Travel Insurance... Is it Worth It?

Many timeshare companies use travel insurance as a closing tool or as an additional benefit to members. Is it worth it? We looked at travel insurance companies and reviews of travel insurance in an attempt to find an answer.

What is Travel Insurance?

For those of you confused or unsure about travel insurance as many of us are, here's a brief review. Your insurance payments for your car, home, and business are ongoing.   With travel insurance it's more likely you make one payment for one trip. Travel insurance can help to give you peace of mind.  At its best, it will cover the financial risks of traveling, from annoying events such as missed flights or lost luggage, to more serious events like medical emergencies, evacuations or even terrorism. Travel insurance policies just like your other insurance policies vary in what they cover, and in how much they pay out.  For small costs, you might have to pay out-of-pocket and get reimbursed. For larger costs like medical expenses, the insurer might step in and pay directly.

The two main types of travel insurance are: Domestic--usually doesn't cover medical expenses and is less expensive. International--usually does cover medical expenses and is more expensive.

To Buy or Not to Buy

First Check Your Options

Do you really need all or just a portion of the travel insurance offerings? Be sure to check your existing insurance coverage. You might already have travel coverage included with your health, life or car insurance. Check your credit cards too, especially those including airline mileage plus. Your credit card company may offer some sort of travel insurance if you book the trip with your card.  Your credit cards and existing insurance may provide as much travel insurance as you need without purchasing any more.

Four Types of Travel Insurance Worth Considering  

1. Medical
Your current health insurance may only offer partial coverage or no coverage when traveling abroad. This is true for Medicare participants and those covered by national health services.  Even though we don't like to think about accidents or illness happening during travel, they can and do happen.  Having a known health issue, traveling in isolated countries known for limited or substandard medical facilities, or participating in the riskier adventure type travel (mountain climbing, scuba diving, extreme biking and hiking), are just a few of the reasons to consider medical insurance. Even the food and water in certain areas can cause illness and a need for medical assistance.

2. Emergency Evacuation
In almost all cases your medical coverage does not cover you for an emergency evacuation. You may need this emergency evacuation insurance particularly if you're headed to an isolated area with limited medical service, and/or your trip involves a risky activity like mountain climbing. You want to make sure you have enough coverage to pay for an evacuation (which can be costly) to an area where you'll receive appropriate medical care.

3. Travel Protection
You may not want to get this coverage if you are on a $ 69 flight from LA to Las Vegas, but you sure want to get it if you've booked a once-in-a-lifetime, $10,000 Safari. A standard trip-cancellation or interruption insurance offers all or partial reimbursement for prepaid reservations if your trip is cancelled, interrupted, or delayed for an acceptable reason such as: You miss a flight, or need an emergency flight for a reason outside your control (car accident, inclement weather). Your tour company goes out of business and can't provide the trip that was promised.

4. Baggage Protection
Most comprehensive insurance packages cover luggage that is lost, delayed or damaged, but it puts a strict cap on reimbursement for expensive items like jewelry, electronics, and photography equipment. If you check your bag for a flight, it's covered by the airline, but the airline may also have restrictions on expensive items. Your homeowner insurance may cover baggage also. But, if you have to check your expensive items, consider the baggage insurance. It will cover the deductibles and items excluded from your other policies.

Travel Insurers

Travel insurers abound, and it’s up to each individual to do their research and decide if their particular circumstances warrant the cost of travel insurance. You could start with ( or (, travel insurance search sites where you can examine and compare the options of various insurance companies. Some of the more popular and better known travel insurance companies include: CSA Travel, Travel Guard, Travelex, World Nomads and Travel Insured. Tour companies and cruise lines offer travel insurance for their packages often at lower prices than outside insurers. The problem is, if the tour or cruise company happens to go out of business, there may not be money to cover your claim. Check them all out AND be sure to read the fine print!

Are Owner Complaints about Maintenance Fees Valid?

Sometimes it's difficult for even the most seasoned timeshare owners to figure out where their maintenance fees are going. Maintenance fees are a necessary part of owning a timeshare. The fee cost is determined by the HOA or the developer, depending on who owns the resort. Part of the fee is the owner's share of the cost of operating the resort. Another part of the fee is put into a reserve fund to pay for necessities that keep the resort looking good and help to maintain the value of the timeshare. Landscaping, external upgrades, furniture and appliance replacements are some of the items paid for by fees. In certain areas, there may be special assessments added to the fees to cover unexpected expenses such as damage from hurricanes... or as we recently saw, sinkholes!  Timeshare owners need to understand that there is no guarantee that locks in cost of the maintenance fee for the term of their ownership. It can go up or down depending on the circumstances.

Maintenance Fees for HOA Resorts Lower Than all other Resorts

A 2010 study for ARDA on HOA controlled resorts suggests that overall HOA controlled resorts are in pretty good shape. Maintenance fees were not reported as significant for most of the resorts. In fact, in the 2011 State of the Industry Report, the maintenance fees for HOA controlled resorts were lower than maintenance fees for all resorts. For purposes of the study, all of the three legal types of owner associations (HOA, property owners association, and condominium associations) were included under the term HOA.

Concern -Timeshare Foreclosure

The main concern found by the study was the number of timeshares in foreclosure because of unpaid maintenance fees.  According to the study, there are several factors contributing to the delinquency in maintenance fee payments.  The number of timeshares that were vacant in 2010 is higher than reported for all resorts across the past five years. HOAs may need to provide owners help with rental and resale programs to help fill vacancies and help keep maintenance fee payments current.  There's a need for resorts to keep owners aware of exchange opportunities, and to re-educate those owners experiencing financial or personal problems, of ways to help overcome problems and rekindle more interest in their timeshare.

Club Tesoro in Cabo San Lucas came up with an interesting solution for dealing with unpaid fees. They let their owners, if needed, put the maintenance fee payment on hiatus. Of course, owners can't use the timeshare or other benefits until the fee is paid, but if they choose this option and keep their other obligations, they are not in arrears and can reactivate when they want to use their timeshare.

Owner Complaints

A number of reports reveal there are some timeshare owners very unhappy about maintenance fees. According to the New York Post, owners at New York's Manhattan Club are complaining they've been beset with rising maintenance costs and are not getting anything in return. They say it's nearly impossible to book rooms or sell their shares.  One owner, Irene Smalls, said she paid $20,580 in 2002 for one week at the hotel/timeshare, and at the time thought it was a good deal. Now she says yearly maintenance fees have shot up to $2,200 and she can rarely book the week she wants. The developer of the Manhattan Club, Bruce Eichner is facing a New York State Supreme Court lawsuit in which timeshare owners allege he sold more than 18,000 ownerships for 286 rooms resulting in a minimum shortage of 69 rooms every week according to the New York Post

In a recent TripAdvisor forum, owners at St. John's Sunset Ridge voiced concerns about the high cost of their maintenance fee of $1,400.  About 5 years ago owners took over control of the property from the developers who had let the resort fall into disrepair. Now that the HOA's restoration work is almost complete Sunset Ridge owners are hopeful they will soon be able to lower the fees.

And, in a RedWeek forum, owners shared their concerns about continually rising maintenance fees at Arizona's Diamond Resorts. Owners claim that their fees have increased an average of 20% per year in the past 3 years. One owner stated that he had been contacted by a board member of Diamond Resorts to expect an increase in fees for was 44.5% over what he paid in 2013.

On, an owner asked this question,"I own two timeshares where the maintenance fees are getting too much to pay. Can I just walk away from these timeshares by not paying the yearly fees or will they pursue me?  What to do?  "Kathy Graham, president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina answered, "The fast answer is no--you can't walk away--especially if it is a "deeded" timeshare. Graham went on to compare it to walking away from a mortgage. She advised that the best thing to do to be free of the fees would be to sign over the deed.

What's an Owner to Do?

Maintenance fees are not going to go away. They are necessary part of owning a timeshare and needed for the upkeep of the property and maintaining the value of your investment.  As a buyer, educating yourself on the many issues (especially legal issues) surrounding a purchase of a timeshare is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself, and to insure you make a wise purchase. Legal issues on timeshares vary from state to state and country to country, so be aware of the laws of the area  where you purchase your timeshare.

