Timeshare Resorts - the Answer to Vacationers’ Need for Space

Timeshares offer the perfect answer to family or group vacations - space plus privacy. Owners and others in the timeshare industry already knew this, but the continued growth of our industry indicates everyone else is figuring it out too. ARDA's recent report, "State of the Vacation Industry: United States Study 2015", shows that the timeshare industry enjoyed consistent growth in 2014. Sales volume increased more than four percent to $7.9 billion and the timeshare occupancy rate of 78 percent surpassed that of the hotel industry’s occupancy rate of 64 percent!

Space to Spread Out

No one wants to vacation in a cramped space. When you are vacationing with family or friends, it's nice to have extra space and the ability to have some private time to yourself. Timeshare units are four and a half times the size of your average hotel room. VacationBetter.org reports timeshare units range from 700 square feet for a one-bedroom unit, to 1,160 square feet for two-bedrooms and up to 1,590 square feet for a three-bedroom. That’s a lot of space for family reunions and celebrations with friends!

Vacationers Love Kitchens

VacationBetter.org says 91 percent of vacationers are happier on vacation when their accommodations include a kitchen. Those of us who timeshare vacation know how nice it is to get up and make your morning coffee and breakfast without stepping out the door. Besides convenience, kitchens save us money too.  Using the kitchen to prepare breakfast, or sandwiches and snacks to take on outings, keeps your vacation costs down. Your beautiful resort is the perfect setting for celebrations, intimate cocktail parties, or barbequing the fish you caught earlier in the day. Use the extra money you’ve saved for dining out at a special restaurant!

Extra Living Space a Plus Too

ARDA's report shows that 61 percent of all timeshare units are two bedrooms, and in addition to kitchens, these units have living rooms too. That gives your family and friends much more room to spread out than the 350 square feet that the average size hotel room offers! 

More Interesting Report Facts

  • The most common type of resort—beach resorts. (No surprise there!)
  • Resorts with theme parks have the highest occupancy.
  • Florida has the most resorts—23% of the national total.
  • Nevada has the largest resort size—182 units on average.
  • Largest occupancy rate for a region—Hawaii at 85.3 %.

For more reasons to love your timeshare, check out www.arda.org/foundation and www.vacationbetter.org 

Orange Lake Resorts Adds Silverleaf to its Expanding Family of Resorts

May brought the announcement that Orange Lake Resort's parent company, Orange Lake Holdings, had acquired Silverleaf Resorts, Inc. The acquisition of Silverleaf adds 13 vacation properties in six states across the eastern U.S. and 120,000 members to Orange Lake's family of resorts. It doubles the size of Orange Lake Holdings whose resorts span, Florida, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, as well as Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Silverleaf has been in operation for over 30 years.
Silverleaf Resorts along with Orange Lake's Holiday Inn Vacations® brand, will be operated independently. The two brands together represent 26 resorts, 7,200 villas and over 320,000 members. Club members in each brand will continue to receive all the benefits of their existing membership plans. 

Orange Lake CEO Don Harrill, called the acquisition of Silverleaf, "a historic development for both companies".  He added, "With our combined reach, we continue to stay on the forefront of providing diverse travel experiences for today’s changing market".

Thomas J. Morris, CEO of Silverleaf Resorts, expressed excitement in joining Orange Lake, "We are excited for the future and the tremendous opportunities this affords us".

Orange Lake’s acquisition of Silverleaf mirrors the industry trend, started in 2009, to consolidation of resorts and away from independent operations. The strength in numbers concept has worked well for many timeshare companies as a buffer to the ups and downs of the economy, and in providing owners a broader selection of vacation options.

Consolidation can offer a lifeline to smaller, private operators who are not large enough to go after public equity and are too small and complicated to interest institutional investors. Other companies that have been involved in recent consolidations are Marriott, Starwood, and Wyndham Resorts.

For more information on Orange Lake Resorts visit: www.orangelake.com or for more on Silverleaf Resorts go to: www.silverleafresorts.com

Is Your Resort Both LEED and ADA Compliant?

Have you really thought about how these two Federal laws affect the development and maintenance of a timeshare resort? This year is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Use it as a reminder to check in with your HOA or developer to make sure your resort is meeting the expectations of the ADA and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). 

The Importance of ADA

The 1990 ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life. It covers employment, schools, transportation, and all public and private places open to the general public. The part of the law that affects timeshare the most is Title III. It prohibits private places of public accommodation from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Title III sets the minimum standards for accessibility for alterations and new construction of facilities. It requires all public facilities to be in compliance, and there is no grandfathering.

