Timeshares seem like they are a North American phenomenon but they really are not unique to this continent. The idea, where deeded ownership to a property for an interval at a hotel, resort condominium or any other type of vacation property originated in Europe in the 1960s. It was stylish to own, not rent, a get-away in the poshest parts of the world. This trend towards time shares was the result of commercial aviation opening up new possibilities for holidaying abroad. Popular destinations for time-shares in the sixties were France and Switzerland where several families might share a single ski chalet.
One of the most popular first ever timeshares was in the French Alps and was a ski resort called SuperDevoluy. Another popular timeshare vacation resort company that is still successful today was Hapimag, which is in Baar, Switzerland. The idea for this time share was conceived in 1964.
The first vacation spot in the United States that offered a time-sharing program was on Kauai Kailani on Kauai in 1969 and deeds for one-week stays were sold for a period of forty years. In the 1970s this idea of splitting Florida caught on in Florida where a boom in condo time-shares was begun. Soon they started popping up in Lake Tahoe and Sausalito California. By 1976 proceeds from timeshare sales totaled over $50,000,000.00.
During the 1980s new resorts opened up all over the globe, but especially in Western Europe. By 1990 more than a million timeshare owners co-owned 2,300 timesharing facilities all over the world. In the 1990s this number expanded to include timeshares in Eastern Europe and Asia spearheaded by the Marriot Hotel chain, which got into the business to make millions. Very soon scores of other big brand name hotels started offering time shares too including Four Seasons, Radisson, Sheraton, Hilton, Ramada and Disney. In contemporary times Florida is a real hot spot for time shares with many of them intended for snowbirds from Canada and tourists from northern Europe looking for a little sunshine in the winter.
By the year 2000, timeshare was a booming multi-million dollar business and it is expanding every day. Today, timeshare resorts worldwide number about 5,400, which is an all time record high with a trend towards further expansion of time shares in Asia. However time shares are not as popular as they used to be with the recession causing many people to try and sell them to free up available cash. If you are buying time shares this is a good market in which to do so as many can be had for very cheap compared to about a decade ago.