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®.

Villa Group Opens Villa Del Palmar Loreto

Pristine beaches and ecotourism adventures await travelers at the new Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto, Mexico. Located in Baja California the resort offers 181 spacious suites (studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom villas as well as an Ambassador Suite, Royal Suite and Presidential four-bedroom Suites) with views of the sparkling Sea of Cortez.

Future developments include tennis courts and a 35,000 square-foot state-of-the-art fitness center and spa, which will open summer of 2011.

“Loreto is one of Mexico’s most incredible hidden gems,” said Villa Group Resort partner Luz Maria Torres. “We’re elated to open Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto and welcome travelers to such a magical place.”

Villa del Palmar is the only five-star resort in the area and the first property in the Villa Group Resort’s planned 1,800-acre development in Loreto, “Danzante Bay,” which will include seven resort hotels, 240 home sites, additional restaurants and a Rees Jones golf course.

Loreto was named the number eight destination to visit in a recent New York Times “Where to Go in 2011″ article. Just a 90-minute flight from Los Angeles, Calif., this ecological wonderland is home to one of the world’s largest marine parks and the oldest colonial town on the peninsula.

The resort faces Danzante Island and is surrounded by the majestic Sierra de la Giganta Mountains. With the calm waters of the Sea of Cortez, a unique turtle-shaped pool and the largest Jacuzzi in the entire Baja California South, Villa del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa at the Islands of Loreto offers a variety of water activities including snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving.

The resort also offers ecological activities such as mountain hiking, climbing, camping and much more in the Bay of Loreto, home to close to 900 species of reef-dwelling and migratory fish.

The Villa Group was founded in 1984 and is one of Mexico’s leading privately owned hotel, resort and real estate development companies. Its portfolio includes beachfront destination resorts, exclusive vacation ownership, and fractional and full ownership luxury real estate developments.

(Photo - villadelpalmarloreto.com)

Diamond Resorts Announces Acquisition of Tempus Resorts

Diamond Resorts International®, a global leader in the hospitality and vacation ownership industries, has announced that through its wholly owned subsidiary, Tempus Acquisition, LLC (“TAC”), it has entered in a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Orlando, Florida-based Tempus Resorts International.

TAC served as the equity sponsor of a Plan of Reorganization that was confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court. The transaction size approximates $125,000,000 and financing for the transaction is being provided primarily by Guggenheim Partners, LLC, and Resort Finance America, LLC (“RFA”).

Tempus operates Mystic Dunes in Orlando, Florida and has ownership in Dunes Village in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Located on over 600 acres in Central Florida and just minutes away from the major theme park attractions, Mystic Dunes provides more than 700, fully furnished, one, two and three bedroom units, as well as an 18 hole championship golf course.

From an Atlantic coast beachfront location in Myrtle Beach, Dunes Village (see photo) brings a new location to Diamond Resorts International.

“We are excited and pleased to welcome Tempus owners, guests, and employees to Diamond Resorts International," said Stephen J. Cloobeck, chairman and CEO, Diamond Resorts International. "With more than 40,000 existing Tempus owners, this acquisition further expands our offerings in Central Florida and South Carolina while expanding our platform for future growth and development.

"In addition, we are thankful to Guggenheim and RFA for working with us to effectuate a creative solution to our financing needs on this transaction and we look forward to working with Guggenheim and RFA, and RFA’s management company, Lantern Asset Management, LLC (“Lantern”), on a going forward basis.”

L. Andy Mitchell, president of Lantern, added “This restructuring transaction represents an important milestone for Tempus and we are excited to have both Diamond and Guggenheim as operating and financial partners.”

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."

(Photo - dunesvillage.com)

Bluegreen Resorts Ready For Memorial Day Military Appreciation Days in Myrtle Beach

Bluegreen Corporation, a leading provider of "Colorful Places to Live and Play," as announced that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will be on display Memorial Day weekend, during Military Appreciation Days near its Myrtle Beach timeshare resorts.

The half-size replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial, called The Wall that Heals, will be set up on the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park site from May 24-27, 2011. Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days will take place May 28-29, 2011 with a parade set for May 28.

Rent a timeshare at these Bluegreen resorts - Shore Crest Vacation Villas, Harbour Lights, SeaGlass Tower, and Carolina Grande. All offer comfortable accommodations that are just minutes from the events taking place during Military Appreciation Days.

Todd Frazier, Regional General Manager at Bluegreen’s Shore Crest Vacation Villas states, “We all look forward to paying our respects during Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days. And now, to see the Vietnam Veterans Memorial right here in our hometown is an incredible honor that anyone coming to visit the resort can reflect on and appreciate.”

Since 1996, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has allowed The Wall that Heals to travel across the country to local communities. The half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that stands in Washington D.C. was built to help heal the communities it visits as well as those affected by the Vietnam War.

