Stress can cause health problems. Owning a timeshare can cause stress. We cover both bases — healthcare and timeshares — in this issue of Home On The Course.
Duke University Golf Course, Durham, NC
Best Hospitals in Southeast States
US News & World Report publishes rankings annually of hospitals in the U.S. Each of the following hospitals was ranked #1 & #2 in the corresponding state in USN&WR’s 2017-18 survey.
#1 Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, FL
“[Mayo Clinic] scored high in patient safety, demonstrating commitment to reducing accidents and medical mistakes.”
Excellent golf communities in virtually every direction from the Mayo Clinic, including Amelia Island and famed Sawgrass, home of TPC Sawgrass and the PGA Tour’s Players’ Championship.
#2 Tampa General Hospital Tampa, FL
“…nationally ranked in six adult specialties and rated high performing in three adult specialties...The hospital's specialties include cardiac services, cancer care and integrative medicine.”
Tampa General is located within a half hour of Sun City Center community and well within an hour of the dozens of excellent golf communities in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Bradenton.
#1 Emory University Hospital Atlanta, GA
“[Emory] is a general medical and surgical facility [and] a teaching hospital for Emory University School of Medicine.”
Dozens of top golf communities and private clubs surround Atlanta, the largest city in the Southeast with great restaurants, many real estate options and an airport from which you can travel to just about anywhere in the U.S. and many places around the world.
#2 Emory St. Joseph Hospital Atlanta, GA
#1 MUSC Health-University Medical Center Charleston, SC
“MUSC Health-University Medical Center is a general medical and surgical facility and teaching hospital located in Charleston, S.C. MUSC is nationally ranked in 5 adult specialties and 6 pediatric specialties…”
The golf communities of Mt. Pleasant, Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island are all within about a half hour of the hospital.”
#2 McLeod Regional Medical Center Florence, SC
#1 Duke University Hospital Durham, NC
“Duke University Hospital…is nationally ranked in 11 adult and nine pediatric specialties. The hospital is the flagship of the Duke University Health System, which encompasses three million square feet of hospital and academic medical space. The health system has three hospitals for inpatient services and widespread outpatient services...”
Located on the north edge of the Triangle formed by Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, the area is rich in universities, culture and excellent golf communities, including Governors Club, Hasentree, Treyburn and dozens of others.
#2 Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Winston-Salem, NC
#1 University of Virginia Medical Center Charlottesville, VA
“University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Va. is nationally ranked in five adult specialties and six pediatric specialties. It is a general medical and surgical facility as well as a teaching hospital.
Just outside of town to the east, on the way to Richmond, are two outstanding golf communities, the upscale Keswick Hall, whose hilly and challenging golf course was fully redone a few years ago; and Glenmore, whose Scottish style golf course and clubhouse might make you consider wearing a kilt to dinner.
#2 VCU Medical Center Richmond, VA
#1 Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nashville, TN
“Vanderbilt University Medical Center is ranked No. 17 on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll and is nationally ranked in 10 adult and 10 pediatric specialties. It is a general medical, surgical and teaching facility founded in 1874.”
The Nashville area offers a surprising number of high-quality golf communities, starting with the popular and upscale Governors Club in Brentwood and including Fairvue Plantation and Foxland Harbor, which earned a Golfweek best new golf course in the nation award in 2008.
#2 CHI Memorial Hospital Chattanooga, TN
If you are considering a search for a permanent or vacation home in a golf-oriented area, please contact me for a free, no-obligation consultation at email@example.com
Against All Odds and Logic, We Own a Timeshare
It started innocently enough. On a drive from our Connecticut home to our vacation condo in Pawleys Island, SC, we needed a hotel in Virginia that would accommodate Coco, our family dog. We did an Internet search on our iPhone and found a Hilton-affiliated hotel that was not far off the interstate and would accept the dog. From the car, we called the Hilton reservation desk and, after securing the room, were made an offer we could have refused:
"We have a special promotion going on now that could send you and your wife to New York City for three days at a deeply reduced price,” the reservationist said. The offer had “timeshare” promotion written all over it, but the chance to revisit, on the cheap, the city where we first lived after our marriage 37 years ago was hard to pass up. After all, we’re strong people; we could sit through a two-hour presentation and then say, “No thanks.” It must happen all the time. We consented to the trip.
