Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New Rules for Access to the top of Mount Teide

This month, new rules have come into force for gaining access to the peak and crater at the top of Teneife's Mount Teide. Amongst other changes, it's now possible to obtain a permit without having to go in person to the National Park offices, as had been the case in the past, making it more convenient for visitors.

It is now possible to obtain a permit by fax to (+34) 922 244788 or email to teide@oapn.mma.es. Permits must be obtained at least seven days before the date you wish to ascend (one month if requested by ordinary post).

These permits are for the 700 meter Sendero Telesforo Bravo (footpath), which connects La Rambleta (3.555 m.) with the highest point of Spain and of all the Atlantic archipelagos, to the top of the 3,718 meter volcano.

Only 50 people are permitted to be on this footpath at one time, owing to the extreme fragility of the area and to guarantee security for visitors.

In 2005, the National Park administration issued 11,001 access permits covering 36,804 persons, a figure that was significantly lower than the previous year (43,198 people), given that conditions made the ascent impractical for several months. At the beginning of 2005, the footpath was closed because of heavy snow and accumulated ice. Extreme high winds at that altitude can add to the difficulty, so don't be too disappointed if the weather doesn't play the game. Nevertheless, it's worth trying and great to be able to say you've been!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sunterra Annoucement

I am writing to let you know that Sunterra have today announced that they are making some significant changes to their European Operations, the summary of these changes are.

The size of the European business will be reduced and unnecessary and duplicative costs will be eliminated or reduced

New member marketing programs will be curtailed, management streamlined and infrastructure reduced

However, the high service levels to which Sunterra's existing European members have become accustomed will be unaffected.

The Company's resort management operation will continue substantially unchanged, as will its member services operation, including travel services.

The reasons for these changes are mainly the current market conditions experienced by all Timeshare companies in Europe where it has been becoming more and more expensive to recruit new members to the point where it is no longer viable to maintain the traditional methods of recruiting new members. Areas of the business that will be affected are mainly in Management, Sales and Marketing.

There will be no more freebies for prospective members once the pipeline which must be at least into the next six months has gone through, which hopefully should mean we won't be seeing all those reps traipsing people through the resorts as they have in the past.

Areas like the Travel Club, Reservations, Customer Services, Resorts and Refurbishment programs won't be affected by this downsizing of the business. So as members we shouldn't see any negative changes as nothing that affects the members is being touched.

What Sunterra are going to do is concentrate on running the resorts and being the management company, both areas of the business that they are historically good at and are profitable so there is no reason why they shouldn't do well during this quieter time.

Sadly an early casualty of the downsizing in management has meant that Dave Harris has parted company with Sunterra Europe as Managing Director. Both John Davey and I wish Dave all the luck for the future and thank him for his support on the Club Sunterra Board over the last couple of years. There are no immediate plans to replace Dave, so for the next couple of months Nick Benson will be looking after Sunterra Europe, as well as continuing in his role as CEO of Sunterra Corporation. Nick will also be presiding over the AGM being held at Southampton Football Club on the 28th of June.

I have copied below the announcement from Sunterra re the downsizing of the Sunterra Europe.

As a result of recent market conditions, as well as overall performance of its European segment, the Company has decided to make some significant changes to its European operations. The size of the European business will be reduced and unnecessary and duplicative costs will be eliminated or reduced. New member marketing programs will be curtailed, management streamlined and infrastructure reduced; however, the high service levels to which Sunterra's existing European members have become accustomed will be unaffected. The Company's resort management operation will continue substantially unchanged, as will its member services operation, including travel services.

These changes, which are expected to be fully implemented by August 2006, are expected to result in a substantial reduction in European vacation interest revenues while associated ASM costs as a percentage of vacation interval sales will be lower. The continuing club and property management businesses are expected to continue to contribute at historic levels to the profitability of the European business. The Company expects to incur a pretax charge preliminarily estimated to be approximately $12 million to $17 million in connection with these proposed changes, which are subject to certain statutory employee consultation requirements prior to their implementation.

Mr. Benson said, "We have taken these decisive steps with Sunterra Europe in the context of extremely challenging market conditions. While we would have preferred to see our revenues restored to previous levels through various marketing initiatives, this option is too costly to pursue at this time. The initiatives we are pursuing are intended to enable us to run a profitable business that generates a worthwhile return, while clearly emphasizing the commitment of Sunterra to its owners and to the continued development of our European club products and benefits. Our European members can be assured that we remain fully committed to providing them with outstanding vacation experiences."

Finally just letting you know that we are off on holiday again on Saturday for a week to visit the new Sunterra resort in Malta. Well you need a break to get over moving house don't you!

Tony Pearce
tony@sunterra-members.co.uk
Home 01204 791663
Mob 07973 342068
Skype tonypearce1950