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By Ron Lee
Published: 12/24/19 Topics: Family, Holidays Comments: 0
There could be no more Christmassy place in the entire world than at the Diamond Belle Ranch. The sky is black as night, no pollution, no jetliners overhead, not a breath of wind.
Each and every star stabs through the black blanket of night. The waning moon is but a very slight sliver of light. But along with the stars the aspens and pines are illuminated as if from a back light.
We sit on the porch. It is frigid but we are warm in the glow of the universe. Very little discussion. A great deal of wry smiling and even a few giggles.
To extend our stay out of doors hot chocolate was brewed before, spiked with a bit of coffee to stave off the drowsy as we linger in the Adirondack chairs, head tilted back wondering at the unfathomable majesty of the world above.
But the ranch itself is majestic. All year round of course, but during winter its enveloping reach can not be ignored. No neighbor lights. We have doused ours too.
Under the frozen lake, surely the fish are straining to see through the ice and up to the stars. They do sleep, but not tonight for tonight is Christmas an we can only hope the world is wrapped in the peace we enjoy here.
It is like this every year. Our custom. The privilege.
The night will not last forever. Soon we must go inside. To sleep. To dream of sugar plum fairies dancing..
Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0723 – 12/24/19
By Ron Lee
Published: 11/15/19 Topics: Gratitude, Guest Ranch, Ranching, Wildlife Comments: 0
Because Diamond Belle Guest Ranch is so high in the Okanogan Highlands, because our 700 acres are surrounded by National Forest and mountains, and because neighbors are so far away you might be presuming that nights are pitch black dark here.
But you would be wrong.
Here, with the absence of man made ambient light, not even with the most unintentional, when dusk falls the skies explode awake, the stars jab the sky and put on a show that humans have been marveling at since they first looked up.
The International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.
The idea is to turn off lights, redirect downward those which must stay on, and send no light skyward because it destroys the view of the cosmos and is, after all, a great waste of energy.
When the lights go out, the Diamond Bell returns to a time where thing slowed down, where our senses woke up, and where our minds can soar to the sky, to the solar system and to the universe beyond.
It can open the mind, excite creativity, and produce emotions of health, happiness and safety.
There are over 130 destinations in the world that have pledged to eliminate light pollution and return the heavens to their dark but stunning origin.
Although Diamond Belle Ranch is not yet an official member of Dark Sky initiative, we support the goals of the group and have taken definitive steps to douse our lights, lessen our reliance on electrical usage and yet provide the comforts that guests prefer.
Best of all, Dark Skies ensure that our guests arrive at a place perhaps like no other they have ever been. A place of peace and quiet blanketed with the stars, the moon and a joy they may never have experienced and may find no where else.
Author: Ron Lee, Diamond Belle Ranch
Blog #: 0724 – 11/15/19
By Kate Quinn
Published: 10/29/19 Topics: Comments: 0
Vortex Managers, has announced the formation of a new program for struggling timeshare resorts that helps them rent out unused weeks. The "Yourshare" program helps resorts get their fair share of the fast growing vacation rental market.
It combines savvy vacation rental executives, along with revolutionary software that solves the puzzle of how to promote timeshare units into the vacation rental website channels as well as hotel channels. Plus it provides local and regional advertising that no other management firm provides, all without upfront costs or ongoing fees to the resort.
Every timeshare magazine, website and conference includes extensive discussion and diagnosis of why timeshare resorts are struggling.
After the rapid development of resorts starting four decades ago, the properties now suffer what the industry summarizes as "Aging Properties and Aging Owners" notes William May, the YourShare leader who heads up the program..
Owners who purchases shares long ago have grown older, often on fixed incomes, they travel less and may even be unable to travel to the property they once adored. All the while older properties require escalating maintenance and operating costs, far greater than inflation. With no way to offset their costs, owners are giving away shares but even that often proves impossible. So they are stuck.
In resorts, many unit sit vacant many nights of the year. Some resorts have tried to dent the vacation rental industry and some large timeshare management firms profess to be in the rental business.
"Unfortunately, most resorts don't know how to do it and the timeshare managers have not invested as heavily as they should to master rentals, " Says Penny Taylor, of Yourshare. "They were caught napping while vacation rentals stole their consumers."
