Changing the face of family vacations

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Timeshare options more extensive than before

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Maura Curley

Three decades ago " timeshare vacations" conjured up images of fast talking salesmen who wanted to take your money. But pedigree resorts like Marriott have changed the face of family vacaions with their creation of "vacation clubs."

National brands like Marriott entered the industry as they discovered the power of mixed-use resort developments.

The 12th annual Vacaton Ownership Conference in Orlando in October 2010 revealed vacation ownership’s depth of penetration around the globe. Registered delegates represented all regions of the U.S, the Caribbean, England, Mexico, Canada, Asia and Africa.

The same is still true today in 2013.

Interval International, which sponsored the conference, is the leading provider of vacation exchange services, which assists vacation ownership members with booking new vacation destinations. The company has more than 2,500 affiliated resorts in 75 countries, and over 2 million member households.

Interval Interantional entered the Caribbean market in 1977, and has continued to expand within the region. Nearly 150 resorts and hotels in the Caribbean are now affilaited with Interval International. Nearly 128,000 families, as of 2009, owned some kind of vacation ownership in the Caribbean.

During the last decade the concept of owning a timeshare for one week of the year has evolved into many more, often-incredible, vacation options.

These include fractional ownership, where you can actually buy a deeded percentage of a resort for multiple weeks of the year, and membership in ultra luxe private residence clubs.

One of the major selling points in vacation ownership has always been the ability for time share owners to vacation year after year in the same spot – or not. It's also alluring to exchange an ownership week for an adventure someplace else in the world.

Marriott International is one of a number of pedegree resorts affiliated with Interval International.

Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove in St. Thomas offers two bedroom and three bedroom vacation ownership villas.

Marriott also operates the Ritz Carlton Club, in St. Thomas, which exemplifies the top tier of vacation ownership, known as private residence clubs. It opened in 2002 and features more than 100 ocean front residences, ranging from 1,500 to 1,910 square feet. They are equipped with state of the art entertainment centers, and indulgences like Turkish marble bathrooms with cast iron tubs.

Edward Kinney, vice president of corporate affairs and brand awareness for Marriott Vacation Club International, observes that Marriot changed the face of vacation ownership, when it entered the industry in 1984. Marriott first tested vacation ownership in Aruba. Now it offers a variety of options at its properties in Aruba, St.Kitts and St. Thomas.

Photos: Interior of Marriotts Frenchman's Cove in St. Thomas, and Bay Gardens Resort in St. Lucia, which recently became affiliated with Interval International.

Photos courtesy Marriott Vacation Club and Bay Gardens Resort.

RELATED AUDIO

Maura Curley speaks with Marriott's Edward Kinney about Mariott's Vacation Club properties in the Caribbean.

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Christos Poravis talks with Maura Curley about St. Lucia's Bay Gardens

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Maura Curley is publisher of virginvoices.com


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