Starwood Timeshare Expansion

Starwood Timeshare Expansion

Starwood Vacation Ownership, a Florida timeshare company, has announced plans to build a multi-million dollar timeshare project in Palm Desert, California.

Starwood Vacation Ownership timeshares (a division of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.) has purchased 28-plus acres of land from the Intrawest Company. Intrawest is a Canadian-based vacation ownership club, (a timeshare company) and already owns the 88-unit Club Intrawest timeshare condos at Palm Desert’s renowned Desert Willow Golf Course.

At the time the property was acquired in June 2006, Intrawest had requested and received government approval to develop 215 timeshare units there. Starwood timeshare seeks to increase the number of units to approximately 300, but must first obtain approval from the Palm Desert Architectural Review Committee, who will look at the issue of density as well as the aesthetic elements of the timeshare company’s overall plan.

Construction for the project is scheduled to begin in 2007 or early 2008. All timelines are tentative, based on obtaining the necessary permits and approvals. The proposed Desert Willow timeshare project will be Starwood Vacation Ownership’s second timeshare condo property in the Coachella Valley. It is part of the plan announced this past July by Starwood Resorts Worldwide to continue development and construction on projects throughout the US, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Raymond L. “Rip” Gellein, Jr., chief executive officer of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. says, “Starwood Vacation Ownership continues its robust growth under our Sheraton, Westin, and St. Regis brands, driving our aggressive expansion plans in new and existing domestic and international markets.”

The Desert Willow timeshare promotion will be branded as a Westin vacation ownership resort.

Starwood Launches “Eco-Friendly” Resorts

Starwood Launches “Eco-Friendly” Resorts

Starwood Capital Group recently announced the planned development of the first eco-friendly, luxury resort properties. The global brand will be known simply as, “1” and the first property scheduled to open will be the “1” Hotel and Residences in Seattle, expected to be operational in late 2008. Three additional properties will follow, all of which, like “1” Seattle, will be new construction. Locations include Mammoth Mountain, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Shortly after launching the initial four properties, Starwood plans to renovate a historic location in Paris as the first international “1” hotel. Within the next twenty-four months, Starwood will finalize a hotel deal or hotel and timeshare deal at fifteen locations, including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other urban markets.

In an effort to appear more environmentally conscious, many hotels and resorts have placed signage in their rooms suggesting guests re-use bath towels and bed linens for more than one night. Starwood’s new “1” resorts will take the concept of environment responsibility to a much higher level. Each of the “1” resorts, whether new construction or a renovation, will be built in accordance with the green buildings standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, also known as LEED. The accountability system promoted by LEED promotes a whole-building approach and recognizes performance in the areas of energy efficiency, material selection, sustainable site development, water savings and indoor environmental quality.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has agreed to be the environmental advisor on the “1” project, with the goal of both setting a new standard in environmental responsibility and ultimately transforming the entire hotel and vacation resort industry.

You can enjoy Starwood vacation ownership or a Starwood timeshare deal at their worldwide resorts, which include the brands Starwood, Sheraton and Westin.

Mecca’s New Timeshare Brings Mixed Emotions

Mecca’s New Timeshare Brings Mixed Emotions

Criticism of The ZamZam, a timeshare vacation property that towers over the Islamic holy city of Mecca, has not slowed sales at the $390 million luxury resort. The ZamZam is named after one of Islam’s most holy places, a water well which, according to Wikipedia, “Many Muslims believe…is divinely blessed ([its water] is believed to satisfy both hunger and thirst, and cure illness) and make every effort to drink of this water during their pilgrimage.”


The ZamZam is part of the Abraj al-Bait development center, and is one of the largest complexes of its type in the world. In addition to the ZamZam, the project features five other skyscrapers, two helipads and a multi-story shopping mall. Since sales began two years ago in the pre-construction phase, property in the complex now sells at higher prices than those commanded by even the most desirable square footage in Manhattan or the Mayfair district of London.

Interval timeshare at The ZamZam starts at about $6,800 USD for one week in a studio during the slow season. During the month of Hajj, when an estimted 1.5 million Muslim pilgrims from around the world travel to Mecca, the price for the same unit reaches about $175,000 USD.

Alpha1Estates reports they are selling timeshare intervals to Muslims in Great Britain and throughout Europe. According to an article that appeared in The Guardian ( a brochure offered by Alpha1Estates tells buyers, “expect an average rental return of between 10% and 15% a year.” Talal Mahmood Malik, a spokesman for the real estate company says, “You could see it as a financial investment and there will be cowboys interested in making a quick buck. But most people see it as a spiritual investment. There is a massive modernization and regeneration program in Mecca but non-Muslims won’t be interested in investing. There’s nothing to do there except pray and if you’re non-Muslim you can’t get into Mecca anyway.”

To further complicate sentiments regarding The ZamZam, it was constructed by the Binladin Group, the construction firm founded by the father of Osama Bin Laden.

Expanding Timeshare Promotion in the Middle East

Expanding Timeshare Promotion in the Middle East

Research compiled during a timeshare symposium conducted by RCI Middle East will greatly benefit timeshare developers in that region. As a current timeshare owner, or someone who is interested in buying a timeshare, you can also use this research to help you identify hot markets and desirable locations for timeshare exchange.

The Pan Arab Research Centre interviewed one thousand high-income citizens of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Kaimah, Oman, Jordan, MacKay Qatar, Egypt, Madinah and Lebanon in order to understand the travel preferences and timeshare vacation interests of the Middle Eastern family on holiday.

The results of the study, released last spring by RCI Global Vacation Network and industry consultant Ragatz Associates, reveals the following trends:

  • All of the one thousand participants said they travel regularly.
  • When traveling, shopping ranked as the number one activity. Food and dining options are also important, as many Middle Eastern travelers look for Halal certified food sources (food permissible according to Islamic law).
  • Travel is a group experience, including the fact that 46 percent of vacationers from the United Arab Emirates take their parents with them when they travel and 40 percent of Saudi Arabians take their household staff.
  • Currently Dubai and the United Arab Emirates are the most popular destinations for a timeshare vacation.
  • Interval timeshare ownership can be structured to be compatible with the Muslim concept of “Sukok” through a timeshare bond that conforms to Islamic laws and Muslim principles. As the managing director for RCI Middle East, Vivienne Noyes-Thomas explains, “Sukok gives Muslims complete confidence… that what they’re buying into is safe and acceptable. The new Le Meridien Towers, an RCI affiliate, and the ZamZam Towers projects are positioning their marketing around this concept.”

Most of the interviewees expressed an interest in vacationing close to home or within “the kingdom” although Orlando, Marbella and London are also popular destinations among this group of travelers.

Over 30,000 residents in the Middle East currently own interval timeshare or fractionals. Non-owners within the surveyed group expressed interest in fractional ownership or purchasing a timeshare vacation property. Many are particularly interested in owning interval timeshare in the Islamic centers of Makkah and Madinah, both popular destinations for Muslim pilgrims.