As an owner, it's smart to keep current on all issues relating to timeshare ownership. If owners want to have more input into the decisions made by the HOA, they could serve on the board, or at least attend all board meetings. Make your voice heard and your vote count. Think of your timeshare the same way that you think of your home or car.  Both need repairs and replacement items on a regular basis to maintain their value, and to enhance your personal comfort, safety and pride in ownership. All of the same conditions should apply to your timeshare.

Rumor has it: Things are Looking Up for the Timeshare Industry

From the way it looks, the timeshare industry is getting back on track. Commercial construction and investment transaction volume in the hospitality sector is up, travel providers are joining forces to be able to offer their members more destinations, timeshare companies are coming up with more ways to entice members with value add-ons, and hiring is on the upswing.

Rumor #1

The folks from Festiva and Travel to Go are teaming up to give their members more destination options. The informal relationships should give both companies an edge up on the competition. Festiva, billing itself as one of the most successful privately held vacation ownerships in the country, currently has over 95,000 members. The Orlando based company has a number of resorts in the United States and the Caribbean, and a fleet of luxury yachts.

Travel to Go, a family owned and operated business, is a membership vacation services company with nearly 60,000 members. The company has recently upgraded and streamlined its online member support services paving the way for members to have more options, and enhanced products and services. Working together, the two companies could benefit everyone by bringing a more positive awareness of the value of membership travel and increasing membership referrals.

Rumor #2

Timeshare companies are seeking to attract new members and maintain current members with value-added products. Occidental Vacation Club is working to make their program more experiential. First it was their Yacht Club, which offers members access to an exclusive yachting experience. Members have access to a private yacht with a professional crew for a 4-6 hour cruise. They are treated royally with superior service, champagne, and other enticements.

Currently the company is offering members "Route of Wine," a 6 day, 5-night tour of San Francisco, and the wine country of Napa and Sonoma. Highlights of the upscale tour include a private tour of San Francisco, a ride on the Napa Wine Train, visits to top wineries for wine tastings and tours, talks with the winemakers, and winery owner hosted dinner with wine pairings.

Rumor #3

Hiring is on the upswing. Breckenridge Grand Vacation Club, recognized as one of the most successful independent developers in the industry, launched an aggressive sales PR campaign and has already filled their quota for agents. This comes after recently starting work on a new 75-unit timeshare. Now their website lists openings for new hires for operations staff from housekeeping to front desk.

Wyndham Worldwide, an industry and market leader, is expanding their employee pool too. Hiring was spurred by this year's third quarter acquisitions of 57 new properties by RCI, a global leader in vacation exchange, and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands.

Another part of the world that is going gangbusters is the Canary Islands where recruiting is high for multi-lingual OPCs and sales agents.

If recruiting is an indication of the health of vacation ownership, it certainly is looking more vibrant every day.

What's New in the Industry - from ARDA's Fall Conference 2013!

American Resort Development Association's (ARDA) Fall Conference was held last week at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. The conference is a time where (unlike the U.S. Congress!) competition is put aside, and people share ideas and best practices. During the conference, ARDA shared the progress it has made in legislation for the year. Attendees are given up-to-date analysis of the implications of industry, economic and political trends on owners, developers and consumers. Since this is a working meeting, ARDA Committees meet at this time to strategize for the upcoming year about policies affecting the industry.

One of the Busiest Years Ever for ARDA

Thursday's meetings kicked off with Howard Nusbaum, ARDA's President & CEO, moderating a discussion of the new site.  In an opening comment he stated, "It has been one of the busiest years ever for us in pushing and strengthening legislation for the benefit of timeshare owners. We have advocated for owners in 14 states this year, all the way from Arkansas to West Virginia, with the thrust of our efforts focused on providing specific guidelines related to resale and transfer company legislation."

ARDA's communications staff, communications committee leadership, PR consultants and web design consultants talked about the site's dynamic new look and feel. Participants got a sneak peak at the new site before it goes live. All noted the increased interactivity credibility, and user-friendliness of the site set to launch in January.

Vacation Club Task Force

Suppliers and Design and Construction committees got some special love during the conference. With consolidation of industry, those wishing to forge relationships with developers got some extra "oomph" from their specialized committee groups. Even the Vacation Club Task Force is its own entity, and is drawing up a code of ethics to help protect the vacation experience for owners and the entire vacation industry.  Travel to Go's Tommy Middaugh sits on the task force and is one of the people instrumental in pushing for the standard of ethics for the travel clubs.

Health Care and Immigration Reform

In this year's conference, several influential industry leaders and supporters were keynote speakers. Senator Kelly Ayotte, (R-NH) spoke at the legislative luncheon addressing health care and immigration reform, two issues of great concern to resort developers. (Ayotte has 27 ARDA member properties in her home state.) Ms. Ayotte expressed her opinion that the government shut down was "dumb", and that sequester caps across the board is not good business. Ms. Ayotte believes there will be a funding bill by the end of the year.

In a question and answer session from the audience, an audience member asked if she expected a 3rd party movement. To which Ms. Ayotte responded, "Not one that could win." Her answer was "no" to a question of was there any fear of back channel funding to insurance companies.

Howard Nusbaum, President of ARDA, asked,  "How can we support moderates?" Ms. Ayotte told the audience to get engaged and not just with resources. "Don't just go along to get along. Make choices and support everyone." When Tim Wilson, publisher of Resort Trades, asked if she thought that the country might be moving toward a single party since the Republicans are in disarray. Ms. Ayotte responded that she thought Republicans needed a unifier. "It is time to stop fighting and remember what we have together."

Chairman's League Breakfast

Charlie Cook, who bills himself as the "Political Prognosticator", was the featured speaker at Chairman's League Breakfast on the last day of the convention.  Mr. Cook in actuality is the Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Report and a columnist for National Journal. Mr. Cook called ARDA, "the most powerful group in Washington you've never heard of."

Find out more about ARDA's Conference at:

Building Customer Loyalty Through Value-Added Programs

When it comes to building points and consumer loyalty, the timeshare industry hasn't been quick to engage the concept. Now it seems, the value is making itself known.  Here are but a few companies who have successfully incorporated a loyalty program into their business model.

Occidental Vacation Club

Occidental Vacation Club has integrated the Leisure Logistics platform into its Leisure Points program. Members can earn points for booking certain trips such as a Wine Tour next spring, and use those points to purchase a variety of travel and non-travel related items. Eventually, the plans call to roll the system out to include owner referral and other marketing programs.

International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (I.C.E.)

International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (I.C.E.) was one of the first companies to implement a program of innovative sales, marketing and loyalty programs. Partnering first with Carnival Cruise line they successfully delivered cruise vacations to vacationers worldwide through cruise packaging, incentives and fulfillment. In 1999, other major cruise lines came aboard, as did new partners in and out of the travel market. I.C.E's commitment to technology driven products and services led them to develop points-based currency conversion software and to deliver vacation benefits through an automated fulfillment platform for use by its business partners and its own operation.

I.C.E's Lifestyle Collection has allowed the company to expand further into the value-added area. The Lifestyle Collection provides a broad range of fully branded products and services to its partners including golf, ski, spa, wine, shopping/merchandise, entertainment, hotel, car, air, resort and more.

Westgate Resorts

In June of this year, Westgate Resorts launched Westgate Rewards MasterCard, their new co-brand credit card. With the new card, cardholders will receive full account service, including online account activation and management, flexible financing options, and marketing communications to support repeat purchases and enhance customer loyalty. New Westgate resort owners will even be able to put their timeshare down payment on the card, on a 6-month deferred interest promotion payment plan.

Westgate Rewards MasterCard features a points-based loyalty program for all card purchases and more incentives when using the card for transactions, on and off the property. Users can redeem every 2500 points earned for a $25 rewards certificate. The certificate can be used for discounts on resort amenities, accommodations, maintenance and tax fees, and other special offers.

