Marriott Breaks Ground on Orlando Timeshare

Marriott Vacation Club International, the vacation ownership division of Marriott International Inc., broke ground yesterday on Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve at Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla. The 500-acre Grande Lakes campus is already home to a JW Marriott hotel and a Ritz-Carlton, the latter including a golf club and a spa. The resort is proposed to eventually include 340 villas and townhomes, with the first phase slated for occupancy by summer 2010. Sales will begin tomorrow, with initial prices ranging from $26,000 to $40,000/week, depending on season and floor plan selected. Planned amenities at the property on build-out will include a main pool with zero-entry and two waterslides; a second, “elegant-style” pool; three whirlpool spas, a fitness center; a waterside promenade from the resort to the JW Marriott and outdoor grilling areas. A Marriott Vacation Club spokesperson told CPN that Lakeshore Reserve’s first phase will consist of the central facilities building, the main pool area and a cluster of 18 townhomes and 76 four- and five-story villas. In a prepared statement, Lee Cunningham, Marriott Vacation Club executive vice president and chief operating officer for North America and the Caribbean, noted that Lakeshore Reserve will be Marriott’s seventh property in Central Florida. The new resort will be designed to complement the existing Mediterranean architectural style at Grande Lakes. Units will range from 1,185 to 1,655 square feet and will include two-story townhomes and two-bedroom, two-bath lock-off villas offering two master suites. Interiors will feature fully equipped kitchens, multiple LG flat-panel LCD TVs with DVD players, oversized showers, washer/dryers, and Wi-Fi Internet accessibility. On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported on a new study by PKF Hospitality Research on the effects of the capacity cutbacks by U.S. airlines. PKF projects a decline in hotel demand of up to 3.9 percent in rooms occupied, nearly as bad as the drop in the 12 months following the 9/11 attacks. Orlando was cited as one of the four cities likely to be hit the hardest. The Marriott spokesperson, however, noted that time shares were much more resilient after 9/11 than was the hotel industry per se, since time shares are essentially prepaid. The spokesperson also noted that the development risk is much lower for time shares since they can be, and usually are, built in phases. A 900-villa Marriott property in Orlando, for example, recently completed construction–10 years after it began. In 1984, Marriott was the first major, branded hospitality company to enter the time-share market and now has more than 352,000 owners around the world.