Marriott Vacations Buys Lawrence Welk Resorts, Will Rebrand Them As… Hyatts

The hotel business can be strange in many ways. But timeshare brands are far, far stranger.

A hotel might have the Marriott brand, but it’s most likely not actually owned by Marriott. It may not even be managed by Marriott. Marriott sells the rooms, provides some standards, and takes a slice out of revenue. Of course that’s just one of a number of different arrangements. (We think of airline codesharing as a bit deceptive, United Airlines sells a flight with its flight number but you actually fly on Lufthansa. Yet this is perfectly normal.)

How about Marriott Vacations controlling Hyatt’s timeshare portfolio? That’s something not a lot of people realize but gets a big exclamation point from Marriott Vacations Worldwide spending $430 million to acquire Welk Resorts to turn them into Hyatt Residenes properties. And wait – there are Lawrence Welk hotels?

In a sale expected to close in the second quarter, Marriott “says it plans to rebrand the Welk vacation resorts in California, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico and Cabo San Lucas as Hyatt Residence Club properties.”

  • Lawrence Welk hotel properties
  • Owned by Marriott Vacations
  • That will be.. Hyatts. Say what?

Band leader and TV star Lawrence Welk became a real estate developer. He also patented a musical restaurant menu, and accordion-themed ash tray and serving tray.

Shortly after the end of his TV show’s run, in the mid-1960s, Welk picked up his first resort property in Escondido, California – a mobile home park with motel, restaurant and 9-hole golf course. He converted it into a timeshare 20 years later. And he built the portfolio into 8 timeshare resorts that included a property near Palm Springs, two in Lake Tahoe, as well as locations in Branson, Missouri; Breckenridge, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Cabo San Lucas. The company also owns inventory at other resort properties (“Experiences Collection by Welk Resorts”).

But the Welk name doesn’t mean what it once did, and rebranding is expected to take place over a 9 month period. Marriott plans to “have Welk continue to sell its points-based club product until 2022 and by 2023 look at integrating that into one club system.” The deal increases the total number of Hyatt Residences owners by more than 150%.

“I think it is an old-time name and it appeals to a much older demographic,” said Reay, president of the Atlas Hospitality Group. “I’d say most young people don’t have a clue who Lawrence Welk was so getting the Hyatt Residence Club name opens up a lot more marketing opportunities and to a wider audience, so I think it’s a very smart move. You also have the benefit of their loyalty guest members and the economies of scale and buying power of Hyatt, which can negotiate much better rates with online travel agencies like Expedia.”

The Welk family will retain ownership of an “undeveloped 22-acre site near Poipu beach in Kauai that is entitled for 168 timeshare units or condominiums” as well as “land near the Escondido resort and also real estate in Branson near that timeshare property.”

The history of which brands own what timeshares is bizarre and includes Marriott Vacations buying Hyatt Residence Clubs along with the Starwood timeshare business that… Marriott didn’t want.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Does anyone know if we book a “Homes and Villas by Marriott,” we will get Marriott point/night credit? I called last week and got a hard NO about booking a condo under the 2x bonus 2/16-4/26 Promo but forgot to ask about getting at least single credit for each night.

  2. I’m sure you know this Gary but it’s a separate company. Matter fact I think it even has its own listing on the market. I bought into Marriott vacation club property a long time ago and I kind of regret it after Marriott spun it off into its own business.

  3. I wonder if the sale included the mobile home park in Escondido and specifically Lawrence’s double-wide mobile home??? I would love to see if that specific trailer gets marketed as a Hyatt timeshare.

  4. Smart – Hyatt has better brand equity these days, people are increasingly aware how slimy Marriott has become (just look at their recent big announcement about “brand standards being restored”, after never announcing in the first place publicly they were suspended…and it turns out many properties now aren’t even restoring them as promised)

  5. I’ve stayed at Cabo san Lucas property years ago, and the property is beautiful. Should make an excellent Hyatt.

    As for the observation that it “appeals to a much older demographic”, that’s for sure. The average age for most of the visitors was deceased.

  6. They better release bubbles into the air when they do the signing of this deal. At least give some cred to the legacy of Lawrence Welk. The kitsch of it all is just too much.

    One thing is for sure, the women back in the day used to line up for his schtick. He was like female viagra for aging Midwestern women in the 1970’s. And he wore baby blue suits. No wonder they bought his time shares. He was like Trump but with conductor batons.

  7. @bzv Yes you will receive points/nights credit through Homes & Villas by Marriott. The stay, as you discovered, is not eligible for the upcoming promotion.

  8. @D.A.— Nope, the resort sale to Marriott does not include Champagne Village, the manufactured home village next door to the Welk San Diego resort. At some point, Champagne Village “condominiumized” and all owners there own their own lots and homes. Lawrence Welk’s old home (which is much bigger than a double wide) now belongs to someone else and is not part of the timeshare group. The last vestige of a connection is a gate for the Champagne Village owners to use as a short cut to the golf course.

  9. Who benefits most out of this transaction, current Welk owners or current Marriot/Hyatt Residence Club owners?

  10. As an owner of Welk Resort since 1985, I’m concerned on how I benefit on this sale.
    Will there be a buy-out of owners that don’t want to be transferred to Marriott?

  11. Our family has been visiting the Welk resort since before they had the villas in in 1985. As a family we loved it. It was like a launching pad for other events and activities within a reasonable distance north south east and west and over the years we enjoyed that vacation resort with very fond memories as a family.

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