Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Stella Shon
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I attended a Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) “ownership” presentation in Las Vegas in May 2023. As a travel and finance nerd, it was honestly pretty fun, and I found it more fascinating than the awkward, high-pressure sales meeting I was expecting.
Spoiler alert: I did not walk away from the HGV experience as a “vacation owner,” but did leave with some pretty nice perks.
You might not consider a timeshare meeting fun entertainment, but I ate it up and will do it again as soon as Hilton extends another invitation. That is, if they allow me back after I irritated their sales manager.
Let’s review my HGV presentation experience and what I learned from the meeting.
HGV is a “vacation ownership program” that uses a points system. “Owners” purchase a set number of available points to use each year. You can book stays at qualifying HGV properties worldwide for varying point values. If you don’t use all of your points in a particular year, you can float them to the following year for a fee.
HGV probably won’t correct you if you call it a “timeshare,” but it’s technically “vacation ownership” because, unlike a traditional timeshare, you’re not stuck with a pre-determined week at the same property year after year. I was impressed by HGV’s flexibility, and I felt we could quickly learn how to manage the HGV points system as we’ve done with other points programs.
But I had major issues with financial transparency at the meeting. Bottom line: I value my flexibility as a consumer too much to commit my family’s travel dollars to Hilton forever.
I got on the phone with Hilton in April 2022 to book a stay at Casa Marina Key West using a Hilton free night reward and points I earned with my Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. Before the agent let me go, they asked if I’d stay on the line to earn 5,000 Hilton Honors points after I listened to a 10-minute sales pitch for Hilton Grand Vacations.
An excellent high-earning Hilton credit card that comes with perks like Hilton Honors Gold status and Priority Pass lounge access.
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I figured another 10 minutes after I was already on the phone was worth the points, so I listened to the pitch. I agreed to book a $169 package for a 4-day, 3-night stay at an HGV resort in Las Vegas with a $200 Spend A Night On Us certificate after we attended the meeting. Some of the other options I had were Orlando and New York City, but my on-the-spot choice was Las Vegas since it was on my husband’s wish list, and I thought it might be a nice getaway for us without the kids.
I could book the stay immediately, but we didn’t have the opportunity to make the trip until well into this year. I booked dates outside the allowed year from my package purchase, but they said it was okay since I made the booking before it expired.
HGV initially placed us at the Tropicana Las Vegas, which I wasn’t pleased about. I think we would have enjoyed the Tropicana, but value-wise, I was insulted and about ready to call the whole thing off. A weekday stay like ours costs $49 to $69 per night plus taxes and fees. For 3 nights at roughly $60 per night, I’d only save about $10 before taxes and fees — and still give up about 2 hours of my vacation to listen to a sales pitch.
According to the Details of Participation, our accommodations should have been valued at $175 to $500 per night, and the Tropicana was nowhere near that.
When I called about my options, I was offered the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Hilton Grand Vacations Club on the Las Vegas Strip. Still, I had my sights on the Hilton Grand Vacations Club Elara, which has nightly weekday rates closer to $200 per night and seemed like a much better fit than other options.
It took a few calls before I got a room at Elara — only after I paid a $19.99 booking change fee and a $75 per night upgrade. Not ideal for what was supposed to be a super-cheap stay, but Elara was fantastic and absolutely worth the upgrade.
HGV booked us for a meeting at 12:30 p.m. the day after we arrived at the HGVC on the Strip. It was far enough from Elara that we needed to catch an Uber to get to the meeting, though it would have been even further from the Tropicana.
There are some stipulations to booking and attending an HGV presentation:
You can read the full Details of Participation to see more about what’s required of you if you book an HGV presentation meeting.
Although it’s not on the website’s fine print, I was told over the phone not to arrive at the meeting intoxicated, or we’d be turned away and have to pay the full rate for our hotel stay — I’m guessing this reminder is particular to Las Vegas presentations.Hot Tip:
HGV calls the timeshare packages a “vacation package,” but you’ll need to cover transportation, food, and other costs.
