RCI Wins St. Maarten Outstanding Tourism Industry Partner Award

RCI®, the global leader in vacation exchange, was recently recognized by the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) with a Crystal Pineapple Award in the category of Outstanding Tourism Industry Partner.

The award winners were recognized at a ceremony in November at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino in St. Maarten.

“SHTA has unanimously chosen RCI as the recipient of its 2012 Outstanding Tourism Industry Partner Award,” said Alfred Harley, executive director of the SHTA.

“This award recognizes international industry partners that have made a significant contribution toward the development of our tourism industry, and in this case we are confident that the timeshare industry on St. Maarten has benefited tremendously from a fruitful relationship with RCI,” Harley said.

Among RCI’s contributions to the tourism industry in St. Maarten, the SHTA cited RCI’s ability to gather, analyze and provide information about timeshare exchange travel trends on the island.

With this information, businesses were able to tailor their tourism products and services to grow the industry in St. Maarten. RCI, along with other timeshare industry leaders, also worked with the SMTA to draft comprehensive legislation to assist in the regulation of the timeshare industry, which was submitted to Parliament and the Minister of Justice in October.

“We are so happy to be presented with this prestigious award,” said Eugenio Macouzet, managing director, RCI Caribbean.

 “The timeshare industry has developed quickly and beautifully on the island of St. Maarten, and we look forward to being a part of its continued growth in the future.”

RCI became the first vacation exchange company in St. Maarten in the early 1980s through an affiliation with the island’s first timeshare property, the Pelican Resort. RCI is now affiliated with more than 20 quality properties on the island.

Photo Credit: stmaarten.blogspot.com

Timeshare Company’s Founder to Retire from Marriott

Marriott Vacations Worldwide has announced that Robert A. Miller, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the company’s international region, will retire by the end of this year.

A 35-year industry veteran, Miller started his career in 1978 with the co-founding of American Resorts Corporation which was purchased by Marriott International, Inc. in 1984.

The new division launched Marriott as the first branded hospitality company to enter the timeshare industry by more than a decade.

“Bob leaves an impressive legacy. His leadership in the early formation of the industry helped structure important legislation and consumer regulations that created a platform on which the industry would grow,” said Stephen P. Weisz, president and chief executive officer for Marriott Vacations Worldwide.

Miller came on board with Marriott when it acquired American Resorts, where he was the president and chief operating officer. He served as president for the timeshare division until 1996 and grew the business from $5.4 million to nearly $258 million during that time and also led the Marriott Golf business.

Throughout his career, Miller has been an active member of the vacation ownership industry. He was a member of the board of directors for Interval International for more than five years.

Miller has also played a key role in the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) by serving as its treasurer in 1997, and then as chairman from 1998 – 2001. He is currently a member of the executive committee and the board of directors, as well as chairman of the ARDA International Foundation.

In 1991, Miller was named ARDA’s Resort Industry Executive of the Year, due to his enduring efforts to bring the segment to the forefront of the hospitality industry, and in 2005, received ARDA’s ACE Lifetime Achievement Award.

ARDA-Hawaii Gives First Annual "Timeshare with Aloha" Awards

The American Resort Development Association of Hawaii (ARDA-Hawaii) has announced the recipients of its first annual "Timeshare with Aloha" Awards.

One outstanding employee each from Kauai, Oahu, Maui, and Island of Hawaii was recognized and received a two-night stay at a Hawaii timeshare resort and $1,000 to spend during their vacation.

The nominations, which included submissions from supervisors and peers, were reviewed by a panel of judges comprised of leaders in government and in the travel and hospitality community. The judges evaluated the submissions based on the candidates' dedication at the workplace, relationship with coworkers, customer service and community stewardship.

ARDA-Hawaii's leadership was pleased to establish the Timeshare with Aloha Awards to showcase and reward committed industry professionals who make Hawaii a special place to visit. Though many vacation destinations offer sun, sand, and surf, Hawaii's warm and unique culture is what sets it apart.

"It was a significant challenge for our panel of judges to single out just four individuals among the many worthy nominees," said ARDA-Hawaii Chair Daniel Dinell, who is also the Hilton Grand Vacations Club Vice President for Oahu.

"The fact that these four timeshare professionals are recognized among their peers as consistently going above and beyond when it comes to sharing the spirit of aloha is truly a testament to how exceptional they are."

The vacation stays were donated by ARDA-Hawaii members Hilton Grand Vacations, Marriott Vacation Club, Starwood Vacation Ownership and Wyndham Vacation Resorts.

Recipients of the Timeshare with Aloha Awards included Julie Pavao, Executive Assistant, Starwood Vacation Ownership - Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, Kauai (see photo).

Wyndham Ranked Number One in Newsweek Magazine’s Annual Greenest Companies Survey

For the second consecutive year, Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, is ranked number one by Newsweek magazine in its annual Greenest Companies survey.

The rankings evaluate the environmental performance of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S. and around the world. Ranked among the top 100 greenest companies in the U.S., Wyndham Worldwide was evaluated on a number of criteria including its environmental footprint and management, environmental policies, programs and initiatives.

The survey also considered the Company’s reporting and disclosure practices, including the Carbon Disclosure Project and its 2011 Sustainability Report, which align with the Global Reporting Initiative.

“We are proud to be recognized once again for our work in sustainability, which is the result of tremendous collaboration and innovation by our associates, franchisees, suppliers, business and community partners,” says Stephen P. Holmes, chairman and chief executive officer, Wyndham Worldwide.

“As one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, these collaborative efforts work to leverage the versatility of our unique hospitality portfolio of vacation ownership club resorts to drive sustainable, profitable growth.”

One of the initiatives credited in the Company’s ranking is its Wyndham Green Toolbox, a proprietary designed, state-of-the-art eco-software program that allows both owned and managed properties, as well as independently owned and franchised properties within the Wyndham Worldwide portfolio to track and measure their environmental footprint.

The Toolbox provides users with resources and tools to reduce energy use, and advance the Company’s global sustainability efforts.

Earlier this year, the Company reported a five percent reduction in its carbon footprint of its owned, managed and leased properties over 2010 based on energy per square foot measured by the custom Toolbox.

Wyndham Worldwide sustainable practices are created and driven by the Company’s Wyndham Green program, which is in its sixth year, remains one of the top five strategic priorities at Wyndham Worldwide. 

The program, which is focused on education and innovation, is a way of living and working based on the Company’s vision and core values, enhancing customers’ lives by improving the environment, supporting global and local communities, and developing sustainable programs that deliver economic benefits.

Take a look at Wyndham timeshare rentals and resales available now.

Bluegreen Getaways and Elvis.com Winner Takes Family to Vegas

Bluegreen Getaways Partnered with Elvis.com to give away a vacation fit for a king. The winner just returned from his family trip to Las Vegas.

Pete S. of Beaumont, CA, won a trip to Las Vegas. His prize package included a 7-night stay at Bluegreen Club 36 Resort in a Presidential Suite- 2,500 square feet of elegance, including three lavish bedrooms, a kitchen and an entertaining media room. Pete also received $2,500 in cash.

