Business

Opening A World Of Opportunity

alexbchThe Alexandra Resort
By Kathy Borsuk

Besides occupying a prime site on world-acclaimed Grace Bay Beach, The Alexandra Resort & Spa holds the distinction of being the first and only “vacation ownership” (or timeshare) resort in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Currently under construction with the first oceanfront building due to open in early November, Director of Sales & Marketing Debbie M. Bishop reports strong initial interest, especially among people who already own timeshare units elsewhere and are familiar with the concept.

Buying Only What You’ll Use
Timesharing offers the opportunity for vacationers to buy “time”–in weekly increments–at The Alexandra’s fully furnished, luxurious beachfront resort. The one-time purchase price is a fraction of the cost of purchasing a condominium, but the quality and size of accommodations and the resort’s amenities are the same as you’d expect in any upscale Grace Bay condominium development. “Basically,” Debbie explains, “you’re only buying what you need and what you’ll use. With suite rental rates averaging $300 per night along the beach, we figure you’d only need to use (or rent) your time six times to recoup your investment.” Timeshare owners also avoid the hassle and expense of maintaining a wholly owned vacation home.

alexgrpAlthough Alexandra owners are guaranteed that their suite will be available to them at their selected time (many purchase from two to four weeks) every year, they have great flexibility in using that time. It can be used by family or friends, rented to other vacationers, banked (saved for two years), borrowed upon from the year ahead, or even re-sold. But among the most exciting options are the travel opportunities available via “exchange.” The Alexandra Resort is affiliated with Resort Condominiums International (RCI), a premier vacation exchange network, and time purchased here can be traded for vacations in other timeshare properties around the world.

A World of Opportunities
RCI is the world’s largest vacation exchange company, with access to 3,700 resorts in 93 countries. The Alexandra is ranked as a Gold Crown property–a select RCI resort (in the top 10%) with the highest level of excellence in accommodation and hospitality. This fact, along with its seaside location in an unspoiled, upscale Caribbean destination in which there are no other timeshares, makes time purchased at The Alexandra worth the ultimate in trade value year-around. “In other words,” Debbie says, “Alexandra owners can exchange their time for the best properties elsewhere. A week at The Alexandra is worth two weeks in many other places!”

A quick browse through RCI’s web site www.RCI.com, 600-page directory of resorts or dedicated timeshare magazine, Endless Vacation, reveals the exhaustive possibilities for travel-trade. From a Hawaiian bungalow to a hotel on the Las Vegas strip; country cottage in Ireland to a safari club in Kenya, the world is a simple exchange away. That’s what makes the concept intriguing to a variety of people, Debbie explains. “Our purchasers here come from three main groups: Baby-Boomers aged 45 to 65, whose children are grown and who are ready to indulge themselves; single women over 35, who feel safe staying in timeshare properties when they travel; and the ’30-something’ stock market entrepreneur, who appreciates the flexible options. Over 40% of our buyers also own timeshares elsewhere.” Exchange requests within the RCI system started on July 31, 2001, and Debbie expects demand for The Alexandra to be staggering. (In fact, she reports, 200 people made an exchange within the first 24 hours for occupancy starting in December, 2001.)

Suites Fit for a Princess
With 600 feet of frontage on a sinuous curve of sugar-soft sand between the up-market Palms Grand Resort and all-inclusive Beaches Turks & Caicos, interest in The Alexandra among lovers of sun, sand and sea is no surprise. Each of the two, four-story oceanfront buildings offer uninterrupted views of the turquoise splendor of Princess Alexandra National Marine Park. The remaining eight buildings encircle a unique central courtyard/pool area, with lower levels enjoying the lush landscaping planned for the property and upper levels an osprey-eye’s view of the ocean.

Options among the 172 units include a user-friendly mix of studios, one- and two-bedroom units, all boasting private terraces, high ceilings, central air-conditioning and ceiling fans. One bedroom suites come in two sizes: 771 sq. ft. oceanfront units and 912 sq. ft. oceanview units, with an extra 1/2 bath and second terrace off the bedroom. At 633 sq. ft., studios are more compact. Two bedroom suites are a sprawling 1,585 sq. ft., offering two baths and terraces off the main living/dining area and both bedrooms. Connecting doors between units add flexibility to accommodate large families or groups.

Fully equipped kitchens let guests prepare everything from a sunrise breakfast to a freshly caught seafood dinner. All suites include elevator service, cable televisions with VCRs, stereos, direct dial phones with Internet access, in-room safes and daily maid service.

Special care was taken when planning the interiors to select high-end furnishings that would be comfortable, durable and easily maintained. This task fell into the skilled hands of local interior designer Trine McKay, who says, “I wanted the rooms to be a soothing retreat from the bright sun, so I considered the walls, floor tiles, cabinets and furniture as a neutral canvas and added color with the window treatments and fabrics. I selected a variety of materials for the furnishings–including Philippine rattan with crushed bamboo and woven wicker seating and tables, light ash beds and armoires, maple cabinetry with Corian countertops and Guyanese purple heart doors and appointments. I also designed several of the pieces myself. I wanted a clean, updated look that was not cliched.” Trine adds that quality and durability were a top priority, with all floors laid in Italian porcelain tiles and chrome fixtures and fittings throughout.