Also featured is a traveling museum and information center. The museum is based on the concepts being developed by the Education Center at The Wall, which includes putting faces to each of the 58,000 names on The Wall as well as telling their stories. The information center allows onlookers to learn more about their loved ones who were lost in the war. Guests can also upload photos and remembrances of loved ones to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Virtual Wall.

Learn more about Military Appreciation Days and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Myrtle Beach.

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Bluegreen Corporation manages and markets a vacation ownership plan with more than 222,600 owners, over 54 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide. Check out the many Bluegreen Resorts and their budget-friendly timeshare rentals.

(Photo Credit - vvmf.org)

Interval International and Participating Resorts Donate to CHTA

Interval International and its participating Caribbean member resorts set another record by donating $50,000, the single largest contribution to date to the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Education Foundation.

David C. Gilbert, Interval’s executive vice president of resort sales and marketing, presented the check to foundation representatives during the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“Interval is extremely grateful for the ongoing commitment of its resort affiliates to the CHTA Education Foundation, which administers one of the largest scholarship programs benefiting the region’s hospitality industry. Working together, we’re able to make a significant impact to support this important initiative that assists Caribbean nationals pursuing studies in hospitality and tourism,” said Gilbert.

Participants in the scholarship fund include:
  • Antigua – Tranquility Bay Antigua
  • Aruba – La Cabana Beach & Racquet Club, Marriott’s Aruba Surf Club, Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club, Paradise Beach Villas, Playa Linda Beach Resort, Renaissance Aruba Beach Resort & Hotel
  • Bahamas – Island Seas Resort
  • Puerto Rico – Aquarius Vacation Club® at Boquerón Beach and Aquarius Vacation Club® at Dorado del Mar Beach and Golf Resort, ESJ Towers, Hyatt Hacienda del Mar
  • St. Lucia – Bay Gardens Beach Resort, Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort & Spa
  • St. Maarten – Dawn Beach Club, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, and The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort & Marina

“We receive applications from individuals all over the region who are interested in continuing their education," said Tom Pas, chairman of the Education Foundation. "We are very thankful for the generous contributions from Interval and its member resorts that help scholarship recipients reach their career goals. They have been extremely supportive over the years and we truly appreciate their efforts.”

The Foundation was established in 1987 as a non-profit organization to provide scholarships and special assistance to Caribbean hospitality industry personnel and students pursuing hospitality and tourism careers. To date, the Foundation has awarded more than US$1.5 million dollars in scholarships and grants

As a strategic partner of CHTA and a board member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Education Foundation, Interval is committed to understanding the unique needs of the Caribbean region and providing products and programs tailored to this market.

Resort Development Organization Conference Planned for September

This year's Resort Development Organization Conference (RDO2), co-sponsored by RCI, is planned for September 26-28, 2011, and will be taking place for the second time at the Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa near Marbella on Spain's Costa del Sol.

"The timeshare industry is at a critical point in its evolution. The industry has never had a better chance to shape the future both timeshare developers and their owners dream of," said Robin Mills, chairman of the RDO communications council.

The RDO was created following the decision by the European Timeshare Federation to integrate all national timeshare trade associations into one pan-European direct membership organization. Today the RDO has over 90 members from all sectors of the industry across Europe.

Speakers at RDO2 will inspire delegates to look outside their current operations to fulfil these emerging consumer needs and interaction is high on the agenda to make sure the conference is both memorable and actionable, Mills noted.

Dave Thackeray reported for the online news source, RCI Ventures, that Mills said the RDO team had listened long and hard to the advice provided to the organization by former British Hospitality Association chief executive Bob Cotton at its founding conference last October, and the RDO has worked tirelessly with its members to make sure RDO2 matches more precisely what the industry needs for the future.

Thackeray also noted that the RDO has been educated by the ways of its peer, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), in bringing on stage keynote speakers daily to fuel a passion-filled and highly-energized conference. And for the first time, a 'day in the life' session will look at the work of ARDA's president Howard Nusbaum, who recently celebrated 10 years at the Association.

The Resort Development Organization was established to improve representation for reputable companies in the timeshare sector and promote fair trading, quality within and growth of the timeshare industry.

Its members lead the industry in their commitment to strong ethical standards with the aim of raising the standards of the industry as a whole to ensure fair trading and satisfaction of timeshare owners.

Club Intrawest’s ExtraOrdinary Escapes Popular with Members

Club Intrawest, a private vacation club with eight locations across Canada, the United States and Mexico, has its community of members raving about ExtraOrdinary Escapes.

This private exchange collection allows members to use their membership to explore resorts, hotels, and lodging around the world in popular destinations like New York City, Hawaii, Paris, Tuscany, Hong Kong and beyond. All ExtraOrdinary Escapes properties are hand-picked by Intrawest’s industry professionals.

“We realize that members might want to venture outside the Club Intrawest network for a vacation every now and then,” says Chris Thompson, Executive Director of Membership Programs, who has been with Intrawest Resort Club Group (IRCG) for 14 years.