"By charging large monthly flat fees to resorts, timeshare managers lack the motivation to do every possible thing they can to secure rentals." observers May, "They have sat on their hands while the vacation rental industry has taken away their visitors.".
Some management firms own all or parts of timeshare exchanges so taking rentals is not in their best interest. When they do attempt to compete in vacation rentals they often advertise only to the hotel channels, while ignoring the vacation rental market which is growing much faster.
On the other hand Vortex, which operates the Goldener Inns and Sunspot Vacation Rentals networks grew up in a very different world. "In Vacation Rentals, managers work on a commission only basis, so we only make money when the owner clients do." says Penny Taylor, "We have to perform and get results for owners or else. That means we can never rest. "
There are timeshare advertising websites but they seldom produce much income for several reason. First they can not compete with the giants and never create sufficient visibility. They ignore regional and even local marketing because its expensive. And they brand themselves as timeshares which is not attractive to many guests in the vacation rental market.
Instead, the Yourshare program partners with all the giant websites to make properties ubiquitous to consumers. The resort handles the property like always, and Yourshare does the advertising, reservations and guest coordination.
The program creates regional and even local central reservation websites, and even new websites for resorts, so they can be personal and local as well as global. They are not promoted as timeshares but as :"vacation rentals" which is of course accurate.
"Dovetailing timeshares into the vacation rental system, proved more complicated than would be imagined," said "Salman Arshad, chief web software architect at Vortex managers on the YourShare project. At a vacation rental every date is available unless the owner blocks it off, but in timeshares no dates are available unless an owner opens the dates. They are backward.
"We operate in numerous markets with free-standing homes, or condos inside buildings and even other specialty lodging places including guest ranches." added Arshad. "So operating a system that handles both methods proved complicated, but we solved the riddle."
Vortex employs its own inhouse software staff, and re-engineered its HelpBookme.com systems to allow timeshare condos to be easily marketed into both the vacation rental channels as well as hotel channels. "We are the only people who have it" notes Taylor, "We put every home on AirBnB, VRBO, and hundreds of other websites."
Yourshare launched quietly in 2018 as an Owner Direct website, contracting directly with share owners and selling their dates to the public. "Frankly, the consumers see no difference. If marketed properly, to them a timeshare is just another nice vacation home," notes Taylor. "In fact, timeshare resorts are usually well kept up, in good locations, pleasant staff and with plenty of amenities."
The timeshare industry's big mistake is that they ignored vacation rentals, and its too late for most to catchup unless they have help from seasoned vacation rental pros.
The Yourshare concept came about over some time. "At first we offered our services directly to the resort, but they never responded, and all while the "Aging properties and aging owners" problem was biting them.
Within a year we were procuring more nightly rentals than the onsite manager, and producing more income to owners. "We approached another resort, again without response, so we launched there too as Owner Direct."
"Recently a competing resort in that community called and said, 'Hey we would like to get some of that money' so now we are working directly with them and with good results." said May. Their onsite management team were well seasoned and anxious to have a plug and play system like Yourshare.
Yourshare re-built that resort's website, advertised them on hundreds of website and even created Dynamic Range Photos, 3D tours, floor plans, printed materials and other tools that have proven to be so effective in the vacation rental lodging business. It was done in very quickly.
After perfecting the entire Yourshare process, the company is now expanding geographically and has launched its services nationwide. "We like to work for resorts who recognize they need help, but we are also happy to work directly with owners if asked. So if the resort board doesn't ask us, we go in and help owners anyway."
"Best of all," said Taylor, "Vacation Renting brings in more visitors to each Resort and every one of those visitors are potential timeshare buyers." In the long run, that could be the biggest benefits to legacy resorts.
YourShare.biz is operated by Vortex Managers headquartered in Seattle, WA. Along with its affiliate Sunspot Vacation Rentals and Goldener Inns networks, YourShare offers vacation rental booking, advertising, marketing and reservations to timeshare resorts looking to increase their income without upfront costs or ongoing fees. For more information, call YourShare at 818-922-8292. See owner details at www.YourShare.biz and other resorts at RentYourShare.biz.
Author: Kate Quinn, YourShare
Blog #: 0713 – 10/29/19
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