Back in 1974, the concept of vacation home timeshare ownership took the sunny state of Florida by storm when the global oil crisis resulted in a glut of unsold condominiums littering the landscape. Instead of purchasing an entire condominium unit or vacation home, the idea of buying a block of time to own or use the unit during a given year took hold of the public imagination.
During this period, a couple in Florida named Jon and Christel De Haan took one look at the existing timeshare ownership model and added the then-pioneering dimension of the holiday exchange concept. The De Haans developed a membership exchange programme, enabling vacation homeowners to exchange the time they had purchased at their home resort for a stay at a different resort property.Thus, Resorts Condominiums International (RCI) was invented.
Today, as the world’s oldest timeshare exchange company, RCI is also the world’s biggest, spanning 4,500 affiliated properties and resorts in 120 countries and six continents and counting four million member families across the globe. In 2005, RCI was bought by Wyndham Worldwide, one of the world’s biggest hospitality companies which also happens to own the Wyndham Hotel Group. These days, RCI is part of the Wyndham Destination Network.
RCI vice president business development Europe, Middle East & Africa Dimitris Manikis is himself absolutely sold on the concept of shared-holiday ownership, actually putting his money where his mouth is.
Narrating to Hotelier Express, Manikis says: “My family and I love a particular Greek island, and we would visiting every year.We then asked ourselves, are we buying a holiday home or are we buying time?”
He continues: “My wife actually made an interesting point at that time. She said, I’m not going to buy something that I need to clean, maintain and do exactly what I do back home each time I go on holiday. So we ended up buying two weeks of timeshare at a particular property.”
“Every year we go there, it has become a holiday home. Plus with the help of RCI, if we don’t want to go to that Greek island one year, we actually swap our time there with thousands of other properties anywhere in the world.”
Manikis goes on to enthuse about the benefits of timeshare exchange ownership which he and his family are able to experience firsthand, citing the convenience and affordability of access to a preferred destination, yet without the heavy financial responsibility and commitment that vacation home ownership usually entails.
“If you buy a holiday home, what do you actually buy? You buy something for life, more or less, but which you merely use twice or three times a year, if you’re lucky to get enough time off or enough holidays from work. You have all sorts of expenses with home furnishings, upkeep and maintenance, plus you do not get the pleasure of being in a hotel or resort environment,” he says.
In the Middle East, while Manikis recounts that business in Lebanon is growing and that he has tremendous aspirations for Dubai, he shares that Egypt remains RCI’s biggest, most dynamic and most stable market in the region.