NEW YORK -- The concept of vacation ownership (otherwise known as time-shares) suffers from a bad rep in the travel industry.

The absence of commissions and incentives for agents, as well as the badgering of guests to sign contracts and purchase time slots, has been a source of irritation and complaints.

Royal Resorts, a vacation ownership firm based in Cancun, Mexico, aims to change that with a new three-tiered agent program that addresses commission structure, commission payment changes and an incentive-booking program.

The firm has five properties in Cancun with a total of 1,000 two-bedroom, two-bath units plus two resorts in the Cayman Islands and one in St. Maarten.

Future destinations include Curacao in 2001 as well as the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Turks and Caicos.

Mark Carney, marketing sales director, described the vacation-ownership market as "the fastest-growing sector of the hospitality industry with more than 20% annual growth."

What differentiates Royal Resorts from similar firms, according to Carney, is that "we sell a fixed week in a fixed unit. If the owner does not show up for his allotted week or time period, the unit remains empty. If he instructs us to rent the unit for that time period, he gets the rental fee."

Hotel guests who vacation at a Royal Resorts property "do not get a sales pitch or have to do site inspections while they are there," Carney said.

"If they want to buy a share, they bring the contract home and study and sign it there."

Commission rates are 7% for air-only programs, 12% for air and land packages and 15% for land-only programs.

"Agents get their commission check 30 days prior to the guest's arrival or pay the net rate and receive the commission at the time of booking," Carney said.

For every 10 reservations booked for weeklong stays, agents are credited a one-week stay at any of Royal Resorts' five Cancun resorts.

"Agents can use the stay themselves or sell to clients at the rack rate," Carney said.

Three- and four-night resort packages are available as well.

The newest Royal Resort in Cancun is the beachfront Royal Reef which opened in February with 170 two-bedroom units. The second phase of 146 units opens in 2002.

The Royal Reef joins its sister properties in Cancun which include Royal Caribbean, Royal Islander, Royal Mayan and Club Internacional de Cancun.

Weekly rates in Cancun through Dec. 23 start at $640 for two in an oceanview room, including transfers.

In the Cayman Islands, 30 units are open at the Royal Reef in Grand Cayman. The second phase of 50 units opens in 2001.

Each two-bedroom, two-bath beachfront villa has a balcony, a living area and kitchen. The units can be rented as a villa for six, a one-bedroom suite for four or a double room.

Amenities include a restaurant, a pool and water sports.

Weekly rental rates start at $550 for a double room up to $1,350 for a villa.

In March, Royal Resorts assumed management of the Grand Caymanian Beach Club & Resort, overlooking the Links at SafeHaven golf course on Grand Cayman.

The resort offers one- and two-bedroom villas with balconies, kitchens with living areas and Jacuzzi tubs.

Nightly rates start at $130 per room, double, until Dec. 16.

Royal Resorts took over management of Pelican Resort Club, St. Maarten in 1997.

Royal Resorts
Phone: (800) 221-8090
Web: www.royalresorts.com

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