RCI Renews Affiliation Agreement With El Cid Resorts of Mexico

RCI®, the global leader in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, has renewed its affiliation agreement with El Cid Resorts.

The 35-year old Mexican hotel group continues the partnership in an effort to offer the high-quality services and varied exchange options its owners have come to expect over the 27 years RCI has been its exclusive vacation exchange provider. The agreement includes El Cid Resorts’ six developments in Mazatlán, Cozumel and the Mayan Riviera.

“We chose RCI as a provider of vacation exchange because it offers members the benefits of the world’s largest vacation exchange network, in addition to being committed to the growth and expansion plans of our company,” said Carlos Berdegue, president and managing director, El Cid Resorts. “RCI’s business and marketing solutions complement our service offerings, making for a very productive relationship.”

Each of the El Cid Resorts attracts visitors with its first-class oceanfront accommodations, luxury spas and friendly and dependable service. Mazatlán’s four locations are renowned for their golf courses, while the Cozumel location gives visitors access to cave and cavern diving. In the Mayan Riviera region, travelers staying at Hotel Marina El Cid Spa Beach Resort (see photo) can go snorkeling in the aqua waters of the Caribbean in Puerto Morelos National Reef Park.

“We are proud to continue our relationship with El Cid Resorts, a hotel group that continues to grow through a clear business vision,” said Ricardo Montaudon, president and CEO, RCI Latin America.

“Its widespread success in Mazatlán and other Mexican tourist regions, such as the Mayan Riviera and Cozumel, are an indication of their exemplary commitment to servicing the guest. We look forward to more growth as our companies continue to work together.”

RCI is the worldwide leader in vacation exchange with over 4,000 affiliated resorts in approximately 100 countries. RCI pioneered the concept of vacation exchange in 1974, offering members increased flexibility and versatility with their vacation ownership experience. Today, through RCI® Weeks, the traditional week-for-week exchange system, and RCI Points®, the industry’s first global points-based exchange system, RCI provides flexible vacation options to its 3.8 million RCI subscribing members each year.

Diamond Resorts International® Encourages Participation in Global Entry Program

Diamond Resorts International® (Diamond) a global leader in the hospitality and vacation ownership industries, encourages its U.S. bound owners, members and guests to participate in Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that provides expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Both the frequent international traveler and occasional jetsetter are equally eligible as no minimum number of trips is required to qualify for the program.

Global Entry is designed to alleviate frustration by eliminating duplicative screening of international passengers while still maintaining optimal security. The process requires that participants present their machine-readable U.S. passport or permanent resident card at a Global Entry Kiosk, provide fingerprint verification and make a customs declaration. Upon completion, the kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

According to Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Diamond Resorts International®, “As Chairman of the Corporate for Travel Promotion we continually seek ways to simplify travel in order to increase tourism to the United States. We have many exciting destination choices in the United States and the Global Entry program provides increased accessibility with reduced hassle and greater enjoyment while traveling.”

In 2008, CBP launched its pilot study of the Global Entry program at 20 airports. Due to its success, CBP is preparing federal regulations to make it a permanent program. The program is currently open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, Canadian citizens and permanent residents, Dutch citizens as well as Mexican citizens. Global Entry will soon be open to United Kingdom, German and South Korean citizens.

Diamond Resorts International®, with global headquarters in Las Vegas, Nev., is one of the largest hospitality companies in the world with more than 200 branded and affiliated resorts and over 24,000 guest beds in 28 countries with destinations throughout the continental United States and Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa. Annually, nearly 1.4 million owners, members and guests enjoy the simplicity, choice and comfort Diamond Resorts International® offers through our branded hospitality experience.

Diamond Resorts Corporation
and its subsidiaries develop, own, operate and manage vacation ownership resorts and, through resort and partner affiliation agreements, provide owners and members with access to 69 managed resorts and 132 affiliated resorts.

Marriott Earns High Marks from Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation has awarded Marriott International, Inc. a high score of 90% on its annual Corporate Equality Index for 2011.

The Corporate Equality Index rates employers for their acceptance of and respect for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, consumers and investors. Ratings are based on factors such as non-discrimination policies, equal benefits for domestic partners, and respectful advertising, and external community outreach.

“From our employees and owners to our suppliers, customers and shareholders, everyone brings something different to Marriott and we embrace all,” says Jimmie Paschall, Global Diversity Officer and senior vice president of External Affairs, Marriott International.

“We are proud that the Human Rights Campaign recognizes our commitment to a culture of inclusiveness. It is in the fabric of our culture. Our employees, customers, owners and shareholders expect it and understand that it is what makes Marriott successful,” said Paschall.

Marriott has consistently been recognized for its outstanding workplace and diversity and inclusion programs. For a comprehensive list of accomplishments, click Awards and Recognition. In 2009, Marriott launched its web site tailored primarily for the LGBT community. To learn more, click here.

Browse Marriott timeshare resales, exchanges, and rentals.

Everyone brings something different to Marriott. From Maryland to Mumbai, Marriott does business responsibly around the world.

Festiva Expands With Ocean City Resort

Festiva Hospitality Group has announced in a press release the purchase of the development rights, unsold inventory and management company at Coconut Malorie in Ocean City, Maryland.

The resort is nestled in the natural wetlands overlooking the beautiful Isle of Wight Bay. Coconut Malorie is the newest vacation option for Festiva Adventure Club members, and approximately 1600 owners will be added to Festiva’s member base with this acquisition.

“With this exciting addition to our family of resorts we continue to carry out Festiva’s purpose: We are passionately committed to improving people’s lives by providing a lifetime of travel, vacations and priceless memories,” said Don Clayton, Festiva Hospitality Group CEO. “We look forward to providing all of those things for both existing and new Festiva members through our relationship with Coconut Malorie.”

An extravagant marble lobby complete with a fountain welcomes guests to Coconut Malorie on the Bay side of the Coastal Highway. Guests can enjoy an on-site billiards room and fitness center located on top of the hotel in the tower with magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Isle of Wight Bay and the best sunsets on the east coast.

The Oasis Pool Deck is designed for ultimate relaxation with a heated outdoor pool and a whirlpool. Arched and lighted footbridges connect the resort to the restaurant and night life at Fager’s Island.

The resort offers luxurious accommodations in 85 studio and 1-bedroom suites, all newly designed with attention to luxury and meeting your vacation needs. Professionally decorated rooms showcase all new furniture, artwork, carpet, bedspreads and curtains.

“Now is the time to stop by and see all of the work we have done to enhance our guests' vacation experience!” said Clayton.

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, Festiva Hospitality Group manages and operates a dynamic collection of resorts in some of the most sought-after destinations throughout the Midwest, Southeast, Northeast and Caribbean. Festiva Resorts currently has more than 60,000 members among 26 vacation ownership resorts and the number of members in the Festiva Adventure Club exceeds 20,000.

Photo Credits: oc-condo.com

Orange Lake Resorts Works To Reduce Carbon Footprint

Developer Orange Lake Resorts, operator of seven Holiday Inn Club Vacations® resort destinations, has announced that they are taking steps toward minimizing the impact of the company’s carbon footprint by introducing a new $1.4 million PulseFlow tunnel system by Pellerin Milnor Corporation that will save them 15 million gallons of water per year at their flagship Orlando resort.

For nearly 30 years, Orange Lake Resorts has used equipment that processes 1,800 pounds of laundry per hour with 3 gallons of water used per pound, and completing the day’s work of 28,800 pounds of laundry over two shifts.

Orange Lake’s new Milnor equipment consists of a PulseFlow Milnor CBW washer, a Single Stage press, and four pass-through dryers. The new equipment processes 4,000 pounds of laundry per hour, using only 0.3 to 0.4 gallons of fresh water per pound, with the day’s work of 30,000 pounds of laundry finishing in just one shift.

