Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Timeshare Plans For Top Hotel

A Luxury £20 million development plan for a North-east country house hotel has moved a step closer. Timeshare and golf development plans for Pittodrie House Hotel have been in the pipeline for about a decade. The latest application focuses on the hotel's commitment to build 79 timeshare cottages, an 18-hole golf course and four luxury homes.

The golf course would cover most of the estate, near Chapel of Garioch, to the south and east of the hotel, while the timeshare units would be built in five blocks to the east and north. The development comes as US businessman Donald Trump makes plans for a multi-million-pound golf resort at Balmedie.

The Trump Organisation is expected to submit its proposals for the Menie Estate by the end of the month.

Community leaders in villages near the Pittodrie House Hotel welcomed the latest resort plans but adopted a wait-and-see attitude over their environmental impact.
The scheme hit a hurdle in 2004 when Aberdeenshire Council knocked back a proposal to convert 30 of the proposed timeshare properties into permanent homes.

The owner, Macdonald Hotels, also ran into opposition from residents near the estate.
Macdonald Hotels has now turned its attention back to the original scheme to create a "significant tourism project" at the proposed golf resort.

East Garioch Community Council chairman Graeme Sutherland said: "I can't see there being a problem if this application is basically the same again - but it remains to be seen what the final application will look like."

The application was lodged with Aberdeenshire Council yesterday.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Bluegreen Grabs 10 Acres For Vegas Timeshare Development

Bluegreen Corp., the Boca Raton, Fla.-based timeshare property owner and developer, just acquired an approximately 10-acre parcel in Las Vegas that will become the home of an upscale timeshare resort featuring 240 two-bedroom timeshare units, a preview center and a retail complex. Bluegreen expects to kick off construction of the development--which carries a price tag of more than $100 million, including the purchase of the land--in the third quarter of this year.

Bluegreen did not reveal the specific purchase price of the land near the intersection of E. Tropicana Ave. and Paradise Rd., or the identity of the seller. According to the office of the Clark County Assessor, the transaction has yet to be documented in public record; however, a parcel of about 10 acres at the same intersection as Bluegreen’s newly acquired land has a current assessed value of nearly $6 million. Alternatively, Bluegreen is forthcoming about its corporate goals. “This is a strategic move for our company because it continues our westward expansion,” Lisa Thornhill, Bluegreen director of Corporate Communications, told CPN. “It also delivers an exciting product to our owners and guests that they’ve been wanting. We do annual surveys and Las Vegas is at the top of the list.” According to the 2005 State of the Vacation Ownership Industry report, Nevada ranks number seven in the nation with a timeshare market share of 3.5 percent; Florida is No. 1 with 22.7 percent.

In addition to the 48,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and the 18,000-square-foot preview center, the seven-story timeshare structure that will sprout up near the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and McCarran International Airport, will also feature a swimming pool, spa, game room, pool bar and fitness facility. “Our residents have expressed that they like to have these amenities onsite,” Thornhill said of the retail and restaurant offerings, which will be accessible to the public, as well. Timeshare units in the new resort will become available in the fourth quarter of 2007.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Timeshare Is Big And Booming

Participating in the world of timeshare ownership has certainly taught me how big the world is and how many wonderful destinations are out there to discover. As president of ARDA, even though I travel so much, there are still hundreds of timeshare resort destinations I look forward to visiting one day. And where I realize that, in my current professional role, perhaps I’m not supposed to have a favorite destination, I must admit that I do have a particular soft spot for one great area: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I love it there!

The people, the weather, the beaches, the mountains, the food, and just the overall ambiance—it all complements the welcoming nature of the culture. I’ve been timesharing annually in Mexico for the past 20 years, and I never tire of it. That is why I am so pleased that the feature of this special convention issue of Developments spotlights its tourism development.

The lines have crossed in the most positive way for Americans wishing to visit Mexico and developers wanting to meet that demand. And, Americans visiting Mexico do buy timeshares and fractionals while they are there! The post-September 11th times have in some ways made the world from the tourism perspective seem smaller, in terms of destinations that Americans feel comfortable visiting in the midst of terrorist threats and global political uncertainties.

But Mexico offers a different pattern, a new hope for the American tourist. In fact, now more than ever, tourism grows strong for the following reasons: its geographic proximity, the strength of the U.S. dollar in this hemisphere, a sense of personal security, and the vast improvement in Mexican tourism infrastructure. Many of these same reasons are also true of the tourist outlook for the Caribbean and Central America, areas that have also grown their cache of timeshare destinations over the past few years.

All of this good fortune for Mexican timeshare resort development didn’t just happen by accident, however. It took a well thoughtout, executed plan. The work of FONATUR, Mexico’s impressive federal government partnership, has been instrumental in creating opportunities for the private sector to develop because of the Mexican government’s understanding and funding of infrastructure needs, tourism zones, resources, and promotion.

Destinations like Cabo San Lucas and Cancun are now household names that carry major tourism brand-equity weight in the American traveling public’s mind. This was not the case just 10 years ago— Cancun and Cabo have experienced planned smart growth because of FONATUR’s role (with the Mexican government), as well as the investment of good developers and a real commitment by Mexico to create destinations attractive to Americans with supportive services for developers. Future household name destinations are being born in the Sea of Cortez for the very same reasons. Actually, in my humble opinion, the U.S. government would benefit from having an organization like FONATUR to help create tourism infrastructure and development opportunities in the United States.

