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VacationBetter.org Announces Winners for 2009 Photo and Story Contest

October 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, October 20, 2009 — As part of an industry effort to promote the power of travel during National Travel and Tourism Week in May, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) launched the “Bring Your Vacation to Life” photo and story contest. Contestants were asked to share a memory of a timeshare vacation that impacted their family, health, or enjoyment of life.

American Express gift cards were awarded to first- and second-place photos and one first-place story. The highest award went to Sally Lessig for the photo “Al Relaxing” and the story “Thru the Years”. Second-place photo prizes were awarded to Alexis MacDonald for “Lexie & Dan Love Myrtle Beach” and to Tracy Dunn for “For My Next Act”.

ARDA recognizes the need for vacations and the long-term benefits associated with taking regular vacations that contribute to better health, relationships, and job performance. In these tough economic times, the large number of entrants reflected the real value of timeshare ownership and how pre-paying for future vacations, guarantees that owners get away at least once a year.

According to ARDA, timeshare owners continue to travel to their timeshare destinations. The ARDA International Foundation (AIF) reported occupancy rates are at 81.6% in the State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry: United States Study, 2009 edition.

About 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 almost 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.

Study Shows Link to Academic Achievement in First Graders

September 22, 2009

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2009 — As the nation’s children settle in for another school year, many parents and teachers wonder how the summer break affected their children’s academic achievement. Analysis of a U.S. Department of Education study found that children who travel over summer break – whether to a beach, historic site or a national park – did better in reading, math and general knowledge than their peers who didn’t vacation.

“The data is clear – and gives hard-working parents another reason not to put off a summer vacation trip,” said Dr. Bill Norman, Clemson University. “Providing kids with the experience of travel broadens their horizons and opens up their minds to learning.”

A series of analyses were conducted to determine the relationship between summer vacation travel and academic achievement in children entering first grade. Specifically, the study explored whether going on a vacation, the number of days spent on a vacation and places visited were linked to academic achievement in the areas of reading, mathematics and general knowledge. The results revealed a significant difference in academic achievement and taking a family summer vacation trip. Children that traveled with their family over summer vacation scored higher on academic achievement assessment tests than those who did not travel. The days spent on family summer vacation trips had a modest significant relationship with academic achievement. Lastly, children who visited plays or concerts, art or science museums, historical sites, beaches or lakes, national or state parks, and zoos or aquariums had significantly higher academic achievement scores than those who did not.

“To date there has never been a study that plainly shows the correlation between travel and academic achievement,” says Jessica Parker, researcher, Clemson University. “It was interesting to see the impact on a child when they spend vacation time away with their family.”

Over three-fourths (75.2%) of the participants responded that the child had taken a family summer travel vacation prior to starting first grade. For those children that took a family summer vacation trip, the average number of days spent traveling was 11.8 days.

“The timeshare industry has always touted the importance of regular vacations for health and wellness,” says Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO, American Resort Development Association (ARDA). “This study gives families yet another strong reminder that taking vacation has benefits beyond the actual week or two of vacation.” (Research Shows Vacations Make Kids Smarter Video)

This research study of how vacation impacts childhood learning used the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study of the Kindergarten Class database from the United States Department of Education. The database contains information on 21,600 children followed from kindergarten through fifth grades. This year study examined children’s early school experiences as well as family and life experiences, such as summer activities. The parents of a subsample of 5,047 children were asked about summer travel. Academic achievement was measured with a series of standardized test in the three areas of math, reading and general knowledge.

Although the results indicate that summer vacation travel and academic achievement are linked, other factors such as income level, parent’s educational level and language spoke at home may influence these findings.

About 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 almost 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.

According to Research, Recovery Needed for Vacation-Deprived Americans

September 2, 2009

(Washington, September 2, 2009)—As we wrap up yet another summer season, many people are lamenting the fact that they didn’t get to take a real vacation. Based on a recent Expedia Vacation Deprivation™ survey, Americans not only receive the smallest amount of vacation time among their counterparts abroad, they often fail to use it. The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) challenges the vacation-deprived among us to take the first step to recovery and admit there is a problem.

“As a nation, we need to focus more on wellness,” said Howard Nusbaum, ARDA president and CEO. “It’s proven that taking two weeks, or whatever you can, to break away from the daily grind will go a long way in promoting both physical and mental health.”

The second step to recovery is to realize the health and wellness benefits you will get from taking a vacation. Recent research shows that the long-term benefits associated with taking regular vacations contribute to better health, relationships and job performance. In fact, the statistics are astounding. Men who don’t vacation regularly are 32 percent more likely to die of heart attacks; women are 50 percent more likely.