Bill Bell of Steiner-Atlantic, Milnor’s local distributor for the Orlando area, says, “Orange Lake has an eye on the staff’s overall environment and on improvements in efficiencies and expenditures, so we were thrilled that they committed to the corporate investment of introducing this modern equipment from the best in the industry.”

The Orlando resort, with 2,478 villas and an average of 511,853 annual guests, processes eight million pounds of laundry per year. The new equipment allows the company the ability to grow their laundry operation to process up to approximately 10.5 million pounds of laundry per year.

Scott Hedrick, vice president, rooms division, says, “We are delighted to be using the Milnor equipment in our laundry facility. It’s a step towards reducing our impact on the environment on a daily basis and changing how we operate to create significant efficiencies and cost savings while positively impacting the guest experience through improved linen quality. It’s also a pleasure to improve the everyday workplace for our skilled laundry team members, who are truly the ‘heart of our house.’”

Orange Lake Resorts is a timeshare resort developer with nearly 30 years of proven success in the industry. Orange Lake’s flagship property in Orlando, located next to Walt Disney World® Resort, was established in 1982 by Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson. A 1,450-acre golf, water park and sports resort, Orange Lake Resort in Orlando includes 2,478 villas with the ability to expand to 4,500 villas.

Orange Lake Resorts is proud to be one of Orlando Sentinel’s “Top 100 Companies for Working Families” for the second year in a row, winning the Sentinel’s 2011 “Community Service Champion” award for excellence in philanthropic contributions.

Diamond Resorts International Implements Sustainable Gardening

Diamond Resorts International®, a global leader in the hospitality and vacation ownership industries, continues global sustainability efforts and offers Agricultural Corner, an educational gardening program, to its owners, members and guests at Sunset Bay Club in Tenerife, Spain, Diamond’s fourth resort to have a sustainable garden.

Agricultural Corner, in conjunction with the on-site sustainability garden, offers owners, members and guests an opportunity to assist in the caretaking and harvesting of a variety of vegetables and herbs, cultivated using all natural products, completely pesticide-free. Gardening experts are available to provide gardening tips and useful information including the health benefits of the local produce.

Diamond Resorts International has already implemented sustainability gardens at Ka’anapali Beach Club in Maui, Hawaii, The Historic Powhatan Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia and Vilar do Golf in Algarve, Portugal.

The use of these gardens enhances the natural environment while benefiting the ecosystem and local economy. Minimal chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used during production and the installation of underground watering systems decreases water waste and eliminates runoff. Each garden boasts unique features and hosts an array of fresh produce native to the area and specific to the cultural cuisine and restaurant offerings of the resort.

“We place a strong emphasis on eco-awareness and will continue to introduce and promote programs which encourage properties worldwide to engage in green initiatives,” stated Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Resorts International.
Photo Credit: squidoo.com

Brand USA, Inc

It was announced this week that the Corporation for Travel Promotion is now doing business as Brand USA, Inc. The Corporation for Travel Promotion was created in 2010 for the purpose of encouraging travelers from all over the world to visit the United States of America.

The public-private marketing entity works in close partnership with the travel industry to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel in communities around the country. Through its call-to-action “Discover America,” Brand USA will “encourage and inspire travelers to explore America’s boundless possibilities.”

In this blog we have written about The Corporation for Travel Promotion, and its mission to increase foreign travel to the U.S., and thus increase jobs and put the U.S. travel industry on a healthy footing, where it has not been since the 9-11 attacks.

Increased foreign tourism to the U.S. can translate into increased interest in timeshare resales, exchanges, and rentals, so it is good to hear that Brand USA Inc. launched the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated global campaign at London’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a subsequent press conference at ExCel London.

According to Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of Brand USA Inc., and Chief Executive Officer of Diamond Resorts International®, “Brand USA has arrived and it’s not just a tourism brand, but a platform to spur powerful growth throughout all the corners of the United States. It is a 21st-century brand that will help reposition our great nation in the global market for travel – and drive economic activity, including billions in new spending and tens of thousands of new outsource-proof jobs and much needed tax revenue.”

“The new identity of Brand USA captures the unique and diverse culture of the US, and is a critical step in the development of the nation’s first unified marketing strategy,” said Cloobeck.

The logo, which comprises a collection of dots joining together to form the letters USA, symbolizes” the boundless possibilities of the US.” The logo also displays Brand USA’s consumer website, DiscoverAmerica.com. The first official advertising and marketing campaign is scheduled to launch in spring 2012.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Timeshares Heads West

The three-year-old partnership between IHG and Orange Lake Resorts has announced the purchase of an additional resort by Orange Lake in Las Vegas, which will become part of Holiday Inn Club Vacations

The 648-unit Las Vegas Desert Club near the Strip is the newest property in the Orange Lake Resorts portfolio, and is the most significant element of the transaction. The one- and two-bedroom property just a block from the Strip adds a western outpost to complement Orange Lake’s portfolio of six locations in the East that span from Vermont to Wisconsin to Florida, as well as Tennessee and South Carolina. Orange Lake will complete an ongoing renovation of the property, and it should join the Holiday Inn Club Vacations roster sometime in 2012.

“Our alliance with Orange Lake has been so successful it showed us we’re strong enough to add ancillary businesses to our core hotel model without distracting from our core mission while producing accretive value for IHG and our partners,” says Del Ross, vice president, U.S. sales and marketing for IHG. “It wet our appetite for other alliances and we have since launched the InterContinental Alliance Resort program.”

“This is a huge step for us,” says Orange Lake President & CEO Don Harrill of the Las Vegas acquisition. “I liken it to five or six years ago when we were a single-site resort in Orlando and began to build a network of resorts around this hub to satisfy our customer base in the East. And now that we’ve established a beachhead in Las Vegas, we can evolve our product offerings and build our membership in the West.”

Harrill says the company will look for other opportunities in the West with targets including San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco and Hawaii. “We plan to be opportunistic in our growth strategy,” he says. “While acquisitions are typically more cost effective in this environment, we don’t rule out new development in the right situations.”

The independent timeshare giant Orange Lake Resorts and brand company InterContinental Hotels Group joined in a partnership in January, 2009, an alliance that marries Orange Lake’s vacation ownership expertise with the brand recognition of Holiday Inn Club Vacations and the marketing muscle of IHG.

Last fall IHG and Orange Lake announced a rebranding of existing and new Orange Lake resorts under the Holiday Inn name. The common link is a strong one: both Holiday Inns and Orange Lake were founded by entrepreneur Kemmons Wilson, and the Wilson family still owns and operates the timeshare company, Holiday Inn Club Vacations explained in a press release.

Photo Credit: lhonline.com

Interval International Names Director of Resort Sales and Service for Western Region

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group has appointed Christopher McGill as director of resort sales and service for the western region. He is based in the Las Vegas office and reports to David Callaghan, vice president of resort sales and service.

In this role, McGill oversees Interval’s presence and directs the day-to-day sales and service activities in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. He is responsible for providing service to Interval’s existing affiliated resort clients, as well as building Interval’s developer client base in those markets.

“We are extremely pleased that Chris has joined our resort sales and service team. His sales and marketing experience in the timeshare industry has already proven to be a considerable asset, as we continue to grow our business in the western region,” said Callaghan.

McGill began his sales career with QM Resorts, where he was employed from 2001 to 2004. He then served as a staffer, campaign manager, and executive director for a number of Nevada public officials. Most recently, McGill was president of Lingkt Public Relations and Business Development, a consulting firm in Las Vegas.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Nevada in Reno.

