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It's always Happy Hour at The GateHouse “The World’s Biggest After-Hours Timeshare Watering Hole”

PUBLISHED WEEKLY, EVERY SATURDAY

Keeping an eye on the industry, The GateHouse is a timeshare blog powered by InsideTheGate.com, your best source for daily timeshare news and information.

Some Special Features from InsideTheGate.com you might want to check out this week:

  • CURRENT NEWS HEADLINES (stuff you might have missed last week)
  • SCOOP DU JOUR (published weekly, every Friday)
  • OFF TOPIC (Just for fun, from the goofy to the profound, published weekly, every Monday)
  • ON THE ROAD Timeshare Resort destinations and reviews, travel deals and more! (Published weekly, every Monday)

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EMAIL: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com


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Staycation
 
Sure glad I didn’t buy that dang timeshare this summer!

Heck, I got it all here right outside ma back door. Got a pool for Jr. here, and once we scrape the rust off the old 8 x 8 inch hibachi then Birdie can cook them 3 hotdogs up for us and we don’t have to share nothin’ with no one!

Life is good!

Say, look over there, Jr. The cab the neighbors have been waiting on to take ‘em to the airport ta catch thet flight to Tahiti finally showed up.

Suckers!


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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
If you live under the misconception that your freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want about whatever you want whenever you want, you’ve been living in a fool’s paradise. I don’t know how to break it to ya, Bubba, but the issue is really more complicated than that. Nothing is absolute, you know.

Take, for instance, the old “yelling ‘FIRE’ in a theater” scenario so often trotted out as an example. You can be damned if you do and damned if you don’t, depending on the situation.

So what’s the Scoop? What does this have to do with timeshare? Well, as an example have you taken a close look at the non-disparagement clause in that employment contract you signed? Find out more at Scoop du Jour: SLAPP!.


Marriott Vacations Worldwide has released its 2nd Quarter 2015 Financial Results and its shares immediately plunged 8% on the news. A nosebleed drop?

Nah, it wasn’t that bad. But analysts were anticipating revenues of $426.5 million and the company only reported $423 million (up 3 percent from $410 million in the prior year period). In other words, they didn’t make budget.

Here are the highlights:

  • Adjusted fully diluted earnings per share (EPS) increased to $0.91, up 4.6 percent from $0.87 in the second quarter of 2014.
  • Adjusted EBITDA totaled $57.7 million, an increase of $1.0 million, or 2 percent, year-over-year.
  • North America contract sales were $150.6 million, up 3.4 percent year-over-year.
  • North America tours increased 1.2 percent year-over-year.
  • North America volume per guest (VPG) increased 0.6 percent year-over-year to $3,404.
  • Company adjusted development margin was 21.0 percent and North America adjusted development margin was 23.0 percent.
  • The company completed the sale of its undeveloped land in Kauai, Hawaii, for gross cash proceeds of $20 million.
  • During the second quarter of 2015, the company repurchased $15 million of its common stock, bringing total 2015 repurchases through the end of the second quarter to $66.2 million.
  • Subsequent to the end of the second quarter, the company purchased 71 units in The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection in Washington, D.C.

For more details and explanations, see the Press Release;


TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Have you seen the world yet?


Where are YOU going this year?

 

How do you get kids and other folks to willingly listen to those highbrow musical instruments like violins and cellos? By making it fun, and these four women most certainly do that!

Called “Salut Salon – Quartet” boy oh boy can they give a virtuoso performance both musically and entertainingly! Take 3 1/2 minutes out of your busy day and smile. You’ll feel better at the end.

What are you listening to tonight?




The Weekly Juke Box aims to feature good music/good fun regardless of era or genre. Send in your own favorite and if I can find a good version on YouTube I’ll post it for you! What would you like to see or hear?

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

KISSIMMEE: Vacation Village at Parkway has finished up a major renovation at the resort. They’ve been at it since 2013 and accomplished quite a lot, especially considering that this is a pretty big property.

Last year’s efforts included:

  • Replaced the hallway carpet, mattresses, and refurbished furniture in buildings 14 & 15.
  • Additional Kid’s Playground.
  • Flat screen TVs throughout remaining areas.
  • Mattresses replacement in buildings 18 & 19.
  • Cabinet upgrade in buildings 3 & 4.
  • Replaced bedding in buildings 7 through 9.
  • New dining table bases, coffee tables and end tables in building 1 & 2 “B” units.
  • Replace golf cart.