Pete was casually surfing the Internet when he saw the contest fit for a king and decided to roll the dice on a Las Vegas getaway.

“I was really happy when I found out I won,” Pete said. “I called my wife right away to let her know.” Pete vacationed with his wife and two children.

He says the prize made for the ideal family trip, because Las Vegas happens to be only three hours from where he lives.

Bluegreen’s strategic partnership with Elvis.com was designed to bring more than just vacation packages to the site’s audience.

 “The sweepstakes was created specifically for Elvis Presley Enterprises to give fans a chance to win a great experience from Bluegreen Getaways,” said Marco Merida, Vice President of Marketing Alliances for Bluegreen.

“Elvis fans love Las Vegas. Offering the Presidential Suite from our Vegas Resort (Club 36) seemed like a great way to give the winner a vacation package that even Elvis would have enjoyed. We’re very excited to give this experience to Pete.”

“Elvis Presley Enterprises is proud to have partnered with Bluegreen on this sweepstakes to send Pete to one of Elvis’ favorite cities: Las Vegas, NV,” said Jane Mims, Marketing Account Manager for Elvis Presley Enterprises.

“Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, TN will celebrate his love for Vegas in 2013 & 2014 with a new ‘Elvis: Live from Vegas’ exhibit.”

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Bluegreen Corporation is a leading timeshare sales, marketing and resort management company. Bluegreen Resorts manages, markets and sells the Bluegreen Vacation Club, a flexible, points-based, deeded vacation ownership plan with more than 160,000 owners, over 60 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide.

Timeshare Travel - Luxurious St. James Place – An Interval International and RCI Favorite

Located in the heart of Beaver Creek, Colorado, is the dual-affiliated mixed-use resort St. James Place, which enjoys both II Premier, and RCI Gold Crown status.

Accommodations range from large hotel units to an incredible 4-bedroom that sleeps 12.

This is one of those great places where you can walk out of the condo door and up the heated plaza (less than 100 yards) to the main ski lift, and ski-in access trails pass right by it.

Among other things, St. James Place has a full exercise facility, large indoor pool, sauna, steam room, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, meeting rooms, 24 hour front desk, concierge, and heated underground parking.

The open air ice skating facility and the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts, with live entertainment, are also just yards from the front door.

Also right outside the front door are shopping and dining, hiking, horseback riding and golf, all on site, and tennis is only two blocks away.

This elegant and luxurious resort consistently gets very high ratings from everyone who visits, and can be difficult to exchange into, especially at the height of the winter season.

Keep St. James Place in mind for other times of the year, too. The region is always beautiful, always full of activity, and you might have a better chance of getting in.

Bluegreen Vacations Partners With American Red Cross in Hurricane Sandy Storm Relief Efforts

Bluegreen Vacations, a leading provider of vacation experiences, will make a $5,000 corporate donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief to assist with care for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, Bluegreen President and CEO John M. Maloney Jr. has announced.

In addition, the company will match personal donations by its associates made by November 30, 2012- dollar for dollar- up to $5,000.

A handful of resorts that are either owned by or affiliated with the vacation club experienced the wrath of Sandy first hand: The Soundings and The Breakers in Dennisport, MA, The Manhattan Club in New York City, Patrick Henry Square in Williamsburg, VA., Shenandoah Crossing in Gordonsville, VA., and Atlantic Palace in Atlantic City, NJ.

“Many Bluegreen associates in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast took great precautions before the storm to protect our resort owners and guests, even as they took steps to safeguard themselves and their loved ones,” Maloney said.

“They showed great care and compassion. Now it’s our opportunity—and responsibility—to show compassion.”

The American Red Cross has provided more than 23,000 overnight shelter stays since October 26, 2012, two days before Sandy made landfall. The storm has affected 60 million people across an area the Red Cross described as “about the size of Europe.”

Bluegreen Vacations hosts owners and guests at several resorts in the affected area, including Bluegreen at Atlantic Palace on the hard-hit Atlantic City, N.J., Boardwalk.

Contributions to the American National Red Cross are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Red Cross’ tax identification number is 53-0196605. For more information, visit the Red Cross web site. 

Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Bluegreen Corporation is a leading timeshare sales, marketing and resort management company. Bluegreen Resorts manages, markets and sells the Bluegreen Vacation Club, a flexible, points-based, deeded vacation ownership plan with more than 160,000 owners, over 60 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide.

Photo Credit: nj.com

Interval International Affiliates Six Village Center Resorts in France

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group announced the addition of six Village Center resorts located in four regions of France: Normandy, Dordogne, Languedoc, and the Oriental Pyrenees.

All are new, purpose built properties primarily concentrated in the southern part of the country that borders the northern Mediterranean coastline.

“Village Center has been developing and operating great holiday accommodation in popular destinations throughout France for more than 35 years,” said Darren Ettridge, Interval's senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

“We’re thrilled that they have expanded into shared ownership and chosen Interval to provide exchange and leisure benefits to their owners.”

The resorts have gained the distinguished Clef Verte label, the global Green Key eco-rating, in recognition of the developers’ efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

Each destination is strategically located to allow visitors easy access to the cultural activities of the surrounding region, as well as the natural landscapes and sporting activities.

The four properties that opened this summer include:
1. Le Clos du Rocher is situated in Les Eyzies de Tayac, the heart of the Dordogne, an area renowned for its dramatic landscape and UNESCO World Heritage prehistoric sites.

2. Les Demeures Torrellanes is less than two miles from Saint-Cyprien in the Oriental Pyrénées between Spain and Andorra — close to prime beaches on the Mediterranean.

3. Côte Vermeille, Les Demeures de la Massane is Located at the southernmost point of France, within 20 minutes of Perpignan, at the foot of the Albères mountains.

4. Côté Green (see photo) sits on an 18-hole golf course in the 444-acre Domaine de Fontcaude greenbelt located in the town of Juvignac in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

Scheduled to open in 2013:
5. Le Domaine de la Corniche will be situated in the Calvados region of Normandy, famed for its cider and gastronomy, as well as beautiful landscapes, sandy beaches, and historic sites. Located minutes from the town of Deauville, it will be convenient to the iconic Mont St. Michel and other points of interest.

6. Domaine de Bacchus will be located steps from the centre of the town of Saint Christol in the Languedoc region. The Provençal-style resort is situated less than half a mile from Saint Christol’s winery cooperative.

RCI Affiliated with Macdonald Hotels and Resorts in UK and Spain

RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands offers vacation exchange services to owners at all nine Macdonald resorts throughout the United Kingdom and Spain.

In addition, RCI also manages and services Macdonald’s white-label points-based program, Options Vacation Club, through the RCI Points® program.

“Working with RCI has helped us offer a more flexible and diverse vacation experience to our owners, giving them access to more than 4,000 terrific vacation resorts around the world,” said Simon Jackson, chief executive with Macdonald Hotels & Resorts.

“At RCI, we take great pride in the relationships we forge with our clients and are continually looking for ways to provide even more value-added services,” said Gordon Gurnik, president, RCI. “That is why it is so rewarding to play an increased role with an affiliate like Macdonald Hotels & Resorts. It speaks to the strong relationships we develop with our affiliates.”