Interval International operates membership programs for vacationers and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market for 35 years.

Today, Interval has an exchange network of approximately 2,600 resorts in over 75 nations. Through offices in 15 countries, Interval offers high-quality products and benefits to resort clients and approximately 2 million families who are enrolled in various membership programs.

Photo Credit: perspectivemagazine.com

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Adds 15th Timeshare Resort in Hawaii

Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), the world’s largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies, announced it has completed renovations on its 15th resort in Hawaii - Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden at Waikiki.

“With the addition of our 15th resort in Hawaii we are solidifying our position as the industry’s largest and most successful timeshare developer in Hawaii,” said Franz Hanning, president and chief executive officer, Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

“We are very proud to provide yet another world-class property in this highly desirable destination for our more than 800,000 owners and guests.”

Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden at Waikiki will operate within ClubWyndham®, plus the company’s points-based exchange program that allows owners the flexibility to vacation at more than 70 resorts.

Located along the Ala Wai waterway just blocks from Waikiki Beach, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Royal Garden at Waikiki offers spacious accommodations in one of Hawaii’s most desirable locations. The property features studio units and one- and two-bedroom Presidential units.

Onsite amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, two saunas, fitness center, media lounge and outdoor garden. The resort is conveniently located in close proximity to the Waikiki Beach Walk complex, one of the largest redevelopment projects in the city’s history which includes shopping, fine dining and nightlife.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership, a member of Wyndham Worldwide’s WYN family of companies, is the world’s largest vacation ownership business, as measured by the number of vacation ownership resorts, individual vacation ownership units and vacation ownership interests. WVO has developed or acquired more than 160 vacation ownership resorts throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. Headquartered in Orlando, FL, WV0 is supported by approximately 13,300 employees globally.

Take a look at all timeshare rentals, exchanges, and resales listed for WVO resorts in Hawaii.

Photo Credit: royalgardens.com

Shell Vacations Promotes Jack Waller to VP of Marketing

Shell Vacations, one of the nation’s leading independent vacation ownership development organizations, has recently promoted Jack Waller to Vice President of Marketing for Shell Vacations.

In his new position, Waller will be responsible for tour generation at all Shell Vacations Club (SVC) sales offices company-wide. Previously serving as National Director of Marketing, Waller was responsible for the design and implementation of company-wide marketing programs, as well as overseeing the National Marketing Center, which provides fulfillment for certificate programs, package programs, internet programs and marketing call center operations.

Waller brings over 18 years of vacation ownership industry marketing experience. He joined Shell Vacations in 1993 as a Marketing Manager and advanced to become SVC’s National Director of Marketing. Waller is known as an industry leader in direct marketing programs for vacation ownership and has been awarded many industry distinctions, including a Silver ARDA Award for Marketing Executive/Large Project.

“With his diverse background in marketing and finance, Jack has significantly lowered our costs and has centralized many operations that support the timeshare division,” commented Jack Chevrier, executive vice president of Sales and Marketing for Shell Vacations.

“His leadership skills and passion for innovation are foundations for Shell Vacations and I am proud to have him head the Marketing division for our future growth. He has accomplished several major changes that have kept SVC a competitor in today’s marketplace when quality and lower costs are vital to a company,” said Chevrier.

Headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, Shell Vacations LLC is recognized as one of the most respected independent vacation ownership developers in the United States, operating 25 resorts in the U.S., Mexico and Canada. The company specializes in the sales and hospitality management of vacation ownership resorts as well as servicing over 115,000 owner and member families of its vacation ownership products.

Photo Credit: shellvacationsclub.com

RCI Pacific Announces Go Green 2011 Award Winners

RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and one of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, announced the winners of its successful “Go Green Awards” for its affiliated resorts in the Pacific, at the recent Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council (ATHOC) conference.

This year’s winner, Club Paihia in New Zealand, the runner-up in 2010, showed remarkable progress using prize money earned last year to set up a dedicated Club TV channel that provides guests with information about the resort’s sustainable activities.

Western Australia’s Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific Dunsborough and Queenstown Mews also of New Zealand were acknowledged as runners-up. To recognize their commitment to sustainable environmental practices, each of the three winners received cash donations to further expand their environmental programs.

Martyn Rix, CEO of Monad Pacific Management, the management company for Club Paihia and Queenstown Mews, commented on the awards saying, “The recognition goes to the individual resort managers who worked tirelessly and with passionate dedication to establish the successful environmentally sustainable practices at both resorts.”

“This year we tweaked the criteria to better reflect some of the latest findings on trends within the hospitality industry. More importantly we also took into account progress and performance, so that the amount of sustainability-related change made during the past 12 months was a major factor, along with actual practices and initiatives,” said Dr. David Weaver, Professor of Tourism Research at Griffith University, and adjudicate of the self-assessment and on-site inspection phases.

More than 15 resort submissions and three exceptional finalists who demonstrated credible advances in environmentally-friendly sustainable practices throughout the year, made this year’s Go Green program a resounding success.

“Having such committed eco-conscious resort managers, clearly reflects on the exceptional caliber of resorts within RCI’s exchange network,” added Charisse Cox, managing director of RCI Pacific.

Launched over two years ago, the ‘Go Green’ program was a first for the timeshare in the Pacific and for RCI worldwide. Recognizing the emergence of a growing ‘green conscious’ member base, RCI set out to encourage affiliate resorts to embrace green initiatives while aiming to improve the industry’s carbon footprint as a whole.

Consequently, the ‘Go Green’ program has quickly been embraced by affiliate resorts both regionally and globally. Since its inception, both RCI North America and RCI Europe businesses have followed suit, launching similar programs this year, yet another example of RCI’s commitment to the environment on a global level.

“Go Green Award of the Pacific region and The Green Awards of North America and Europe fit in well with our global commitment to corporate social responsibility and the environment,” Cox said.

(Photo credit - greenhackz.com)

ARDA International Foundation Launches e-Learning Platform

The American Resort Development Association's (ARDA) International Foundation (AIF) is launching the first comprehensive e-learning platform for the timeshare industry. AIF will provide ongoing industry-specific training for sales, marketing and operations staff on an easy-to-use e-learning platform. The first course launching in Fall 2011, is entitled "Partnership Strategies: Winning in the New Economy."

"We have been hearing from members for years about the need for more industry-wide, standardized training," said Darla Zanini, executive vice president, AIF. "We're thrilled to be able to deliver the first of many courses that will enhance the skills of the people working in the timeshare industry."

"Partnership Strategies" is a self-paced seven-module course that delves into specific strategies and best practices for handling customer interactions today. Integrating video, interactive exercises and module quizzes, the course offers real-life examples and situations applicable for any timeshare employee who may have contact with consumers.

RCI’s senior vice president, Kris Jamtaas is enthusiastic. "We had our entire sales team in San Diego participate in the course together, as well as some staff from operations, the phone room and gifting, and they all gave it high praise," Jamtaas. "AIF has hit the mark with this powerful and relevant topic – Partnership Strategies is a must-take industry course for all who are passionate about their profession."

The course is available to both corporations and individuals. For individuals, the price is $399 and will include the entire 2010 AIF Webinar series at no extra charge. There are three levels of corporate partnership that provide packages structured specifically for companies that have multiple users and want to take advantage of the special pricing offered.

Future courses will be announced later this year, including Timeshare 101. For further information, please visit www.arda.org/elearning.

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is the Washington D.C.-based professional association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries. Established in 1969, ARDA today has over 1,000 members ranging from privately held firms to publicly traded companies and international corporations with expertise in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate. The membership also includes timeshare owner associations (HOAs).

