Studies show leisure travel is on the rise and so is the traveler’s budget. This is fantastic news for Time Sharing Today readers! Hopefully the increase in travel has boosted your occupancy, reduced your available inventory, increased your reserves and enhanced your cash flow. If you want to please your current owners, attract future owners, increase rentals or are considering selling your resort; it is imperative that you keep it looking fresh and current. The future success of your resort depends on the decisions and actions you take today to ensure you will keep your property up to date.
The future owner and potential buyer of a timeshare generally fall in generation X or Y. They have specific desires and demands you must meet to keep them coming back. I am personally a time share owner and the Vice President of Hospitality Resources & Design. I literally live and breathe hospitality design, in every sense. I spend at least half of the month in a hotel, time share or resort doing a site visit, property evaluation, presentation, install or conference. As an Interior Designer and a traveler, I always observe the creative element of the property in conjunction with the surrounding area and how it flows together and appeals to me. I see the property from the eyes of the consumer and always keep that in mind throughout the process.
My profession allows me to work closely with regional directors and property managers. Over the years I have learned the various desires of time share owners and managers. Not only does it need to look good, it must be functional and most importantly be easy to maintain and fall within budget. When selecting your design and construction team make sure they have a track record of success in the Timeshare industry. It is a completely different animal than a new build, residential or typical commercial renovation. The grueling use of furniture in timeshares and hotels require different types of product than a residential project. It is exceptionally important as a board member, timeshare manager or regional director that you are clear on the differences between residential product and commercial product. Commercial products are subject to testing, codes and industry standards that do not impact residential products.
In this article I will capture and help guide you in the direction of current trends and how you can incorporate them in your property. Trends are constantly evolving in both fashion and interior design. In fact, the two tend to coincide. Often the most popular fashion color is the current accent paint color. Design trends may also integrate with the seasons and region.
One of the biggest shift I have seen in the last few years is in the bedding package. Guest and owners do not want to sleep in a bed that doesn’t feel clean. Everyone is completely aware that bedspreads and coverlets do not get washed as often as the sheets. A bedspread or quilted coverlet is something of the past. The current trend is a simple white top sheet that is laundered every time with the other sheets or a decorative top sheet that is laundered every time a guest or owners leaves. Use a blanket between the flat sheet and decorative top sheet for extra warmth. The weight of the blanket should vary depending on weather in your region.
The picture above shows a recently completed project; Royal Dunes in Hilton Head, SC. At this property our Associate Designer Beth Goodworth, customized a decorative top sheet that has a faux scarf printed at the bottom. It was a relatively easy way to jazz up a top sheet, simplify the maintenance, and improve cleanliness all within budget. Below is an image of a project we recently completed in Lincoln, NH; South Mountain. At this resort we used a simple white top sheet and a decorative throw to add some excitement. Both applications are much more hygienic than a bedspread or coverlet.
Another popular trend is letting the carpet be the focus. In conjunction with the white bedding trend a lot of clients and properties are letting us get creative with the other elements in the room. Below is an image of Hollywood Beach Towers. The units look directly at the ocean or the bay and we wanted to create the feeling of water visually without overpowering the room. This is a way of achieving visual interest while not making the bedding the focal point.
It’s usually a challenge, but it is so rewarding when a client allows us go bold with color. Generally the renovation and refurbishment process should begin about a year before the actual project will take place. Throughout this time we like to challenge our clients to think outside the box and let us use a splash of bold color to accent the design intent. The bold color can be exposed in accent paint on a wall, ceiling or in the fabrics. The photo below shows a property in Cape Cod; The Ocean Club on Smugglers Beach. Here we chose to use cream case goods (headboard, dresser, nightstands, etc.) to help the space seem larger. In addition to cream case goods we used a tile floor that looks like white washed wood that opens up the space. We let the wall behind the bed be the focus.
Above is a picture of a Holiday Inn in Blount Island, Fl. At this property our Senior Designer, Cam Abascal, selected accent colors to be applied in the ceiling areas. This small detail made a huge impact in the area. On the columns she added small bands of glass accent tile. A little pop of color here and there goes a long way in making the space seem unique and exciting.
An important design trend that is no longer an option is technology. Without a doubt we all have to accept that technology is a must at every property. All rooms must have high-speed Wi-Fi (preferably complimentary), flat screen TV’s, docking stations and USB and power outlets in the lamps for easy access. It seems now the majority of travelers continue to work while traveling and technology conveniences are a must. In addition to parents and professionals that continue to work, the kids want to play their games. I know personally I like when my son has some down time to play a game on his device and my daughter can connect on her phone and they play games together. I think most parents, like me, are happy to have the break! Some of the larger, branded time share management companies have begun to transition to smart TV’s that enable you to play your music, movies and games through the television. I was at property recently that I could connect my Pandora music from my phone through the Bluetooth in the bathroom mirror. I was pleasantly surprised when I did my research that the Bluetooth vanity mirror really wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be. This is definitely an item to consider, although I would advise waiting until the second generation is released to make sure all the bugs are worked out.
One of my favorite aspects of being a designer is visiting the different regions and learning why an owner or guest would travel to that location. One thing that my talented team and I always do at our projects is use regional art. We generate our inspiration for the guest rooms and common areas from the location. In some instances we use a hospitality art manufacture to customize art for us or we commission local artist and photographers. Wherein the example below we actually commissioned a photographer (Alex Clogston) that worked at the timeshare resort in the maintenance department. He did such a wonderful job capturing the local environment in his photography we used his photographs in the units. The image below is from the White Mountains which is directly beside the property and why most guest/ owners opt for this location.
We find locally inspired art and photography often at properties and try to encourage it when we can. A time share owner generally looks at the property they own at their family vacation location and they look forward to creating a lifetime of memories at these properties and it is great to see art that is a reflection of the area.
The most important things to keep in mind when considering renovating or refurbishing your property are durability, industry standards, state and local codes, maintenance, technology, regional design, design trends and budget. It generally takes a year prior to starting the actual project to plan for what ultimately will be installed in the guest rooms and common space. It is common for board members or property manager’s to delegate the design decisions to a separate design committee. This works very well because often board members do not want that type of responsibility. It is also easier for a smaller committee to make decisions and keep the process moving along.
If you are a board member or property manager you have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that your properties are kept fresh and marketable. Once again, commercial design (time share is commercial not residential) is regulated by industry standards, testing measures and codes. When considering your upcoming renovation make sure your design firm is a licensed and your General Contractor is licensed as well. There are federal and state mandated rules (the law) and consequence (fines) for individuals and firms that specify, facilitate or administer an action that is not code compliant. When building your team for your renovation / refurbishment make sure you request their license numbers, industry affiliations, insurance information, and references. It would not be a good thing if the dog and pony show seemed good, but they fail to deliver and put your property at risk of code violations. Ideally you want to enlist a design team that also has experience with hotel renovations. The benchmarks and standard in hotels are regulated largely by companies who have fine-tuned the current trends, future trends, and laws governing per state the current codes. They will be able to apply this experience to your timeshare which is a value add for you.
Consider adopting one or all of the trends discussed above. Keep in mind your budget limitations, time restraints, maintenance requirements and your specific region. Step outside the box, you might be surprised. Allow your property to be the one that does something new and unique…..to stand out. Just make sure it is practical, safe, installed according to code and will be easy to maintain. Whether you choose bedding, carpet, adding a bold color, updating technology or adding some regional art make sure you start with a long term plan for continuous improvement and build a team with a track record of success.