Vacation Village ParkwayRefurbishments and upgrades this year included some pretty impressive improvements to the “B” side, featuring sleek yellow and grey accents, new beds and kitchen fixtures and they replaced in-room Jacuzzis with “large, relaxing tubs and sitting vanity rooms”. The cabinets in the kitchen are dark, the appliances stainless steel, the countertops granite — it’s all thoroughly modern.

Here’s a picture.

What do you think?


ORLANDO: Back in February the State of Florida indicted Mark Gardner (28, Osteen, Florida) and Tammie Lynn Cline (32, Leominster, MA) with one count of conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud, and four counts of money laundering in a case revolving around a timeshare resale scam. If convicted, each faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison for each conspiracy and wire fraud count and up to 10 years in federal prison for each money laundering count. That’s a long time.

This month Cline pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud; she is set to be sentenced on Oct. 9. Her maximum sentence would thusly be 20 years.

Gardner is apparently taking his chances with a jury, with a trial date tentatively set for September 1, 2015.

According to the indictment, Gardner and Cline operated a telemarketing room in Central Florida. They, along with the telemarketers who worked at their call center, made unsolicited calls to owners of timeshare properties located throughout the United States. In those calls, they claimed that they worked for Universal Timeshare Sales Associates (UTSA) out of Beaverton, Oregon, that UTSA had a purchaser who was interested in buying a timeshare, and that the timeshare owner just needed to pay a fee of between $1,600 and $2,200 for the sale to proceed.

To convince timeshare owners to pay the fee, Gardner, Cline, and their telemarketers sometimes claimed that an interested purchaser was present in the showroom ready to buy a timeshare, that a buyer had already deposited money into an escrow account for the sale, or that the sale would take place in about 90 days. Those representations were false. The timeshares were not sold as had been promised, and Gardner, Cline, and their conspirators denied or ignored requests for refunds and disputed chargebacks with the credit card companies.

You’ve all heard this story before, right? Doesn’t matter what the name(s) of the companies are, doesn’t matter what the names of the people are, doesn’t matter what state, province or country is involved — the basics of the scam are always the same and people keep falling for it.

Sigh.

In May 2013, the Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed a civil action against Gardner, Cline, and others in federal court. In June 2014, the district court entered a permanent injunction against them related to certain telemarketing practices.

Stay tuned for more information about the trial and sentencing as it is made available.




“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: I mentioned in a comment last week that Joseph Saxon’s sentencing, which had been scheduled for July 17, has been postponed until July 31.

Saxon pleaded guilty May 31, 2013 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, thereby admitting to conspiring to defraud owners of timeshare properties by offering phony consulting services with the VO Group. Follow the above link for more info on that, if you haven’t been following this case for the last 3 or so years.

ANYhow, while he awaited sentencing Saxon had been permitted to remain free under supervised release in the custody of his parents at their home. But as I noted in a recent post, that arrangement was verbally canceled on June 24, 2015 (the formal written order was filed on July 1) and he was remanded to custody.

Why, you ask? He failed a couple of drug tests (he has a long history of drug abuse). On May 20 and June 1, 2014, while free on supervised release, he provided samples for urinalysis, but the samples were not human urine. That was not enough to get him tossed in the pokey, though.

On June 11, 2015, while remanded to the care of his parents at their home under supervised release, he reported to Pre-Trial Services and provided an observed urine sample that tested positive for cocaine and opiates.

That was enough. It was off to the slammer for Joseph Saxon while awaiting sentencing.

IAN RESNICK: I’ve reported that both Resnick and Genevieve Manzoni had asked for a new trial or that their convictions be tossed. Judge Hillman has denied their requests and has filed a detailed Opinion on his reasoning for the denial. That is a document that you will want to read! (You will probably note that either the judge or the transcriptionist totally blew Manzoni’s first name, referring to her as “Jennifer” Manzoni rather than Genevieve. Is that an issue?)

Having read the whole Opinon I have come to the conclusion that Judge Hillman does not seem to be looking at either defendant with a sympathetic eye. I suspect that Resnick in particular is going to be shown little mercy when it comes time for the gavel to come down on him. But of course that’s just my opinion; I could be wrong.

So as of this writing, Resnick is still set to be sentenced Friday, August 21, 2015 at 9:30 a.m.

Manzoni is set for sentencing September 4, 2015.

