Timeshare giants: Marriott's evolution
The company, which has its timeshare roots in Florida, is tweaking its strategy
In the mid-1970s, two friends and businessmen in Lakeland accidentally stumbled across the idea of something called “timesharing.” One, Ed McMullen Sr., an executive at an insurance brokerage, made a loan to a company involved in timesharing. McMullen, who thought it was a payroll-servicing business, was surprised to learn that it actually sold weekly increments of vacation time at some condos on Sanibel.
McMullen and his friend, Bob Miller, a former Arthur Young accountant, soon learned enough about timeshares to see opportunity.
McMullen and Miller thought they could succeed as credible businessmen from outside the real estate industry. They envisioned constructing purpose-built resorts — as opposed to converting old condos and motels — and selling timeshares to more affluent consumers.
The duo founded a company called American Resorts in 1978. In 1984, their company was bought by Marriott, which has gone on to become the biggest timeshare company.
Meanwhile, “exchange companies” began emerging. They wove together networks of timeshares from different locations and allowed owners to swap their week in one place for a week somewhere else.
The first big exchange appeared in Indianapolis in 1974. Founded as a network for condo owners called Resort Condominiums International, it is known today as RCI and is part of the Wyndham Worldwide empire.
The second big exchange firm — Interval International — surfaced two years later in Miami, founded by a pair of late businessman: Attorney Tom Davis and real estate developer Mario Rodriguez.
Over 20 years, Interval International passed through half a dozen owners, eventually becoming a division of Barry Diller’s USA Networks and getting spun off in 2008 as a stand-alone company called Interval Leisure Group (ILG). ...
ALSO IN THIS ARTICLE: Stephen P. Weisz; Howard Nusbaum; Craig Nash; Ian Zaffino
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