“Whether it’s celebrating a special event or taking that once in a lifetime vacation we want our Members to be able to stay connected to the most unique vacation club in the world while they make the memories of a lifetime.”

ExtraOrdinary Escapes (which also incorporates an RCI component) has grown to encompass relationships with Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Disney Vacation Club.

ExtraOrdinary Escapes is also very selective about which properties it includes in its portfolio. This is to ensure that the quality of the timeshare exchange partners meets the high expectations of members.

ExtraOrdinary Escapes is one of IRCG’s primary assets. With escape options that include storm watching at Vancouver Island’s Wickaninnish Inn (one of the highest rated hotels in Canada) to the excitement of Las Vegas (Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Flamingo) and the thrill of New York City (West 57th Street by Hilton Club) ExtraOrdinary Escapes offers hundreds of additional vacation options to the Club’s 22,000 members.

Since opening its first location in 1994, people from 48 countries have joined Club Intrawest, enjoying the Club Intrawest locations as well hand-picked hotels, resorts and lodging properties.

Villa Bossi Pucci Part of Intervals Vacation Exchange

Italy's Villa Bossi Pucci Residence Club is part of Interval International's vacation exchange network. Surrounded by cypress trees, olive orchards, and vineyards in Italy’s rolling Tuscan hills, the twenty-one fractional residences are housed in buildings that once comprised a farming village.

“Visiting Villa Bossi Pucci is like stepping back to another era,” said Darren Ettridge, Interval’s vice president of resort sales and service for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

“While each building has been refurbished to evoke its original use, Interval members can expect to enjoy the luxury and upscale amenities of a world-class resort.”

Located near Montespertoli (known as “the city of the wine”), Villa Bossi Pucci is in the heart of the Chianti region of Tuscany, 25 minutes by car from Florence International Airport. Each residence has generous interior space and offers sweeping views of the Montespertoli valley and the Castello di Poppiano, or of the olive and fruit gardens and centuries-old park.

The full-time concierge can arrange a variety of services, including pre-stocking refrigerators and pantries on request, booking area excursions (with an English-speaking driver), confirming restaurant reservations and scheduling massages, spa services, and wine tastings. Weekly cooking classes (in-season) reveal the secrets of Tuscan cooking through recipes using locally grown herbs and vegetables and homemade pasta.

“At Villa Bossi Pucci, Interval members and their guests can avail themselves of amenities not found at most other Tuscan vacation homes,” said Tommaso Zanzotto, director of the development company, Societa Immobiliare Il Sasso Srl. “Yet it is a uniquely authentic experience that celebrates the distinctive character of Tuscany. We welcome visitors to feel the rich history of this region and become acquainted with the craftsmanship of local artisans who use techniques that have been handed down for generations.”

Almost without exception, every town and city in Tuscany has considerable natural and architectural beauty. Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites, including the historic centres of Florence, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, and Pienza. Villa Bossi Pucci has been awarded the Interval International Premier Boutique Resort designation, placing it within the highest level of recognition. This distinction identifies the resort as exceeding Interval’s quality affiliation standards and delivering an outstanding vacation experience, with excellent accommodations in a desirable location.

Based in Miami, Florida, Interval International has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market for more than 34 years. Today, Interval has a timeshare exchange network of more than 2,500 resorts in over 75 nations.

(Photo - villabossipucci.com)

Green Travel News: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Hotels

Green Lodging News has posted an online article titled "EV Charging Stations Popping Up to Meet Needs of Green Travelers." Very soon, when you plan your timeshare vacation and your car rental, you'll be able to go Green by using an Electric Vehicle (EV).

EV charging stations are beginning to show up across the United States as an increasing number of auto makers release electric vehicles to the public. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that one million EVs will be on the road by 2015. According to Pike Research, by that same year, access to vehicle charging will be available at nearly one million charge points in the United States, including many resorts such as Wyndham.

According to Green Lodging News, accommodating this new breed of Green traveler presents some new challenges for resort companies. How many stations should be installed? Where? At what cost? Should they be a new source of revenue or a complimentary guest amenity?

There are many EV charging station vendors from which to choose already. Companies such as Coulomb Technologies, ParkPod, and Green Garage Associates are a few that were mentioned in press releases sent to Green Lodging News.

Cost for the resort will vary depending on the EV station model purchased and the location of the property. In addition to the actual station, there are installation costs. According to Lawrence Hindle, director of engineering for Ritz-Carlton, an electrical permit is required to install a charging station, and the cost can be between $10,000 and $15,000.

Late last year the Hertz Corp. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announced a joint partnership to bring in Hertz Global EV, a program developed by Hertz using 100 percent electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, to key Starwood hotels and resorts in North America.

“Hertz’s partnership with Starwood is a natural step in the development of our Global EV program,” said Mark P. Frissora, Hertz chairman and CEO, in a press release. “As we expand our EV network, we are providing drivers with point-to-point access to EVs and EV charging stations. Our relationship with Starwood provides guests from all over the world with access to the future of mobility.”

