Posted on April 08, 2021
Marriott Vacations Worldwide, the company which oversees not only the Marriott timeshare operation but also timeshares under brands such as Sheraton, Westin and Hyatt, has announced the completion of its acquisition of Welk Resorts. The $485million buy will add eight Welk timeshare resorts and its 55,000 owners to the Hyatt Residence Club, which will increase to 24 vacation ownership resorts.
Marriott plans to rebrand the Welk timeshare resorts as Hyatt Residence Club beginning later this year. Overall, the Marriott Vacations Worldwide network includes 120 resorts and 700,000 owners across its portfolio of timeshare brands. The company also owns exchange provider Interval International.
In good news relating to the health of the timeshare industry, Diamond Resorts has announced that it is back to pre-COVID business activity. In an interview on Fox Business, Diamond CEO Michael Flaskey told the network that since mid-February the timeshare operator’s business activity is 17% over 2019 levels for the same time period.
Overall, Flaskey says the Diamond timeshare operation has been running at about 70% of 2019 levels since last May, while forecasting that they will be at least back to 2019 levels for the remainder of this year.
Not only is this good news for Diamond’s short-term business, but good news for Hilton Grand Vacations as well since Hilton announced its intention about a month ago to buy Diamond Resorts. The acquisition is expected to be completed later this year, which will expand the Hilton timeshare company to over 150 resorts and 720,000 owners.
Timeshare resorts in Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach and Orlando are set for big gains if a recent report from travel site Trivago is any indication of future travel trends. The site reported that in March its top five spots for vacations on its platform were Vegas, Miami Beach, Orlando, Myrtle Beach and Cancun – all of which have fantastic timeshare resorts.
With the exception of Las Vegas (which is in a category of its own) these destinations are all known for outdoor activities, whether it is the beach, golf or theme parks. Could this be a reflection of traveler’s desire for activities that are perceived as safer compared to other places? This trend toward outdoor, beach-based destinations was identified last year among timeshare developers who managed multi-destination programs, noting the discrepancies of occupancy rates within their networks.
In a move sure to impact Florida timeshare resorts, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has issued an executive order barring businesses in the state from requiring a vaccine passport from customers. Businesses are not allowed to require customers to provide COVID vaccination documentation in order to receive service from the business. The order does not affect the ability of a business to implement COVID safety protocols such as mask wearing or social distancing requirements.
COVID vaccinations have not yet reached critical mass, so the issue has not reached the point of impacting travel. However, the issue is sure to create a dilemma for not only timeshare resort operators but vacationers looking for assurances that they are as protected as possible from their fellow travelers.
With about a quarter of all U.S.-based timeshare resorts located in Florida, this issue is expected to impact the overall timeshare industry as well. Will members of points-based clubs be more willing to choose a non-Florida resort for their next vacation because of the ban? Some may not care at all. Time will tell.
Westgate has completed a $3.2million renovation of its Westgate Branson Woods timeshare resort, highlighted by upgraded accommodations and new amenities. The units feature new kitchen appliances, new flooring and updated bathroom fixtures.
The resort also has a new spa to pair with its outdoor heated swimming pool. Along with an indoor pool, the resort has great options such as a fitness center, sports courts, game room, playground and mini golf, and this doesn’t even factor in the amusement parks and entertainment venues in Branson.
The proposed Disney timeshare resort Reflections - A Disney Lakeside Lodge could become a victim of the COVID downturn. According to a report on DVCNews.com, Disney plans to remove office trailers from the resort worksite which had been used by staff working on the project.
While this may not seem like a major development on its own, the report adds that heavy equipment has also been removed from the site along with implementing protective measures to guard against soil erosion. These developments, in addition to the removal of Reflections references from Disney’s websites, has led to speculation that Disney may have pulled the plug on the project.
Work on the timeshare resort was halted during the pandemic, and DVC points sales have struggled to rebound. However, Disney timeshare resales continue to do well as buyers look for better deals compared to the retail rates charged by Disney.
Admission tickets for Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park will go on sale April 15 as the theme parks ramp up toward reopening later this month. Customers holding unused tickets can redeem them for new admission tickets beginning Monday.
Capacity at the parks is due to be limited to 15 percent, with the possibility of expanding to 25 percent should Orange County advance to the less restrictive Orange tier implemented by the state of California. COVID protocols such as social distancing and wearing masks will be required of patrons.
The parks are scheduled to reopen on April 30, with Disney timeshare villas at the Grand Californian resort due to reopen on May 2.
For those Kauai timeshare visitors who just can’t get enough of the thrill of having a nasal swab shoved up their nose, Kauai is asking for visitors to voluntarily take a second COVID test three days after arrival on the island.
You may remember the earlier back and forth Kauai had with the rest of the Hawaiian Islands when it came to COVID testing, requiring visitors to test more than any other island and creating the resort bubble for mandatory quarantines. Now that the island has reduced its mandatory requirements and agreed to play nice with the rest of the state, they are incentivizing visitors to take a second test three days into their vacation.
Visitors to Hawaii still need to have proof of a negative COVID test taken 72 hours before arrival in order to avoid quarantine. For those willing to take the second test in Kauai, they’ll be given a Kokua Kauai Card with discounts from about 60 businesses on the island.
Maybe this won’t be such a big deal for timeshare owners. After all, a lot of timeshare buyers are accustomed to having gone through a painful process at the resort in exchange for an incentive. By the way, has that resort tour finished yet?