RCI’s New Affiliations Brings Asian Portfolio to 158 Properties

RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, has announced two new affiliation agreements with Hon Tam Resort & Spa in Vietnam (see photo) and Patong Bay Garden Resort in Thailand. The signing of these agreements expands RCI’s Asian portfolio to 158 properties.

Earlier in the year, another two new properties were welcomed into the program. Both in China, the Shining Star Vacation Club, Xing Yao Shui Xiang Resort and Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels offer high-quality vacation experiences to the 3.8 million members in RCI’s network.

“These four new affiliation agreements not only show a growing interest for timeshare travel throughout Asia but evidence that we’re offering an innovative and appealing timeshare exchange product,” said Adrian Lee, managing director, RCI Asia Pacific.

“Adding new resorts in China, Thailand and Vietnam reaffirms our commitment to offering great vacations in highly-desirable destinations in Asia and throughout the world. We’re happy to have them on-board,” Lee said.

Hon Tam Resort & Spa (see photo) is located on Hon Tam, an eco-green island in the middle of Vietnam’s Nha Trang Bay surrounded by crystal blue waters and a private and pristine beach.. Recreational facilities include a golf driving range, mini-golf, tennis courts, fitness center, Kids’ Club, spa, and water sports including scuba diving and fishing. Nha Trang is known for its endless beach and warm tropical weather,

Patong Bay Garden Resort is located on the popular Patong Bay in Phuket, Thailand offering a full range of facilities and activities, along with the classic touch of Thai charm and hospitality. Phuket, also known as the Jewel of the Andaman Sea, is a world-class destination offering a dynamic, vibrant and diverse holiday destination; world-class diving in the Andaman Sea; golfing at world-standard championship courses; eco-adventures in tropical forests; exhilarating speedboat trips to the surrounding islands; and serene cruises around mystical Phang Nga Bay.

Shining Star Vacation Club, Xing Yao Shui Xiang Resort is located in the Jia Lize wetland in Kunming, China. This mega upscale integrated tourism development consists of more than 10,000 diverse vacation accommodations spread across themed resorts, hotels, holiday villas and town houses; equestrian club with a landscaped 20-kilometer riding boulevard; ecological wetland park; country-style fishing club; golf academy and driving range exclusively designed by Phil Mickelson; extensive lavender and sunflower fields; organic fruit and vegetable garden; meeting and conference facilities; and a myriad of retail and dining facilities.

Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels, part of the Yuan Yi Group, is a global lifestyle and mixed-used development strategically located in the south of Xin An River and flanked by Pei Lang River to its east. It is surrounded by renowned tourism sites such as the charming Old Antique Street, the awe-inspiring Huangshan, China (also known as Yellow Mountain), diversified cultural wetlands and historical Anhui villages.

Extra Holidays by Wyndham 9/11 Donation to Tuesday’s Children

Extra Holidays by Wyndham, a subsidiary of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the world’s largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies, has announced a monetary donation in support of children impacted by the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. Tuesday’s Children, a New York City-based nonprofit family service organization, will receive the charitable funds.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of September 11, Extra Holidays by Wyndham is donating $10,000 to Tuesday’s Children and is encouraging the social community to visit the Extra Holidays Facebook page to “like” it and learn more about Tuesday’s Children.

“The tragic events of September 11 are forever in our hearts and minds,” said Sarah King, executive vice president of human resources, Wyndham Vacation Ownership. “Supporting children is a major focus of our charitable giving program, Wishes by Wyndham, and we applaud the much needed services being provided by Tuesday’s Children. It is our goal to engage and challenge the social community to also support such a worthwhile cause and help children with us.”

Since 2001, Tuesday’s Children has promoted healing and recovery by strengthening family resilience, providing individual coping and life management skills and creating community through programs, mental health support and family engagement opportunities.

“Tuesday’s Children welcomes the support of Wyndham Vacation Ownership,” said Terry Sears, executive director, Tuesday’s Children. “Thanks to caring companies like Wyndham, we can continue to promote our mission of helping families and first responders and offer much needed programs and services.”

Tuesday’s Children is a nonprofit family service organization that has made a long term commitment to every individual impacted by the events of September 11, 2001 and more recently those who have been impacted by terrorist incidents worldwide.

Since 2001, Tuesday’s Children has promoted healing and recovery by strengthening family resilience, providing individual coping and life management skills and creating community through programs, mental health support and family engagement opportunities.

Extra Holidays by Wyndham specializes in offering quality vacation accommodations throughout the United States, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Extra Holidays by Wyndham is a specialized, resort condominium rental operator and a part of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, which is headquartered in Orlando, FL.

China Destination Added to Interval International Timeshare Exchange

Interval International, a leading global provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, has expanded its global resort network with the addition of Jinfeng Yinhua Holiday Hotel, part of the Shengteng Vacation Club.

In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lijiang City, China, the vacation ownership apartments offer the ideal vantage point from which to explore the history and customs of the Naxi people, who have lived in Yunnan Province for 800 years.

“Lijiang City is one of China’s most popular destinations, renowned not only for its cultural heritage, but also for its stunning surroundings and unique festivals,” said Joe Hickman, Interval’s executive director for Asia Pacific. “The hotel’s authentic Naxi architecture, distinguished by sloping tile roofs, gates, and classical courtyards, blends seamlessly with the historic hotels and farms of the Old Town, while offering up-to-the-minute style and amenities.”

Tucked into cobbled Guailiu Lane in the willow-shaded Shuhe Old Town, Jinfeng Yinhua Holiday Hotel has a restaurant and separate tea and wine bars on site. All units have sleek, modern decor. Nearby, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain provides a majestic backdrop for the Moon Embracing Pavilion (see photo), a frequently visited tourist site at Black Dragon Pond. Other popular attractions include Dongba hieroglyphs and the Mosuo people at Lugu Lake, known as the “last kingdom of women on earth.”

Legendary Lijiang City is situated in the mountains of Yunnan Province, in the far southwest of China. Due to its low latitude and high elevation, the climate is generally mild year-round.

“Lijiang City is a harmonious combination of old traditions and a fashionable new city,” said Wang Xinming, President of Shengteng Resort Development Co. Ltd. “We are pleased to welcome Interval members to this part of China and to offer our Vacation Club members the quality and worldwide scope of Interval International operates membership programs for vacation owners and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market for 35 years.

Today, Interval International has a timeshare exchange network of approximately 2,600 resorts in over 75 nations. Through offices in 15 countries, Interval International offers high-quality products and benefits to resort clients and approximately 2 million families who are enrolled in various membership programs. Interval is an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, Inc., a leading global provider of membership and leisure services to the vacation industry.

(Photo credit - travelblog.com)

St Martin to Host Caribbean Tourism Organization Conference

The French Caribbean destination of St Martin will make history when it hosts the first state of the industry conference organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in September.

President of the St Martin Tourism Authority, Ida Zin-Ka-Ieu, and the CTO secretary general, Hugh Riley, made the announcement at a joint news conference. The event was also attended by Edward Dest, the marketing manager of Dutch St Maarten’s tourism bureau and Lisa Noel, the product development assistant, also of Dutch St Maarten.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization is thrilled that St Martin has taken this opportunity to demonstrate its creativity to the Caribbean and the world by hosting our first ever state of the industry conference,” said Riley.

“We are excited about the event and we are confident that St Martin will make itself and the Caribbean proud.”

The September 14th-17th conference will look at the current state of the Caribbean tourism industry and how to deal with issues that impact on the sector, with a view to building for the future. Bringing together policymakers, executives and tourism industry professionals, this conference will mark the premiere State of the Industry Conference for CTO, who represents tourism for over 30 Caribbean countries.