There is another factor that bears a positive impact on tourism in Mexico, as well as on tourism at-large and the timesharen industry. This year, the first group of baby boomers turns 60, which is great news for timeshare, fractional, and second- home development. People reaching their 50’s and 60’s, as they begin to transition into retirement, have a natural desire for vacation homes that include alternatives like timeshare and fractionals. These healthy affluent baby boomers have a pent-up wanderlust that needs channeling, after 30-40 years of denying the desire to see the world because of busy careers, family life, and financial restraints. Now these boomers want to experience the world, and Mexico is high on the list.

I recently attended a tourism summit, where I heard a respected economist discussing realities for the future of travel and tourism. He touched upon the fear that we have entered a period of flattening (or worse) of the recent exuberant housing price growth, which might make Americans feel less wealthy. He noted that one segment of the housing market, however, will be insulated from this fear because of the demographics of the retiring baby boomers—the vacation home segment and their alternatives, including timeshare and fractionals.

Mexico will benefit directly from this timeshare phenomena of American boomers (many very affluent), who are retiring with a desire to travel and experience resort living for the first time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Unloading That Timeshare Can Take Some Time, Too

Although some people are happy owners of timeshares, millions of others regret having bought theirs and would like to get rid of them. When you buy a timeshare, you're buying the right to vacation at a resort for the same one or two weeks every year. It might sound attractive when you buy it but, for many, the novelty soon wears off and the drudgery of visiting the same place at the same time each year proves boring. Or perhaps because of your lifestyle changes, it is impractical for you to continue using your timeshare.

Some people pay cash for their timeshare, but most finance their purchase and force themselves to make monthly payments. Timeshare owners also incur annual expenses for maintenance and taxes. Most buyers paid too much for their timeshares.

Many have discovered that the location has declined in quality, reducing its appeal as a vacation destination. Many developers have increased the annual fees that timeshare owners must pay. All this has caused millions of timeshare owners to want out. But few people are interested in buying, especially at the price that the current owners had paid. Indeed, selling a timeshare can be difficult, even downright impossible.

What to do? First, understand that you are legally obligated to repay the loan. Even if you paid cash, you are still legally required to pay the annual operating cost. If you don't, your credit record will reflect your failure to pay. This could hurt your ability to get a mortgage or car loan. It could also affect an employer's decision to hire you. If you want out, see if the developer is still selling timeshares at your vacation location; ask senior management if they might be willing to buy yours. It's a long shot, but perhaps they might, albeit at a steep discount. If they are not willing to repurchase it, perhaps they'd be willing to try to sell it for you. You might need to offer them compensation for doing so.

But beware of con artists. Timeshare owners are known to be a desperate lot, and as soon as you make it known that you're interested in selling yours, thieves will come calling. They'll offer to buy your timeshare, or they'll say they can sell it for you. In both cases, they'll demand up-front payments or personal financial information, such as your bank account number (purportedly so they can wire money to you). Timeshares give con men terrific opportunities to scam people twice -- first in selling them nearly worthless timeshares, and again as they promise to help hapless victims get rid of them. Be wary of promises, and guard your money, your identity and personal data.

If you cannot find a buyer, and if your loan is fully repaid, try donating your timeshare to charity. The charity is likely to auction off your time-share, which could provide you with a small tax deduction for the charitable contribution. Many charities refuse to accept donations of time-shares. Explore the Internet for entities that offer to handle this process for you.

As a last resort, try to give it away. Maybe you can find someone who will take it off your hands by assuming your financial obligations. When you do manage to unload it, the loss is not tax-deductible. That's because the IRS considers timeshares to be personal property, not investments. Hope the guy who sold you yours didn't claim otherwise.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Timeshares Leading Rebound In Construction For Big Island

After a 2 percent decline in the number of visitor accommodation units in Hawai'i last year, the industry is working to increase its inventory in step with a slow but accelerating tourism recovery.

Construction scheduled to begin or be completed this year or next year would add at least 1,700 hotel and timeshare units to the market, overcoming the 1,421-unit loss last year that represented the second biggest decline in more than 30 years.

Beyond 2004, another 1,700 or so hotel and timeshare units are scheduled for construction, though given the unpredictable nature of the state's tourism business, such projects may not move forward as envisioned today.

Leading the rebuilding are timeshare operators who continue a vacation-ownership trend driven by giant hotel chains during the past few years in Hawai'i.

The restoration of the state's visitor plant in the next year is expected to include the reopening of a couple of shuttered hotels and the start of construction on at least two new hotels.

More hotel and timeshare construction plans are in the works but are further off and could change, depending on world events, shifts in Hawai'i visitor arrival trends and financing markets.

"Obviously, as the economy picks up and people become more optimistic, you see increased opportunity," said Murray Towill, president of the Hawai'i Hotel Association. "I think we are going to see some increase, but I don't think we're going to see dramatic increases at all."

Hotel owners and developers are looking at a market where overall visitor arrivals this year are expected to be near flat, with the second half of the year showing better growth, followed by a projected 8.4 percent increase, according to the University of Hawai'i Economic Research Organization.

Last year, the number of Hawai'i visitors rebounded slightly, by nearly 1 percent, after a 9 percent drop in 2001.