“People need to understand the important health benefits they will get from taking time away from their normal routine,” says John de Graaf, executive director of Take Back Your Time, an initiative encouraging time outside of work. “Vacations are not a luxury but an important part of any healthy lifestyle.”

The last step in vacation deprivation recovery is to ensure that the vacation is the best possible experience it can be. ARDA member resorts provide spacious accommodations in stunning locations with all the comforts of home. A timeshare resort offers hassle-free second home vacations designed with the sole purpose of making the most of precious leisure time together.

One to two weeks away from the daily routine leads to better job performance and productivity, increasing reaction times by 30 to 40 percent. In addition, quality of sleep increases by about one hour a night upon return from vacation. “Simply put, people can’t afford not to take a vacation,” says de Graaf.

About VacationBetter.org
The American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) new on-line resource informs consumers on the importance of taking a vacation and the overall benefits of enjoying one – regularly – through shared vacation ownership. VacationBetter.org is a comprehensive, educational tool for consumers to learn about this travel option and to demonstrate a way for travelers to vacation better.

About 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 almost 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.

Nearly Half of Recent Survey Respondents Feel Time with Their Families Lacking

June 17, 2009 

Washington, DC, June 17, 2009 — While Americans patiently wait for the country’s economic stimulus plan to take effect, it’s clear that a separate plan is needed to spur recovery in another area – the amount of time enjoyed with family. The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) recently surveyed visitors to its VacationBetter.org website to determine if they have enough quality time with their immediate and extended families. Nearly half of the respondents felt quality time spent with the family was lacking and a stimulus plan was the solution.

“Unfortunately vacation is one of the first things people give up when times get tough economically, and with that goes some of the best quality time you can get with your family,” said Howard Nusbaum, ARDA president and CEO. “Tough times are when people need connect to their families even more, and it can be done very economically.”

In hopes of counteracting the failing tradition of quality family time, ARDA has created the Family Stimulus Plan. As part of this package, ARDA is providing tips and suggestions on how to take time away to renew and rejuvenate with the family on its VacationBetter.org consumer information website. “The Family Stimulus Plan” [BL1], provides travelers with helpful hints on planning a successful family vacation with either your immediate family or an extended family reunion. It contains event-planning tips, including managing invitations, selecting a location, ice-breaker games, decorations and ways to stay in touch all year long.

Another way to stimulate your interest in a family vacation is to hear from the health and wellness experts. It’s a proven fact that people who spend time away reap health benefits far beyond that week or two of vacation. Vacations are not a luxury, but a necessity for good health and well-being.

Owning your vacation with timeshare has shown to be a sure-fire way of guaranteeing that you won’t find excuses not to vacation and in fact, will reap all of the benefits of having pre-paid your vacation – quality resorts, family-friendly accommodations and regular getaways. In fact, according to an ARDA study, timeshare properties are experiencing an 82 percent occupancy rate despite tough economic times.

As we all focus on the economic stimulus, ARDA encourages us to remember an even more important plan we can enact on our own — The Family Stimulus Plan. To download a customizable package, visit www.VacationBetter.org.

About VacationBetter.org
The American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) new on-line resource informs consumers on the importance of taking a vacation and the overall benefits of enjoying one – regularly – through shared vacation ownership.VacationBetter.org is a comprehensive, educational tool for consumers to learn about this travel option and to demonstrate a way for travelers to vacation better.

About 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 almost 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.

Timeshare Owners Share Vacation Experiences in Video, Photo and Story Contest

May 4, 2009

Washington, DC – May 4, 2009 – As part of the travel industry’s efforts to promote the power of travel during National Travel and Tourism Week, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is encouraging timeshare owners to share the secret of better vacationing through its annual contest. Timeshare owners will have a chance to win $1,000 by entering a vacation photo, story or short video depicting a memory of a timeshare vacation that impacted their health, family or overall enjoyment of life.

ARDA points to studies that show there are undisputed, long-term benefits associated with taking regular vacations that contribute to better health, relationships and job performance. However, while vacations are fast becoming recognized as a critical component of wellness and healthy living, Americans are trying to grapple with how to afford a vacation during these tough economic times.

“Vacation ownership products continue to offer a tremendous value for the consumer, both economically and emotionally,” said ARDA president and CEO Howard Nusbaum who said that the timeshare industry has long promoted the need to take time to vacation at least once a year. According to ARDA, timeshare owners continue to travel to their timeshare destinations despite smaller travel budgets and less discretionary income. In fact, vacation ownership properties are experiencing more than 80% occupancy rates as of March 31, 2009.

The real value of timeshare ownership comes from the discipline of better vacation planning and consistent quality accommodations. Creating lasting memories year after year should be viewed as a necessity, not a luxury.

