Howard Nusbaum, President and CEO of the American Resort Development Association. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar
St. Maarten News – “The comfort of knowing what the rules are is as important as what the rules are.” With that statement Howard Nusbaum underlined yesterday how necessary it is for St. Maarten to establish its timeshare legislation.
Nusbaum is the president and CEO of the American Resort Development Association (Arda) an advocacy group for the timeshare industry. Nusbaum was in St. Maarten for the first Info-Exchange seminar hosted by Interval International at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa.
Together with Interval President David Gilbert, Nusbaum fielded questions from reporters yesterday morning ahead of the beginning of the seminar. They revealed some interesting data about an industry that has been in the news in a negative way locally over the past several years with troubles at the Pelican Key Resort (now Simpson Bay Resort and Marina), the Caravanserai Resort (now Alegria) and more recently the Sapphire Beach Club in Cupecoy.
However, as Marcel Javois, the President of the St. Maarten Timeshare Association, later would say during the seminar, “there are a lot of positive things happening and the future looks bright for the timeshare industry.”
Interval’s US membership profile shows that 81 percent of Americans would, as their first choice, like to buy more timeshare in the United States. Their second preference (27 percent) is for the Caribbean – where St. Maarten is second only to Aruba. Another 13 percent gives Mexico as the third choice and Europe and Canada (9 percent) as the next preference.
Gilbert said yesterday that the average income of the timeshare owner in St. Maarten is $147,000 – way above the average for all Interval timeshare owners ($124,000).
Interval International started doing business in 1976 and it is now celebrating its fortieth anniversary. The leisure group has around 2 million members – mainly US citizens – and a network of 3,000 resorts in 80 different countries. In the Caribbean, just 185 resorts are part of this network.
“A nice feature of timeshare is that their owners are the first to come back to a destination after a natural disaster,” Gilbert said. “They are reliable customers and they spend more on dining, shopping and gaming than a regular hotel guest because when they get here, their vacation has already been paid.”
Interval has an ambitious focus in the Caribbean. “We need more projects because right now we have only 185 Caribbean resorts in our network. We’d like to have more product here, because there is more demand for the Caribbean than we are able to supply.”