US: Membership travel brand Travel + Leisure Co., formerly known as Wyndham Destinations, is rolling out a new offering to sports fans located in US college towns near universities with Sports Hospitality Ventures, LLC to unveil Sports Illustrated Resorts, a network of themed resort and lifestyle complexes, which will also feature a new vacation club.
As part of Travel + Leisure Co.’s strategy to drive growth through multi-brand expansion, Sports Illustrated Resorts is set to deliver “immersive sports-centric experiences, exciting entertainment and cuisine, and unique accommodations in fan-favourite destinations”. The complexes, developed in collaboration with Sports Hospitality Ventures, LLC, will feature vacation clubs, residential condominiums, full service hotels, and “one-of-kind” attractions, many of which are located close to where die-hard sports fans flock in the United States.
The first Sports Illustrated Resort on a campus is scheduled to open in late 2025 in Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of Alabama.
To date, Sports Illustrated’s namesake magazine has spotlighted the University of Alabama more than any other university in the United States, according to Travel + Leisure Co. CEO Michael Brown. Through the new brand, Brown is promising to celebrate successful former and current athletes and coaches to inspire a legacy in the college towns where they are represented.
Early renderings suggest that the resorts will be branded with designs influenced by different sports and feature a host of amenities and offerings, from go-karting and swimming pools to live-action sports and entertainment programmes and dining and wellness facilities.
The first brand resort in Tuscaloosa is expected to include close to 200 vacation club units, 125-150 hotel rooms and 60 to 75 condominiums.
Although Travel + Leisure Co. has yet to announce more locations in college towns, the brand is likely to target colleges that have leading American football and athletics programmes, thereby enhancing the tie-up with the iconic sports magazine and promoting universities among developing traveller demographics, such as alumni.
More broadly, Sports Illustrated’s portfolio already operates beach club resorts in leisure destinations, such as the Sports Illustrated Resorts Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic and a new location that is scheduled to debut in Orlando next year.
In a statement, Christopher Schroeder, CEO of Sports Hospitality Ventures, LLC, said: “People are seeking differentiated experiences that allow them to be more active and participatory, and Sports Illustrated Resorts are delivering the ultimate experiences for guests through the hospitality destinations we are creating.”
In January 2021, it was announced that timeshare and vacation ownership company Wyndham Destinations had acquired travel publication Travel + Leisure from Meredith Corporation and that it would assume its brand identity as Travel + Leisure Co. Wyndham Destinations paid Meredith Company $100 million to close the transaction, though the latter agreed to continue operating and monetising Travel + Leisure under a 30-year royalty-free renewable licensing relationship.
Wyndham Destinations spun off from the Wyndham Hotel chain in 2018, and was operating 230 timeshare resorts around the globe at the time of the acquisition of Travel + Leisure.