This year’s conference will focus on the themes of beating the global recession and the ways to succeed within a competitive environment. Organized in part with the Saint-Martin Tourist Office, the event will also demonstrate the ways in which the Caribbean has overcome current economic challenges and how they are continuing to improve local tourism. Topics to be covered will include maximizing on limited resources, how to influence the affluent traveler, and tips on being competitive.

This conference will also see the return of the Tourism Youth Congress at which Caribbean youth will debate issues of concern to the tourism industry.

“This is a very important conference which deals with a number of issues that are relevant to St Martin and the Caribbean tourism sector,” added Ms. Zin-Ka-Ieu. “We are very pleased that the CTO has chosen St Martin to host this historic event.”

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and marketing operations in New York, London and Toronto, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency.

RCI and Orange Lake Resorts Renew Long-Standing Affiliation

RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, and Orange Lake Resorts, home to Holiday Inn Club Vacations, announced a renewal of their affiliation agreement that continues a nearly 30-year business relationship.

“We’ve enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with RCI, who through the decades has been a leader and innovator in the timeshare exchange community,” stated Don Harrill, president and CEO of Orange Lake Resorts. “As they continue to build on an already impressive collection of high-quality destination options for our members to enjoy, we are pleased that our growing resort network remains part of their worldwide exchange portfolio.”

Holiday Inn Club Vacations’ resorts are strategically located to give vacationers access to top attractions in the U.S., from world-renowned Orlando theme parks and Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, to the snow-covered peaks of Vermont and beautiful waters of Lake Geneva, Wis. The family-friendly resorts feature activities and amenities to provide visitors memorable vacation experiences, such as special activities and events, swimming pools, on-site restaurants, fitness centers, mini golf and lake or beach access.

“We are very pleased to continue our relationship with Holiday Inn Club Vacations, which began with the affiliation of Orange Lake Resort almost three decades ago,” said Gordon Gurnik, president, RCI. “The vacation experience provided at their six high-quality resorts is in line with the types of vacations that our members have come to expect. Over the years our companies have grown together to create a strong alliance that benefits both members and owners. We look forward to more great things to come at these beautiful resorts.”

RCI’s exchange programs offer many benefits to Orange Lake Resorts’ owners and all RCI members. Those who belong to The Registry Collection program are offered a world of luxury vacation opportunities and experiences at many of the most desirable resort destinations around the world. They also enjoy special services including a personal concierge to assist them 24/7, a Reservation Consultant for trip planning and a unique Guest Certificate program, among other benefits.

RCI Points members enjoy the advantages of exchanging with the worldwide leader in vacation exchange and the world’s first global points-based exchange program, which allows flexible exchange for stays from as little as one or two days to as many as 21 days. To further enhance their vacation experience, RCI Points members have the opportunity to upgrade to a Points Platinum membership, which offers opportunities for automatic upgrades, priority exchange privileges and a myriad of exciting new travel and lifestyle benefits.

Shell Vacations Partners with Interval International to Enhance Services

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, and Shell Vacations LLC, one of the shared ownership industry’s largest and most successful independent resort developers, have announced a long-term master affiliation agreement.

This encompasses 24 unique Shell Vacations-operated or -affiliated resorts in the United States, Canada, and Mexico that will enhance Interval’s quality global exchange network. The latest addition to Shell Vacations’ impressive portfolio is the iconic Park Manor Suites in San Diego, California, which has been renamed Inn at the Park to maintain brand recognition within the resort collection. All properties that the company develops, acquires, or services during the term of the contract will be included.

Shell Vacations has also selected Interval to provide points-based reservations and a comprehensive package of other customized services, benefits, and programs for its members. The seamless integration will leverage Interval’s infrastructure and supplement Shell Vacations’ resources.

“The Interval team embraced our entrepreneurial spirit and passion for innovation. They have an exceptional focus on quality and that coupled with our desire to continually create new products results in a ‘win-win’ situation,” said Sheldon H. Ginsburg, chairman and CEO of Shell Vacations LLC.

“We are very proud that Shell Vacations has chosen Interval to complement the state-of-the-art programs and services that it has long delivered to its members,” said Craig M. Nash, chairman, president, and CEO of Interval Leisure Group.

“As one of the most respected independent brands in shared ownership, Shell has been at the forefront of creating flexible-use products that today are emulated by many in the industry. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Shell Vacations team to grow our businesses.”

Tracy L. Sherles, president and chief operating officer of Shell Vacations LLC, added, “The Shell team is very excited to embark on this new partnership. Interval’s penchant for quality and its clever approach to service delivery are impressive. This relationship will enhance every aspect of Shell Vacations’ business, from sales and marketing support to member benefits and services through to superior portfolio performance.”

Shell Vacations operates Shell Vacations Club (SVC), an innovative points-based vacation club for some 65,000 members. Effective January 2, 2012, these consumers will be enrolled as members of Interval International, entitling them to a host of year-round benefits, including the opportunity to redeem their points for stays at resorts in Interval’s network.

SVC members will also become Interval Gold® members, and enjoy a number of upgraded benefits such as ShortStay Exchange(SM); discounts on resort Getaways; special offers at hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets worldwide; complimentary Hertz #1 Gold® membership; and access to a personal concierge service available 24/7 via phone and email.

Black Enterprise Includes Marriott in Top 40 Best Companies for Diversity

For the seventh year in a row Marriott International has been recognized by Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “40 Best Companies for Diversity.” The July feature article highlighted Marriott for its employee base, board of directors and supplier diversity efforts.

“We are honored to be recognized for our diversity and inclusion initiatives. We strive to create an inclusive environment where the talents and unique experiences of our employees worldwide can flourish." said Jimmie Paschall, global diversity officer and senior vice president, external affairs.

“When our employees feel respected and valued, we know that they’ll make our guests, suppliers, owners and franchisees feel the same way too. We want to build on the success of our longstanding commitment to diversity in the U.S. while striving to reach our vision of embedding diversity and inclusion so deeply into our organization that it is integral to how we do business in the global community.”

In 2003, Marriott’s Board of Directors established the Committee for Excellence, chaired today by board member Debra L. Lee, chairman and CEO of BET Networks, to monitor the progress of the company’s diversity initiatives.

To date, Marriott has spent $2.6 billion with diverse-owned businesses, more than doubling its 2005 goal, and has more than 586 diverse-owned hotels that are open for business.

The company continues to be recognized for its diversity and inclusion achievements. This year, Marriott was ranked first in supplier diversity on DiversityInc’s “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list and named Company of the Year by LatinaStyle.

Known throughout the industry for his hands-on management style, J.W. Marriott, Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, Inc., has built a highly regarded culture that recognizes the value of Marriott employees. Today, approximately 300,000 employees are serving guests in Marriott managed and franchised properties throughout the world.

From Boston to Palm Beach, from Hilton Head to Park City, from Aruba to Thailand you can literally follow Marriott's rising star around the globe. Timeshare rentals, timeshare exchanges and timeshare resales are all here to give you the distinctive excellence of a Marriott vacation experience.

RCI Launches Exclusive Platinum Membership Package

RCI has unveiled an exciting and enhanced version of its membership program. RCI Platinum is a premium tier of RCI membership that offers an exclusive range of privileges and lifestyle benefits that its members can enjoy both on vacation and at home.

The new lifestyle program, which follows the company’s innovative transformation of its timeshare exchange program by offering trading power transparency to its Weeks members, is designed to make planning and taking that all-important vacation even easier and more enjoyable.

Membership benefits include Priority Access to vacations in highly sought-after destinations, opportunities for free unit upgrades, complimentary secure luggage tracking and substantial savings on RCI transactions, travel arrangements, theatre, dining, attractions, days out and more.