The perks of attending an HGV meeting are pretty nice. In return for our time and attention, we got:
Although I locked in my package when I paid, these packages change constantly, so you might do better or worse than I did. The offer you can book for Las Vegas today is $249 for 3 nights plus 15,000 Hilton Honors points, so you’d get far less for your effort than I did — I recommend waiting until the deals are better or negotiating for more over the phone if you’re interested.
The hotel stay is the most valuable perk of attending an HGV meeting. All in, I paid about $400 for 3 nights at Elara, which would have cost me easily in the neighborhood of $800 to $1,000, including taxes and fees. I’ll take advantage of the $200 Spend A Night On Us certificate soon, so that exact value remains to be seen.
The rough math on our perks value is about $600 for 2 hours of our time, which was worth it for me.Hot Tip:
You don’t have to pay a resort fee while on a timeshare presentation stay. We had a $0 bill at checkout!
Before we walked into the presentation, I reminded myself that no one could force me to sign up for anything I didn’t want. I didn’t want to make the mistake of assuming I was immune to expert sales tactics. It was my first timeshare meeting, but the salespeople do this all day, every day. There’s a reason you get a lot of perks for attending the presentation — the sales tactics work often enough to make it worth it.
We arrived via Uber, and the valet station directed us to the sales door once he confirmed we were there for a sales presentation. We walked into a busy room with a reception desk.
The reception desk gave me a key card on a lanyard and directed us to a kiosk to check-in. The kiosk took my photo and asked us about our travel, including our dream destinations and future plans.
After we finished up at the kiosk, we were told to head into the cafe and wait for an attendant to call our names.
The cafe was full of other attendees, and we had our pick of free snacks and drinks. The food was mostly packaged snacks, including cookies and chips, and the drinks were coffee, tea, juice, and water. I’d promised my husband snacks at the meeting, so he loaded up!
It wasn’t long before we were directed to a group presentation room with about a dozen other couples and families.
In the group presentation, we had a group survey of dream travel destinations, then watched a video presentation mainly featuring Hilton properties, including Hilton Waikoloa Village and locations in the Maldives. The salesperson showed us personal vacation photos from his family’s numerous stays worldwide with HGV.
It was mainly hype to get us excited about the possibilities of travel with HGV, and there was some light math about how much we could get for our points if we bought in — but I don’t think we saw any prices then. They also joked that many of us came into the meeting vowing never to sign up but asked us to keep an open mind as we were invited as loyal Hilton customers.
The group presentation lasted about 20 minutes. At the end, our personal salesperson came to collect us and brought us back to her desk.Hot Tip:
Children can come to HGV sales presentations. Some locations have supervised kids’ activities so they can play separately, but other locations encourage guests to bring their kids to the meeting.
At the desk, the sales presentation started with no pressure as our salesperson built a rapport, and we genuinely enjoyed talking to her. She explained more about the travel possibilities we’d have as HGV “owners,” reviewed the concept of HGV points, and talked with us about our travel habits and goals.
This was all inoffensive, though I got the impression we didn’t fit well into the sales box because we travel impulsively and often use points to book hotel stays. HGV wants to predict how much cash (not points) you spend on travel each year so the salesperson can present an appropriate HGV points package.
Because we rarely spend real dollars on hotel stays, it was tough to do the math. And our travel habits have changed a lot lately, so we honestly couldn’t tell her what we expect over the next several years regarding cash spent on average nights in a hotel room.
Points travelers, don’t think you’ll get out of the meeting once you tell them you don’t often spend cash on hotels. The closer who came to support our salesperson suggested how we could earn Hilton Honors points and still benefit from them as HGV “owners.” Spoiler: my response to this ill-advised solution helped get us ushered quickly out of the meeting. More on that later.