As an owner you should make sure your resort has made the necessary accommodations to keep your resort in compliance not only to prevent costly oversights, but also because it is good business. Resort management should welcome the opportunity to make it easy for everyone to enjoy all that the resort has to offer. 

Why LEED Certification?

Many resorts are now being developed as LEED® resorts. This internationally recognized green building certification system provides third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving energy and water saving efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, and improved indoor environment. Resorts receiving LEED certification have proved that they are stewards of resources and sensitive to their impacts. Marriott piloted the world’s first LEED Volume Program, a pre-certified green prototype for the hospitality industry.

Awards for Your Resort’s Efforts

Environmental efforts by resorts do not go unnoticed. Awards are given annually by timeshare related companies such as RCI which gives out Green Awards to recognize resorts for their environmental efforts. Community organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, often have their own set of environmental awards.  As an owner, you can take responsibility too.  Work with your management-  suggest environmental improvements. You probably have many creative ideas for making your resort the type of environmentally aware establishment that guests and new owners would like to be a part of.

Need More Help?

There are construction and development companies available to help you formulate the best plans for ADA conversions, or that focus on green principles and environmentally friendly projects to help your resort become LEED certified. Do check out the company you’re thinking of hiring. The ADA Technical Assistance Center (1-800-949-4322) can provide expert advice with technical assistance, materials, laws, and may have information on companies, but also check references from the businesses they have done work for previously.

Social Responsibility - Just Good Business

Social responsibility is about companies embracing their social responsibilities and not just focusing on maximizing profits. Social responsibility means doing business with a positive relationship to the society and the environment around the business. Don't you want a resort that takes that responsibility? 

SVO Files Form 10 - Announces New Company Name

Starwood Hotels and Resorts will spin off Starwood Vacation Ownership (SVO) into a stand-alone public company. Starwood took the first steps in the spin-off process on June 16, by filing the initial Form 10 Registration Statement. Form 10 makes financial and other information about the company public for the first time, and is a pivotal step in the spin-off process expected to be completed in fourth quarter 2015. At completion of the spin-off transaction, the property will encompass nineteen vacation ownership resorts and three fractional residence properties with additional hotel asset inventory transferred from Starwood.

Vistana Signature Experiences

After much consideration, the name chosen for the new company is Vistana Signature Experiences.  Previous owners from 1980-1999 called the property Vistana Resort, and when Starwood acquired it in 1999 it became SVO. According to Matthew Avril, Chief Executive Officer-Elect of Vistana, "The new yet familiar name builds on our 35-year history and recognized reputation for excellence. While our name is familiar, our new look represents the exciting future opportunities that exist for our owners, associates, guests and investors, as we continue to deliver exceptional experiences that our travelers have come to expect."

How will the spin-off affect owners and potential owners? 

  • SVO will explore new development and growth opportunities to offer more options and flexibility to owners to enhance their vacation experiences.
  • Owners will benefit from additional anticipated inventory at the Westin Los Cabos, Westin Cancun, Westin Puerto Vallarta, Sheraton Kauai and Sheraton Steamboat.
  • SVO resorts will continue to operate as a Westin or Sheraton brand and provide the same level of quality and experiences expected.
  • Services and amenities will continue to be developed, operated and maintained according to highest standards of quality and customer service in the industry.
  • Owners will still receive the same Starwood Vacation Network benefits, and have privileged access to the Starwood Preferred Guest program.
  • Annual maintenance fees and the mortgage process will remain the same, as will websites and telephone numbers to contact SVO.
  • All existing confirmed reservations will remain unchanged.

More Changes for Starwood

Starwood is looking for a new CEO to replace Frits van Paasschen who resigned in February under pressure for failing to move quickly enough to increase the number of hotels in the Starwood system through franchise or management agreements, says Starwood Chairman Bruce Duncan. Since van Paasschen resigned, Adam Aron, a Starwood director since 2006 has been acting CEO and is reported to be interested in the position. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, Starwood has struggled to make its mark in the limited-service hotel sector where its rivals' midmarket brands such as Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Garden Inn, have helped power earnings and drive growth.  Starwood's exploration of strategic alternatives to create value, have sparked speculation about a possible sale, and the potential for broader merger activity in the hotel industry.

For more information or to view a video on Vistana Vacation Experiences visit: starwoodvacationownership@starwoodvo.com