A Brief History of ARDA
An expanding economy in post-World War II America fueled the development of vacation homes and condominiums in a variety of tourist destinations. The birth of the U.S. timeshare industry occurred during the mid-1970s, as banks were faced with overbuilt condominium projects. Project conversions turned these condos into timeshare resorts and the U.S. vacation ownership business had its start.
In the early days, timeshare was an unregulated industry, with marketing abuses by some that marred its reputation with consumers and reputable developers. As a result, a group of timeshare pioneers worked together to establish a legislative framework that protected consumers while allowing legitimate developers to prosper. From that early effort, they established ALDA (The American Land Development Association) which later became ARDA (The American Resort Development Association) in 1989.
In 1974, RCI entered the industry as the first exchange company. Interval International followed in 1976. Timeshare exchange added a level of flexibility to timeshare vacations in both time and location. Another product enhancement came in the form of the floating-time alternative. Owners were no longer locked into a specific week and unit. Next came the points program, adding even more flexibility.
Members approved the Model Timeshare Act in 1983, establishing a foundation of credibility from which ARDA has been able to work with legislators and regulators on issues that affect both developers and consumers. In the 1980s, ARDA established the industry’s Code of Ethics, which serves as an industry statement on ethical sales practices. Every ARDA member must agree to abide by this code as a condition of membership.
Marriott marked the entrance of the hospitality brands in 1984. In response to consumer demand, fractionals and private residence clubs were introduced in the 1990s.
Today, there are 1,500 timeshare resorts in the United States with approximately six million owner households. Globally, there are more than 5,000 timeshare resorts in 100 countries.
ARDA vacation ownership professionals will continue to respond to consumer preferences and lifestyle choices by providing an expanding variety of flexible timeshare products and, more importantly, the best vacation experiences for their owners.
Learn more about ARDA's history in ARDA'S 40th Anniversary supplement of Developments magazine.