Posted on March 11, 2021
There is big news in the timeshare industry this week as Hilton Grand Vacations announced its plan to buy Diamond Resorts for a package worth $1.4 billion. The move is expected to be completed this summer and will vault the Hilton timeshare company to become the second largest timeshare operator in the world with over 720,000 owners within its program.
Hilton Grand Vacations will more than double in size as 92 Diamond resorts will be added to the current 62 Hilton timeshare resorts, with the Hilton program expanding into an additional 20 new vacation markets.
In a nod to the current challenges impacting the travel industry, multiple references in the announcement were made to Diamond’s drive-to resort capacity, since timeshare resorts have pivoted to highlight drive-based vacations as airlines struggle to recover from the pandemic. Additional references to outdoor, ski and desert locations also reflect the promotion of activities not reliant on restricted, indoor-based activities.
The Hilton Honors program, which stands at 112 million members, is also likely to be enhanced by the acquisition as more vacation options are added to the program.
Hilton also referenced the synergies between the two points-based programs, as it looks to combine the programs and focus on marketing timeshare points to new buyers at a time when travel is anticipated to rebound post-pandemic.
Diamond resorts are expected to be rebranded over time as the resorts are assimilated into the Hilton portfolio.
Officials on the Hawaiian island of Kauai are making it easier to vacation on the Garden Isle as additional COVID quarantine restrictions are lifted. Beginning April 5, travelers who present a negative COVID test taken pre-arrival can bypass Kauai quarantine restrictions.
The other Hawaii islands have had this pre-test policy in place for months, but Kauai retained mandatory quarantine restrictions and selected a small number of resorts to participate in a resort bubble where inbound travelers could stay. As of April 5, vacationers will not be required to stay in the resort bubble if they can present their negative test upon arrival. The tests must be taken by an approved provider, with details and a list of approved providers available at https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel-partners/
Previously, only a handful of Kauai resorts were allowed to participate in the resort bubble, with local officials essentially picking winners and losers among Kauai resorts. Some resorts received a windfall of visitors, while others were left on the sidelines. Now, Kauai timeshare resorts will be able to welcome back their owners without additional burdens being authorized beyond the pre-arrival test.
California continues to creep toward normalcy with the announcement that theme parks will be able to open once their home counties reach the red tier status based on the number of COVID cases. State officials previously set a more stringent yellow tier barrier for parks to reopen, but as of April 1 the red tier status will be allowed.
Disney officials reacted to the news by saying they expect Disneyland to reopen by late April, anticipating that Orange County will have reached red status by then. Currently, the county is at the more restrictive Purple status but the number of COVID cases have been dropping for weeks.
Once Disneyland reopens, it will be limited to 15 percent capacity along with the usual COVID protocols such as wearing masks and social distancing. Only California residents will be able to visit Disneyland under the new rules.
Disney will need to recall about 10,000 workers and retrain them about the new protocols, hence the delay until the end of April.
As Orange County improves to the less restrictive Orange and Yellow tiers, park capacity limits can be raised to allow more guests into the parks.
Disney announced a few weeks ago that the timeshare villas at Grand Californian Resort will reopen on May 2, so the timing of the reopening of Disneyland comes at a great time for Disney timeshare owners in California.
This weekend marks one year since Disneyland closed because of COVID. Meanwhile, Disney World and associated Disney properties in Orlando have been open since July.
An unusual type of dining experience has been introduced at Westgate Park City. Called Alpenglobes, Westgate has placed two globe structures outside as part of the Edge Steakhouse – allowing guests to dine in heated comfort during winter while enjoying the snow-capped mountain scenery around them.
The globes can seat up to four people each, with music and mood lighting adding to the experience.
Westgate Park City Resort is one of the premier properties in the Westgate network, having won Best of State Awards for eight consecutive years including seven such awards last year.
Club Wyndham South Pacific has expanded its activity programs across its network of resorts to create more onsite value-added options in response to the pandemic-induced restrictions among local attractions.
Over 100 free activities have been introduced across the 22 resorts within the Club Wyndham South Pacific network, ranging from gold panning at Club Wyndham Ballarat to new foam surfboards and boogie boards at Club Wyndham Surfers Paradise. Even a hobby farm was built at Club Wyndham Seven Mile Beach in Hobart featuring goats, chickens and alpacas for children and families to enjoy.
Cooking classes, yoga classes and outdoor movie experiences have been introduced among the numerous options – with activities free to Club Wyndham members.