Read an exclusive interview with Lourdes Ayala – Project Director at Garza Blanca Preserve Residence Club about vacation ownership.
María de Lourdes Ayala Ochoa is an intelligent, charming and hard-working woman, who is passionate about selling happiness.
1. Firstly, tell me a little bit about you?
I was born in Mexico City. I received my Bachelor of Business Administration and I moved to Puerto Vallarta 34 years ago. At the time, the timeshare industry was just beginning in Mexico and I got my first job selling timeshares. Since then I have managed to build an interesting career in marketing. I worked for several companies and started working as the Project Director for Garza Blanca Residence Club two and half years ago.
I am very curious about life and I am passionate about my work and being a woman in leadership. I am also a mother of two, and a grandma!
In my spare time I enjoy biking, doing yoga and traveling. I wouldn’t call myself a fashion expert, but I think that fashion is an important expression of a woman’s life. I enjoy expressing my individuality through my choice of clothing, which reflects my own style and personality.
2. What made you want to become involved with vacation ownership at Garza Blanca Residence Club?
I always knew the group TAFER Hotels & Resorts from the outside, as a major competitor. I observed how fast they were growing and how consistent they were in the product they were offering and the level of service. I was invited to work as the Project Director on what I considered to be an amazing project. One of the things that attracted me the most is that TAFER is a forward thinking company and I saw a great opportunity to evolve and grow in the industry. I really believe in the product, which is something that goes beyond the ordinary. It is a high-quality product situated in the most incredible locations. In Puerto Vallarta especially, Garza Blanca and Hotel Mousai have a unique location on the south shore of Puerto Vallarta, which I think is competing to be the ‘Punta Mita of the south’.
3. What have the resorts have been doing to prepare for and welcome back members?
Since we stopped activities back in March, we put a lot of effort in renewing and refreshing the resorts. We also implemented new health and sanitization protocols to ensure the safety of our guests and members. We trained our staff in stricter sanitization practices and we introduced thermal cameras at the entrances to our resorts, new cleaning protocols for high touch surfaces and we will be practicing and encouraging social distancing.
During the quarantine, we made a huge effort to contact our members and make sure they were okay.
We also launched an outbound sales campaign where members were contacted by phone and presented with the benefits of upgrading their membership. We had an incredible response and the members expressed their loyalty to the company, and their concern about the well-being of our staff.
4. Can you tell me a little bit about the history of vacation ownership in Puerto Vallarta?
When Puerto Vallarta began its boom after the publicity that the film Night of the Iguana brought to the destination, there were two big competitors: Vacation International (Sunterra) and the Villa Group (Tafer’s sister company). They understood the language of the timeshare, which already started in the United States. They began to market this innovative product in Puerto Vallarta.
The idea was to invite a couple to breakfast and explain all the advantages of vacation ownership and show what the destination had to offer. Back then, they were only offered a boat trip or a Jeep excursion. When timeshare sales first started in Vallarta, there were only a couple tour options and not the great variety of ecological tours and adventures that are available now. Puerto Vallarta has developed a lot since those first days and now the destination has a lot more to offer to vacationers.
5. How has it changed since you first started in the industry?
The product in general has changed and has improved a lot. Members aren’t just investing in a timeshare, they are investing in vacation ownership.
In the beginning, a timeshare was a fixed unit, in a fixed destination, with very few opportunities to exchange. A Vacation Club is more flexible with the possibility for vacation exchange through RCI.
The model and size of the unit changed in order to deliver a higher quality vacation experience keeping in mind what members of a vacation club want. To make sure that they get the highest possible value for their long-term investment.
Belonging to a residence club presents a regular way to travel with many great advantages. It is a high-end product for guests expecting an extraordinary vacation experience. Another aspect is its exclusivity. Since not everyone has access to the vacation club benefits, it makes it more appealing. The service experience is better for members than for regular guests. Members also have exclusivity in the pool areas, in the spa, in the restaurants, and access to butler and concierge services. They also get access to the best units on the property.
6. What other advantages does Club Membership offer?
One of the great advantages of Club Membership is a guarantee of future vacations at today’s price. What sets us apart from other vacation ownership products is our dedication to providing high-quality vacation experiences that are unique. Another distinction is that we have a developer who travels extensively, and he applies his world-traveler experiences to improving Club Membership
No one in the market offers the same kind of units with their layout, contemporary design, décor and level of comfort. Many people see the units at Tafers’ resorts and fall in love at first glance.
Another advantage is that we offer very exclusive dining experiences with our signature restaurants and innovative cuisine. The culinary experience that members can enjoy is unique and it is not something they are going to find anywhere else. These little details make all the difference.
We also offer a high level of service. We want every member to feel that they are coming home and for every member to feel special; we are committed to that.
7. Can you tell us how you see TAFER Hotels & Resorts evolving in the future?
TAFER Hotels & Resorts has begun development of a specially designed nature village in Puerto Vallarta. This small residential development will be the heart of Garza Blanca Preserve and the only little community like it in the world. I can’t reveal too much about it now, but something big is coming.
8. What message do you have for members who are nervous about traveling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I’d like them to know that we are committed to their health and safety. We will continue to look for ways to introduce new standards so that we can continue to offer vacations that exceed our members expectations, taking care of every little detail.
Many of our members are eager to travel again, they want to travel. They are asking us when can we go, how soon can we go, can we go now? All of our resorts are open now with full services it just depends on when the airlines resell their flights.
I think part of the reason that so many members want to travel again is that they know the destination, they know the level of service, they know the hotel, and they know what to expect. One aspect of being a member is that they are loyal to the destination, they don’t question travel because they have already made the decision to be committed to travel for the next 30 –50 years.
We are living in uncertain times, we don’t know many things, but we are alive and as long as we are alive, we need to enjoy life and live it.
With all of the warmth that characterizes us here at Garza Blanca, I sincerely hope to see our valued members back at our resorts soon!