Sean Lowe, RCI’s managing director for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India (EMEAI), said: “Timeshare owners are always looking for more value from their exchange provider and RCI Platinum will provide just that – new opportunities for priority access and special member discounts.

“RCI Platinum membership will offer tremendous lifestyle benefits that our members can use and enjoy in a variety of different ways.”

“As the inventor of timeshare exchange, RCI is always looking for ways to develop and enhance its products and services to give our members the best experiences and exceed the expectations of our resort affiliates,” added Lowe.

“RCI Platinum is an enhanced tier of RCI membership that brings a range of fantastic benefits to build on our popular – and well-established – Weeks and Points products. It essentially offers a new level of luxury to what is already an exclusive club.”

Lowe said the move had partly come in response to member demand for an elite product that would reflect an even greater element of luxury.

“We’ve listened to our members’ comments and responded with what I believe is a terrific new product,” he added. “We’re excited to continue delivering what our members ask for with innovative enhancements and dozens of lifestyle benefits that we’ll continue to build upon and expand going forward.”

Bluegreen Corporation Names Chief Hospitality Officer

Bluegreen Corporation, a leading timeshare sales, marketing and resort management company, has announced that Gary Byrd has joined the Company to serve in the newly created position of Chief Hospitality Officer, and Senior Vice President overseeing Resort Operations and Development.

Mr. Byrd will be responsible for integrating Bluegreen’s Resorts Services, and Design and Construction operations as part of the Company’s continuing efforts to provide the highest level of hospitality in the industry.

Mr. Byrd joins Bluegreen from Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the industry’s largest developer and marketer of vacation ownership products, where he served as Executive Vice President, Hospitality Services from 2007-2011. He joined Wyndham in October 2006 as Senior Vice President, Operations.

Prior to that, Mr. Byrd held several leadership positions with Hilton Grand Vacation Club, most recently as Senior Vice President, Resort Operations. His previous resort management experience includes senior leadership positions with Promus Hotel Corporation at properties located in Myrtle Beach, Kansas City and New Orleans. Mr. Byrd served as a member of the United States Army during Desert Storm.

David Pontius, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, and President, Bluegreen Services, commented, “I am very pleased to welcome Gary to Bluegreen Resorts. Bluegreen has committed to a long-term strategy of being a pure-play vacation ownership, resort and hospitality company, and we believe that Gary’s background, experience, and accomplishments make him uniquely qualified to help lead those efforts.”

“It is an exciting time for Bluegreen Resorts, and I look forward to partnering with the Company’s talented team of professionals to further strengthen our industry position, brand awareness, and reputation,” said Byrd.

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Bluegreen Corporation is the leader in providing “Colorful Places to Live and Play®” through its vacation ownership resort and residential real estate businesses. Bluegreen Resorts manages, markets and sells the Bluegreen Vacation Club, a flexible, real estate-based vacation ownership plan with more than 160,000 owners, over 56 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide.

RCI Affiliates Resorts in Turkey and Slovakia

Continuing its strategy to expand the geography of its holiday exchange network, RCI is pleased to announce the affiliation of two resorts in exciting destinations that are fast-growing in popularity with holidaymakers across Europe and beyond.
  1. The Residence Club is located in the stunning mountain village of Donovaly in the Low Tatras National Park of Slovakia.

    The resort is comprised of luxuriously furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments all offering wonderful views of the region. There is also 24-hour room service courtesy of the adjacent Residence Hotel, where guests can enjoy amenities including an Ayurveda center and spa center, as well as restaurants and bars.

    The area is home to one of the country's largest winter resorts with more than 7 miles of ski slopes. The location is also popular with visitors during the summer months as it offers a variety of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, Slovakia’s biggest rope activity center and even tobogganing on a dry track.

  2. Kamelya World Vacation Club. RCI’s newest resort in Turkey, Kamelya World Vacation Club, is a haven for sun worshippers and beach lovers.

    It is part of the luxurious Kamelya World Holiday Complex - a stunning seafront resort in Colakli that also contains two five-star hotels and a holiday village.

    Kamelya World Vacation Club enjoys beautiful views over the glistening Mediterranean, while the resort features many attractions including an Aqua Park, tennis courts and water sports such as windsurfing, parasailing and jet skis.

    There are nine restaurants and 13 bars at the resort and RCI exchange guests will initially be accommodated in rooms at one of the resort’s five-star hotels before the timeshare units are complete in 2013.

(Photo credit – rci.com)

Timeshare Exchange: RCI Welcomes Huangshan Grandview Resorts

RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, has announced a new resort affiliation with Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotel in the highly sought-after destination of Huangshan, a UNESCO World Heritage site in China.

“We are very pleased to welcome Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels,” said Adrian Lee, managing director, RCI Asia. “This stunning resort is a remarkable addition to the collection of our diverse portfolio of resort destinations we offer to our members worldwide, and a continuous effort to expand our footprint in China.”

Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels is part of the Yuan Yi Group, a global lifestyle and mixed-used development strategically located in the south of Xin An River and flanked by Pei Lang River to its east. It is surrounded by renowned tourism sites such as the charming Old Antique Street, the awe-inspiring Huangshan (also known as Yellow Mountain), diversified cultural wetlands and historical Anhui villages.

This 320,000 square meters community is comprised of Grand Villa, Grand Mansion, Parrion Huashan Hotel, Hilton Hotel, an Opera and Concert House, multiplex Cinemas, theme hotels (under development), local Anhui restaurants and museum and Spa Club.

“Timeshare exchange is a great vacation option for travelers worldwide,” said Philip Ng, chief operating officer of Parrion Hotels & Resorts, management company for the YuanYi Group. “We are confident that working with RCI will make Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels a popular vacation destination for those looking to enjoy the natural and historical attractions of China. This affiliation will allow our resort to be shown in the most important showcase of international destinations, and this alliance makes us one of the most important developments of Huangshan in China.”

RCI is the worldwide leader in vacation exchange with over 4,000 affiliated resorts in approximately 100 countries. RCI pioneered the concept of vacation exchange in 1974, offering members increased flexibility and versatility with their vacation ownership experience. RCI is part of Wyndham Exchange & Rentals and the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands.

Yuan Yi Group began its investment portfolio in real estate in mainland China more than 10 years ago. Its investments have expanded over a region covering Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces.

(Photo credit - panoramio.com)

Dial An Exchange Enhances daeOptions with Premium Locations

Dial An Exchange (DAE) North America, one of the nation’s largest independent vacation exchange organizations, has recently announced new partnerships with properties in premium vacation destinations from British Columbia to Florida. Access to the new resort properties will provide additional options for the over 300,000 DAE members.

“We have members that often have their hearts set on a certain vacation destination, but found that there were no timeshare resorts in that location or there was limited availability. We also learned that many of our members were purchasing additional accommodations to extend their annual vacation and often paid as much as $2,000 per week for their accommodations,” said Tanya Bleuel, Director of Yield Management for DAE.

Continued Bleuel, “We created daeOptions by forming alliances with non-timeshare resorts to allow our members to rent or exchange their timeshare week for a seven-night stay and ultimately enjoy a vacation in their dream destination.”

DAE members can rent daeOptions weeks at highly discounted prices or they can exchange into any daeOptions property by depositing their timeshare week and paying an exchange fee from $350 to $450.

“The new program opens a world of vacationing options to our members. Whether the member exchanges or rents at members’ only prices, they are getting a great deal,” added Bleuel.

New daeOptions resort destinations include Whistler, BC; Chicago, IL; Cambridge, MD; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; St. Petersburg, FL; Braintree, MA; Anchorage, AK, Oahu, HI; and Orlando, FL.

