfortable to ensure we spent as little time relaxing in our accommodation as possible, and as much time as possible out spending in the hotel bar! As a younger holidaymaker I may have been more forgiving and tolerated the discomfort of our hotel room. At this stage in my life, however, I appreciate the home-from-home comforts I enjoy in timeshare accommodation, allowing me to take both friends and family away on holiday with me in spacious apartments with room for us all to do our own thing. Typically, timeshare accommodation ranges from one- to three-bedrooms, having full kitchens, generous balconies or terraces, and all the facilities you enjoy at home. When holidaying in timeshare apartments with mixed parties of both family and friends, we have always been all the more relaxed for having the space to just lounge and laze about in between our great holiday adventures out and about, returning to our comfy apartment to enjoy many an alfresco meal together on our balcony in the warmth of the setting sun. I love that there is no pressure to dress up and dine out each and every night - and when we do, we have the funds to make sure that it is an extra special dining experience to remember.

Just take a look at the picture of the timeshare accommodation at the top of this blog. That is the Alpin Chalet (D023) Royal Penthouse Suite in the Allgäu Alps, Germany. This resort belongs to a hospitality group called MONDI-HOLIDAY which sells timeshares at its resorts, which are also signed up to the RCI Exchange Holiday programme. Owning a timeshare with RCI membership makes a holiday in resorts such as this one very much more affordable and real value for money. Plus you simply turn up and start enjoying your time together from the minute you arrive - no cleaning to do!

Club Las Calas (1448) is one of a dozen resorts in Spain which have invested heavily in refurbishments in the past two years, having just spent £2 million. Situated in beautiful Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote, this resort's lavish quality upgrade will ensure it holds its RCI Gold Crown quality award for a 17th consecutive year.

Crown Resorts at Club Marbella (2404) invested more than £1.7 million on its recent resort makeover, upgrading apartment interiors and introducing its Sapphire Collection, a superior apartment product.

Something a little different - Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife (DE27).

The variety of holiday experiences and leisure lifestyles you find in timeshare properties is unrivalled, and you can find all your favourite activities, as well as those you have yet to try, in so many different exciting destinations all around the world.

RCI member, Maria Musgrove-Wethey knows why timeshare is her holiday choice. An RCI member for 25 years, Maria makes full use of the RCI holiday options, using both her timeshare to make Exchange Holidays, plus the great value discounted cash-only getaways - RCI Extra Holidays - to take her family travelling around the world in comfort and style. Maria, a business owner and a mother, bought four weeks of timeshare at Diamond Club Maritima (1850) in Lanzarote, though she has never visited her home resort. "I bought my timeshare to be able to make holiday exchanges," she said. "If you make a good purchasing decision and deposit as soon as you can, you will get the maximum benefit from your timeshare and it will open up a world of adventure. I do the majority of my holidaying with RCI, because I want stress-free holidays, and because the quality is always the same and I've come to rely on that. I don't want to have even the slightest concern before my holiday about what to expect when I arrive. Will it be clean? Will there be a reception if I'm arriving late at night? With RCI accommodation I don't have these worries."

Timeshare has taken Maria, husband Robin and daughter Isabella around the world. Among the many amazing and diverse destinations they have discovered together are Portugal, Spain, Antigua and the exotic island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. Maria's friends have also benefited from her timeshare too, as Maria explained: "I have purchased RCI Extra Holidays and Guest Certificates to transfer and gift to friends. For instance, on a holiday to Madeira with another couple we used an RCI Extra Holiday to get our friends a one-bedroom apartment at Pestana Village (3725) which shares facilities with the Pestana Miramar (5440) where we were staying. The week's stay cost our friends just £100 - they were absolutely delighted. You couldn't get a one-night stay in a good hotel in Madeira for that price!"

Family adventure in Antigua with Maria, Robin and daughter, Isabella.

Beautiful Baga Beach in Goa, India is just one of hundreds of unique destinations waiting to be discovered using timeshare.

Hard Rock Hotel Goa, a brand renowned for its live entertainment and world-class resorts, offers timeshare holiday options and is signed up to RCI's holiday exchange programme.

As the editor of RCI's member magazine, Endless Vacation, I'm fortunate in getting to talk with lots of our members who want to share with others what timeshare has brought to their lives. Donna Merrick and her family have loved every moment of their 20 years' of timeshare travel. Donna told me that she had never looked back since buying timeshare. She now owns a week at Beverly Hills Heights (2398) in Tenerife, plus two weeks at Pueblo Evita (3583) in Malaga, Spain. "When we chose those resorts, we did so knowing that we would get good holiday exchanges from them, as they were popular and of a high quality. But we mainly chose them because we liked them," she said.

So what drove Donna and her husband, Ashley, to purchase timeshare? "The booking of holidays, and unfortunately the holidays themselves, used to be a disappointing experience," she told me. "Ashley and I would spend hours sitting in travel agents, explaining our preferences, and then on arrival we would often find the hotel was nothing like the pictures and descriptions we'd been given."

Donna and Ashley attended a timeshare presentation they were invited to by a representative in a South Wales' shopping centre, where they learned about timeshare and how it worked with RCI membership, giving owners and RCI members access to thousands of resorts around the world. "At that point I was expecting my eldest daughter, Francesca, and thought that this could be the key to the kind of family holidays I wanted for us, and we have never looked back. Each year we are fortunate to be able to enjoy four or five weeks of foreign holiday travel which has taken us as a family all over the world. I don't understand why everybody doesn't own timeshare," she said.

While the holiday experiences timeshare has brought to their family is the real highlight for Donna and Ashley, she shared that she can't help feeling "secretly smug" about the exceptional value it represents. Donna explained: "It's hard for me not to compare our holidays to those of our friends, especially in terms of cost. For instance, both my family and a friend's have visited Greece, staying in comparable quality, family-sized, accommodation. However, while they paid around £4,000 for their accommodation alone, we paid just £650 for our accommodation, which included our annual resort maintenance fees of £500. Getting accommodation of equal quality for the same price on the high street just isn't possible."

Donna always has a timeshare exchange holiday planned to look forward to. "I've always got one lined up; I plan about 18 months in advance. Planning and booking as far ahead as possible is the best way to make RCI membership work for you. By making a habit of planning and booking ahead in this way, I've always managed to get my choice of destination and resort using my timeshare ownership and the RCI Exchange Holiday programme."

Donna, husband Ashley, daughter Francesca, and Donna's mother enjoying one of their many timeshare exchange holidays.

To get a taste of the very different but equally delicious holiday experiences you can enjoy with just one timeshare purchase, here is a sample of some of the wonderful timeshare holiday travelling - near and far - that you could be experiencing.

Amadores Beach, Gran Canaria.

Bariloche Lake - Nequen, Argentina.

Saona Island, the Dominican Republic.

If you own timeshare and want to learn more about joining RCI membership to holiday further afield with your ownership, visit Why RCI?

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