With 40 hotels and nine resorts in England, Scotland, Wales and Spain, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts is one of the largest hotel chains in the UK. Approximately 23,000 customers enjoy the benefits of vacation ownership at the luxurious Macdonald resorts throughout the UK.

Macdonald’s mix of resorts offers a wide range of high-quality vacation experiences from golf and tennis outings to fishing and skiing excursions, and from relaxing beach and spa getaways to fine dining and family fun.

A variety of vacation products are available including professionally managed and serviced one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, chalets or villas.

In addition, Macdonald has developed the Vital brand for its health and fitness clubs and spas. There are currently 28 clubs in the Macdonald portfolio, with a total membership in the region of approximately 12,000.

The Group has nine golf courses over six locations and has engaged Sandy Lyle, winner of two major golf championships as golf ambassador and non executive director of Macdonald Golf.

Dial An Exchange Offers Premium Locations with daeOptions

Dial An Exchange, one of the nation’s largest independent vacation exchange organizations, offers properties in premium vacation destinations from British Columbia to Florida.

Commented Tanya Bleuel, Director of Yield Management for DAE, “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.

“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.

Added Bleuel, “This 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.”

New daeOptions resort destinations include Whistler, BC (see top photo); 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.

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.

Photo Credit: bcadventures.com

RCI Network in India Now Over 100 Properties

With the addition of the Ananta Spa and Resorts, The Aranyawas Resort and The Summer Plaza Resort in May, RCI’s India exchange network now numbers over 100 properties.

“We are delighted to welcome these three charming resorts into the RCI network,” said Radhika Shastry, managing director, RCI India.

1. Ananta Spa and Resorts (see photo) is a sprawling nine-acre spa resort located amidst the historical landscape of Pushkar in Rajasthan. The resort has luxurious accommodations that blend nature’s delights with a modern look conceived in minimalist vision. Each villa has a spacious living room on the ground floor that opens onto lush manicured greens with an attached open-to-sky bathroom surrounded by waterfalls. 

The resort features a spacious health club with an outdoor pool, spa, steam room, gym, massage rooms and beauty treatment rooms, as well as a lounge bar and an all-day dining restaurant. Camel and desert safaris, camp fires and colorful folk dancers capture the essence of Rajasthan.

2. The Aranyawas Resort is located in Ranakpur, Rajasthan, home to the renowned Jain marble temple. This resort, set in the wilderness of the Aravali mountain range, offers an intimate guest experience with the highest level of service.

The cottages and rooms have magnificent views of the valley and river. The interiors, while painted in rustic colors, are modern and include walk-in dressing rooms.

3. The Summer Plaza Resort is located in Maharashtra among the enchanting Panchgani hills, providing RCI members in western India with a wonderful drive-to holiday destination. It spans five acres of luscious green fauna and is located adjacent to the Saputara Lake, inviting guests to relish a unique form of luxury.

The resort offers limitless entertainment options with its temperature controlled swimming pool, movie theater, hi-tech gym, discotheque, Jacuzzi and spa. Outdoor sporting activities such as boating, parasailing and other water sport options are also available.

Achieving the 100-property milestone is of even greater significance as RCI celebrates its twentieth year of operation in India this year. In 1992, RCI established a small office, manned by a staff of five with a common vision of bringing memorable holiday experiences to Indian families.

In that first year, RCI signed three affiliations in India. Today, the office has grown and now successfully manages relationships with developers who together bring RCI members a choice of more than 100 affiliated vacation properties in India.

Velence Resort in Hungary Part of Interval International's Family

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, is affiliated with Velence Resort on the shore of Lake Velence, 37 miles (60 km) south of Hungary’s capital, Budapest.

“Velence Resort is a one-of-a-kind property midway between Budapest and the popular resort town of Lake Balaton,” said Darren Ettridge, Interval’s senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

“Our members who are looking for a rejuvenating holiday off the beaten path will enjoy the resort’s private beach and impressive wellness facility.”

The timeshare units have private balconies, fully equipped kitchenettes, satellite TVs, and Internet access. From the grassy beach and boardwalk of the resort, guests have panoramic views of Lake Velence, Hungary’s third largest lake. Covering 10 square miles (27 sq km), it is one of the warmest natural lakes in Europe, with an average water temperature of 80oF (27oC) during the summer, and is renowned for its healing properties.

The wellness facility features three mineral pools filled from the resort’s own thermal spring. For intense detoxification, there are many types of saunas as well as steam cabinets, plunge pool, and an invigorating ice cascade. A whirlpool bath provides extended relaxation and a Tepidarium, a high humidity salt chamber, and Kneipp Bath, a pool of knee-high cold water lined with round pebbles, are available for treating specific aliments.

Guest also may book water-based thalassotherapy body treatments and facials and choose from a dozen styles of massage. The on-site facility also hosts a full schedule of classes along with personal training services.

In addition to the spa, the resort has a number of on-site amenities such as a bicycle trail, clubhouse, marina, restaurant, and beach bar.

The child-friendly environment includes playrooms, a children’s pool, a playground, and children’s programs during peak season.

“We’re proud to add our unique imprint to Interval International’s quality worldwide exchange network,” said Gabor Toth, managing director of Inseln Kft, the developer of the resort.

“We pride ourselves in taking relaxation and rejuvenation to a new level. In this peaceful and natural environment, we invite Interval members to indulge in a spectrum of healing treatments and special services at our resort and spa.”

Photo Credit: velenceresort.com
Photo Credit: visit-hungary.com

Third Tower Construction at Marriott’s Grand Chateau in Las Vegas

Marriott Vacation Club is hard at work on construction of the third tower at Marriott’s Grand Chateau, located at 75 East Harmon Avenue just off the world famous Las Vegas Strip.

Maintaining the design inspiration of Southern France from the existing two towers, the 37-story, third tower will add 223 one-, two- and three-bedroom villas for a total of 643 villas at the property with occupancy beginning in mid-2014.

The third tower villas incorporate a spacious and contemporary design ranging in size from approximately 820 to 2,095 square feet. Each villa will typically feature mahogany stained furniture and armoires with backlit, frosted glass paneled doors and cabinetry and granite surfaces. Neutral beige walls provide the perfect backdrop to display bold colors of blue, gold, red and brown in fabrics, tapestries, tile, and bedding accents.

Villas also have fully equipped kitchens, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and custom cabinets; generous living and dining areas; luxurious bedding; multiple flat-panel LED televisions with Blu-ray DVD players; washer/dryer and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. Three-bedroom villas can accommodate 10 guests.

“We’re excited about our construction on the third tower at this spectacular property in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip,” said Lee Cunningham, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation.

 “Our Owners and guests around the world will enjoy these new villas and high-end amenities further enhancing their vacation experiences at Marriott’s Grand Chateau,” said Cunningham.

Adding to the existing amenities in the first two towers, the third tower brings on a lobby lounge that will offer top shelf cocktails and tapas, a billiards area with electronic game tables and a cafe that will serve up gourmet Panini’s, pastries, gelato and coffees.

