The Mariner Group of Affiliated Companies
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Mariner 5-Star Vacation Ownership Profile

Introduction

This profile summarizes the activities of The Mariner Group with regard to the Vacation Ownership Industry – the fastest growing segment of the travel, tourism, and real estate industry. Over the past 35 years, and especially in the past ten years, Vacation Ownership (timesharing, fractional ownership, Private Residence Clubs, and Destination Clubs) has clearly become an important business element of progressive broad based hospitality and real estate development companies.

History

Mariner initiated its first vacation ownership project in 1976 at the South Seas Plantation Resort on Captiva Island, Florida. The concept of “pre-paid vacations” versus “pay as you go” was anticipated to be a good match for resort guests who wanted to do more than rent but did not want to step-up to the cost and responsibilities of a second home. By owning a vacation interval – versus renting each year – guests could assure themselves of:

  • The size and quality of the accommodations unit they wanted
  • The location of the unit
  • A fixed cost of their vacation accommodation

Mariner was one of the pioneers of the industry. Its initial project at South Seas was one of the first 25 resorts in the RCI exchange system and it was a founding member in the Interval International (II) exchange network. It was a charter member of the National Timesharing Council, now known as ARDA, the industry’s national trade association. It initiated many of the development, marketing, sales, financing, and management concepts in use today. During its peak years in the 1980's its annual sales were among the highest in the nation. Its executives and employees have received many awards and recognition for their accomplishments and contributions over the years.

During the 14 year period from 1976 to 1990 the company developed and sold about 600 timeshare villas totaling about 31,000 weeks to over 23,000 families.

The company launched the first timeshare resale program in the nation in 1981 and has consistently been the national industry sales leader since that time. Mariner has also been an innovative leader in providing for owner needs related to rental, refurbishing, and quality hospitality service.

In 1992 Mariner entered into a joint venture with Hilton Hotels Corporation to establish a national Hilton branded “system” of high quality vacation ownership resorts and to initiate an innovative club membership program called Hilton Grand Vacations Club for timeshare owners to provide exclusive exchange and reservation services (including the Hilton Honors Program), travel services, and other special services. Two new projects were developed by the joint venture during the first three years:

  • The Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Flamingo Hilton – Las Vegas (200 units)
  • The Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Seaworld International Center – Orlando (360 units)

In late 1995 the company sold its partnership interest to Hilton in order to be able to resume its smaller, more “boutique” type of projects associated with resort hotels and, more recently, urban hotels. As a part of this plan, Mariner developed the upscale 10 unit Harbourview Villas Private Residence Club project at South Seas Island Resort in 2003 and is currently working on new projects in The Bahamas, Florida, and Arizona.

Success Factors

Mariner’s success in this industry is due to its skill in the following areas:

Development: Pick appropriate project locations, gain the necessary permits and entitlements, and design and build cost effective product.

Marketing & Sales: Identify and attract qualified prospects in a cost effective way, successfully convince them of the merits of vacation ownership and achieve the sale, and insure cancellations do not occur in the post-sale rescission period.

Financing: Minimize equity requirements as to the development process, and provide for additional profit from consumer receivables (about half of timeshare profits come from receivables financing income).

Management: Insure customer satisfaction (leading to repeat and referral business) through effective upkeep of the physical property, provision of high quality hospitality services to owners, exchangers, and renters, and courteous and cost effective loan servicing and maintenance fee collections.

The rapid expansion of the industry in recent years has placed a premium on people and organizations with experience in these areas. Lack of qualified management is the “surprise” barrier to entry often not considered by companies prior to their decision to enter the business.

Future Plans

Vacation Ownership, bolstered by the entry of the brand name hotel companies in the past few years, has shown enormous growth over the past decade. U.S. sales are in excess of $10 billion annually and growing at a 15% annual rate. The maturing of the “baby boom” generation is expanding its target market at a rate faster than industry growth.

Mariner is uniquely experienced and positioned to take advantage of this opportunity. In doing so, it will place the highest priority on projects that will complement both existing and future hotel properties by providing a needed product alternative to repeat guests – and using development and financing profits to either reduce the cost basis of the hotel, provide capital for needed expansion or renovation, or improve cash flow for distribution to the property owner.