Go Big or Go Home: Why I Develop Resorts.

bob cat

Thousands of people depend on my company to provide exceptional vacation accommodations. While I have great relationships with other travel providers and individual condominium owners, I discovered if you want something done a certain way, you should do it yourself. I started out buying individual condominiums in resorts but as I like to say, ‘Go big or go home,’ so I started developing the whole property.

Location, location, location. That’s the number one decision to make before you start looking for a new resort. We do the research and find the areas our members want to go to, then look for resorts that fit our business model. It’s pretty rare to find one out of the gate, ready to go that will fit right away. What really works for me is finding a property in need of some TLC and working some magic to turn a failing place into a member favorite.

We’ve done this five times so far. If you asked me for my favorite, I couldn’t name just one. Each property is like a child, while I might like them for different reasons, I love them all.

Should push comes to shove and I HAD to choose, there are two that I’m particularly proud of because of the challenges and rewards with the projects: White Oak Lodge & Resort in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Beso Del Sol Resort in Dunedin, Florida.

White Oak Lodge & Resort was a blank slate when we found this rustic property in the Great Smoky Mountains. A condominium with 12 units was there along with the lodge, tennis court, a manager’s home and a log cabin in the back 40. The rest was undeveloped.

Even though I’d never done it before, I got involved and directly helped design the roads, sewers and electric as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans for the log cabin development. The design of the actual cabins and the swimming pool also bear my stamp. Not to mention the walking trail and Brady’s Bridge. Every inch of that resort is sprinkled with my personal touches.


I take great pride in this lodge and resort because we created this amazing place from the ground up. White Oak Lodge & Resort has far exceeded my expectations in member satisfaction, earning an RCI Gold Crown designation and continues to be a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner.

Beso Del Sol Resort in Dunedin, Florida is special to me because of the challenges and the setbacks we had to overcome with the city. We persevered and came out the other side with a resort that’s so much better than anyone else believed that place would be. What was an abandoned development on one side, with what equated to a fly-by-night seedy motel on the other were transformed into two towers with a tiki bar. No one there could see the vision of what it would be, and I have a lot of pride that we turned this around to be a gem for Dunedin, Florida.


Overall, the decision to jump into resort development and management has paid off, in business and for the travel club membership. Our portfolio of vacation resorts also includes Sea Shells Beach Club, Daytona Beach, Florida; Beso Del Sol, Huntington Beach, California and Lodge by The Blue, Breckenridge, Colorado. Plus, we have one long term management agreement for the exclusive use of Bamboo Beach Club, Clearwater, Florida.

Each of these resorts is carefully managed by staff employed by Global Connections, who go above and beyond to deliver amazing vacation memories to all the people who spend their valuable free time at our resorts. And that is what truly makes me happiest.

This article was originally published as a post on Tom Lyons on LinkedIn.