What’s Fueling the Urban Timeshare Market?

Marriott Vacation Club Pulse - San Diego
Though the majority of timeshares are still in areas where you would expect them to be - Hawaii, Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean - some vacation clubs are urbanizing into cities like New York, Boston, Phoenix, D.C. and San Diego. Large hospitality chains such as Marriott, Hilton and Starwood, in response to a demand for urban timeshares, have already moved or are in the process of moving into metropolitan areas with their timeshare offerings.

Responding to Customer Desires

Though it's been suggested that the urban timeshare market might be a reaction to trendy companies like Airbnb, there may be other issues at work. "There's a strong demand for city-centric properties," said Ed Kinney, Marriott Vacations Worldwide VP of corporate affairs and communications, who was recently quoted in skift.com. 

"We've known our owners and guests are eager to explore new places and try new experiences, especially those in more urban areas," Marriott's new Vacation Club Pulse is one of five properties in U.S. cities (New York, Boston, D.C., Miami, and San Diego) where Kinney says owners and guests can "immerse themselves in the cultures, local scenes, and neighborhoods of some of their favorite cities."

Dr. Amy Gregory, assistant professor at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management agreed, "Companies like Marriott Vacations and Hilton Grand Vacations Club are expanding their collections with city locations to get new experiences for their owners who want city vacations. More and more people are going to urban areas and wanting to explore what they have to offer."

Urban Vs. Resort 

How do the urban timeshares differ from traditional timeshares? 
  • Limited space and expensive real estate
Urban timeshares are usually smaller than timeshares in resort areas because metropolitan cities have less space for development than resort areas, and the space they do have is more expensive.
  • Shorter stays and quick getaways
Urban stays are shorter than traditional timeshare stays. Urban travelers are not looking for swimming or golfing, or even ocean views. They are looking to experience the city's culture, feel its vibrancy and do what the locals do. For example Dr. Gregory says, "Marriott’s Vacation Club Pulse in New York might offer historical walking tours, or wine and food experiences." She speculated that because people are there for such a short time, a full-fledged program isn't as necessary or critical. Owners will have more flexibility in being able to use up their points for the smaller trips or getaways.
  • Meeting the needs of the business traveler
Urban timeshares are attractive to the business traveler and corporations who want to get away from the more institutionalized hotel atmosphere, and offer employees and clients a more comfortable space that is also close to business, cultural activities, restaurants and sporting events.

For more information on urban timeshares visit www.marriottvacationclub.com/mvpulse 
www.hiltongrandvacations.com If you've done any urban timeshare vacationing, we'd love to hear about your experience! Contact us at www.timeshare-info.org 

Merger of Starwood Vacation Club with Interval Leisure Group Complete

Owners at Starwood Vacation Club (SVC) can now breathe a collective sigh of relief, as the planned merger with Interval Leisure Group, in the works since February 2015, is now complete. A letter recently sent to owners confirmed the completion and announced that SVC is now officially Vistana Signature Experiences Inc., one of the industry's largest providers of world-class vacation experiences.

Starwood Benefits Will Stay the Same

Chief Operating Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Stephen G. Williams wrote to owners, "This is an exciting time, and we look forward to our continued relationships with Westin and Sheraton as we remain their exclusive provider of vacation ownership." He also assured owners that they would be able to enjoy their timeshares as always, and still receive the same valuable benefits, branded experiences and preferred access to the Starwood Preferred Guest program (SPG).

More Opportunities for Owners

Bigger picture mergers often mean more opportunities for owners and this latest one sounds good. Williams says Vistana is committed to adding more resorts and products. Opening in the summer of 2017 on North Ka'anapali Beach in Maui is the newest resort, Westin Nanea Ocean Villas. In the Caribbean, poolside buildings are being converted to villas at the Westin St. John Resort & Villas providing more availability in 2017.

Five new "upper-upscale" resorts have been added as part of the transaction. Scheduled to reopen in second quarter 2017, after renovations following Hurricane Odile, is the Weston Resort & Spa Los Cabos. The Weston Resort & Spa Cancun, Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta, Sheraton Kaua'i Resort and Sheraton Steamboat Springs, are expected to provide additional villa accommodations over time, but until then owners can continue to access them through the SPG program.

Commitment Continues

Williams ends the owner letter with a promise of continued commitment to creating memorable vacation experiences and giving owners a better way to see the world.

To get the full picture visit the new website at www.vistana.com 

Project: Time Off

Last week, we wrote about the value of taking a vacation and the sad truth that many of us are not taking our vacation time. Well, there actually is a group of people that are trying to do something about changing that. Project: Time Off is the U.S. Travel Association's initiative to prove the value of taking time off for personal well-being, professional success, business performance, and economic expansion.

A Nation of Work Martyrs

Project: Time Off research shows that Americans are taking less vacation than at any point in the last forty years. From 1976 to 2000, workers used an average of 20.3 vacation days each year. From 2000 on that number continued to drop, reaching a low of 16 days used in 2014 - almost a full work week. If this trend continues, we'll be using less than a workweek of vacation in 20 years, and zero days by 2046.

According to Project: Time Off, Americans have become a nation of work martyrs, and that is keeping us from taking time off. We are overworked, stressed out, and exhausted, yet our culture encourages it by placing a stigma on vacationing. Though we realize that we should take a vacation, our workplace culture is shaped by fear and silence. Two-thirds (67%) of American employees, report either hearing nothing about vacation time, or negative or mixed messages from their managers about using vacation time. In addition, 58 percent of employees believe that our work culture stresses productivity over personal balance. 

Part of the martyrdom syndrome is how employees think about their work - they may think that no one else can do their job like they do; they may worry about jeopardizing their position - they don't want to look bad taking a vacation when others are not, or they may worry that when they're off, someone else may do their job better.

Small Changes May Lead to Big Results

Project: Time Off is leading a national movement to transform American attitudes with small changes. They suggest that with these small changes, we may be able to overcome our work martyrdom and break free from the culture of silence in the workplace. Try these out:

  • Spot the Symptoms 
Identify if you are a work martyr. Ask yourself - do you know you need a vacation, but are not letting yourself take one? Do you feel you are the only one who can do your job? Do you worry about others taking over for you? You should feel proud about a strong work ethic, but don't become a work martyr.

  • Plan your Vacation Days
As we mentioned in last week's blog, part of the fun is planning a vacation. It puts you in a good mood. Confirm your vacation days and schedule them. Bosses do believe in the benefits of vacationing too, and will appreciate you scheduling ahead of time and getting your vacation days on the calendar.

  • Show and Tell
When you get back from vacation, share with your coworkers how much fun you had and how good you feel. That way they will want to take their vacation too!

Managers Can Help 

Managers can improve the workplace culture by setting an example. They need to take their vacation time, encourage their employees to take their time off, give their employees the support they need when they take time off, and consider creating policies that more openly encourage employees to take vacation time.