Charging stations can also be a highly visible symbol of a property’s environmental commitment. Green Garage Associates’ Martin says his company’s Juice Bar stations, which are eight feet tall and two feet wide, can even be used as miniature billboards - a branding opportunity for a lodging establishment.

Read this article in its entirety here.

(Photo credit - ev-chargeamerica.com)

Silverleaf Resorts Shareholders Approve Merger Agreement

Silverleaf Resorts, Inc., a leader in the development, marketing and operation of timeshare resorts, has announced that its shareholders have approved Silverleaf’s merger with Resort Merger Sub Inc., an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.

The merger was approved by holders of 28,946,503 shares of Silverleaf’s outstanding common stock, representing approximately 75.9% of all votes entitled to be cast by holders of common stock.

Subject to the satisfaction or waiver of certain conditions set forth in the merger agreement and discussed in detail in the Definitive Proxy Statement on Schedule 14A filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by Silverleaf on April 18, 2011, and as supplemented on May 9, 2011, Silverleaf expects to close the merger on or about May 16, 2011.

Following the effective time of the merger, Silverleaf’s shareholders will receive $2.50 in cash for each share of Silverleaf common stock they own, representing a premium of approximately 75% based on the closing trading price of $1.43 of Silverleaf common stock on February 3, 2011, the date on which the merger agreement was executed.

Upon completion of the merger, Silverleaf will become a private company, wholly-owned by SL Resort Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Cerberus, and its common stock will no longer be traded on NASDAQ.

Established in 1992, Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., together with its affiliates, is one of the world’s leading private investment firms with approximately $23 billion under management. Through its team of investment and operations professionals, Cerberus specializes in providing both financial resources and operational expertise to help transform undervalued companies into industry leaders for long-term success and value creation.

Cerberus holds controlling or significant minority interests in companies around the world. Cerberus is headquartered in New York City with affiliate and/or advisory offices in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Silverleaf Resorts, Inc. currently owns and operates timeshare resorts with a wide array of country club-like amenities, such as golf, clubhouses, an indoor water park, swimming, tennis, boating, and many organized activities for children and adults.

Waiting to Book Summer Airline Travel Could Save You Money

Writing for the Associated Press, and posting her article on ABC News online, Samantha Bomkamp has offered this intriguing idea - "Waiting to Book Summer Travel May Pay Off." If you are making your summer timeshare rental plans for your family vacation and you've heard "Book your summer travel early - don't wait," slow down, take a minute and hear what Bombkamp has to say.

"This is shaping up to be the most expensive summer ever for air travel," says Bomkamp. "But the airlines are growing nervous that higher fares will drive away passenger."

According to online travel site Travelocity, reports Bomkamp, the so-called sweet spot for booking is generally six to seven weeks ahead of a major holiday weekend. By this model, airfares for July Fourth, for example, should fall starting around May 19 and go back up around May 25.

"Those who wait should do better than those who book early for travel to many popular destinations," says Travelocity senior editor Genevieve Shaw Brown. "Travelocity crunched airfare data from the last four years and found that booking more than seven weeks ahead of the Fourth of July cost travelers an average of $348 round trip. Those who waited until six weeks out paid an average of $326."

Airlines successfully raised fares several times since December as oil prices rose to $113 a barrel, writes Bomkamp, yet three recent attempts to raise fares failed, and discount airlines started to undercut larger competitors by putting a limited number of seats on sale.

"They cried uncle," says George Hobica of airfarewatchdog.com. "Obviously they want to create a sense of fear — book now, book now, book now. But if fares are too high, people don't fly."

Bomkamp says that you can predict a sale by looking at the seat map of your potential flight. Most booking websites offer a glimpse of available seats. If you see a lot of empty seats, expect a sale. But book as soon as possible if you see only a few empties.

Travelers who haven't yet booked summer travel still need to do some research, Bomkamp warns. Fare cuts aren't likely to come in the form of flashy sales, and lower prices will often go unnoticed by those who haven't been tracking fares.

Still deciding where to go? Bomkamp says that Bing Travel reports the cheapest summer destinations to be Orlando, Boston, Denver and Las Vegas. Some fares to these locations have actually fallen since last year. All four are great destinations for family timeshare rental vacations: Orlando has the theme parks, Boston has American history and the Freedom Trail, Denver is the gateway to amazing summer fun high in the Rockies, and Las Vegas has lots of activities for kids and many are free.

Read Samantha Bomkamp's article in its entirety.
(Photo credit mint.com)

Travel News: New Airline Travelers Rights

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a new series of passenger rights, the second update in two years. "It's the biggest change in airline passenger protection since deregulation in 1978," said Charlie Leocha, Director of the advocacy group Consumer Travel Alliance.

Most of the new rights regulations will go into effect on August 23, 2011. Here are a few of them:
  1. Getting Bumped
    If you're bumped from an oversold flight, you'll be entitled to some cash for your troubles. For short delays you'll get double the price of your ticket, to a maximum of $650. For long delays, you will be entitled to four times the value of your ticket, not to exceed $1,300. These limits are to be adjusted every two years for inflation.