The industry slump resulted in the closing of some visitor accommodations, while other vacation rentals were converted to long-term residential use, according to a report by the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

The report said the number of visitor accommodation units fell last year from 72,204 to 70,783, a loss of 1,421 units representing a 2 percent drop.

The budding rebound will primarily fill niches, such as the growing timeshare market statewide. In addition, there will be a business-oriented hotel near Kahului airport on Maui.

Development momentum also is accelerating at Ko Olina Resort & Marina where a tax-creditifinanced aquarium is being used to attract hotel and timeshare developers.

Jeff Stone, master developer of Ko Olina, said he expects to have permits to build the $75 million aquarium in January. Then he expects construction of hotel and residential project by Ritz-Carlton to follow within six months, roughly in the second or third quarter of next year.

"Everybody wants to be certain that the attraction goes in," Stone said. "It's a huge component."

Marriott Vacation Club also plans to build new timeshare accommodations at the West O'ahu resort, with work on a 90-unit second phase scheduled to begin in November 2004. Its 103-unit first phase opened earlier this year.

On the downside, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts may actually reduce the number of hotel rooms next year with plans to raze 436 rooms, some of which are not in use, to build a complex with retail, entertainment, ballroom and meeting space.

The company, which announced its plan two years ago and has since assembled property required for the massive redevelopment that would include the addition of a 890-room high-rise hotel, has been reassessing its plans and development schedule in light of the expiration of a state hotel construction tax credit.

Outrigger officials did not respond to requests for an updated development timetable, though the company has suggested the project could be delayed and modified.

Bruce Coppa, managing director of Pacific Resource Partnership, an alliance between contractors and Carpenters Union Local 745, said that while the hotel construction tax credit might have expedited more building, competitive pressures will be forcing hotel owners to upgrade properties.

Joe Toy, president of industry consulting firm Hospitality Advisors, said the economics for building large, stand-alone, full-service hotels haven't been good for about 10 years.

Timeshare developments, on the other hand, are much more attractive because of the large up-front returns generated by sales and the flexibility to use unsold units as hotel rentals, he said.

Friday, May 19, 2006


San Diego Area Hotel Market Heats Up For Timeshare Real Estate

The San Diego hotel market is bustling with activity as the Embassy Suites Hotel in La Jolla sells for $100 million. Hotel REIT Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. acquired the property, adding to its 62-hotel portfolio.

Alan X. Reay, president of Costa Mesa-based Atlas Hospitality Group, tells that because of increased tourism and an upswing in the business sector, competition for hotel property to turn into timeshare real estate is stiff. “The asset is a great buy for Sunstone,” he says. “La Jolla is a hard market to get into, even at the $100 million pric

Other recent hospitality deals include the sale of the 68-room StayBridge Suites Hotel to Trendwest Resorts Inc, a timeshare company. Financial considerations of the sale were not available, but Trendwest says the hotel will be converted into a timeshare property.

The 68-room hotel opened in 2004 and was sold by an affiliate of Shapery Enterprises. Shapery will maintain a presence in the area however, with plans to build a 40-story high rise condominium on what is now the hotel’s parking lot. Once complete, the two properties will share parking and amenities.

Neptune Hospitality Advisors arranged the sale of the building, representing one of two deals involving Neptune and Cendant, says Neptune president Michael Armstrong. The real estate investment bank also completed financing for the Hotel Prava for Cendant in 2005. The StayBridge acquisition comes from increased demand for timeshare units, Armstrong notes.

The StayBridge is a 78-year old building, formerly the Riviera Apartments/Hotel. It was renovated and converted to the StayBridge in 2003, keeping its original façade.

Earlier this month, reported that Neptune arranged a $25 million rehabbing deal for the Radisson Hotel Harbor in the Marina/Little Italy quarter of San Diego. The hotel stands 23 stories and is comprised of 333 rooms. Neptune also recently arranged $30 million in refinancing for two Hansji hotels in Costa Mesa.

The heated hotel activity is not exclusive to San Diego County, however. The Marriott Ventura Beach, located one mile north of Los Angeles, was sold for $34 million to Integrated Capital. The 286-room hotel was recently renovated into timeshare real estate and consists of 9,000-sf of meeting space and amenities.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Time To Tend To Business And Stop Timeshare Real Estate

Friday's edition of the Packet revealed an above-the-fold story about town leaders speaking out against House of Representatives incumbent, Richard Chalk, who represents Hilton Head Island.

How interesting it was to read of the mayor and five council members throwing in their very verbal support behind Tom Herbkersman. Mind you this is the "nonpolitical government body" we elected supporting a candidate who is without credentials, except those of being a local developer. Do we see any connection here? The mayor's wife, who is Herbkersman's campaign manager, said town officials will be watching Herbkersman very carefully if elected. I have a feeling that might be an understatement. The mayor's wife also said that Councilman Bill Ferguson, although not present for the press conference, also supports Herbkerson. Isn't that just so cozy. I would hope a little too cozy for Hilton Head voters.

Time better spent would have been to keep our $1.5 million here on Hilton Head rather then send it to Bluffton. Those dollars could have been used toward the purchase of land on Squire Pope Road to prevent the construction of timeshare condos. Just what the voters of Hilton Head needed -- more timeshares, people and traffic on the Island!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Exclusive Country Club With Timeshares Now Open To All

A restaurant in the shadow of Cromer's landmark lighthouse has opened its doors to the public, as an exclusive country club lifts its barriers to locals.