The fifth floor provides access to the property’s second and larger pool with a built-in sun shelf and chaise lounges for relaxing in the water, a pool deck with two whirlpool spas and a pool bar and grill.

With panoramic views of The Strip, the property overlooks the spectacular CityCenter Las Vegas and is within walking distance to many of the finest casinos, shows, shopping and dining on Las Vegas Boulevard.

New Development Project Underway at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Construction is currently underway for a new resort development that will expand Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, distinguished as the flagship hotel at the Walt Disney World Resort, and continue the growth of Disney Vacation Club, Disney’s innovative vacation-ownership program.

Disney Vacation Club is building an estimated 147 villas as part of a previously announced expansion of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (see top photo), one of the premier resort hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort. 

Estimated to open in late 2013, this new resort experience is slated to be the 12th Disney Vacation Club property and will be located near the spa and wedding pavilion at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. In addition to villa accommodations, plans for the expansion include a children’s water-play area and other amenities.

“We continually look for ways to expand Disney Vacation Club by creating resort experiences that our members will love,” said Claire Bilby, senior vice president and general manager of Disney Vacation Club. 

“With the continued popularity of Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we are thrilled to offer our members and guests a new resort option along the monorail system with easy access to the Magic Kingdom Park, as well as a variety of shopping, dining and recreation experiences.”

Disney Vacation Club is owned by Disney Vacation Development Inc., part of the magic of The Walt Disney Company.

Check out timeshare rentals and timeshare resales currently available at Bay Lake Tower (see photo).

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Acquires Shell Vacations LLC

Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), has acquired privately held Shell Vacations LLC (Shell) and its subsidiaries. Shell is one of the largest independent vacation ownership club and property management groups, serving approximately 115,000 members and 19 managed resorts in North America.

The purchase price for the equity of Shell is approximately $102 million in cash. The acquisition also includes $153 million of debt, which is primarily related to consumer loan receivables. Under the terms of the agreement, WVO assumes property management operations at 19 Shell resort locations in Hawaii, California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, New Hampshire and Canada.

WVO will now also operate Shell Vacations Club (SVC), a leading points-based reservation and exchange system featuring a wide variety of member benefits and travel options, and assumes management of all SVC marketing, sales and financial services activities.

“This tuck-in acquisition is immediately accretive to earnings and generates meaningful cash flow as well as a healthy rate of return. With strong fee-for-service revenues, this acquisition is consistent with our capital-light strategy,” said Stephen P. Holmes, Chairman and CEO, Wyndham Worldwide.

“With a history that spans more than four decades, Shell Vacations is both a pioneer and a respected leader within the hospitality industry,” stated Franz S. Hanning, President and CEO, Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

“We look forward to building upon Shell’s achievements and continuing the growth of its highly successful vacation club by pursuing the same formula of providing outstanding quality, value and customer care,” said Hanning.

“We’re excited to leverage the significant scale and expertise of WVO,” said Shelly Ginsburg, Chairman and CEO, Shell Vacations. “We believe our strong commitment to owner and guest satisfaction is complemented by WVO’s demonstrated strength in managing one of the most extensive and diversified timeshare resort portfolios.”

Wyndham Vacation Ownership, a member of Wyndham Worldwide’s 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 owners of vacation ownership interests.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership develops, markets and sells vacation ownership interests and provides consumer financing to owners through its three primary consumer brands, CLUB WYNDHAM®, WorldMark by Wyndham, and Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership is headquartered in Orlando, FL, and is supported by approximately 13,700 employees globally.

Bluegreen Vacations Purchases Southern California Timeshare Resort The Club At Big Bear Village

Bluegreen Vacations has announced the purchase of The Club at Big Bear Village, a premiere timeshare resort property located in Big Bear, CA, approximately 90 minutes east of Los Angeles.

“Adding The Club at Big Bear Village to our collection of resorts just made sense,” said David Pontius, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer; President, Bluegreen Services at Bluegreen Corporation.

“We have been looking for the opportunity to further our westward expansion and the accommodations and amenities offered by The Club at Big Bear Village are ideal for our vacation club owners. It’s a perfect four-season destination that nicely compliments our Las Vegas and Phoenix properties, offering a unique and very special experience,” said Pontius.

The resort is located on Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest and has been referred to as an “ultra luxurious base camp to all the mountain and lake adventures that Big Bear offers.”

Bluegreen Vacation Club owners initially will have access to yet to be sold inventory in 14 three-and-four bedroom presidential units richly appointed with sub-zero kitchen appliances, Jacuzzi™ baths and steam showers, HD big screen TVs and more.

A handful of unit shellswere built, but not completed or furnished. Bluegreen is currently in the process of completing those units, with the intention of adding them to the available inventory by 2013. In addition, “a master plan for future development” of the property is in the works, for which Bluegreen will be selecting developer partners.

The Club at Big Bear Village was previously positioned as a fractional offering, designed to appeal to the Los Angeles drive-in market. As part of the transition, Bluegreen has worked closely with the existing owners at large as well as their association board to explain the company’s intentions.

“Dealing with high-end fractional owners as a timeshare company can be challenging,” Pontius said. “After all is said and done, we think the existing owners will really be pleased with what we bring to the table, and we know that existing Bluegreen Vacation Club owners will appreciate one more resort at which they can vacation and build memories.”

Marriott Vacation Club Resorts In Orlando And Palm Desert Named First Audubon International Green Resorts

Marriott's Grande Vista in Orlando, FL, and Marriott's Shadow Ridge in Palm Desert, CA (see photo right), are the first resorts to be designated as Green Resorts by Audubon International, an international conservation and environmental education organization.

The Green Resorts designation recognizes properties that have been eco-rated by Audubon International's Green Lodging Program and have achieved certification in at least one other Audubon International program, such as the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.

Designation as a Green Resort is the culmination of Marriott Vacation Club's larger Green Initiative which began at its corporate headquarters with continued roll-out to its resorts worldwide. In addition to these most recent steps, each Marriott Vacation Club resort has established its own "green team" which manages its environmental efforts.

In 2009, the brand demonstrated its continued commitment to green operations by eliminating more waste from landfills through implementing recycled key cards, pens and Forest Stewardship Council certified paper for guest arrival packets worldwide and most recently announced a soap recycling partnership with Clean the World at its resorts in North America.

In 2011, Marriott Vacation Club committed to enroll all of its properties in Audubon International's Green Lodging Program and will achieve full enrollment of its North American properties by the end of this year. 

"We're pleased to welcome these two Marriott Vacation Club properties as the first Green Resorts," said Fredrik Realbuto, Director of the Audubon International Green Lodging Program.

"Building on our long standing cooperative agreement, we are excited to continue working together to better protect and sustain our land, water, wildlife, and other natural resources," said Realbuto.

"These two Green Resort designations affirm our long term commitment to green operations at our resorts and we're thrilled to be recognized as the first recipients," said Lee Cunningham, executive vice president and chief operating officer - North America and the Caribbean, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation. 

Marriott's Grande Vista (see photo right) is a member of the Green Lodging Program, and the Faldo Golf Institute and Marriott's Grande Pines Golf Club are members of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program. Marriott's Shadow Ridge is a member of the Green Lodging Program and Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program.

