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RCI VENTURES

T H E B U S I N E S S O F VAC AT I O N Q3 2015

T H E B U S I N E S S O F VA C AT I O N

SUNNY DAYS AHEAD The U.S. Virgin Islands are poised for growth

Q3 2015

NEW BEGINNINGS Executive profile: Juan Barillas of Exploria Resorts

TALKING GENERATIONS Boomers, Gen Xers and millennials— ownership has never been more diverse

THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT How to make the most of your hospitality smartphone app


Executive Dual Time Self-winding. Patented time zone quick setting. Black ceramic bezel and 18 ct rose gold case. Water-resistant to 100 m. Rubber band.

F O R A C ATA L O G , C A L L 5 6 1 - 9 8 8 - 8 6 0 0 O R E M A I L : U S A 1 1 4 @ U LY S S E - N A R D I N . C O M W W W . U LY S S E - N A R D I N . C O M


IN BR IEF

INNOVATION

06 By the Numbers A sustainability case study and environmental best practices

08 Travel Trends DMOs are keeping it local; Mexico gains momentum

08 Industry News Briefs Reports from the field IN DEPTH

10 New Beginnings Juan Barillas, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Exploria Resorts

16 Talking Generations Boomers, Gen Xers, millennials: Research sheds new light on what motivates these prospects to take vacations

28 Technology & Marketing Making the most of your hospitality app

32 Industry Solutions

ON THE COVER St. Thomas, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. ON THIS PAGE The Heavenly Collection, on Malta.

RCIAffiliates.com’s new look INSIGHT

33 Recent RCI® Affiliated Resorts & Events Calendar

Enjoy RCI Ventures® magazine on your iPad®*

34 All-Inclusive Indulgence

when you download the RCI Ventures® magazine app for iPad® free at the iTunes® App Store.

Bahia Principe Privilege Club

38 Betting on Brazil Grand Palladium Imbassaí Resort & Spa

* RCI Ventures magazine is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. iPad and iTunes are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

42 The Suite Life The Heavenly Collection

52 A Final Thought Off-duty with RCI’s Dimitris Manikis

IN DEV ELOPMENT

22 Sunny Days Ahead Emerging from a drawn-out economic recovery, the U.S. Virgin Islands are poised for growth

Senior Vice President: Philip S. Brojan. Publisher: Brian Bruno. Associate Publisher: Emily Sadlock. Contributing Editor: Helen Foster. Advisory Board Chair: Fiona Downing. Advisory Board: Jeff Parker, Kelly Deardorff, Eugenio Macouzet, Bob McGrath, Todd Menendez, Robert Stolt, Debbie Wunder. Associate Publisher, Multimedia: Madelyn A. Roberts, madelyn.roberts@storyworldwide.com, 646-437-0630 Advertising Sales & Traffic Coordinator: Rachel Goroff, rachel.goroff@storyworldwide.com, 212-481-3452, x339 Editor in Chief: Erin M. Lindholm. Creative Director: Ash Oat. Managing Editor: Gaetano Pollice. Photo Editor: Pamela Pasco. Senior Editor: Bree Sposato. Assistant Editor: Jessen O’Brien. Copy Editor: Amy Lynn Tonsits. Art Director: Jenna Grady. Assistant Photo Editor: Jenna Kaplan. Contributing Photo Editor: Danielle Lamp. Contributing Editor: Dave Johnston. Associate Director of Production: Jessica Perrin. Senior Producer: Carrie Blocher. Chief Executive Officer: Kirk Cheyfitz. Chief Creative Officer: Rob Rasmussen. Vice President, Narrative: Charles Coxe. Account Director: Mitchell Wexler. Account Supervisor: Shrivika Ramaswamy. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without written permission from RCI. RCI Ventures® magazine publishes opinions of many knowledgeable individuals. These opinions are not a substitute for legal, accounting or other professional advice. The views and conclusions expressed in RCI Ventures® magazine are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of RCI nor of its parent or affiliates. The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. RCI Ventures is a registered trademark of RCI, LLC. For all subscription queries, please contact rciventuresna@rci.com. 9998 North Michigan Road, Carmel, IN 46032 © 2015 RCI, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Printed in U.S.A. 2 Q3 2015

COVER PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO; THIS PAGE: COURTESY THE HEAVENLY COLLECTION

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Upping the Table Stakes Today’s innovations will become benchmarks for timeshare within the next decade.

INSIGHT

INNOVATION

IN DEV ELOPMENT

REFLECTING ON HOW OUR INDUSTRY HAS GROWN

over the past 40-plus years, we’ve gone through some radical transformations. From fixed weeks at individual resorts to points programs and assorted other club memberships, the nature of timeshare has evolved and continues to evolve as the industry responds to demand for product offerings that match an ever more diverse variety of vacation needs. Think about the genesis of the RCI Points® program, 15 years ago: We created what was at the time a revolutionary exchange model in part because we saw that points clubs were a natural fit for timeshare. Today, in addition to other products, consumers are buying points across entire resort groups, taking advantage of the flexibility and versatility these programs allow. Now, it’s time to think about the future. And in our industry, the question “What’s next?” is inextricably tied to “Who’s next?” It’s impossible to separate the future of timeshare from the conversation about our current owners and our prospects and how to engage these audiences. Case in point: We’re seeing a greater spectrum of prospects on the sales floor today than ever before. Younger couples and families constitute most qualified new sales—Gen Xers are buying timeshare for the first time, and we’re starting to see millennials, too—and current owners, typically a more mature audience, are enjoying the lifestyle that timeshare affords to such an extent that they continue to invest in additional product. This generational shift will only become more perceptible. We’re rapidly moving from an online-versus-offline world to a fully integrated space where digital technology is ubiquitous. In the years since the smartphone was introduced, tech firms have released ever “smarter” devices, and today nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners, the Pew Research Center reports. The world of

4 Q3 2015

“mobile first” is one we all need to think about because, in the not too distant future, it will affect all aspects of our business, from the utilization of tablets during the sales process to the ability to serve up relevant content and special offers to guests while they’re on vacation. It’s hard to know exactly how much of an impact these shifting views will have on our industry, but it’s clear that mobile experiences in particular, which Gen Xers and millennials have enthusiastically adopted, will be crucial in shaping owners’ and prospects’ relationship with your brand going forward. We’ve come a long way since the days before timeshare. Forty years ago vacations were just starting to become a right rather than a privilege. Today’s travelers assume they should have a vacation—it’s a right. All of this means sunny days ahead for our industry, but the future wouldn’t look so bright without the hard work and forward-looking initiatives I see being implemented in the field today. At ARDA World this year, more than 40 RCI® affiliated resorts and developers were honored for their efforts, taking home awards in categories ranging from Sales & Marketing to Resort Design. Our own RCI Ventures® magazine was recognized for excellence in a print publication. We take great pride in the work that goes into these pages and are honored to be recognized for our commitment to bringing you valuable insights and thought leadership with every issue.

Gordon Gurnik President, RCI

PHOTO: IAN SPANIER

IN DEPTH

IN BR IEF

M E S S AG E F R O M R C I


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* These vacations are limited. Destinations and travel times are subject to availability and confirmed on a first come, first served basis. Offer includes only accommodations and specifically excludes travel costs and other expenses that may be incurred. Taxes, additional fees and charges may apply. All-inclusive resorts may charge a mandatory all-inclusive fee. Promotional discounts and offers may not apply to all properties. Other restrictions may apply. Offer void where prohibited by law. **Use of the concierge is free to members of The Registry Collection program. The only cost is the actual product or services that a member asks the concierge to arrange. ***Many of the products and services are provided by third parties. The providers of The Registry Collection program do not make any representations or endorse any such products or services. The Registry Collection and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. Š2015 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA.


More than

90%

Installing low-flow showerheads and aerated faucets saved

room $1.50 per per month

for one hotel, and using waterefficient toilets saved the same hotel 180,000 gallons of water a year.

BY T H E N U M B E R S

Sustainability Case Study: Best Practices in Hospitality To get a clearer picture of the industry’s best practices today, the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University analyzed environmental sustainability programs, as well as environmental and social practices, at 100 resorts in the United States selected for having the most green initiatives in place. Their findings, published in Environmental Sustainability in the Hospitality Industry, a Cornell Hospitality Report, offer further evidence that best practices make for better business for all.

75%

of resorts use window covering or glazing to reduce solar gain.

GUEST PARTICIPATION IN SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS:

6 Q3 2015

61% Water-efficient appliances

Greywater or rain harvesting for irrigation

Programmable thermostats

Window covering or glazing to reduce solar gain

Eco-friendly nativevegetation landscape

Faucet aerators

Energy-efficient appliances or equipment

Basic caulking and sealing of windows and doors

14%

61% Low-flow or dual-flush toilets

Men: 70.2% Women: 75.7% 69%

77%

79%

84%

84%

on energy annually.

88%

$3.7 billion

More than

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY PROGRAMS OF SELECTED U.S. RESORTS: 90%

The hospitality industry spends about

Low-flow showerheads

IN BR IEF

of resorts use low-flow showerheads.

Under 30: 71.1% 31–40: 70.8% 41–50: 70.9% 51–64: 73.6% Over 65: 73%

D I D YO U K N OW ?

80%

More than of guests who are not currently participating in green initiatives would take action if incentives were offered. That would bring the total participation to more than

90%.


Greywater-recycling systems that reuse wash water have been shown to trim approximately

23%

Electricity typically accounts for

60%–70% of a hotel’s utility costs.

More than

More than

40%

85%

More than

20%

switched to fluorescent T8 or T5 fixtures and bulbs.

switched to fluorescent CFL bulbs.

10%

decrease in energy A consumption by a typical fullservice hotel could have the same financial impact as increasing the average daily room rate by

switched to LED bulbs.

$1.35

91%

.

of resorts surveyed have towel- and linen-reuse programs in place.

62%

64%

73%

73%

77%

79%

80%

81%

82%

85%

89%

91%

92%

93%

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK

97%

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL PRACTICES OF SELECTED U.S. RESORTS:

Learn about the RCI® Green Awards at

Energy audit

Calculating and reducing environmental footprint

Use of local products

Green team

LEED or similar certification

Green training for employees

Communicating sustainability to employees or guests

Linen reuse program

Sustainable-purchasing policy

Appropriate irrigation timing

Water-efficiency management

Towel-reuse program

Purchasing green products

Supporting local charities or volunteering in community

Regular inspection and maintenance program

RCIAffiliates.com. Applications for the 2015 awards begin

October 1!

RCI VENTURES 7

IN BR IEF

of the total water consumption of some hotels.