The town's Country Club is part of the worldwide empire of timeshare company Sunterra, which has almost 100 resorts around the globe, including nine in the UK.

While many of the facilities on its wooded hillside campus are exclusive to owners of the 105 apartments, the restaurant, bar and meeting and conference facilities have now been opened to the public.

Timeshare resort manager Margaret McNicol said it was possible due to a removal of licence restrictions, which previously meant non-members could not use the complex.

The club was built in 1979 and was run by Hoseasons until it switched to timeshares in 1995, at first under private ownership and then Thurnham Vacations, before being taken into the global Sunterra empire in 2004.

Sunterra, founded in the 1990s, has offices in Las Vegas and Lancaster, with timeshare resorts as far flung as Hawaii, Florida, the Canary Islands, Mexico, the Caribbean, France, Malta and the Austrian Alps.

Mrs McNicol said they were pleased to welcome locals to the site, with its eating and meeting facilities, complete with panoramic views.

The man in charge of the Cromer restaurant is 27-year-old Mark Shortt, who had an earlier two-year spell there under different ownership, having cut his catering teeth at the Assembly House, Norwich, and Cromer's Cliftonville Hotel.

Most recently he was general manager at Lenwade Country House Hotel, before he was head-hunted back to Cromer by Sunterra.

Mr Shortt, who has a 20-strong team of full and part-time catering staff, led by head chef Andrew Carr, said local people were already enjoying dining at the club,

A timber-beamed bar area, with comfortable chairs, provides bar meals for up to 90 people from 11am to 9.30pm, with the bar staying open until 11pm.

The lighter, adjoining Windjammer restaurant area serves a table d'hote menu on Saturdays, Sunday lunches and themed nights during the week, which range from steak and seafood evenings to Italian nights and a Wednesday focus on Norfolk produce.

The complex with timeshare real estate also has function rooms, for small and large gatherings, which can be used by local organisations, and a games room which is due to be converted into conference facilities.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Vacation Club Wants Tower, Hotel Density With Timeshare

The potential new owners of the Marco Radisson Suites Resort want Marco Island city officials to allow them to build a 200-foot-tall tower and allow timeshare units to be treated to the same density requirements as hotel rooms.

Representatives of Marriott Vacation Club International of Orlando (MVCI), which signed a contract to purchase the Marco Radisson eight days ago, hope to close the purchase sometime in July, according to David E. Holton, senior vice president of Resort Development.

Holton, along with MVCI director of project planning Mike Elliott and Marco attorney Craig Woodward, who represents MVCI in its purchase contract, announced its preliminary redevelopment plans to the Marco Island City Council on Monday during the council's review of proposed land use development amendments.

Holton said it's normal for the firm to begin development planning prior to closing on a property.

Holton and Woodward asked the city to fast-track the zoning changes they'll need to achieve the timeshare development they seek for the property.

They may have some trouble getting the 200-foot height they want for a new tower of timeshare rooms that would be built onto a remodeled development by MVCI.

But they might not have nearly as much trouble getting the city to increase density limits for timeshare units as compared to hotel room units.

Currently city zoning in the Residential Tourist district along South Collier Boulevard, where the majority of the city's resort hotels and vacation resorts operate, allows for 120 condominium units in a 100-foot tall building, with a conditional use permit available for a maximum height of 125 feet.

MVCI wants the city to allow 26 timeshare units per acre above the 16 units per acre allowed now for multi-family units in the RT district. The 26 units per acre allowance currently applies to hotel room units.

Holton and Woodward explained their contention that a timeshare unit, more or less, is a hotel room, occupied by owners for a week or more at a time, but also available for daily rentals when owners aren't in occupancy.

Elliott explained plans for the property, which include a new swimming pool, a fully remodeled parking area, the new timeshare tower, new balconies, remodeled outer walls, and more, to create a whole new visual appeal to a facility that has been considered by some to have become an eyesore.

Marco Island Community Development Director Vince Cautero said the city would have to amend its comprehensive land use plan because timeshares in the plan limit them to 16 timeshare units per acre.

A comp plan amendment would take months to pass through state channels, and MVCI's representatives want a faster track. Marco Council Vice Chairman Glenn Tucker suggested redefining timeshares in city zoning law.

"I have a little trouble with them coming in for a 200-foot height, but we have the opportunity before us to have a real world-class structure go up on the beach, rather than the current eyesore," Tucker said.

The council voted 7-0 to send the land-use amendments back to the city Planning Board for further review, taking into considerations MVCI's requests. The council would reconsider the land-use amendments for timeshares at its June 19 meeting.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Middle East Tourism - The New Timeshare Real Estate Maker

New Horizons in Shared Ownership, a symposium held April 28-29, at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, offered startling statistics on the profile, demographics and implications for mixed-use real estate in the timeshare and self-catered market. Conducted by RCI Middle East, part of RCI Global Vacation Network, and specialized industry consultant, Ragatz Associates, the Symposium portrayed the opinions of a sample of nationals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Egypt.

Complemented by fieldwork in face-to-face interviews by Pan Arab Research Centre (PARC) across 1,000 high-earning nationals in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Kaimah, Oman, Qatar, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, MacKay and Madinah, results were analyzed and evaluated by NorthCourse Advisory Services.

