Meadow Lake Resort, a four-season, family-friendly Vacatia resort in Montana’s Flathead Valley, is the perfect haven for those in search of thrilling adventures paired with relaxation in stunning scenery. Located near the Canadian border, its owner base has approximately 50 percent Canadian nationals, who normally have a seamless experience visiting to enjoy nearby Glacier National Park and Whitefish Mountain.
As we all know, 2020 was not a normal year. While the resort closed for about four weeks in March and April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the international border remained closed for several more months. Owners from Canada were prohibited from visiting their cherished timeshare resort.
Meadow Lake Resort’s management had two major issues to sort out. First, how to accommodate owners who were unable to visit during the resort’s closure. The second issue was how to address owners from Canada who were unable to visit during the summer and fall of 2020.
The first issue was handled by looking for the fairest solution for all owners. “We did have savings of more than $180,000 during the resort closure and felt that we should find a way to return those funds to the owners,” said Lance Lynch, assistant resort manager. “The simplest way to do that was to give owners a rebate to their unit reserves, which offsets future maintenance expenses. For owners who couldn’t come when we were closed, we worked with them to find other dates to stay at Meadow Lake, while points owners received their points back to use for a future booking.”
For Canadian owners who were unable to travel to the United States, the resort’s recent transition to management by Vacatia proved to be a saving grace. “Vacatia helped us to rent those weeks, and the proprietary technology platform they provide made it easier to list the inventory while achieving maximum ADR,” explained Molly Lynch, who was working at the resort in owner services at the time and is now Vacatia’s director of inventory and deed services. “During the summer of 2020, people were more interested in outdoor activities and condominium-style accommodations with kitchens and plenty of room to cocoon with their families. With our location near a national park, there was a ton of pent-up demand that we were able to capitalize on. Income from the rentals allowed many owners to cover their maintenance fees and, in some cases, even come out ahead.”
Vacatia also assisted Meadow Lake with tax issues stemming from receiving rental income on behalf of its Canadian owners who did not have U.S. tax identification numbers. “They came up with the idea to withhold a portion of the funds for taxes,” she said. “Then the owners could choose to file U.S. returns to receive that money back.”
Both U.S. and Canadian owners enjoy visiting Meadow Lake year-round, but Lance Lynch reports that Canadians seem to favor the winter months while Americans favor the summer ones. “This helps us smooth out occupancy year-round,” he says.
According to Michelle DuChamp, head of Vacatia Partner Services and a Canadian Resort & Travel Association board member, Vacatia welcomes the opportunity to add Canadian resorts to their management portfolio. “Our consumer-centric approach helps resorts maximize options for their owners,” she said. “Many of our U.S. owners enjoy traveling to Canada, and Canadian owners at Vacatia-managed U.S. resorts would be excellent prospects for rentals and potential owners at resorts in their own country. I see a great deal of synergy there and believe we could each benefit by creating mutually rewarding partnerships that provide more opportunities for owners, exchange guests, and renters.”