Purchasing and essentially pre-paying for your future vacations at today’s prices take the stress out of planning for one while guaranteeing that you get away at least once a year. Today, there are 76 million baby-boomers that are extremely compelled by the value proposition of better vacationing with timeshare.

“Timeshare owners are our industry’s biggest advocates and we hope the stories, pictures and videos submitted throughout this contest will help give other travelers a glimpse into a better vacation experience,” said Nusbaum.

Winners in each of the three categories – story, photo and video – will receive $1,000 and the runners-up will each receive $250. Additionally, the winning story, photo and video will be featured on www.VacationBetter.orgwww.arda.org, and in ARDA’s Developments magazine. Timeshare owners can visit www.VacationBetter.org for further submission details and prize information.

About 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 almost 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.

At Least a Healthier, More Relaxed You

December 15, 2008

Washington, DC (December 15, 2008) – Seventy-five percent of respondents polled in a survey conducted by VacationBetter.org this month, did not take all of their vacation this year, often foregoing it due to economic or work issues. As the New Year approaches, many of us make resolutions to lose weight, exercise more or do something that makes us look or feel better. The best resolution this year is to commit to taking an annual break to reconnect and recharge. Giving up vacation may actually cost you more in healthcare costs in the long run.

Perhaps it is time to follow New Year advice from a group of people that do tend to keep their resolution past January: timeshare owners. Studies show that there are undisputed, long-term benefits associated with taking regular vacations that contribute to better health, relationships and job performance. 2008 was the year of the “Staycation,” a new idea designed to make staying home sound like a good use of vacation time. Unfortunately, staying confined to the normal routines of daily life will not produce the long-lasting benefits of a traditional vacation.

“Put away the cell phone and laptop and disengage from the daily hassles of your life,” says John de Graaf, executive director of Take Back Your Time, an initiative encouraging time outside of work. “Our goal is to make 2009 the year we all actually take our vacations.”

Although Americans are experiencing tighter budgets, vacations should be viewed as a necessity rather than a luxury. Traveling with timeshare eases the necessity of vacation by taking the stress out of planning for one while accommodating every traveler’s desires. And, vacation ownership accommodations provide for better family time because people can participate in activities at their own leisure. Timeshare ensures this process will happen at least once a year, every year, which means a healthier, more relaxed life.

Everyone deserves a vacation in 2009, and not just a good one, but a better one. Go to www.VacationBetter.org to take a survey on your New Year’s goals.

About 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 almost 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.

Vacation Is a Necessity Not a Luxury

December 2, 2008

Washington, DC (December 2, 2008) — As the year comes to a close, many Americans prepare to travel during the holidays to spend time with family and friends. The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) reminds them that especially during tough economic times, to remember that vacations are a necessity—not a luxury.

“Too many people look at vacations as a luxury and are ready to give them up as a quick cost-cutting measure. They shouldn’t,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. “And now, more than ever, we need to take a break — a real break, not just a long weekend—from our stressed-out lives.”

ARDA points to a growing body of research that shows clear benefits to vacationing such as decreased stress levels; higher productivity and better job performance; and improved relationships. Overall, taking time to rejuvenate can lead to better physical and emotional health.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, even before the downturn, Americans were working through their vacation time and taking fewer and shorter holidays. An Expedia survey found that an estimated 47.5 million Americans will not use all of their vacation days, giving back more than 460 million days in 2008.

The timeshare industry has long promoted the benefits of vacationing at least once a year, recognizing the inherent value of rest and relaxation for overall wellness. And, timeshare owners continue to travel during rough economic periods. According to the ARDA International Foundation (AIF) 2008 Vacation Timeshare Owners Report, in the past year, 81.9 percent of timeshare owners used, exchanged or banked their time for future use. Only nine percent of all owners left their timeshare unused.

“Timeshare owners are more likely than others to take their vacation time because they’ve pre-paid it and realize the benefits they get from a regular break,” said John de Graaf, wellness advocate and author of Take Back Your Time. “Taking a vacation is essential for health and a great way to bring an entire family together.”

Everyone deserves not only a vacation, but a better vacation. For more information, visit www.VacationBetter.org.

About ARDA
The American Resort Development Association 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).

About John de Graaf
Executive Director of Take Back Your Time
De Graaf is an independent documentary producer from Seattle and the author of the documentary Affluenza. He also edited the book, Take Back Your Time. He is a frequent speaker on issues of over consumption and overwork in America. Take Back Your Time is a U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of the overwork/over-scheduling time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities, and our environment.

