Why I Love My Timeshare By Regina Maack

My memory of Four Seasons Fairways by Regina Maack, who has been visiting Four Seasons Fairways, in Portugal, for 20 years and owned at the resort for the past 12 years.

January 1995 was the first time I came to Portugal with my friend Helga.

I’ll never forget the first landing, when the plane flew above the blue Atlantic Ocean and we were landing in Faro.

The first impressions of Four Seasons Fairways were so overpowering.

Between the airport and Quinta do Lago, as we drove along the N125 in our rental car, I was surprised with the scenery I encountered.  The old house facades with their white walls, farms with orange groves, hills covered with vineyards, the ruins of the historic wells and the panorama of the farmhouse buildings themselves.

The holiday in Four Seasons Fairways was, for me, great luxury.  Villa 136 had three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large living room and a fully fitted kitchen and all this with a very elegant interior.

It was a pleasure, sometimes after sunbathing, just to jump in our own swimming pool on the terrace.

Like a small village, the club is built in the beautiful countryside with a great respect for nature. Security is around both day and night. We can enjoy our own fitness centre, a great indoor swimming pool and another one outside, always with an attentive pool attendant.

The kindness of the staff, from reception to the bar and restaurant, is excellent. In the background are the friendly women in the reservations office and the management, all taking care of our holiday arrangements.

All these people are very respectful with the guests, with members and among one another.

Twelve years ago my son and I bought the timeshare week from my friend Helga and we have been members ever since.  We return to Four Seasons Fairways in January and sometimes in November, with my sister-in-law and my children.  And each time we come back we feel we are coming home!

Four Seasons Fairways was built 25 years ago. It’s surrounded by golf courses and constructed in the pinewoods close to the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve where the Atlantic bathes its shores.  The shopping centre, which opened in Quinta, provides yet another area for everyone to enjoy a very relaxed life!

The majority of sporty members and guests at Fairways play golf, but there are lots of other things one can do: swim, stroll admiring the famous flora and fauna, go barefoot along the beach, maybe as far as to Praia de Faro or Praia do Ancão. Every morning before breakfast I walk through to Vilar do Golfe and the lake.

Today, I am 70 years old and hope I will continue to come for many years, escaping for some weeks the cold winter in Germany.

I finish this story with thanks to the management and I wish them good luck for Four Seasons Fairways in the future.

Resort In Focus: Diamond Club Calypso

Committee chairman Brian Hunsley at Diamond Club Calypso explains how an active committee, good management and providing a value for money product is helping them meet the challenges times faced by many well-established independent resorts.

The resort is situated in Puerto del Carmen and is only 50 metres from the main beachfront.  It has 40 timeshare apartments and 19 privately owned apartments.

The complex is low-rise and built around a large swimming pool.  The resort gardens are one of its best assets and the whole resort has a relaxed feel about it.

There is a children’s play area for younger guests and a volleyball court for older children.

The committee is very aware of the need for a successful sales operation.  As Calypso is a relatively small resort, the potential to sell on-site is driven by occupancy, and there is a high percentage of owners who use their own fixed weeks.

Traditionally, the resort has sold fixed unit and fixed weeks, but more recently they sold a fractional exit plan, which was successful. The committee is looking at developing more flexible and shorter-term products to better meet the requirements of today’s holidaymakers.

1 What is the history of Club Calypso?

The club was founded in the 1980s so we are a well-established independent resort. We have had periods of instability, but the owners have always been supportive and the club has remained a much-loved holiday favourite.

We are fortunate to be in a prime location, just a short walk from the beach front of Puerto del Carmen with easy access to a wide variety of shops, bars and restaurants. The local government is investing significant sums to make further improvements to Puerto del Carmen, which will only help to attract more visitors.

2 How has timeshare at your resort fared over the past five years?

We have faced the same challenges as most independent timeshare clubs; ageing member base, increasing number of re-possessed weeks, keeping maintenance fee levels relatively low while continuing to offer a great holiday experience.

In an effort to manage the rise in re-possessed weeks the committee   decided to consolidate and three timeshare apartments were sold in 2013.  The funds generated have been used to bolster the sinking fund and we are soon to embark on a full up-grade of all timeshare apartments.

The committee is very active and works closely with our management company, Resort Solutions Ltd, to ensure that we maximise revenue opportunities and have stringent budgeting processes in place.

3 How do you keep your product attractive while still making ownership financially viable?

We have continued to make improvements to the resort while still keeping the maintenance fees at a reasonable level. The weekly charge for a one-bed apartment is £368 and for the quality of accommodation and overall holiday experience we offer, we believe that this represents great value for money.

Owners and guests alike return to Calypso to enjoy a safe, caring, beautiful environment.  We regularly receive excellent feedback from RCI exchangers on the friendliness of the staff and the overall quality of the resort.

Rental revenue is vital for the club and we are successful with both U.K. campaigns run by RSL and local rental promotions to the ex-pat community who take up offers for visiting friends and family.

4 Have the holiday patterns of your owners changed over recent years and what is the impact on your resort?

The main changeover day in Lanzarote has always been Thursday. However, many low-cost carriers operate flights on other days, and these are often cheaper.  In order to accommodate owners we offer flexible check-in days when we have the availability. We also offer additional nightly rental rates for owners wishing to stay for durations other than the traditional week.

5 What are the key reasons for your success?

It’s the mix of a dedicated committee, professional management company, great staff, a well maintained resort and happy, loyal owners.

6 What sets you apart from your local hospitality competitors?

Calypso has good quality apartments, which are serviced to an excellent standard. Owners and guests know what to expect when they stay at the resort- there are no nasty surprises!

7 Do you offer a resale and rental programme?

Our rental programme is very successful and inventory is marketed locally by the resort and through RSL. We get lots of repeat bookings and owners rent additional weeks.

8 How do you fund and manage refurbishment?

We operate a sinking fund and have a major apartment upgrade programme scheduled for the end of year costing in the region of €200,000.

9 What are your plans for the future?

We have plans to establish a sales operation to reduce the club’s liability of re-possessed weeks. We also plan to develop and launch an exit programme for owners, refurbish all apartments and continue to invest in the resort to retain existing members and attract new ones.

10 As a resort, of what are you most proud?

We are particularly proud of the continual high standard of the resort and the pride that the on-site team has in their work. In particular, the gardens at Calypso are the envy of many resorts!

11 How important is your owners’ committee?

The committee is made up of five quite diverse individuals, who hopefully are a good representation of the overall member base.

We are active and work closely with our management company who ensure the smooth day-to-day running of the resort. With advice from RSL, the committee looks to agree the future strategy for the club to ensure its long-term viability. Our professional management company then implements our plans.

12 What do you think the future is for timeshare in general?

Timeshare has gone through a bad period, which has affected its image and desirability.  It is sad that much of the tarnished reputation has come from unethical sales tactics rather than the product, which today still remains attractive.

While we do need to offer flexible membership, the increasing uncertainty of today’s world brings an increasing desire for safe, trusted holiday destinations where you can meet up with familiar faces and form long-lasting friendships.

13 Why did you decide to join TATOC?

TATOC membership adds credibility and demonstrates that we consistently achieve the standards of a TATOC member resort.

The Cliffs At Peace Canyon: Resort Review

Sharetime’s regular resort reviewer shares his thoughts on The Cliffs at Peace Canyon in Las Vegas.

Many readers might wonder why they should consider a visit to the Las Vegas area on a timeshare exchange. Well, the first reason is obvious – for gambling in the numerous casinos on the strip and downtown.

However, while this may be the main reason why so many people come to Las Vegas, I have now visited twice – and for many different reasons.

One reason why people should consider visiting Las Vegas is for the top-rated shows by some of the world’s leading entertainers based at the casinos.

Then, there are some great shopping opportunities, the fantastic sights and free shows in and around the strip and the great weather, especially in the spring and autumn.

For me, however, the principle attraction for visiting Las Vegas is to take trips to places such as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.

The last two National Parks were visited on my last trip to Las Vegas and were booked through the timeshare resort with Sweet Tours.  What a superb day out it was for us – although tiring as it involved travelling about five hundred and sixty miles in one day with a 6-15am pick up from the resort.

As for our stay at The Cliffs at Peace Canyon, I would like to start by getting two negative comments out of the way.

First, this is one of those resorts where, after checking in, you are directed to a member of staff from guest services.

My fiancée and I had been travelling for about twelve hours so all I wanted to do was to get to my apartment and rest. However, we were subjected to the usual invitation to attend a free breakfast or lunch and then have a timeshare presentation to become an owner at the Grand View resort, in Las Vegas.

I had to say “no” several times before they understood that no meant no and we were then able to go to our unit.

