What do you currently do?
It’s been 25 years since I first started Club La Costa and since then it has evolved and refined its product offering to a position today where our new resorts display an efficient combination of leased back real estate units which help drive our high powered timeshare marketing programmes.
It’s a model that has enabled the company, even in world recession, to move fast forward with new developments. And we have further announcements to come as we extend beyond traditional European holiday destinations, with Eastern Europe and the Caribbean in our sights.
Just recently, at the start of August this year I opened our 350-unit Apollonium Club La Costa Spa & Beach Resort – our first entry into the Turkish market. It is evidence of our ever increasing range of holiday experiences we offer members and is hot on the heels of the launch of our Yacht Club which at present is compromised of two €1 million luxury catamarans sailing on the Red Sea and Mediterranean.
Club La Costa now has more than 50,000 members and hundreds of freehold owners all benefiting from new destinations that typify the very best of Club La Costa: luxurious interiors and exteriors, wide ranging on-site facilities and services, excellent locations and the comfort of the company name, a leading force in European timeshare and the largest by sales. It’s my ambition to give them more and better holidays that constantly exceed their expectations. It’s what I spend every day doing.
Who is your inspiration in business?
There are a few but Richard Branson, Stelios Haji-Ioannou and Henry Ford stick out. Each has shown the type of entrepreneurial attitude and spirit I can only aspire to and attempt to emulate. I believe in continually innovating and enhancing the products we offer to keep ahead of the market, to meet challenges before they become issues but most importantly to give our members exactly what they want.
Whom do you admire?
I particularly admire Henry Ford for what he did to the motor industry. One of my favourite references is his response when asked what research can do to your business. He said if he had questioned people before he made production line cars on how to improve transport, they would have asked for faster horses! I’d like to think we go some way to applying Mr. Ford’s logic to how Club La Costa innovates our market place.
Looking back, are there things you would do differently?
I don’t think there is anything I would do differently. Mistakes have been made for sure, but I see this as part of the necessary process of testing and determining what (and who!) works and what (and who) doesn’t. Some mistakes have been more costly than others but we must be getting things right overall as we are, even now, increasing memberships, property sales and new resort acquisitions.
What defines your way of doing business?
Club La Costa has always been entrepreneurial and pre-emptive and taken advantage of new opportunities as they’ve arisen. In part that’s been possible because we’re privately owned, but as chairman I’ve been able to communicate my vision over time, as well as rapidly maximise new product and sales opportunities as I’ve spotted them. Of course, working with my very experienced management team we’ve kept ahead of our market by positively embracing change as our members and prospects have expected more – as well as bringing our own innovations to our members. Also, we do hundreds of sales meetings every week, hence we are quickly able to test and review new products and marketing ideas, which continues to help our business evolve successfully.
Timeshare remains our core business; real estate, however, is very profitable with a smaller workforce. The advantage of buying with CLC is that purchasers are not left to cope alone. Properties benefit from the full range of Club La Costa services: 24-hour security and reception, maintenance, properly administered lettings – and more, this is extremely attractive to them
What would you say to businesses who are worried about tough times ahead?
Don’t panic and continue to follow your dream. Expect and anticipate the ups and downs and make provision accordingly as best you can. Bring in good people you trust around you, but follow your instincts. Never stop worrying where your next sales are coming from, but make sure you manage your costs.