A new look for Wyndham

Milne’s promotion, updated unit exchange policy highlight changes

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— The growing link between Steamboat Springs’ resort bed base and Wyndham Vacation Rentals is about to deliver a new mechanism for putting guests in condominiums.

Bob Milne, the newly named president of Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America and a longtime principal in Steamboat Resorts/The Resort Co., said this week that owners of timeshare points with Wyndham Vacation Ownerships will have limited access to wholly owned condominiums in the company’s rental management pool.

“Coming soon, owners of whole units (The Lodge, for example) will be able to voluntarily offer their condos to (Wyndham Vacation owners) for a week,” Milne said.

He hastened to add that the Steamboat resort community need not be concerned that timeshare customers will flood key properties during the peak periods of the ski season. The intent is to provide whole-ownership clients whose condos are managed by Wyndham with a way to realize a benefit from their vacation homes during otherwise soft periods of the vacation cycle. For example, Milne cited Dec. 1 to 10 in Steamboat, a time when the slopes of Mount Werner typically aren’t crowded and, correspondingly, occupancy rates are low.

Owners won’t see cash revenue from the rentals. Instead, they would be offered a vacation in another Wyndham resort. From a corporate standpoint, that arrangement also solves the tricky matter of accounting across different Wyndham divisions.

North American expansion

Wyndham Exchange and Rentals announced this month that a new corporate position has been created for Milne, who has a 25-year career in property management in Steamboat Springs.

Milne’s position was created specifically to carry out the goal of increasing the company’s presence in the United States and Canada.

“At first,” Milne said, “I’ll be involved in creating the structure for accomplishing that goal.

“I will miss Steamboat, but this is an opportunity I could not pass up. And we’ll be keeping our house here.”

Milne’s family is preparing this month for the move to Parsippany, N.J., where Wyndham’s headquarters are a relatively easy drive from Newark Liberty International Airport but far enough from Manhattan to offer a semirural setting in the Troy Hills.

Steamboat figures prominently in Wyndham North America. Wyndham Vacation Rentals manages thousands of vacation rental units in Europe, but its presence in North America is focused on Florida, South Carolina and Colorado with a few units in Sun Valley, Idaho, and Park City, Utah.

Within the past 12 months Wyndham acquired Milne’s company, The Resort Co. (he sold a majority interest to a holding company in 2007), and ResortQuest, which manages Steamboat Springs’ Torian Plum and the Trappeurs Crossing condominium complex, among others.

Wyndham also owns a timeshare property, the Village at Steamboat, where it completed a major expansion in 2008.

Milne said he was drawn to Wyndham because the company seems to operate with the adaptability of an entrepreneurial organization despite its large size. He added that he thinks his new boss, Wyndham Exchange and Rentals President and CEO Geoff Ballotti, shares his conviction that no matter how large a vacation rental company is, it must be able to focus in at the micro level when it comes to working with condominium homeowners associations and delivering guest service.

When Wyndham closed on the $56 million purchase of ResortQuest in October 2010, the company had 140 destinations worldwide.

Wyndham Exchange and Ren-tals, just one division of Wyndham Worldwide, announced second quarter earnings of $361 million, up 28 percent from the same period in 2010. The company attributed a significant portion of that growth to acquisitions and favorable currency exchange rates.

Wyndham Vacation Ownership reported sales of $412 million in the second quarter of this year, up 11 percent.

The company’s website reports that it can place vacationers in 97,000 different units in 100 countries.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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