How is Timeshare Handling Recreational Marijuana?

A session on Happy Owners at ARDA West in Denver last week, brought giggles from the audience when the topic turned to recreational marijuana use. What better place to discuss it than in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot. Tourists visiting Denver can check into "Weed-Inns", (not to be confused with weed-ins, popular in the 60-70's).  In various other cities across the state, marijuana tour companies such as "420 Tours" transport visitors around in their "Canna-Bus" for weed cooking classes, Grow Tours and Weed Sommelier Tours. The tour company also offers stays at 420 friendly hotels where use of the drug in your room is no problem.  

It's Complicated

Ok, enough of the silliness. Let's get serious. How are timeshare resorts in states that legalize recreational use of the drug going to handle it? At present, though Colorado and Washington are the only states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, other states are lining up to follow suit—with some pushing initiatives for upcoming years. California, Oregon and Alaska are tops on the list for recreational legalization, with Arizona, Nevada, Montana and Massachusetts close behind. It’s not a simple matter to decide. 

ARDA Looks at Issues Surrounding Legal Marijuana Use

Many issues result from recreational use of marijuana and some are not humorous. A recent article in ARDA Developments, brought up several of these issues: accommodating medical marijuana use, employment policies, off-duty use, hiring practices. In addition, there is the issue of owner/guest policies, disposal of marijuana left in rooms, and keeping marijuana and marijuana products out of the hands of minors.

Owner/Guest Policies

The ARDA article says that at present, most timeshare resorts follow the written rules and regulations of the HOA and management company in dealing with marijuana use. Timeshares do not allow tobacco smoking in general, but some may have specifically designated areas. General rules may also state that no activity that’s improper, offensive and unlawful take place on the property, but when state initiatives pass this rule will need to change too.
What’s harder to control is marijuana edibles, and the use of the drug in e-cigarettes and other vaporizers that do not produce smoke, and emit little odor. In Colorado, hotels are smoke free and that means marijuana too, but there are companies promoting marijuana tourism like the Colorado Pot Guide, who give advice to tourists that it’s ok to use these products if they are discreet.  Vaporizers, E-cigarettes and edibles may require new HOA rules specific to their use. Or, as the article in Developments suggests, the topic may need to be specifically addressed in the developers Declaration documents.

What to do with Guest Left-Overs

A potentially serious issue is what to do about marijuana left behind by guests particularly when it’s disguised in other products. These products often contain higher levels of the drug and are often packaged to look like common commercial products. Depending on the policies of the timeshare (some resorts currently allow employees to take home consumable items left behind by guests), there is a danger that employees may unknowingly eat the product. 
It's apparent that staff need to be educated about the danger of the products that are labeled as such, but they also need to be aware of items that are homemade with marijuana and not labeled. The ARDA article mentions one instance of a housekeeper and her children who were hospitalized after eating a guest’s left-over brownies.  

Disposal Problem

Disposal of left behind marijuana is another consideration. As the ARDA article states, it can't just be thrown away in a dumpster. It needs to be quarantined and then made to be unrecognizable. Colorado uses a system to make marijuana unrecognizable by mixing it with shredded paper, food waste and grease. It’s then put in a secure receptacle or taken to a solid waste disposal facility.
This is not a simple issue. As more states pass initiatives for recreational use of marijuana, timeshares will have to look long and hard at how they are going to address the issue. 

Who’s Helping Resort Managers and HOA Board Members?

Find out Who and How at the TBMA 2014 Meeting

Doesn't it sometimes seem that the big guys have it easy? The Marriotts, the Hiltons, the Wyndhams, with huge support staffs and access to all the latest in software and technology, seem to have all the bells and whistles to be successful. But, there's an organization that wants to make sure the little guys have what it takes to be successful too. 

The Timeshare Board Members Association (TBMA) 

The Timeshare Board Members Association (TBMA) helps on-site resort managers and HOA board members deal with the nuts and bolts of managing owner-controlled resorts. The organization works with these individuals to find what they need to run a successful timeshare resort—from where to buy linens to setting up booking engines on their websites. Through its educational resources, TBMA helps resort managers and HOA board members find the support and tools they need to be effective representatives of their resorts. 

"No Resort Should Operate in a Vacuum"

TBMA holds that no resort should operate in a vacuum. The organization feels that owner-controlled resorts have been especially hard hit in today's economic and business environment. HOA Board Members and managers are having to deal with issues such as: inventory of unsold intervals, fraudulent transfers, and managing delinquency rates. TBMA helps these members and managers identify problem areas, and make a plan for dealing with them. One way the organization provides information to members and managers is through informative, educational meetings with industry experts.

TBMA 2014 Meeting October 26-28 in San Diego, California

According to TBMA, this year's meeting features a new dynamic, interactive agenda and a special introductory session to meet and greet peers. Educational panels, case to case studies and peer to peer networking provide additional opportunities for ideas and support. A few of the key issues that will be featured and presented by industry professionals at this year’s meeting are:
  • Analyzing your resort’s financial health
  • Coping with unsold HOA inventory
  • A closer look at Board Member fiduciary responsibilities
  • Essential refurbishment/upgrades, planning and funding
  • An analysis of the evolving marketplace

It’s Free

Membership in TBMA is free and there is no registration fee for board members and resort managers to attend the TBMA meetings. Board members and resort managers can join TBMA at  RSVP for the San Diego Meeting via Email:

Planting Trees, Saving Turtles…

Most timeshare resorts are involved in some type of green program that involves such things as recycling, water saving methods, use of environmentally friendly products and alternative energy sources.  Some timeshares are taking it to the next level. Not only do they promote environmental practices in their resorts, but they are also giving back to their community’s environment and looking out for the needs of future generations through worthwhile projects.