"As an extension of Marriott Golf's unwavering commitment to the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, we are very pleased that Marriott's Shadow Ridge and Marriott's Grande Vista resorts, under the leadership of the Marriott Vacation Club brand, have become the first members of the Green Resorts Program," said Bill Nault, vice president of golf operations, Marriott International/The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., LLC.

"Taking sustainability and wildlife preservation beyond the golf course and extending our eco-practices across the landscape of an entire resort facility further validates Marriott Vacation Club's dedication to environmental stewardship, and we hope this program becomes a model for all resorts worldwide," said Nault.

Bluegreen Vacations Launches Owner Spotlight

Bluegreen Vacations, a leader in the vacation ownership industry, announced that it is launching “Owner Spotlight,” a new series of articles that feature real vacation accounts by real Bluegreen owners.

These stories will be featured via the vacation club’s Facebook and Twitter pages, various company websites and in the company’s quarterly magazine Colorful Places. Owners that are engaged members of Bluegreen’s social media channels, or are just fans are invited to follow Bluegreen on twitter and send a direct message expressing their interest in sharing their Bluegreen Owner Story.

“The goal is to get owners even more engaged in their vacation experience,” said Joseph Torraca, SEO Analyst for Bluegreen Corporation. “We want to inspire vacations through real owners and their use of our resorts.”

Megan T., of Indiana, was the inspiration behind Owner Spotlight. An active Twitter user, Megan reached out to Bluegreen requesting more vacation-inspiring information from Bluegreen’s Tweets. She knew that her family would be visiting Mountain Run at Boyne™, and thought it’d be a great opportunity to inspire vacations through her real life experiences as a Bluegreen Vacation Club owner.

Bluegreen Vacations took that concept to the next level and created the Owner Spotlight series. “There are lots of great things happening at the resorts, so why not share that information,” Trainor said. “What are people doing at Shenandoah Crossing? What are some things to do in Boyne? The more information I can get as a Bluegreen owner, the better my vacations can be.”

You can see the Owner Spotlight updates on Bluegreen Vacations Facebook Page and Bluegreentweets Twitter feed starting August 17, 2012.

About Bluegreen Corporation
Founded in 1966 and headquartered in Boca Raton, FL, Bluegreen Corporation is a leading timeshare sales, marketing and resort management company. Bluegreen Resorts manages, markets and sells the Bluegreen Vacation Club, a flexible, points-based, deeded vacation ownership plan with more than 160,000 owners, over 60 owned or managed resorts, and access to more than 4,000 resorts worldwide.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Commits to Raising $1 Million to Plant One Million Trees

Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the world’s largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies announced in May, 2012, the launch of the Wyndham® Million Trees Project, an initiative to plant one million trees throughout national forests in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees.

As part of the Wyndham Green sustainability program to reduce the company’s environmental impact around the globe, owners, guests and associates at more than 150 Club Wyndham and WorldMark by Wyndham resorts and 10 corporate offices are encouraged to contribute to the cause.

“The Wyndham Million Trees Project is a new campaign that allows us to help repair our country’s forests that have been devastated by fire and natural disease,” said Geoff Richards, chief operations officer, Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

“Our business is dedicated to helping save the world’s natural resources through our many environmentally-conscious programs, from corporate recycling and waste reduction initiatives to our many sustainable resort operations. This new project will take our conservation efforts even further, allowing us to protect and maintain the nation’s outdoor beauty for future generations to enjoy,” said Richards.

The goal of this project is to raise $1 million to help plant one million trees across the country by Arbor Day 2013. Owners and guests can make monetary contributions toward the initiative in resort lobbies, online or text the word FOREST to 27722 to donate $10 to plant 10 trees.

“The need to replant our forests is vitally important because of damage from insects, disease and this year’s unprecedented forest and wildfires,” said John Rosenow, founder and chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

“Our forests provide countless environmental benefits, which include cleaning the air, absorbing carbon dioxide, purifying water resources and providing habitat for wildlife. We’re grateful for Wyndham’s partnership in this effort. These million trees will help keep our forests healthy for years to come,” said Rosenow.

In addition to the Wyndham Million Trees Project, the company partners with the Arbor Day Foundation on various other green initiatives. In April 2011, Wyndham Worldwide received the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Promise to the Earth Award” for its participation in the Rain Forest Rescue® Project with Arbor Day. This project supports shade-grown coffee served in Wyndham Vacation Ownership resort units.

Annually, Wyndham Vacation Ownership extends its commitment to the Arbor Day Foundation by planting signature trees at its corporate offices and resorts in celebration of the organization.

Photo Credit: informationvine.com

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Named One of Orlando's "Best Places to Work"

Marriott Vacations Worldwide was recently recognized as a finalist in the Orlando Business Journal's 2012 "Best Places to Work" awards as well as included in the publication's list of "Top 25 Largest Employers" in the July edition.

The only vacation ownership company to make the publication's "Best Places to Work" list, Marriott Vacations Worldwide was one of 24 Orlando employers that drew rave reviews from its workers.

"We are extremely proud to be named as one of Orlando's 'Best Places to Work,' which helps demonstrate our enduring commitment to creating an excellent workplace," said Stephen P. Weisz, president and chief executive officer of Marriott Vacations Worldwide.

"One of our core values is putting people first – so having our own associates provide feedback for this award is a testament of our great culture and unique programs that appreciate and help open doors to a world of opportunities," said Weisz.

This year's competition received 88 nominations which were then narrowed to a list of 24 finalists based on how workers responded to an anonymous online employee engagement survey. The 37 questions focused on topics including trust, feeling valued and recognition.

The finalists were divided into five divisions, based on number of employees, with Marriott Vacations Worldwide being recognized as one of three companies to have the highest employee satisfactions scores in the "mega" division. The publication highlighted the company's unique employee benefits including Marriott room rate discounts, Club 25 and Associate Appreciation Week to honor its associates.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide is home to more than 9,600 associates with over 2,200 local, full-time associates in Orlando. The company focuses on providing unforgettable vacation experiences to more than 420,000 Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club and Grand Residences by Marriott Owners and Members around the globe.

Above photo is Marriott's Harbour Lake in Orlando, where timeshare rentals start at just $86/night. View other Marriott Orlando timeshare rentals.

Bluegreen Vacations Wins Bronze Telly Award for Shenandoah Crossing Resort Story Video

BluegreenVacations, a leader in the vacation ownership industry has announced that it won a 2012 Bronze Telly Award in the travel/tourism category for its Shenandoah Crossing Resort Story Video. With nearly 11,000 entries from all 50 states and numerous countries, this is truly an award of distinction.

The Shenandoah Crossing Resort Story Video is approximately four minutes long, showcasing the vacation club’s rustic resort in Gordonsville, Virginia. The narration, high-quality video footage and owner testimonials all work together to give the viewer a true feel of the serenity of the Shenandoah Valley, where the resort is located.