"Our goal is to provide our owners tremendous value both during their vacation as well as all 52 weeks of the year," said Mark Waltrip, Chief Operating Officer of Westgate Resorts. "The Rewards MasterCard is the foundation of our loyalty program that will allow our owners to offset the cost of their timeshare ownership and enhance the quality of their future vacations at Westgate."

Loyalty 360

Perhaps the best way to end a blog on building customer loyalty is with a quote from a group that knows a thing or two about loyalty building, Loyalty 360, the Loyalty Marketer's Association:
"Loyalty marketing, engagement marketing, experiential matter what you call it, it's no secret that today, more than ever, companies need to create and nurture positive relationships with customers in order to thrive. Loyalty marketing today goes beyond traditional points and rewards programs. As companies continue to strive for the ultimate customer relationship, loyalty marketing is continually evolving to include engagement marketing, customer relationship management, experiential marketing, voice of the customer, data analytics and more. No matter the industry or size of a company, a loyalty strategy should be a top priority."

What Ever Happened to Fractional Ownership?

Before the real estate market fell into an abyss a few years ago, fractional ownership was described as timeshare on steroids.  Because of its narrow audience and high-ticket prices, fractional properties were among the first in resort real estate to take a tumble. It looks like they may be coming back.

Prevailing Optimism

Fractional ownership continues to be a vacation ownership option in the U.S., Europe, and Canada. It also is an option in Antigua, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. Recently, fractional ownership came back into the picture in the Turks & Caicos with the passage of the Fractional Ownership Bill.  Rufus Ewing, Premier of Turks & Caicos called the bill, “a vision of his government to help empower the people, drive development and stimulate the economy. At a fraction of the cost our people can become property owners and have increased equity that would allow them to have access to financing that otherwise they perhaps would not have had."

News from the website Timeshare Broker Beat is also optimistic. A recent post says fractional property ownership is on the rise and lists the benefits of this type of ownership:

1. Owners have more time per year to vacation. Fractional vacation properties offer more weeks at a time.

2. Fractional properties tend to be high-end and have many amenities.

3. And perhaps the best benefit of all... savings. In fractional ownership, the cost of the property is shared by a number of people. In most cases, after paying the initial cost, fractional owners will only have to pay the annual maintenance fees.

A pioneer in the shared vacation industry is Carl Berry, CEO of Star Resort Group. Sales at the company's fractional ownership resort, Seahorse Beach Club on the Texas Gulf Coast, is up and going. According to Carl's September blog, "Seahorse is 'knocking down its first sales.' Seahorse's houses are available on either a whole-ownership, or a fractional-ownership model designed in the tradition of the fully deeded luxury Private Residence Clubs around the world. Members enjoy the benefits of vacation home ownership but with far fewer upfront and ongoing costs and virtually none of the headaches."

Defining Terms

Understanding and defining the various forms of fractional ownership can be confusing. Here are some brief explanations that might be helpful in wading through the different avenues of ownership:


Timeshare may be the most misunderstood term in the fractional vacation property lexicon. Under the common legal definition, timeshare describes any arrangement where usage of property is shared based on time, and there is no reliable distinction between properties marketed as timeshares, fractionals, or private residence clubs. Timeshares are deeded and many fractionals and private residence clubs are not.  Yet, others are.

Fractional Ownership, Co-Ownership and Shared Ownership

The terms fractional ownership, co-ownership, and shared ownership, can describe any arrangement where two or more people share ownership of something, regardless of whether they have a time-based usage arrangement. The term fractional ownership seems to be more commonly used in the U.S. for time-based sharing of vacation property. Co-ownership and shared ownership are more commonly used to describe these arrangements in other English-speaking countries.

Private Residence Club, Destination Club and Vacation Club

Generally, but not always, private residence clubs involve equity ownership (though not necessarily deeded ownership) of a specific property with 4-13 owners per home. These clubs are usually on the high-end of fractional ownership options. Destination clubs and vacation clubs commonly involve multiple homes in different locations. Owners are allowed to use any of the homes in the club. There are equity and non-equity variations.

Condominium Hotels, Condo Hotels and Condotels

The above terms usually describe a hotel that has been subdivided into condominiums where each owner owns all of a specific condominium. This set up has run into numerous legal sticking points.  One of the most recent was the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego which had numerous unhappy owners, yet survived the law suit.  Management operates the hotel and shares the proceeds with the condominium owner. The owner can sometimes use the property free of charge, but sometimes there's a fee. When there is only one owner per condo, the arrangement is not fractional. The term fractional ownership is sometimes used when the hotel has not been subdivided, and the owners own a percentage of the whole development but do not actually own a condominium.

Taking the Plunge into Fractional Ownership

If you are buying or thinking of buying a fractional ownership, you might want to take a look at the Fractional Ownership Guide developed by the Sirkin Fractional Lawyers group. This guide covers the top 10 issues related to shared ownership. Many of those nagging legal questions are answered in this publication.

Hot Markets for Timeshare

If timeshare is doing it limited to one area? We think not. Reports show there are definite sparks of life in the industry that was hard-hit by the recession, and some of the areas where you'll find those sparks may surprise you.

Las Vegas 

Las Vegas is seeing its biggest growth since 2008. According to the Las Vegas Business Press, more than 1,000 units have been added, or will be added, to the Las Vegas timeshare sector. (In last week's blog we talked about construction resuming on Desert Blue, a 281 unit Vegas timeshare started by Wyndham Worldwide.)

Says Ed Kinney, a Marriott Vacations Worldwide spokesman, "We are seeing a continued pattern of increased travel. There is a tremendous interest, and Las Vegas has always been a popular destination." Last month, the company topped the third 37-floor tower of its off-strip Grand Chateau, which added 223 units.

Hilton Grand Vacations added to its luxury timeshare portfolio with the purchase of 300 units at the Trump International Hotel. At Grandview at Las Vegas near South Point, construction of a new tower is expected to increase its number of units from 1,556 to 1,856 according to the LVCVA survey.

Other parts of the world are also seeing an industry upswing:


With CRDA VO-Com running this week in Vancouver, it's hard not to hear talk about Skyline Vacation Club, Ontario’s first drive-to vacation club. Only days ago, Skyline International Development announced their new lifestyle division, a members-only, points based vacation club. The club offers members a choice of vacation experiences from 3 different categories. The Urban Collection, with locations in downtown Toronto (Pantages Hotel and Cosmopolitan Hotel), the Resort Collection, located 1-2 hours from Toronto (Horseshoe Resort and Deerhurst Resort), and the International Collection, featuring over 4,000 vacation options around the world through a partnership with RCI.

Gil Blutrich, President of Skyline International Development, says, "Skyline Vacation Club elevates the guest experience by providing connectivity between city and country, urban and resort."


Reports from a survey by Failte Ireland, (Ireland's National Tourism Development Authority) show Ireland's tourism is 'on the turn' (Irish speak for upturn). Business sentiment is at its highest since the economic crash in 2008. The report goes on to say that occupancy was up in over two-thirds of hotels, 58% of guest houses, and 46% of B&Bs.  Good weather was cited as a contribution to the up turn, but also 6 of 10 businesses cited the Government's Gathering Initiative (Ireland's biggest ever tourism initiative) as a factor for increased trade.

New Zealand

All those who attended NZHOC back in May know that New Zealand is facing its timeshare challenges head on. The Australian Timeshare Holiday Ownership council has representatives from 3 main timeshare regions.  Two of the regions are on North Island, in the Bay of Islands Region, and in the Taupo Region in the center of North Island. The 3rd region is in Queenstown where 9 resorts are located.

A New Zealand astro-tourism operator is hoping to take advantage of the "star gazing craze."  Every year tens of thousands of tourists flock to Lake Tekapo, where Canterbury University's Mt. John Observatory resides, to see Southern Stars, the Milky Way, and meteor shows. Graeme Murray, founder of the astro- tourism concession Earth & Sky, wants to build a $5 million "window to the universe" facility on the lake's shore to cater to the needs of those star-gazing tourists.  Earth & Sky will be just a part of a wider development plan around Lake Tekapo including hotels, shops and a supermarket that Mr. Murray hopes to get going.

Apparently, astro-tourism, which has taken off in Asia too, has immense potential for the region as it means tourists need to stay overnight to watch the stars.

