Timeshare market evolves in fractions

Fractional ownership looks set to be the new buzzword for the region’s timeshare marketers, as companies such as Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) diversify their product offering with a move away from selling traditional timeshare weeks.

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By  Sarah Campbell Published  September 6, 2005

Fractional ownership looks set to be the new buzzword for the region’s timeshare marketers, as companies such as Marriott Vacation Club International (MVCI) diversify their product offering with a move away from selling traditional timeshare weeks. MVCI recently started marketing Marriott International’s latest Mayfair residence, 47 Park Street, to the region. Part of the Marriott Grand Residences Club, 47 Park Street is located just off Park Lane and offers 49 one- and two-bedroom suites designed by Wimberley Allison Tong and Goo. “As a timeshare company, we have different customers wanting different things,” Christian Broby, project director, 47 Park Street, explained to Hotelier Middle East. “This is a top of the market fractional product with access to greater periods of time. There are 13 owners per residence, owning 21 days each.” This system leaves 13 weeks unused, but still effectively paid for, which enables guests to book whenever they want. Members to 47 Park Street get to choose when they take their 21 days. At present, the average length of stay is 2.7 nights, with members largely using the property as a London residence for the time their business requires them to be in the city. The residence is almost 40% sold, and Broby predicts it will be fully sold out by 2008. “This is in a desirable urban location, which brings up the costs. So then you need to put in lots of value added facilities, such as twice daily housekeeping, freshly cut flowers, in order to capture that segment that doesn’t want to stay in an expensive hotel suite and doesn’t want a house with all the expenses and responsibilities that entails. So we take the best of both worlds and add on club features. It is timeshare with caviar,” Broby said. Value added facilities include provision for members to store personal effects, which are then placed in their apartment prior to arrival. This presents challenges for the residence staff. “You have to have a lot of stickers that don’t fall off!” Broby said. This personal service, coupled with the larger size of apartment ranging from 51m² to 106m² makes it a viable option for Middle East families who regularly visit London. “We have 10-15% Middle East guests, that is largely driven by location and the size of the units. Mayfair has always been a popular destination with Middle East visitors and this is a growing market and has the prospect of increasing,” Broby remarked. According to Ed Kinney, vice president, corporate affairs and brand awareness, MVCI, fractional ownership is a natural development for the timeshare market, and one that is set to prove popular with the Middle East market. “We look at timesharing as single week purchasing, but there is an evolving industry of fractional ownership, where the amount of time is greater. 47 Park Street is a natural evolution of this and from the things we are learning here, it is natural for it to be introduced in other markets,” he said. At present, MVCI has 4,000 members in the Middle East; a figure Kinney predicts will double in the near future.

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