Not Just a Nicety; Vacations are a Necessity

October 28, 2008

Washington, DC (October 28, 2008 – Recent research shows that the long-term benefits associated with taking regular vacations contribute to better health, relationships and job performance. In fact, the statistics are astounding. Men who don’t vacation regularly are 32 percent more likely to die of heart attacks; women are 50 percent more likely.1 In an effort to encourage Americans to become more disciplined about taking time each year to rejuvenate, VacationBetter.org has partnered with John de Graaf, a leading authority on this subject.

“People need to understand the important health benefits they will get from taking time away from their normal routine,” says John de Graaf, executive director of Take Back Your Time, an initiative encouraging time outside of work. “Vacations are not a luxury but an important part of any healthy lifestyle.”

For nearly 20 years, de Graaf’s efforts have focused on the belief that Americans are vacation deprived. A recent study from Expedia estimates that 47.5 million Americans will not use all of their earned vacation days this year, leaving an average of three unused. In total, they will give back more than 460 million vacation days.

De Graaf’s research points to hectic, work-life balance issues in the United States as a leading contributor to why Americans don’t take the time or often overlook the importance of vacations. Furthermore, getting away for regular vacations proves challenging for many, especially in tough economic times. There is growing evidence, however, that investing in a vacation means investing in your personal health and overall well-being. One to two weeks away from the daily routine leads to better job performance and productivity, increasing reaction times by 30 to 40 percent. In addition, quality of sleep increases by about one hour a night upon return from vacation. “Simply put, people can’t afford not to take a vacation,” says de Graaf.

“It’s time for over-stressed Americans to write their own prescription: ‘Take Two Weeks and Call Me in the Morning’,” says de Graaf. “That regular vacation break will keep people out of the doctor’s office and enjoying life.”

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) has long promoted the need to vacation at least once a year. “Spending quality time away from the stresses of daily life and ensuring that every member of the family will have the necessary space to rejuvenate adds value to the vacation experience,” said Howard Nusbaum, president and CEO of ARDA. “We look forward to working with John to help make the connection that Americans are vacation deprived and that taking a regular vacation will provide long-lasting health and family benefits.”

Further information on taking better vacations, including guest articles on the topic of vacation matters by John de Graaf, can be found at www.vacationbetter.org.

About John de Graaf
De Graaf is the executive director of Take Back Your Time, a U.S./Canadian initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine that now threatens our health, our families and relationships, our communities and our environment.

About VacationBetter.org
The American Resort Development Association’s (ARDA) new on-line resource informs consumers on the importance of taking a vacation and the overall benefits of enjoying one – regularly – through shared vacation ownership.VacationBetter.org is a comprehensive, educational tool for consumers to learn about this travel option and to demonstrate a way for travelers to vacation better.

1 According to Reporting inthe Journal Psychosomatic Medicine in 2000.

American Resort Development Association Promotes Online Resource

September 9, 2008

Washington, DC (September 9, 2008) – The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) today unveiled its new online resource to inform consumers on the importance of taking a vacation and the benefits of enjoying one – regularly – through vacation ownership.

VacationBetter.org is a comprehensive, educational tool for consumers to learn about vacation ownership and to demonstrate a way for travelers to vacation better.

According to ARDA, people are faced with an increasingly diverse marketplace and options in leisure travel particularly blogs and travel related websites, making today’s vacation home market a continually evolving one.

“VacationBetter.org is a comprehensive resource that provides accurate information about vacations and timeshare products,” said Howard Nusbaum, ARDA president and CEO. “People love to vacation, but don’t always understand that there are great options like timeshare available to them. This site will be the ‘go-to’ resource on the Internet for all things timeshare.”

The website includes owner stories and photos, vacation information, and other tools to demonstrate that taking a vacation is an important priority and that a dream vacation can become a reality.

Despite recent surveys that found Americans receive the smallest amount of vacation time among their counterparts abroad with many failing to use it, timeshare owners continue to vacation despite challenging economic conditions. According to a study soon to be released by the ARDA International Foundation (AIF), timeshare owners spent an average of 19.5 days on leisure travel over the past twelve months.

Even Americans who do not take all of their vacation time each year recognize that vacations are much needed “sanity breaks” to prevent burnout from their jobs and daily life. Some studies point to increased stress levels, health risks and strained relationships as contributing factors from too much work and not enough vacation.

The website also provides steps to help the “vacation deprived” ensure that their next vacation is the best possible experience it can be. ARDA member resorts provide spacious accommodations in stunning locations with all the comforts of home. A timeshare resort offers hassle-free second home vacations designed with the sole purpose of making the most of precious leisure time together.

“VacationBetter.org will help begin to shift the mindset of today’s consumer from the feeling of ‘burn out’ to realizing the benefits of vacationing and committing to a vacation,” said Nusbaum.

Everyone deserves not only a vacation, but a better vacation. For more information, visit www.VacationBetter.org.

About ARDA
The American Resort Development Association 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).