First Annual Canadian Resort Investment Conference Provides Positive Outlook for Industry

Toronto, Ontario, October 23, 2008 -

Over 200 Canadian resort developers came to Kelowna, BC for the first annual Canadian Resort Investment Conference to hear from each other and  learn from research conducted by Harris/Decima on what the opportunities are for growth in recreational real estate, despite a changing market.
Organized in association with University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business, and sponsored by Bellstar Hotels & Resorts, Group RCI, Hilton Hotels and Tobiano among others, delegates learned that one in 10 Canadians own recreational real estate.  And, according to Harris Decima, while Canadians are very familiar with whole ownership and timeshare, opportunities exist in educating Canadians on the many other opportunities for recreational ownership like fractionals and private residence clubs.  As well, the ability to exchange properties to vary vacation options rated extremely high as an amenity and incentive to purchase.
"The real benefit of this type of conference is bringing all the expertise available in Canada into one room and watching people connect with each other," says Ed Romanowski of Bellstar Hotels and Resorts. "Sessions featured industry leaders sharing their experiences, and with today's business climate it was clear developers saw a benefit in coming together to offer advice, support and encouragement."  Conference organizers thanked the speakers by planting trees at Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna. 
Despite a changing financial market, developers learned that Canadians are still placing a high priority on family, health and wellness.  In fact, the Harris Decima survey found that almost one third (28%) of respondents that did not currently own a recreation property were interested in making such a purchase.  Nevertheless, the current economic situation was front and centre in the minds of most speakers resulting in projections of declining absorption rates and the need to reformat and resize some units for greater affordability. Economic concerns also underlined the belief of some attendees that environmental design features might take a back seat to financial considerations.  
Successful resort developers should help alleviate "the guilt" that many Canadians' face when it comes to maintaining a healthy work-life balance and highlight the benefits of lessening stress through "soul-enriching vacations".  Canadians are more likely to build a relationship with a resort developer that has a strong brand and that instills confidence and trust by encouraging people to invest in experiences versus simply trying to sell real estate. Harris Decima encouraged developers to use consultative selling and to focus on becoming an advisor and partner when helping potential purchasers make a decision.
The Canadian Resort Investment Conference was organized by Big Picture Conferences Inc. For more information and an executive summary of the Harris/Decima research, people may contact Orie Berlasso, Conference Manager at 416-924-2002.
Media Contact: Deirdre Campbell or Christine Gleed, 250 - 592-3838