Bluegreen Wilderness Club At Big Cedar Wins Branson Green Initiative Award

Bluegreen Vacations, a leading provider of Colorful Places to Play, has announced that its Missouri resort, Bluegreen Wilderness Club at Big Cedar, was presented the City of Branson’s 2011 Green Initiative award for its eco-friendly practices. Bluegreen Corporation is honored and proud to receive the award.

While Bluegreen Wilderness Club is decidedly focused on rustic luxury, with 18 Concierge and Presidential villas, slate and hardwood floors, flat-screen TVs, exquisite fireplaces, stainless steel appliances and soft, comfortable and inviting furniture and bedding; it is also diligent about remaining energy conscious and eco-friendly. While we continue to evolve our practices to become as energy efficient and eco-friendly as possible, we have already accomplished many great things.

At Bluegreen Wilderness Club, we are diligent about the following:

1. Landscaping practices to reduce use of water and fertilizer to guard against runoff into Table Rock Lake, and to recycle organic materials into the soil by composting and mulching

2. The living ‘green’ roof at Indian Creek Swimming pool Pump House and the emphasis on sustainability throughout the newly constructed Indian Creek Lodge

3. Recognition by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Certified Green Lodging Program

4. Participating Property, “Clean the World” Program to recycle soap products for distribution to needy, third-world countries to provide sanitizing cleansers to combat infection transmission and to reduce the impact of these cleaning products on our landfills and groundwater

5. Encouragement to all guests to participate in our resort-wide commitment to recycling by providing convenient containers for collecting recyclable materials

6. The resort’s recycling programs divert and transport an estimated 128.5 tons of recylcable material that would otherwise be sent to a landfill

7. Use of energy efficient and solar lighting fixtures where practicable

8. Use of water/energy conserving fixtures where practicable

“We are honored to receive this award, as we believe instilling a culture of environmental respect and sustainability is an important part of living and working in The Ozarks,” said Howard Kitchen, General Manager of Wilderness Club at Big Cedar. “As a Bluegreen Corporation resort, we are proud to represent the timeshare industry with a positive, environmentally friendly award.”

Timeshare rentals at Bluegreen’s Wilderness Club at Big Cedar start at just $60/night.

Going Undercover Teaches CEO of Diamond Resorts About His Company

When the third season of the two-time Emmy Award-nominated series "Undercover Boss" premiered in January, the CEO of Las Vegas-based Diamond Resorts International, Stephen Cloobeck, got an inside look to the inner-workings of his corporation's timeshare developments.

Cloobeck's right-hand man, David Palmer, president of Diamond Resorts, pushed the experience on Cloobeck after talking with other CEOs who went through the "Undercover Boss" experience.

"Stephen's expectations about customer service are pretty unrealistic," Palmer said in an interview at the episode's premiere in New York City. "That is what I like about him, but I felt like the snapshots he was getting during his "surprise" visits were still very varnished. He needed this."

So after an hour of makeup each morning, Cloobeck posed as Jack Fischer, a middle-aged man who wanted to quit his day job and venture into the world of hospitality. Fischer would shadow four different Diamond Resorts employees to find out what it was really like, and if the career change was really for him.

Cloobeck gave up the corporate executive suite at Las Vegas-based Diamond Resorts for two weeks to fix and paint drywall, handle small maintenance projects, and check in guests at a few of his company's timeshare developments.

"I realized my company was nowhere near as efficient as it could be," Cloobeck said. "I also understood after my experience that everyone in my company needs to communicate better, which means they'll communicate with our guests better."

While he saw small things that needed "fixing" in the company, Cloobeck said the interaction with employees helped him understand what workers go through.

Cloobeck would encourage any CEO to participate in the series. "It's important to get into the trenches and see if systems are working properly," he said.

U.S. Travel Association Launches 2012 Campaign to “Vote Travel”

Tourism is the number one service export from the United States and President Obama has outlined a series of initiatives designed to boost international visitor numbers to the U.S.

Included in the measures are plans to expand the Global Entry System, which makes it easier for frequent visitors to cross borders, and expand the number of nations whose citizens could enter the country without a visa.

“I have directed my administration to send me a new national tourism strategy focused on creating jobs,” said Obama. “We are going to see how we can make it easier for foreign tourists to find basic information about visiting America.

The president added that his goal was to ensure the United States is the top tourist destination in the world.

Chief executive, Ken Chenault, who sits on the Obama-initiated Jobs Council, said: “The initiatives the president announced earlier will help to expand travel and tourism to the United States and recapture our share of a growing, global market.”

Building on the momentum from President Obama's announcement highlighting the travel industry's significance to the economy, the U.S. Travel Association has announced a major year-long campaign intended to raise its profile across the nation and among policymakers in Washington, DC.

"The world is experiencing a travel boom and the United States needs to be part of it," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "The impact of the $1.8 trillion U.S. travel industry is significant and growing, which is why we are galvanizing support and asking all Americans to 'Vote Travel' this election season."

