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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 2, 2010

A time for timeshares

From the tourism industry's standpoint, the single best thing about timeshares is that their owners are financially committed to using them.

So even when the economy churns through one of its down cycles, timeshare owners spend the money to go on vacation.

Hilton's ambitious plans to build two new timeshare towers at its Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort & Spa affirm the popularity of timeshare with increasing numbers of travelers, and its decision to spend what may be close to $1 billion expanding the property is a reassuring sign of commitment to Waikīkī by Hilton's owner, Blackstone Group.

The downside to timeshares is that they require fewer people to staff, a contentious issue for unions. While Hilton said the new towers will create 700 jobs, the longterm trend for Hawai'i hospitality employment isn't encouraging as more full-service resorts switch to the do-it-yourself timeshare model.

The announcement of the Hilton project comes only three months before Unite Here Local 5's contracts with the big Waikīkī hotels expire.

While the first timeshare tower won't open for at least five years, the timing of the unveiling suggests that Hilton is sending two messages: that it's spending some of Blackstone's billions to expand its Hawai'i operation and that the mix of jobs will be different in the future.

The experts were right a decade ago when they said that timeshares would thrive once they went from being a ragtag collection of low-end condominiums to upscale resorts marketed by powerhouses like Hilton, Marriott, Starwood and Disney.

Timeshares give travelers a powerful reason to come to Hawai'i and the Hilton project is a welcome addition to the state's portfolio of destinations.