T R AV E L T R E N D S

Keeping It Local

IN BR IEF

Destination-marketing organizations are increasingly turning to digital and social channels to tell their uniquely homegrown stories. State, regional and local tourism offices and visitors bureaus are moving away from taking their cues from perennially popular destinations. Instead they are busy launching, or adding to, online destination portals and turning to grassroots social media strategies to share their stories,

Whitefish Mountain Resort is a draw for visitors to Montana.

emphasizing the unique, the experiential and a local point of view. States making this push are seeing a measurable return on investment. Something of a gold standard in the category, Travel Michigan’s “Pure Michigan” campaign and brand saw a $6.87 return for every dollar the state spent on advertising in 2014, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “Pure Michigan” is credited with generating 22.4 million out-of-state trips and $6.6 million in visitor spending since 2006. (continued on page 9)

IN DUSTRY N EWS B RIE FS

Don Harrill receiving the 2015 Circle of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award from ARDA.

by his work. Harrill has applied his more than three decades of experience in the hospitality industry to leading Orange Lake Resorts to consecutive years of record growth. “Having been a part of this industry for more than 23 years, I’ve seen it evolve in significant ways, and it just continues to get better every day,” Harrill said. “I am so proud to be a part of it and to have worked with so many wonderful people over the years. Everywhere I go I am grateful to be able to tell the story of our industry and product, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Taking a stand

Don Harrill scores ARDA award ARDA recognized Don Harrill, chief executive officer of Orange Lake Resorts, with the 2015 Circle of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding leadership and creativity, and the excellent standards and ethics demonstrated

8 Q3 2015

In a win for the vacation ownership industry, Adam Lacerda, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, was recently sentenced to 27 years in prison for his role in a $3 million conspiracy to scam approximately 225 customers with fraudulent timeshare mortgage relief and related offers through the New Jersey–based Vacation Ownership Group, LLC. “RCI applauds the ruling and will continue to fight secondarymarket fraud through a combination of member education, litigation and support for consumer protection,” says Paul Cash, executive vice president and general counsel at RCI. “Lacerda’s sentence should

send a signal to would-be scam artists that law enforcement, aided by the timeshare industry, will work diligently to seek out and prevent fraud and take decisive action.”

Construction financing on the rise Industry experts expect a spike in demand for construction loans in the coming year, according to the fourth annual Vacation Ownership Survey by Capital One, conducted at the ARDA World 2015 conference, in Orlando. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed cited construction and development lending as most important for the industry—that’s practically triple the 12 percent in last year’s survey. Meanwhile, working-capital loans were cited as most important by 27 percent, a decrease of more than 40 percent. “The timeshare market appears to be getting stronger in the United States and abroad,” said Jim Casey, senior vice president of Capital One.

Do you have news you’d like to share? Send us an email at rciventuresna@rci.com.


PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK; COURTESY ORANGE LAKE RESORTS; ISTOCKPHOTO

—ERIN LINDHOLM

IN BR IEF

Using another strategy, Montana nurtures grassroots tourism-related projects by distributing Tourism Digital Marketing Grants. Among the 2015 grant recipients are the Montana Wilderness Association, for developing an interactive online hiking guide, and Inside Montana, for “Virtual Realities of Natural & Cultural Spaces in Montana,” a Google Street View project. Montana’s digital initiatives are already driving tourism to the state. An earlier campaign that used locationbased technology to tout Montana’s pristine ski conditions through targeted mobile advertising generated $6.9 million in spending by out-of-state visitors, according to the Montana Office of Tourism. The ads were sent to a targeted demographic identified by their locations, such as ski areas and winter sports shops: A skier in another state or region might see the ads within an app when he checked his phone after a day on the slopes. But it’s not just states that are getting in on the action. Local visitors bureaus across the country, including Phoenix, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, have won awards for digital campaigns that include destination portals with trip-planning tools, local perspectives and even suggested itineraries as well as robust social media strategies that target popular social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+. In 2014 the Hilton Head Island Visitor & Convention Bureau was honored with a Destiny Award from the U.S. Travel Association’s Destinations Council. That same year, southern Beaufort County welcomed an estimated 2.68 million visitors, a record for the area, who generated more than $1 billion in economic impact, according to the Hilton Head Island–Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. Now, that’s a trend we can get behind.

Improvements in infrastructure will give Mazatlán a boost.

Mexico Gains Momentum There’s no shortage of development opportunities in one of Latin America’s most promising markets. For decades Mexico has been a top resort destination, and investors at the 2015 Mexico Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference predicted that its popularity would increase considerably in the next few years as the market matured. The rising demand will stem partly from the United States’ economic recovery, which has benefited established tourist communities in Cancún, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. In addition, an expanding middle class indicates that Mexico is about to undergo the same type of domestically driven economic growth experienced by the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. All these factors could combine to almost double the country’s supply of quality lodging venues, from 315,000 in 2012 to 506,000 in 2022, according to Economic Transformation Drives Latin America’s Lodging Industry, by Jones Lang LaSalle. Investment in infrastructure is also causing developers to turn to lesserknown regions. Consider the area from Durango to the port of Mazatlán. Once, it took eight hours to drive the 125 miles between these two cities. Now, thanks to a $1.5 billion government investment in northern Mexico,

a new highway allows visitors to traverse the same distance in less than three hours. Improvements in infrastructure will lead to a net increase of 4,500 rooms in Mazatlán and 1,300 rooms in Durango by 2022, Jones Lang LaSalle predicts. Another area in Mexico that’s attracting attention is Mayakoba, in the Riviera Maya, which is on investors’ radar because of its accessibility and the critical mass of luxury properties nearby; Cancún International Airport is 40 minutes away by car and Playa del Carmen, 15 minutes. And 3,444 rooms have been proposed for development in the country’s Bajío region, and 2,090 are in the works along the Gulf of Mexico, said Richard Katzman, managing director of HVS Mexico City, at the Mexico conference. Huatulco, boasting balmy weather and 36 beaches on the Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca, is also on the drawing board. “The nation is clearly an ideal destination for domestic and international investment, since it can offer developers legal certainty, a trustworthy legislative environment, a stable democracy and a solid economic base,” says Juan Ignacio Rodriguez, senior vice president of business development for RCI Latin America.

D I D YO U K N OW ?

Mexico’s middle class grew

17%

from 2000 to 2010. Source: Economic Transformation Drives Latin America’s Lodging Industry, by Jones Lang LaSalle

D I D YO U K N OW ?

Mexico’s population is forecast to grow to

128 million in 2022 from

116 million

in 2012.

Source: Economic Transformation Drives Latin America’s Lodging Industry, by Jones Lang LaSalle

—J E SS E N O ’ B RIE N

RCI VENTURES 9


IN DEPTH

NEW  BEGINNINGS Juan Barillas, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Exploria Resorts, shares hard-won insights into launching a brand and spearheading the multimilliondollar renovation of Summer Bay Orlando, as well as his vision for vacation ownership. B Y B R E E S P O S AT O PHOTOG R APHY BY B ETSY HANSE N

10 Q3 2015


IN DEPTH

RCI VENTURES 11


IN DEPTH

Juan Barillas’s nearly 20-year career in vacation ownership began not in hospitality, as one might expect, but in advertising. He first encountered timeshare when he was a co-owner of an ad agency in Central America, in the early 1990s, and took on a project with a local developer. “Ever since we ran that first ad campaign, the concept of vacation ownership has made a lot of sense to me,” he says. After Barillas relocated to Orlando, a neighbor, then the project director for an independent resort in Lake Buena Vista, invited him to participate in a new-sales training class. Barillas has never looked back.

After joining Summer Bay Resort, in 2000, he quickly rose from independent sales and marketing broker—a role that put him “in the trenches” with the varied responsibilities of sales representative, sales manager and trainer—to director of sales. He eventually took on greater authority, including oversight of marketing and multi-site operations. After only a few years, Barillas moved up the ranks to vice president, and today he holds the rewarding, if demanding, position of executive vice president and chief operating officer of Exploria Resorts. Passion for the industry and love of family continue to fuel Barillas’s impressive trajectory. In fact, the two are even more intertwined for him than at first glance: His wife, Santa, has also worked in vacation ownership for many years. “Working with Santa is full of pros,” he says. “It definitely has a great by-product: intelligent conversations at the dinner table.” One of Barillas’s more recent endeavors has been spearheading the successful rebranding of Summer Bay Resorts as Exploria Resorts, an initiative that celebrated its first anniversary earlier this year. There are currently 10 resorts in the brand’s portfolio, in Florida, Tennessee and Missouri, and new destinations are being considered. Barillas’s passion project and the flagship of Exploria, Summer Bay Orlando, is in the final stages of an exciting head-to-toe makeover.


The core of the mission statement of Exploria Resorts is ‘to surpass our guests’ expectations.’ Social media provides the metrics of these efforts.

IN DEPTH

The path to success V: What kind of learning curve did you experience during your early years?

Juan Barillas: The traditional learning curve was more like a learning circle. I had to transition from an engineering and business-owner background to a 100 percent salesdriven environment. V: Did anything about the industry surprise you?

JB: I am still surprised today by how in 90 minutes we are able to sell to a perfect stranger a $20,000 week of timeshare while becoming almost best friends with that stranger, who is now a friend and owner for a lifetime. V: How would you advise young professionals just beginning their careers?

JB: Pick a successful mentor, and surround yourself with positive-minded professionals.

V: What is one achievement you’re especially proud of?

JB: Once I had the opportunity to get into sales management, my greatest achievement was to take under my wing low-to-average-producing salespeople and turn them into consistent producers and parts of some of the most successful sales teams in the industry. V: What drew you to Summer Bay Resort, now the flagship resort in the Exploria Resorts portfolio?

JB: Around 2000, Summer Bay Resort was the timeshare property in Orlando that exhibited the greatest potential for growth and expansion— in every sense. The resort had great bones. Back then it was a true diamond in the rough. V: What about the company has inspired you to work there so long?

JB: The exceptional work environment. The culture of Exploria Resorts

is one where our “One Team” members have the freedom to test and implement new ideas and run with those ideas as long as results are tracked closely, reported and shared.

Summer Bay Orlando Resort, in Orlando, Florida, the flagship of Exploria Resorts.

V: What have been your proudest moments at Summer Bay and Exploria Resorts?

JB: The year that Summer Bay Resort was among the top three resorts in Orlando to begin sales of RCI® Global Points. And more recently, being given the responsibility for bringing Summer Bay Resorts back to its full potential, which included a plan to rebrand and expand the resort portfolio through several sales centers located throughout the United States. V: What are the key initiatives under your direction today?

JB: Maintaining expansion at 30 per­ cent to 40 percent every year while keeping sales and marketing expenses in line with industry standards.

RCI VENTURES 13


IN DEPTH

Spotlight: Exploria Resorts V: This spring marked the one-year anniversary of the brand launch of Exploria Resorts. Why did the company take on this initiative? JB: We rebranded the company for many reasons. Summer Bay Resorts needed a clear branding strategy to use as the base for our expansion, and Exploria Resorts gave us the perfect alignment of our products and services for the future, under a crisp- and modern-looking umbrella brand. The genesis of Exploria Resorts was the result of many internal brainstorming sessions led by our in-house brand-services and corporate communications team. As for the logo of Exploria Resorts, it was the outcome of an Internet contest among international designers. We are so proud of that outcome. V: Tell us more about the new Club Exploria vacation club product.

JB: It was designed, built and implemented by following our own

14 Q3 2015

experience in fulfilling the vacation requests of thousands of owners for the last 18 years. Club Exploria is a tiered-benefit club that provides members with lots of flexibility and benefits. It is a deeded ownership put into a trust in exchange for Expos, our proprietary points currency. This allows our owners to exchange to hundreds of destinations free of charge. Since its launch, in September 2014, the response from our owners and from consumers new to vacation ownership has been amazing. V: Can you reveal any statistics or figures on growth for Club Exploria in its first year?

JB: In the past two years, and as the result of many initiatives in sales and marketing—the launch of Club Exploria was the latest—our frontline sales have increased 82 percent, our in-house sales have increased 127 percent, and our non-timeshare products—for example, Travel Club—have increased 139 percent.