    Airlines sometimes offer a voucher good toward a future flight in lieu of cash to passengers who are bumped involuntarily. But the new rules will require that airlines tell these passengers of their rights up front - including that they are entitled to cash.

    "You should always ask for the cash," says George Hobica, founder of the travel site Airfarewatchdog.com. "A voucher may only be good for a year, and it may be hard to use."

  2. Time on the Tarmac
    The December 2010 blizzard left nearly 30 planes sitting on the tarmac for up to eleven hours at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The airlines involved were foreign, and so weren't required to let passengers off the plane after three hours, as carriers on domestic flights would have been.

    This nightmare moved the DOT to act. On international flights, U.S. and foreign carriers won't be able to keep passengers on the tarmac for more than four hours without giving them a chance to get off, so long as it's safe to do so. And airlines must make sure passengers have food, water, working bathrooms and medical treatment, if necessary, after two hours.

  3. Lost Bag Fees
    Currently when you pay a baggage fee and your luggage is lost during transport, the airline keeps the fee.

    The new rules will require that airlines refund fees when bags are lost. Although it's not yet clear how long the bag must be missing before it is given up for lost Hobica said. (Airlines already reimburse passengers for lost luggage - up to $3,300 on domestic flights.)
One final word - Leocha suggests that if you have a legitimate complaint and can't get it resolved with the airline, email your complaint to the DOT at airconsumer.ost.dot.gov. "They take those emails and forward them to the airline," Leocha says. "Nothing gets a response from an airline like an email from the Department of Transportation."

This excerpt was taken from the article "New passenger rights rules will make air travel less bumpy for consumers" by Eileen Ambrose, The Baltimore Sun. Read the article in its entirety here.

(Photo credit - airport-int.com)

Timeshare Resale Fraud: 3 Florida Men Sentenced to Prison

The office of the Illinois Attorney General has announced that three Florida men who were indicted July 21, 2010 in the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, IL, for their roles in a timeshare telemarketing scam have now been sentenced, with the ringleader being given 10 years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $1.1 million.

Included in the indictment were Real Timeshare Marketing company owner Darnell Disroe, 38, Michael Lentine, 32, and Michael Starace, 42, all from Florida, on charges of scamming 615 timeshare owners.

The three men pled guilty late last year to charges of mail fraud and conspiracy, and two of them were sentenced in January 2011.

Michael Lentine, who ran one of the two telemarketing offices that made up RTM, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy and two counts of mail fraud; he was sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $249,432.

Michael Starace, a telemarketer, pled guilty to one count of mail fraud; he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $23,723.

On May 6, 2011 Darnell Disroe, the last of the trio to have pled guilty, was sentenced to 121 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.1 million in restitution for one count of conspiracy and four counts of mail fraud.

The indictment against the men reads like a classic timeshare resale scam, alleging that the three operated under the name Real Timeshare Marketing and conducted a telemarketing timeshare resale scheme targeting timeshare owners throughout the United States and Canada.

Real Timeshare Marketing falsely represented that it had found buyers for the consumers’ timeshare interests and solicited fees of up to several thousand dollars from each consumer in supposed pre-paid closing costs and related expenses.

However, the purported sales did not occur, closings were not scheduled as was often represented, and, in fact, Real Timeshare Marketing did not successfully sell any consumer’s timeshare interest.

In just a 5-month period between December 1, 2009, when telemarketing sales commenced, and April 28, 2010, when the scheme was interrupted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, Real Timeshare Marketing victimized approximately 615 consumers in forty-six states and six provinces in Canada of over $1.3 million dollars.

When he pled guilty in November, 2010, Disroe admitted that all three men, along with most of their telemarketers, had worked similar scams in the past

Free Asia Pacific Internet Access at Marriott Hotels & Resorts

All Marriott Rewards members, no matter what level of the program you have achieved, will now receive complimentary in-room high-speed internet access at JW Marriott® Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels and Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Asia Pacific, including Australia, China (including Hong Kong), Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region for Marriott Rewards, and we feel that complimentary high-speed internet access will make Marriott International hotels the first choice for business and leisure travelers,” said Simon Cooper, President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. “You can’t put a price on staying connected. So we don’t.”

Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum elite members already receive free high-speed internet worldwide. Marriott Rewards is free to join and has no blackout dates on redemption stays. Members can earn and redeem points at more than 3,400 Marriott International hotels around the world, including Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, and Marriott Vacation Club as well as at participating Ritz-Carlton Hotels around the world. Members can also redeem points for frequent flyer miles, cruises, car rentals, merchandise and more.

One of the most popular Marriott resorts is Marriott's Phuket Beach Club on Phuket Island in Thailand. Carefully designed to nurture the natural Phuket landscape, the resort features ponds laden with lilies, and a garden of lush vegetation, palm trees, and wetlands. Within this beautiful setting are unique swimming pools facing the Andaman Sea. Each two-bedroom villa has an oversized soaking tub in the master suite, a spacious living and dining area, full kitchen, multiple television sets, DVD and CD players, and in-room washer and dryer. Marriott's Phuket Beach Club is fully integrated with the JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa next door, and guests can enjoy the amenities at both resorts.