The second negative was about the quality of the sun loungers, which were too firm and uncomfortable.

I hesitated in writing these two comments because in every other way this is one of my favourite resorts in RCI.

I first visited about twelve years ago. I liked it then and I like it even more now, as the units are spacious and comfortable.

I like the fact that both bedrooms in the two-bedroom unit are at the opposite end of the apartment, which gives more privacy for guests.

The units have their own washer and dryer, which is very convenient. I found our unit to be very quiet, but that depends who your neighbours are in any particular week.

The pool area is very pleasant with water tumbling into the water on either side of the pool. The pool has a maximum depth of just four feet, which is unusual, but not a problem for me.

I found all the staff to be friendly and helpful, especially the young members of staff at guest services as I had contact with them when booking my day trip to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.

The resort has an excellent computer room, which you can use at any time of day. This was particularly useful for printing boarding passes. There is also a fitness room, which to my shame, I never stepped in to; even to look at what equipment they have on offer.

I am not very comfortable driving on what I see as the wrong side of the road, so I try to avoid visiting timeshare resorts where a car is essential.

At this resort, a car is not essential as there is a free minibus service to a large supermarket, the ’strip’, which is about ten miles away, or to Fremont Street. This is an hourly operation leaving the resort from 10.00am with the last return pick up at 11.30pm.

I have often written reviews of timeshare resorts where there is very limited availability. This is not the case with the Cliffs at Peace Canyon as RCI has availability for most weeks over the next two years and at a reasonable exchange trading power.

There is a $25 charge at check-in for services such as Internet access (although for high speed internet there is a daily charge of $1.50).  While I don’t appreciate these extra charges, which are now quite common especially in California, this is far better than the thirty dollars a day daily charge at the Manhattan Club in New York.

I ask myself at the end of every timeshare vacation: would I go back?  The answer is ”yes” as the positives far outweigh the negatives at this lovely peaceful timeshare resort on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

Exclusive: Spotlight On Weholi – How To Make Your Unused Vacation Time Really Work For You

In this Sharetime web exclusive, we speak with Vivienne Sharman Lewis, business development manager for TATOC affiliate weholi about the company, the services it provides and how it can help TATOC member resorts.

1 Tell me about weholi and its product and services:

weholi was founded on a simple principle: timeshare owners should be empowered to pay for the vacation time they use and monetize the time they don’t. And, they should be able to do it online, in a safe, intuitive and transparent environment.

By combining a simple “share economy” model with a firm belief in consumer empowerment, weholi has developed a way to connect active vacationers with timeshare owners leveraging the opportunities these respective markets provide for each other.

Timeshare owners can turn their extra time into cash more easily in a secure and professional environment while active travellers that have never experienced a timeshare resort stay get easy access to unique resort vacation rentals around the world, with features they prefer that go far beyond a cheap hotel stay.

Their easy-to-use global platform offers a variety of vacation accommodations, including timeshare resorts, private residences, fractional ownership, serviced apartments and condominiums, and provides a much-needed outlet for owners of vacation properties who are looking to rent their properties to consumers, who are looking for the best of both worlds, managed resorts and luxury hotels, and with many additional membership benefits.

The company is strategically positioned to engage the next generation of vacation owners, offering a low-cost marketing channel that delivers new prospects to vacation properties at a fraction of the cost of traditional rental channels.

2 What can it offer timeshare owners today?

Timeshare owners are given a simple and intuitive interface to post their weeks for rent or sale and they can communicate directly with the potential renters and buyers in a secure environment.

weholi puts you, the timeshare owner in the driving seat, to allow you control over your own rentals, from setting the price, tracking inquiries and conduct bookings, to connecting directly and securely with your potential renters. There are no hidden costs, commissions or fees to pay, meaning you get 100% of the rental or sales fees, paid directly into your account.

Membership options are subject to the amount of time you wish to list to rent out:

Classic membership of £58.00pa to list one week
Premium Membership at £99.00pa to list three weeks
Platinum Membership at £144.00pa for up to 10 weeks
Professional membership packages, starting from 100 listings
Additional to the affordable memberships offered, weholi members take advantage of such benefits as vastly discounted holidays in luxury hotels and the best deals on flights, car hire and even cruises in our weTravel centre.

All of the above membership options include unlimited postings and the facility to rent and/or rent out, and sell, and/or buy timeshare properties. Member exclusive lifestyle benefits include nightly stay discounts, discounted cruises, car rentals and local activity discounts.

Premium and Platinum memberships also get a reporting tool for strategical analysis, to monitor the success of their listings, and Platinum members get the additional benefit of highlighted listings. Toll-free telephone support, concierge service, email support as well as 24/7 online chat support is available for your convenience to facilitate, educate and guide members of the online community in any way necessary.

3 You work closely with resort committees/HOA – how can you assist them?

Resort committees and HOA’s, especially on the more mature sold out resorts, are at the receiving end of their members problems and often complaints, e.g. inability to meet their maintenance payments, at the detriment of the maintenance of the resort, and so to the reduced satisfaction of other members, or the need for an exit strategy, especially for those older members with children, who are not keen to take over their parents ownership.
weholi has the products to help with both problem areas.

A weholi membership can certainly enhance a resort members satisfaction, and soften that blow when maintenance payments are due, by offering them access to travel and lifestyle benefits” such as weholi, that will offer a real rental, and/or sales facility, with no fee or commission charged, while also offering them the opportunity to have additional discounted holidays worldwide in luxury hotels.

Cruises: Access to all major cruise lines, with pictures, deck plans and itineraries to browse and book online.
Car Rental: Access to car rental companies 24/7 to complete your itinerary with the ability to compare all major supplier rates.
Nightly Hotel Stays: Access to over 80,000 hotels worldwide at members only pricing, of up to 60% discounts.
Airfare: Access to all major airlines when planning your trip. This airfare accessibility compares with major airline pricing with only one search.
Local Attractions and activities: weTravel offers you a huge variety of activities at the lowest prices for you, from jeep tours in the desert to dolphin experiences in the Caribbean.
4 Tell me more about the team behind weholi:

The company was launched by Nicole Wieting-Kälin and Thorsten Wieting, and is based at Pfäffikon near Zurich in Switzerland.

The vice presidents for sales and marketing are: Fermin Cruz in the USA, and Victor Garcia in Europe, with myself, Vivienne Sharman-Lewis for business development and promotion in the UK – and for support in Europe.

Members have the reassurance of their own highly innovative and impressive in-house IT team, while their help-line is always available for the majority, who do not feel confident using the internet.

5 Are timeshare owners fully protected under EU law?

Of course, weholi adheres to the TATOC Code of Conduct issued in August 2011 and the association’s code of ethics.

As an affiliate company with TATOC, we are thoroughly vetted beforehand and continually monitored. Further details of the code of conduct can be found on the Association’s website (www.tatoc.co.uk).

6 Why did you affiliate with TATOC?

As weholi offers an ethical service to timeshare owners, it totally identified with the values of TATOC, in protecting their members’ rights, and in helping them to enhance the value and pleasure in their ownership.

weholi offers products and services that will meet the needs of TATOC members, and so seeks only to work closely, in association with TATOC, to meet those members needs.

7 How do timeshare owners and HOA find out more?

I am your personal, friendly and very approachable representative for weholi, based here in the UK. So do not hesitate to contact me on sharman-lewis@weholi.com or on (0044) 7881756748.

Vivienne Sharman Lewis weholi

8 Vivienne, tell us a little about your background.

As a BA Hon.’s graduate, with a post graduate degree in further dducation, and with experience in lecturing and creating courses and training at colleges of FE, my love of travel and holiday ownership, which started in 2000, when I worked in sales and marketing for several timeshare companies in Tenerife, never really abated!

With a mad passion for the timeshare product, and the stunning resorts I worked on, I was always concerned for my guests satisfaction and particularly their after care, rising to top sales representative on my resort, and then to British line manager.

I also learnt, especially in the early days, the importance of honesty and transparency in the business, and when I was introduced to weholi, I realised I had found that missing link, that could, at last, bridge the gap that had been missing, total control for owners over their ownership, value for money, and a product that would put owners in the driving seat, to actually make their ownership work for them.

I later went on to work as a sales and marketing manager for several different companies, both in the UK and abroad, as well as in starting my own businesses in marketing, PR and events organising, as well as in selling real estate properties abroad, but I never lost my interest in travel and timeshare, with its ability to open up the world to all travellers, on all levels.

Vivienne Sharman-Lewis
Business Development Manager
sharman-lewis@weholi.com
(0044) 7881756748
www.weholi.com

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Timeshare Leads To More Frequent, Happier Holidays

One-third of timeshare owners took four or more vacations in the last three years, compared with only 18 per cent of non-owners. This is the major finding of a survey of more than 1,000 vacationers conducted for the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).