During the past decade as Dial An Exchange has dramatically grown worldwide, the no-membership-fee company has continued to offer a host of vacationing options to its membership.

Internationally known and respected for providing exceptional customer service, DAE is the largest privately owned exchange company with worldwide destination availability. Membership is free and exchange fees are not charged until an exchange is confirmed.

Since the company’s formation in 1997, DAE has grown from a single office in Australia to offices in Europe, the United States, New Zealand, South Africa and Asia, and the United Kingdom. The company has more than 300,000 members around the world and over 40,000 members in its European region, many of whom have joined by way of member referrals.

RCI Adds Two India Timeshare Destinations

RCI has added two beautiful hill destination properties in India to its network – The Krishna Mount View-Mountain Resort, Kausani (see photo) in Uttarakhand and Kadkani River Resort, Coorg, Karnataka.

"We are very pleased to welcome The Krishna Mount View-Mountain Resort and Kadkani River Resort into RCI’s network of affiliated resorts," said Radhika Shastry, managing director of RCI India. "These beautiful resorts are a remarkable addition to the collection of hill vacation destinations we offer to our members worldwide."

Krishna Mount View-Mountain Resort is located in Kausani, a popular Himalayan destination commended by Mahatma Ghandi as "the Switzerland of India."

Kausani Mount View-Mountain Resort is known for its unspoiled natural beauty and its spectacular views of the majestic Himalayan peaks of Trishul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli.

Krishna sits at the highest spot in Kausani and offers 31 luxuriously furnished rooms, all with incredible views. Features include an international restaurant, indoor games and a dormitory facility.

Kadkani River Resort is situated 155 miles from Bangalore in Coorg, dubbed the Scotland of India. Coorg has much to offer the nature lover with "misty hills, lush forests, acres of tea and coffee plantations, orange groves, undulating streets and breathtaking views."

Situated within this picturesque backdrop, The Kadkani River Resort, set within a coffee plantation, offers 36 fully-equipped cottages, each with a private porch where you can enjoy the tranquil surroundings on the banks of the majestic river Cauvery.

The resort includes a well-maintained nine-hole golf course laid out amidst areca-nut trees and coffee plantations. Other key features include a swimming pool, water sports facility, hiking, table tennis, volleyball, indoor games and a craft center. Local culinary fare and multi cuisine dishes are served with wonderful Coorg hospitality at the 'Pride of Pachat' restaurant.

(Photo credit - rciventures.com)

Travelers Rate the Airline Companies

With Memorial Day behind us, it's full steam ahead for summer vacations. Whether you're planning a vacation at the timeshare you own, with a timeshare exchange, or at a budget-friendly timeshare rental, the odds are you'll be flying to your destination.

So just in time, Consumer Reports has released its National Research Center survey on air travel. This is the first time since 2007 that the venerated leader in consumer investigation has assessed airlines.

In the 2007 survey, 18 airlines were included, while in 2011, due to financial crises, mergers, and takeovers, only 10 major airlines make up the industry.

The survey ratings are based on the experiences of 15,000 Consumer Reports readers on over 29,000 domestic round-trip flights during the past year. Airlines were scored based on questions about overall satisfaction, check-in ease, cabin-crew service, cabin cleanliness, baggage handling, seating comfort and in-flight entertainment, as well as the issue of additional fees.

A Consumer Reports press release stated that 8 of the 10 airlines received low marks on seat comfort, and several carriers got low marks on other quality-of-flight measures including cabin-crew service, cleanliness and in-flight entertainment.

Some carriers have done a better job than others, as evidenced by a wide difference in overall satisfaction scores, from Southwest's lofty 87 to US Airways' lowly 61, stated the press release.

Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways topped the list overall. Southwest was the only airline to receive top marks for check-in ease and cabin-crew service. Passengers also gave Southwest high grades for cabin cleanliness and baggage handling. The latter, says the CR report, might reflect the fact that Southwest remains the only airline that lets you check two bags free of charge

JetBlue was the only airline to outscore Southwest for seating comfort and was the only carrier in the CR ratings to earn high scores for in-flight entertainment. Its seatback TV screens feature 36 channels.

US Airways occupies the same bottom spot as it did in CR's 2007 survey. In addition to its low overall score, survey respondents gave it the worst marks of any airline for cabin-crew service.

The CR report pointed out that the proliferation of added fees further contributed to passengers' low opinion of today's flying experience, and even to their decision of whether to fly at all. Forty percent of readers who say they are flying less listed "increased fees" as the major reason - far more than those blaming flight delays, poor service, etc. Paying fewer extra fees had a direct relationship to passenger satisfaction, the release said.

Dial An Exchange Wins Big At GNEX Conference

Dial An Exchange (DAE), one of the world’s largest independent timeshare exchange organizations, was a major winner of three prestigious awards at the timeshare industry's Global Networking Expo & Perspective Magazine Awards Gala, held recently at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas and attended by industry leaders from five continents.

Dial An Exchange CEO Francis Taylor was named winner of the prestigious “Best Industry Leader” award and the company was selected as the “Best Place To Work” in the international competition. Recognized for their penchant for providing exceptional customer service, DAE’s strong focus was rewarded with their Customer Service Team being named the industry’s “Best Project Team.”

Dial An Exchange also received two nominations for the Best Marketing Campaign: DAE Branding of Classic Escapes Sales Decks and DAE International Press 2010.

Members of the vacation industry cast more than 2,400 votes online during a two-month search for the shared ownership industry’s elite. Online votes were tallied with decisions from an expert panel of judges. Nearly 150 entrants competed in a variety of categories.

“We are extremely proud of these awards,” said Fermin Cruz, VP of North American business for DAE, “especially the Best Leader award. Under his guidance, Francis has steadfastly modeled the DAE business to focus on keeping our members happy while constantly delivering on our promises. His leadership position has enabled him to see the industry from a unique, global perspective and bring an independent viewpoint to timeshare exchange and how best to meet the needs of changing consumer behavior”.

DAE is the largest independent timeshare exchange provider with worldwide destination availability. Formed in 1997 to support timeshare owners, membership is free and exchange fees are not charged until an exchange is confirmed. Since the company’s formation, DAE has grown from a single office in Australia to offices in Europe, the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, Asia, the United Kingdom and Phoenix, Arizona. The company has over 300,000 members around the world.

Shell Vacations Acquires Iconic San Diego Hotel

Shell Vacations has announced the addition of the iconic Park Manor Suites to its portfolio of San Diego timeshares. As part of the acquisition, the company also announced it will officially change the name to Inn at the Park in an effort to maintain brand recognition with other similar properties within the Shell Vacations collection. Inn at the Park is also the name of one of the hotel’s restaurants.

“After more than five years of searching in the San Diego area, we are delighted to have found our dream property. The ambiance, location and timeless appeal of Inn at the Park are ideal for our family of customers both current and future,” says Sheldon H. Ginsburg, Chairman of Shell Vacations LLC.

“We are very pleased and excited to announce the acquisition and addition of this historic hotel into the Shell Vacations’ portfolio. Inn at the Park will be a signature location for our Company and we look forward to serving its customers and guests with the quality and service our Company is known for,” says Tracy L. Sherles, President and COO of Shell Vacations LLC.

With a reputation for superior service, neo-renaissance architecture and home-away-from-home amenities, the Inn at the Park is an ideal addition to the Shell Vacations family of hotels and resorts that are designed to accommodate leisure vacations, business trips and everything in between.

The classic hotel features a combination of studio, one- and two-bedroom suites, ranging in size from 525 to 1,000 square feet, with 9-foot ceilings and large sage windows with postcard-picture views of the city below. Some units have balconies for enjoying the famed San Diego weather.