Is the market upswing here to stay? 

There are still a few worries. Lisa Ann Schrier, executive director of the National Timeshare Owners Association is concerned about "the amount of timeshares coming online all at once instead of sticking a toe in the water to see if it will fly or not." But she adds, "the major players seem to think there is still a lot of life in the old warhorse."

We'd like to know what you think. Please post your comments below.

Growth Seen in Resort Development

As the Economy Goes So Goes the Hospitality Industry 

There is good news for the timeshare industry, which was hard hit during the recession when travelers postponed vacations and held back on new purchases.  Recently there are indications that companies are showing they can compete, thrive, and do better.

Industry leaders are seeing a recovery in the resort industry. According to a report from Jones Lang LaSalle, 'the resort sector accounts for 18.4 percent of total investment transaction volume this year in the hospitality sector." The report goes on to say that "the increase is due to $2.46 billion of transactions through year-to-date August 2013, the highest volume in the segment since 2007, and more than triple that of 2012."

The Jones Lang LaSalle report also states, "even though the resort market is taking off, not all assets are ready for the flight." "During the downturn, resorts held off on renovations. Now owners may be able to add amenities and create a more differentiated product. Companies who are able to go to market in the next three years with a renovated product and capitalize on the on the upswing with added value, may attract more investors."

FARROW Commercial Construction, a hospitality construction company in Santa Rosa, California understands the upswing in the industry. The nationwide company reports revenues up 300% over last year at the half-way mark.

John Farrow, President and CEO of FARROW says, "We are growing again. After the few soft years where not many were breaking down our door to get either refurbishments or ground-up construction done, we are very happy to report that the tide has changed and we are once more on the move." Farrow attributes his company's growth surge to competitive pricing, faster timelines and strong communication.

Another turn-around happened recently when construction resumed in Las Vegas.  Construction started up on a Wyndham Worldwide project, a 281 unit timeshare called The Desert Blue.  Work on the project had halted four years ago.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations has broken ground on a very high end, luxury 75-unit timeshare called the Grand Colorado Resort. According to Rob Millisor, an owner/developer of the company, “The Grand Colorado will be the pinnacle resort within this community. With only 75 residences, it will become the most exclusive fractional/timeshare resort to own." The company is also showing its industry optimism by looking to hire new sales representatives. “We have more qualified prospects than we can currently handle," says Dave Stroeve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Cautious Optimism?

Though there are definite signs of upswing in the hospitality industry, should we remain cautiously optimistic?  We see how certain events can affect the industry. The current government shutdown has caused the closure of many top tourist attractions and, in turn, caused consumers to cancel travel plans. The industry needs to be prepared and anticipate future events that could potentially impact timeshare growth.

Can it be that time already... Timeshare Awards Season?

Yes! This is the time of year that the timeshare industry begins a series of events to honor its members who have achieved the highest level of excellence in the industry.

Vacation Ownership Conference (VO-CON) - October 22-23, 2013

Kicking off the start of the season is a new comer to the awards game. The Canadian Resort Development Association(CRDA) presents the Vacation Ownership Conference (VO-CON).  With its theme "Exploring the Business of Vacations,"  it's billed as a conference for understanding the current state of the
industry, and where it's heading in the future.

The finalists are already posted for VO-CON's first annual Cornerstone Award. This award was established to honor a vacation ownership professional, company, resort or HOA whose accomplishments and dedication help to lay the foundation for the success of the industry in Canada. The three finalists are...Grand Pacific Resort Management Canada, Club Intrawest, and Whistler Vacation Club.
Vote at the VO-CON web site.

Global Networking Expo (GNEX) - February 9-12, 2014

GNEX will hold its annual "Global Meeting of Minds" conference in February. This event for the timeshare and fractional ownership industry attracts senior level executives from more than 100 companies from all over the world, and focuses heavily on networking.

The 2014 Perspective Magazine Awards are given out at GNEX conference's Wrap Party. On October 7, the magazine began taking nominations for the awards. Winners are selected by a combination of judging panel and online voting by industry professionals. For nomination categories guide and to enter: go here.

American Resort Development Awards (ARDA) - April 6-10, 2014

The granddaddy of all the awards programs, and the most notable, is ARDA's annual awards program better known as the ARDY's. This award program recognizes the best nominees in categories that include overall professional excellence, outstanding sales and marketing achievements, product design, advertising, and staff. The prestigious ARDA Circle of Excellence (ACE) awards honor "those who have attained the very highest level of excellence in the resort industry, and whose accomplishments and dedication spur the industry
to new heights."

The nomination guide is online now.  The final deadline for submitting an entry is Friday, January 3, 2014 and awards will be given out during ARDA's Annual Convention on April 9.  The convention is the premier annual gathering for timeshare professionals from around the world. According to ARDA, the convention's forums, networking events, and receptions offer key opportunities for attendees to connect with industry leaders from all over the world. The 40+ educational sessions are the most comprehensive way to stay up on trends and best practices.

Promoting the Value of Timeshare

Most timeshare owners already know the value of owning a timeshare. The American Resort Development Association has established a website to talk to consumers who want to learn more about it. The website is undergoing some major changes which are projected to be revealed early next year in time for ARDA World 2014, their annual convention. The site itself is still a wonderful resource for both consumers who are thinking about purchasing a timeshare and want to make sure it's the right thing, or timeshare owners who want to learn how to make the most of their timeshare. It’s also a terrific third party credibility piece for timeshare sales reps to show to their prospects.

At, ARDA’s consumer information website, you can find everything you want to know about timesharing without bias, but clearly with a positive slant--all answered with the click of a button. There are several websites that make it their business to answer timeshare questions, but when it comes to clarity and objectivity from an industry point of view, is a good place to start. The website provides a wealth of information for consumers thinking about timesharing, as well as existing owners.

We will keep you posted as to the new look and feel of the site.  ARDA’s Communications Committee selected an organization based in Washington D.C. for the redesign.  But, until that work is finished, still has tons of valuable information for consumers and industry professionals, including:

a. Timeshare 101  is a favorite section of the site. It has a list of the most frequently asked questions about timesharing. Find your question, click on it, and you will get a comprehensive answer.

b. Understanding Timeshare  answers the question, "How does timeshare provide a better vacation?"

c. Understanding Ownership, with subheadings such as Variety, When You Purchase, and Benefits of Ownership, is a good starting point for potential buyers.

d. Understanding Exchanging  gives you exchange tips and explains how it can be a wonderful way to leverage your timeshare ownership into vacation locations other than your own.

e. Vacationing With Timeshare provides a checklist of the reasons your next vacation should be a timeshare.

ARDA also has their own blog with good information about timesharing, and the laws related to purchasing and ownership of timeshares. Vacation ownership is highly regulated. ARDA works closely with federal and state governments to support consumer protection legislation and to make sure strict standards are upheld.

Of course we are proud of this blog and we strive to keep you updated with information about use, points, rentals, exchange, and industry updates. Be sure to subscribe to our blog for updated info.

RCI Affiliated with Six Petchey Leisure Properties

Petchey Leisure’s six properties in Europe continues to be a part of the RCI network of affiliated timeshare resorts, the global leader in vacation exchange.

Petchey Leisure’s six properties are located across Portugal, Spain and Tenerife. Pictured is Oura View Beach Club in Albufeira, Portugal.

“RCI invented the exchange business nearly 40 years ago and has been the innovator and leader ever since,” said Isla Murray, project director of Petchey Leisure.

“Innovation is important to our business and I believe Petchey Leisure and RCI share the same vision for our industry going forward. We have worked successfully with RCI for many years and we are happy as always to continue that partnership.

“In addition, RCI offers exciting technological resources and marketing advantages for us through its international vision, as well as having the largest possible selection of vacation resorts for our owners. We are very pleased to be working with them,” continued Murray.

 “We are delighted by Petchey Leisure’s continued commitment to RCI. Magnum Global Holdings Singapore Pte. Ltd. (associate of MGM) is new to our industry and as a hugely successful hospitality company, it brings with it great credibility,” said Dimitris Manikis, vice president, Business Development, RCI Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“Our association with Petchey Leisure brand instantly makes this group a major player in the European market. We look forward to a long and successful partnership,” Manikis said.

