The largest urban timeshare in the world — developed and sold out in midtown Manhattan.
Take a small corner of the timeshare business to the Big Apple. Star’s principals had developed and sold urban projects in San Francisco and New Orleans, but nothing the size of The Manhattan Club. For over two years the search for the right site continued until we found the original Sheraton flagship hotel, then owned by VMS, on Seventh Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets.
The property was still a hotel, 26 stories high, fronting the full block, with over 900 rooms. The purchase was made and the building vertically split into two condominiums — a timeshare and a hotel.
The timeshare side, on 56th Street was entirely rehabbed into 242 luxury one-bedroom, two-bath units and became The Manhattan Club. During this process the top floor was changed from a ballroom to an owners’ lounge, fitness facility, business center, and conference rooms, while a new lobby was created on 56th Street.
Based on the San Francisco experience, an open, year-round use plan was implemented, with nightly use. To the timeshare marketer, world-class cities are appealing as they draw millions of visitors. However, those visitors are not found in defined areas compared to Orlando or Las Vegas. They are all over the place. So city marketing relies on mini-vacations as the leading program.
Again, from San Francisco experiences, we knew that the primary market was in the tri-state area; those people who came to Manhattan to work, for culture, dining, sports, and shopping. The marketing department was built to roll out a 365-day-a-year sustained mini-vac program. The sales facility was carved out of the building, and in hindsight limited the number of customers to be seen each day — so annual sales averaged in the $40-$45 million range.
The Manhattan Club is sold out. The limit on sales turned into an advantage, as efficiencies were very, very high. Subsequent to the main 242-unit development a series of offices on top of the building were converted into timeshare units that were more luxurious than below, and they sold out to the original owners.