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IFA Hotels & Resorts Project on the Palm-Jumeirah, Man-made Islands Off the Coast of Dubai, Affiliates with RCI
December 2003 - “RCI is the global leader in vacation property exchange and with RCI recently opening a sales and call centre in Dubai Internet City, we are in a strong position and are now in the build-up phase for the launch of the Palm Vacation Club,” said James Wilson, President & COO, IFA Hotels & Resorts.

“This affiliation means that our Vacation Club owners will now have access to a membership exchange programme which already boasts 3 million member families and spans 3,700 affiliated resorts in more than 100 countries around the world.”

The affiliation of The Palm Vacation Club is part of IFA’s strategy to provide world class tourism facilities in prime locations. The Palm Vacation Club will link with other IFA resorts in Zimbali, South Africa and Zanzibar as well as with a planned resort in Lebanon and its existing hotel and Pine Cliffs Vacation Club in Portugal, the Sheraton Algarve and Pine Cliffs Resorts, which is owned by United Investments Portugal, one of the companies in the IFA consortium.

“The affiliation brings added value and flexibility to Palm Vacation Club owners by allowing them to trade timeshare accommodation through RCI’s international holiday exchange system and will allow members of IFA’s other resort in Portugal – the Pine Cliffs Vacation Club – to exchange their weeks for a holiday in Dubai,” said Wilson.

The affiliation represents RCI’s first inventory on The Palm, Jumeirah, one of two man-made islands off the coast of Dubai.

“The IFA Hotels & Resorts project on the Palm is the first fully integrated timeshare resort on The Palm,” explained Yehia El-Nowaiem, Managing Director, RCI Middle East.  “It is differentiated from other offerings by its five-star status with a comprehensive range of hotel and resort facilities and by the fact that it will be operated by a leading hotel chain, with all the associated benefits and facilities, affording it a true resort status.”

IFA Hotels & Resorts is a lead investor on The Palm-Jumeirah. Apart from The Palm Vacation Club, its projects on the island cover a sizeable area of the ‘trunk’ and will offer just over 1,200 rooms on the beach, 450 apartments and 60 boutique shops. This includes the twin-tower Palm Residence, an exclusive, beachfront enclave of 246 super-luxury shoreline apartments and the five-star, 300 room, Palm Hotel & Resort.

“A prestigious international hospitality operator will provide a host of exclusive services which will extend to our Vacation Club members,” explained George Khoury, Vice President Design & Development, IFA Hotels & Resorts.

“These will include reception and concierge services, maid and childcare services, apartment servicing, housekeeping and maintenance, rental administration systems, condominium management and owners’ association, clubhouse management, services and security.”

The company is the first to introduce the concept of five-star, luxury timeshare to Dubai, and it anticipates a strong response from investors.

“Timeshare is now a major part of the global tourist industry,” said Wilson. “In recent years it has demonstrated strategic resilience, overcoming volatility in the hospitality marketplace.

“Timeshare guests demonstrate high discretionary spend since future vacation costs are paid in advance and they have a high repeat and return rate.”

According to the USA’s Ragatz Associates, the international consulting and market research firm for the resort industry, global timeshare sales have enjoyed consistent double-digit growth for years, reaching US $9.4 billion in 2002.

A recent Ragatz Associates’ study on timeshares, ownerships of timeshares increased at a rate averaging about 12% annually from 1990 to 2003 and in the challenging economic climate of 2002, grew in excess of 8%.

According to the report: “Some 6.7 million households own the rights to about 10.7 million timeshare weeks. Satisfaction rates remain high, upwards of 80% in most major markets. High satisfaction rates, affordability, and low market penetration hold the promise for future industry growth.”

According to RCI the reason for the successful sales of timeshares and the growth in travel activity among timeshare owners, stems from the basic family appeal of the concept.

“Timeshare offers consumers a way to make a commitment to family time and to quality holiday accommodation that provides a compelling emotional benefit,” said El-Nowaiem. “Then, having pre-paid for their holiday accommodation for life, timeshare owners will fall back on what they’ve already paid for in traveling to make their finances go further. This family concept will make five-star, luxury resort timeshare particularly appealing to Middle East clients.”

RCI also points to 2002 performance in the five-star timeshare sector to underline the segment’s resilience.

“Marriott in reporting first quarter results for 2002, a period of greatly diminished travel following the events of September 11, the impending war in Afghanistan and the downturn in the global economy, experienced a decline of 12.7% in RevPAR whilst Marriott Vacation Club achieved an 11% growth rate for the same quarter in timeshare sales,” said El-Nowaiem. “At Hilton, for the same quarter, RevPAR declined 15% while EBIT-DA from Hilton Grand Vacations Club/timeshare grew by 37%. At Starwood, RevPAR declined 15.3% while Starwood Vacation Ownership timeshare sales grew by 18% for the same quarter.”

IFA Hotels & Resorts anticipates appointing a five-star hospitality operator for its projects on The Palm, Jumeirah, including the Palm Vacation Club, by the end of this year.

IFA Hotels & Resorts is a subsidiary of the Kuwait-based International Financial Advisors Company (IFA). The depth and strength of the group places it in the forefront of companies engaged in the development of tourism projects, hotels and resorts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

It is the force behind the management of the super-premium Sheraton Algarve Hotel and Pine Cliffs Resort in Portugal, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection, and behind the planned luxury Zanzibar Beach Hotel and Resort – the largest destination resort on the historic spice island – as well as the planned development of the Zimbali Hotel & Beach Resort in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal region.

IFA Hotels & Resorts aims to link its resorts in Portugal, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai, Zanzibar and Zimbali, with a future planned resort in Lebanon. This will offer tourists in Europe, the Middle East and Africa a unique network linking the company’s respective hotels, resorts, timeshare and vacation club destinations.

The Palm involves the creation of the world’s largest two man-made islands known as The Palm, Jumeirah and The Palm, Jebel Ali. Located just off the coast of the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the two palm tree shaped islands are expected to contribute to the city’s position as a premier global tourist destination. The project will increase Dubai’s shoreline by a total of 75 miles, 120 kilometres, and create a large number of residential, leisure and entertainment opportunities, all within a unique and inspiring setting.

The Palm, Jumeirah extends approximately 3.5 miles out into the ocean and provides for 35 miles of new beachfront – a 75% increase to Dubai8’s existing beachfront. On the fronds of the Palm, 1,800 luxury villas have been sold. On the trunk of The Palm there will be 2,200 condominiums (all sold out), five hotels, two marinas and a major retail centre.

The vision of The Palm was conceived by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai. Following many years of research and planning, construction commenced in June 2001. Each island will take approximately two years to be completely raised from the sea. A further two to three years will be required to complete the infrastructure and the buildings. The end result will be the creation of two virtually self-contained communities within the island.

RCI is a global provider of leisure travel services to businesses and consumers, and the worldwide market leader in vacation property exchange. As a growth partner to its business clients, RCI leverages core competencies in branding, networking and partnering to unlock the value of leisure assets in vacation ownership, hospitality, real estate, travel & tourism, and with affinities. RCI is a subsidiary of Cendant Corporation (NYSE:CD), a provider of travel and real estate services.


Kuwait-IFA Hotels & Resorts
Tel: +965 2403796
Fax: +965 2407179

Dubai-Greg Hunt, MCS/Action
Tel: +9714 390 2960
Fax: +9714 390 8161

Also See: United Investments Portugal (UIP) in Middle East consortium to Develop Luxury Hotels & Vacation Club Resorts on Palm Island-Dubai-UAE / June 2002

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