Mexico Villa Group goes coast to coast with luxury timeshares By Gay Nagle Myers / May 13, 2011 Share 1 -- Two luxury properties, both part of the Villa Group's collection of eight resorts in five Mexico beach destinations, opened within three months of one another this past winter, bookending the country's Pacific and Gulf coasts. Villa del Palmar, the company's initial foray into the Cancun area, welcomed its first guests on Christmas Eve. That was followed by the debut of the Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto on the Baja peninsula on March 19. The other properties in the company's portfolio are Villa La Estancia, Villa del Arco and Villa del Palmar in Cabo San Lucas; Villa del Palmar in Puerto Vallarta; and Villa del Palmar Flamingos and Villa La Estancia in Nuevo Vallarta, on the Riviera Nayarit. All are based on the hotel/timeshare concept where members can book among the eight resorts for specified periods of time. Units that are not member-occupied are placed in each resort's rental pool. Commission is 10%, and the Villa Group offers an online expert course for agents that entitles them to a three-night stay for two in Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and/or Riviera Nayarit (excluding Villa La Estancia) once the course is completed. For the first four-night booking after the course, the agent receives a $50 American Express gift card plus commission. For each additional 30 room nights booked, they receive another $50 gift card. Cancun's Villa del Palmar, located in Playa Mujeres, 25 minutes north of the city's hotel zone, opened with 150 guestrooms and will add 136 units in August as part of its phase two development. A third phase, slated for completion in December, will bring another 129 rooms into the resort inventory, according to Germinal Garcia, general manager. "We are a luxury, beachfront, family-friendly property with accommodations ranging from studios to two-bedroom villas," Garcia said. "Couples are welcome, as well. We don't target spring-breakers, and our priorities and focus are personalized service at every level. "We educate and train our employees to be proactive in decision-making and in resolving any problems on the spot," he said. Occupancy levels at Villa del Palmar topped the 70%-plus range through April, despite the fact that construction was still taking place at different parts of the resort. "We notified our members and our guests well in advance of their arrivals that there could be a bit of noise at certain times of the day near the pool area," Garcia said. Occupancies for May are running well above 50%, and the summer season "is shaping up well," according to Garcia. Villa del Palmar has two restaurants; most meals are a la carte, with the exception of a breakfast buffet and theme-night dinners in Las Casona restaurant. Vama, the resort's signature restaurant, offers a fusion menu of Asian cuisine and regional dishes from the Yucatan region. Facilities include a fitness center, a minimarket and a pool; the Greg Norman-designed Playa Mujeres Golf Club is located next door. There are complimentary kids' activities as well as a fleet of kayaks and paddleboats available to guests. "We do weddings on the beach, we have no meeting space at present, and we run a complimentary shuttle five times a day to Cancun's shopping areas," Garcia said. All-inclusive daily rates through June start at $122 per person, double, and increase to $132 a night from July 1 to Aug. 31. Kids up to age 2 are free; ages 3 to 12 are $66.50 per child, per night. Family villas on the bayOn the opposite coast, the 181-suite Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is set on 12 acres along the private Ensenada Bay fronting the Sea of Cortes, with views of the Sierra de la Giganta mountains surrounding the property. The family-oriented property, which plans to open tennis courts, a gym, a market, a third gourmet specialty restaurant and a 35,000-square-foot spa and fitness center this summer, is the first of the Villa Group's planned 1,800-acre development at that locale. When completed, the project will feature seven resort hotels, 240 home sites, additional restaurants and a Rees Jones golf course. "We are pleased with guests' responses since the day Villa del Palmar opened," said Luz Maria Torres, a partner in the Villa Group collection. "They love the resort location, our adherence to ecological standards and the quality and size of the suites," Torres said. "Our bookings are increasing 10% month over month." Facilities include the company's trademark turtle-shaped pool, Jacuzzi, water games at the kids' club, a brick oven pizza bar and an all-day restaurant. Couples' activities range from salsa dancing lessons to cooking classes. The property's main U.S. market is the West Coast, with the average stay between four and seven days, Torres said. Rates through Oct. 31 start at $208 per room, per night, double, in a deluxe studio. Visit www.villagroupresorts.com.