And vacationers who have taken more than four vacations in the past three years are more likely to be traveling with family and friends.

A recent cover story in Time Magazine asked ‘Who Killed the Summer Vacation? “Our answer has to be ‘it sure wasn’t the timeshare owner’,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA).

“Not only do timeshare owners vacation more, they also experience a happier, more relaxing vacation time, usually spent with their loved ones—which we all know is tough to come by with today’s hectic lifestyles.”

Happiness in a vacation can be measured through seven distinct vacation lifecycle phases, from planning the vacation to the first day all the way to the afterglow that the vacation leaves when it’s over. In each of the seven phases, timeshare owners expressed higher satisfaction than those who do not own a timeshare.

Nusbaum continues: “The ease of planning, spacious accommodation and the ability to choose resorts all over the world all lead to a better overall vacation experience for timeshare owners.”

When it comes to making plans for a future vacation, respondents were asked which aspect of vacation would be the most critical for them.

Forty-five per cent of timeshare owners cite “relaxation” as the most important. This relaxation comes from the ease of planning their vacation, knowing that it is pre-paid as well as the wide variety of destinations and the roomy accommodation.

Top 50 Resorts Of 2015

The team at Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket (WWTH) has cross referenced its top 50 best selling resorts with the latest winners of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and Traveller’s Choice awards for 2015.

The Certificate of Excellence is awarded to accommodation, restaurants and attractions that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor. The Traveller’s Choice award is given to the top 25 hotels in popular countries, with a sub category specifically for those resorts that excel at family holidays.

“It is a great way to gain a comparable and measurable insight into the overall quality of timeshare resorts and the satisfaction of guests. With almost 40,000 traveller ratings the data is certainly comprehensive too,” explained Roy Forsdick, commercial director.

Here’s a summary of their findings followed by a review of top areas:

  • Of WWTH’s list of top 50 selling resorts, 44 received a TripAdvisor award in 2015;
  • Ten resorts from the list now boast the prestigious Traveller’s Choice award confirming the quality and service provided by timeshare resorts; and
  • An ‘astounding’ 83 per cent of guests rated their stay at WWTH’s top 50 resorts as either excellent or very good.

Madeira
A favourite among timeshare owners with numerous top-quality resorts, the tiny Island of Madeira has six resorts in WWTH’s top 50 and all hold at least a Certificate of Excellence, with the Porto Mare Residence winning the coveted Traveller’s Choice award.

Gran Canaria
The island consolidated its position as one of the most popular holiday destinations. It saw an increase in the number of resorts in WWTH’s top 50 with a total of six – five of which had received Certificates of Excellence and one Traveller’s Choice for Club Gran Anfi.

The Algarve
Home to five of WWTH’s top 50, the Algarve receives very high satisfaction levels. Some 92 per cent of travellers rated their experience as either excellent or very good and three of the five in WWTH’s top 50 were Traveller’s Choice winners – Four Seasons Vilamoura, Four Seasons Fairways and Pine Cliffs.

Why I Love My Timeshare By Tracie Bushell

Tracie Bushell lives life to the full and uses her RCI membership to get the most for her family from timeshare ownership.

Platinum member Tracie bought a week at Holiday Inn Orange Lake – West Village in Orlando in 1996. Using her RCI membership, she has tailored her holidays to suit the changing needs of herself and her family.

“That first stay at Orange Lake really opened my eyes to how I could be holidaying, “ she says. “After hotels, the accommodation seemed luxurious and I really enjoyed the feeling of security.

“The early years were about my daughter Shellie. She loved the theme parks and the pools; I enjoyed the freedom to relax which you just don’t get in hotels.”

Tracie, from West London, has a full work schedule. Since buying timeshare she has enjoyed a variety of holidays – and more of them.

“Europe was my next adventure,” said Tracie, who now takes her mother Joan on holiday with her. “Mum and I found Ibiza to be a truly beautiful island and the Ses Fontanellas Plaza resort was very relaxing.”

Tenerife has a special place in their holiday hearts. “We have been back more times than I can count. We love The Regency Country Club Tenerife. The pool, the accommodation and guest areas are all amazing. The staff always remembers us and I consider them to be like family.”

Tracie and Joan have combed every inch of Tenerife during their visits. “We eat in the local restaurants, take in the views on Teide and listen – you literally can hear a pin drop.”

Last year Tracie, Joan, Shellie and her boyfriend, along with Tracie’s brother and his wife, took their first holiday as a complete family at The Villas at Chayofa.

“We had a huge villa with three bathrooms, our own private pool, a basement sauna and wine cellar. It was ideal for a family party and it was my membership that made it possible!”

“People just don’t realise what you can get out of RCI membership. I’m now looking at using exchange and RCI Extra Holidays for New Zealand and New York.”

“I absolutely love my holidays – they are worth putting in that bit of groundwork to get all the fabulous breaks I enjoy.”

Resort In Focus: The Lakeland Village

Located on the banks of the River Leven which flows directly from Lake Windermere and 15 minutes from Bowness, is The Lakeland Village. The club has just re-joined TATOC. 

Sharetime asked committee chairman Wally Francis and resort manager Richard Guzinski how the resort has fared during this challenging time for independent, legacy timeshare resorts in Europe.

Key facts

  • 47 properties divided into 22 one-bedroom, 23 two-bedroom and two three-bedroom units;
  • 1,363 fixed-week timeshare owners cared for by 11 full-time staff and approximately 40 casual/weekend staff; and
  • Facilities on site include a leisure club with 20-metre pool, whirlpool bath, sauna, steam room, squash court, fully equipped gym and Elemis Spa. There is a tennis court and children’s play area while the adjoining Whitewater Hotel offers bar and restaurant facilities with specific deals for our guests.

What is the history of The Lakeland Village?

The whole site was once a paper and cotton mill and in the 1900s was used to make ‘Ultramarine Blue’ – a laundry additive known as Dolly Blue. The timeshare resort opened in 1984 with the lease expiring in 2063.

How has timeshare at your resort fared over the past five years?

It is fair to say that we, like other resorts, have seen a change as our ownership gets older and for various reasons more and more owners have chosen to give up their weeks.

We see this situation as an opportunity rather than a challenge. As more weeks have come back into the ownership of the club, we can now be much more flexible about utilising available inventory.

How do you keep your product attractive while still making ownership financially viable?

We have a committed team who work hard to maintain the resort to a very high standard, as well as an annual programme of preventative maintenance.

We are also very proactive in offering all our guests added value, whether it be in the form of providing vital local information or partner benefits such as discounted access to major tourist attractions.

Why you think you have succeeded?

Success is a journey, not a destination. We have a lot of work to do in terms of meeting current demands such as the need to offer a flexible holiday alternative, but we are on the right path.

In terms of our offering we continue to maintain the whole site to a very high standard and encourage a pro-active approach in engaging our owners. We also have a knowledgeable, highly experienced and friendly team here.

Has the ‘U.K. staycation’ had an impact on your sales and rentals?

Yes it has. While we put a lot of energy into a successful rental programme, sales are, of course, on going as we are in one of the most attractive destinations in the U.K.  People visit Cumbria and the Lake District all year round, so we are very positive about the future.

What sets you apart from your local hospitality competitors?

Most of our local competitors are hotels. The self-catering option we offer allows people much more freedom – a home away from home in essence.

Our fabulous riverside location gives us an advantage over other similar resorts in The Lakes, and I believe we offer our guests greater value.

You have a resort website – how does this support your business?

We are about to undergo an overhaul of our website to meet the demands of tech-savvy holiday seekers. The site needs to reflect how we are changing as a holiday destination what people can expect when they stay with us.

Do you use TripAdvisor or any other forms of social media to promote your resort?

Yes, but not enough. People don’t seem to review ‘self catering’ as much as hotels – but we have to change this by encouraging all to post reviews. We need to make our Facebook page (TheLakelandVillage) much more proactive as a marketing tool – not just a social commentary toy.

How has the marketing and sales approach changed over the years?

A quick response is to say …it has had to. In more recent years, as the occupancy levels have slowed down, we have had to be more pro-active. Initially it was thought the gap could/would be filled with sales alone. We now know that a bigger percentage of our sales and marketing will be spent on attracting a higher proportion of rentals.

Do you offer a re-sale and rental programme to your owners – how does this work and is it successful?

Owners get first bite of any opportunities. Rather than publish detailed lists, we indicate availability in the welcome packs. We have had great success with some ‘owners only’ deals. These include heavily discounted ‘winter warmer’ weeks and another offer exclusive to owners where additional weeks can be rented for just the management fee instead of the listed rental price.

How do you market and sell any remaining weeks and promote the resort in general?

