Champagne Valley Resort – Staying relevant in a competitive leisure market

Built in 1987, Champagne Valley Resort (CVR) stands among the first timeshare developments in South Africa. More than three decades later, this pioneer resort continues to fly the flag of excellence that has earned it a Gold Crown Resort status for 33 years.

To find out how CVR has stayed on top, we asked Ursula Humphries, the General Manager, to share some of the key ingredients to their success.

Question: You’ve been with CVR for 17 years, what is the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry over that time?

I’d say the shift from ownership to renting timeshare, which is primarily driven by the younger generation of holidaymakers.

Question: With careful planning older resorts can retain their appeal and not just survive, but actually thrive. What has been key to keeping CVR a Gold Crown Resort for thirty-three years?

Sound management and a Board that is focused on the happiness of the owners – and that includes everything from keeping fees affordable to making upgrades. It’s important for our owners to be able see their levies being put to work. For example, the cost of the recent solar installation was funded from reserves and our owners didn’t have to pay anything extra towards a special levy.

Question: Some pioneer resorts may face the challenge of unused weeks as a result of an ageing ownership base. As a pioneer resort, how has CVR broached this issue?

Earlier this year, we introduced the Nightsbridge online booking system so that travellers can search, review and book our unused inventory. Not only has this brought new ‘heads in beds’, but it has also streamlined the front office and made for a more efficient booking process.

Question: Tell us about some of the steps you’ve taken to remain relevant in today’s competitive leisure market?

We have a solid and ongoing maintenance plan. In our chalets, we’ve installed full uncapped wi-fi and 5KVA inverters to keep our owners connected during loadshedding. Also mindful of our environmental impact, we’re in the process of installing solar panels in the chalets and our main office. By joining Legacy Lifestyle, we provided our owners with access to over 250 Lifestyle Partners who offer cash backs that may be spent at any other Lifestyle partner. This value-add benefit was at no additional cost to our owners.

Question: What makes CVR loved by its owners?

We are fortunate that our location and closeness to nature creates the perfect environment for families to relax, have fun and make memories. Although the resort’s location is a huge drawcard, our staff play an important role in making CVR special. Most of them have worked here for more than ten years and there are three employees who will be celebrating thirty-five years’ service this year. They genuinely enjoy being part of the CVR family and part of our extended family – our timeshare owners. The comradery we have leads to friendly smiling faces around the resort and a sense of pride in our work. We always receive compliments on the cleanliness of our units and resort. The age of our resort is challenging for our maintenance team, and they do a tremendous job in ensuring that CVR maintains its Gold Crown Resort status year after year.

Question: What are some of your notable achievements?

After the Covid lockdown, we were one of the first resorts to open on 1 August 2020 as all protocols were in place and we had the VOASA certification. We also proudly offered our owners a fifty percent discount on their levy during Covid. Other notable achievements are maintaining our RCI Gold Crown status for over three decades, our affiliation with the Legacy Group and taking third place in the country in the iExchange Ambassador Awards.

Question: Tell us a little about your background and career path that led to CVR.

My first exposure to the industry was in 1989 selling timeshare on the Durban beach front as a part-time job while studying. After my studies I worked for Kelly Girl doing temp assignments, but a burning desire to ‘see the world’ took me to England and Holland for a year. My introduction to hospitality was a three-year tenure at the Royal Hotel. In 2007, I joined CVR working in reception and later operations before taking up the role of General Manager in 2013 – so it’s been almost seventeen years.

Question: What are the highlights of your day as General Manager?

Mostly the beautiful, quiet and peaceful ambiance that we are so privileged to work in. Also, we gift mid-weeks to raise funds for old-age homes and House of Love & Hope for abandoned babies, and it always gives me great pleasure to see those less fortunate enjoy a holiday in the Central Berg for the first time.

Question: At the end of a long day, what is your “go to” to wind-down and relax?

I love the ocean, hiking, a good novel or a riveting Netflix drama series and especially my dog, Frisco.

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