(Photo credit - marriott.com)

Bluegreen Completes Atlantic Palace Renovations

Bluegreen Corporation, "A leading provider of Colorful Places to Live and Play," has announced that renovations at its Atlantic City, New Jersey, resort, Atlantic Palace, have been completed, with the second phase of renovations just being finished this spring. The renovation of additional units was also approved by the Board of Directors, with benchmarks set for the fall and winter of 2011.

“Everyone at Bluegreen’s Atlantic Palace resort is extremely excited for the current and ongoing renovation program. Our 31-story resort offers the most spectacular views in all of Atlantic City and the renovations will only add to the amazing overall experience for our guests,” says James Badia, General Manager at Bluegreen at Atlantic Palace in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Renovations to 15 studio units have been completed so far with another 15 units near completion. There are 15 studio units, a two-bedroom unit and one studio deluxe unit with renovations scheduled to begin in the fall of 2011 with completion at the end of the year. An additional 15 studio units and two one-bedroom units will also be completed by spring of 2012.

The renovations at Bluegreen’s Atlantic Palace resort included new kitchens, cabinets, wood flooring and furniture, giving each unit a completely refreshed look and feel while still maintaining the distinct style of Atlantic City.

Atlantic Palace
(formerly known as Royal Suites at the Atlantic Palace) is located in the heart of the Casino District. During your stay at the resort, you can also explore nearby attractions such as picturesque Cape May, the oldest seashore resort in the United States, or stroll along the famous Atlantic City boardwalk, filled with amusements, rides, and games. Within walking distance, you will enjoy wonderful restaurants that cater to every taste, and of course seafood is the specialty in Atlantic City.

There are numerous opportunities for shopping, and the water sports available are endless. Sun, surf, swim, or splash in the gentle waves. Charter a boat for fishing, or golf on one of the nearby courses. This destination is a great choice for family fun, and exciting nightlife. From casinos to golfing, from the Boardwalk to boating, there's something for everyone. (Please note that the Aquatic Center is seasonal - open Memorial Day through Labor Day.)

(Photo credit - bluegreencorp.com)

Hilton HHonors Named Best Redemption Ability Award for Hotels

Hilton HHonors, the loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide’s 10 distinct hotel brands, was presented with the Best Redemption Ability Award for Hotels in the Americas at the second annual Frequent Traveler Awards ceremony held on April 28, 2011, in Flushing, New York.

The Frequent Traveler Awards, which represent excellence in frequent travel programs worldwide, honor the best frequent flyer and frequent guest programs in the world, and winners are determined based on the overall merits of each program as ranked by voters. This year, more than one million frequent travelers worldwide participated in the voting process, casting online ballots for their favorite programs and campaigns from 2010.

“It’s a great privilege to be recognized by our most loyal guests and to receive this award from among the industry’s elite,” said Jeff Diskin, senior vice president, global customer marketing, Hilton Worldwide.

“For decades, we have worked on designing Hilton HHonors rewards that allow frequent travelers to redeem their points for experiences worth sharing - whether that’s a free night’s stay or tickets to a Broadway show. It’s a great privilege to be recognized by our most loyal guests and to receive this award from among the industry’s elite.”

Hilton HHonors, the award-winning guest-loyalty program for Hilton Worldwide’s ten distinct hotel brands, honors its 28 million members by allowing them to turn earned points into experiences worth sharing. In addition to redeeming HHonors points for complimentary hotel stays, HHonors members can use points to purchase unique experience rewards, merchandise and vacation packages, make charitable contributions, and more.

HHonors is also the only guest-loyalty program to offer ‘Points & Miles’ and ‘No Blackout Dates’ at more than 3,700 hotels worldwide, including participating Waldorf Astoia Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Home2Suites by Hilton and Hilton Grand Vacations. Membership in HHonors is free, and travelers may enroll online by visiting HiltonHHonors.com.

Hilton HHonors members can redeem their points for complimentary hotel stays or for any of the thousands of experiences and merchandise items available through the Hilton HHonors website.

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 business and leisure 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 that includes Hilton Grand Vacations.

Disney Hawaiian Timeshare Resort Aulani Meets Construction Milestone

April 21, 2011 marked a milepost for the Walt Disney Company, and its new Hawaiian resort Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, on Oahu, Hawaii. In a ceremony on the lagoon that fronts the resort local crew members from Hawaiian Dredging Construction Company, Inc., joined with Disney cast members (employees) to celebrate the completion of major structural work on the Disney timeshare resort and the beginning of Disney’s “time to add the magic.”