The Vote Travel campaign will have several important elements over the course of the year and will have a significant presence at the political party conventions in Charlotte, S.C., and Tampa, Fla. Additionally, the campaign plans to host events and rallies nationwide, perform strategic grassroots outreach, and undertake paid, social and earned media efforts.

The U.S. Travel Association is a national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $1.8 trillion in economic output and supports 14 million jobs. U.S. Travel's mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.

Hilton Grand Vacations Celebrates 20th Anniversary with a Year of Special Events

Hilton Grand Vacations Club, the renowned Hilton Worldwide vacation ownership brand, is celebrating two decades of industry leadership with a year of special events beginning in February.

Twenty years ago, in February 1992, a joint venture between Hilton Hotels Corporation and Grand Vacations, Limited established Hilton’s entry into the vacation ownership market, launching a highly successful chapter in the legacy of the leading global hospitality company.

Today, the Hilton Grand Vacations brand has grown to include more than 50 Club-affiliated resorts, two thriving Club membership programs, 176,000+ Club Members worldwide, and more than 4,500 team members globally.

“On the occasion of our 20th birthday, we want to thank our global team members and Hilton Worldwide leadership for contributing to the growth and progress of Hilton Grand Vacations,” said Mark Wang, President of Hilton Grand Vacations.

“Together, we remain committed to create the satisfaction of a life well-vacationed for our Members, and to maximize the value for our business partners, through industry-leading quality, business stewardship and innovation.”

Throughout 2012, birthday celebrations will be held at the Hilton Grand Vacations headquarters in Orlando, Florida and at the resorts and regional sales and marketing offices in Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas, New York, Guam and Tokyo.

Additionally, Club Members will be invited to enjoy special events and promotions throughout the year. In keeping with the brand’s spirited commitment to corporate responsibility, Hilton Grand Vacations will also announce dedicated charitable initiatives throughout its resort collection and neighboring communities.

“The launch of our third decade of operation finds us in the midst of a dynamic era of growth,” noted Wang. “High-performing teams, spectacular resort properties and flexible development strategies are contributing to the brand’s expansion and sustained success.

"We remain committed to delivering the highest quality of ownership options while excelling in the outstanding service our Club Members and guests have come to expect from Hilton Grand Vacations.”

Throughout the past 20 years, Hilton Grand Vacations has successfully expanded its resort portfolio to include 14 Hilton Worldwide–developed resorts managed by Hilton Grand Vacations, 23 additional managed properties and 14 distinctive affiliated resorts in California, South Carolina, Canada, Mexico, Portugal, and Scotland.

Thus far in 2012, Hilton Grand Vacations has fortified its growth strategy through Club affiliations in Thailand, New Zealand and Italy, and the brand’s expanded presence in Las Vegas and Hawaii.

Cape Verde Islands Resort Group Vacation Club Added by Interval International

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, announced the affiliation of The Resort Group Vacation Club based in Cape Verde, a group of 10 islands in the Atlantic Ocean 350 miles off the coast of Western Africa.

The first resort to be included in the multi-site club is the Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa (see photos) on Sal, one of the islands in the Cape Verde archipelago. Two other resorts are currently under construction, both on Sal Island.

The Resort Group Vacation Club comprises spacious two-bedroom apartments at the Tortuga Beach Resort and Spa that also includes a hotel managed by Melia Hotels & Resorts, together with additional apartments and private villas. Each vacation club apartment has a private terrace or balcony, an Italian kitchen, and an open-plan living area with a 42-inch TV.

“The Cape Verde islands, already a favorite destination of British, Portuguese, Italian, and German tourists, are gaining renown as an international destination,” said Darren Ettridge, Interval’s senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

“Sal is the most developed of the islands and the setting of Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa makes the most of the island’s natural beauty.”
In addition to spectacular ocean views and a pristine white-sand beach (a nesting site for turtles), the lushly landscaped resort offers a range of luxury amenities, including an adult pool with a swim-up bar, a children’s pool, YHi Spa, a state-of-the-art gym, and several restaurants and bars.

Guests can choose from AQUA – a gourmet restaurant specializing in Italian and Mediterranean-style cuisine, Spices – the resort’s main restaurant featuring an international buffet, and O-Grille Beach Club Bar & Restaurant, included in CNN’s “World’s 50 best beach bars,” which offers some of the island’s best seafood and is the ideal place to watch the sunset. There is also the stylish Late Bar, the first and only Champagne Bar in Cape Verde.

“Sal Island is one of the world’s most idyllic locations,” said Adam Ellis, marketing director of The Resort Group Vacation Club. “Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa has been designed to the highest standards, weaving luxury and impeccable service into a true oasis of tranquility. We look forward to sharing it with Interval International members.”

Tortuga Beach Resort & Spa is five minutes from restaurants and shopping in the town of Santa Maria and only 15 minutes from the Sal airport.

Interval International has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market for 35 years. Today, Interval has an exchange network of approximately 2,600 resorts in over 75 nations.

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