Alexandra owners and guests will be treated to all the amenities expected at a world-class resort, including a free-form pool area complete with waterfalls, grottos, and a misting pool, island, kid’s pool and swim-up bar and grill. The surrounding landscape will include rock gardens and a children’s play area, hammock court and jogging trail. Also planned are a restaurant and coffee shop; dive and watersports facility; fitness center/health spa; lighted tennis courts; a convenience/gift store and total concierge service for auto rentals, island tours and the like.

Grand opening for the first 32 beachfront units is anticipated in November, 2001, with the remaining units to be completed over the next 36 months. Prior to opening of the pool, bar and restaurant in Fall, 2002, guests have the option of using the pool at the Sibonne resort just down the beach and the Island Network health club at Ports of Call shopping center, along with shuttle service to nearby Grace Bay restaurants. The on-site hotel manager will ensure that guest requests are handled with care.

An Elite Team
The Alexandra’s developers are also its owners, and among the few who are native to the Turks & Caicos Islands. C. Washington Misick, the country’s former Chief Minister and current Leader of the Opposition, serves as CEO. With a reputation for foresight, Misick says he believes the time is ripe for the country’s first timeshare property. “There is a growing demand for vacation exchange resorts worldwide and many prominent industry chains–including Disney, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Westin–are already involved. I also think that if the North American economy slows, people with less disposable income can still afford to own ‘a piece of paradise,’ because timeshares are so much less expensive than condominiums.” (Alexandra pre-construction prices begin as low as $11,000.)

Ever the politician, Misick is also excited about the new awareness The Alexandra will bring to his country. “We chose to affiliate with RCI because it is the leader in vacation exchange companies, and very pro-active with its marketing. Through the RCI program and vacation rentals, we expect the resort to be over 85% full year-around with global travellers who may have never otherwise come to the Turks & Caicos. It will add to the variety of lodging options here and help stabilize seasonal demand.” Misick also expects that because rooms are essentially pre-paid, visitors will have more money to spend locally on meals, recreation, touring and the like.

Architect Martin Lyn–whose firm boasts nearly 20 years of resort experience in the region–created the contemporary Caribbean “look” that distinguishes The Alexandra, honed from a number of successful projects in Jamaica. He says, “Because The Alexandra is a large-scale development, it had to be considered from all aspects. Although indigenous regional details and colors will supply the aesthetics, my team of engineers meticulously worked out coordination of servicesÑblending both to allow users to feel ‘tropical’ as soon as they enter.”

His firm’s first project in TCI came about, Lyn explains, “as a result of our ability to mesh ideas with the directors from the very beginning. We produced the first set of designs in a very short time frame and continue to work well together as the project progresses.”

Although founder and chairman of Prestigious Properties Ltd., the TCI’s largest real estate firm, Misick finds his first major resort development “challenging and time-consuming.” The esteemed legislator roams the 9.6 acre site daily, overseeing efforts of contractors Johnston International Ltd., with the assistance of BCQS as quantity surveyors–both highly respected local firms with long histories in the country. Misick and the other directors–his brother Phillip and colleague Sherlock Walkin–also see the project as an opportunity for qualified Belongers to learn the business of timeshare sales and marketing.

They could have no better teacher than Debbie Bishop, who brings 19 years of vacation ownership sales experience to her position. Debbie has been involved in six similar “start-up from sand” projects including Morritt’s Tortuga Club and Resort in Grand Cayman (already sold-out), winning an award for outstanding performance there. A dedicated timeshare owner herself, she’s extremely enthusiastic about The Alexandra and ranks a one-bedroom oceanview unit here among the world’s best timeshare buys.

See for Yourself
As an incentive for participating in a tour of The Alexandra, visitors receive a $75 gift certificate redeemable at a number of Providenciales businesses. Contrary to popular misconceptions, the sales pitch here is low-key to non-existent, as the outstanding sea views, pristine beach and buildings’ well-designed grandeur virtually speak for themselves. In fact, Debbie confirms, an amazing 35% of sales prospects here end up purchasers.

Debbie also encourages local residents to consider purchasing time at The Alexandra, citing a number of economic benefits. “You’ll eliminate hotel bills for visiting family and friends, while they’ll enjoy the best of accommodations. As an owner, you can use the facilities all year. And the exchange rights you’ll earn through RCI can let you explore new places and experience different cultures . . . timeshares are really big in Europe right now. It’s supposed to be a secret, but we do offer resident discounts and special deals on purchasing additional weeks for owners only.” Financing is available with 20% down and no interest for one year.

For more information about The Alexandra, call (649) 946-5807 or from North America, (800) 704-9424, or e-mail sales@alexandraresort.com or visit www.alexandraresort.com.



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