We saw more photos and videos of HGV and Hilton properties, and our salesperson went over our options for floating points to the next year (for a fee). We also got an introduction to booking with RCI — another timeshare program — using HGV points and paying a transfer fee.
It was at the RCI transfer point of the presentation that my skepticism kicked into high gear. We were shown the possibility of booking the Maldives for “only $295.” That sounds fantastic — until you realize that $295 is not the cost of your HGV points, but the transaction fee you will pay on top of the HGV points to book that particular property with RCI.
I was baffled that I was presented a booking fee as a benefit and the salesperson failed to mention that you’ll pay thousands to get the HGV points to book it before you have the privilege to pay that fee.
According to the fine print on the HGV website, points package prices range from $7,800 to $758,990. There’s a minimum points buy-in of 4,000 points, and those points range in value from $3.80 to $6.50 per point. HGV says the average new member pays about $22,000.
The lowest points package we were presented was about that average number, though we were told the minimum points buy-in is slightly higher and the per-point value is much higher. I don’t know why what we saw was different, but it could be that we misunderstood, were misled, or the package details just depended on what the salesperson wanted to offer at the meeting.
In addition to the points cost, HGV members pay closing costs and annual maintenance fees. There are also transaction fees if you want to exchange your points — like that Maldives booking. And if you choose to finance your HGV points package, you’ll pay interest fees, too.Hot Tip:
How does Hilton Grand Vacation ownership compare to Disney Vacation Club? Check out our article: Is My Disney Vacation Club Membership Worth It? [1 Year In].
About 30 to 45 minutes into the individual presentation, we left the desk to visit a suite at the property. It was lovely and even more spacious than our room at Elara. It felt like an apartment tour, and my family would love staying in a suite like that anywhere — although they’re easy to please as long as there’s unlimited yogurt at the breakfast buffet.
I wish I’d asked how many HGV points it takes to book a room like this, but a quick look at the Hilton website tells me this room runs about $500 on weeknights and $600 on weekends.
Note that up to this point, there were no pointed questions about signing up and no opportunities to say no. It was all information and getting a feel for what might work for us. It was no pressure at all. And then the closer came in.Hot Tip:
Check out a firsthand review of a 2-bedroom HGV suite at the Lagoon Tower, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu.
Before the sales manager came in to close the deal, our salesperson gathered enough information to suggest a package that might work for us. The manager came in ready to talk numbers and answer any questions we might have that the salesperson hadn’t already covered.
I had some questions.
For one, nothing we were shown told us how much each point is worth. I got the impression most people don’t ask about that, because when I asked, the manager had to send our salesperson to another room to find the right brochure and look up the information.
Another big question I had was about the interest rate, which was completely obscured. I could probably reverse-engineer the math, but I never got an answer from HGV on how much we’d pay in interest to finance a points package. Just that it “depends on your credit.”
It’s fair to say that your interest rate depends on your credit, but I didn’t like that I couldn’t even get a range of possible interest rates. Our purchase proposal had a monthly payment range. Those monthly payments were calculated with the interest rate, so there is a known interest rate range — the salespeople are just not going to tell you until you’re much farther into the sales process. I was unwilling to go down that rabbit hole and have them run my credit to find out.
The first package we were shown was mortgage-sized, and I cannot fathom going even a step further without knowing how much I’d be paying in interest for 5, 7, or 10 years.
At this point, the manager asked me why I was taking photos of the paperwork, which I’d done the entire meeting. I suspected we wouldn’t be allowed to take the paperwork with us — we weren’t — and I explained I wanted photos for my notes.
I was allowed to continue photographing with the understanding that the paperwork is Hilton property and not to be shared. I can’t find anything to confirm that, but to be respectful, I haven’t shared paperwork photos or any particular details of our offers in this review.
Even for a person not intending to review a timeshare meeting, it’s wise to take notes to make an informed decision. It bothered me that I got heat for studying the details of this financial commitment. HGV wants you to sign up on the spot, not check notes at home, but that’s not how I make decisions.