V: Exploria Resorts is active on social media and in its interactions with owners and guests. How does this engagement align with Exploria’s larger priorities?

JB: The engagement by means of social media and interactions with owners and guests go hand in hand. The core of the mission statement of Exploria Resorts is “to surpass our guests’ expectations.” Social media provides the metrics of these efforts. V: Tell us about Summer Bay Orlando’s two-year, multimilliondollar renovation, particularly in regard to the property’s Buccaneer Bay Adventure Park.

JB: We have almost tripled our revenue in our amenity venues in Orlando for the first four months of 2015, as compared with the previous year. V: What can you tell us about the next phase of the renovation, the opening of an activity center?

Juan Barillas with his wife, Santa, who also works in vacation ownership. “Working with Santa is full of pros,” he says. “It definitely has a great by-product: intelligent conversations at the dinner table.” Opposite, top and middle: An artist’s renderings of a building exterior and interior currently under construction which will be affiliated with The Registry Collection® program. Opposite, bottom: Summer Bay Orlando boasts many activities; here, an outdoor pool with the lake in the background.


JB: Our activity center opened in August and is the base of our expanding activity team and the planning hub for our guests’ vacations. It includes a movie theater, a fitness room, many activities, gathering rooms and an owners’ lounge. V: What other aspects of the resort are being upgraded or renovated?

PHOTOS, THIS SPREAD: BETSY HANSEN; COURTESY EXPLORIA RESORTS

V: What’s next for you and Exploria Resorts?

JB: For the next one to three years, Exploria Resorts has to continue to evaluate each of our destinations and consolidate our ownership on all the key destinations for our members. We call it expansion based on true demand. In the summer we will start selling our high-end product in Orlando under The Registry Collection® program affiliation. This addition will complete our product offering from entry product to core product to high-end product. There are many other initiatives on the drawing board for Exploria Resorts for the next three years, such as short-term product, full ownership and assisted living— even a kennel for pets of owners and guests.

Management insights V: In your opinion, what is the best practice of the most successful resorts? JB: Delivering second-to-none customer service at all points of contact. V: What is one mistake commonly made by resorts?

V: How would you define your management style?

JB: My management style is “FFF”: firm while providing freedom, but always fair. I provide the tools and space necessary for each employee to grow and do their job while expecting to see concrete results. Mistakes are okay but unacceptable when they become repetitive.

IN DEPTH

JB: We are in the middle of a major and unprecedented remodeling campaign of 588 of our units at Summer Bay Orlando that will be completed by November. The renovation budget is an initiative in excess of $13.8 million that was accomplished as a result of the great partnership with our homeowners associations.

JB: Making the check-in process just a process instead of the start of a great vacation. It can be remedied by customer-service-oriented leadership, tracking and proper training.

V: What changes have you observed in owners, resorts and the industry as a whole?

JB: The industry has evolved as developers have taken their owners much more seriously and have responded to the input they provide regarding what they want from a vacation experience and product. Examples include better accommodations, amenities, technology and one-stop shopping for their vacation needs. V: What do you think the next emerging industry trend will be?

JB: Short-term products. V: What has been the most important lesson of your career?

JB: Success doesn’t happen by accident. There is a system behind each individual’s success. Barillas’s vision for the future of vacation ownership pays off on his formula for success, and is a vision of optimism: “I truly believe that the next 10 years are going to be the most innovative and exciting years in our industry as we transform our vacation products to satisfy the needs of our new millennials coming strong into the marketplace.”

exploriaresorts.com RCI VENTURES 15


FA M I L I A R I T Y WITH TIMESHARE:

IN DEPTH

MILLENNIALS 31% GEN XERS 36% BOOMERS 50%

talking genera tions

Source for statistics, this spread: 2015 Portrait of American Travelers, MMGY Global

16 Q3 2015


7% OF MILLENNIALS AND GEN XERS S U RV E Y E D C U R R E N T LY OW N T I M E S H A R E .

IN DEPTH

Boomers, Gen Xers, millennials: Research sheds new light on what motivates these prospects to take vacations. BY E . M . LIN DHOLM

RCI VENTURES 17


T

imeshare is experiencing something of a renaissance moment. The U.S. industry had its fifth straight year of growth in 2014, when total sales volume increased to $7.9 billion, according to the 2015 edition of State of

the Vacation Timeshare Industry, published annually by the ARDA

IN DEPTH

International Foundation. Sales volume has increased an average 6 percent year over year since 2010, a testament to the industry’s ability to innovate and adapt to market demands with an array of new product offerings, as well as to the evergreen appeal of timeshare— because who doesn’t love a great vacation? Last year’s Shared Vacation Ownership Owner’s Report, prepared by HSR Associates for the ARDA International Foundation (AIF), made waves when it said that “today’s timeshare owner is more diverse [and] younger than you’d imagine.” While the study focused on timeshare ownership as a whole, a breakout section reporting on new owners observed that adults under the age of 35 make up 30 percent of the new-owner base. They tend to be homeowners who are employed full-​ time and married or in committed relationships, and most have children. In other words? This is a generation of younger owners who are poised to invest in their future. By no means does the increased presence of these new owners outweigh the importance of established timeshare owners, that is, baby boomers, who enjoy the lifestyle to such an extent that they continue to invest in additional timeshare product. But while the boomer generation has long been the sweet spot on the sales floor, a whole other demographic increasingly accounts for most qualified new sales. Gen X: On the sidelines no more Getting stuck with the moniker “the slacker generation” hasn’t kept Gen Xers from making great strides in life. Although only 60 million strong, or 25 percent of the U.S. adult population, Gen X—born between 1966 and 1980—has more spending power than the boomers or the

18 Q3 2015

millennials, and its members account for 31 percent of the country’s total income dollars, according to Shullman Pulse. Given that they’re likelier than the other groups to have disposable income, it’s not surprising that Gen Xers also have the highest average daily spend in the luxurytravel sector: They spend $627 a day on luxury travel, compared with millennials ($527 a day) and boomers ($522 a day), Virtuoso found in its first study of travelers by generation. The oldest Gen Xers have already celebrated their 50th birthdays. Of all the generations, they are the most apt to plan to travel as a family, which means that vacations often follow the school calendar. An additional correlation: Gen Xers are “more likely than other generations to have taken a theme park vacation” in the past calendar year, MMGY Global reports in its 2015 Portrait of American Travelers study. Beyond relaxation, which is a primary motivator for vacation for all generations, Gen Xers align with millennials on a number of other vacation motivators, MMGY Global’s study additionally found. Both generations are significantly more liable to be motivated by the chance to enhance relationships, experience new cuisines, pursue a hobby or wellness program or play a sport. And that’s not Gen X’s only youthful side; millennials and Gen Xers are also considerably more apt to be plugged into the Internet on smartphones and tablets as well as at the office, according to the 2014 Portrait of American Travelers.


Traveler preferences by life stage In the TripBarometer 2015 Global Travel Economy report, TripAdvisor studied demographics based on life stages versus traditional generational categories. Here, some key findings:

65% of millennials took an international trip in 2014; 88% took a domestic trip in 2014.

56% of families took an international trip in 2014; 88% took a domestic trip in 2014.

73% of retirees took an international trip in 2014; 85% took a domestic trip in 2014.

Free in-room Wi-Fi is more important to millennials than it is to other life-stage groups (78%), and superfast Wi-Fi is important to 18-to-24-year-olds (34%).

In addition to free Wi-Fi and in-room amenities, free

Retirees give more weight to in-room amenities (65%) and free shuttle or taxi services (39%) than do those in other life stages.

Sightseeing was ranked first by one in three millennials.

break­fast is important to families (64%).

Families are most likely to put accommodation at the top of their lists and prioritize shopping (33%).

Retirees are the most likely to spend their treat money on accommodations (61%) and special meals (55%).*

*Millennials treat themselves to meals out as well (54%), but they also indulge themselves with activities (50%), travel memorabilia (24%) and nightlife (19%) more than any other life-stage group.

D R E A M D E S T I N AT I O N S Australia is the number one dream destination for travel within the next two years for millennials and families, while Italy is first for retirees.

AMResorts finds success with a marketing strategy customized for specific demographics. AMResorts has aligned each of its six brands with a specific traveler demographic ranging from luxury travelers to an adults-only audience to families and multigenerational travelers. Each of the brands—which include Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts, Secrets and Breathless Resorts & Spas, Dreams and Now Resorts & Spas, and Sunscape Resorts & Spas— is supported by a customized marketing strategy that employs traditional, digital and social channels. Additionally, each brand has its own mobile app and blog. This targeted approach is paying off. Since the first quarter of 2015, AMResorts has signed new management contracts for properties in Aruba, Cap Cana, Costa Rica, Montego Bay and Panama, among others. “Viral video projects have been a major marketing initiative in 2015,” says Lisa Logan, marketing specialist for Unlimited Vacation Club by AMResorts, citing a recent video campaign for Breathless Resorts & Spas as just one of many examples. The video for the Breathless brand, “Evolution of the Bikini,” is geared to “sophisticated singles, couples and friends who are seeking an active vacation” and stars YouTube sensation and model Amanda Cerny. “After watching a two-minute montage consumers are prompted to learn more about Breathless, which is a relatively new brand,” Logan says. As of publication “the video has exceeded an impressive 5 million views on YouTube and has been shared online by Buzzfeed, Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as Sofia Vergara’s official website.” While Cerny’s “Evolution of the Bikini” may not resonate with all demographics, it reached the most important one.

RCI VENTURES 19

IN DEPTH

NUMBER OF TRIPS TAKEN IN 2014:

RETIREES (55+ without children under age 18 at home)

AMENITIES ARE AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN BOOKINGS:

FAMILIES (25–54 with children under age 18 at home)

TOP THREE THINGS TO SPEND MONEY ON AS A SPECIAL TREAT WHEN ON VACATION:

MILLENNIALS (18–34 without children under age 18 at home)

Case study in marketing


Q&A: Timeshare’s tangible future

IN DEPTH

Rob Kaplan-Sherman, senior vice president at HSR Associates, recently conducted research on behalf of AIF to study the next generation of timeshare owners. RCI Ventures® magazine caught up with Kaplan-Sherman to discuss targeting millennials, Gen Xers and boomers and the future of timeshare.

What was one of the most surprising findings to come out of the generational research? Robert Kaplan-Sherman: That traditional mainstream media is critically important to millennials. I think there’s a common perception that millennials are inextricably connected to the Internet. While there’s some truth to that, most millennials said traditional mainstream media was most important to them, as it was a primary source of stimulation and inspiration. They then research the ideas generated by mainstream media online. So what about millennials? What can the industry do to attract these prospects? RKS: I think the industry has already attracted many millennials. We found in the most recent AIF Owners Study that 30 percent of all new owners were millennials. Only Gen Xers had a higher representation among new owners. Results from the study indicate that millennials place significant emphasis on product flexibility, such as being able to vacation at a range of destinations and converting timeshare to different types of lodging options. Thus far millennials who have purchased a timeshare seem to be extremely satisfied. You mentioned Gen Xers; how can developers cater to the Gen X prospect? RKS: I think they share characteristics with the cohort above them, boomers, and the cohort below them, millennials. Much as with boomers, integrating choice into the value proposition is an important way to add variety to a timeshare lifestyle, but I don’t think it’s as important as it is to millennials. As a cohort, Gen Xers are also very comfortable using the Internet for research, shopping and buying. What about baby boomers? Is the industry communicating effectively to boomers, or are boomers adapting to the communication methods preferred by other generations? RKS: I think communicating with anyone who has owned for a long time is challenging. That said, it is probably more challenging communicating with boomers than with any other generation. While boomers use the Internet, it does not necessarily represent their primary communication channel. Additionally, given the rate of new benefits and products’ being introduced, the number of new communications hitting owners’ in-boxes can be overwhelming. When I speak to owners, the biggest communication challenge they report is that they receive so many emails from developers that they can’t possibly read and retain all the information presented.