Wyndham’s Worldwide Commitment to Social Responsibility

One company committed to a program of conserving natural resources, preserving habitats and preventing pollution on a worldwide basis is Wyndham Worldwide. The WyndhamGreen program is used not just in their North American resorts, but in all of their resorts across the globe, including countries of Africa, and Central America, India and China. By adopting best practices with owners, franchisees, employees and guests, in 2013 Wyndham has reduced its carbon emissions by 13 percent and its water usage globally by 16 per square foot from its 2010 baseline. 
Giving back to the communities that support their locations is also a top concern of the company. Here are a few of their projects:
  • Wyndham Vacation Ownership has launched a Million Trees Project which has already planted 450,000 trees in forest lands lost to fires. 
  • With their Arbor Day Foundation Rain Rescue Program they help to save rain forests, promote human compassion, and support the Raw Forest Alliance certified coffee. 
  • Wyndham Exchange and Rentals Indianapolis partners with Indian Land Trust to support the Browning Marsh, a wetland area with many rare and endangered species.

Royal Resorts Helps to Protect Mexican Sea Turtles

Royal Resorts, a timeshare company with resorts throughout Mexico, rescued and released 3,773 baby sea turtles into the ocean this year. The company’s Sea Turtle Protection Program has since its inception in 1998, released 522,394 turtles and protected 6,264 turtle nests. Not only is this a worthy conservation project, but members and guests staying at Royal’s resorts, are provided an awesome experience. During the season from August to November they can watch the exciting release of the baby turtles.

Employee Buy-In a Must for Efforts to Work

A sure sign that your resort’s business management sustainability programs are working, is gaining the support of the surrounding community. But programs also need buy-in by resort employees. 
Grand Pacific Resorts (GPR) understands they need employee buy-in to support their environmental efforts. GPR supports its green program with a company-wide green committee, the Green Squad, comprised of employee representatives from each of its resorts. The committee meets monthly to develop new ideas and innovations to reduce their environmental impact and satisfy owner/guest expectations for environmentally conscious hospitality practices. 
The company also strives to educate guests, who can be a big part of how well your program works, as to how they can help. During the regular Welcome Breakfast, guests are reminded of such things as to be conscious of A/C usage and to use alternate cooling methods like opening windows, or keeping windows closed when the A/C is on.  All these efforts must be working for GPR’s Carlsbad Seapointe resort. It won RCI’s 2013 top green recognition, the Platinum RCI Green Award.

According to Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV), their primary focus is highly committed to business management sustainability. Their employees and guests are empowered to devote daily operations to this effort. BGV also strives to positively impact the lives of owners, guests and employees.  Their focus seems to be working. BGV was selected as one the best places to work in a recent ranking by the Denver Post and has also won the industry ARDY Employer Choice award.  In addition, the town of Breckenridge and the High Country Conservation Center recognized their sustainability efforts by awarding them a 2014 Sustainable Breck Certificate. The certificate recognizes the adherence to the strict green standards set by the town of Breckenridge.

Getting Personal

Our first thoughts for our vacation plans are often of the new, fancy timeshare resorts. But mature, established legacy resorts still have plenty to offer, and some companies are reaching out to them to help them along. It may just take a different approach to reach them and personal contact seems to be the key.

Are Home Visits Back? 

One company is using the home visit approach to assist single-site resort developers and HOAs responsible for properties that may be declining due to issues such as maintenance, shrinking reserves and escalating debts. Compass Resort Group President Jay Finley III, and partner, Chuck Frey feel certain one on one contact is key in communicating with owners of legacy timeshares. Finley feels that a meaningful face to face conversation with owners that is not a sales pitch, goes a long way in building trust and relationships. 
Compass owner service representatives make in-person consultations to access owner needs, answer questions, keep them updated on changes and develop an ongoing rapport. It seems to be just the ticket to keep the owners of these resorts actively engaged. A few of the resorts that Compass Resort Group has helped to become more profitable, gain new owners, and recover lost revenues are Branson Yacht Club, Galleon Bay, Fox Hills Development Group and Desert Breezes Resort.

Affiliate Access Programs

Being the largest timeshare vacation exchange company in the world, doesn’t stop RCI from keeping the personal connection with their affiliates through their Affiliate Access Program. In an effort to reach owners in a more personal setting that also gives them a chance to have their questions answered directly by an RCI representative, the company has been holding "Lunch and Learn" events.  At these HOA-focused get togethers, affiliate access program participants have a chance to talk face to face with RCI sales and servicing teams about the best practices to get the most out of vacation ownership. There's also an opportunity for participants to get acquainted with RCI's 86 vendor and supplier affiliate access partners.
Online customer survey company and member of affiliate access, Customer Count, believes in the personal approach when reaching out to customers for feedback. Their Smart Survey assesses customer needs by asking questions that really get to the heart of the issue or problem an affiliate may be experiencing. The survey takes advantage of the ability to ask certain questions based on certain answers. It then uses the "skip patterns" process to ask questions that are personalized to a particular respondent. 

ARDA Works with HOAs

One of the timeshare industry's largest advocates, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is making sure HOAs are supported. ARDA's HOA Outreach Committee's goal is to be a resource for the industry's single-site, sold-out homeowners' associations, their officers & directors, and individual owner members. The committee hopes to promote the understanding and development of the industry owners’ associations through education, directed outreach, communications, committee and task force efforts, and advocacy.