ARDA Announces 2012 Circle of Excellence (ACE) and ARDY Winners
WASHINGTON, DC, (April 26, 2012) — The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) recognized their top industry leaders at the annual Awards Gala of the 2012 Convention & Exposition held in Las Vegas. The evening event, sponsored by Holiday Systems International (HSI), showcases the outstanding accomplishments among individuals, teams, resorts, and companies in a variety of categories.
“It’s about recognizing the ‘best of the best’ in the vacation ownership industry,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. “It’s an opportunity to take time and applaud the efforts of individuals who have been recognized by their peers for the impact and perseverance they have shown in their professional lives.”
The ACE Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual whose leadership, professionalism, creativity, reliability, and quality standards and ethics are demonstrated in an outstanding body of work. This year’s recipient, Frank Chapman, has been an ambassador for the industry since the 1960s, when he first bought two resorts in the British Isles. As an international visionary, he continued to buy, expand, and sell timeshare resorts on a grand scale. Since the early 1990s, he has been a powerful advocate with OTE, as Chair of their Timeshare Council and as a member of their Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Legislative Council. By 2006, his resorts were earning both the RCI Gold Crown designation and Interval International’s Five Star status. Today, he still owns and operates Sovereign Travel & Leisure Group.
The ACE Project of Excellence is given to a successful project that represents months and years of cooperation between all parties involved and is considered a success not only by investors but by owners and the local community. The 2012 winner, Grand Lodge on Peak 7, is a five and a half acre resort by Breckenridge Grand Vacations in the heart of Breckenridge, a Colorado ski resort town, where sales from this one resort were responsible for two thirds of all real estate sales activity in the town. The company’s reputation for high standards and customer service is reflected in the resort’s respect for the environment, empowerment of its employees, and nourishment of the family of owners who visit.
The ACE Community Service Award recognizes outstanding community contributions by an ARDA member individual or organization. This year, the award was given to Interval International for its help to bring vacations to deployed and wounded soldiers and their families. Through the Steel Magnolias / Operation Any Soldier program, Interval International sent 127 soldiers and their families on the vacations of a lifetime, utilizing their 2,600 affiliate resorts in its first year of the partnership.
The ACE Women on their Way Award recognizes the outstanding achievements of women who continue to excel and advance in the industry. This year’s recipient was Mandi Weigel of Grand Pacific Resorts, who worked her way from administrative assistant to resort area general manager. Along the way she proved to be an innovative leader through goal-oriented employee programs, employee safety, and green company initiatives.
The ACE Philanthropic Award recognizes the outstanding philanthropic effort for a humanitarian cause by an individual or company. This year’s award went to Christel House Open Tournament Host Companies, who help run a benefit golf tournament organized by a host committee of 14 different companies across the timeshare industry. Proceeds from the tournament go toward ending childhood poverty.
The ACE Innovator Award recognizes those who have successfully implemented a groundbreaking product, service, or concept. The 2012 winner, ICE, was recognized for its design of a collection of unique lifestyle benefits for timeshare that include golf, wine, spa, and shopping.
The ACE Spirit of Hospitality Award recognizes an outstanding employee who has demonstrated commitment, loyalty, superior performance, and the willingness to go above and beyond. This year’s award recipient, Paulette Carter of Starwood Vacation Ownership, began her career in housekeeping, and today she oversees operations at five resorts. Her insistence on high standards has placed her resorts among the most requested by owners in her company’s network.
The ACE Employer of the Year Award recognizes an employer that has demonstrated exceptional commitment to its employees. This year’s recipient, Welk Resorts, treats their employees like family. From training and continued learning opportunities to promotion from within the company, rewards for healthy living, and an internal vacation donation program, Welk Resorts has a long tradition of giving back to its employees.
The ACE Volunteer Award is given to a member of ARDA who consistently gives his/her time, energy, creativity, and talents to further ARDA’s goals and objectives. Ken McKelvey of Defender Resorts, Inc., this year’s winner, has been a leading advocate for the rights of timeshare owners everywhere throughout his career. He brings 37 years of industry experience in development, sales, management, and financing to his current position as executive committee chair of ARDA’s Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC), where he spends an enormous amount of time traveling to testify and advocate for owner issues.
The ACE Customer Service Award: Traditional is a new award that recognizes a member for excellence in customer service through a traditional effort. The first-ever recipient is Marriott Global Owner Services Team, Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation. With more than 400,000 owners worldwide, the company created an owner services division to communicate across all channels in 34 countries and deliver service in 14 different languages. Last year, they handled over a million in-bound calls and had an owner satisfaction rating of 94.8 percent. They turned that satisfaction level into almost $6 million in new sales by referring their happy customers to their Sales Division.
The ACE Customer Service Award: Non-Traditional is also a new award to recognize a member for excellence in customer service through a non-traditional effort. This new award was given to RCI Social Customer Service Team for its groundbreaking efforts to utilize social media to engage customers around their feedback on timeshare vacations and products. RCI created a new team focused on identifying, analyzing, and responding to customer concerns across all social media channels through one analyzing platform. Their efforts have improved customer service for their direct customers, helped their affiliated resorts upgrade their procedures and amenities, and increased response time to customers to 16 hours.
The Ingersoll and Bloch Industry Advocate Award is designed to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary efforts on behalf of the timeshare industry in the legislative and regulatory arena. This year’s winner is Robin Suarez of Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., for her efforts in defending the business of timesharing and supporting the rights of timeshare owners. Despite a full-time job leading her company’s corporate team responsible for project development and registration, she always finds time to advocate for the industry to ensure owners’ rights are protected.
In addition to the ACE Awards, ARDA awarded ARDYs to finalists in sales and marketing; management and administration; advertising and promotion; and resort design categories. For a list of all winners and finalists, please visit www.ARDA.org/awards.
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 www.arda.org or ARDA’s consumer website at www.VacationBetter.org