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Fractionals Attract Vacation-Home Market

Timeshare:  Sales & Marketing

By Robert Selwitz
Hotel & Motel Management

Upper-upscale fractional ownership and traditional timesharing are similar yet different. While both involve shared occupancy of a property, fractionals target affluent clientele, and its time periods are longer than the traditional week or two.

Fractionals are marketed to those who want a vacation home without the cost or hassles of full-time ownership. Fractionals include the tax-deductible advantages of home ownership and access to concierge, food and other hotel services.

The newest Four Seasons’ Residence Club property opened in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where 40 fractionals are available in one-seventh annual increments. The two-bedroom, two-bath units cost about $375,000 each.

“Jackson Hole is a great example of upscale fractional residences,” said Angela Gyetvan, director of marketing for Four Seasons’ Residence Club. “Buyers get roughly 35 days each year, divided into winter, summer and shoulder periods. And they can buy more time if space is available.”

Gyetvan said future properties will feature longer stays. Set to open later this year is a site in northwestern Costa Rica.

Starwood

Starwood Vacation Ownership’s entry into the fractional market is a $30-million renovation of the 257-unit St. Regis in Aspen, Colo. A new spa, 25 new suites and 20 additional hotel rooms will be at the heart of the project, according to general manager Richard McLennan. Units are expected to be available for sale by mid-2004. Sales are expected to be in one-eleventh increments, providing each buyer with 28 days per year.

Weeks at properties in Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, the U. S. Virgin Islands, Colorado, Hawaii and California sell for about $15,000 on an annual basis, said David Matheson, v.p. of investor relations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Matheson said shares at the St. Regis Aspen should cost about $300,000.

Ritz-Carlton

The 54-unit Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colo., is the newest Ritz-Carlton Club property. The Ritz-Carlton brand is owned by Marriott. Other locations include St. Thomas in U. S. Virgin Islands and Aspen, Colo. Set to open this year is a property in Jupiter, Fla. Time segments range from 21 to 35 days. Annual tabs vary from $98,000 to $490,000.

Weeks at Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club’s 1,900 resorts average $12,000. Similarly, Marriott Vacation Club International features 52 locations. Prices for these deeded properties range from $7,900 to $64,400 per week.

Hyatt

Hyatt Vacation Ownership recently opened its 93-unit Hyatt Windward Pointe. This is HVO’s seventh property, and its third in Key West, Fla. Shares will be sold in twentieths, roughly 18 days annually that usually are divided into two seasonal portions.

HVO owners can exchange their time at their Hyatt vacation-ownership resort for stays at more than 35 Hyatt hotels and resorts in the United States and Caribbean, according to John Burlingame, HVO’s executive v.p. Hyatt Vacation Club membership also gives owners access to more than 1,800 resorts in more than 60 countries through Interval International’s vacation exchange network.

Burlingame said the mix of time periods and reasons for purchase vary.

“Our buyers are people who can afford the very best but simply don’t choose to be financially or otherwise tied down to permanent second house ownership in one location,” he said. “Instead, they want their real-estate to match their lifestyles and needs.”

Intrawest

Intrawest Resorts, an independent lodging operator, introduced “Storied Places,” individual 2,500- to 3,500-square-foot residences with half-year fractionals. Current sites include Whistler, British Columbia; Snowmass, Colo.; and Tonopalo Lake, Calif.,.

Each site has a resident innkeeper who greets returning members and provides them with concierge and storage services in locations that wouldn’t be affordable to most people seeking a desirable vacation home, according to Intrawest President Jim Onken.

One of the Intrawest residences in Whistler might typically cost $300,000. Onken said that is quite reasonable for a virtual ski-in, ski-out site in a desired winter destination.

Storied Places owners can exchange their time with a number of affiliated resorts or give the time to friends or family.

Star Resorts

Chris Tivey, v.p. of marketing for Star Resorts, said that for a third of the million or more dollars a permanent residence might cost, second-home seekers can enjoy a dead-center location in some of North America’s most desirable getaway locations.

For example, $300,000 will buy a one-seventh annual share at Northstar-at-Tahoe. On site are 18 units with typical prices in the $229,000 range for a three-bedroom unit. At Snowmass Club in Colorado, the same space costs about $300,000.

Tivey said owners who need to shift their weeks have a variety of options for exchanges with owners of other Star Resorts residences or they can bank the value of their time for use in a variety of other properties, or for cruises.