“Winning the Telly is a real honor,” said Izzy Pycher, Senior Vice President of Creative Services for Bluegreen. “Each of our resorts has a story to tell, but Shenandoah is truly unique. With its tent-like accommodations known as “yurts” to its cabins to the RV pads, it is a great destination for our owners who love the outdoors. There is something romantic about being in the Shenandoah Valley and we thought the video conveyed that very well.”

A prestigious judging panel of over 500 accomplished industry professionals, each a past winner of a Silver Telly and a member of The Silver Telly Council, judged the competition, upholding the historical standard of excellence that Telly represents.

The Silver Council evaluated entries to recognize distinction in creative work – entries do not compete against each other – rather entries are judged against a high standard of merit.

“The Telly Awards has a mission to honor the very best in film and video,” said Linda Day, Executive Director of the Telly Awards. “Bluegreen’s accomplishment illustrates their creativity, skill, and dedication to their craft and serves as a testament to great film and video production.”

Watch Bluegreen’s award winning video.

Marriott Vacation Club Forms Life Saving Partnership with Clean the World

Leading hotel and timeshare holiday brand Marriott Vacation Club is partnering with Clean the World Foundation, an organization that recycles partially used bars of soap from resorts, and re-distributes them to global communities that need them.

While other hotel brands have been participating in the Clean the World drive, Marriott Vacation Club is the first timeshare brand to get involved with the Foundation. The number of children who die from diseases and infections due to lack of proper hygiene is shocking – approximately 9,000 children die every day.

Because illnesses such as pneumonia and severe diarrhea-related diseases (e.g. cholera) can be prevented by washing with soap, Clean the World is on a mission to give these communities the soap they need, to help promote better hygiene and living conditions in deprived areas.

“This is a great program that helps so many and we’re excited to be involved. To be able to repurpose an item that previously had been discarded to make such a difference to those in need is very rewarding,” said Lee Cunningham, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer-North American and the Caribbean, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation.

So far, 31 of 43 Marriott Vacation Club resorts in the US have contributed over 9,800 pounds of soap and 6,100 pounds of bottled amenities which have been recycled at Clean the World’s three recycling facilities in North America. As a result, more than 52,500 clean bars of soap and hygiene kits have been distributed to 55 countries, diverting eight tons of waste from landfills across the country.

“Marriott Vacation Club, our first timeshare partner, is a prime example of the true commitment we witness among our partners with regards to sustainability and social responsibility,” said Shawn Seipler, CEO and co-founder of Clean the World.

“The owners and guests who vacation in the timeshare villas can feel good knowing that their partially used amenities, which previously would have been discarded into landfills, are now being recycled and given to children and families in desperate need of hygiene products in the U.S. and worldwide,” said Seipler.

The Clean the World charity hasn't just recycled soap, it has been helping ease landfill as well, In three years the Foundation has recycled and distributed over 10 million bars of soap to families in the U.S. and 55 other countries, while diverting over 1.4 million pounds of landfill waste.

Clean the World Foundation, Inc, executes its mission of saving millions of lives around the globe by leading a global hygiene revolution to distribute recycled soap and hygiene products to children and families suffering from high death rates due to the top two killers of children worldwide – acute respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases. For more information visit: www.cleantheworld.org.

$70 Billion Added to U.S. Economy by Timeshare Industry

2011 Figures Impressive and Indicators Continue to Look Positive for Travel Industry 

The U.S timeshare industry contributed an estimated $70 billion in consumer and business spending to the national economy in 2011, according to a study conducted by Ernst & Young for the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).

“With the easing of capital markets and pent up demand for travel and family vacations, sales are beginning to increase once again, reported Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. "The $6.5 billion timeshare industry is making a major impact on local economies throughout the country.” 

“It’s encouraging to see these numbers – we aren’t just bringing people a better way to vacation, we are making a serious bottom-line economic impact, “Nusbaum said.

The impact of the timeshare industry on the U.S. economy extends beyond timeshare resorts, including the economic impacts of sales and marketing offices, corporate operations, the construction of new resorts, the renovation of existing resorts, and the significant impact of expenditures of vacationers during timeshare stays.

This study estimates the comprehensive private and public sector benefits generated by the timeshare industry. Combined direct, indirect, and fiscal impacts in 2011 by the U.S. timeshare industry included $70 billion in consumer and business spending, 493,000 full- and part-time jobs, $23 billion in salaries and wages, and $7.7 billion in tax revenue.

Overall, the travel industry has been creating jobs 26 percent faster than the rest of the economy since March 2011, creating 271,000 new jobs in that time. There are over 194,200 units in 1,548 timeshare resorts in the United States, encompassing a significant portion of the U.S. hospitality industry.

Spending by timeshare owners and guests during timeshare stays was estimated at $9.3 billion in 2011. About $1.5 billion was spent on-site at resorts, while $7.8 billion was spent off-site in the communities where the timeshare resorts are located. In addition to private sector benefits, the timeshare industry contributes significantly more federal, state, and local tax revenue per employee than the average industry, totaling $7.7 billion in 2011.

Photo Credit: Sheraton Vistana Resort, Orlando, FL

Source: ARDA

Hilton Grand Vacations to Rebrand Hilton Craigendarroch Resort

Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV) has announced plans to renovate the existing 45 hotel rooms at the Hilton Craigendarroch into 32 spacious vacation ownership suites.

The transition fortifies the company’s commitment to increase year-round leisure travel to the renowned destination in the Scottish Highlands.

As part of this development, traditional hotel operations at the resort will be phased out as the property evolves to exclusively offer timeshare accommodations. Hilton Grand Vacations already operates the 99 timeshare lodges at the resort in Ballater, an enterprise that has proven to be one of the most successful timeshare resorts in Europe.

For more than 12 years Craigendarroch has been among the most highly demanded destinations within the Hilton Grand Vacations Club portfolio. The forthcoming re-branding will include the conversion of the property’s existing hotel units into luxury suite accommodations to be sold as timeshare apartments. The leisure facilities which currently operate as part of the Country Club will also be refurbished. The resort will continue to offer Country Club memberships, as well as guest access to the restaurant and bar areas. 

The transition, made possible through the support of Hilton Grand Vacations and parent company Hilton Worldwide, will take place over the next 12 months. 

Richard McIntosh, Managing Director for HGV in Europe/Middle East/ Africa, commented, “This is truly an exciting project to unfold in one of our key markets, and will no doubt serve to increase the amount of guests visiting the resort as well as the local area each year.” 

“With the resort in its 28th year, this re-positioning will ensure the property’s long-term existence not only as a central part of the tourism business in Royal Deeside, but also as an important local employer,” said McIntosh. 

Beyond Scotland, Hilton Grand Vacations continues brand expansion in Europe with the announcement of a new resort in Tuscany, Italy (due to open early in 2013). Prime Investimenti sri, an Italian real estate company based in Prato, Italy, announced earlier this year that it is to open a luxurious 31-apartment vacation ownership resort to be known as “Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Borgo alle Vigne” in the Tuscan countryside. 

Hilton Grand Vacations has been appointed to provide Sales and Marketing services for weekly vacation ownership intervals at the resort, and Best International has been appointed to provide Sales and Marketing services in connection with fractional intervals at the resort. HGV will also be responsible for providing homeowners’ association management services and resort operations.