In the past we relied on internal efforts.. More recently we’ve e-blasts, reader offers in newspapers, through third parties such as Booking.com, and our own website. We are actively pursuing new areas for rentals and are going to launch a targeted sales campaign for the re-sale of weeks.

How do you fund and manage refurbishment at the resort?

Each year at budget time we set our replacement fund figure, which is based on historical activity and a wish list derived from unit/site inspections.

Part of this funding comes of course from the annual management fees. A separate figure is set-aside for the unknown, which basically covers repairs, breakdowns and so on.

What are your plans for the future?

We are very positive and will continue to remain flexible to take advantage of an increasing rental market. We are currently exploring new ideas to ensure that sales of weeks do not become a thing of the past.

One important step we soon have to take is to look at bringing superfast broadband to all our units.

As a resort what are you most proud of?

We still have a loyal customer base who enjoy coming back year after year – some more than once a year. Our standards of cleanliness and maintenance are always commented on, and the fact that we are now in our 32nd year of providing a unique holiday experience for all who choose to stay with us.

How important is your owners’ committee to your business activities?

Very important – most of the committee members, past and present, have owned here from the beginning, so they have a vested interest in making sure any decisions taken are in the best interests of the club.

What do you think the future is for timeshare in general?

We can’t get away from using THE word but maybe timeshare is no longer appropriate on its own. We believe that ‘timeshare’ resorts like ours will continue to exist, but the original concept has been/will be overtaken by a different animal.

That is because we all have to move with the times, and the world and those who live in it now want, indeed expect, a more exciting, last- minute, user friendly, book now arrive tomorrow experience.

Why did you decide to re-join TATOC?

The chairman of our owners club committee, Wally Francis, was invited to attend to the 2014 TATOC conference. He was hugely impressed and advised the committee that we should rejoin, which we did in autumn 2014. One of our previous committee chairmen was Peter Purdon, who was involved in setting up TATOC…

Confessions Of A Timeshare Sales Consultant

Sally Angel, sales consultant at The Osborne Club in Torquay for 30 years, shares her experiences at England’s oldest timeshare resort.

I didn’t believe in love at first sight until it happened. The moment I entered the main gates of Hesketh Crescent I was captivated by the most handsome Regency-style architecture in the Southwest.

I jumped at the opportunity to become a sales consultant. Not only was it England’s pioneering timeshare development, it was a retreat for the great Victorians Darwin, Brunel and Angela Burdett-Coutts.

The Victorians first used the term English Riviera to describe Torquay.

It remains a firm favourite with holidaymakers today and was recently voted the U.K.’s top seaside resort based on TripAdvisor reviews.

Our club members, exchange and rental guests agree. Last year, we proudly celebrated 35 years providing luxury holidays.

In the good old days, attracting prospective buyers was simple.

A small advertisement in a national newspaper always resulted in a wave of bookings in the adjacent Osborne Hotel and daily viewings from sunrise to sunset shared among a sales team.

We were confident in our product from the start and even self-imposed a 14-day rescission period long before it became E.U. law.

There were no gimmicks – just a nice cup of tea and no obligations. We still achieved an industry-high conversion rate of one completed sale from three visits, and the satisfaction of holiday dreams being fulfilled for decades to come.

However, here’s my confession. I became jealous.  Our guests were enjoying the irresistible charms of The Osborne just a little too much.  I had to do something about it.

So, although living just down the road, I became an owner and, mad as it may sound, disguised in sunglasses and straw hat sneaked in for my annual holidays.

Today, I’m the sole surviving sales consultant and grateful for the many referrals our owners have provided.

However, we share some of the challenges other shared-ownership developments now face.

We’re delighted when owners pass apartments on to their family although others, sadly, need to re-sell.  This has created a buyer’s market with some lovely apartments available at fantastic prices.

Recognising changes in holiday trends, we’ve launched HOLIDAY 5 – a five-year membership option for a selected number of apartment weeks.

We haven’t advertised for a long time, but with a refurbishment programme underway, including free Wi-Fi in every apartment, we’re about to start again.

We’re not sure if placing a small advertisement to promote the timeless delights of The Osborne will work today – but maybe a few ‘tweets’ might – fingers are poised!

I always warn potential buyers that owning a week at The Osborne will pose some major questions.

Will they have a lazy day reading their Kindle while supping a glass of Pinot Grigio on the terrace or will they pack a picnic and head out to beautiful Dartmoor?

Or will they take a stroll along the waterfront licking a delicious Devon honeycomb ice cream or challenge the kids to a game of tennis?

The only possible drawback to owning at The Osborne that I can think of is that you might not get a strong mobile phone signal.. But here’s a final confession – that’s all part of the master plan to ease our guests into a relaxed, holiday mode.

In the meantime our gardener’s planting seeds for flower boxes along the crescent in readiness for this year’s Torbay in Bloom competition and paddleboards are being polished for the spring tides so the honeymoon may continue.

TATOC & RDO Seminar 2 – A Review

“The joint TATOC and RDO seminar was only meant to be for one year. But we’re back as there is still much to discuss.”

So said Harry Taylor, TATOC executive chairman, as he welcomed guests to the second joint industry and consumer event.

Geoff Chapman, TATOC director, set the scene with a summary of TATOC’s recent activities including its involvement in the review of the European timeshare directive. A report is expected later this year.

“We believe it will recommend a mix of amendments, better use of regulations and working with consumers and the industry.”

There has been considerable interest in exit strategies from consumers, media and government.

“Any strategy must be carefully managed with a clear policy, criteria and conditions. Of course the answer to exit is entrance, but we know it is not just that simple.”

Chapman told delegates how TATOC had been reported to the Citizens Advice Bureau. However, rather than damaging the relationship, it had been re-affirmed.

The TATOC team is also working with Trading Standards to achieve clarification on the current regulations in the European directive.

“TATOC often gets stick for sleeping with the industry,” began Paul Gardner Bougaard, from the Resort Development Organisation (RDO).

“Yet those who criticise do not understand the relationship and why the two bodies need to work together”.

Over the past twelve months, TATOC and the RDO have worked closely on bogus claims companies, exit strategies and the enforcement of the directive.

The TATOC Consumer Helpline with the Timeshare Task Force have enjoyed success against some of the leading scam companies.

“But while we have success it is proving very hard to get the authorities to act mainly because of the cost of prosecution”.

Eugene Miskelly, from the RDO’s Legislative Council, told delegates how the organisation was tackling bogus claims companies.

Owners are hoodwinked into expensive court cases or buying new non-timeshare products, while the original ownership is never transferred.

“Don’t panic or be bullied by them and push back with as much information as possible. Be polite but also pedantic and demand copies of the evidence,” he advised delegates.

He suggested resorts ask themselves if there was a grain of truth to the claim and could they make it easier for owners to exit their contracts.

“It might be time to introduce a more flexible solution which will help owners and stop them turning to the claims firms in the first place. It will certainly pull the rug out from under the claims companies.”

Flagship’s Jackie Murphy spoke on promoting the positive side of timeshare and bringing the focus back to holidays.

Murphy explained how the holiday environment had changed. People no longer just want accommodation – they were looking for experiences.

With the growth of the new sharing economy, it was time for the RDO and the industry to get behind a new campaign promoting timeshare.

Introducing the new campaign – Time To Share – Murphy explained the aim was to counter the negativity towards timeshare and build a movement that promotes the positives.

“We will focus on the importance of holidays to the well being of families and show how timeshare’s inherent characteristics are perfect for today’s family.”

The plan is to create a visual brand that spans multi-generations and media. It will create content covering video to blogging, galvanising developers and owners to get involved.

Tony Rhodes, from Club Olympus in Tenerife, explained how a mature resort must adapt to survive.

After intensive sales in the early days with 75-100 new owners per week, things changed as the resort matured.

“Owners loved the resort but due to personal circumstances sometimes had to sell. We set up a re-sale service but failed and many owners were fleeced by third party re-sale agents.”

A ´lightbulb´ moment led to the development of a new programme for owners who had hit financial problems.

The result was happy owners who could still enjoy their timeshare when circumstances changed – and a drop in re-sale scams.

Other changes were re-configuring units to meet the demands of owners, reducing the size of the club and taking advantage of rental opportunities.

“We have reduced the size of the club by two thirds but now have a nucleus of happy owners and a successful rental business.”

All Inclusive Holidays – Good For Tourists, Not So Good For Locals

According to a survey by charity Tourism Concern of over 1,700 holidaymakers the majority (55 per cent) thought the shift towards all-inclusive holidays a negative development.

Almost 70 per cent of the 1,750 responders had been on an all-inclusive holiday. However, the majority believed that while tourists benefited from all-inclusive holidays, they thought local communities were made worse.

