Posts filed under 'Developers'

Celebrity Resorts Post-Bankruptcy – A New Legacy

Celebrity Resorts LLC made headlines in March of last year when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but according to an Orlando Sentinel article financial problems may have started as early as 2008. While these types of bankruptcy filings rarely affect individual ownerships, they certainly undermine consumer confidence in a specific resort or developer, bringing down resale values. For owners of Celebrity Resorts timeshares, the company’s recent reorganization is welcome news: The new company is called Legacy Vacation Club.

Will the new name mean a new legacy for Celebrity Resorts and its owners? Quite possibly. The family-owned company has been selling timeshares for over 30 years, making it one of the most experienced resort developers in America. According to company lawyers, Celebrity Resorts exited bankruptcy intact, and with no job losses. In addition, Legacy Vacation Club has announced plans to implement its own internal “points” program, that will offer owners more flexibility. What may ultimately mean success for Celebrity Resorts, however, will be whether it can adapt its sales strategy to the tastes of a new generation of buyers. There are only so many upgrades that can be sold to aging timeshare owners; lasting success for any timeshare developer hinges on bringing new and younger buyers into the fold.

Just as generational differences have proven difficult for the timeshare industry, it’s generational differences within the Meyers family that have been blamed for the bankruptcy and subsequent reorganization of Celebrity Resorts. Brothers Neil and Hillel Meyers were the original developers of Resort World, predecessor to Celebrity Resorts, and remain legendary figures in Orlando’s insular timeshare community. Reportedly, disputes between Hillel Meyers and Neil Meyers’ son Jared led to partitioning the company in 2003. During last year’s bankruptcy proceedings, control of the company was hotly disputed between various family members, but the company’s reorganization plan approved this January leaves 34 year-old Jared Meyers in control as President and CEO. With a gen-xer at the helm, perhaps Legacy Vacation Club will succeed where Celebrity Resorts failed; retooling the timeshare sales process for internet-savvy younger buyers.

For now, all former Celebrity Resorts properties have been renamed to reflect the Legacy Vacation Club brand, and all resorts are now listed with both RCI and Interval International. Existing owners that want to sell their Celebrity timeshares will, no doubt, benefit from the re-branding; gradually escaping the stigma of bankruptcy. And while there are parts of the timeshare community that might still be skeptical of the new entity, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Best of luck to Jared Meyers and Legacy Vacation Club!

Popular Legacy Vacation Club Timeshares Include:
Legacy Vacation Club Orlando – Oaks
Legacy Vacation Club Orlando – Spas
Legacy Vacation Club Steamboat Springs – Hilltop

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2 comments June 21st, 2011

Marriott’s Grande Vista: An Orlando Timeshare That’s Easy to Love

In a competitive resort market like Orlando, it seems there’s always a new timeshare resort advertising its ‘Grand Opening.’ While some of these properties become landmarks, many simply fade from view; eclipsed by the next newer, larger, or more luxurious developments. At present, there are over eighty Orlando timeshare resorts, and counting… There are, however, a very select few resorts that transcend Orlando’s timeshare cacophony; your stable neighbor in a sea of constant change. Resorts like Marriott’s Grande Vista, just off I-4 near SeaWorld.

Located on 164 acres of prime Central Florida real estate, Marriott’s Grande Vista opened in 1997. Development continued through the 2000’s, and is now completed. The resort became the first Marriott Vacation Club property to offer the Faldo Golf Institute, which features personalized golf instruction inspired by 6-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo. The on-site Grande Vista Golf Club is a 9-hole, par 32 course, set amongst preserved Florida wetlands. Other Grande Vista resort amenities include a full-service spa, a fitness center, and numerous pools and spas located throughout.

Owners and guests at Marriott’s Grande Vista have a choice of luxurious studio, one, two, and three-bedroom villas, all with private balconies and free WIFI. Larger units come totally loaded, with full-kitchen, washer/dryer, flat screen TV, and whirlpool tub. Marriott is known for its superior maintenance and upkeep, and accommodations at Grande Vista are no exception: TripAdvisor reports 80% of its users describe the resort as either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good.’

Marriott’s Grande Vista is currently the largest Marriott Vacation Club resort, with a total of 1,616 units in a total of 24 buildings. Given the sheer size of the property, and thus the number of timeshares that have been sold there, the resort has managed to keep a fairly low profile. In the course of writing this article, I spoke to a few frequent Orlando visitors (self-described ‘timeshare junkies’), most of whom had no idea Grande Vista was one of the city’s largest resorts. Part of this is marketing strategy: Rather than using street-level OPCs, operating out of Orlando’s ubiquitous ticket booths, Marriott schedules timeshare tours through its existing hotel clientele and owner referrals. The sales strategy at Grande Vista is also an innovative one: Little to no pressure. Simply put, this is a resort people want to own. Marriott salespeople are there to explain the product, not to create desire for it.