RCI wanted to advise developers before the design process begins on issues pertaining to likely market sources, types and size of preferred accommodations, range of amenities and acceptable pricing ranges. In combination with the original data, syndicated and secondary research, Vivienne Noyes-Thomas, managing director of RCI Middle East, states: "The main purpose of the research is to quantify the potential pan-Arab market for luxury timeshare, fractional ownership and other types of shared ownership in leisure developments in the region. There are numerous superb projects in the planning stages, but now we can qualify what the consumer is really looking for and what this product can deliver in increased returns for developers and operators."

The following results were publicly announced at the Symposium:

The entire sample travels regularly

Destinations chosen for leisure travel are selected for choice as a "family solution" rather than activity or adventure travel.

Shopping is the principal activity.

Food and dining are high on the list, with dining preferable in the vacation home and prepared by a Halal certified purveyor.

40% of Saudi Arabians take household staff with them on trips; 46% of UAE travelers take their parents.

Length of stay is two-three months three times per year.

Travel is definitely a "group" experience.

Dubai and UAE are most popular destinations for timeshare purchase at this time.

The Middle Eastern market can support USD$540 million in timeshare sales while the fractional market is a preference for Dubai, Sharm El Sheikh and Makkah

There's a new trend of religious timeshare in the Islamic centers of Makkah and Madinah as these destinations are popular for Muslim pilgrims.

Fractional ownership embraces exclusive villas, yachts and luxury apartments.

There is a regional preference for "staying close to home", i.e., within "the kingdom".

Shared ownership is compatible with the Muslim concept of "Sukok" (a property document or deed which is transferable and entirely conforms with the Islamic laws of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf). Vivienne Noyes-Thomas, managing director for RCI Middle East, states: "Sukok gives Muslims complete confidence in the knowledge that what they're buying into is safe and acceptable. The new Le Meridien Towers, an RCI affiliate, and the Zamzam Towers projects are positioning their marketing around this concept."

Parallel with the demographic and psychographic profiles illustrated in the Symposium, regulations are being developed to address investor and owner concerns. Dubai's Department of Economic Development (DED) is expected to announce detailed regulations in the near future. RCI has been instrumental in establishing a Regulatory Working Group to provide input and commentary on the draft laws from the perspective of timeshare industry experts. Included among the Group's work is a compilation of "best practices" from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) and the Timeshare Industry of South Africa (TISA).

Outside of the UAE, Egypt and Lebanon also have regulations that govern how shared ownership is structured and there are regulations in place in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia governing sales practices. RCI predicts once the UAE Law is enacted, it will be adopted as a minimum standard through the GCC. Implementing regulations and a sound Code of Ethics will eliminate some of the negative experiences associated with the industry outside the Gulf.

Dubai International Airport handles over 20 million passengers annually. This number is expected to increase to 50 million + upon completion of the new terminal. The climate, atmosphere and great shopping are all attractive to visitors from within the Middle East and internationally. To date, with the Gulf region, construction exceeds USD$1 trillion according to MEED reports. Within Saudi Arabia, the value of new projects has doubled to more than USD$200 billion in the last 12 months.
Stephen Holmes, Vice Chairman of Cendant Corporation talking with Awadh Al Ketbhi, Director of Conventions at Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

More than 30,000 owners of timeshares are from this region with the majority of these owners from Egypt. Out of the 30,000 timeshare owners, over 20% of Gulf Arabs own property outside the region, with popular destinations including Marbella, Orlando and London.

Kuwaitis based IFA Hotels and Resorts are developing projects in Dubai, including a site on the prestigious The Palm Jumeirah and a condo-hotel project managed by Movenpick that offers an opportunity to buy a hotel suite with personal use and future rental income offers another alternative. A large resort is planned in Festival City and other projects are being developed in Dubailand with mixed-use developments in Oman and Qatar.

Around the world, the shared ownership business has recently enjoyed the endorsement by major brands, and global luxury chains such as Hilton, Sol Melia, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Sheraton and Four Seasons. These brands have embraced the timeshare opportunity which, until recently, had been driven by individual resort developers. This global trend-embracing properties in the USA, Mexico, Egypt and the Caribbean across the world to the Far East-assures continued momentum.

This Symposium is viewed as having accomplished twin goals: assisting market entry for developers by sharing studies and supporting legislation, which will minimize current obstacles while addressing the current lack of consumer information.

Experts believe that Dubai possess most of the key drivers to make shared ownership and the self-catering holiday industry a guaranteed triumph. Noyes-Thomas concludes: "Excellent infrastructure, sophisticated tourist attractions and quality property developments are great foundations for success."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


TV, Parks, Timeshares Lift Disney Profit To 12% Gain

The success of ABC-TV shows such as Desperate Housewives and the unexpected hit High School Musical on the Disney Channel helped hike Walt Disney Co. profit by 12 percent during the first three months of 2006.

Disney's theme parks helped too -- despite troubled performances in Paris and Hong Kong -- according to the second-quarter financial report Disney filed Tuesday.

Also, the Disney Vacation Club timeshare business has seen what Staggs called "incredible growth" and has sold its 2,000th unit.

And Staggs said Disney expects no drop-off in attendance due to high gas prices.

Staggs and Iger both blamed the drop in movie profit -- down 39 percent compared with the second quarter of 2005 -- on the fact that Disney had ridden high in 2005 on the strong video and DVD sales of The Incredibles. This year, during the second quarter, Disney had nothing comparable on the video shelves or in the theaters, they said.

