Timeshare demand high in Caribbean

Consumer interest exceeds inventory

thumb: ritzcarletonprivateresid

Maura Curley

Timeshare, the practice of acquiring a share of ownership or use of vacation property continues to intrigue those who like securing an annual vacation at a prepaid price.

During the recent 15th annual Shared Ownership Investment conference in Miami developers, hotel owners and tourism professionals expressed confidence that this concept has a bright future.

After the sluggish economy the industry is bouncing back and continues to grow with new developments and conversion of existing hotel rooms into timeshare units. But according to industry leader, Interval International, the demand for timeshare units in the Caribbean exceeds the inventory.

Neil Kolten, director of Caribbean and Florida Resort Sales and Service for Interval International, reports that Interval members in the U.S. choose the Caribbean above all other International destinations as their preferred spot to vacation.

Consequently Kolten is trying to attract developers and hoteliers to build new timeshare units or convert some of their hotel inventory into timeshare to diversify their tourism product.

Kolten is quick to point out that timeshare is a win win for both consumers and tourism providers. A time share offers more space and comfort than traditional hotel rooms, and pays for itself in a few years, while usage may extend over a couple of decades or more.

thumb: neilkoltonweb

Timeshare also increases hotel occupancy and destination travel, during economic fluctuations, because it is prepaid. Additionally timeshare offers the hotel opportunities for other revenue streams.

Kolten stresses “ A diversified tourism product is critical”, citing “significant opportunities throughout the region for hoteliers to take existing inventory and convert it to shared ownership offering.”

He says hotels can market this product to their existing guests and “ own the customer for life.”

Kolten emphasizes that hotels that do not have timeshare options are at a disadvantage because they risk having their loyal clientele lured away by a competitor who may offer timeshare opportunities for their guests who are already sold on the destination.

Most of the timeshare products are currently concentrated on a few Caribbean islands - Aruba, Dutch St Maarten, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Kolten says throughout the rest of the Caribbean the industry is underserved. He observes “By not having the(timeshare) product operators are missing out on a business opportunity.”

Property photo top right: Ritz Carlton Vacation Club in St. Thomas.

Bottom: Neil Kolten who directs Caribbean resort sales and service for Interval International. Photo by Maura Curley.

Listen to Maura Curley's interview with Neil Kolten.

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