Story by Babbie DeDerian
Photos courtesy of Royal Holiday Vacation Club
Making an Investment in Your Vacation Future
Before the internet, planning a vacation was a personal exchange between client and travel agent. What has presently evolved is a flood of online travel booking sites and hotel sales offices selling time shares and a wide cross of long term Vacation Club memberships to pre- qualified buyers.
One of the basic differences between owning a Time Share and joining a Vacation Club is flexibility; the ability to travel when and where you choose, using point credits deposited into your account each year as money exchanges, or the option of rolling them over to accumulate more credits to pay for pricier vacations.
Joining any vacation club begins with a 90 minute sales presentation; it is a confusing experience at best, and swimming through the sea of membership levels is not an easy feat. However, if you are a person, family or corporation that plans ahead, it can be a wise and rewarding investment. The secret is to do your research before checking into a hotel that will, upon arrival, solicit you to take a tour; it will help you determine the merits of building a “vacation investment retirement fund”. One might compare it to interviewing a prospective money manager.
Park Royal Hotels and Resorts, with eight properties in Mexico and one in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Puerto Rico, is an innovative leader in the marketing of its Royal Holiday Vacation Club. They have contracted with other International luxury hotel brands and cruise lines to offer members a wide range of far-reaching dream vacation options. Their programs are especially suited to people who have locked in vacations days and want to travel the world effortlessly without blackout dates or restrictions.
A Higher Level of Membership Gets Priority Booking.
How it works (for example); when you sign on for a $30,000 or $60,000 thirty year membership, 50,000 or 80,000 bankable credits are put into your account each year which are then redeemable for hotel accommodations and/or cruises… the more credits you accumulate, the greater your options. There are also more modest memberships to choose from with the flexibility of upgrading in the ensuing years, if your lifestyle and income changes. Memberships are assignable from one generation to the next as long as you keep up annual dues, which may increase with inflation. All it takes for qualifying buyers is a 25% down payment; the balance is financed by the company.
According to Andres Palacios, Strategic Marketing Manager for Royal Holidays Vacation Club: “flexibility is the key benefit for members. It takes the confusion out of where to go and how to get there. You can travel any time of the year… choose your length of stay, destination and type of accommodations… from beach to city, and from cruise ship to hotel suite, villa or mountain cabin in 52 countries. We are building relationships with other brands to offer members one stop shopping, trimming the time it takes to plan and book, and eliminating online booking fees”.
Cancun, Mexico as a tourism destination is a competitive mix of all-inclusive hotels, time share programs and 42 different vacation clubs… all vying for your vacation dollars. Having stayed at many Cancun all-inclusive resorts, my latest discovery is the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe a luxury hotel with a vacation club sales office. Its horizontal sprawl, versus vertical towers, adds to its intimacy, and its wide white sandy beach is one of the best in Cancun.
After checking in, I am escorted to the Duplex Presidential Apartment, which cannot be booked with vacation club points, and for the next five nights I luxuriate in understated elegance… and a lifestyle few can afford. The floors are imported marble; there are two bedrooms, a formal living room, dining room, kitchen, two and a half baths and terraces on both levels. The outdoor plunge pool on the second floor overlooks the pristine beach and soothing sea, and the huge terrace is furnished for entertaining with lounge chairs and a round table that seats six. I organize a dinner party, and we dine al fresco with butler and chef in attendance to serve a feast prepared in the Asian Restaurant. It is a festive and memorable evening. `
If guests seek privacy, and the palatial Presidential suite is too large or a bit pricey, there are 33 one bedroom colonial style beachfront villas tucked away through a stone archway. They are tastefully decorated, have private plunge pools and come with a butler to satisfy your every whim.
The next day, after viewing a short film on the merits of joining a vacation club, I begin to understand the options it can bring into one’s life: such as scheduling vacation time you may not be using, and turning fantasy into reality for many who never dreamed they could afford a vacation in Paris or a Mediterranean Cruise.
As in every all-inclusive resort, there are several restaurants to choose from during your stay. General Manager Carlos Da Silva, and his well trained accommodating staff, runs the resort with the precision of a fine tuned car, and the 210 employees in the food and beverage department work hard to serve and please.
Playa El Carmen is a nearby happening beach town with great shopping, restaurants and bars. We take a ferry from there over to Cozumel to have lunch and a swim at the Park Royal Cozumel… soon to be upgraded into the Grand Park Royal. The hotel’s beautiful swimming pools on the edge of the sea overlook anchored cruise ships in port for the day. On the ferry back, a group of musicians entertain us with guitars and Mexican songs.
The landscape will continue to change as more hotels enter and expand their Vacation Club, customizing them to simplify the confusion that comes with online surfing and booking, offering more perks at signing and easy financing.
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