20 Q3 2015

I think this points to a larger challenge of having a fundamental understanding of each owner’s unique needs and communicating accordingly. The next wave in effective communication across all generations is segmenting owners and communicating to specific wants and needs.

The next wave in effective communication across all generations is segmenting owners and communicating to specific wants and needs. There seems to be a shift in demographic among new owners, those purchasing a timeshare product for the first time. Who are these new owners? RKS: Honestly, this is one of the most exciting findings, in my mind. We are seeing that new owners are largely a microcosm of the U.S. population, reaching all ages and ethnicities. It’s exciting because it suggests that a timeshare lifestyle can diffuse throughout American society. That said, timeshare ownership continues to resonate with the most affluent consumers. While new owners have become more diverse, they are also more affluent than existing owners. What will the timeshare ownership demographic look like in 10 to 20 years? RKS: In the United States, I think, the owner configuration will continue to represent a broader cross section of the affluent market. However, I believe that the overall U.S. marketplace will resemble the global consumer more than the U.S. consumer. In other industries I consult in, I find that the marketplace is becoming increasingly “glocalized.” I think international consumers, especially from Latin America and Asia, will represent a growing share of U.S. timeshare owners. This suggests that U.S. developers may have to understand the wants and needs of prospects coming from different corners of the world.


Millennials: A generation on the move As far as generations go, millennials have been the darlings of media and marketers since they came of age, but the oldest of them, who were born in the early 1980s, are nearing 35, and the youngest, born in the early 2000s, are nearing adulthood. Whether or not they remember a time before computers, digital acumen is a hallmark of the generation, and their faith in technology and allegiance to the Internet reflect as much: Millennial travelers are likelier than the other generations to consider online reviews when researching a destination or accommodations, according to TripAdvisor’s 2014 Insights report. For half of millennials, the “quality of the travel website” affects their purchasing decision, Portrait of American Travelers reports, compared with four out of 10 Gen Xers and boomers and even fewer matures. These digital natives are also most apt to book accommodations via mobile apps and to travel with their devices. “They are time suppressed and overstimulated,” as Virtuoso succinctly sums it up, “with a general philosophy that a smartphone can solve any problem. Engaging them, educating them and showing patience is the key to converting them into good clients. Nothing cookie-cutter for this group.” Perhaps aptly nicknamed the Me generation, millennials are drawn to customized tours and unique vacation experiences. Most millennials surveyed for Portrait of American Travelers said they don’t want to feel like tourists while on vacation (49 percent) and that they believe the destinations they choose to visit say a lot about who they are (47 percent). Millennials also lead the pack in being motivated to travel to experience various cultures (68 percent) and to explore (70 percent). When making decisions about accommodations, they tend more than prior generations to be influenced by special offers and to consider proximity to transportation and sustainable travel, TripAdvisor reports. On the other hand, “millennials are slightly less likely to care about brand name, proximity to the beach or water and prior experience [with the brand].” With this unique set of travel preferences, motivators and purchasing behaviors, millennials are already making an impact on the travel industry. Companies that win over these savvy young consumers are likely to have customers for many years to come.

Making the right impression Timing is everything when it comes to getting your brand in front of prospective owners.

1. 2.

3.

4.

THE DRIVE TO E X P LO R E Nearly half of millennials surveyed cite “going somewhere on their wish list” as a reason for spending more in 2015.*

Connecting with prospects when they’re researching and planning a vacation is essential. The research firm MMGY Global gave RCI Ventures® magazine a sneak peek at its 2015 Portrait of American Travelers study, which gives insights into how millennials, Gen Xers and boomers make decisions about travel. Not surprisingly, search engine results are the top source considered during the comparingprices-and-features stage of vacation planning; all generations are also strongly influenced by resort and airline promotions and the websites of travel-service providers. For Gen Xers and boomers, online travel agencies, destination websites and travel-review websites also rank high. Millennials are the most impressionable across the broadest range of channels, including search advertising, promotional emails they’ve asked to receive and social media posts from travel destinations, as well as social posts by friends and family.

The upcoming study corroborates MMGY Global’s previous findings that: I N T E R N AT I O N A L Retirees have taken the most international leisure trips over the past two years, and do so with the most frequency.*

• More than nine in 10 travelers across all generations are online at home. • Millennial travelers (85%), Gen Xers (84%) and boomers (83%) all use the Internet to obtain travel information and prices.

For more information about these insights, or to obtain a copy of the full 2015 Portrait of American Travelers report, visit mmgyglobal.com/research. *Source: TripBarometer 2015 Global Travel Economy, TripAdvisor

RCI VENTURES 21

IN DEPTH

PHOTOS, OPENER: SHUTTERSTOCK; THINKSTOCK; SECOND SPREAD: SHUTTERSTOCK; THIS SPREAD: COURTESY ROB KAPLAN-SHERMAN

AT P R E S S T I M E A I F WA S F I N A L I Z I N G I T S N E X T G E N E R AT I O N S T U DY. TO L E A R N MORE, CHECK THE R E S E A R C H L I B R A RY AT A R DA .O R G .


Cuba

Haiti

IN DEV ELOPMENT

Jamaica

St. John’s Cruz Bay as seen from the Lind Point Trail, in Virgin Islands National Park.

Puerto Rico

Dominican Republic

British Virgin Islands

U.S. Virgin Islands


ST. THOMAS

ST. JOHN

Emerging from a drawn-out economic recovery, the U.S. Virgin Islands are poised for growth. BY E . M . LIN DHOLM

ST. CROIX

RCI VENTURES 23

IN DEV ELOPMENT

SUNNY DAYS AHEAD


IN DEV ELOPMENT

Looking out over Sugar Bay, on St. Thomas, from a balcony at Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas. Opposite, from top: Photographing the old windmill at Annaberg Plantation, on St. John; a room at Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas.

Something’s percolating in the Caribbean. After the U.S. Virgin Islands spent the better part of a decade battling a recession and working to revive a GDP hit hard by the closing of its last oil refinery, on St. Croix, all indications are of brighter days ahead.

24 Q3 2015

Tourism, the largest driver of the U.S. Virgin Islands’ economy, has rebounded. In 2014 the industry saw RevPAR numbers nearly equal to prerecession revenue. In December 2014, AMResorts opened Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas, its first resort in the United States and its 36th overall, and several new-construction schemes are in the pipeline. The U.S. Virgin Islands’ newly elected governor, Kenneth Mapp, is already reviewing a number of industry-boosting initiatives. A few months after his inauguration, representatives of the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and the Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC) met with the governor and with Senate president Neville James. “The governor recognizes the value of the hospitality industry to the local economy and has expressed a willingness to work with the timeshare industry as his administration explores new economic growth and development initiatives,” says Keith Stephenson, ARDA’s director of state government affairs. The Commission of Tourism is updating its five-year tourism plan, developed in conjunction with the Office of the Governor, according to current priorities. The plan was conceived to chart a sustainable future for tourism in the territory through several stages, including research, strategic-visioning sessions and data collection.

IN CASE YOU’RE WONDERING: Since the HOVENSA oil refinery closed, rum and spirits, boosted by distilleries relocated from Puerto Rico, have become the islands’ principal export.


Working toward the future Q&A with Lisa Hamilton, president of the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association. Talking about a changing timeshare industry, a rebounding economy and the importance of a unified and inclusive voice for hospitality and tourism.

Additionally, the governor’s office has cleared the way for a new resort on Water Island, which will make the island more open to tourism. The fourth, smallest and newest addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Water Island officially joined the territory in 1996. Beyond day-trippers and a few visitors who stay overnight in the island’s small campground, Water Island has seen little tourism since Hurricane Hugo destroyed the Sea Cliff Resort, in 1989. “The U.S. Virgin Islands are ripe for growth in the timeshare market,” says Eugenio Macouzet, senior vice president and managing director, Caribbean for RCI business development. “They are well positioned and unique in the Caribbean, as no passport is required for U.S. citizens. The islands have beautiful topography and a large number of direct flights and cruise-ship stops. The recent expansion of major hotel and timeshare developers shows that they provide great opportunity for timeshare.”

How has timeshare in the U.S. Virgin Islands grown, and changed, over the years? The dynamics of the chain hotels have changed now that many of the timeshares are side-by-side full-service hotels. They converted many long-term repeat guests into owners. They realized quickly that these guests still want the comforts and convenience of a full-service hotel, such as daily housekeeping, food and beverage outlets and guest-service managers. They have reacted to that need, and I believe that now many timeshare resorts “look, feel and taste” like full-service hotels. What is the outlook for tourism and hospitality in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a whole? We have had a banner year, with hotels reporting RevPAR close to prerecession revenue. Part of the reason was the terribly long and cold winter this year in our key market, the Northeast. However, the economy is rebounding, and this is a good sign. Recent and upcoming resort openings are indicators that lenders are interested in new development. Tourism is more than 80 percent of the GDP for the USVI, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Our new governor understands this, and has stated that he supports our industry and the need for more rooms for sustainability and growth.

Strength in numbers Developers and resort owners in the U.S. Virgin Islands benefit from some heavyweights who work collaboratively with the industry’s best interests in mind. In many ways the strategic alliance between

RCI VENTURES 25

IN DEV ELOPMENT

How does the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association support the timeshare industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands? Unlike many Caribbean islands, which have separate associations, here in the USVI we have created a strategic partnership with the timeshare/fractional ownership industry. They are members of our association and have seats on our board of directors as well as a committee that is focused on the timeshare industry’s key initiatives. Advocacy is the key area where we have common interests.


New & noteworthy The U.S. Virgin Islands are seeing growth in all tourism-driven sectors. Here, a sample of the next generation of attractions.

Abi Beach Bar, St. Thomas Now open at Green Cay, also known as Sanctuary Bay, this beach bar can be reached only by boat. Visitors can snorkel, play a round of beach volleyball or kick back and relax while looking out over the Caribbean Sea.

IN DEV ELOPMENT

40 Strand Eatery, St. Croix This restaurant is one of only a few locally that look to Denmark for inspiration (Denmark ruled what is now the U.S. Virgin Islands for more than 200 years, until the United States’ purchase of the islands, in 1917). The menu features traditional Danish offerings, such as the smorrebrod, an open-faced sandwich. Zion Modern Kitchen, St. Croix A collaborative endeavor by local chef Frank Pugliese and his culinary partner, chef Michael Ross, the restaurant combines new ideas and techniques with classic dishes and tradition. The menu features farm-to-table dishes, such as pumpkin soup and a farmer’s salad of St. Croix greens. Phantasea Tropical Botanical Garden, St. Thomas Twenty years in the making, the garden features more than 1,000 orchids; hundreds of bromeliads; heliconias and ginger; palms and other exotic tropical plants in a park-like setting. Interpretive signage and posted plant names help visitors learn little-known facts about plants in the collection. Balter, St. Croix Opening in downtown Christiansted this fall, the restaurant is the concept of U.S. Virgin Islands culinary ambassador and St. Croix native chef Digby Stridiron. Balter will offer gastronomic dishes driven by a farm-to-table philosophy; a farmers market will be attached to the restaurant. Notably, Stridiron was named the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s 2014 Caribbean Chef of the Year.

