BRAIN FOOD: It'll never fly - Timeshare

Timeshare. The word may send a shiver down your spine, and the idea of sharing your holiday home with 51 other families may appal. But think again. More than 500,000 British families own a timeshare, typically spending £6,500 for the right to use a week in an apartment for perpetuity. The concept was founded in the Swinging Sixties as an innovative approach to holiday homes, but the unscrupulous tactics of fraudsters such as John 'Goldfinger' Palmer, who plagued the playas in the '80s, soon tarnished it. Sun-dazed punters were lured from beaches with tales of prizes won, then trapped in a room to watch tortuous presentations before being conned out of their cash.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

But the world of timeshare has come a long way since then, propelled by legislation in the 1990s that forced companies to offer customers a 10-day cooling-off period. The reinvigorated sector now attracts the likes of luxury hotel chains Marriott, Hilton and De Vere, which operate their own 'vacation' or 'leisure' clubs. What better way to afford your own villa in the Californian sunshine? It's a far cry from the hard-sell tactics of Mr Suntan, followed by a disappointing stay in a Spanish concrete monstrosity.

Nowadays, you're more likely to be offered fresh soap and towels, and the use of hotel facilities. Who said familiarity breeds contempt?

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