The event was a symbolic representation of the shared efforts of Disney and Hawaiian Dredging in building the new resort, which will welcome its first guests on Aug. 29, 2011. The construction crew and Aulani Disney team met on the beach to exchange gifts – lei from the construction workers to the Disney cast, and Mickey Mouse ears from the Disney cast to the construction workers.

As part of the milestone moment, Hawaiian Dredging “handed over the keys” to the people who will add final detailing, theming, landscaping and all the other magical touches guests expect to find at a Disney resort.

Djuan Rivers, vice president of Disney Vacation Club and Resort, Hawaii, joined with Eric Hashizume, vice president of Hawaiian Dredging and Elliot Mills, managing director of Aulani, to bring the construction workers and Disney team members together to begin “adding the magic” to Aulani.

They gathered on the sand to form the image of the trademark Aulani arch and then transformed it into the familiar silhouette of Mickey Mouse. Mickey, Minnie and their Disney character pals joined in the celebration (see video below from stitchkingdom.com).

As Walt Disney Imagineers continue adding the magic to Aulani, they are weaving Hawaiian stories into the buildings, interiors, art and gardens of the resort with the help of local architects, artisans and historians. The celebrated Disney magic, storytelling and service will create wonderful family vacation memories at the resort, drawing on the beauty, fun, enchantment and traditions of the islands, and the "magic" of Disney.

Start making your plans now for a once-in-a-lifetime Hawaii timeshare Disney vacation to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations Expands Grand Lodge on Peak 7

Breckenridge Grand Vacations, of Breckenridge, CO, and parent company of the Grand Lodge on Peak 7, Grand Timber Lodge, and Gold Point Resort, broke ground this spring on the second and last building of their newest resort. Plan now for a timeshare rental vacation to this family-friendly vacation spot of the Rocky Mountains.

The Grand Lodge on Peak 7, upon completion, will consist of 114 two-bedroom units in two buildings. With the commencement of construction on the North building this spring the resort is presently more than 50% sold out with sales expected to be complete in 2014.

The Grand Lodge on Peak 7 is located slopeside on Peak 7 of the Breckenridge Ski Resort. Mere steps from the Independence SuperChair, the resort offers unparalleled amenities for its owners and guests including an indoor/outdoor aquatics area, onsite day spa (Soothe), restaurant (Sevens), a family game room and four 8-12 person theaters.

Bucking current trends in real estate, the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 had a record sales month in February of 2011, generating over $7,000,000 in real estate sales - the best month in the company’s 25-year history. Then March surpassed that record with the company’s first $8 million dollar month. The building permit for the second building was the only multi-family permit requested in the past three years for the town of Breckenridge.

Location, amenities and quality are only a few reasons for the success of the project. The resort’s unique home-ownership plan enables families who thought they couldn’t afford ski-in/ski-out real estate to purchase only the time they will use at a fraction of the price of whole ownership. Being a timeshare resort, owners purchase one-week increments at the resort, making the dream of owning ski-in/ski-out real estate a reality for over 4,500 people so far.

The South building, Phase 3 of Grand Lodge on Peak 7, was opened in December, 2010, completing the first of the two buildings planned for that resort. Phase 3 added 28 two bedroom units to the existing 28 units from Phases 1 and 2, which almost doubles the resort's capacity.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations is a locally owned and operated company. Its principals are three local business men, brothers Rob and Mike Millisor and Mike Dudick, have lived in the area over 25 years and head the 325 employee company.

Breckenridge is noted as a premier family destination for both summer and winter vacations.

New Addition to Hilton Grand Vacations Announced

Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) and Strand Capital Group have announced the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Anderson Ocean Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The project combines the industry-leading sales and marketing expertise of Hilton Grand Vacations with the established development and property management strength of Strand Capital Group who has developed the project.

Hilton Grand Vacations will manage the sales and marketing on behalf of Strand Capital Group of deeded weeks, and will also oversee the timeshare homeowners’ association management and loan servicing. Oceana Resorts, a Strand Capital Group company, will provide on-site property management services.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Anderson Ocean Club will be comprised of 152 luxurious timeshare units and is planned for an opening in early 2012 within the existing Anderson Ocean Club and Spa resort on the oceanfront in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Developed by Strand Capital Group the majestic oceanfront property features studios and one, two- and three- bedroom apartments. Interior design renovations will begin in the autumn and plans call for the installation of upgraded furnishings, fixtures and décor.

“After extensive evaluation of the Myrtle Beach market, we are confident that our collaboration with Strand Capital Group optimizes the strength of our entry into this thriving region," said Mark Wang, President of Hilton Grand Vacations.

"For more than 40 percent of our Club Members, Myrtle Beach is a favorite drive-to vacation destination. We’re thrilled to bring a phenomenal Hilton Grand Vacations Club resort to Myrtle Beach in response to the sustained demand from our Club membership. By bringing together the spectacular setting of the Anderson Ocean Club and the tremendous travel advantages of Hilton Grand Vacations Club - we’re taking vacation ownership in Myrtle Beach to an unprecedented level.”

