New vacation home websites that cater to millennials

MORE TT THIS In the fall, Devin Florez, who lives in St. Louis, took his 8-year-old niece to Disney World. He felt safe going to the park, he said, knowing that he and his niece would be masked, most of their time would be spent outdoors and they would be able to maintain social distancing. But with Covid-19 raging, he was worried about booking nights at a hotel, where they would meet a number of other customers and staff. When planning the trip for the first time, Florez, 34, started browsing Airbnbs in Orlando, but the costs were high. Then he saw a promo on Guy Points, a blog focused on travel club loyalty points, for $ 150 off bookings with Koala, a new platform that follows the Airbnb model but allows individuals to rent single timeshare stays that would otherwise go unused. .

Thanks to Koala, Mr. Florez booked a week-long stay in a two-bedroom condo that placed him minutes from Disney World and came with amenities like a pool and a concierge. Thanks to the Guy Points promotion, the cost was only $ 475, or about $ 68 a night.

The Covid-19 has hit the travel industry. A third of American hotels are threatened with bankruptcy. US air traffic is at a standstill: in October, US airlines carried 62% fewer passengers than in the same month last year. But one sector of the industry continues to grow and thrive in the face of the pandemic: the old burdensome timeshare industry.

Traditional timeshares – vacation rentals where ownership is shared among multiple parties – took root in the 1960s. The Hilton Hale Kaanapali, a 253-room condo hotel in Maui, was among the first. Advertised as a “whale of a place to play,” it opened in 1966, with studios priced at $ 26,000 that could be reserved for up to 30 days per year. The timeshare model has started popping up in all the usual vacation spots, as enthusiastic developers lured potential buyers into sales presentations with free toasters and discounted helicopter tours. The bait paid off. According to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), there are currently more than 5,000 timeshare resorts in 121 countries.

In early 2020, fear and blockages drove guests away from traditional hotels and rental properties. But because timeshares are like second homes to their owners, they haven’t experienced the same extreme drop, even at the height of the coronavirus closures in the spring of 2020. “Once the regulations started to be lifted in July , some places have seen 100% occupancy, ”said Jason Gamel, President and CEO of ARDA.

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