Nonetheless, 42 per cent of the survey sample is likely to go on an all-inclusive holiday in the next two years.

Mark Watson, executive director at Tourism Concern stated, “It is clear that, while there is continuing demand for the all-inclusive model, there is also an increasing awareness of the model’s negative impacts, even among those who enjoy the all-inclusive experience.”

Resorts Best Run In ‘True Partner’ Style

Owner committees are elected by their peers to represent the best interests of all owners and determine the club’s overall strategy. The sheer complexity of club operations, however, means a third party professional management company often becomes a valued ally in this.

To function at its most effective, this relationship has to be founded on excellent communication and close co-operation.

“We are actively involved in the day-to-day operations and management of the Club on behalf of the elected committee. We partake in committee meetings, disseminating information and following through on the agreed strategy as directed by the committee,” says Vicky Du Bois-Sandy, account manager at Resort Solutions.

The management company supports committees by providing a raft of essential business services to include detailed fiscal and administrative support.

Owners who wish to be directly involved in the running of their resort are recommended to stand for election to the committee.

In My View With Robin Mills

Mills, managing director of the points-based holiday programme Aroma, will be celebrating 30 years in the industry in 2015. His experience includes working with timeshare exchange organisation Interval International through to his work with the industry’s trade association, the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) – with much more in between. Sharetime magazine spoke with Robin to find out his views on the future of the timeshare industry.

What is your background in the timeshare industry and what experience have you gained during that time?

I joined the industry in 1985 just as so many others at that time, by pure accident!

I cut my teeth in the Algarve working with one of my greatest mentors, Jorge D’Almeida. It was mental but very enjoyable. We had hundreds of OPC’s in fleets of vans and were selling predominantly to Portuguese nationals backed, financed and marketed by two of Portugal’s main high street banks.

Some years later I went on to set up Interval International’s Portuguese operation. From there I went on to assume varying positions within Interval International based from the U.K. but operating across the European marketplace, culminating as group sales director.

Interval was a tremendous training ground for me in all aspects of the industry. Throughout my time there I was lucky enough to work on a global basis with the industry’s best, many of whom went on to be personal friends and still are.

It was here that an appreciation of the consumer’s needs in product development really started to feature in my thought process.

After my time at Interval International, I went on to develop a points scheme for RMI called Infiniti. I subsequently managed the merger of RMI with Jack Petchey’s Portuguese operation after he had acquired RMI to create Petchey Leisure.

Petchey Leisure was eventually sold to the MGM Group. Since then I have worked with Club Leisure Group to develop a European operation on their behalf.

Club Leisure Group (CLG) is one of the world’s leading property management companies, overseeing the affairs of 20 points clubs, including two which service the South African government.

I am working to promote our resort management company First Resorts expanding their extensive portfolio into Europe, starting with the acquisition of Brockwood Hall near the U.K.’s Lake District.

First Resorts currently manages 54 resorts in South Africa. In addition, Club Leisure Group has developed Aroma, a unique European-based points scheme, based loosely on their successful South African model, which offers  greater flexibility than any other vacation product on the market.

Further, I hold several key positions within the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), the European trade body. I do feel that my years of experience in the industry give me the ability to contribute positively as a ‘navigator’ to the differing directions we are certainly going to head in the coming years.

What significant changes have there been over the years for consumers and the industry?

From a developer/industry perspective, we have transgressed from a fixed week, fixed unit product to varying forms of floating week and then into points products.

A number of developers are now promoting a fractional product based on weeks, albeit with points as currency for usage.

I cannot help but feel that we really have not changed our offering anywhere near to the extent that we should have over the years to stay up-to-date with our clients’ rapidly changing requirements. The industry is not offering products for a new, far more diverse client base.

I am certain we over-complicated points programmes initially to give the perception of tremendous change from the existing product.

We also tried to build far too much into the product, when in reality the inner core was very much more of the same thing.

Take as an analogy the mobile or cell phone. The average consumer utilises only 20 per cent of a smart phone’s functionality.

We should learn from this and offer a product that the majority of our clients will use, keeping it as simple and transparent as possible.

From a consumers’ perspective I feel that only in recent years have they started to become as pro-active as they could and also should.

With TATOC to help, they have the opportunity to take the product and the industry to the next level.

What has been the good and bad in your experience?

I do not want to spend time on the bad. It has been more than adequately documented over the years and  cannot  contribute   to   our going forward.

What is good is that we are all still here after many good years combined with some very turbulent times.

We have tremendous opportunities as both developers and consumers together to create a future far, far brighter than our past.

We need to get on with the job in hand as the task is enormous and we have a lot to do if we are to leave a positive and exciting legacy for the next generation.

Can the industry reverse the poor perception of timeshare in certain sections of the media?

Interesting wording in this question – “in certain section of the media.”

Indeed, certain sections of the media do not want to ever have their perceptions changed, whatever we do.    We need to appreciate this and move on.

We must work together with the media as a whole and on all platforms and levels. We need positive campaigns with clear achievable objectives.

We have a fun product – and we should be championing this to all ages.   We will make changes to keep us ahead of the game and our product competitive within the mainstream leisure and tourism sector.

Is there a market for existing owners to sell their weeks and points?

Until we change the perception of our product offering as well as of the industry as a whole, I am sorry to say that this is not viable.

Ours is a product that is still in the main sold and not bought. Once we are able to reverse that, then most certainly there will be a re-sale/secondary market.

Again, at the risk of becoming monotonous, we will only achieve this by all stakeholders working as a team and pulling in the same direction to achieve a common set of objectives.

What is the likelihood of new products being introduced to existing owners and products to improve the experience of long standing owners?

There certainly will be. New offerings have already started. But they do need to go much deeper and change considerably in order to appeal to a far broader range of consumer.

Finally, everyone appears to be of the same opinion that change is essential as well as being integral to a strong future. Therefore, by default, the experience of long-standing existing members will be improved.

We all need to deal with the two ‘elephants in the room’ – exit and re-sale.

It is imperative that in the very near future we come up with a strong and manageable exit policy that both works and is fair to all parties.

Some progress has been made during recent months. However, there is still some considerable way to go and movement in certain positions is urgently required in differing areas.

With your crystal ball, tell us what you see for the timeshare industry and buyers in the next five years?

I hope what I see matches what I wish for all of us..

Over the next five years, which is not that long a period, I would like to think that we can develop further a flexible, dynamic industry that is in a position to meet the ever-changing requirements of our existing clients – as well as attracting many new.

As for management fees, I feel charges will evolve in the coming years to be more biased towards usage as opposed to being purely fixed.

I feel there will be continued consolidation of our existing business, which will assist in resolving some of the on-going problems of our legacy resorts. It is essential that we do not just leave them to hang out and dry.

Again this needs a joint initiative with the industry and consumers.

I do feel that resolving the exit issue will go quite some way to paving the way for creating a re-sale solution. We have been an industry of innovators over the years. We must not lose sight of that element.

But we need to work hand in hand with consumers while utilising innovation to achieve a more certain, brighter future.

A Review Of Langdale Resort In The Lake District

Regular Sharetime reviewer and timeshare owner Stephen Burton shares his thoughts on Langdale, a TATOC member resort, located in the Lake District.

Langdale was one of the earliest timeshare resort developments in the U.K and it’s my guess that, if there was ever a vote to decide the best resort in the country, Langdale would be voted best of all.

It comprises four resorts that are affiliated with RCI. They include Langdale, Chapel Stile Apartments at Langdale, Elterwater Hall at Langdale and Aroma at Langdale.

I have stayed on five separate occasions at this resort: four times at the main Langdale development and once at Elterwater Hall at Langdale.

Unlike others that have a significant number of units for re-sale, often at almost give away prices, Landgale has only a limited number of weeks available.

Indeed, many owners often enjoy a profit from the re-sale of their weeks – which is far from a common occurrence in other timeshare developments.

A principal reason for this situation is the location of the resort. Many of the lodges overlook a tarn (small lake) or are located by the side of a fast running beck (stream).

The other reasons are the high standard of the lodges and apartments and the superb on-site swimming pool and spa.

While I have not stayed at Chapel Stile Apartments, I am familiar with its location, just a few hundred yards from the main resort.

It is in the same building as Wainwrights Pub, named after famous fell walker and guidebook author, the late Alfred Wainwright.

The local Co-op convenience store is located just a few yards from these apartments, making it a very convenient location for shopping for groceries.

There are ten apartments at Chapel Stile and my understanding is that they are of the same high standard as the lodges at the main Langdale development.

I have stayed once at Elterwater Hall at Langdale. There are several apartments located in a large converted property just a couple of minute’ walk from the main development.