And Ashley Lacerda is less than 2 weeks away from learning her fate, with sentencing due August 7, 2015. The 7th falls on a Friday, btw, so hopefully I’ll have the details in time for the Aug. 8 edition of The GateHouse. has had her sentencing postponed again; it is currently set for Oct. 7, 2015.

To date 13 members of the VO Group have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. Five others went to trial, where four were convicted of various crimes and one (Joseph Diventi) was exonerated of all charges. Nearly all are still awaiting sentencing, with the most notable exception being company co-founder Adam Lacerda who was recently sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Lacerda’s attorney is preparing an appeal; they have until August 13, 2015 to file the Notice of Appeal and then things will progress from there. I’ll keep you posted.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

CHARLESTON: This is a KUDOS moment for Festiva Resorts, who has donated $2,000 to the Charleston-based LowCountry Ministries’ Reverend Pinckney Fund, in memory of Reverend/ State Senator Clementa Pinkney and the other eight members of the Emanuel AME Church who were recently murdered in the tragic mass shooting there.

These funds will be used in support of human rights and equality initiatives in the Charleston area and at the Emanuel AME Church, and in support of those families who have recently endured the tragic and senseless loss of loved ones. Festiva also plans to make a $500 cash contribution on behalf of an employee of its Church Street Inn property who is a fellow congregant of the Emanuel AME Church.

Stated Jared Resch, Property Manager for Festiva’s Charleston resort property, Church Street Inn: “As is with the show of solidarity across the nation for our sisters and brothers of Charleston who are impacted by this senseless act of violence, at Church Street Inn and our local offices, we too are shocked and saddened by this tragic event. We stand together to voice our support for Emmanuel AME Church and all of its parish members who are left to heal and move forward with their faith in action and love of God.”

As a member of the Charleston community Festiva and its local entities embrace diversity and believe and engage in inclusion and respect for all.

Festiva began a flexible endowment fund in 2006 with the intent of providing permanent charitable resources for all the communities where Festiva employees live and work. The primary focus of the Festiva Charitable Fund is to promote education for our youth and eliminate poverty in our communities. The charitable fund is also used to respond to extraordinary global events.

KUDOS and a tip of the hat to Festiva! whoopie!

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> MIDWEST AND SOUTHERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS

EAST ST. LOUIS: Bad boys, bad boys / Whatcha gonna do / whatcha gonna do / When they come for you. / Nobody naw give you no break / Police naw give you no break / Not a soldier mona give you no break / Not even you idren naw give you no break / Hehe… dancing

Former TV weatherman Robert J. Lopicola was recently sentenced to 21 months in prison on his conviction for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with telemarketing.

Lopicola was a telemarketer at the infamous C&G Marketing Associates, LLC, timeshare resale scam also known as Premier Timeshare Solutions (PTS). PTS telemarketers earned commissions that were based upon the volume of sales made. PTS operated out of offices located in West Palm Beach Florida. The company targeted owners of timeshares throughout the United States and Canada who wished to sell their timeshares. By falsely representing that PTS had located buyers who were interested in purchasing the victims’ timeshares, the closers convinced the victims to pay upfront fees of approximately $2,000 to PTS. During the lifespan of the scam, PTS defrauded over 7,000 people out of approximately $14.5 million. Victims were located throughout the United States and Canada.

The United States District Court in East St. Louis ordered that Lopicola will serve this federal sentence consecutively to, or after, he completes the sentence he is currently serving in the state of Florida for unrelated offenses. Lopicola was also fined $300 and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment.




“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

scam warning >> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS

EVERYWHERE: Here are three recently received Mexico scam-related emails for your edification, along with my responses:

Hi,

My wife and I received an unsolicited offer to purchase our timeshare at Club Regina in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

Rose City Resale Group has provided a contract, and we do not need to pay the 5% commission until we have received the sale proceeds.

Do you know if Rose City Resale Group is legit? The Better Business Bureau shows two favorable reviews and nothing negative – for what it’s worth.

Rose City Resale Group is located at 650 NE Holladay St #1600 , Portland OR 97232

Thank you for your time.

*My wife and I received an unsolicited offer. Red Flag. If the offer is unsolicited, assume it’s a scam.

*…we do not need to pay the 5% commission until we have received the sale proceeds. That’s what they all say, but it’s a lie designed to lure you in to their web of deceit.

