Wyndham's mastery of vacation rentals is the envy of many of its hospitality peers. Asia won't know what hit it.
Wyndham Worldwide Corp., parent of the world’s biggest hotel operator, plans to introduce its timeshare business in southeast Asia by the end of this year.
The company is in talks to buy properties in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia and expects to close on at least one by Christmas, said Barry Robinson, managing director for southeast Asia and the Pacific rim at Wyndham’s vacation resorts and hotel divisions. The Parsippany, New Jersey-based company will also open an office in Singapore by year end to headquarter its southeast Asian timeshare and hotels businesses, he said.
“There’s a huge opportunity in Asia for the vacation ownership business, which hasn’t really been tapped yet,” Gold Coast, Queensland-based Robinson said by phone. With nearly a billion people in southeast Asia and the Pacific rim, excluding China, “the opportunity is probably two to three times the size of the U.S., where we have over a million owners.”
International visitor arrivals rose 8 percent for Indonesia over the first nine months of 2014 from a year earlier, and 10 percent for Malaysia in January through July from the previous corresponding period. While political upheaval weighed on Thai tourism this year, arrivals are expected to rebound as stability returns, broker Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. said in an October report. Growth of low-cost carriers and the lure of tourist destinations including Bali and Phuket will also support hotel and resort occupancies, according to the report.
Wyndham has developed or acquired about 185 timeshare properties globally, 26 of them in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, according to company figures. It earned $1.1 billion from timeshare interest sales in the nine months through September, from $995 million a year earlier, filings show.
Timeshares, also called vacation ownership, give owners the right to use the accommodation for a set period of time each year. Wyndham gives owners annual credits allowing them to stay at any of its resorts in the region, according to its website.
Among operators already in southeast Asia are Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International Inc., which manages three timeshares in Thailand and one in Indonesia; Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., headquartered in McLean, Virginia, which runs four resorts in both nations; and Paris-based Accor SA, which manages two complexes, in Bali and Phuket, according to their websites.
Wyndham is the world’s biggest hotel group by number of properties, according to a June ranking by Paris-based industry analysis firm MKG Group.
Wyndham’s hotels unit, separate from its timeshare division, owns, manages or franchises 109 properties across the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, according to company figures. In China, it has 929 hotels, with brands including Wyndham, Ramada and Days Inn.
“I see huge opportunity for the mid to upper-market hotel sector in Indonesia, Malaysia, where we’ve already got quite a bit of traction, and Thailand,” Robinson said.
Wyndham shares have risen 8.2 percent this year, compared with a 10 percent gain in the benchmark S&P 500 index.
Photo credit: Wyndham has built a significant business atop vacation rentals. Wyndham