Consolidation seems to be the order of the day in the timeshare industry, with many small and independent resorts being acquired by a few key players. For the past 30 years, Orange Lake Resorts was known predominately for its popular flagship property near Orlando, Florida; the brainchild of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson. With the ambitious launch of the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand in 2008, Orange Lake set out to become a timeshare industry giant.
So far, Orange Lake's new vacation club concept seems to be a resounding success: Holiday Inn Club Vacations has re-branded existing Orange Lake properties in Orlando, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Panama City. Additionally, the Club has acquired resorts in Gatlinburg, Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas, and Galveston. I've always been a fan of resorts that offer an "internal exchange" program - allowing owners to exchange directly through the developer, rather than through third-party exchange companies at an added cost. With the number of Holiday Inn Club Vacations timeshare resorts now available (plus more on the way), owners can plausibly take most of their vacations without paying an exchange fee.
A key feature of Holiday Inn Club Vacations ownership is its new "internal points system," which functions similarly to the popular Wyndham Vacations Resorts points system. Owners can even opt to use their points at Holiday Inn hotels, and other Intercontinental properties that are not vacation ownership resorts. While I expect the new points system to become quite popular, there may be some hurdles for owners of existing resorts acquired by the club: Owners at Galveston on the Gulf Resort originally purchased points through Escapes! Vacations internal points system, some Sunset Cove Marco Island owners bought Hilton Grand Vacations Club points, while owners at the Smoky Mountain Resort bought RCI points. Over time these disparate points systems will have to be reconciled, either through upgrades or conversion, in order for the Club to reach its full potential... And, according to owners I've spoken to, this process is already well under way.
With the growth of Orange Lake's Holiday Inn Club Vacations there is a lot to be excited about - especially for industry watchers like myself who are happy to see another heavy-weight competitor emerge in an industry that was getting a little too consolidated!