Magic Night in Manhattan
The night before the presentation in early December, we spent a nostalgic evening at a fine Theater District restaurant and then at a Broadway show. It brought us back to the old days. Long story short, the next morning at the 90-minute mark of the presentation and tour of two Hilton Club accommodations in midtown Manhattan, we were intrigued, and at the two-hour mark we were sold. We have always made excuses not to travel to new places, seeking comfort in that Pawleys Island condo for three months a year. But we reasoned that the unique Hilton program would “force” us to take a few trips every year. We bought the rights to an annual stay in The Residences atop the Hilton Hotel near Rockefeller Center and the ability to trade the equivalent “points” for stays at Hilton properties around the world — either its member clubs or Hilton Hotels worldwide.
Converted, at 50 to 1 Rate
In short, Hilton does not force its Grand Vacation Club members into any specific weeks or seasons. Instead, the program provides us with Club points that we can use for upscale stays in one of their 100 club resorts worldwide — there are three in Scotland — or convert to Hilton Honors points which can be used for stays at any of the 575 Hilton Hotels and resorts around the globe.
We were made an offer we could have refused.
As an inducement to sign up on the spot, the Hilton salespeople offered us a 50 to 1 conversion rate to turn our Club points into Hilton Honors points for the first year (conversion after the first year is at a 25 to 1 rate); and they gave us 40,000 bonus Club points, or four times what we will receive on an annual basis, to be used within the next two years. With our 10,500 Club points, the conversion to Hilton Honors hotel points is more than 500,000 this year. A stay in a Hilton Hotel — and those include Hampton Inns, Hilton Garden Inns, Homewood Suites, Doubletree Hotels, Embassy Suites and others — run from a few thousand points per night for standard stays to as many as 100,000 per night at the most luxurious properties, such as the Waldorf Astoria branded hotels and resorts.
Hilton Honors points, by the way, never expire.
Royal Dornoch Here I come
Further, Hilton has partnered with RCI (formerly Resort Condominium International), which maintains more than 5,000 villas, condos and cottages worldwide, including places in Scotland and Ireland that are on my golfing bucket list. The amount of points required to stay in the Scottish Highlands for a week, not far from the famed Royal Dornoch golf course, for example, will not bite into our annual total significantly. All in all, we are likely to be traveling a lot in the coming years.
To be sure, timesharing has a poor reputation that isn’t helped by all those radio and television ads offering to get you out of timeshare prison. As we were about to sign up, I sent a text to our children indicating that we were securing their own vacations — and their two honeymoons in the upcoming year — well into the future. (The timeshare is part of our estate and can be passed on.) My son in Florida immediately responded, “Please God, no!” Apparently he has some friends who believe their parents were suckered into their timeshare purchases many years ago, and he has also read the many horror stories about timeshares. I have too, but for every bad story in the media, I have spoken with folks who have gotten more than their money’s worth from their timeshares. Cousins, for example, bought a Disney World-based timeshare through Marriott almost 25 years ago when their children were small. Over time, they have turned that purchase into annual trips to Aruba and other Marriott locations, as well as a few cruises. They could not be happier. All in all, it seems that if you stick with the large, well-established chains, you will be fine.
A Happy Attorney
From the sales office at Hilton, I sent an email to my attorney in Connecticut asking if I could run the documents up to him at his office the next morning. (We had a few days to back out.) He wrote back, “Call me on the way home. I can save you a trip.” Oy, I thought, that sounds bad. But when we called him, he said: “You are talking to a satisfied owner of a share of Hilton Grand Vacations for the last eight years. We love it.” He went on to describe pleasant stays in Washington, D.C., Scotland and at other Hilton locations.
