Categories for New Orleans

Timeshare Industry’s Biggest Annual Convention Underway in The Big Easy

By Jeff Weir, RedWeek.com’s Chief Correspondent

Welcome to the Big Easy!

Not sure how many people own timeshares in Louisiana, nor how many timeshare owners live in Louisiana, but RedWeek can guarantee you that several thousand timeshare people — developers, CEOs, staffers, realtors, resale companies, lawyers, litigators and title experts, PR consultants, escrow agents, HOA managers, regulators, financial planners, software developers and the salt of the earth of timeshare — sales people! — are all gathered here in New Orleans for ARDA World, the annual “ain’t life grand?” timeshare convention hosted by the American Resort Development Association.  ARDA’s very capable folks spend most of their time lobbying lawmakers and regulators to make the world a safer place for timeshares (and, frequently, consumers), but once a week, every year, they take time to reconvene the faithful and celebrate the industry.  And on the last night of the convention, they give awards to dozens of people who have distinguished themselves over the past year.  We’d call the hardware “ARDA-OSCARS”.

That’s this week in New Orleans.  Let the Timeshare Mardi Gras begin.  The real one came and passed in February.

The event is happening at a huge Hyatt right next door to the Louisiana Superdome.  Every single staffer we’ve talked has first-person stories, they swear, about surviving Katrina’s downtown flooding.  Area looks great now.  All rebuilt.  No water.

The “ain’t life grand?” quote is from the award-winning 1967 movie, Bonnie and Clyde.  Clyde (Warren Beatty) uttered those fateful words before he and his bank-robbing girlfriend (Faye Dunaway), were gunned down by a battalion of cops in the Deep South in the 1930’s.  Not sure what the exact parallels are to timeshare, since the industry’s overall economy is improving, sales are up 6 percent and owner approval ratings still hover at 83 percent.  But this is pretty close to the Deep South, and it is New Orleans, which is a city very well-known as a place where anything is possible.

This four-day ARDA marathon, running early to late every day, will provide timeshare executives (and wannabes) with about two weeks of information on all timeshare subjects, including how to reinvent sales to capture new customers, to closing down a legacy resort that is running on fumes (and delinquencies).  There will be some keynote presentations from business celebrities expert at motivating next-gen sales people, meet-and-greet networking events for the passing of business cards, as well as several after-hours entertainments for people on expense accounts.  But the meat of the event is seminar after seminar on real business issues, such as: the fundamentals of timeshare, re-imagining the sales process, state and federal legislative and regulatory issues, ARDA-ROC’s agenda for owners/consumers, managing HOA boards, using technology to reach new travelers, etc.

These are real subjects that would spark the synapses of many timeshare owners, if they were here. But they are not, which underscores a curious irony.  ARDA hosts a fancy convention annually for members of the development community, which seems to hold all of the money, profit and cards in timeshare. BUT NO ONE, not NOBODY, hosts an annual educational convention for the 10 million or so timeshare owners in the United States — and these are the people who paid all the money to the developers in the first place.  Moreover, rank and file owners are, in general, the very people who need the most education about what they own, how to use it and, some day, how to get rid of it.  Failing that last option, they also need to know what their legal remedies are if things go bad.

These are the kinds of issues, and services, that RedWeek attempts to address every day for owners who want to rent or sell their timeshares.  Since ~60 percent of our 2.3 million+ subscribers are NOT timeshare owners, we’re also intent on providing usable information that potential owners can use to do research on resorts, rentals, resales, and reputable news information about the industry.

That’s what THIS blog is all about. And that’s also why we are here, holed up in New Orleans for a few days, avoiding the melodious temptations of Bourbon Street so we can arm owners with useful information.

We do have one piece of maybe useful news for folks who have read our prior posts about Diamond Resorts.  Ex-senior VP Frank Goeckel, most recently mentioned in this space as Missing in Action from Diamond Resorts, is back in action at ARDA.  While others kept speculating about Frank, we just found him at a hotel restaurant, dining with friends.  Fit as a fiddle, far as we could tell.

Now, if you know of any good timeshares to check out in New Orleans, let us know!

Your comments appreciated.  We’ll be back with more updates soon…

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Looking for a Wild Vacation Idea? Try a Zoo!

We’ve all been through the standard vacation activities – shopping, dining, beaches and theme parks. If you’re looking to try something a little different this spring, why not take a trip to a zoo? We’re not talking about your local neighborhood zoo… These are the biggest and the best, the tried-and-true family favorites. Springtime, especially, is perfect for zoogoing – not-too-warm and not-too-cold temperatures ensure the local critters will be at their most awake and spirited.

San Diego Zoo

Kicking off our list is a favorite of guests across the country – San Diego Zoo. At 100 acres and boasting over 3,700 animals in ten themed environments, San Diego Zoo certainly sets the bar high. There are plenty of unique experiences offered as well – six separate tours and eight different activities (including the Skyfari Aerial Tram and daily animal encounters!) will keep your visit fresh and exciting for the whole family. Admission is $46.00 for adults and $36.00 for children.
Where to stay: Carlsbad resorts are a moderate drive away from the San Diego Zoo and other San Diego attractions! 

Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo comes in at 256 acres and is undoubtedly America’s largest urban zoo. Snow leopards, red pandas, Magellenic penguins and Nile crocodiles are just a few of the exotic residents of Bronx Zoo that add a touch of the wild to the big city. Don’t forget to check out the attractions – a 4-D sensory movie theater and a Bug Carousel are sure to be hits with the kids. Admission is $33.95 for adults, $23.95 for children and $28.95 for seniors.
Where to stay: Many New York City resorts are situated in Manhattan, making for quick travel to Bronx Zoo.

Lowry Park Zoo

Tampa’s Lowry Park brings the mystery of Florida’s diverse ecosystems before guests’ eyes. Florida panthers, American alligators, river otters and several stingray species capture the spirit of the region, while African, Asian and Australian-themed regions provide for a more exotic experience. Lowry Park’s focus definitely lies in education and conservation, so be sure to check out one of the many shows and keeper talks, and kids will have a blast at one-day camps and workshops! Admission is $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for children and $22.95 for seniors.
Where to stay: The Greater Tampa Area is home to a wide array of resort options, although which you pick partly depends upon any other local attractions you might want to check out.

Audubon Zoo

Based in New Orleans, the Audubon Zoo transcends the standard zoo experience. With a mix of educational ventures, hands-on activity and the classic zoo experience, Audubon Zoo sines at offering a diverse mix of activities to appeal to any visitor. The Safari Simulator Ride and Audubon’s Dinosaur Adventures lend an almost theme park-like vibe to this zoo, while attractions like Discovery Walk and Reptile Encounter bring you face-to-face with resident animals. Admission is $17.50 for adults, $12.00 for children and $13.00 for seniors.
Where to stay: New Orleans Resorts are a quick drive away from the Audubon Zoo.
Photo credit: http://timesofsandiego.com/life/2014/04/08/san-diego-tourism-trip-advisor-san-diego-ranks-in-top-10-of-u-s-tourism-spots/

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Plan a Timeshare Vacation to New Orleans – It’s Super Bowl XLVII!

It’s been a year, and millions of NFL football fans know what that means – Super Bowl Sunday!

On Sunday, February 3, 2013, Super Bowl XLVII will be played between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Superdome.

New Orleans is the perfect city to bring these two teams and their fans together for a fun winter getaway. It’s easy to find many activities to enjoy in the “Big Easy” while you wait for that Super Bowl XLVII starting kick-off.

New Orleans can be a budget-friendly timeshare vacation destination, starting with staying in a timeshare rental, then finding free places to see and things to do. Below are 7 of the top free things to do in New Orleans:

1. Tour Saint Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square
2. Visit the Historic New Orleans Collection where history has been preserved with seven “architectural treasures” in the French Quarter
3. Ride the Canal Street Ferry to Algiers Point and see the New Orleans skyline.
4. Venture into the “Cities of the Dead” for a self-guided day tour of a unique cemetery, especially St. Louis Cemetery #1, the closest one to the French Quarter.
5. Experience a cooking demonstration at the Crescent City Farmers Market (that you can then do yourself with your timeshare kitchen).
6. Watch the ships pass on the Mississippi River from Woldenberg Riverfront Park, and listen for the Steamboat Natchez’s calliope.
7. Tour the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum.

When you head to the Superdome (officially now called the Mercedes-Benz Superdome), take a good look around at this remarkable football stadium, and appreciate its history.

1.The Superdome opened in 1975, and is currently the largest fixed domed structure in the world.

2.Home to the NFL New Orleans Saints, and Tulane University’s football games, the Superdome itself gained world-wide media attention when, in 2005, it housed thousands of New Orleans residents who were unable to evacuate the city during Hurricane Katrina.

3.During the hurricane the Superdome itself sustained damage, and was closed as a stadium for over a year. 

Now that you’re settling into your Super Bowl seats, here is some fun Super Bowl trivia with which to dazzle your seatmates:

1. The first two Super Bowls weren’t actually called the “Super Bowl.” They went by the less catchy “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”

2. The name “Super Bowl” was inspired by the “Super Ball,” a popular children’s toy from Wham-O (the company responsible for the Frisbee and Silly String).

3. The majority of NFL teams, 18 of 32, have won a Super Bowl in the game’s 46-year history.

4. The San Francisco 49ers are the only team to remain undefeated after multiple Super Bowls. They are 5–0.

5. The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have the most Super Bowl victories, with 6. (That could change on Sunday!)

6. Super Bowl XLVII is the tenth held in New Orleans, which will tie Miami as the metropolitan area to host the most Super Bowls.

Check out the many New Orleans timeshare rentals available. For example, rent a timeshare at the Maison Pierre Lafitte, just across Canal Street from the French Quarter, for just $100/night.

