The Future of Timeshare: Fractional Ownership in Urban Locations

The Future of Timeshare: Fractional Ownership in Urban Locations

Consumer demand for greater flexibility brings more timeshare options to the table. Here, we look at fractional ownership as well as the relatively new concept of urban timeshares.

 Throughout its history, the concept of timeshare has undergone a number of radical changes. These changes were implemented as a response to the needs of timeshare owners, and all of these changes indicate a constant striving for flexibility on the part of the resort as well as the consumer.

Timeshare has evolved in what can be described as a basically linear pattern. First came floating weeks, which allowed timeshare owners the flexibility to schedule a vacation week when it was most convenient. Then, points-based systems of ownership were created. Points systems allowed owners to break up their week into smaller portions of time, while at the same time changing the way timeshare exchange values at certain resorts were calculated.

The quest for flexibility continues today, spurred on by competing resort companies responding to consumer demand.

A number of high-end timeshares have been developed in urban areas in recent years. Urban timeshares are offered in destinations like San Francisco, London, Boston, and most recently, Hong Kong. While major resort chains are the most noticeable players in this market, several independently-owned and operated resorts have done well for themselves. Most notably, New York’s Manhattan Club is one of the most well-known urban timeshares on the planet. Urban timeshares are known to have high exchange value, because the demand is high and the supply is low. Exceptions to this rule may exist if the city is a high-demand resort destination, but even Las Vegas timeshares (generally) have strong exchange power and are in high demand.

Around 1994, the concept of fractional ownership was developed. With fractional ownership, a timeshare owner has the option to buy a fraction of a year, usually ranging anywhere from 21 days to 4 months. Business travelers like fractional ownership because the time can usually be used in increments of several days at a time. The owner is not locked into using the timeshare at a particular week. The costs associated with fractional ownership are much higher than ordinary timeshare expenses, but a major selling point of fractionals is their outstanding amenities, most of which are comparable to 5-star hotels or luxurious private residences. Exchange, though possible, is limited due to the relatively small number of fractionals available on the market today. A timeshare owner is better off buying a fractional interest in a private residence club in an area that he/she is going to want to return to on a consistent basis.

Fractional properties in urban areas are the next phase in the evolution of timeshare. The timeshare industry has been receptive to these offerings, and industry publications have given fractional-ownership private residence clubs high marks for service and amenities.

Though the hefty price tag means that fractionals are out of reach for most individuals and families, we can expect fractionals to become more popular and affordable in the future. One thing to bear in mind is that the purchase of a fractional interest requires as much preparation and due diligence as does any other real estate purchase. Even if you are dealing with a respected hotel brand, do your homework before you agree to buy.

Four Seasons, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Disney are the most high-profile companies offering fractional ownership of vacation property. More information may be found by visiting these companies online.

New Orleans Evacuates, Flooding Stabilizes

New Orleans Evacuates, Flooding Stabilizes

The situation in New Orleans is extremely grim in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans is undergoing a total evacuation due to widespread flooding from Lake Pontchartrain caused by hurricane Katrina. I tried to contact several resorts in the area, but with no success. Though reports are conflicting, I’m going to summarize what I know so far about conditions in this city and the other areas affected by Katrina.

Yesterday, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued a statement saying that because of rising floodwaters, the entire city would have to be evacuated. The rising water is carrying sewage, human bodies and industrial waste, and it is feared that these contaminants will pose health risks to any who stay behind.

Today, people taking shelter from Katrina in the New Orleans Superdome have been relocated to the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.

Yesterday the death toll was reportedly 55 in New Orleans, 80 in Mississippi. Estimates vary widely, but the number of people dead or missing is likely to increase in the next few days. Rescuers in New Orleans are primarily focused on helping survivors rather than counting the dead.

Reports say that the flooding has been stabilized, and that the French Quarter remains dry. Because the French Quarter lies at a slightly higher elevation than the rest of the city, it may escape with only minor flooding. However looting is widespread throughout the city. At this time there have been reports of at least one shooting. There is no electricity, no fresh water, and minimal phone service. Contaminated floodwaters pose a severe hygiene risk, and cannot be pumped out of the city until the levves have been repaired. Because of this, only rescue personnel are allowed to enter the city at this time.