The entire meeting was set up to manipulate our emotions and encourage us to accept the math that was presented, but it was very subtle. This is Hilton, so it was professional but still very opaque. Think about a finance deal at a nice car dealership or touring a luxury apartment, and it’s about the same vibe.
HGV wants you to be excited about staying in an overwater villa in the Maldives “for just $295” (in fees on top of the cost of “ownership”) so you don’t look too hard at closing costs and interest rates or the overall massive cost of becoming an HGV “owner.”
It doesn’t look that expensive when you’re presented with the monthly payment, so the salesperson wants you to focus on that — not the annual maintenance fee that will increase over time. Not once were we presented with the option to buy a package outright without financing — they obviously want you to look more at the monthly cost than the actual bottom line. And they’d be happy to explain how the deal could save you money on travel.
The sales team has an answer for every objection or excuse you might have, so you don’t need to explain yourself. Just be comfortable saying no if you’re not interested.
If you tell the sales team you can’t afford it, they will find a way for you to stretch out payments and afford it. If you tell them you don’t have time to travel right now, they’ll explain how you can bank points for another year — with a “small” fee. Not ready to sign yet? They’ll tell you why today’s deal is better than what you can get later.
My husband told me I was very well-behaved the entire meeting until the manager advised us to buy HGV “owner” points so we could save our Hilton Honors points for retirement. This is clearly the HGV answer for people who turn down the offer because they travel on points.
Something about ridiculous points advice flipped a switch, and apparently, I stopped being nice when I told the manager how much I disagreed with that idea.
Next time, I will probably need a pep talk to watch my mouth when the manager comes in for the close.
The manager argued that HGV could be a vehicle to retiring with millions of Hilton Honors points. I bet it sounds great to many people who attend these presentations, and my husband thought it was a good point.
The idea is we could keep earning Hilton Honors points just like we do now but wouldn’t need to spend them since our HGV “owner” points would pay for hotel stays. We could use our stockpiled Hilton Honors points in retirement for food and beverages or spa treatments at Hilton properties or convert them to flights and activities with Hilton partners.
That’s not the move I’d make — and I told the manager so. If I stop actively redeeming Hilton Honors points, I will also stop earning them and instead move on to earning rewards I can use in the short term, like flexible travel points, airline miles, or cash-back that I could put in a real retirement account. Anything is better than points I won’t touch until I’m older.
Points are for spending, not saving, and can devalue at any time. The same Hilton rooms we were booking just a few years ago for 50,000 points are now more often 70,000 points. I’d hate to save for decades only to have the value erode when I could have earned more useful rewards.Hot Tip:
This is just one of the logic tricks you might tackle to finish the meeting. Salespeople are ready with an answer whether you say you don’t have the money, always travel on points, or don’t have time to travel.
I could tell the manager had enough of me between the retirement points disagreement and the photos I kept taking. She asked a direct question intending to close the sale, so I figured it was time to leave and went in for the kill.
I explained that although we are loyal to Hilton, and it’s often our first choice for hotels because I get a lot of value from my Hilton Honors Surpass card and Diamond status, there’s an exceptional value in the flexibility of changing that relationship at any time.
If we ever decide we don’t like Hilton anymore or another brand offers us better value for our needs as they change, it’s effortless to do that when we aren’t HGV “owners.” All we have to do is use up our Hilton points, downgrade or close my Hilton Honors Surpass card, and move on to earning rewards with a different brand.
As HGV “owners,” we’d lose that flexibility with a contract and financial interest in staying with Hilton, whether we like it or not. Yes, we could always sell our HGV “ownership” — at a considerable loss. We’d basically be marrying our travel to Hilton for life, and I won’t put a ring on it now, if ever.
Once I explained that, the manager cut her losses, and we were promptly on our way out the door.
