Washington, DC (November 12, 2010) — On this holiday honoring military veterans, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), announces its continued commitment to providing “Vacations for Vets,” an industry-wide program that supports wounded warriors returning from military combat by awarding them with much needed vacations to recover and reconnect with family and friends.
“We have been supporting this program since 2005 and are honored to be able to bring together the resources of our industry to provide some much needed R&R for our veterans,” says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA.
Today, “Vacations for Vets” approved more than 1,000 vacations to wounded warriors, U.S. veterans, support personnel and their families. The program is run in coordination with the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR); In Honor of Our Troops (IHOOT) Foundation, Inc.; International Cruise and Excursions (ICE); and, Government Vacation Rewards. The idea started with Ret. Col. R. John Cully, vice president of government marketing for ICE and Philip Strambler, Walter Reed FMWR Director of Marketing and Commercial Activities. Together they approached ARDA, whose members were honored to participate by donating timeshare-style vacations and other travel benefits to wounded warriors and their families.
“There were people who took care of me a long time ago after my service in Vietnam. I saw this as a way to give back.” said Cully.
Shell Vacations Club’s generous members continue to provide accommodations in Anaheim, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, San Antonio, Phoenix, Canada, Hawaii and Mexico. They proudly hosted Staff Sergeant Charles Eggleston, a Maryland native, and his wife Pamela for a week-long vacation at their Las Vegas Desert Rose Resort. Charles, who was severely injured in Iraq in 2005, has been receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Major Lionel Walton, assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Belvoir, Virginia who was injured in Iraq, enjoyed a well-deserved week at Welk Resort’s San Diego property. “The staff and management were incredibly kind and helpful,” said Walton. Major Michelle Dyarman, 351 Civil Affairs Command of Mountain View, CA, took her vacation in Orlando at a Hilton Grand Vacation Club resort with family and friends that supported her during her 10 months in Iraq. “It was fantastic, just to get away and not worry about anything – everything was taken care of for me.”
For ARDA and its members, which include some of the biggest brands and most respected in the hotel industry, it’s an opportunity to give back to U.S. soldiers through donating excess timeshare inventory, entertainment certificates, car rental vouchers, airline coupons, and other vacation donations. Over the years, resort donations have come from Hilton Grand Vacations Resorts, Welk Resorts, Shell Vacations Resorts, Bluegreen Corporation, Interval International, Trading Places and InnSeason among others. “We are happy to participate in the program and it’s good for business. The goodwill this program generates in the military and government market gives our industry great exposure” said John Rowley, President and CEO of International Cruise and Excursions. Many resort property managers make it a point of seeing that each vacationing veteran is personally greeted upon his or her arrival.
For more information on the program including how to donate, please contact Lou Ann Burney of ARDA.
The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is the Washington D.C.-based professional association representing the vacation ownership and resort development industries. Established in 1969, ARDA today has over 1,000 members ranging from privately held firms to publicly traded companies and international corporations with expertise in shared ownership interests in leisure real estate. The membership also includes timeshare owner associations (HOAs), resort management companies, and owners through the ARDA Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC). For more information, visit http://www.arda.org or ARDA’s consumer website at http://www.VacationBetter.org