The apartment I stayed in was superb and had a sunken ‘Roman-style’ bath. It rates as possibly the finest timeshare apartment that I have stayed in during my 34 years of timeshare ownership.

Langdale is located in Cumbria, in the Lake District – the wettest part of England. Average annual rainfall is over seventy inches. In fact there are around two hundred days each year when rain falls for part of the day.

On average there are 145 dry days and 20 days when it will snow.

Many people come here for the walking opportunities. If, like myself, you prefer a fairly flat walk, then a walk by the river to Chesters tearoom is to be recommended.

If you like hill walking then those up Scafell Pikes, Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Langdale Pikes are popular. I particularly like the walk around Tarn Howes, which is scenic and not too difficult in terms of hill walking.

There are two pubs located close to Langdale. The Brittania Inn is just yards from the rear entrance to the resort. This pub serves great fish and chips. The other pub is Wainwrights.

I guess it’s a matter of personal choice as to which of the nearby towns and villages are best to visit.

My personal favourite is Grasmere, a charming village right in the heart of the Lake District National Park.

It was once the home of the world famous poet William Wordsworth, and it’s possible to visit two of his former homes –  Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount.

Other places of interest worth a visit are Ambleside, Windermere, Hawkshead, Bowness, Coniston, and Keswick. The last three are located by Lakes Windermere, Coniston and Derwent Water.

The famous author Beatrix Potter lived in the Lake District for a lengthy period of her life. Much of her estate is now run by the National Trust, which worked hard to keep the Lake District as a National Park.

One last point I should mention is that this resort is in high demand from RCI members all year round.

If you plan to visit, it’s important you put in an on-going search as early as possible to give yourself a reasonable chance of an exchange confirmation for this highly sought-after timeshare resort.

Timeshare – Change Or Be Challenged

Vacation ownership was founded to create better ways for the public to enjoy their leisure time – “but as resorts, recreational amenities and owners age, we have fallen behind in delivering on that promise.”

So said Jon Zwickel, president of the Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA), at the organisation’s recent conference.

He argued that industry leaders couldn’t be content with simply staying the course and following trends:  They needed to step up their game by setting the course.

Listing the broad and diverse range of industry stakeholders including HOAs, re-sellers, developers, suppliers and exchange, rental and management companies, Zwickel acknowledged that everyone’s interests “are not always aligned.”

This must change to an atmosphere of co-operation, Zwickel told delegates

“If we do, the opportunity will exist to pool our collective resources and adopt vibrant, inspired, responsive programmes.”

Opportunities to consider included:

  • Defining standards for resorts and committing to maintenance programmes that support higher standards;
  • Renewing resorts with capital expenditure that is responsive to markets;
  • Exploring ways to provide unique, authentic, fun vacation experiences;
  • Creating products that appeal to the diversity of the market;
  • Refreshing sales methods to encourage the next generation of vacation owners;
  • Establishing exchange opportunities that promote owner engagement; and
  • Respecting the environment along with the local community.

“I am constantly reminded,” he said, ”that even though the scope of our industry is global, the challenges we face and the solutions we find can be shared. I believe that if we reset our compass and re-focus on the early vision of our industry founders, we will keep owners engaged, support re-sale values and attract new buyers.”

CRDA works with both TATOC in Europe and the National Timeshare Owners Association in the U.S.A. and shares a commitment to working with both developers and owners to improve the industry.

Millennials Changing Travel

Happy friends standing against white background

The millennial generation is travelling. The United Nations estimates that 20 per cent of all today´s international tourists were born between 1980 and the early 2000s. This translates to 200 million travellers.

Younger travellers, it says, are looking for new types of travel. Timeshare resorts with weeks available for sale and rental need to know more about them.

1. They’re committed to travel. According to a survey published by Expedia, those 30 and under report taking an average of 4.2 leisure trips a year, more than any other age group.

2. They don’t visit destinations. They experience places. Younger travellers are less interested in “the traditional sun, sea and sand holidays” than previous generations.

3. They don’t place as much value on ownership. Millennials place more value on access than on whole ownership. This could contribute to the surge in their purchasing timeshare, which offers access to a resort without the full investment of a second home.

4. They do their research. Before making a purchase, nearly three-fourths of millennials research the product on-line.  According to the American Resort Development Association, 42 per cent of new timeshare owners experienced the product first-hand by renting before making the purchase.

5. They’re mobile. Younger groups are more likely to book and research their travel on-line and through mobile devices. Only 18 per cent of those under 30 have not used a smartphone for travel, according to an Expedia survey.

The Top Timeshare Resorts For Disabled Travellers

The team at Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket has examined the importance of providing accommodation and services for disabled guests visiting resorts. Their top selection in the U.K, Tenerife and Spain is outlined here.

For many of us, choosing our next holiday is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. However, families who have to consider a loved one’s disabilities before travelling, can find the process far from straightforward.

Holiday ownership should be a great option for those looking for peace of mind that their selected accommodation will be well suited to their needs.  But this is not always the case.

Many resorts have not adapted their accommodation and facilities to meet certain requirements. They simply do not provide services and facilities for people with disabilities.

Diamond Resorts International is committed to providing top class holiday experiences for members, owners and guests and makes a conscious effort to provide disabled guests with adapted accommodation and facilities.

An Auxiliary Accessories Catalogue is now available, offering important items for different impairments, including mobility, hearing and visual needs.

Common areas within the resort are regularly up-graded with ramps, non-slippery floors and special parking facilities available in front of the adapted accommodation and by reception.

All Diamond team members have also carried out accessibility training and ambassadors have been appointed to personally take care of guests’ requests.

Below are four Gold Crown resorts from Diamond’s portfolio. All boast swimming pool hoists on internal or external pools. There is dedicated accommodation with adapted bathrooms and a range of facilities inside the accommodation to make holidays as seamless and relaxing as possible.

Woodford Bridge Country Club, Devon, England

As an old coaching inn from the 15th century, Woodford Bridge Country Club, in south-west England, gives travellers with disabilities an excellent choice of one- and two-bedroom lodges, each with its own private parking bay.

Ground floor lodges come with spacious patios so guests can easily take in the beautiful surroundings of the Devonshire Countryside.

The resort has a heated indoor pool and an easily accessible bistro serving up first-class menus.

The Big Sheep Theme Park has a full programme of year—round entertainment with great accessibility.

South of the resort is the must-see Eden Project, awarded TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence 2014, which is also easily accessible for all.

Pine Lake Resort, Lancashire, England

Offering stunning lakeside views and a beautiful backdrop of mountainous terrain, Pine Lake Resort has a selection of studio and two-bedroom ‘Scandinavian-style lodges in the heart of the English Lake District.

The leisure centre has an indoor pool and spa with a pool hoist. Two parking bays are available directly outside the entrance and there’s an adapted changing area. A team member is also on duty for assistance during opening hours.

The towns of Carnforth, Lancaster and Morecambe are all accessible and have disabled toilet facilities. A brief drive north takes travellers to Grizedale Forest, which offers a wide array of family activities with easily accessible trails and the only remaining indigenous woodland herd of red deer.

Sahara Sunset, Malaga, Spain

Moorish inspired architecture is a distinctive feature of Sahara Sunset, a year-round resort providing guests with disabilities a choice of one- and two-bedroom apartments from which to enjoy Spain’s sunshine coast and sandy beaches.

In addition to three easily accessible swimming pools, the Santa Ana Beach, only a stone’s throw from the resort, has been adapted with wheelchair accessible ramps and specially adapted buggies available to take guests with special needs right to the water’s edge.

The resort’s Casbah Café provides guests with casual meals on the terrace, while the on-site dining facility is complimented by  team members providing hours of entertainment.

Santa Barbara Golf and Ocean Club, Golf Del Sur, Tenerife

Nestling on the southern coast of Tenerife, Santa Barbara Golf and Ocean Club offers one- and two-bedroom adapted apartments overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Apartments provide ramped access, grab rails in bathrooms and a wet room. The spacious ocean-facing swimming pool is easily accessible   while live entertainment and local cuisine can be enjoyed at the Ocean Lounge & Restaurant.

The local commercial centre is wheelchair accessible with shops, restaurants and bars.  The market stalls of Los Cristianos to the west are easily accessible while Las Vistas Beach has superb support for visitors with mobility impairments.

For more information on Diamond Resorts International, please visit www.diamondresorts.co.uk. To find out more about other resorts well suited for those with disabilities, visit www.timeshare-hypermarket.com/blog.

ARDA Survey Identifies Today’s New Timeshare Owner

New U.S. timeshare owners are younger, have higher incomes than current owners and represent a more culturally diverse cross-section of households.