We are looking forward to using our purchase for new experiences in cities and at beach resorts we might never have contemplated visiting. And I suspect my son’s angst about his parents’ decision may last no more than a day or two into his substantially paid for honeymoon.
Should The Grim Reaper Drive Your Relocation Decision? Four Approaches To Healthcare in Retirement
In the last few months, two of my doctors in Connecticut have decided to retire at the end of the year and another is relocating to Texas. Much more significantly, a good friend suffered a heart attack earlier this year and passed away five days later. These events have me thinking more seriously about doctors, hospitals and lifestyle…and how big a role they should play in the choice of a retirement location.
We are all likely to face some medical issues before our times are up. Some of us already have. I, for example, had major cancer surgery four years ago and open-heart surgery two years ago. I am doing well, thank you, and playing as much golf as ever. I have great confidence in my doctors in the Hartford, CT area. But that doesn’t mean I want the confinement of living near them 365 days a year in a climate that is dismal from November to March. Should my wife and I never go on vacation because something might happen while we are away?
Like Your Doc, Keep Your Doc
There are a few ways to address the idea that, as we age, the needs for medical services naturally increases. First, if you like the doctors you have, you can keep them — where have we heard that before? — by staying in your primary home location. Instead, take a few vacations every year and, if you think you are at risk of some health event, then take your trips to areas with excellent healthcare options nearby. If I lived only in Connecticut, near my doctors, I would still take my annual trip to Crail, Scotland where the nearest hospital is 10 miles away in St. Andrews. For me, that is close enough for any but the most catastrophic health event, such as a heart attack or stroke.
In Case of Emergency...
Another option is to relocate for roughly half the year to an area with, at minimum, decent healthcare. Make your annual visits to your longtime doctors when you return to your primary home location for the summer season. This is essentially what my wife and I have done by choosing to live about three months a year in Pawleys Island, SC, where the Tidelands hospital group improves in quality year after year but still cannot match such southern medical centers as Duke University in Durham, NC, and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. Still, on those thankfully few occasions when we have required an emergency room visit for suspected food poisoning or strained ligaments, treatment at Georgetown Memorial Hospital, part of the Tidelands group, has been excellent. For more serious issues, the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston is a fine option about one hour from Pawleys Island.
With a little research, or recommendation from a neighbor, you can find excellent specialty doctors in many areas of the southeast. When I came up lame with severe knee pain 10 years ago, one of my neighbors in Pawleys Plantation suggested I visit her local orthopedist in Myrtle Beach. He x-rayed both knees, advised me that arthritis could require a knee replacement in one of them within a few years, and then gave me a shot of cortisone that has kept me knee-pain free ever since. He later attended to a sprained wrist and had me back on the golf course within a week. Although my right hand has been bothering me since early in the fall — carpal tunnel syndrome, I suspect, from all the keyboarding I do — I have put off seeing a doctor in Connecticut and will see my orthopedist in February in South Carolina.
Simply the Best Hospitals
A third option for those who might require ongoing medical attention wherever they choose to live is a home near a major medical center. I mentioned Duke University above. A home in some of the excellent golf communities in the Raleigh/Durham area would put you within a half hour or less of the Duke medical center, among them Governors Club in Chapel Hill, Treyburn in Durham and Hasentree in nearby Wake Forest. For other top medical centers in the Southeast, please see the attached sidebar at left.
The Bible provides guidance for a fourth and final option, a mash-up of Ecclesiastes 8:15 — “a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry” — and Isaiah 22:13 — “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.” In other words, you should live where you want to live and do what you want to do, and eat, drink and be merry because...well, you know. And, of course, play lots of golf.
Larry Gavrich Founder & Editor Home On The Course, LLC