Disney closed its deal to buy Pixar Animation, its former operating partner, only last week and Iger said that should strengthen Disney's animation production and creativity, starting with Pixar's next film -- now Disney's next film -- Cars. The movie, which Iger said has a level of animation "unlike anything audiences have experienced," has the potential for the cross-division promotions that Disney relies on: theme park rides, shows, merchandise, TV spinoffs and sequels.

"This film has tremendous potential to become a classic franchise for our company over the long term," Iger said.

Movies and timeshare real estate keep Disney on the move.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Aruba Wyndham Hotel Becomes Westin Timeshare Resort

The ownership of the Wyndham Hotel has been transferred to Belfonti Capital Partners LLC from the United States, who entered into a partnership with Starwood Vacation Club. The latter has the rights to build timeshare units on the property immediately next to the Wyndham Hotel. They have decided to start immediately with the build of the new timeshare units.

It was rumored for weeks already that the hotel was going to be sold, but the involved parties didn’t want to give any comment as long as the acquisition was not really done. That was the case yesterday. They also announced that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide will exploit the hotel. Also the name Wyndham will disappear as per immediate. 20 Million dollars will be used to improve the surrounding buildings and properties before the end of this year. One of the reasons is that the new owner wants to turn the complex into a Westin Resort, one of the leading timeshare chains in the tourist industry. Meanwhile they will use the name Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino.

Manager Rob Smith is pleased with the investment. “The new owners are planning to convert the resort into one of the most prominent timeshare resorts in Aruba and a leader in the Caribbean”, says Smith. Alfonso Riveroll, top executive of Aruba Hotel Enterprises will keep his job.

Monday, May 08, 2006


How Much Timeshare Growth Is Too Much?

After Hurricane Iniki demolished the Kaua'i economy in 1992, it took a decade before the island was mostly recovered. But now the development climate is so hot that many residents are calling for a halt.

There is increasing talk of moratoriums on new growth. The County Council is considering a bill to block all new timeshare development permits in the Koloa-Po'ipu area pending a complete traffic study. And yesterday, Mayor Bryan Baptiste said he wants progress on two proposed Waipouli timeshare resorts stopped "until they make us an offer we can't refuse."

Much of the island's infrastructure, such as water and sewer systems, is near or at capacity. For example, in several communities, the issuance of new water meters has been blocked because of lack of capacity in either source or storage of drinking water.

But congested streets are the biggest issue for many residents.

"It all boils down to traffic. Traffic congestion, traffic safety, pedestrian safety. That's basically the long and the short of it," said Koloa resident Ted Blake, who is helping organize discussions with county officials and timeshare developers in his part of the island to find solutions to the problem.

The mayor, as well as people who have had his job before and those who want it, are generally in agreement.

County Councilwoman and former Mayor JoAnn Yukimura is sponsoring a bill to place a moratorium on new permits in the area until the existing development plan for the area — which requires a complete traffic study — is enforced.

"We're doing this in response to the community's concerns. The community is advocating good planning, and they're up in arms because it's not happening," Yukimura said.

Mayoral candidate and former Councilman Jesse Fukushima said the county clearly has a excessive backlog of capital-improvements needs, and there's a sense that developers are adding to the congestion without paying enough in impact fees to make up for the increased demand they create.

"We all know that the impact fees are very much lacking," Fukushima said.

Baptiste yesterday announced that he has informed the Kaua'i Planning Commission of his opposition to two new timeshare resorts in the Coconut Plantation at Waipouli, because he feels their $12 million offer for water, sewer and traffic improvements is far short of what is appropriate.

The Coconut Beach Development, on 21 acres of beachfront, is proposed as a 343-unit timeshare project with 6 hotel rooms. The Coconut Plantation Village on 12 acres is designed as a 192-unit apartment hotel with 6 hotel rooms.

Baptiste said residents are frustrated by continued development, particularly in the Wailua-Kapa'a area, where traffic congestion is the worst on the island.

"I'm caught in a dilemma of catchup. Hundred of millions of dollars of catchup," he said. Besides water, sewer and roads, there's a need for housing, something county officials cannot legally ask the developers to contribute, he said.

"We cannot ask these developers for affordable housing, yet they will have to import employees to the island, which would put a burden on our housing inventory," the mayor said.

Mitch Heller, manager of the Coconut Beach Resort, said his timeshare project would provide roughly $8 million toward county needs.

"We are disappointed that the mayor has not recognized the many benefits our project will bring to the community in terms of traffic improvements, water storage and sewer upgrades," he said. "Our commitment to improve Kaua'i's infrastructure goes well beyond our statutory requirements and is unprecedented in scope."

He said the timeshare project would allow the completion of some traffic improvements.

"The traffic problem exists today and will exist tomorrow even if nothing else is built in Waipouli or as far north as Princeville," Heller said. "Clearly, if our project is not approved, it is unlikely that the county will be able to fund the road and other improvements that the community said it so badly needs."

For Baptiste, the Waipouli developers' offer is not enough to make a significant difference to residents.

"Projects must provide benefit to the 64,000 people who live here," the mayor said.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Raising The Bar With Addition Of Timeshare Units To Woodmore

Without disclosing names, Walt Petrie, chairman of Petrie Ross Ventures, said he is in negotiations with other retailers to come to Woodmore. Officials are going to the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this month, and will have further announcements ‘‘within 30 days” of their return, Petrie said.