According to the newly released Shared Vacation Ownership Study from the ARDA International Foundation (AIF), the timeshare industry has returned to growth mode. In part this is due to the influx of a new type of owner — one that will help to continue the trajectory of the industry.

AIF says these new owners are younger, have higher incomes than current owners and represent a more culturally diverse cross-section of U.S. households.

“We’re excited not only about the fact that sales are up in our industry but also about why they are up,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA.

“While existing owners continue to enjoy the lifestyle and purchase more timeshare, it’s the new owners who are responsible for the majority of qualified new sales.”

The study reports that the profile of new owners has changed. They are nearly ten years younger than typical timeshare owners. Thirty-nine per cent are ‘Gen Xers’ and thirty per cent are millennials, with the median age of thirty-nine.

Forty-two per cent are African American or Hispanic. They are also highly educated, with seventy-two per cent being college graduates and twenty-three per cent of these having graduate degrees.

Their median household income is $94,800 and they have plenty of disposable income — forty-seven per cent of new owners made just a single payment to cover their purchase and fifty-seven per cent spent $10,000 or more on their timeshare.

In terms of financial commitment, the new timeshare owner values the long-term vacation savings and flexibility timeshare provides: thirty-six per cent purchased timeshare to save money on future vacations and thirty-one per cent bought for the flexibility the product offers.

The new owners are also savvy consumers, with seventy-five per cent having had some form of interaction with a timeshare resort before purchasing.

Forty-four per cent initially stayed at the resort where they bought as a guest of another owner and forty-two per cent experienced timeshare vacations through renting first. Thirty-five per cent attended multiple sales presentations before buying.

Overall ownership has increased: U.S. households that own a timeshare rose from 7.2 per cent in 2012 to 7.9 per cent today, with the purchase price having risen to an average of nearly $20,000.

Among overall timeshare owners, timeshare vacations are fairly evenly spread between summer, autumn and spring and forty per cent are as likely to travel under 500 miles as they are to travel 1,000 miles or more (43 per cent).

Seventy-five per cent of owners vacationed at a timeshare resort while sixteen per cent converted their timeshare to a different type of vacation or vacation-related purchase (cruises, airline tickets, car rentals, hotel stays and so on).

RDO 2014 Report – Stronger Together

Nikkie De Waal, director of operations and finance for the Resort Development Organisation (the association of resort owners) outlines highlights of the recent RDO5 conference held in London.

This year’s conference of the Resort Developers Organisation (RDO) saw representatives from the timeshare and hospitality industry gather at the Pestana Chelsea Bridge Hotel in London, for two days of presentations and panel discussions.

Brand consultant BJ Cunningham, visiting professor at Brighton University, kick-started the conference with a highly entertaining and engaging session about ‘the power of telling the truth’. A brand is not a logo, he said. It is a promise and the key is to be who you really are.

This year’s moderator Geoff Grout, a business consultant specialising in leadership, team building and peak performance, led a session on success and told delegates that success was a decision, reached by setting goals, planning and commitment.

Keys to success were providing direction, teamwork, communication and the ability to change: the difficulty was not developing new ideas but escaping old ones.

Delegates were told that good, consistent and genuine customer service would result in guest satisfaction and drive positive on-line reviews.

Jules Murray, director from Spider on the Wall Ltd., and Peter Hales, managing director of Michels and Taylor’s managed hotel division, looked at how service levels in the timeshare industry compared with those in the hotel industry.

Delegates were advised on how to create a great guest experience by training staff to truly engage with customers.

Michael Levie, founding partner of CitizenM Hotels, argued that the personalised customer service offered by some organisations is often scripted and feels fake; he encouraged delegates to ‘humanise’ their customer service and be genuine and friendly.

Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and partner of TomorrowToday Global, presented a session titled ‘Mind the Gap.  He highlighted the necessity to understand how each generation’s value systems are developed.

He stressed how these influence attitudes and behaviours and how understanding the impact of different generations can improve customer relationships, communications, recruitment and team dynamics.

Louse Pentland, fashion and beauty internet communicator, talked about the YouTube generation and her own ‘Sprinkle of Glitter’ brand, sharing an insight into ‘bloggers’.  She explained how to engage with the different generations and her highly amusing and frank assessment demonstrated how much has changed in social media and how the current 20/30 ‘somethings’ are thinking about products.

Futurist and global influencer, Gerd Leonhard closed the conference sessions with a thought-provoking look at digital transformation and how it will shape the hospitality, travel, and timeshare industries in the next five years.

Digital is the norm, he said, and everything that can become software is being ‘digitised’. Added values become an important reason to buy; trust is the only currency that really matters.

The conference also tackled key issues affecting the industry. The risks posed by claims companies and the new regulations for credit lending in the U.K. imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA),  were the focus of a breakout session.

The final panel discussion at RDO5 brought the conference theme ‘Stronger Together’ to life as representatives from RDO, TATOC and ARDA discussed how to find common ground even if they sometimes have different opinions.

“Just like an old married couple,” said TATOC executive chairman Harry Taylor.

Robin Mills, head of the RDO conference working group, said: “Feedback from those attending RDO5 has been extremely positive, and I believe that we delivered a diverse range of speakers, who gave delegates plenty to think about.”

Added Harry Taylor of TATOC: “For me the take-away from RDO5 was that the industry is rapidly changing. We are realising that we need to be in partnership and recognise the needs of consumers much more.

“We have moved forward a lot in the past few years… I guess that’s called survival!.”

The RDO6 2015 conference will take place from September 17-19 at the Don Carlos Leisure Resort & Spa in Marbella.

On-Line Timeshare Sales – Is It Just A Dream?

Can timeshare be sold on-line? It’s already happening says Wesley Kogelman, CEO of timeshare re-sale and rental company BuyaTimeshare.com.

Technology is a concept that can mean different things to different people. Some of us thought using a fax machine was a major technological achievement. The technology of today can make your head spin.

Stunning advancements in technology have shown some in the timeshare industry trying to figure out how to leverage today’s tech tools and sell timeshare products and programmes to a new, younger audience.

What amazes me is that there is still debate within the industry as to whether the product can even be sold through websites and using devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

People who have built their careers selling the product still speak at conferences saying that timeshare is not sought out by consumers but must be sold, indirectly challenging the concept of on-line timeshare sales.

I’m here to say that timeshare transactions are taking place on-line and I have the statistics to prove it.

Talking timeshare on-line

Prospective buyers are using the internet every day to search for information about the timeshare product.

According to Google, people enter about 129,000 searches per month into their search engines using three terms with buyer intent – 74,000 searches for ‘timeshares for sale’, 33,000 searches for ‘timeshare re-sales’ and 22,000 searches for ‘buy timeshare.

These are people who have a desire to find out more about timeshares with intent to purchase.  No one searches  ‘buy timeshare’ or for ‘timeshares for sale’ without having an intent to buy.”

The concept of on-line marketing of the timeshare product is how I have based my business model, and for nearly 15 years we have seen prospective buyers and renters interact with timeshare owners to purchase or rent their product.

In 2013 alone, we saw 13,365 purchase offers made on timeshares advertised on our website at an average of just over $6,100 per offer. We post the timeshares that sold on our website once we receive documentation that the sale has closed.

Industry support

This on-line development is an industry trend. In 2012, the American Resort Development Association released the Shared Vacation Ownership Owners Report through its research arm.

The report stated that the percentage of timeshare sales in the U.S. that came from re-sales grew from 17 per cent in 2010 to 32 per cent in 2012, a staggering growth in just two years.

But the more pertinent information to this discussion is that the most popular re-sale channel used by consumers was an ‘online timeshare re-sale listing company.’

The global economic downturn, which began in 2008, had an impact on the growth of the re-sales as consumers became more price-conscious.

But this does not fully explain the continued momentum we see as buyers and renters use the web to interact with owners looking to sell and rent.

Even the major brands are recognising this. Marriott Vacation Club, for example, has recently launched a re-sale page on its website in an effort to tap into the growing on-line demand for timeshare.

On-line acceptance

As Christmas approaches, millions of U.K. residents will use the internet to do their holiday shopping. Last December, on-line trading in the U.K. for non-food purchases grew 16.5 per cent from the previous year.

With such an acceptance of buying products on-line, is it such a stretch to think that consumers would use the internet to research, and ultimately buy, a timeshare? I think it’s a natural progression and one that is only going to grow over time.

 

Resort Focus: Monte Carvoeiro

It is a sad fact that many resorts in Europe are running into financial difficulties – with some going into administration. However, not all cases are the same and, as the experiences of the owners at Monte Carvoeiro show, with determination, time and effort, it is possible to reach a successful operating conclusion.

Algarve-based Monte Carvoeiro is located on a cliff top just outside the small town of Carvoeiro and about 55kms from the airport in Faro.