Designed by Frank P. Allen in the Italian Renaissance style, the hotel is closely tied to San Diego civic history. The red brick building was originally built as an apartment complex to house the architect and his family. Frank P. Allen is also known for his design of the stately Cabrillo Bridge. In 1991 it was named a Historic Site of San Diego. Keeping the original design footprint of the suites, the hotel also boasts one of the most grand and detailed lobbies in the city.

The historic hotel is situated steps away from the world famous Balboa Park and is the premier, all-suite boutique hotel in the city offering easy access to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the Old Globe Theatre, 15 museums, beautiful gardens and the city’s best performing arts venues.

(Photo Credit - parkmanorsuites.com)

CNBC Interviews Chairman of the Corporation for Travel Promotion

Chairman of the Board of the Corporation for Travel Promotion (CTP), Stephen J. Cloobeck, also chairman and chief executive officer, Diamond Resorts International®, discussed the importance of travel promotion, marketing strategies and plans for efficient and effective expenditure of CTP resources during a live interview a week ago with Jane Wells on CNBC.

The CTP initiatives include implementing a world-class marketing and promotion program designed to attract more visitor spending to the U.S. in order to drive economic growth and create jobs. Intensive market research will allow for strategic international advertising placement and deliver a culturally sensitive message geared specifically for each region.

The budget for CTP is comprised of funds from the private sector and fees from foreign tourism and will be allocated to appropriately represent all stakeholders, including all states and territories in the U.S.

“We are the only country in the world that doesn’t have a ministry of tourism or a marketing arm for our country and since 24% of our service exports are in tourism and travel, this is a simple way for us to create GDP and jobs,” stated Cloobeck.

Devising marketing initiatives for "Brand USA," the CTP is a new non-profit corporation that will promote travel to the United States, and communicate and improve the entry process so that visitors want to return. The eleven travel and tourism industry leaders who serve on the CTP Board of Directors were appointed in September, 2010, by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

Diamond Resorts International, with global headquarters in Las Vegas, Nev., is one of the largest hospitality companies in the world with more than 190 branded and affiliated resorts in 28 countries with destinations throughout the continental United States and Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.

Offering "simplicity, choice and comfort" to more than 385,000 owners and members through the branded hospitality service of more than 5,500 team members worldwide, Diamond Resorts International is dedicated to "providing its guests with effortless and relaxing vacation experiences every time, for a lifetime."

Diamond Resorts Delivers Worldwide Service Training

Diamond Resorts International®, a global leader in the hospitality and vacation ownership industry, strengthens its commitment to exceptional customer service by building upon the foundation of The Meaning of Yes® with the launch of a 30 minute brand video featuring an in-depth conversation with Chairman and CEO, Stephen J. Cloobeck.

The Meaning of Yes is a service excellence platform that empowers Diamond team members to deliver a branded hospitality experience to every owner, member and guest worldwide, as the company continues to grow and expand globally.

Diamond Resorts International thrives upon the service excellence platform set forth by Cloobeck. By responding to customer feedback and engaging in cost efficient and effective solutions, Cloobeck has successfully developed a hospitality product that is much more than vacation ownership, but guarantees a lifetime of memorable vacation experiences to all owners, members and guests. The Meaning of Yes ensures that every guest receives the vacation they deserve.

According to Cloobeck, “As we grow one thing won’t change, the Diamond team will always deliver the same level of hospitality and the same level of The Meaning of Yes to our guests, each and every time, at each and every resort. Even if we double or triple in size I will still insist that we deliver great guest service. I want us to be renowned worldwide for our customer service.”

Diamond Resorts International, with global headquarters in Las Vegas, Nev., is one of the largest hospitality companies in the world with more than 190 branded and affiliated resorts in 28 countries with destinations throughout the continental United States and Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.

Annually, nearly 1.4 million owners, members and guests enjoy the simplicity, choice and comfort Diamond Resorts International offers through our branded hospitality experience.

Timeshare rentals are available at many Diamond resorts including: the Flamingo Beach Resort, Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten & Saint Martin, the Royal Regency, Paris-Vincennes, France, and at the Scottsdale Villa Mirage, Scottsdale, AZ.

Corporation for Travel Promotion Names CEO

The Corporation for Travel Promotion named Jim Evans, a longtime leader in the hospitality industry, its first CEO. Evans will be responsible for leading the Corporation's efforts to promote the United States as a travel destination and strengthen the U.S. tourism industry.

"I congratulate Jim on his appointment as the first CEO of the newly created Corporation for Travel Promotion," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "Promoting tourism is an important part of the President's National Export Initiative and the overall U.S. economy, and we are fortunate to have Jim's leadership in growing this industry. I look forward to working with him to bring more visitors to our country."

"After considering dozens of candidates, Jim stood out to us as one of the most accomplished executives in the industry today, and he is the Board's unanimous choice to build America's first national program to attract international travel," said Diamond Resorts CEO Stephen J. Cloobeck, Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Corporation for Travel Promotion. "Jim's deep knowledge and decades of leadership in the travel industry are exactly what we need to build this organization."

Travel and tourism is one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries. Over the next 10 years, travel and tourism's total contribution to global GDP is forecast to rise to $9.2 trillion, bringing with it 65 million new jobs. By 2021, travel and tourism will be responsible for one in 10 jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Each overseas visitor to America spends an average of $4,000 per trip on hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail and other activities.

"Attracting more international travelers to the U.S. will benefit the industry and our country by creating jobs, growing exports and spurring economic growth," said Evans. "I am proud and excited to serve the travel industry - and our country - in carrying out this important mission."

The Travel Promotion Act, which created the Corporation for Travel Promotion, was signed into law in 2010 in order to help the U.S. capture a greater share of the global travel market. Once it is implemented, the entity will have a budget of up to $200 million, with half of the funding coming from the private sector and no cost to U.S. taxpayers. The program will be responsible for using advertising and other marketing tactics to help increase visitor spending in the U.S.

(Photo credit - photos.prnewswire.com)

Hilton Announces Director of Corporate Communications

Hilton Worldwide has announced the appointment of Anne Marie Chua as director, corporate communications, Asia Pacific. In her new role, Chua will lead external and internal communications for Hilton Worldwide as it continues to expand its hotels and resorts in the Asia Pacific region.

Chua joins Hilton Worldwide with more than 15 years of experience in corporate communications. Most recently, Anne Marie was communications director, North and Southeast Asia, with Alcatel-Lucent, a global telecommunications corporation. In this role, she oversaw the company’s regional communications, corporate social responsibility activities and marketing strategies. Prior to Alcatel-Lucent, Anne Marie worked for several companies including Parkway Group Healthcare, PR Communications Pte Ltd and The Elizabeth Singapore Hotel.

“Anne Marie’s significant experience with a variety of communications roles in the Asia Pacific region will make her an incredible asset to Hilton Worldwide’s global communications team,” said Ellen D. Gonda, senior vice president, global corporate communications. “We are thrilled to welcome Anne Marie and look forward to benefiting from her strong expertise.”

Chua received a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Victoria.

Hilton Worldwide is the leading global hospitality company, spanning the lodging sector from luxurious full-service hotels and resorts to extended-stay suites. For 92 years, Hilton Worldwide has been offering travelers the finest in accommodations, service, amenities and value. The company is dedicated to continuing its tradition of providing exceptional guest experiences across its global brands. Its brands, including Hilton Grand Vacations Club, are comprised of more than 3,700 hotels and resorts and 610,000 rooms in 82 countries. The company also manages the world-class guest reward program Hilton HHonors®.