Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bahamas is good break for Interval

By CHESTER ROBARDS

Business Reporter

ORLANDO, Florida - Interval International's affiliated timeshare properties in the Bahamas continue to generate a high market share when compared to other Caribbean islands, the company's regional sales and service director told Tribune Business yesterday, as it eyes expanding that inventory to properties attached to high-end brands.

Neil Kolton said Grand Bahama's Island Seas Resort and Paradise Island's Harborside Resort properties have sold - and continue to sell - extremely well. Harborside recently revealed that its inventory is 97 per cent sold out, and Mr Kolton, coy about the actual figures, added that Island Seas was selling a large amount of units yearly.

He said that despite the depressed Grand Bahama market and foundering stopover visitor numbers, the property, with its timeshare model, draws those owners to their vacation spot yearly.

Mr Kolton added that these islands' proximity to the US was also a huge draw for individuals who want to purchase shared ownership properties.

However, he lamented that like many other Caribbean islands, the barriers to doing business in the Bahamas often dissuade investment in large, branded, mixed-use and exclusively timeshare -entred properties.

President of Ragatz and Associates, Richard Ragatz, speaking yesterday at Interval International's Vacation Ownership Investment Conference, outlined the expansion of fractional properties across the shared ownership market, and which markets are best suited for the niche offering.

While not stating specific markets, what he outlined aptly described the Bahamas' natural, economic and physical attributes, including: High-end tourist profile and repeat guests; demand for whole-ownership properties (second home); good proximity and limited seasonality.

According to him, fractionals have the lowest depreciation rate next to second homes, and far lower than that of timeshares. And while the Bahamas could be a good fit for fractional properties, more hotel branding and high-end property affiliaitons are the key to introducing more ownership-style properties to the Bahamas that draw a sustainable, year-round stopover client.

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