HIGH END RESORTS ARE HOT

Condo hotels, fractionals, destination clubs and high-end timesharing are the hot topics in the resort industry, as evidenced by three recent conferences that each dealt exclusively or in part with these topics. The events were the Timeshare & Resort Industry Conference (TRIC) in mid-October; Leisure Real Estate Developers Forum (LREDF) in Chicago, also in October; and last month's Symposium on Financing, Developing & Operating Condo Hotels in Las Vegas.

“We haven't seen anything yet when it comes to the power of this market,” David Bansmer, managing director of The Registry Collection, told the LREDF audience about the high-end resort market. “We're witnessing a truly scalable bull run of epic proportions. The cash-rich Baby Boomers are creating a bright future for the leisure resort business.”

According to Bansmer, 70 percent of the wealth in the U.S. is on the verge of transfer — mostly to the already-affluent Baby Boomer generation. “They'll soon have significant additional disposable income and they're willing to spend it on things that make them feel good, like resort real estate,” said Bansmer.

The TRIC meeting focused a lot on the fundamentals of the vacation ownership business. Several industry executives on a developers' panel noted that there's never been a better time to be a timeshare developer.

“We should see a 35-percent growth in our target market so even if the penetration rate stays at seven percent, we'll see tremendous growth in the industry,” said Matt Avril, president of Starwood Vacation Ownership. “It took timesharing 20 years to reach $4 billion in annual sales, but it only took four years for sales to top $8 billion a year.”

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