About Petchey Leisure 
Petchey Leisure is one of Europe’s leading leisure brands. Starting with one resort in Albufeira, Portugal, in the early 1970s, the company has expanded its portfolio and products over the years to encompass many fully-owned and managed holiday resorts in Portugal, mainland Spain and Tenerife as well as inventory at a number of other resorts in Europe and worldwide.

Wyndham Worldwide Achieves 8 Percent Energy Reduction in First Year of Challenge

Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s largest hospitality companies, again demonstrated its ongoing leadership in global sustainability best practices, achieving an 8 percent reduction in energy use in the first full year of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Challenge.

The government program, launched in 2011 by President Obama, calls on commercial businesses and industrial facilities to reduce their energy intensity by 20 percent by 2020.

This program aligns with the Company’s goals to reduce carbon emissions by 16 percent by 2017 and by 20 percent by 2020.

Additionally as of 2012, Wyndham Worldwide has reduced its global footprint in over 40 countries of its owned, managed and leased assets by 11.7 percent based on carbon per square footage.

“We are continuously developing eco-friendly efforts across our hospitality portfolio, and this latest achievement of meaningfully reducing our energy use further demonstrates our commitment to advancing environmental sustainability best practices, which is a pillar of our strategic priorities,” said Stephen P. Holmes, chairman and CEO of Wyndham Worldwide.

 “Through our Wyndham Green program, we are committed to exploring and adopting innovative environmental practices, as it reduces costs, fosters the efficient use of resources, and ultimately supports both near- and long-term profitability," Holmes said.

Wyndham Worldwide reduced its energy through:

  • the Wyndham Green Toolbox, a proprietary state-of-the-art eco-software program that tracks and measures environmental impact 
  • an environmental certification program for the Company’s participating 190 timeshare properties, a first for the hospitality industry 
  • the implementation of sustainability best practices across the 10 million square feet of Wyndham Worldwide-controlled assets participating in the U.S. DOE Better Buildings Challenge. 

“Our work in sustainability is a tremendous collaboration across all key stakeholders — shareholders, employees, customers, franchisees, suppliers and community partners — who not only develop ideas with incredible potential, but also transform them into tangible results and drive leadership in the industry,” said Faith Taylor, senior vice president sustainability and innovation, Wyndham Worldwide.

Following are highlights of the Company’s featured projects in the Better Buildings Challenge: WVO Green Certification Program, one of the first for the industry. The certification tracks 27 requirements in categories such as energy use, water use, waste reduction, indoor air quality, and education.

  • Updating their rooms and building insulation systems with eco-friendly materials. 
  • Using green cleaning supplies. 
  • Switching to ENERGY STAR appliances and using CFLs for all interior lighting. 
  • Changing all building exterior lights to high-efficiency bulbs.  

For more information on Wyndham Worldwide’s showcase initiatives, please visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge website.

Festiva Hospitality Group Expands Into Alabama, Arkansas and Adds More Branson Properties

Festiva Hospitality Group acquired six new vacation destinations for its resort portfolio from Arkansas-based Escapes! Inc., including properties in Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri.

The expansion is second only in size to the Peppertree Resorts acquisition of 2007, when Festiva added 10 resorts to its property mix.

This latest transaction also adds approximately 9,000 timeshare owners and club members plus nearly 4,000 intervals to the company.

“We have been looking for high-quality and well-maintained properties in the Mid-South and Gulf Coast to add to our resort offering,” said Festiva Hospitality Group Senior Vice President Rich Hartnett.

“A good number of Festiva members live in these areas as well as the Midwest, and they have asked for vacation options closer to home. This transaction not only gives our members what they have been waiting for, it also gives these Escapes! owners the ability to gain access to the Festiva Adventure Club, its privileges and 34 destinations,” Hartnett said.

Property Overview:
1. The Shores, Orange Beach, AL 
This oceanfront Gulf Coast property is Festiva’s first location in Alabama. Amenities include oceanfront balconies, indoor and outdoor pools, steam room, sauna, fitness center, and beach access.

2. Los Lagos at Hot Springs Village, Hot Springs Village, AR
One of Festiva’s three additions in Arkansas, Los Lagos at Hot Springs Village is located 20 minutes from Hot Springs National Park and close to area theme parks.

The 26,000-acre property has nine golf courses, 39 miles of trails, a performing art center, two marinas, lakefront access, fitness center, indoor pool and outdoor pools.

3. The Greens at Bella Vista Village, Bella Vista, AR
The second Arkansas property for Festiva provides guests access to eight pristine golf courses and seven lakes. Resort amenities include on-site clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis courts.

4. Cherokee Village, Cherokee Village AR
The third Arkansas property for Festiva is located on Lake Thunderbird in an area acclaimed for its natural beauty.

The resort gives members access to fishing and boating on the lake, 36 holes of on-site golf, swimming pools, tennis courts, and a recreational center.

5. Branson Yacht Club, Branson, MO
Festiva adds its fourth Branson property with the Branson Yacht Club, located on Table Rock Lake with a half mile of private shoreline.

Resort amenities include two swimming pools, boat launch and marina, tennis courts, and water-sports rentals.

6. Stonebridge Village, Branson, MO 
Located on 3,200 wooded acres just10 minutes from downtown Branson, Stonebridge Village rounds out Festiva’s five Branson properties.

The resort includes an 18-hole golf course; country club; fitness center; swimming pool; and lake access for boating, fishing and swimming.

Grand Pacific Resort Management Wins TripAdvisor ® Awards of Excellence

Grand Pacific Resort Management (GPRM), one of the oldest and largest vacation ownership companies based in California, has been recognized for its service culture and excellence in resort management. 

TripAdvisor® honored ten GPRM managed resorts with Certificates of Excellence.

To receive the awards, properties must consistently receive 4 and 5 stars (indicating a high level of satisfaction with the resort, with five being the highest) by customers who have experienced the resort and express their opinions and ratings on TripAdvisor’s website.

“We are extremely proud that our vibrant and consistent Service Culture has prevailed in showcasing our passion for excellence to our guests,” said Nigel Lobo, COO of GPRM.

“This recognition endorses the guest-centric experiences our associates take pride in delivering while creating memorable vacations for our timeshare owners and as well as those who visit our resorts as exchangers or as traditional transient guests,” Lobo said.

Comments praising GPRM resorts were enthusiastic on the popular travel website. A sample of them include:

  • Carlsbad Seapointe Resort: “The best place to be when the sun goes down over the Pacific Ocean.“
  • Carlsbad Inn: “a fantastic resort to vacation at."
  • MarBrisa: “Perfect Get Away! Wow!“
  • Red Wolf Lodge: “Rocks!" 
  • Alii Kai: “I loved this condo and can’t wait to return.” 

The resorts recognized with the Certificates of Excellence are: Alli Kai II Resort, Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort, Coronado Beach Resort, Carlsbad Seapointe Resort, Hilton Grand Vacation Club at MarBrisa, Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel, Hanalei Bay Resort, RiverPointe Napa Valley, Red Wolf Lakeside Lodge, and Red Wolf Lodge at Squaw Valley.

Now in its third year, the award celebrates hospitality excellence and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor.

Winners of the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website. Only the top 10 percent receive the prestigious award.

Award-winning Grand Pacific Resort Management (Carlsbad, California) currently serves over 60,000 owner-families every year at resorts ranging in size from under 50 units to over 300 units in the United States and Canada.

Interval International Adds Encontro Das Aguas Thermas Resort in Central Brazil

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, announced the affiliation of Encontro Das Águas Thermas Resort, in Caldas Novas, Goiás.

The city is home to one of the largest hot-spring aquifers in the world, making it a very popular destination in central Brazil.

“We’re excited to enter the shared ownership industry and collaborate with Interval, a company known for its quality network and consumer benefits,” said Ricardo Assuncao, partner in RMEX Construtora e Incorporadora Ltda., developer of the resort.

