The timeshare sector continues to see a significant level of acquisitions fit into the branded-is-better argument. Other types of hotel deals are still a ways off, if at all, due to uncertainty in the recovery.
Editor’s Note: Skift Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill brings readers exclusive reporting and insights into hotel deals and development, and how those trends are making an impact across the travel industry.
Historically, the kind of “deal” most associated with the timeshare business was when a salesperson would promise your mom and dad free Broadway tickets in exchange for sitting through a six-hour presentation on an annual week-long stay in Bermuda. But during the pandemic, the timeshare business is notable for notching some of the biggest acquisition deals in the travel sector. U.S. timeshare business Hilton Grand Vacations announced plans last week to acquire Diamond Resorts International for $1.4 billion. The combined company will have 154 resorts and 720,000 timeshare owners. It also adds more drive-to resorts to the portfolio for Hilton Grand Vacations, which spun out from the Hilton Worldwide Holdings hotel company in early 2017. “I do think consolidation is being led by the branded players. In our space, it makes absolute sense,” said Hilton Grand Vacations CEO Mark Wang. “The much larger networks, credibility with our brands, and connections with the Hilton loyalty base — those are very powerful ingredients to grow your business.” Branded Bonanza: The Hilton Grand Vacations play for Diamond Resorts is the latest in a string of deals where timeshare businesses associated with traditional hotel brands and their loyalty programs are buying up smaller operators. Marriott Vacations Worldwide agreed in late January to buy Welk Resorts for $430 million. Wyndham Destinations entered an agreement in early January to buy Travel + Leisure for $100 million. The combined company, which will take on the Travel + Leisure name, will operate as both a timeshare and travel club company while the namesake magazine continues to be operated by Meredith Corp. Like Wyndham Destinations, Hilton Grand Vacations is in pursuit of younger clients for its timeshare offering. This includes shedding the misconception that the product is just about going to the same location at one designated point in a year. Timeshares now are about flexibility and a variety of destination options, which is key in app