Courtesy: U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism

26 Q3 2015

ARDA-Caribbean, ARDA-ROC and the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association and their shared vision for the future—along with support from the USVI government— helped the territory’s industry through the worst of the recession and has been instrumental in setting the stage for the present growth trajectory. In August 2008 the ARDA-Caribbean Committee was formed, its mission being “to foster and promote the growth and well-being of the timeshare and shared vacation ownership industry in the Caribbean.” “The ARDA-Caribbean committee is composed of developers and property managers who have an interest in the Caribbean: they either currently operate there, have members who own there or are interested in expanding to the region,” Stephenson says. “Like those of all ARDA state and regional committees, the goals are to ensure that a fair and balanced regulatory environment exists for both owners and developers.” ARDA, ARDA-ROC and the USVI Hotel & Tourism Association recently hosted a reception for the hospitality industry that was attended by the governor, the lieutenant governor and members of the USVI legislature, as well as developers and other industry representatives. Stephenson describes the event as “a unique networking opportunity” for elected leaders and members representing their respective companies. “With the tourism industry comprising the largest segment of the USVI’s economy, it’s important that publicand private-sector leaders collaborate in order to develop the relationships, awareness and economic policies necessary for the destination to remain competitive and thrive in the global marketplace,” Stephenson says. “ARDA and ARDA-ROC have established deep roots in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with many legislative successes on behalf of developers and owners.” Living the island life With its crystalline blue waters, year-round temperate weather and abundance of recreational activities, it’s not hard to see why the U.S. Virgin Islands earned the moniker American Paradise. Visitors to the territory can spend their days seeking out beaches and coves; snorkeling, diving, kayaking and deep-sea fishing; exploring the ruins of 18th-century sugar plantations; and taking advantage of the plentiful duty-free shopping. Day trips between St. Thomas and St. John, as well as to the British Virgin Islands, are popular. “It’s an interesting vacation; it’s a taste of the Caribbean,” says Paul Goodrich, regional vice president of operations at SPM Resorts, which manages Bluebeard’s Castle’s four properties on St. Thomas. The properties overlook downtown Charlotte Amalie and Cay Bay or the yacht harbor, where cruise ships dock. On-site dining options include Room with a View and Banana Tree as well as a pool bar


U . S . V I R G I N I S L A N D S AT A G L A N C E Direct flights from the U.S. to St. Thomas and St. Croix

730,000 overnight visitors annually*

No passport required

About 2 million cruise passenger arrivals annually**

Recent legislation has updated timeshare regulations

*Source: IRR Viewpoint Caribbean Market Update—2015 Annual Report, Integra Realty Resources **Source: U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research, March 2015

PHOTOS, OPENER: AWL IMAGES; SECOND SPREAD: GETTY IMAGES; COURTESY DREAMS SUGAR BAY ST. THOMAS (2); FINAL SPREAD: GETTY IMAGES

IN DEV ELOPMENT

and a cabana bar, which feature more-casual fare. Bluebeard’s Castle is named for a hilltop watchtower that dates from the 1600s and today offers visitors outstanding vistas of the island in all directions. “It’s one of the best views you can get,” Goodrich says. New to St. Thomas is Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas from AMResorts. The property, which has nearly 300 rooms and suites and authentic island decor, also boasts a secluded beach, three interconnecting pools, a fullservice spa and fitness center and more than 16,000 square feet of meeting facilities. “St. Thomas was selected from a strategic point of view, to continue our growth in the English-speaking Caribbean, but also because of its beauty and the wide variety of activities this destination offers,” says Marc André, regional director of sales for AMResorts Caribbean. Guests are treated to AMResorts’ signature UnlimitedLuxury® program, which includes five on-site dining options, unlimited top-shelf spirits at four bars and lounges, many daytime activities and live nightly entertainment, an Explorer’s Club for kids, room service and concierge service. “In addition to all the activities and dining options available at the resort, the U.S. Virgin Islands are rich in history and feature many attractions in close

proximity that are worth a day trip,” André says. “Visitors are fascinated by the architecture and remarkable sights of this truly culturally rich area.” One such day trip: the intimate St. John, which Baron Weeks, chairman of the Sunset Ridge Villas Homeowners Association, describes as the jewel in the crown of American resort destinations. Similarly, much of the charm of Sunset Ridge Villas is its size, Weeks says. “With only six townhouse units, Sunset Ridge Villas provides a quiet and intimate vacation experience.” Located on a hillside above the quaint village of Cruz Bay, the property has as its focal point a large common-area deck featuring a pool, panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea and, of course, those namesake sunsets. “Because St. John is such a magical place, only a small percentage of the owners bank their weeks, and those weeks are quickly booked,” Weeks says. He describes most guests as couples looking for romantic getaways or small families looking to explore St. John; several owners have been with the property since its inception, in 1995. Additionally, he says, “first-time guests are always eager to return, so many are repeat guests or they decide to purchase a week to ensure a place to stay for their annual visit to paradise.”

Snorkeling in the blue waters off St. John.

RCI VENTURES 27


TECHNOLOGY & MARKETING

There’s an App for That Your owners are turning to mobile; are you? Learn to make the most of your hospitality app.

INNOVATION

BY J E SSE N O ’ B RIE N

Travelers are ready to do more with their mobile devices: Two-thirds of respondents to The Mobile Revolution Is Here, a study by the Center for Hospitality Research, had downloaded at least one travel-related mobile app and later deleted half the travel apps they tried out. “Your owners and guests are adopting new tools and devices at an accelerated pace,” says Christine Ciccone, vice president of online marketing at RCI. “Incorporating an app-driven experience into your resort service strategy can be a key differentiator in attracting and retaining visitors and potential owners.” A number of resorts are ahead of the curve when it comes to developing hospitality apps for smartphones and tablets that owners enjoy using. Here, a look at best practices as well as pitfalls to avoid. Inspire travel The first step in any vacation is answering the question “Where to go?” The Hard Rock Resorts AllInclusive app persuades users that the answer is one of the company’s properties by offering virtual tours, photographs and in-depth descriptions. Iberostar Cancún’s app takes a different approach, providing videos and descriptions of excursions to nearby places, like Cobá and Tulum. Users can also learn about a resort’s restaurants and amenities. And both the digital RCI® Directory of Affiliated Resorts and the

28 Q3 2015

Endless Vacation® magazine app for iPad®* and the AndroidTM platform** offer destination-based articles, videos and photography to help trav­ elers plan their next getaway. Detailed resort listings provide RCI® subscribing members with all the information they need to book once they’ve chosen a vacation destination. Upgrade owners’ experiences An app is a great way to reward owners for their commitment. Bluegreen Vacations distributes iPads loaded with the Bluegreen Owners Vacation Guide app and the RCI app at

the point of sale. With these tools at their fingertips, users can explore Bluegreen’s properties, discover owner-exclusive experiences and get insider tips on some of the best ways to use their RCI subscribing membership. Unlimited Connectivity by AMResorts provides guests with extra value by enabling them to call and text and go online over a resort’s Wi-Fi, avoiding roaming fees. Meliá encourages guests to join its rewards program with the MeliáRewards app: Travelers can enroll in the program and check their points on their mobile devices.

*RCI Ventures® magazine is an independent publication and has not been authorized, sponsored or otherwise approved by Apple Inc. Apple, the Apple logo, and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App store is a service mark of Apple Inc. **© 2015 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google, Android and Google Play are registered trademarks of Google Inc.


INNOVATION

A P P - D E V E LO P M E N T C H E C K L I S T Follow these tips from RCI’s vice president of online marketing, Christine Ciccone, to create an engaging and effective app for your owners.

It’s not about you; it’s about them. Think about what your owners and guests need throughout the course of their days, and supply solutions. Provide a seamless, user-centric experience. Users expect a high level of personalization and continuous interaction, whether they’re sitting at home or using your app on the go. Mobile isn’t a scaled-down version of the web. Create an app that’s tailored not only to the user but also to the device. Think about which functions a smartphone or a tablet does best.

Create a dialogue. You have the opportunity to get access to your owners’ and guests’ “context”: where they’re from, where they are and what they’re doing. Use this information to engage in a memorable way. Constantly optimize your app. A mobile app is never a finished project. It requires regular tests and updates to keep pace with your guests’ expectations.

RCI VENTURES 29


Book activities Travelers are particularly interested in using their mobile devices to make reservations for dining and activities, according to the Center for Hospitality Research’s The Mobile Revolution Is Here. Several vacation ownership groups have already incorporated scheduling features into their apps. With Unlimited Connectivity by AMResorts and the Palladium Hotels & Resorts app, owners can arrange dinner reservations or room service, book spa appointments and even discover special deals and offers. The Hard Rock Resorts All-Inclusive app allows users to make similar reservations and provides information on live music, DJ performances and other types of nightlife to help them make their evening plans. Provide area info There’s a reason so many hospitality apps supply guests with maps or GPS-enabled navigation: Users want practical information that’s immediately relevant. Palladium Hotels & Resorts, Iberostar Cancún and Fairmont help owners find local points of interest through their mobile devices. Other apps serve as on-site destination guides. Take the Snowbird app, which is available to owners at the ski resort The Cliff

30 Q3 2015

Club. Snowbird tracks the amount of snowfall over the past 24 hours, shows year-to-date and base-depth totals and offers a live weather feed for the mountain along with multiday forecasts. Users can also check on the current number of open lifts and trails. In providing so much information at the touch of a finger, Snowbird is an essential tool for guests looking to hit the slopes. Personalize guests’ stays An app can help ensure that an owner’s experience stands out by getting personal. Members of Fairmont’s President’s Club can use the Fairmont app to access the company’s exclusive guest-recognition program on the go. The app shows members their Fairmont history and tracks the number of qualified stays they need to move up to the next level. Guests who download the Wyndham Canterbury at San Francisco’s app are greeted by name thanks to its beacon technology. That same tech helps staff give specific recommendations according to guests’ interests. If owners have questions, they can contact staff by using the app’s chat function. The result is a highly personal app that works to seamlessly enhance guests’ experience of the resort, encouraging them to return again and again.

Tech companies have made great strides with the latest mobile trend, the smartwatch. Almost a million people pre-ordered the Apple Watch alone, according to research group Slice Intelligence. “The Apple Watch is part of a wave of accessories that could eventually be fully independent lifestyle assistants,” explains Scott Stein, senior editor at CNET. The smartwatch has a number of advantages for travel: It’s one less item to hold and offers a handy microphone for voice-controlled searches. There are already a number of travel apps available. A user can get inspiration for their trip by viewing photos on Instagram, receive flight updates and, once they arrive, request a ride to their resort.

They can use their smartwatch as a key card during their stay. If their resort accepts mobile payments, they can even settle their bill without ever opening a wallet. Top-performing apps take the user’s context into account and provide information that can be easily read at a glance or activated via voice control. InterContinental Hotel Group has created a smartwatch version of its popular IHG® Translator app, which offers real-time translation from 13 languages in formal, casual and slang settings. TripAdvisor’s app functions like a mini concierge service, sending reviews of nearby restaurants at mealtimes and sightseeing tips that are based on the wearer’s location. —J.O.B.