Festiva Takes Over Bankrupt Kissimmee Resort

Festiva Hospitality Group has announced the recent acquisition of Celebration World Resort in Kissimmee, FL, coming in the wake of troubled times for the resort and its owners.

Festiva is committed to making much-needed improvements to the property itself as well as to the management operations, so that the resort’s owners can enjoy the quality vacations they deserve.

“There was a 55% delinquency rate existing among the owners, along with several other cosmetic and operational challenges,” said Don Clayton, chief executive officer and co-founder of Festiva Hospitality Group. “Festiva has committed to fix those issues with financial contributions for renovations as well drastic operational changes and improvements.”

As part of the acquisition and overall improvements to the resort, Festiva has changed the name of the resort itself and its HOA to Festiva Orlando Resort. The new name represents the Festiva brand as well as the fantastic destination of the resort.

Several improvements are already underway at the property as part of the multi-million-dollar refurbishment and renovations project. These changes will ensure that the more than 11,000 Festiva Orlando Resort owners have the quality accommodations and amenities that they expect and deserve.

Festiva Hospitality Group became involved in this acquisition, which ultimately saved the property from bankruptcy, through CapitalSource Finance, LLC, a real estate and mortgage lending company specializing in commercial real estate that Festiva has previously worked with on several other acquisitions.

“CapitalSource reached out to Festiva because of our confidence in Festiva’s ability to deliver on the operational and administrative improvements necessary to turn the resort around,” said Brian Petronis, vice president of portfolio management for CapitalSource.

The acquisition and plans for improvements were made during a time of communication with the state of Florida as Festiva executives worked closely with The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) near the beginning of the acquisition process.

“Early on we recognized that the many issues the resort owners had been and would continue to deal with would cause ongoing operational, legal and managerial challenges. Therefore, Festiva decided to reach out to the DBPR to inform them of these many challenges and to work with them to ensure the best possible long-term outcome for the resort’s owners,” said Tobias A. Weas, Esq., RRP, vice president of government relations and general counsel of Festiva.

“Once our renovations and improvements are complete, the end result will be a high-quality and financially stable resort in one of the best vacation destinations in the world that can be enjoyed by its owners as well as Festiva’s existing members,” Clayton said.

New Villas for Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club

Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club, located on a secluded lagoon within the upscale Ko Olina Resort, recently completed its fifth development phase, delivering 132 new two- and three-bedroom villas to Marriott Vacation Club's largest resort in the Hawaiian Islands.

Just a 30 minute drive from Honolulu, the resort is on Oahu's western shore. The spacious and luxurious two- and three-bedroom villa interiors are designed with Hawaiian inspired furnishings and fixtures, fabrics and paint in a pallet of yellows, greens and reds contrasting the deep mahogany finish on furniture and cabinetry. 

Fully-equipped kitchens feature stainless steel appliances and large living and dining areas lead to private balconies with glass paneled railings ensuring incredible views that will thrill every Owner and guest. Villas also include flat panel televisions and DVD players in the living area and bedrooms in addition to a washer/dryer. 

Three-bedroom villas accommodate 10 guests and complimentary high-speed internet access is available resort-wide. The resort has a fitness center featuring Life Fitness equipment and guests can also enjoy championship golf at the Ko Olina Golf Club and the Spa by the Sea at Ko Olina. 

"Ko Olina Beach Club is a magnificent resort set in one of Oahu's prime beachfront locations," said Edgar Gum, Regional Vice President Hawaii Operations, Marriott Vacation Club. 

"The availability of these beautiful villas comes at just the right time when our occupancy will reach nearly 100% through the summer months and the attention to detail and relaxing views will make for many memorable vacation experiences for our Owners and guests," said Gum. 

Each week, guests can also enjoy the Fia Fia Polynesian Dinner Show featuring Hawaiian cuisine, drums, fire knife dancing and more. 

Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club offers the ideal Hawaiian vacation from its perfect beachfront location and private lagoon to multiple swimming pools surrounded by lush tropical gardens and unobstructed ocean views that together create an atmosphere of relaxation.

Wyndham Hails New Florida Timeshare Resale Act

Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO) applauded the enactment of the Timeshare Resale Accountability Act as Florida Governor Rick Scott signed it into law this past Friday, June 22. The new bill is designed to tackle fraud by timeshare resale companies. 

Franz Hanning, President and CEO of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, said: "We remain committed to protecting our owners and the integrity of our industry at large. This new law will help to ensure deceptive companies can no longer take advantage of timeshare owners. 

"I commend Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott, along with bill sponsors Sen. Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) and Rep. Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando), for aggressively pursuing action against the fraudulent and deceptive practices that have become commonplace among many timeshare resale companies." 

The Timeshare Resale Accountability Act was enacted to protect Florida consumers, and help put an end to deceptive marketing practices conducted by fraudulent timeshare resale companies that have been targeting consumers under the guise of offering a service to help sell their timeshare product. 

The new Act requires full and fair disclosure of the terms and conditions of services being offered, a reasonable rescission period for consumers to cancel a contract and penalties for those individuals and companies that engage in misleading and fraudulent practices. The bill will become effective July 1, 2012. 

If you are considering selling your timeshare, take a look at the Full Service Timeshare Resales option offered by RedWeek.

Welk Resorts Earns 2012 ACE Employer of the Year Award from ARDA

California-based Welk Resorts, an industry leader having over 40,000 owners in San Diego, Palm Springs, Cabo San Lucas, and Branson, MO, received the 2012 ACE Employer of the Year Award from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).

It’s no surprise that Welk Resorts was recognized with this prestigious award, one that recognizes an employer who has demonstrated exceptional commitment to its employees.

For the award that is given to individuals, teams or resorts that have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments with remarkable service and dedication to the profession, ARDA selected Welk Resorts because, “They treat their employees like family. From training and continued-learning opportunities to promotion from within the company, rewards for healthy living, and a vacation-donation program, Welk Resorts has a long tradition of giving back to its employees.”

Welk Resorts is no stranger to receiving recognition for its outstanding guest and owner satisfaction, especially with the company’s take-pride attitude to meeting the needs of today’s families with their “I will take CARE of it for you” mentality.

With numerous Trip Advisor awards, ranging from becoming number one in the Cabo market within three months of opening their Sirena del Mar (see photo) property to being named number 11 in the “Top 25 Resorts In The World” in 2011, Welk Resorts is well on its way to exceeding all expectations. Welk Resort’s appeal is undeniable.

From 2009 to 2011, when most development and timeshare companies were retrenching, Welk Resorts grew its top-line revenue more than 17 percent to $105 million. Jon Fredricks, President of the thriving company, credits Welk’s success to a corporate culture that provides fertile ground for creating the high-performance teams.

Keeping a long standing tradition alive that was established by founder Lawrence Welk, a bandleader who hosted one of TV’s most enduring series, is what sets Welk apart from others within the industry. Welk employees demonstrate the ideals established by their beloved Lawrence: kindness, compassion and generosity. “This is the Welk legacy that we are challenged to live up to every day,” says Jon Fredricks, President and CEO of Welk Resorts as well as the grandson of Lawrence Welk. 