*Do you know if Rose City Resale Group is legit? The State of Oregon has no record of a company by that name. It is a ghost company.

*Rose City Resale Group is located at 650 NE Holladay St #1600 , Portland OR. That address belongs to a Regus Business Center, which offers virtual offices and mail drops among other things.

*Thank you for your time. You’re welcome.

I have been contacted by a lawyer for subprocuraduria and informed I would receive money back if I wire a validation deposit of $3264.04 or 8% . I almost did it until I started searching on the internet for information. I called the numbers I was provided and actually got an answering machine for banco mexico. They even provided me the name and phone number of someone in the usa who claimed to have collected the money and they even sent a copy of a bank statement showing a wire transfer of a substantial amount. This is a very sophisticated scam. I even tried to send money and gratefully my bank refused because they could not verify the destination.

This info is very valuable and i am glad I took the time to look for it. Thanks for making it available to potential victims.

*I have been contacted by a lawyer for subprocuraduriaSubprocuraduria? That means it’s a scam!

*This is a very sophisticated scam. Yes it is, and getting more so all the time.

*Thanks… You’re welcome.

Hola buenas tardes buscando información acerca de una compañía encontré su pagina y me gustaría que me ayudara por favor, hace algunos dias me hablaron de INTERNATIONAL BROKERAGE GROUP LLC segun para ofrecerme la compra de mi membresía en sandos royal elite, pero la cantidad que me ofrecen realmente se me hace muy alta por eso creo que puede ser una estafa!! usted me podria informar si tiene alguna informacion de dicha compañia. De antemano muchas gracias.

*…INTERNATIONAL BROKERAGE GROUP LLC… creo que puede ser una estafa!! Si, es una estafa! La empresa no es legítimo! No les dan dinero!

*De antemano muchas gracias. De nada.

And again, below the squiggly doodah, you will find what you can do if you have been scammed.
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Read More/Less

This week’s timeshare sales tip:

Mind Reader:

REMEMBER: It is never a bad idea to remind each sales guest just before the actual ‘pitch’ begins that among the few reasons some prospects don’t embrace becoming owners is their failure to ask questions or to seek a clarification regarding specific uses and/or benefits, etc.

A good approach to is to (jokingly) inform the prospect that despite the popular notion that the rep ‘has physic powers and is a mind reader’, the fact of the matter is they are not. Then have the prospect agree to ask any questions they may have during the presentation so that they at least have the opportunity to get the correct information directly from the horse’s mouth.

It should also be stressed that this is especially true of the sales guest who shows up with no intention whatsoever of becoming an owner ‘today’ because (again, jokingly) the last thing the rep wants is a person (sales guest) ‘out there’ giving out false, misleading, bad and/or incorrect information (of which there is no shortage) to ‘others’.

Questions that haven’t been asked (and answered) during the presentation kill more deals than most reps know and it is indeed the savvy Timeshare Pro who knows this and gets their sales guests asking (lots) of questions who’ll laugh all the way to the bank.




Join us for a pithy morning meeting timeshare sales tip of the week, originally published in InsideTheGate.com, to help you to greater success in selling timeshare. Brief and to the point, these sales training tips are designed to get you thinking, to expand your knowledge, to help you to become all that you can be in the timeshare sales arena.

Whether you’re an industry veteran or a green pea, it never hurts to brush up on your skills!

Copyright InsideTheGate.com All rights reserved

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouseQUOTABLE QUOTES: “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the rich, it’s that they have a very low threshold for even the mildest discomfort.” -Donald Trump


The squeaky wheel gets the grease. So it is that much of what gets printed in this blog consists of complaints of one kind or another, and most of them are genuine and relevant.

Developers and management in particular gasp with dismay about airing the industry’s dirty laundry in public — especially when it’s THEIR dirty laundry — and they have a point (but it can be covered with a hat. :P ). That kind of negative publicity doesn’t do the industry any good, except that in some cases it forces companies to take steps to address legitimate problems. The real issue as I see it is that timeshare companies fail to take advantage of this forum, and of InsideTheGate and other media as a whole, to advance a positive image of themselves and the industry with press releases extolling themselves, or with blurbs to this blog setting out GOOD things.

Have people in your company done an exceptional job or gotten a promotion? What’s wrong with praising them in public? Is your company growing, are you building a new resort or adding new features to an established one? Did a special assessment that everyone grumbled about result in a much improved vacation experience for owners? Brag about it!