While you probably won’t find brightly colored hot air balloons marking the entrance, Marriott Grande Vista timeshare offers unrivaled amenities, quality accommodations, beautiful grounds, and a solid, stable ownership experience!

Browse available Marriott timeshare resales at low for sale by owner prices, or view all Orlando timeshares.

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1 comment February 15th, 2011

Diamond Resorts Quietly Expanding Empire: A Look at the Timeshare Club/Trust Concept

Las Vegas based Diamond Resorts International® has been quietly expanding its timeshare holdings; continuing a trend of buying assets of bankrupt developers. Having established itself as a leader in the timeshare industry, with several successful Las Vegas timeshares including the popular Polo Towers, Diamond Resorts made headlines in 2007 with their purchase of  the Sunterra Corporation, a developer with a long history of financial woes. By most accounts, the Sunterra acquisition was a successful one – providing stability for Sunterra’s 326,000 timeshare owners. In recent months, Diamond Resorts has set its sights on two more troubled developers: ILX Resorts and Tempus Resorts.

ILX Resorts is the Arizona based developer of ten resorts, including the Premiere Vacation Club at Los Abrigados Resort & Spa in Sedona. Tempus Resorts, headquartered in Orlando, Florida, is the developer of the Mystic Dunes Resort & Golf Club, located just 3 miles from the Walt Disney World® complex. Diamond Resorts’ plans have owners at both resorts wondering what to expect from the new management. If the Sunterra acquisition is to serve as an example, then Tempus and ILX owners should find themselves in good hands, but there will be changes…

Ownerships sold by both Tempus and ILX are “deeded” weeks, while Diamond Resorts’ vacation ownership product is a Club/Trust arrangement. Deeded owners will, or course, be able to retain their deeded weeks – but there will be enticements for Tempus/ILX owners to upgrade to the Club/Trust, and over time many likely will. This scenario highlights one of the paradigm shifts occurring throughout the timeshare industry: the move from deeded owner-managed resorts to Club/Trust developer-managed resorts. We’ve seen this trend with Blugreen, Festiva, Welk Resorts, and others, but what are the implications for the individual owner?

Real Estate Investment vs. Use Product

We’ve touched on this issue in previous posts: how should timeshare be perceived, as an investment or a use product. In the case of a deeded timeshare, owners are wise to acknowledge they have made a real estate investment. Once developer sales have ceased, the owners (through the HOA/POA) will be largely responsible for decisions regarding upkeep and amenities at their resort. This can be a double-edged sword, as resorts with an active owner base have been able to keep maintenance fees low and timeshare resale values stable, but resorts with unengaged owners often suffer from soaring costs and abysmal resale values. Ultimately, owning a deeded timeshare is a responsibility – one that few developers explain fully at the time of sale.

The Timeshare Club/Trust Concept

With a Club/Trust timeshare product, owners receive a true “use product.” While specifics vary from brand to brand, in a Club/Trust arrangement the timeshare is deeded to either the developer, or more often to a non-profit Trust created by the developer. Decisions about upkeep and maintenance at the resort are made by the developer or trustee. Since individual ownerships are not directly tied to real property, maintenance fees are calculated as a fraction of the aggregate upkeep costs of all resorts in the Club/Trust. In theory, this arrangement puts the entity with the most knowledge of resort operations (the developer) in complete control, and as long as the developer continues selling Club/Trust timeshares they have an incentive to manage costs carefully in order to attract new buyers. In practice, the results have been mixed; with some owners happy to have less responsibility, and others complaining of excessive maintenance fees.

Choosing The Right Form of Ownership for You

Owning timeshare, in any of its variants, is a smart choice for regular travelers – a means to save money, and a hedge against inflation (During the height of the recession timeshares remained over 80% occupied.) Both deeded and Club/Trust ownerships have advantages and drawbacks, and each family is different. If you’re considering buying timeshare, consider the level of involvement you want to have with your resort. A Club/Trust ownership represents a sharp departure from the ideal of timeshare – owning a fraction of the vacation home that would otherwise be unaffordable – but delivers on the promise of timeshare as a use product. For those ready to make the departure from deeded property, Diamond Resorts timeshare stands out as the clear choice!

6 comments January 5th, 2011

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