The resort’s story begins in the early 1970s when a Swiss family built a luxury villa on the plot. Over the next few years, other villas were built and the development known as the Carvoeiro Club Villas was established.

In the 1980s, based on it earlier success, the same Swiss family bought other plots of land in the Carvoeiro area. Included in this was a large tract of land situated on the hillside overlooking the Carvoeiro village.  This became the location of the Monte Carvoeiro resort.

Resort construction began in 1983 and was completed in 1985 with timeshare sales beginning before completion in 1984. The developer decided at this time to split the resort so 50 per cent of the units were sold as timeshare while the remaining units sold as freehold.

The timeshare comprised 20 two-bedroom and 19 one-bedroom units. The resort was styled as a typical southern Portuguese village with an attractive central square complete with fountain and pool.

Sales were a great success and by 1989 over 80 per cent of the stock had been sold. Management was undertaken by a subsidiary of the developer and no committee was formed.

Problems began in late 1990 when the developer experienced financial difficulties and by 1991 many of the resort staff had been dismissed. The owners made contact with the resort’s trustee company who were keen to get involved.

Additional problems arose when the bank foreclosed on their loans and took ownership of the unsold inventory at Monte Carvoeiro and its sister resort Palm Gardens.

Management Fees Collection: Achieving Results By Knowing The Industry

CBC International and Resort Recoveries director Roy Caligari shares his thoughts on collecting outstanding management fees.

It’s the time of year again when the collection of outstanding, unpaid management fees becomes critical for resorts.

Crucial for the on-going operation of every timeshare resort, the collection of these unpaid bills, and how far a resort should go to do so, remains a hotly debated industry topic.

While great strides have been made in improving the image of the timeshare concept over recent years, the decisions made by owner committees, management companies and developers could easily destroy any success.

And with maintenance fees and perpetuity contracts already on the radar of the EU and U.K. authorities, this is one area of resort management that has to be handled correctly.

The industry is doing its part making it easier for ownership to be passed to the younger generations in the family when the time is right. There are also fresh sales and marketing initiatives underway making the timeshare idea appeal to younger folk.

This is all good news when it comes to the collection of fees. If ownership can be easily transferred the resort continues to receive payment for the upkeep of the resort. Fees can be collected easily as there is no ambiguity regarding who is responsible.

I have lost count of the number of times we have received letters from elderly owners saying they are no longer able to travel and incorrectly believing they can simply hand back their accommodation for no charge and in return for the cancellation of all accrued arrears.

This leads me to believe there is a definite requirement for resorts to communicate regularly with their clients with up-to-date resort information. This should include news both about the complex itself and also reminders of owners’ obligations from a legal perspective.

I am sure this would reduce ambiguity in terms of where owners stand regarding the payment of fees and this should make collections easier.

My team is very aware that maintenance fee collection work must be undertaken with a required element of tact and diplomacy.

On the one hand we must convince the owner of the importance of payment in order to high quality standards.

On the other, our clients want to keep the owner ‘on board’ long-term with a mindset of getting a good value for money holiday experience each time they visit – sometimes not an easy balance to achieve if an owner has an issue about something.

Showing empathy is an important part of our job, especially when owners believe they are in the right about a complaint or if they simply do not have the funds to pay at a particular time.

At Resort Recoveries we are obliged to treat customers fairly while at the same time reminding them of their obligations. It can be useful to explain to owners the TATOC codes of conduct and practice governing our actions and the duty we have to the Credit Services Association and Financial Conduct Authority.

This makes owners realise that the resort has engaged a professional organisation that has all of the right credentials for doing the job. This also ensures the good reputation of our client.

We feel that an industry knowledge approach enables us to offer the best fee collections results for our clients. It could work for you, too.

Pueblo Evita: Reviving A 29-Year-Old Resort

Richvale Resorts has begun a refurbishment programme at Pueblo Evita, on the Costa del Sol, aimed at reviving a well-loved resort that has been operating for almost 30 years.

The new developer has also provided funds to support a more active on-site sales programme fuelled by a renewed marketing drive.

The aim, says Richvale, is to breathe new life in to a resort that for many years had little or no re-investment to drive up its image and reputation.

“We are a small, family-oriented resort built in typical Spanish style and we are working to our strengths by highlighting our ‘Spanish-ness’ and a holiday experience more akin to being in Andalucía,” says Ian Goddard, the resort developer.

A modern look has been given to the clubhouse with a new barbeque area, mood lighting on the terrace, new interior and terrace furniture, signage, parasols and awnings all bearing the new logos and look of Richvale Resorts. All in keeping with the architecture and feel of the resort.

Sofas and soft furnishings have been replaced in some apartments and the team has introduced a different approach to how the apartments are presented on arrival.  There is a fresh approach to on-site entertainment, which is designed to delight clients and deliver a holiday experience they won’t find anywhere else.

Goddard adds, “If we are to gain new members we need to operate in a very competitive and saturated market and one way to do this is to add value to the whole holiday experience. It is no longer good enough just to provide clean and well-equipped apartments, the modern audience demands more.”

It is important, he says, to continue making improvements so that the general feel of the resort is enhanced every year. “We know that the on-line reputation via sites like TripAdvisor are very important to new prospects and anything that produces positive reactions is good for old clients and new.

“Our aim is to produce a holiday product where people want to be, not only with the environment but also in the services and experience we provide. In doing this in concert with our on-site sales team we know we will once again begin to grow the member-base to the next generation.”

According to Goddard, it doesn’t have to cost much money. A lot of what has been achieved has been a more positive approach from the staff who have adopted a new vision and company attitude aimed at focusing on the clients.

“My experience in recent years, working with some owner-run resorts, is that the management company simply manages within the budget given. They don’t have the vision for the resort’s future or the appetite and drive to implement strategies to gain the revenues needed to improve.

“You therefore reach a stalemate where lack of funds leads to a lack of services and standards that simply are not saleable in today’s market. This leads to an inevitable decline.”

Goddard’s view is that it is quite possible to rejuvenate an old resort by applying a little forward thinking, a lot of energy and an enthusiastic staff, all looking forward to a bright future.

European Timeshare Leaders Create New Task Force

Leading businesses and organisations in the European timeshare sector have launched an initiative to tackle issues that potentially affect hundreds of thousands of timeshare owners and consumers.

Set up and funded by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), the Timeshare Task Force brings together the RDO’s own enforcement operation, resorts, timeshare owners, consumer organisations such as TATOC and law enforcement agencies to achieve common goals.

Top of the priority list is tackling the rogues that have been defrauding timeshare owners and consumers to the tune of millions of Euros.

The new initiatives include identifying the perpetrators – many of which are serial offenders – and preparing prosecutions.

In the most serious cases, information is being passed to law enforcement agencies such as the U.K. National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.

The plan is through a co-ordinated effort to make life very difficult for those who have targeted the timeshare sector – every website, every advertisement run on Google, every cold call is likely to result in an investigation, sophisticated tracing and criminal charges.

Every time a fraudster contacts a timeshare owner or consumer, he or she will be running the risk of talking not to a potential victim – but a private investigator or law enforcement officer

In addition to the major cases involving the police, the Task Force will also use private criminal prosecutions to ease the burden on the authorities and speed the process of apprehending the perpetrators.

Every day practical measures are also being offered, including new on-line advice resources, such as the Timeshare Business Check which will provide information on businesses selling within the timeshare and related sectors.

Much progress has been made in terms of dealing with issues such as those needing to exit the industry, for example deserving timeshare owner exit cases involving bankruptcy and death.

Aunty Betty Talks About One Up-Manship

Over the last few years I have been able to share the ups and downs of life and introduce you to some of my friends and neighbours.

This time I am going to introduce you to a corker – Winifred Annabelle Linford-Inkpen (do not forget the hyphen). A lady who has an opinion on everything and who cannot let a statement go by without comment.

From politics and scandal to general knowledge and the weather, she knows it all. She organises with a rod of iron the Woman’s Institute and the local Brownies and rules the committees of the choral society, church council and even her poor husband.

So imagine my glee when I managed to get one up on her.

It all came about when we were discussing the lack of help and advice available to small associations and committees. Winifred was going on and on about the local Citizens Advice Bureau and how wonderful they were. She worked part-time for them and could answer everything that was asked.

“Well, what about timeshare,” asked Beryl, looking up from her knitting? A deadly hush descended.

”Timeshare,” Winifred replied with her aristocratic nose quivering as if there was a rather nasty smell, “why would they want to deal with timeshare? It is full of fraudsters and who in their right mind would even buy timeshare?”

”Well, actually it is quite easy to understand and I am sure you must have heard of TATOC?“ I asked Winifred.

“Taytoc?” she replied, looking around for support.