PHOTOS, OPENER: SHUTTERSTOCK; THIS PAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK

INNOVATION

W H AT ’ S N E X T : T H E S M A R T WATC H


2015

Lunch & Learn

r u to

PRESENTED BY

With only one Lunch and Learn left we would like to thank all of you who attended our sessions over the course of the year. We hope that the information you learned will assist in engaging your owners, the opportunity to create dynamic resale solutions, along with resources to help increase operational efficiencies. All HOA board members, general managers and resort leadership staff are welcome to join us at one of our final Lunch & Learn session for: NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES

|

PEER COLLABORATION

ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH YOUR RCI SERVICING TEAM VENDOR SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR DAILY OPERATIONS ATTENDEES WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR .25 AIF CREDITS

RSVP Today for Tuesday, September 15 POMPANO BEACH, FL visit RCIAffiliates.com/Events

SPONSORED BY:

Cunningham Asset Recovery Services, LLC

A special THANK YOU to our Affiliate Access partners Concord and CustomerCount for co-sponsoring the RCI ARDA Party in Orlando


IN DUSTRY SOLUTIONS

RCIAffiliates.com Enhancements to Help You RCIAffiliates.com has a new look and new navigation—and there’s even more to come.

RESORT OPERATIONAL TOOLS

INNOVATION

RCI Affiliate Access ®

Intelligent design values substance as much as style. Case in point: the recent relaunch of RCIAffiliates.com, which offers a beautiful new look and feel as well as improved usability and even more meaningful resources for RCI® affiliated resorts. It’s a reimagined online experience designed specifically to strengthen and enhance one of RCI’s most important relationships, that with its affiliated resort developers and staff. The mission of RCIAffiliates.com is as straightforward as its name. It’s RCI’s dedicated online resource for affiliates. This one-stop digital hub is where affiliates can learn more about RCI’s array of products, services and solutions that can help them close the deal at the sales table, maximize their bottom lines, manage their resorts even more efficiently and provide job aids and reporting tools for management and staff. As a long-standing industry innovator, RCI is invested in the continuous improvement of its services. To that end the redesign of RCIAffiliates.com and its migration to a new content-management system were approached with a key goal in mind: improving the end-user experience. Users will find a new look with intuitive navigation and a responsive mobile design: A fresh redesign Navigating RCIAffiliates.com is easier than ever before. Aided by the streamlined design, affiliates will be able to find materials they need to help them run their businesses, including RCI Affiliate Access® information, HOA management resources and RCI® Online Tour Generation. As RCI continues to innovate and produce services for affiliates, they will be able to find all the information about these new services here.

32 Q3 2015

Cost-saving Procurement Inventory Management Contact Center Solutions HOA Management Resources Your Vacation Benefits Social Media Assistance RCI Lunch & Learn Events Integrated Reporting Tools Training Resources

The valuable resources you need are right at your fingertips. Visit the new RCIAffiliates.com today!

Mobile compatibility The site’s responsive design makes it easily viewable on many devices. Just as timeshare consumers are looking for information 24/7 anywhere they are, RCI understands that affiliates are running their businesses the same way. Affiliates can access the documents and information they need while on the go, regardless of the device they are using.

These new components are just the beginning. Later phases of development will include enhanced log-in functionality, which will allow increased flexibility for customizing each user’s web experience. Plus, the new content-management system permits RCI to provide even more dynamic and rich content for RCI affiliated resorts to look forward to. “At RCI we are continuously striving to serve as a strategic business partner for each of our affiliates, which means providing a one-stop shop for the latest news in the industry,” says Gordon Gurnik, president of RCI. “RCIAffiliates.com was a natural place to house this content, since affiliates can already visit this site to access the RCI-related resources they need.”


Any way you look, at every step in the journey, RCI is there to deliver first-to-market powerful solutions. That’s a world of attention to your business needs.

Full circle supportSM for developers and owners 41+ years of creativity and expertise in timeshare Innovative, up-to-date  technology solutions An on-going conversation  with 3.8 million members

RCIAffiliates.com/360


Tours mean business.

LEADS

There’s no other company in this well-traveled world that’s made the investment in your success that we have. RCI® Online Tour Generation delivers qualified prospects, and RCI TV® makes the selling process engaging…because once prospects start dreaming of a lifetime of vacations, the selling process has already begun.


OPERATIONS Offering highly effective management tools When operations run smoothly, everyone benefits. We are here to provide our affiliates with exclusive tools, technology, and services that help drive down costs. We carefully researched and crafted our offerings with you in mind. From online reputation management, to negotiated pricing on products and services through RCI Affiliate AccessŽ, we’ve got you covered.


SALES

From interest to “YES.” Think of us as your ultimate sales support team, dedicated to helping you close deals. From RCI PresenterSM to RCI Elite Rewards® MasterCard® and the RCI Online Points Conversion Tool,  we’re here to help you break through the barriers to sales, and to turn prospects into owners.


OWNERS A lifetime of fun vacations.

The most extensive exchange  network on earth is just the  beginning (although it’s a  powerful place to start). We have a state-of-the-art website, mobile apps, and a comprehensive member communications program that keeps owners engaged and utilizing the value of their vacation ownership.

RCIAffiliates.com/360 RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. Š 2015 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.


A SOLUTION FOR EVERY RESORT

Whether you’re trying to improve your sales, make your resort operations more cost-effective, or simply find tools to help your Homeowner’s Association manage a sold-out property, you can find best-in-class solutions through the RCI Affiliate Access program! Training Solutions • Interactive Sales & Education Tools Sourcing of Resort Goods & Services • Risk Management/Insurance Customer Feedback Solutions • Video & Photo Production Collection Services • Rental Solutions • Data Analytics Solutions Accounting Services • Reserve Study Assistance

Certified Public Accountants and Business Advisors

Cunningham Asset Recovery Services, LLC

To learn more about the Affiliate Access program, visit RCIAffiliates.com/AffiliateAccess. RCI and related marks are registered trademarks and/or service marks in the United States and internationally. All rights reserved. ©2015 RCI, LLC. All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.


Recent RCI ® Affiliated Resorts* RCI Weeks® program

RCI Points® program

Girassois Lagoa Resort Tibau do Sul, Brazil

Sauipe Class Mata de São João, Brazil

Gramado Termas Resort Spa Gramado, Brazil

Sauipe Club Mata de São João, Brazil

Hotel Parque Agroturistico Loma Linda Ortiz, Venezuela

Sauipe Fun Mata de São João, Brazil

Iberostar Resorts Various locations in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico

Sauipe Park Sauípe, Brazil

Jungla & Pampa Hotel Resort Rurrenabaque, Bolivia Karon Sea Hill Resort Phuket, Thailand Leonia Holistic Destination Hyderabad, India Quinta do Lorde Resort Hotel Marina Caniçal, Portugal

Sauipe Pousadas Mata de São João, Brazil Sauipe Premium Sauípe, Brazil The Cascades Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico Wyndham Merida Mérida, Mexico

Wyndham Reef Resort Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

The Registry Collection® program Breeze Private Residence Club Playas del Coco, Guanacaste, Costa Rica Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Trump International Hotel Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. Iberostar Grand Hotel Bavaro Bávaro, Dominican Republic Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso Riviera Maya, Mexico Vivo Resorts Puerto Escondido, Mexico

What’s Happening Conferences, seminars, expos, summits, workshops, exhibitions, forums, symposiums, conventions, events and meetings you should know about. SEPTEMBER

SEPTEMBER 7–9 ATHOC (Australian Timeshare and Holiday Ownership Council Limited) Annual Conference Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia athocconference.com.au SEPTEMBER 9–10 CRC (Canadian Resort Conference) Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada canadianresortconference.com

SEPTEMBER 17–19 RDO6 (Resort Development Organisation) Conference Marbella, Málaga, Spain rdoconference.org

N OV E M B E R

OCTOBER 6–9 The Lodging Conference Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. lodgingconference.com

NOVEMBER 2–5 WTM (World Travel Market) London, England wtmlondon.com

OCTOBER 14–16 HICAP (Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific) Hong Kong, China hicapconference.com

NOVEMBER 11–13 ARDA (American Resort Development Association) Fall Conference Washington, D.C., U.S.A. arda.org

OCTOBER 20–23 LASOS (Latin American Shared Ownership Summit) Cancún, Mexico lasosummit.com

NOVEMBER 12–13 CHICOS (HVS Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit) San Juan, Puerto Rico chicos.hvsconferences.com

OCTOBER 26–28 RHIC (Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference) Moscow, Russia russia-cisconference.com

NOVEMBER 27–28 Luxury Hospitality Summit India TBD luxuryhospitalitysummit.com

SEPTEMBER 28–29 SAHIC (South American Hotel & Tourism Investment Conference) Lima, Peru sahic.com

*Due to space limitations and other considerations, this list might not include all resorts that have recently affiliated with RCI.

RCI VENTURES 33

INSIGHT

SEPTEMBER 9–11 HICA (Hospitality Investment Conference Africa) Johannesburg, South Africa hica.co.za

O C TO B E R


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BAHIA PRINCIPE PRIVILEGE CLUB

All-Inclusive Indulgence One of the fastest-growing resort groups traces its success to unforgettable locations where members can leave their wallets at home. B Y D AV E J O H N S T O N

M A R I N A S A N C H E Z M c E VOY Member services director

THE CHANCE TO STAND ON A SECLUDED BEACH IN THE DOMINICAN

Republic and watch thousands of humpback whales breaching in the waters of Samaná Bay: It’s an experience available to only a small number of people, but luckily for members of Bahia Principe Privilege Club, they can be among those fortunate few. Located on an exclusive island in Samaná Bay and close to the middle of whale mating and birthing grounds, Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado is one of Bahia Principe Privilege Club’s most notable locations. Referred to as the club’s “crown jewel” by Marina Sanchez McEvoy, member services director for Bahia Principe Privilege Club, the boutique-like Cayo Levantado offers 268 adults-only rooms and houses four bars, two pools and four restaurants featuring Mediterranean, Italian and Brazilian à la carte menus.

INSIGHT

Prime locations Regarded as one of the fastest-growing companies in the vacationownership industry, Bahia Principe Privilege Club opened its first property, Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana, on the east coast of the Dominican Republic in 2010. Led by president Evagrio Sanchez, a former Sol Meliá executive, the Privilege Club has quickly grown to 21 hotels in seven destinations. So while members can enjoy the delights of Cayo Levantado, they can also choose from among a number of other beautiful destinations, including ones in Mexico’s Riviera Maya; Runaway Bay, Jamaica; Spain’s Canary Islands; and more than 10 resorts in the Dominican Republic. Bahia Principe Privilege Club has three levels: The Bahia Principes are the company’s three four-star Canary Island hotels, the Grand Bahia Principes are five-star hotels in

A picturesque pool at Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Opposite: A grand welcome for owners and guests in the lobby of Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville, in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

RCI VENTURES 35


Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, in Samaná, Dominican Republic, is the club’s crown jewel, Marina Sanchez McEvoy says. Opposite: A sunny scene at Grand Bahia Principe La Romana, in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

Attraction spotlight: the whales of Samaná Bay

INSIGHT

For thousands of years humpback whales have used Samaná Bay as a breeding ground. Christopher Columbus even made note of this impressive gathering in 1493. Every year from mid-January to mid-March, thousands of humpbacks migrate from the North Atlantic to the waters around the Dominican Republic to give birth and mate for the following year. This annual congregation of cetaceans has been witnessed by lucky guests staying at Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa and Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo, all located in the Samaná Bay area.