“Our objective is to make our resort one of the area’s finest and we look forward to hosting Interval members who will be able to enjoy the many treasures of Caldas Novas,” Assuncao said.

Encontro Das Águas is currently under construction and expected to be completed early next year. Plans call for the resort to include 384 one- and two-bedroom units in three buildings. Each will feature elegant modern décor, contemporary furnishings, fully equipped kitchen, and high-end electronics.

“It’s a great pleasure to be working with Ricardo and his partners who have been active in real estate in Goiás for many years,” said Marcos Agostini, Interval’s senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Latin America.

“We welcome them to shared ownership, which is playing an increasingly important role in resort development in Brazil,” Agostini said.

Among the wide range of amenities and services the resort will offer are a gourmet restaurant, 24-hour room service, spa and sauna, fitness center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and cinema.

Activities available nearby include boating, jet skiing, and hiking.

Notable attractions in Caldas Novas are a Japanese Garden built in the Buddhist tradition, the 47 square-mile Serra de Caldas Novas State Park, and the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, which dates from 1850 and is one of the oldest buildings in Caldas.

Interval International operates membership programs for vacationers and provides value-added services to its developer clients worldwide. Based in Miami, Florida, the company has been a pioneer and innovator in serving the vacation ownership market since 1976.

Sinkhole at Florida's Summer Bay Resort

Engineers on Monday were trying to determine the extent of the damage after luxury resort condominiums crumbled into a massive sinkhole a few miles from Disney World.

Dozens of guests at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, FL, had only 10 to 15 minutes to escape the cracking building late Sunday. No injuries were reported, but many fleeing guests left behind all their belongings.

About 30% of the three-story structure collapsed hours later, around 3 a.m. Monday.

"My heart sunk. I was sick to my stomach," said resort president Paul Caldwell after getting a call about 11 p.m. Sunday that the 15-year-old building full of guests was splintering.

"No doubt there would've been injuries if they hadn't gotten the building evacuated," Caldwell said.

Security guard Richard Shanley ran through the building waking up guests.

"While you are running by, pieces of the building are falling down behind you," he said. "So you just do what you can and get out.”

That section of the villa housed 24 units. The building was sheared nearly in half.

Paul Caldwell said one building was destroyed and 105 people were evacuated. Two other adjacent buildings were evacuated. Displaced guests were relocated to other buildings.

Caldwell said geologists on Monday estimated the sinkhole was about 100 feet in diameter. "On a preliminary basis, they do not have a concern that it is growing or will grow," Caldwell said.

"Whether or not we will be able to build those units there in that sinkhole is another question. We will replace those 24 units - we have a couple of hundred acres left for development," he said.

Caldwell said he will ask his insurance company for guidance on the clean up. 

Source: Orlando Sentinal

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Awards Tennessee Family with New Wheels in Second Drawing of the Accelerate into the Fast Lane Sweepstakes

Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), the world’s largest vacation ownership company and a member of the Wyndham Worldwide family of companies, awarded a brand new luxury car to the Todd family during the second drawing in the Company’s Accelerate into the Fast Lane Sweepstakes.

In an event at Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort, company executives presented Chris and Melissa Todd, joined by two of their three children, of Humboldt, TN, with a 2013 Infiniti M.

“I did not believe in a million years that we would win a sweepstakes like this. It has been such a wonderful experience that just keeps getting better, and has truly been a blessing,” said Melissa Todd.

“You never hear of anyone who has won something like this, you see a name on a list and that’s about all. To come to Orlando and see the car has been overwhelming. This experience has really been unbelievable,” added Chris Todd.

Chris and Melissa have been CLUB WYNDHAM® owners since 2001 and travel frequently with their ownership.

In April 2013, during a stay at Wyndham Vacation Resorts Great Smokies Lodge, the Todds were entered into the sweepstakes for a chance to win the luxury car.

Their name was randomly drawn from more than 74,000 entries.

“The Todds are an example of a family that uses their vacation ownership to its full potential — spending time together and making memories at some of their favorite resorts across the country,” said Jeff Myers, Wyndham Vacation Ownership’s chief sales and marketing officer.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership 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.

Bluegreen Corporation Joins Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company in Ranking Among Nation’s Top Corporate Fundraising Teams for 2013

Bluegreen Corporation, a leading timeshare ownership resort company, was recently honored as the 15th of 20 Top Corporate Fundraising Teams in the U.S. by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for the 2013 Walk to Cure Diabetes.

Bluegreen was named among such national corporations as Ford Motor Company, Bloomingdale’s, Walgreen’s and Coca-Cola.

Lora Hazelwood, executive director of the Palm Beach County Chapter of JDRF explained that there are literally thousands of corporate teams when you factor in the over 100 Walk sites across the U.S.

 “I am very proud to have our chapter on this exclusive list,” said Hazelwood. Bluegreen Corporation has been involved with JDRF and the Walk to Cure Diabetes since 2002.

Bluegreen President and CEO John M. Maloney, Jr. has been the corporate chairman of the Palm Beach Chapter event annually since 2006.  The national Walk to Cure Diabetes event brings together millions of individuals in support of finding a cure.

In addition to serving as a corporate sponsor of the event, Bluegreen committed to and exceeded their $50,000 fund raising goal.

“We are proud if our associates in Boca Raton and throughout the country for the part they play in helping to raise these funds and awareness of T1D,” said Ellen Devine, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO of Bluegreen.

“Our relationship with JDRF is very special and we are happy and proud to continue to help them find a cure.” Devine said.

“To Bluegreen, I sincerely thank you all for your tremendous support of JDRF and our Greater Palm Beach Chapter,” said Carl Marks, JDRF’s Regional Director for the state of Florida.

“It is because of your generosity, tireless efforts, and faith in our mission that we will successfully treat, cure, and prevent T1D through our research. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your vote of confidence and congratulations for this wonderful and distinguished distinction in JDRF’s success,” said Marks.

Orange Lake Resorts Expands To Williamsburg, VA

Vacation resort developer Orange Lake Resorts, which operates ten timeshare properties, has announced that it officially closed on a transaction with English Garden LV LLC to expand its portfolio to now include Colonial Crossings Resort in Williamsburg, VA.

The intent for this resort is to become a part of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations® brand in early 2014. The 120-unit Colonial Crossings Resort, located eight miles from historic Williamsburg includes: an outdoor pool, business center, fitness center, arcade, outdoor patio area, meeting space, complimentary Wi-Fi and daily resort activity programming.

Orange Lake Resorts plans to commit more than $8 million over the next year to upgrade the interior of Colonial Crossings Resort.

In addition, a currently unused building will be built-out with new villas and furnishings, where the top two floors will feature the upscale Signature Collection villas with granite countertops, deluxe kitchen appliances and enhanced interior décor.

Orange Lake Resorts also plans to construct a new amenity building on the property.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations was created in September 2008 as a strategic alliance between IHG, the world’s largest hotel company, and Orange Lake Resorts, a leader within the resort industry with more than 30 years of proven success.

The brand’s flagship property in Orlando, located next to Walt Disney World Resort, was established in 1982 by Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson.

Other resort locations include Lake Geneva, WI, Panama City Beach and Marco Island, FL, Brownsville, VT,  Myrtle Beach, SC, Gatlinburg, T., Galveston, TX and Las Vegas, NV. Holiday Inn Club Vacations will continue to expand its resorts to top North American destinations.

"Give Kids the World" Partners with Wyndham Vacation Ownership to Launch “Extreme Village Makeover”

Give Kids the World, a nonprofit “storybook” resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, has teamed up with Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVO), the world’s largest timeshare ownership company, to launch an “Extreme Village Makeover” at Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, FL.

Pamela Landwirth, president of Give Kids The World, and Gary Rall, vice president of resort renovation and design for Wyndham Vacation Ownership,  kicked off the project at the 2013 Commercial Construction and Renovation Summit last month, led by David Corson, publisher and editor of Commercial Construction and Renovation magazine.

The Extreme Village Makeover, scheduled to take place January 12-25, 2014, will renovate 100 of the 140 villas at Give Kids The World Village, updating the whimsical accommodations for families visiting for a week-long, cost-free fantasy vacation to upgraded hospitality standards.