“Winning the ACE Employer of the Year award is really about our employees—they are who make us shine. We are honored to acknowledge them in this way. There were over 475 ARDA Award submissions this year and competition was fierce, which makes us doubly proud for receiving this prestigious award,” said Fredricks.

Festiva - Phase III at Blue Ridge Village

During 2011 Festiva Hospitality Group worked on refurbishments and new construction at the Blue Ridge Village Resort in Banner Elk, N.C. These updates improve the long-term quality of the resort for all Festiva members and resort guests, and are part of a large improvement project taking place at several properties throughout Festiva’s network of resorts.

In 2008 Festiva began renovations at the Blue Ridge Village, taking it one building at a time. Improvements to the units included replacing all soft goods such as furniture, window treatments and bedding, replacing all cabinets, countertops and appliances in the kitchens, installing new televisions, replacing lighting and bathroom fixtures and updating the décor. These updates are completely funded by Festiva Hospitality Group at no cost to owners, members or guests.

In 2010, free wireless internet was installed in all units and throughout the resort. Several other improvements to shared amenities and common areas began near the end of 2010. Improvements to common areas include renovations to the pool area and the addition of a new spa, a repainted basketball court with a new adjustable goal, resurfaced tennis courts with new covered benches and new carpeting and landscaping at the mini-golf course. Additions to the resort’s grounds include new landscaping with a water feature, fire pit and pavilion complete with a large gas grill for guests to enjoy.

One of the most exciting additions to the property at Blue Ridge Village is Phase III of the resort. This will consist of luxurious stand-alone log cabins that will be located on previously undeveloped land on the property.

“We have received wonderful feedback from our guests on the improvements that have been made to date,” said a Festiva spokesperson, “and we are thrilled about the value we are adding to our properties for all of our members and guests.”

Based in Asheville, North Carolina, Festiva Hospitality Group manages and operates a dynamic collection of hotels and 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 25 vacation ownership resorts.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms Celebrates Major Development Milestone

Marriott Vacation Club’s second resort in The Palm Beaches is anticipating more villas for additional guests with spectacular ocean views by early 2013. 

A recent topping-out ceremony marked the structural completion of the final 19-story tower making way for the build-out of 78 additional two-bedroom/two-bath villas which will combine for a resort total of 159 villas.

Since the opening of the first phase two years ago, the beachfront resort located on Florida’s well known Singer Island has maintained a 90%+ average annual occupancy level, presenting significant demand for the second and final tower.

 “Our Oceana Palms resort is truly spectacular and offers a very appealing and unique high-rise, beachfront resort experience for our Owners and guests to enjoy,” said Lee Cunningham, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer-North America and Caribbean, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation.

“We’re very pleased with the progress on the second phase and upon completion look forward to welcoming more of our Owners to vacation at this beautiful resort and destination,” said Cunningham.

The second phase will offer sweeping views of the ocean from spacious 1,100 square foot villa interiors that are vibrant and contemporary, complementing the traditional Palm Beach lifestyle. Villas feature a fully-equipped gourmet kitchen with GE stainless steel appliances; generous living and dining areas; multiple LG flat-panel televisions with DVD players; an oversized shower with multiple shower heads in the master suite; and a washer/dryer. Each villa accommodates up to 8 guests.

Both 19-story towers have a contemporary architectural style with subtle references to the Art Deco motif that is very prevalent in the architectural history of South Florida. The second phase will also accommodate a 3,200 square foot fitness center, “the Den” teen lounge, and back-of-house office space on the first floor in addition to six more floors for parking. The landscape will feature a prominent cascading water feature and a “great lawn” and fire pit for games and gatherings.

Marriott Vacation Club International and the programs provided under the Marriott Vacation Club brand are not owned, developed, or sold by Marriott International, Inc. Marriott Vacation Club International uses the Marriott marks under license from Marriott International, Inc., and its affiliates.

Photo Credit: marriott.com

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Recognized for Excellence in Customer Service

Marriott Vacations Worldwide's Owner Services was recently recognized with the inaugural American Resort Development Association (ARDA) Circle of Excellence "ACE" Award for Excellence in Customer Service at the annual ARDA Awards Gala at the 2012 Convention & Exposition held in Las Vegas. 

"Receiving the first-ever Excellence in Customer Service 'ACE' Award is a testament to our dedicated associates' commitment to and focus on our Owners," said Ron Essig, vice president of Owner Services for Marriott Vacations Worldwide. "It is this dedication that has enabled us to reach high levels of success operationally and to consistently increase our customer satisfaction scores."

Owner Services is home to more than 650 associates worldwide and focuses on providing excellent customer service to more than 420,000 Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club and Grand Residences by Marriott Owners and Members in 14 languages around the globe. Last year, the team handled over a million in-bound calls and had a customer satisfaction rating of over 94 percent.

Owner Services prides itself in offering flexible work schedules that allow associates to balance their work/home life; internal advancement and career growth opportunities; and direct manager to associate relationships. Offices are located in Salt Lake City, Utah, with international offices in Mexico City, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Singapore and Cork, Ireland.

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation is the leading global pure-play vacation ownership company. Through a spin-off in late 2011, Marriott Vacations Worldwide was established as an independent, public company focusing primarily on vacation ownership experiences. Since entering the industry in 1984 as part of Marriott International, Inc., the company earned its position as a leader and innovator in vacation ownership products.

The company preserves high standards of excellence in serving its customers, investors and associates while maintaining a long-term relationship with Marriott International. Marriott Vacations Worldwide offers a diverse portfolio of quality products, programs and management expertise with more than 60 resorts and more than 420,000 Owners and Members.

Timeshare Industry Leaders Recognized for Top Achievements – Part 2

ARDA Announces 2012 Circle of Excellence (ACE) and ARDY Winners
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) recognized their top industry leaders at the annual Awards Gala of the 2012 Convention & Exposition held last month in Las Vegas. 
The evening event, sponsored by Holiday Systems International (HSI), showcased the outstanding accomplishments among individuals, teams, resorts, and companies in a variety of categories.
6. The ACE Spirit of Hospitality Award went to Paulette Carter of Starwood Vacation Ownership, who began her career in housekeeping, and today she oversees operations at five resorts.  Her insistence on high standards has placed her resorts among the most requested by owners in her company’s network. This award recognizes an outstanding employee who has demonstrated commitment, loyalty, superior performance, and the willingness to go above and beyond.

7. The ACE Employer of the Year Award went to Welk Resorts, which has a long tradition of giving back to its employees, and treats its employees like family. This award recognizes an employer that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to its employees. 

8. The ACE Volunteer Award went to Ken McKelvey of Defender Resorts, Inc., who has been a leading advocate for the rights of timeshare owners everywhere throughout his career.  This award is given to a member of ARDA who consistently gives his/her time, energy, creativity, and talents to further ARDA’s goals and objectives. 

9. The Ingersoll and Bloch Industry Advocate Award went to Robin Suarez of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., for her efforts in defending the business of timesharing and supporting the rights of timeshare owners.   This special award is designed to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary efforts on behalf of the timeshare industry in the legislative and regulatory arena.