36 Q3 2015

the Caribbean, and the Luxury Bahia Principes are five-star hotels at which the highest level of service is offered. Known for the stunning locations of its hotels, Bahia Principe Privilege Club has managed to expand its membership base rapidly and now has more than 18,000 members. “The Privilege Club aims to be a lifestyle club,” Sanchez McEvoy says. “We want our members to feel like members of the Privilege Club while at home as well as while visiting Bahia Principe resorts.”

airport transfers. Then on arrival guests have a quick and easy private check-in with the Privilege Concierge. One perk of club membership is the ability to make reservations at any of the Privilege Club hotels’ à la carte restaurants. Some resorts also offer specific perks, such as exclusive members-only Privilege Beaches, where premium drinks are on offer; and Privilege Lounges, where guests can enjoy complimentary international calls and Internet service as well as premium drinks.

Plenty of perks In addition to its much desired destinations, the club’s success can be traced to the range of amenities it offers. Before Privilege Club members go anywhere, they can book their vacations through the company’s 1-800 number or reservation email address or by sending a request through the website. They can also use the Privilege Collection online portal, on which they can book hotels, vacation homes, flights, car rentals and cruises with no seasonal restrictions or blackout dates. A week before they arrive, Sanchez McEvoy explains, members get a “precheck-in” call or email to coordinate and confirm any special requests, such as dinner reservations, particular types of room, spa services, excursions and

All-inclusive convenience Another reason for the Privilege Club’s success is its mandatory allinclusive program, which includes food, drink and access to the minibar as well as certain activities and services. In addition, Privilege Club members have the option of dining at an à la carte restaurant every night if they choose and of taking part in members-only events. They also have access to a discounted all-inclusive membership weekly rate with a pricematch guarantee. The all-inclusive programs can vary by location, Sanchez McEvoy says. For example, Cayo Levantado includes premium alcohol in its allinclusive offerings. (This may be why the property was named one of the top


We have very low employee turnover, which speaks volumes about our work atmosphere, as well as engaged and satisfied members. We strongly believe that a happy team will result in more happy members. —MARINA SANCHEZ McEVOY, member services director, Bahia Principe Privilege Club

THE BAHIA PRINCIPE PRIVILEGE CLUB PORTFOLIO La Romana, Dominican Republic Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville

Building relationships The Privilege Club also succeeds because its employees are highly fulfilled, Sanchez McEvoy says. Because they tend to stay with the company a long time, employees are able to share with members that same feeling of satisfaction. “We have very low employee turnover, which speaks volumes about our work atmosphere, as well as engaged and satisfied members,” she says, citing the results of guest satisfaction surveys that are completed at the end of a stay at any Bahia Principe location. “We strongly believe that a

happy team will result in more happy members.” From the company’s beginnings, in 2010, the Privilege Club has been affiliated with RCI—every one of the club’s locations has received the RCI Gold Crown Resort® Award distinction—and Sanchez McEvoy points to this relationship as an advantage for Privilege Club members. “All members are affiliated with RCI complimentarily for the first two years of membership,” she says. “After that they can choose to remain RCI® subscribing members. Many of our members really enjoy this aspect of their membership and like to exchange their weeks to access destinations outside the Caribbean and Spain. The range of destinations available to our members allows them to use the Privilege Club for all their travel needs.” As for the future of Bahia Principe Privilege Club, the Luxury Bahia Principe Baby Beach will open in Aruba at the end of 2016. “We are really excited to be able to offer a new destination to our members,” Sanchez McEvoy says. “Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts has an expansion strategy in place, and we hope Aruba will be the first of many new destinations.”

Bahia Principe Privilege Club members get access to an array of exclusive benefits, including: An on-site Privilege Concierge, who can assist with any requests; a designated Privilege Beach, where members never have to worry about getting a good spot; a membersonly Privilege Lounge; and Privilege Suites, furnished with VIP amenities.

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic Grand Bahia Principe San Juan Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Grand Bahia Principe Bavaro Grand Bahia Principe Punta Cana Grand Bahia Principe Turquesa Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Luxury Bahia Principe Esmeralda Samaná, Dominican Republic Grand Bahia Principe Cayacoa Grand Bahia Principe El Portillo Grand Bahia Principe Samaná Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado Runaway Bay, Jamaica Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica Luxury Bahia Principe Runaway Bay Riviera Maya, Mexico Grand Bahia Principe Coba Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an Canary Islands, Spain Bahia Principe Costa Adeje Bahia Principe San Felipe Bahia Principe Tenerife

bpprivilegeclub.com RRCCI I VVEENNTTUURREESS 3377

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PHOTOS COURTESY BAHIA PRINCIPE PRIVILEGE CLUB; VEER

25 all-inclusive resorts in the world by TripAdvisor in its 2014 Travelers’ Choice awards.) The all-inclusive program is popular with members for a number of reasons, Sanchez McEvoy says: “It allows guests to unwind and not worry about carrying a wallet. It makes it easy to stick to a budget while on vacation. It is lovely to sit at a first-class à la carte restaurant and simply get up and leave at the end of dinner—no bill or tips to calculate.” In addition to convenience, value is an important part of the equation. And of course if guests choose, they can add on any spa treatments and excursions or try their luck at the casino.


Inside and outside the Grand Palladium Imbassaí Resort & Spa, in Brazil’s Imbassaí nature reserve.

INSIGHT

G R A N D PA L L A D I U M I M B A S S A Í R E S O R T & S PA

Betting on Brazil By pairing luxurious amenities with natural wonders, the Grand Palladium Imbassaí is attracting owners and guests to South America’s largest country. BY J E SSE N O ’ B RIE N

38 Q3 2015

LU I S F R AG UA S M O U R E General director


40 YEARS AGO THE PALLADIUM HOTEL GROUP STARTED

INSIGHT

out as just two properties on Ibiza. Since then the company has flourished; today 48 hotels are located in six countries: Spain, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. It’s that last country that’s particularly noteworthy. Brazil’s tourism market has increased steadily in the past five years. Thanks to about 5,000 miles of beaches and the upcoming 2016 Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, the government has every reason to be optimistic about significant long-term growth in the tourism economy. And with a luxury resort on Brazil’s lush northeast coast, so does the Palladium Hotel Group. The Grand Palladium Imbassaí Resort & Spa, offering 654 junior suites, is located in the Imbassaí nature reserve, an area known for its warm, calm waters. “The experience at the Grand Palladium Imbassaí is exceptional,” general

director Luis Fraguas Moure says. “Our pristine beaches and sand dunes, and the protected environment, make for a unique stay that remains in our guests’ memories all their lives.” That unforgettable experience has also earned the Grand Palladium Imbassaí some of the industry’s highest honors: RCI Gold Crown Resort® Award recognition and the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Growing market In 2013, RCI Ventures ® magazine profiled Brazil as a promising location for vacation ownership. “Brazil offers the timeshare industry a vast and unique opportunity,” RCI president Gordon Gurnik noted at the time. “There is a growing ownership base within the country which positions Brazil as an important up-and-coming destination for development. And as companies are expanding in Brazil, creating jobs that are fueling the economy, more Brazilians

RCI VENTURES 39


T H E G R A N D PA L L A D I U M PORTFOLIO:

INSIGHT

Brazil Dominican Republic Italy

Jamaica Mexico Spain

can afford to travel to the United States, which creates a significant cross-sell opportunity.” Two years later those words still hold true. Although Brazil’s overall economy has faltered, the tourism industry remains strong. In fact, travel directly generated 3.1 million jobs in the country in 2014—3.1 percent of Brazil’s total employment, according to Economic Impact 2015 Brazil, a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Inter­ national travelers spent 17.1 billion BRL in 2014, a number expected to increase 5.3 percent in 2015. The study also anticipates that international tourist arrivals will grow to 6.2 million in 2015 and reach more than 13 million arrivals by 2025. Capital investment in Brazil is also predicted to rise, to 116.7 billion BRL over the next 10 years, or 6.4 percent a year. “The Palladium Hotel Group decided to open in Brazil after several market surveys and a careful review of customer demand for the area,” Moure says. Some of that demand is from domestic travel as Brazil’s middle class expands. The reasons for international arrivals’ increasing are varied. Although many foreign travelers need a visa to visit Brazil, a bill passed in 2014 made it possible to issue one online, reducing costs and waiting time. In addition, the 2016 Olympics alone are forecast to bring approximately half a million visitors to Rio de Janeiro. That bump and the general prestige the Olympics his­ torically lend the home country should help the Brazil Tourism Board reach its goal of 10 million visitors a year by 2020, all of which is good news for timeshare.

40 Q3 2015

Location, location, location The Grand Palladium Imbassaí’s success can be attributed in large part to the resort’s idyllic setting, in the Imbassaí nature reserve. The reserve is located along a section of coast called the Green Line that is known for its eucalyptus forests, coconut palms and natural swimming pools. Owners can spot sea turtles while roaming the unspoiled beaches or walk to the nearby fishing village of Praia do Forte for a day of whale watching. An international airport is less than an hour’s drive from the resort, so all this natural splendor is easily accessible. “We’re near one of the most important capitals in Brazil, a city with remarkable cultural diversity,” Moure says. Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia and Brazil’s thirdmost populous city, is a 90-minute drive from the Grand Palladium Imbassaí. “The surrounding area also has many natural attractions, such as the spot where the Imbassaí River meets the ocean,” he says. “On the property we have a bridge to the beach, so guests can enjoy a wonder­ful sunset at the end of the day.” The Grand Palladium Imbassaí works hard to reduce its ecological footprint while providing modern amenities. “It is important to us to protect the planet,” Moure says. “Our environmental policy is to use natural resources in a respon­sible and caring way. In short, we respect nature and work to minimize the environmental impact of our buildings. This commitment to sustainable hospitality benefits our guests and improves life for the surrounding community. In addition, our green efforts lower operating costs and strengthen the Palladium brand.”

Owners and guests at the Grand Palladium Imbassaí can choose from three buffet restaurants and three à la carte restaurants. Opposite: The resort offers a complete program of sports activities and entertainment at its on-site pools as well as at the beach—plus bar service.


PHOTOS COURTESY GRAND PALLADIUM IMBASSAÍ RESORT & SPA

We respect nature and work to minimize the environmental impact of our buildings. This commitment to sustainable hospitality benefits our guests and improves life for the surrounding community.