We were shown an additional package, which would allow us to buy a stay that would count toward future HGV points if we signed up as “owners” afterward. I only had to say no to that once before the manager asked us to wait for “corporate.” The corporate agent was extremely brief — again, with another offer that was easy and quick to turn down — and we were on our way to collect our perks at the checkout desk.
We were back out the front door just a hair under the promised limit of 2 hours.
On our way out the door, we stopped by the checkout desk to collect our remaining perks. What you get as a parting gift depends on your package. For my package, I got a $200 Stay A Night On Us certificate good at my choice of several Hilton brands, including Hampton Inn, Hilton, Embassy Suites, and Homewood Suites.
I selected Hampton Inn — probably not the highest potential value, but I’d researched ahead. Since we will need to pay cash upfront and get refunded, I wanted to avoid brands where we’d have to pay a resort fee, like Hilton Hotels, since that wouldn’t be waived on a cash stay like when we pay with points.
We could probably use Homewood or Embassy Suites anywhere, but I have a couple of beachfront Hampton Inn properties in mind that generally run around $200 per night. We will get our money’s worth from the certificate if I redeem it on time — we just have 6 months to use it.
On the way out the door, I noticed how fast HGV moves people through the process and asked an agent how many people come through each day. They said it’s in the hundreds daily just at that location. And when I asked, they told me how many people out of that sign up — roughly 7% based on the numbers I got. That’s just an informal poll from an unsuspecting employee, but it gives you an idea of how often the salespeople hear “no.”Hot Tip:
What happens if you sign up for HGV and want to back out? You have a right to rescind the contract, but how long you have depends on where you signed the contract. Most state laws provide between 3 to 15 days — you might still be on vacation when that time runs out. Usually, cancellation information is in your contract, so read up before you get home.
Our HGV timeshare meeting was entertaining, and we walked away with perks. I had a good experience, but it’s not for everyone. Is it right for you?
The benefits of attending an HGV presentation can be worth it, as you can get a cheap hotel stay in popular vacation cities, some snacks, and most likely some points or a free night at a Hilton property. I considered it free entertainment. I don’t have any regrets about spending 2 hours on the meeting, and it was fun to see some of the amazing Hilton properties they highlighted in the presentation.
But before you walk into that meeting, know that people stronger than you have said yes on the spot. It is compelling, and you can end up signing up for a timeshare even if you walk in intending never to do it.
And I would argue that HGV is particularly dangerous because Hilton is a trusted brand and the presentation was very professional and respectful. It would be much easier to say no to unprofessional or sleazy salespeople — you aren’t likely to find one of those at HGV.
Would I do another Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare presentation? Absolutely yes, as soon as they will have me back. Although we left our Hilton timeshare presentation with a resounding no and an annoyed manager, the benefits were worth the 2 hours we spent.
The information regarding The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
Timeshare presentations aren’t for everyone, but they can offer a low-cost hotel stay with some added perks. It’s a good idea to attend an HGV timeshare presentation if you are genuinely interested in signing up as an HGV “owner,” or if you just want free stuff and feel confident you can resist the sales pitch. If you don’t want to spend 2 hours in a sales pitch or are worried you’ll crack under high-pressure sales, it’s probably best to not sign up for an HGV sales meeting.
If you’ve signed up for an HGV timeshare presentation vacation package, you have to attend the meeting or you will have to pay full price for your hotel stay. Once you’re in the meeting, you’ll be there for up to 2 hours. You might be able to shave down the time you spend in the meeting if you express disinterest from the start. When HGV tries to close the sale, don’t bother with excuses like not having enough money or time to travel — they’re prepared with solutions to those problems. Don’t be embarrassed to tell them you’re not interested and you’re just there for the free gift because they’ve certainly heard it before.
Singles can attend an HGV timeshare presentation. If you’re married, you’ll have to attend with your spouse.
The perks of attending an HGV timeshare meeting are pretty compelling, but you have to give up 2 hours of your time on a fairly short vacation of 3 nights. If you don’t mind spending the time, it can be worth it.
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