Construction will last two weeks with crews on-site 24 hours a day. The scope of work will include cosmetic and structural upgrades including: wood replacement, stucco and drywall repair, tile work, installation of new countertops, fixtures and crown molding, exterior and interior painting and electrical updates, just to name a few.

“Give Kids the World is an amazing organization and we’re very excited to be a part of this monumental project,” said Rall.

“We need a lot of people to make this vision a reality. At this point, we’re calling all members of the construction and design industry to come forward and join us in making a difference by donating or deeply discounting their products, expertise or time. This will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, helping families of children with life-threatening illnesses for decades to come,” Rall said.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the Extreme Village Makeover, especially since it will be completed right before the 25th anniversary of the Village,” said Landwirth.

“With more than 185 resorts across the country, Wyndham is truly an expert at large-scale renovation and design projects. We are extremely grateful to have their team spearhead this monumental initiative which will provide an updated ‘home away from home’ for thousands of families every year. Their dedication is greatly appreciated,” Landwirth said.

About Give Kids the World 
Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre, non-profit resort in Central Florida that creates magical memories for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Give Kids the World provides accommodations at its whimsical resort, donated attractions tickets, meals and more for a week-long, cost-free fantasy vacation.

With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 120,000 families from all 50 states and over 74 countries.

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Interval International Adds Third Azul Property in the Mexican Caribbean

Interval International, a prominent worldwide provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, has announced the addition of Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma on Mexico’s Mayan Riviera.

This property joins Azul Sensatori and Azul Fives Hotel & Private Residences, also part of the Azul
brand of Gourmet Inclusive® properties operated by Karisma Hotels & Resorts, in Interval’s global exchange network.

“We greatly value the relationship we’ve enjoyed with Interval over the years and look forward to working with the company on other projects,” commented Rinaldo Fernandez, senior vice president of administration for Karisma Hotels & Resorts.

“With each resort that we affiliate, we strengthen our vision for the future — providing our members outstanding vacation experiences at our resorts in Mexico and at Interval’s resorts throughout the world,” said Fernandez.

Situated in the tranquil village of Puerto Morelos, Azul Beach has 144 units with views of the turquoise waters of Bahia Petempich or lush vegetation.

Among the on-site amenities are five restaurants with a choice of Latin American, Asian and Italian cuisine, multiple outdoor swimming pools, full-service spa with treatments for adults and kids, fitness center, and a wide selection of day and evening entertainment and activities.

The resort also features an Azulitos Play House with a Fisher-Price® designed play space, the latest educational toys, and a baby equipment and toy loan program.

Older children can participate in activities such as mini-yoga, face painting, and beach treasure hunts.

“We are delighted to expand our partnership with Rinaldo and his team with the addition of Azul Beach,” said Marcos Agostini, Interval International senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Latin America.

“This spectacular boutique property offers visitors an unbeatable location midway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen and a host of upscale, family-friendly amenities and services,” Agostini said.

Puerto Morelos has a laidback atmosphere where you are invited to slow down and spend time together. Explore the Mayan Temples and the coral reef in Arrecife de Puerto Morelos National Park, or walk the two-and-a-half-mile trail through Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marin Botanical Garden, which is the last patch of conserved forest on this stretch of the Mayan Riviera.

Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma is approximately 25 minutes from downtown Cancun and 35 minutes north of Playa del Carmen.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations Teams up for Trail Work

Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV), developer of award-winning Grand Lodge on Peak 7, Grand Timber Lodge and Gold Point Resorts launched their annual trail maintenance volunteer program this past week.

Over the next two months, the BGV employees and timeshare owners will make bridge repairs, install and check steps and provide general trail maintenance.

Since 2009, BGV has partnered with the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District (FDRD), a local non-profit dedicated to the improvement of the National Forest lands, by adopting the Peaks Trail that begins behind the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 and continues on to Frisco.

Through this partnership, BGV has become an integral part of the conservation of the Peaks Trail for visitors and locals alike to use and enjoy.

Following this year’s efforts, the company will have accumulated almost 1,300 volunteer hours for this project.

 “BGV’s work on this trail has helped make it more sustainable for all types of users and has made an incredible impact in our community overall,” said Sara Slaton, Program Manager for the FDRD.

BGV commits to having several trained crew leaders to help convey proper techniques for bridge repair, trail maintenance and guiding new and returning volunteers. This year, the company recruited almost 100 volunteers, including Mike Millisor, Owner and Developer of BGV and his sons Luke and Nick.

“A few years ago, I was approached by Friends of the Dillon Ranger District to become involved in their Adopt-a-Trail program,” said Millisor.

 “It immediately jumped out at me as the perfect way to provide an opportunity for our employees to get involved in the BGV commitment to giving back,” Millisor said.

The next dates are Saturday July 27 and Sunday, July 28 and each work day will run from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. BGV provides a free barbecue at the end of the day for the volunteers to enjoy.

Breckenridge Grand Vacations is the parent company of the award-winning Grand Lodge on Peak 7, Grand Timber Lodge and Gold Point Resort.

Since 1985, brothers Mike and Rob Millisor, along with partner Mike Dudick, developers of the Breckenridge Grand Vacations family of resorts, have been creating great vacations for thousands of families.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership’s Franz Hanning Elected Chairman of American Resort Development Association

Franz Hanning, president and chief executive officer of Wyndham Vacation Ownership (WVC), was officially elected as Chairman of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) during the recent ARDA World Convention and Exposition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

ARDA is the national trade association representing the vacation ownership industry.

“We are honored to have Franz serve as our industry leader and look forward to working more closely with him as an advocate for vacation ownership,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. 

“Franz’s rich background and deep roots in resort sales and management is an asset to our industry, especially at this time of product innovation, market growth and consumer satisfaction. He is the perfect steward to introduce a new generation to timeshare and better vacationing,” Nusbaum said.

“I am extremely honored to step into this role with ARDA, and energized by what we can accomplish together,” said Hanning.

“For more than 30 years, this industry has been my passion and I look forward to leading a global perspective during such an exciting time for vacation ownership,” Hanning continued.

The four primary consumer brands of Windham Vacation Club - CLUB WYNDHAM®, WorldMark® by Wyndham, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and Shell Vacations Club — together comprise more than 185 resort properties throughout North America, the Caribbean, Mexico and the South Pacific.

These brands represent approximately 23,000 vacation ownership units and serve more than 900,000 owner families worldwide.

Since being named president and CEO of WVO in 2004, Hanning has overseen all management, operations, strategic planning and growth initiatives, and leads a worldwide staff of more than 15,000 employees. 

Through his vision, WVO has grown to be the world’s largest developer in the timeshare industry with revenues in excess of $2 billion. 

Hanning also led the organization through the launch of the innovative fee-for-service business model which has reduced the company’s capital intensity, increased recurring management fees and improved investment returns, and transformed the vacation ownership industry in turn.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership Applauds New Legislation Protecting Timeshare Owners

Wyndham Vacation Ownership applauds the recent signing by Florida Gov. Rick Scott of the new Florida timeshare transfer company legislation (Bill 7025), focused on protecting timeshare owners and associations from unscrupulous transfer companies.

While the overwhelming majority of timeshare owners use and enjoy their timeshares, those who no longer vacation or can no longer afford ownership are easy prey for unrepentant scam artists.

Many of these are fraudulent transfer companies that take advantage of those trying to sell or transfer their ownership, targeting consumers under the guise of offering a service but in the end scamming them out of thousands of dollars.

This new legislation will help protect owners who seek assistance in effectively transferring their timeshare. “I commend Gov. Scott and his legislative partners for taking swift action to guard against timeshare transfer scams,” said Franz Hanning, president and CEO of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the world’s largest vacation ownership company.

“This new law will further enhance safeguards for timeshare owners and associations, and strengthens our collective efforts to protect consumerism,” Hanning said.

The key aspects of this legislation include prohibiting a transfer company from collecting any fee until a written agreement is signed by the timeshare owner.