G R A N D PA L L A D I U M I M B A S S A Í BY T H E NUMBERS: • 654 rooms, all junior suites • 13 bars, including one swim-up bar and one sports bar • 3 buffet restaurants • 3 à la carte restaurants • 3 clubs for kids: baby club, mini club and teens’ club AMENITIES AT A G L A N C E : • On-site spa offering a range of services • Daily and nightly activities for adults • 24-hour reception service • Express checkout • ATM machine • Wake-up service • Handicapped facilities

— LUIS FRAGUAS MOURE, general director, Grand Palladium Imbassaí Resort & Spa

• Money exchange • Laundry service • Ice machines • Internet café • Wi-Fi access in the lobby

palladiumhotelgroup.com RCI VENTU RES 41

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New developments Given its setting and the promising market, it would be easy for the Grand Palladium Imbassaí to rest on its laurels. Instead the resort continuously seeks to improve its owners’ experience. At the moment guests can arrange with the concierge to go kayaking, snorkeling or deep-sea fishing. They can take advantage of the resort’s activity clubs for children aged 1 to 17, nightly performances and the on-site spa, which has a sauna, a steam bath and a Jacuzzi. “We’re the only hotel on the north coast with bar service on the beach,” Moure says. “Soon we will offer room service.” Several construction projects are under way. The Palladium Hotel Group is building resorts in Tenerife, Madrid and Ibiza and is always on the lookout for investment opportunities in Brazil. At the Grand Palladium Imbassaí, a Kid’s Splash pool is scheduled to open in mid-November. There are also plans to introduce an adults-only villa and to premiere a new theme in one of the on-site restaurants. There’s another recent development for owners at the Grand Palladium Imbassaí: an affiliation with RCI. This connection allows members to exchange to properties around the world, providing greater value for the Grand Palladium Imbassaí’s existing owners and a way to introduce the resort to new guests. “We consolidated our affiliation with RCI less than a year ago,” Moure says. “Since then we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of RCI® subscribing members who visit our property. We’re very pleased with the results and expect that this number will only grow.”


T H E H E AV E N LY C O L L E C T I O N

The Suite Life Exceptional service and luxurious amenities keep owners engaged year-round at this Malta retreat.

INSIGHT

BY J E SSE N O ’ B RIE N

Malta Golden Sands, a Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, has received the RCI® Gold Crown Resort Award.

42 Q3 2015


I TA LY

S I C I LY

M A LTA

M A LTA G O L D E N S A N D S , A RADISSON BLU R E S O R T & S PA

P E R RY N E W TO N Project director

AZURE’S HEAVENLY COLLECTION IS ALL ABOUT EXCLUSIVE LUXURY.

“The design brief was ‘romantic and sexy,’ ” project director Perry Newton says. “You feel it just from being in the elevator bay, even before you step inside an apartment. At once you see that this area is completely different from any other in the building.” Located on the ninth floor of the Malta Golden Sands, a Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, the Heavenly Collection by Azure offers owners private suites overlooking the Mediterranean. Azure has more than 10 years of experience in vacation ownership on Malta and runs a second program, the Island Residence Club, out of the same resort. The Heavenly Collection, affiliated with RCI’s The Registry Collection® program, is the high-end standout, however. “We introduced the Heavenly Collection in 2009,” Newton says. “It sold out quickly because people were really excited about something new and exclu­sive. And everyone likes a bit of romance.” The travel industry certainly seems to agree. Malta Golden Sands has been honored with an array of awards including the RCI Gold Crown Resort® Award and the 2013 Fractional Life Awards’ Innovation & Excellence prize. Last year the property received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence and was named the Top Hotel, the Top Hotel for Romance and the Top Luxury Hotel in Malta by Travelers’ Choice. (For its full roster of awards, see page 45.)

RCI VENTURES 43

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Super service The Heavenly Collection difference is clear as soon as owners land on Malta. Staff whisk their luggage directly from the airport to their suites. They are greeted by name on arrival, then enter their apartments to find any number of personal amenities, including the latest book by their favorite author, the makings for their preferred drinks in the liquor cabinet and a newspaper of their choice delivered daily. A superb concierge makes all this possible. “You cannot overestimate how important it is to have a truly knowledgeable concierge,” Newton says. “We have Henri and his younger understudy, Glen, who is like Batman’s sidekick, Robin. They know the island and the resort, and they know everybody.” Henri keeps owners’ profiles and pictures on hand so he can recognize guests on sight. He also calls owners before their trips to ensure that everything they might want is provided for them. The result is exceptional personal service.


INSIGHT

At Azure we have a ‘whatever, whenever’ attitude. We do everything in our capacity to allow owners to obtain whatever they want, whenever they want it. —PERRY NEWTON, project director, The Heavenly Collection

In addition, the Heavenly Collection brings a number of luxury experiences into the suites. When owners opt for the bath-butler service, for instance, the resort’s spa team comes to their apartment to set up candles, flowers, mood lighting and music. The guests can unwind after a day of sightseeing in a bath full of essential oils while enjoying a shoulder massage. Another night the owners may select the white-glove dining experience and have one of the resort’s chefs cook a dinner in their apartment that is then served by candlelight. “At Azure we have a ‘whatever, whenever’ attitude,” Newton says. “We do everything in our capacity to allow owners to obtain whatever they want, whenever they want it.” This motto extends outside the suites as well. Owners can call on the concierge to arrange shopping expeditions, bike tours, country walks and other act­ivities around the island. Staying connected through social Azure has developed a number of sales and marketing initiatives to keep people excited about their ownership

44 Q3 2015

throughout the year. After returning home, owners sometimes get the postvacation blues, so Azure worked with UK company CitNOW to create a personalized video app. In the video, owners are taken around the resort and greeted by the staff. The video closes with an individual message from the salesperson who assisted them with their purchase. “We used to send a handwritten postcard,” Newton says. “We wanted to do something equally personal but a bit more engaging. The CitNOW app has had a massive positive effect in extending the wonderful buying experience.” Between stays owners can subscribe to the Azure TV channel on YouTube for updates on the resort and the latest on Malta. The videos also feature inter­views with owners and inform­ ation about local events and highlight special offers. Each episode is only a minute or two long, a quick reminder to owners of why they decided to pur­chase. And the videos are fun to create, so they keep staff members enthusiastic as well. Azure wants owners to be excited not only about the Heavenly Coll­ ection but also about the various

Above, from left: The Heavenly Collection suites feature views of Golden Bay, Malta; inside the Heavenly Collection; arriving at Malta Golden Sands, a Radisson Blu Resort & Spa.


PHOTOS COURTESY THE HEAVENLY COLLECTION

Growing portfolio Savvy alliances help Azure provide more for its owners, such as the access to a world of luxury travel offered by The Registry Collection program. “Our affiliation with RCI is crucial to our objectives,” Newton says. “It was a conscious decision to join RCI at the very beginning because we knew RCI had the same vision for the future as

we do in regard to owner retention and acquisition. RCI also shares our passion for engaging with our existing and potential new owners.” Never content with the status quo, Azure constantly expands its own offerings with the goal of building a portfolio of lifestyle experiences. Every time Azure develops a product, the company works to create value for existing owners. Someone who pur­chased a Heavenly Collection suite years ago can now take advantage of Azure’s luxury yacht program. Soon owners will also be able to enjoy a supercar program and seafront loft houses, both of which are in development. “Our owners get very excited when we release something new, and they want us to continuously develop inventive products,” Newton says. “Plus, all these little additions give them a bit of extra usage, making what they originally bought even more attractive. Our greatest success is that our owners want more from us.”

azure.com.mt

AWA R D S Malta Golden Sands has won numerous accolades over the years, including: RCI Gold Crown Resort® Award 2015 Travelers’ Choice award Top Hotels 2015 Travelers’ Choice award Top Luxury Hotels 2015 Travelers’ Choice award Top Hotels for Service 2014 Travelers’ Choice award Top Hotels for Romance 2014 Travelers’ Choice award Top Luxury Hotels 2014 Travelers’ Choice award Top Hotels in Malta 2014 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013 Fractional Life Awards Highly Commended Best Fractional Development Europe, Middle East, Africa 2013 2013 Fractional Life Awards Life Award for Innovation & Excellence 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012 Perspective magazine Best Fractional Resort Europe, Middle East & Africa

RCI VENTURES 45

INSIGHT

destinations around the world they can exchange into. “We realize that resort exchange is the reason some guests purchased their ownership,” Newton says. “We built an on-site Dream Holiday Photo Booth so we could actually put owners inside the next place on their wish lists before they leave our resort.” Guests can take pictures of themselves in a range of destinations, from New York City to the Maldives. The photo booth is connected to Azure’s social media networks, so it’s simple for owners to share their pictures. In this way the photo booth also functions as a marketing tool. “Family and friends like the photo, then like our page and consider visiting us themselves,” Newton says.


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All products and services are manufactured and/or provided solely by the listed suppliers and not by RCI, its parent and/or affiliates. Neither RCI nor its parent or affiliates are responsible for the accuracy or completeness of any statements made in this advertisement, the content of this advertisement (including the text, representations and illustrations) or any material on a website to which the advertisement provides a link or a reference. Please refer to the applicable brand specifications for your property prior to purchasing products. All images on screen are simulated. Design, specifications, and features subject to change without notice. This promotion is subject to change without notice. LG has the right to terminate this promotion at any time. © Copyright 2014 LG Electronics USA, Inc. All rights Reserved. LG Life's Good, Pro:Centric and XD Engine are registered trademarks of LG Corp. Pro:Idiom is a registered trademark of Zenith Electronics Corporation. All other product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies . Printed in the USA | April 2015 PRMO_LX340H-LX560H_RCI_041529_PR

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A FINAL THOUGHT

RCI Off-Duty It’s not all business at RCI. In this series RCI Ventures® magazine checks in with key team members to talk vacations, hobbies, heroes and more. This time we caught up with Dimitris Manikis, vice president of business development for RCI Europe, Middle East and Africa.

What is one of your favorite holiday memories of all time? DM: For our honeymoon we went to Hawaii from Greece. I couldn’t believe I was there. It sounded so exotic for somebody 20 years ago, to get on a plane and go to Hawaii from Athens. It was just extraordinary: the cultural differences, the landscape, the laid-back people. I was fascinated. What is your greatest passion or hobby? DM: I am a well-known collector of fountain pens. I’ve got about 200. It’s an interesting hobby, but it’s amazing, the beauty and the craftsmanship that go into fountain pens. I use only five or six; the rest I have on display, to take out and look at every now and then. It’s one of the happy days in my routine when I do that. What is one personal goal you would like to achieve? DM: I want my kids, one day, to realize exactly what I’ve come to realize about my dad and the reason he was away all the time for work—it wasn’t because he wanted to be; it’s because he had to be. When I realized what exactly my dad was doing and why, I came to love him more than ever. I do everything I can for

52 Q3 2015

my kids to grow up and be positive individuals in life, and hopefully one day they’ll realize why I’m doing what I’m doing for my family. What is your definition of success? DM: I think success is the love and recognition you get from the people around you: the recognition you get from the industry and the people you work with. If people want to spend time with me, I think I’m successful. What, or who, inspires you every day? DM: That’s my dad! He’s 87 years old. He did everything for his family. He’s my daily inspiration. Which qualities or characteristics capture Greek culture and citizens? DM: I think two things distinguish the Greek people. It’s pride in being Greek, and it’s all the history we carry with us. The history is a blessing because we were there—the Greek civilization was there 5,000 years ago—but it’s also a curse because we rely on that civilization and we talk about the past, but we don’t really talk a lot about the future. Do you have a favorite beach in Greece? DM: On Paros there’s a little harbor called Drios with a lot of local tavernas where you go and have your meze, your fish. It has a really bad mobile reception and really great food, and it’s a very nice place to be, where you can forget about your everyday and completely chill out. That’s what it’s all about. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the world.

PHOTO COURTESY RCI

Where did you go on your most recent holiday? DM: I own a timeshare on a Greek island called Paros, and am an RCI® subscribing member as well. Between Christmas and the new year, I exchanged my timeshare for a beautiful resort in Germany. It was so close to many other countries— Holland, Luxembourg, France. I actually went to four countries in one week.


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RCI Ventures North America and Canada Q3 2015