Too much of the information about timesharing available through any search on the Internet is negative by default because y’all DON’T DO ANYTHING TO COUNTER IT. You should flood your potential market with positive images of timesharing; give potential owners something in their minds to counter all that negative out there. You cannot utterly control what is said about you, but you CAN make sure there is more positive than negative if you make the effort.

It’s OK to let people know you are a timeshare company. Timeshare is a GOOD thing!


“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

Aqua Hospitality, a Hawaii-based management company owned by Interval Leisure Group, has added the Ohia Waikiki to its Waikiki management portfolio effective June 2015. Located at Kuhio Avenue and Nohonani Street in the heart of Waikiki (Duke’s Lane is right across the street), the 17-story, 251-room property – once known as the Outrigger Surf East – is currently undergoing a $2-million refresh.

Not a vacation ownership property, in recent years the Ohia has been used primarily for housing University of Hawai’i students. The accommodations range from hotel rooms to studios and junior suites, each with a private lanai and kitchenette with a four-burner stove and oven. Amenities include a 24-hour restaurant, a comfortable lobby seating area with a flat-screen TV, swimming pool, sundeck, and bike and surfboard racks. The Ohia Waikiki will undergo a full renovation in the next few years, with plans to elevate the property to a three-star+ hotel.

Aqua Hospitality is a Hawaii-based management company founded in 2001. The company provides full-service management including sales, marketing, Internet distribution, individualized branding, reservations, as well as revenue management to maximize profitability. The company was acquired by Interval Leisure Group, parent company of Interval International, in December 2013.

RCI, recently welcomed three new affiliated resorts in China to its vacation exchange network. The properties are Shangshanqi Villa Resort and Taoyuan Hot Spring International Hotel in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and Bo’ao Holliyard Seaview Resort in Hainan Island. The signing of these agreements expands RCI’s portfolio of resorts in China to more than 55 properties.

Shangshanqi Villa Resort, located at the foot of Qingcheng Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Qingcheng Mountain has been an important Taoist site for centuries, as it is believed to be one of the birth places of Taoism, China’s only indigenous religion. The resort comprises 760 villas, and all units come with a living room and a full kitchen. It is 40 minutes away from Shuangliu International Airport via high speed rail, and an hour away via shuttle bus.

Taoyuan Hot Spring International Hotel, located near the entrance of Qingcheng Mountain. is an hour’s drive away from Shuangliu International Airport and has a total of 132 guestrooms. It is popular for its numerous indoor and outdoor hot spring pools, and its proximity to tourist attractions such as golf courses, ski fields and cultural sites.

Boao Holliyard Seaview Resort is located in the tourism area of Qionghai, east of Hainan Island and 90 kilometers from Haikou Airport. The resort has 384 sea view rooms spread over 18 floors, and each room is furnished with a modern design and all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay, including complimentary wireless internet access. The hotel offers an excellent variety of recreational facilities, such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sauna, a fitness centre and a full-service spa. It is a 15-minute drive from Boao Golf and Country Club and Qionghai Boao Oriental Culture Garden.


AMResorts has added three new resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean, marking a company record with its 12th new resort deal so far in 2015.

With the opening of Breathless® Montego Bay Resort & Spa, the company will debut its adults-only Breathless Resorts & Spas brand in Jamaica and double its resort footprint on the island. In Mexico’s Riviera Maya region, AMResorts will increase its presence to 14 resorts upon the opening of Breathless Playa del Carmen Resort & Spa and Dreams® Villas Playa del Carmen.

Off topic, I remember when Playa del Carmen was still a dusty, sleepy little place full of hippies with only one timeshare resort, when 5th Avenue barely existed and turkeys and little black pigs wandered the dusty streets behind laughing children. Is anyone still around who remembers when Karen’s was still just a little pizza joint? Back in the day when they still had their Cozumel pizzeria open? MMMM good.


cheerleaderAqua Hospitality & RCI: getting BIGGER!


Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? Help fill up the Tips Jar so we can share it with the whole Timeshare World! CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

handshake 
“Congrats Martha on closing the Laydownskies yesterday on those 60,000 Points!

“Did they whip out their credit cards during meet and greet, the warm up, doing the survey or was it when you were breaking the pact?”


(Do you “think funny”?
Leave your own caption in the
Comments if you’re so inclined…)

Image courtesy OfficeClipArt.com