The legislation also requires the transfer company to deposit any funds received from the timeshare owner into an escrow account until the transfer is completed. These provisions will provide additional consumer protection to minimize the risk of the timeshare owner being subject to transfer scams that currently exist, while in no way restricting their ability to transfer or resell their timeshare.

The legislation will also prohibit the transfer of timeshares to anyone they know who does not have the ability, means or intent to pay all assessments. This will further protect timeshare associations and their respective owners against higher than normal delinquencies.

This new law will become effective July 1, 2013.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership, with headquarters in Orlando, operates 17 resorts in the State of Florida.

According to research by the ARDA International Foundation, nearly 16 percent of all timeshare properties owned are located in the state of Florida and one-in-five own in an Orlando-based resort.

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RCI® Celebrates the Addition of 35 Properties

RCI, the global leader in vacation exchange and part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of brands, has announced that it added 35 new affiliated properties to its global network in the first quarter of 2013.

These additions join the more than 4,000 affiliated resorts already a part of RCI’s network.

“We have had another great quarter of affiliations, and are proud to have added these fantastic new properties to our exchange network,” said Gordon Gurnik, president, RCI.

"These quality affiliations add even more flexibility and choice for our subscribing members with new resort options in amazing destinations all over the world, including some great resorts in Thailand, Brazil, Spain and Las Vegas,” Gurnik said.

One of the newest additions in Asia is the Tides Boutique Spa Resort (see top photo), Samui, which offers luxury and service for visitors looking to explore Thailand. The resort boasts its own stretch of beach from which vacationers can take in views of The Great Buddha statue and surrounding islands.

The property was designed with comfort in mind, and guests can relax by the infinity pool or enjoy one of many available spa treatments.

Another new resort destination is Dom Pedro Laguna Beach Villas and Golf Resort, a five-star hotel in Brazil that is part of the luxury eco-resort Aquiraz Riviera. This private and relaxing resort serves up paradise for guests, with both golf and beach options spread across a beautiful lagoon and the Marambaia Beach.

The resort offers access to the Ocean Golf Course, swimming pools next to the beach, fitness facilities, spa treatments, tennis and volleyball courts, and much more.

Royal Sun Resort is a new RCI-affiliated resort in Tenerife. Set on a high cliff, the resort offers stunning views of both the village and the sea. Vacationers can relax by the heated swimming pools, where a sparkling waterfall flows past surrounding sunbathing terraces.

The resort also boasts squash courts, a whirlpool hot tub, a fitness center, a playground and game rooms. Evening entertainment is available, and the elegant on-site restaurant features flavorful cuisine and splendid views.

Marriott Celebrates 16 Years of Caring for the Children of Central Florida

This spring Marriott hosted its 16th Annual Caring Classic corporate charity golf tournament, raising a net donation of more than $170,000 for Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

This represents a cumulative total of nearly $1.8 million in funds raised since the tournament’s inception that directly benefit the young patients of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies and Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida.

“Each Marriott associate is committed to giving back to the communities in which we live and work,” said Stephen P. Weisz, president and chief executive officer of Marriott Vacations Worldwide.

“Since our company’s inception in 1984, we have been passionate supporters of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The commitment of our associates and valued partners continue to help make a difference in the lives of so many of Central Florida’s children,” Weisz said.

This year’s tournament took place at Marriott’s Grande Pines Golf Club, part of the Marriott Vacations Club timeshare resort Marriott’s Grande Vista, where representatives of 84 Marriott partner companies contributed to the tournament’s success.

Over 80 Marriott associate volunteers and golf staff provided an exceptional on-course hospitality and golf experience for the participants.

“As the newest member of the Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals team I was overwhelmed by the commitment of the Marriott associates,” said Molly Piveral, manager Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

“Every dollar raised plays a role in helping the families we serve. Without the unselfish dedication of Marriott, we would not be successful. It is with deep heartfelt gratitude I say thank you.”

This year’s tournament was part of Marriott’s overall commitment to the expansion of The Alexander Center for Neonatology at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies.

Over the next four years, the company has committed to raise more than $1 million through existing and new CMN Hospitals fundraising activities benefiting the tiniest lives in Central Florida.

In recognition for reaching this goal, a portion of the neonatology unit expansion will be recognized as the “Marriott Vacations Worldwide NICU-POD” which will memorialize the company’s long-standing commitment to children, especially the very tiniest newborns.

Welk Resorts Branson Receives Award for Tribute to Veterans

Welk Resorts, a well-established leader in the vacation ownership industry, has announced that Welk Resort Branson has been the proud recipient of the ARDA Ace Community Service Award for their Yellow Ribbon Tribute to Veterans.

The ACE Community Service Award, which recognizes outstanding community contributions by an ARDA membe,r was presented this year to the team at Welk Resort Branson for the tributes they pay to our Service Personnel, particularly during Branson Veterans Homecoming Week.

“It was an honor to accept this award on behalf of our Welk Resorts associates.” said Dathan Atchison, General Manager, Welk Resort Branson.

“We share this recognition with our Branson community, who know how much our Veterans deserve our respect and admiration, and honors them daily throughout our community,” Atchison said.

The week-long festivities have become the second biggest veterans’ event in the country after Washington, D.C. The Vietnam Memorial Wall replica has been a serious commitment for the resort for the last sixteen years.

Throughout the week, visitors from schools, ROTC programs, and other organizations as well as the veterans and general public come to look at the wall, dropping off flowers and memorabilia and looking for loved ones’ names.

The Welk Hospitality Group has a long history of showing their commitment to their surrounding communities by not only providing financially, but also by giving their time to volunteer organizations that reflect the Lawrence Welk Family legacy.

They recognize that charitable engagement is a fundamental component of personal well-being and associate satisfaction. They also believe that when corporations like Welk include good citizenship as a benchmark of success, they demonstrate that they are ethical, responsible, proactive, and caring members of those communities.

Founded in 1955 by the late entertainment icon Lawrence Welk, Welk Resorts is one of the most respected independent brands in the vacation ownership industry today.

Welk Resorts remains a privately held, family-owned company led by President Jon Fredricks, who is the grandson of the late Lawrence Welk.

Interval International Welcomes Hotel Savoy on Madeira

Interval International, a leading global provider of vacation services and an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, has affiliated Hotel Savoy on the Portuguese island of Madeira to its global exchange network.

Upon completion in 2014, it will include 246 timeshare apartments, ushering in the second chapter of the vacation ownership product for Siet Savoi SA, the developer of the successful Royal Savoy, affiliated in 2002.

“We’re very happy to be able to offer more exchange options to Interval members who want to visit this magnificent island, known for its stunning scenery and spring-like temperatures,” said Darren Ettridge, Interval International senior vice president of resort sales and business development for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

“There are nearly 5,000 vacation owners at Royal Savoy who enjoy consistently high standards at this award-winning property. We’re sure that Siet Savoi will build on its outstanding success to deliver another truly wonderful holiday experience,” Ettridge said.

All of the Hotel Savoy timeshare apartments will be air-conditioned, offer Internet access, and have ocean-facing balconies or terraces. One-bedroom apartments will have separate lounge and dining areas, a full kitchen and master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and walk-in closet. 

The two- and three-bedroom lock-off apartments will be ideally suited to holidays with friends or family sleeping up to six and eight guests respectively. Studio units will have a kitchenette and a spacious lounge area.

Hotel Savoy guests also will have access to a full-service spa with sauna; fitness center, heated indoor, outdoor, and children’s swimming pools; whirlpool; tennis court; and restaurants and bars on the grounds of the resort. Other amenities will include 24-hour reception service, room service, and underground parking.

“Hotel Savoy is the newest generation of a small family-run hotel first opened at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Isabel Cristina, project director of the Savoy Group.

“We’re proud of our reputation for hospitality and very pleased to have Interval International as an exchange partner, so that we can introduce many more people to our beautiful home.”

Closer to the coast of North Africa than Europe, the volcanic island of Madeira is just 35 miles long by 13 miles wide, studded with dramatic ravines and rocky headlands.

The island that many call “the floating garden of the Atlantic” is a 90-minute flight from Lisbon and the Hotel Savoy is 15 minutes from Madeira’s Funchal International Airport and a five minute walk to the historical center of Funchal.