Sally Angel, sales consultant at The Osborne Club in Torquay for 30 years, shares her experiences at England’s oldest timeshare resort.
I didn’t believe in love at first sight until it happened. The moment I entered the main gates of Hesketh Crescent I was captivated by the most handsome Regency-style architecture in the Southwest.
I jumped at the opportunity to become a sales consultant. Not only was it England’s pioneering timeshare development, it was a retreat for the great Victorians Darwin, Brunel and Angela Burdett-Coutts.
The Victorians first used the term English Riviera to describe Torquay.
It remains a firm favourite with holidaymakers today and was recently voted the U.K.’s top seaside resort based on TripAdvisor reviews.
Our club members, exchange and rental guests agree. Last year, we proudly celebrated 35 years providing luxury holidays.
In the good old days, attracting prospective buyers was simple.
A small advertisement in a national newspaper always resulted in a wave of bookings in the adjacent Osborne Hotel and daily viewings from sunrise to sunset shared among a sales team.
We were confident in our product from the start and even self-imposed a 14-day rescission period long before it became E.U. law.
There were no gimmicks - just a nice cup of tea and no obligations. We still achieved an industry-high conversion rate of one completed sale from three visits, and the satisfaction of holiday dreams being fulfilled for decades to come.
However, here’s my confession. I became jealous. Our guests were enjoying the irresistible charms of The Osborne just a little too much. I had to do something about it.
So, although living just down the road, I became an owner and, mad as it may sound, disguised in sunglasses and straw hat sneaked in for my annual holidays.
Today, I’m the sole surviving sales consultant and grateful for the many referrals our owners have provided.
However, we share some of the challenges other shared-ownership developments now face.
We’re delighted when owners pass apartments on to their family although others, sadly, need to re-sell. This has created a buyer’s market with some lovely apartments available at fantastic prices.
Recognising changes in holiday trends, we’ve launched HOLIDAY 5 - a five-year membership option for a selected number of apartment weeks.
We haven’t advertised for a long time, but with a refurbishment programme underway, including free Wi-Fi in every apartment, we’re about to start again.
We’re not sure if placing a small advertisement to promote the timeless delights of The Osborne will work today - but maybe a few ‘tweets’ might – fingers are poised!
I always warn potential buyers that owning a week at The Osborne will pose some major questions.
Will they have a lazy day reading their Kindle while supping a glass of Pinot Grigio on the terrace or will they pack a picnic and head out to beautiful Dartmoor?
Or will they take a stroll along the waterfront licking a delicious Devon honeycomb ice cream or challenge the kids to a game of tennis?
The only possible drawback to owning at The Osborne that I can think of is that you might not get a strong mobile phone signal.. But here’s a final confession - that’s all part of the master plan to ease our guests into a relaxed, holiday mode.
In the meantime our gardener’s planting seeds for flower boxes along the crescent in readiness for this year’s Torbay in Bloom competition and paddleboards are being polished for the spring tides so the honeymoon may continue.