While timeshare ownership is a booming industry today, like all other great things, the idea had to have originated from somewhere. For those with a spark of curiosity into where this uniquely inventive form of vacationing came from, we have delved into a bit of timeshare history to share with you.
On September 23, 1963, Alexander Nette and his partner Dr. Guido Renggli created a company named “Hotel- und Appartementhaus Immobilien Anlage AG” (referred to as Hapimag) in Baar, Switzerland. This company was established on the idea that travelers should be able to enjoy a rent-free vacation every year. The duo began acquiring resort properties to sell on a “right to use” (RTU) contract.
Around the same time in France (1964–1968), Paul Doumier of the development company, Societe des Grands Travaux de Marseille, invented his own idea for timesharing right at his company’s own SuperDevoluy ski resort in the renowned French Alps. Doumier is credited with the phrase, “it is cheaper to buy the hotel than to rent the room”.
The Hilton Hale Kaanapali was America’s first hotel-condominium timeshare on the stunning island of Maui, Hawaii, which broke ground in October of 1965.Vacation Internationale entered the timeshare industry in 1969, when company founders Bob Burns and Bob Ringerburg began selling timeshare weeks at their Kauai Kailani hotel through RTU contracts.
A few years later, in 1974, Vacation Internationale introduced America’s first points program, proving to be an incredible advancement in the industry, creating greater flexibility and desirability for timeshare owners.
In 1973, Brockway Springs in Lake Tahoe, California is noted for being the first deeded timeshare program in the U.S. The resort developer, Innisfree Companies, partnered with Hyatt, and created a knowledgeable team of individuals to solidly define the term “timeshare” in order to properly market this new investment to bankers.
Following closely behind in 1974, Florida threw one of their developing resorts into the timeshare industry ring — Sanibel Beach Club on Sanibel Island. Sanibel Beach Club was North America’s first purpose-built interval timeshare ownership resort, and was completely sold out within 18 months.
The respected Resort Condominiums International (RCI) exchange company was the first one of its kind, created in 1974 by Christel and Jon DeHaan. Timeshare exchange was created based off the couple’s idea that if timeshare owners had the ability to exchange their week for another destination, timeshares would hold a greater value, and would become a more desirable purchase. This new joint relationship between RCI, timeshare owners, and resort developers proved beneficial for every party involved.
Today, RCI has transformed into one of the largest timeshare exchange companies, with over 6,300 RCI-affiliated resorts in over 100 countries. The company exchanges by both weeks and points programs.
RCI’s establishment was followed shortly behind by Interval International (II) in 1976. Founders Thomas J. Davis, Jr. and Mario Rodriguez marketed their competing company as an upscale exchange alternative to RCI. The company has gone through many shifts in ownership and operations over the years, but has always remained a leading competitor in the industry. II has grown to almost two million members within the Interval Network.
With the help of exchange companies, timeshare sales skyrocketed in the 1980s. Frugal travelers began to see the added benefits and cost savings, enabling them to travel to more exotic locations on a yearly basis. The adventure-hungry saw this as an incredible opportunity to discover different destinations and excitement on their annual getaway. And the tireless workers saw timeshares as a stress-free, guaranteed escape from their hectic lifestyles every year.
Watching the timeshare industry continue to grow over the years and attract an incredibly diverse array of travelers, many resorts decided to jump in on the action. By the time the 1990s came along, popular hotel companies like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Disney, and Ritz-Carlton were converting their hotels to this new timeshare model. Resorts, brands, and destinations were spreading all across the globe.
With major brands on board, timeshare sales soared to record highs and today, timesharing has become a multi-billion dollar industry, with 5,400 resorts located in over 100 countries, and close to 8.5 million timeshare owners around the globe.