Woodmore Towne Centre will have about 700,000 square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of office space, 922 residential units, two hotels with timeshare units and a conference center, according to Petrie Ross.

The Wegmans announcement is the latest in a series of upscale developments in Prince George’s. In late February, Gaylord Hotels announced it would add 500 rooms to its 1,500-room Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor project along the Potomac. In mid-April, the Peterson Cos. of Fairfax, Va., which is developing National Harbor, announced that five more hotel and timeshare chains were joining the project, bumping the total number of rooms to nearly 3,000.

Arthur Turner, chairman of the Prince George’s Chamber of Commerce’s economic development committee, said Wegmans’ presence may prompt high-end retailers — the Nieman Marcus types some county residents have sought — to give the county a second look.

‘‘Wegmans really raises the bar in terms of the type of retail options that are available to ... the county,” Turner said. Retail and timeshare are hand in hand at Wegmans.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Interval International Signs Up Torino 2006 Olympic Village For Timeshare Resort

What happens to an Olympic Village after the 2,500 athletes from 85 participant nations have left? For the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics the answer was simple – start work on turning the village into a timeshare resort.

The result is Villaggio Olimpico, an Interval International-affiliated timeshare resort situated in the town of Sestriere on Italy’s north-western border with France. This Alpine resort, owned by Olimpico Villagio Srl., will open in June 2006, when more than 280 timeshare units will be available for exchange.

Planned with the features of the surrounding landscape in mind, the village at Sestriere is a complex formed by seven buildings. The facilities are directly linked to the ski lifts through a hall area protected by a large window, which overlooks the ski slopes themselves.

David Clifton, Interval International’s managing director, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia, said: “For two weeks in February 2006, the region around Torino in northern Italy was the centre of the sporting world. “Hosting the Olympics is a great honour and not only a showcase of sporting excellence, but also a chance for the host nation to revitalise local infrastructure and economies. By turning to timeshare, the Olympic Village has really looked to an innovative and profitable alternative use.”

As its name suggests, Villaggio Olimpico is an ideal base for visitors wishing to take advantage of the world-class ski and snowboarding slopes. Built in 1934, Sestriere is one of the earliest and still one of the highest purpose-built ski stations.

Sitting on a sunny plateau, snow cover is guaranteed thanks to both altitude and one of the world's most extensive snow-making operations, a combination which made the Winter Olympics in 2006, such a success. The timeshare resort will not only be a winter destination but provides year-round facilities including Europe’s highest golf course.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Timeshare Resort Planned Near Colonial Williamsburg

A hotel with a prime location near Colonial Williamsburg will be renovated and turned into timeshares as part of a plan to build around 500 timeshares next to the Historic Area.

The Patrick Henry Inn and open land next to the Historic Area would become a timeshare resort in a project planned by a new development company.

Colonial Penniman LLC plans to build 400 timeshares on 18 acres at the corner of Page and Penniman Streets, according to site plans the company submitted to the city this week. The Colonial Capitol Inn, which is on that land, would be replaced by six four-story buildings. The group also plans to renovate the Patrick Henry Inn on York Street, converting the two hotel buildings to timeshare suites. That will add about 90 or 100 more timeshares to the resort, group spokesman Jim Bennett said Thursday.

The project will attract visitors throughout the year who will stay longer than they might if they were in a hotel, Bennett said. The location will be the timeshares' biggest selling point, he said. "You're right across the street from the restored area."

Hotelier Hunter Vermillion will sell the land and hotels to Colonial Penniman, Bennett said. Colonial Penniman is made up of local business owners and real estate developers, he said. The 2- and 3-bedroom timeshares would also have access to a spa, exercise equipment and indoor and outdoor pools.

How soon the timeshares would be built depends on the city's approval process. The land is already zoned for business use, but the Architectural Review Board must OK designs for the timeshares, since the project is near the Historic Area. The Planning Commission is slated to review the plans in June.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


South Napa Timeshare Resort Nears Completion

Napa's seemingly endless March and April rains turned hillsides lush and lawns green, but they played havoc with construction of the south county's newest luxury timeshare resort and conference center.

The Meritage Resort, in the Napa Valley Corporate Park, was slated to open by month's end. While buckets of rain put a damper on those plans, crews work furiously to finish the $60 million timeshare project.

"We're about 90 percent done," said General Manager Michael Lennon.

"We just have some site work and exterior work to be done," he said, in addition to completing a perimeter access road. "We're shooting to open by Memorial Day weekend," he said.

Guests who'd planned to use the hotel or facilities in May have been rescheduled or moved to other locations, said Lennon.

"We're helping them make new plans," he said.

The Napa Chamber of Commerce originally planned to host its annual Business Expo in Meritage's 10,500 square foot ballroom in May.

"The Expo moved to June, which is fantastic," said Lennon. "We really want to have (the event) at the hotel."

"We were of course disappointed to have to delay the Business Expo, but we're still excited to be having our event at the Meritage," said Chamber President Kate King. "The public and business community can look forward to a great Business Expo on June 14."

Even with the delays, interest remains strong in the timeshare resort.

"We're opening with over a million dollars of group business on the books," said Lennon. "It's fantastic."