Patrick Lowe, Principal Partner with Strand Capital Group, said, “We are now positioned to maximize the true potential of this extraordinary property. We developed the Anderson Ocean Club and Spa as the premier resort property and residences in Myrtle Beach and with Hilton Grand Vacations, our vision will now be realized through enhanced channels."

Loyd Daniel, Managing Partner of Strand Capital Group added, “The ability to launch project sales in May and welcome the first owners only seven months later is absolutely remarkable and made possible only through this unique collaboration and innovative business model."

(Photo credit - www.oceanaresorts.com)

Antigua Timeshares in Jolly Harbour

Are you looking for an Antigua timeshare for sale in Jolly Harbour? If so, you're certainly looking in one of the most beautiful spots in the Caribbean.

Antigua and Barbuda is a twin island nation located in the West Indies. Jolly Harbour is a resort area just south of St. John's, the country's capital and largest city, located on Antigua.

Jolly Beach and Jolly Harbour are in St Mary on the west side of Antigua just south St. John's. The beach is a mile long curve of white sand along dazzlingly blue turquoise waters.

The Jolly Harbour Beach Resort "offers the perfect location for the perfect vacation." On-site, guests can enjoy a private beach of white-powder sand, an 18-hole golf course, four restaurants, a shopping mall, tennis, a host of water sports activities, and one of the largest marina facilities in the Caribbean.
Reviewers say:
“We brought 5 kids with us and had the greatest time of our lives. There were many colorful locals who frequented the resort and took good care of the folks from up north. For my money, Antigua has the nicest people in the entire Caribbean. The scenery here was absolutely spectacular.”
“This resort has it all. Beautiful beach, Restaurants, Shopping, Golf, Racketball, Tennis, Basketball, Exterior Swimming Pool, Bikes, Car Rental & more. Depart on a Catamaran Day Cruise, Scuba Diving, Skin Diving or even a Pirates' Adventure from the Resorts' impressive Marina. You can take a helicopter ride around the island or experience the thrill of flying around an active volcano at the neighbor island of Monserrat. There's great Security, Friendly People, Great Food and Breathtaking Sunsets make this Resort a Must- Visit, and only 15 minutes from the airport.”
The Jolly Harbour Marina and Golf Resort has something for everyone, including a variety of water sports, an 18-hole championship golf course, a tennis/sports complex, shopping center, and six restaurants.

A Reviewer said:
“Great Place to Relax or to be as Active as you want! Antiguan people are lovely and make you feel at home.”
“When you stay in your Jolly Harbor timeshare, you'll be glad to know that you can easily stock your timeshare kitchen, as there is a market on the southwestern edge of the city where fresh produce, meats and fresh fish are sold daily.”
Also you might want to check out the Antigua Rum Distillery, located at the Citadel. Annual production yields more than 180,000 gallons.

(Photo credit - jollyharbor.mobi)

Grand Pacific Resort Management Wins ARDA Awards

Grand Pacific Resort Management (GPRM) Hits Home Run at National Convention
Grand Pacific Resort Management (GPRM), a privately owned vacation ownership management company located in Carlsbad, CA, garnered four top awards from the ARDA (American Resort Development Association) 2011 Awards Program.

The first place winners were in the most important categories of timeshare management: General Manager (overall management leadership), Assistant General Manager (covering day-to-day operations), Maintenance Manager (ensuring that properties and facilities are in tip-top condition) and Rental Manager (providing revenue to the Homeowner’s Association).

“The awards we received speak to the fact that Grand Pacific Resort Management covers all the bases in the complex formula that makes up timeshare resort management,” said David Brown, co-president of Grand Pacific Resort Management.

The finalists in the competition were selected from hundreds of entries submitted by ARDA members and were judged independently in a confidential/blind judging process. The Gold “ARDY” Award Winners were named in March in Orlando, Florida in conjunction with ARDA’s National Convention.

Grand Pacific Resort Management was also awarded the Silver ARDY in this highly competitive program for Owner/Customer Relations Team – Grand Pacific Resort Management Owner Services Team; Executive Housekeeper Linda Carranza, Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort-Carlsbad, CA; Green Sustainable Program -Grand Pacific Resort Management and Resort Landmark Design Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel-Carlsbad, CA.

ARDA is an international trade association which fosters and promotes the growth of the vacation ownership industry and serves its members through education, public relations and communications, legislative advocacy, membership development, and ethics enforcement.

Among the resorts currently managed by Grand Pacific Resorts are MarBrisa, Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort, Carlsbad Seapointe Resort, Coronado Beach Resort, Grand Pacific Palisades Resort, Red Wolf Lakeside Lodge, RiverPointe at Napa Valley, San Clemente Cove Resort, Southern California Beach Club, Mountain Retreat, and the Ali’i Kai II Resort in Hawaii.

Grand Pacific Resort Management is one of the oldest and largest vacation ownership companies based in California. Servicing over 45,000 owner-families every year, it manages over 1,000 units in California and Hawaii.