Mayor Nagin also advises that it may take as long as 12-16 weeks before people can enter New Orleans again.

For local news coverage of the situation in New Orleans, go to http://www.nola.com/.

Hurricane Katrina Hammers New Orleans, Timeshare Resorts Unreachable by Phone

Hurricane Katrina Hammers New Orleans, Timeshare Resorts Unreachable by Phone

The first major hurricane to hit New Orleans in thirty years, Katrina has caused widespread damage. Though initial estimates are optimistic, very little information is available now.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration infrared satellite shows the center of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Plaquemines Parrish, La., at about 7:10 a.m. Monday morning.

Earlier this morning, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Louisiana peninsula at a speed of 145 mph. The eye of the storm moved within 30 miles of New Orleans late this morning, and this storm’s effects have been felt through most of Louisiana and Alabama and nearly all of Mississippi.

The information so far has been sparse, though optimistic. Official news sources say that for the most part, the many levees and dams that surround New Orleans are holding back dangerous high waters from both the Mississippi river and Lake Ponchartrain. Because most of New Orleans lies below sea level, the city is especially vulnerable to a hurricane of this force. One troubled area is the neighborhood of the Ninth Ward, where severe flooding has occurred. There have been reports of many buildings being stripped of their roofs by heavy winds.

Though the current damage estimates fall short of previous worst-case scenarios, the situation in New Orleans is extremely dangerous. Earlier, panels from the roof of the Superdome were dislodged by high winds. These panels slammed into the nearby Hyatt Regency Hotel, causing massive structural damage to a hotel that has already been battered by the storm. Most of the guests were taking shelter in a third-floor conference room, and there are so far no reports of injuries or fatalities among those seeking shelter at the Hyatt. On Lake Ponchartrain’s south shore, floodwaters have completely submerged the ground floors of many homes and businesses.

Earlier I made several attempts to communicate with two timeshare resorts located  in the French Quarter. I was not able to reach anyone. When more information becomes available, I will post it here.

Tropical Storm Emily: ‘Unpredictable’, Timeshare Owners Wary

Tropical Storm Emily: ‘Unpredictable’, Timeshare Owners Wary

Though Tropical Storm Emily continues to menace the Caribbean Islands, Florida timeshare owners are relieved to escape the brunt of this storm.

Many Florida timeshare owners breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as they heard that Hurricane Emily had been downgraded to a tropical storm, and that her present course will steer this hurricane towards the southern portion of the Caribbean Sea.

This change is partly due to a semi-permanent area of high pressure known as the Bermuda High. At his time of year, it can usually be found over Bermuda, hence the name. This high-pressure zone, if it is particularly strong, can drive hurricanes toward the continental US. This year, a weak Bermuda high has pushed Tropical Storm Emily south, and Florida homeowners and vacationers alike are quick to show their relief.

However, Tropical Storm Emily, while no longer a hurricane, can pack “hurricane conditions“, making those who own timeshare in the Caribbean Islands extremely nervous. The projected course of this hurricane, at the time of this writing, takes it across the central Caribbean, possibly ending up near the coast of Venezuela later this week. Earlier, a hurricane watch was in effect for Barbados, Grenada, The Grenadines, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia. Reports from Barbados indicate that Emily has dumped a large amount of rain on the island, but has caused comparatively little damage. Because of its erratic path and changes in intensity, this storm has been described as “unpredictable”.

At 3:35PM local time, Tropical Storm Emily was estimated to be about 175 km off the coast of Trinidad. People all over the Caribbean coast and the Gulf of Mexico will be following this storm with interest. As tropical storms in the Caribbean have been known to cause significant loss of life, our hopes and prayers go out to those living in the path of these storms.

For the latest news on storm conditions in the Caribbean, visit Caribbean-On-Line.

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