Management staff for the facility has been hired and front office personnel are currently undergoing training, said Lennon.

Here comes the bride

Brides-to-be are already planning to have their wedding bells ring at the resort.

"We are getting a tremendous about of interest with our timeshare property for weddings," said Sharon Burns, director of catering. "The brides are very excited about having a winery experience at a resort."

Hotel facilities offer a private vineyard and a multitude of indoor and outdoor event spaces for receptions and other gatherings. An indoor chapel, dubbed "Our Lady of the Grapes," accommodates 60 guests.

How do you sell brides-to-be on an unfinished resort?

"We have storyboards we can show them. I go though all the details," said Burns. "The brides see it and they feel it.

"I booked today a September wedding for 150," said Burns. That particular group comes from out of town, she said.

"The majority of our interest is from the Bay Area, East Coast, New York and Chicago," she said.

Burns expects to host up to 15 weddings for the rest of 2006 and 50 to 60 weddings yearly thereafter. An average nuptial at the Meritage costs between $25,000 and $30,000, not including lodging, said Burns.

"One of the things our clients love is the option of using our four and five bedroom timeshare suites. That way the wedding party can stay together," said Burns.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting is scheduled at the Meritage for July 11.

Vino Bello timeshare property

Promising to "charm your imagination," Meritage sister property Vino Bello expects to debut 116 timeshare units in June.

The privately-held Shell Vacations Club owns the "timeshare ownership resort" Vino Bello.

Shell Regional Director of Sales and Marketing Perry Bergelt said he expects 30,000 Vino Bello visitors within the first 12 months.

The club hopes to sign new owners by offering free "mini-vacations" and product previews to select guests. 110,000 existing Shell Vacation Club "timeshare owners" are also potential visitors, said Bergelt.

After completing construction and the proper state registration processes, the Vino Bello "inventory" officially becomes part of the Shell Vacations Club and available for purchase.

Mindful of sales regulations, Bergelt was careful to point out that the timeshare resort has not done any pre-selling.

The vacation club pricing varies depending on destination resort, season, location, size of unit and length of stay, said Bergelt. Shell lifetime memberships begin at approximately $8,000 with average membership around $15,000.

Early indications are that Vino Bello will be sold in the $40,000 price range, said Bergelt.

"We anticipate an overwhelming demand," said Bergelt. "We expect to sell out our inventory; we do in all our properties."

While exact timeshare real estate buyers remain unknown, their demographics aren't. According to John Carter, Shell regional director of marketing, Shell Vacations Club owners are mostly married, ages 35 to 55 with household incomes of $80,000 a year and up.

You don't have to be an owner to enjoy a night or two at the Vino Bello. Shell spokeswoman Lynn Davis pointed out that available Vino Bello units can be rented via the Meritage Resort reservation system.

"It's a hidden secret of sorts," said Davis. "What you get is a real nice timeshare for the price of a hotel room."

A preview center at the Vino Bello site showcases the studio, one and two bedroom luxury units. Rooms include full stainless steel kitchens, granite counter tops, custom furniture, fireplaces and private balconies.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Huge Potential For Timeshare Ownership Products In Middle East

Potential demand for timeshare ownership products in the Middle East is enough to support $1.2 billion of annual sales, according to a report commissioned by RCI Middle East. It is part of the world's largest holiday exchange and rental travel group, RCI Global Vacation Network. The research was presented at a symposium, "New horizons in shared ownership," held at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai yesterday.

Demand from the Middle Eastern market alone is enough to support $540 million in annual timeshare sales, and the potential for fractional sales on an annual basis is estimated to be much higher at $642 million. However, demand for fractional interest ownership is harder to quantify because the market is relatively young, says the report. Fractional ownership, which typically involves a share of a larger number of weeks rather than just one or two, were a major preference, especially amongst Kuwaitis and Egyptians. Fractional interest ownership is usually located in an upscale resort destination where whole ownership prices are extremely high and such properties are scarce.

The research shows that the concept of timeshare real estate is ideally suited to the higher income Middle Eastern national and, that many Saudi Arabian and UAE nationals are more inclined to consider buying a timeshare property over and above other options.

The study demonstrated that the entire sample — nearly 1,000 high earning nationals from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Egypt and the UAE — travels regularly and that holiday choices are largely based upon destinations that offer good family solutions and shopping rather than activity and adventure tourism. Food and fine dining is definitely high on the agenda for all respondents in the survey.

The research focused on four leisure travel options — family holidays, religious travel, big trips and festive travels — and family holidays was the clear leader. Since many families travel in larger groups, with extended family, friends and household staff, the larger, luxurious type of accommodation found within shared ownership developments, is well suited to their requirements, stated the report. Notably, 40 per cent of Saudi nationals take household staff away with them, and 46 per cent of UAE nationals take their parents.

Dubai and the UAE as a whole are the most popular destinations for all nationalities, especially when considering a timeshare purchase. With regard to fractional ownership, the most attractive locations were Dubai, Sharm El Shaikh and Makkah. There is also a gap in the market for religious timeshare. Although not a top tier location for timeshare, Makkah shows consistent strength among other nationalities and has considerable potential as a religious timeshare destination. The research also shows that Egyptians show a preference for staying local, in the Alexandria area as well as Sharm El Shaikh. Dubai, Makkah and Sharm El Shaikh are also the top three locations of interest for timeshare real estate.

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