As major hoteliers look to their burgeoning timeshare divisions to
offset declining profits, many companies are focusing new
development in the West.
California, Colorado and Hawaii now rank among the nation’s five
biggest timeshare markets, propelled by developers seeking to
capitalize on the region’s climate, year-round appeal, beaches, and
ski and golf destinations within driving distance of major
And the boom is expected to continue as more of the major hotel
brands expand their timeshare offerings. In 2002, Marriott and
Cendant became the first hotel brands to top $1 billion in
The hotel brands are also increasingly moving to educate agents
about timeshare as a lodging option. Many hotel brands rent unsold
timeshare units, and owners sometimes offer their intervals for
Marriott, for example, offers the same commission structure for
agents booking timeshare rentals as they do for hotel rooms. The
brand’s timeshare units rent for an average of $350 to $375 per
night, and the length of stay is typically longer than at a
Also, agents don’t have to worry about their clients being
forced to listen to timeshare sales pitches.
“We don’t intrude or do anything to impact their stay from a
marketing standpoint,” said Ed Kinney, senior director of brands
and public relations for Marriott Vacation Club International, one
of the largest timeshare companies.
While no figures are available for regional timeshare sales,
worldwide sales have grown an average of 12 percent each year since
1990, according to Cendant, one of the dominant companies in the
And U.S. sales last year totaled $5.5 billion, up 14 percent
over the previous year despite a general downturn in travel,
according to Ragatz Associates, Cendant’s market research
The average price for a week of annual use is about $14,800.
The growing appeal of timeshare, particularly after the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, stems from the “fundamental philosophy of people
putting a higher priority on family time together,” said
In the West, experts say the hottest markets are Las Vegas,
Hawaii and Palm Springs, Calif.
Once seen as a sleeper, timeshare has taken off in Las Vegas
over the past five years as the city has become a desirable
destination for more than just gambling.
“Five years ago Vegas was a $100 million timeshare market. Our
estimate now in 2003 is that it’ll be a $350 to $400 million
market,” said John Sweeney, executive vice president of RCI
Consulting in Las Vegas, a Cendant company.
When the major casinos start building timeshare units, “Las
Vegas will surpass Orlando as the timeshare mecca of the world,”
predicted Sweeney, who added that most of the major casinos in the
city have “shelf plans” for timeshare development.
Orlando has an estimated 43 timeshare resorts, and Vegas has 24,
said Sweeney. But like everything in Vegas, the timeshares tend to
be bigger, bringing in more units per resort.
In Vegas, Hilton is the dominant hotel brand in the timeshare
market. If completed as planned, the Hilton Grand Vacations Club on
the Las Vegas Strip, Hilton’s third timeshare property in Las
Vegas, would ultimately house 1,500 units in four buildings. The
first phase, with 283 units, is expected to open later this
Last month, Starwood Vacation Ownership Inc. opened the first
phase of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, a 280-unit
beachfront property on Maui, and all 103 villas have been sold.
Starwood also is developing another timeshare on land it bought in
Hilton, which operates two Grand Vacations Club timeshare
resorts in Hawaii, has announced plans to transform six floors of
its Kalia Tower at Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki into 72
studio and one-bedroom timeshare units.
Timeshare makes up only about 6 percent of Hawaii’s lodging
market, said Mitch Imanaka, chairman of American Resort Development
Association in Hawaii. But timeshare sales in Hawaii have grown
about 25 percent annually for the past five years. “I would expect
within five or 10 years to see the inventory double,” said
“I don’t believe you’ll see another stand-alone hotel built in
Hawaii without a timeshare component,” he added.
Palm Springs, Calif.
Marriott is the leading brand in the Coachella Valley, where
most of the nine cities that make up the greater Palm Springs area
are home to timeshare resorts. Marriott has three resorts in the
region, the newest being Marriott’s Shadow Ridge in Palm
When construction is finished next year, the resort is expected
to have close to 1,000 villas.
Marriott’s other two timeshare properties adjacent to the J.W.
Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa -- Desert Springs Villas and
the Desert Springs Villas II -- are both sold out.
This year, Starwood also opened the first phase of the timeshare
development at Westin Mission Hills Resort & Villas in Rancho
Mirage with 56 of the planned 158 units.
Trendwest, a division of Cendant that has developed 48 timeshare
resorts, mostly in the West, is also expected to announce plans for
a new property in the Palm Springs area.
Arizona Timeshare Market Also Strong
Arizona is another Western market where timeshare developments
Among recent developments, Hyatt Vacation ownership last month
opened the Hyatt Pinon Pointe in Sedona, the brand’s 10th timeshare
property. The first phase offers 75 units, as well as an activity
building with media room, exercise room, spa and children’s
The Westin Kierland in Phoenix, scheduled to open next year,
will be Starwood’s third timeshare property in Arizona. The
timeshare resort will share grounds with the Westin Kierland Resort