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Timeshare Travel – Top 7 U.S. New Year’s Eve Party Towns – Part 2

5. New Orleans. The stroke of midnight in New Orleans is just the start for an all-night bash. Jackson Square is the center, with live musical entertainment leading up to the countdown that culminates by the drop of an 8-foot-tall, lighted fleur-de-lis (symbol of the Big Easy) from an illuminated perch that it shares with “Baby New Year,” five stories atop the Jax Brewery.

Fifteen minutes of fantastic fireworks follow, shot into the night sky from a duo of barges on the Mississippi River, before crowds disperse to the surrounding French Quarter with its boisterous Bourbon Street, and to nearby music club-dotted Frenchman Street, where you can whoop it up till the wee hours.

6. Vail. Take your New Year’s Eve celebrations to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, with some revelry in the world-famous ski resort of Vail.

The evening festivities kick off with a spectacular torchlight parade on Golden Peak (see photo left), featuring as many as 300 skiers and snowboarders from the Vail Ski & Snowboard School who schuss the slopes in an illuminated train, glow sticks in hand.

The first round of New Year’s Eve fireworks in this Colorado ski town follow up the spectacle, as does the family-friendly First Night festival, held at the mountaintop Adventure Ridge, accessible by gondola.

Food stands, activities just for kids, a choral group, and a live broadcast of the Times Square ball drop assure the festivities maintain their momentum.

A secondary fireworks display explodes above Vail Mountain for more merriment at midnight, as does some rather explosive nightlife at bars and restaurants throughout town.

A massive dance party at the Dobson Ice Arena is the biggest event in town, featuring three DJs and a midnight balloon drop, with thousands of dollars in cash and prizes tucked inside the balloons.

7. Key West. A warm-weather winter magnet, this town in southernmost Florida offers a trio of unusual “drops” that showcase Key West’s outlandish take on the Times Square countdown tradition.

The descent of a costumed “pirate wench” from a schooner’s mast is set to the sound of booming canons and the cheers of spectators and the ship’s “pirate” crew (at the Schooner Wharf Bar in the Historic Seaport area).

Thousands more gather on anything-goes Duval Street to watch a mammoth man-made conch shell descend from atop Hemingway’s favorite watering hole, Sloppy Joe’s Bar (live music is inside).

And yet more crowds congregate for the “Red Shoe Drop” (see photo) just down the road, where bedazzled local drag queen legend Sushi is lowered in a super-sized red high heel from above the Bourbon Street Pub (peek inside for over-the-top performances by female impersonators).

Across the U.S. anything goes when it comes to ringing in the New Year. Find great budget-friendly timeshare rental bargains in each of these fun and fascinating New Year’s Eve destinations.

Photos Credit: travel.yahoo.com

Timeshare Travel – Top 7 U.S. New Year’s Eve Party Towns – Part 1

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Spring Break Timeshare Vacation Idea – The Family-Friendly French Quarter

Still looking for ideas for that Spring Break trip with the kids? Bet you hadn’t thought of New Orleans’ French Quarter. There are many kid-friendly sights and activities in the French Quarter, making that a great family timeshare vacation destination.

Historic Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter, fairly teems with street entertainers. Musicians play musical instruments of all kinds, often where your children can walk up and stand right beside someone playing a trombone or a clarinet, or even bongo drums, and get a close-up experience of how that instrument makes its sounds.

With such toe-tapping music going on, of course there are a lot of dancers. When your kids watch a group of fancy tappers, they’ll be right out there trying it themselves.

A scenic boardwalk across from Jackson Square crosses over a levee, connecting the city with the riverfront, and is known as the “Moon Walk,” (after Mayor Moon Landrieu who was instrumental in getting the boardwalk built). This is where your kids can watch street performers such as fascinating mimes, amazing unicyclists, acrobats, and clowns.

Every day in Jackson Square and nearby “Priates Alley” artists set up their easels, giving your children the opportunity to watch a painted picture take shape right before their eyes. You can see many examples of this artwork displayed on the iconic wrought iron fences.

Your kids will love the French Market, where artisans display many different hand-made items, from jewelry to wood carvings, and including handcrafted toys and novelties. There’s also a chance to get to watch New Orleans’ famous Pralines being made, as well as to purchase Mardi Gras masks and souvenirs that are actually crafted by locals.

And what is a trip to New Orleans without a ride on one of its famous streetcars? While you’ll have to leave the French Quarter for this activity, it’s well worth it. You can ride a street car for just $1.25 per person (children 2 and under ride free). You’ll have a wonderful open-air ride through the Garden District where you’ll pass by magnificent mansions and lush gardens. Stay on the streetcar for a great way to get to the Audobon Zoo.

Although it’s true that some parts of the French Quarter are “X-rated”, prior planning can allow your family to miss those areas, and find the fun, family-friendly spots that can make a great spring break vacation.

New Orleans timeshare rentals start as low as $79/night for some great spring break deals.

Photo Credit (top): capturedrainbows.com
Photo Credit (center): shutterstock.com

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