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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

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Henry Hawk and Foghorn Leghorn
My name is Henry Hawk and I’m your t-t-t-t-tour guide today.

“Are you coming quietly you big balooka or do I have to mess you up?

“Come on now, I ain’t got all day!”
 
 


(Leave your own caption in the
Comments if you’re so inclined…)


It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

Selling timeshare to singles is nothing new; we’ve been doing it for decades, though not in huge numbers. But we may want to rethink the whole concept today, considering a recent report showing that 50.2% of Americans were single in August 2014 (up from 37% in 1976). Hey look, Ma! That’s a majority!

But before we get all intense about that we’d also better evaluate just who all those singles are and which segment of them we ought to be targeting vs who we should leave alone.

So what’s the Scoop? What’s the skinny on the singles world in the timeshare universe and should we really be chatting with singles who are in the 25 to 30ish-year-old bracket? Find out at “Scoop du Jour: Rethinking Those Singles!”


Marriott Vacations Worldwide has reported its third quarter 2014 financial results. Importantly, the company announced that its Board of Directors has authorized a cash dividend program under which it intends to pay a regular quarterly dividend and the repurchase of up to an additional 3.4 million shares, or approximately 10 percent, of its outstanding common stock, under its share repurchase program.

Among the highlights of this earnings report:

  • Adjusted EBITDA totaled $54 million, an increase of $4 million, or 8 percent, year-over-year.
  • Company adjusted development margin was 22.6 percent and North America adjusted development margin was 25.5 percent, an increase of 230 and 330 basis points, respectively, year-over-year.
  • North America volume per guest (VPG) increased 6.9 percent year-over-year to $3,477.

Total company contract sales were $172 million, a $4 million increase from $168 million in the third quarter of 2013, driven by $3 million of higher vacation ownership contract sales in the company’s North America segment, $2 million of higher contract sales in the company’s Europe segment and $1 million of higher contract sales in the company’s Asia Pacific segment, partially offset by $2 million of lower residential contract sales in the company’s North America segment.

In North America VPG increased 6.9 percent to $3,477 in the third quarter of 2014 from $3,252 in the third quarter of 2013, driven mainly by an increase in the average number of points purchased per contract, higher pricing and a modest improvement in closing efficiency. North America vacation ownership contract sales were $148 million in the third quarter of 2014, an increase of $3 million over the prior year period.

Asia Pacific contract sales increased $1 million to $8 million in the third quarter of 2014. Segment financial results were $1 million, an increase of$1 million from the third quarter of 2013.

In Europe third quarter 2014 contract sales improved $2 million to $11 million. Segment financial results were $6 million, $1 million below the third quarter of 2013. Adjusting for the $1 million impact related to extended rescission periods in the prior year, segment financial results were flat compared to the prior year quarter.

There’s lots more to discover in the report, and you can read it here.


The timeshare industry gets a tremendous amount of bad press (and deserves much of it), so it’s always uplifting to hear from timeshare owners who actually love what they own, know how to use it and aren’t afraid to admit it in public.

That’s the scenario with Marcia Ling, a member of both TUG and the Florida Timeshare Owners Group, who posted an article on TUG called Reflections on my Positive Timeshare Experience Not only does she recount those positives in a straight-forward manner, she has some sensible recommendations for others to help them have positive experiences, too. You’ll have to go there and read it for yourself.

A tip of the hat to Marcia Ling! hat tip


TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Where are YOU going this year?

 

The song (requested by reader PWP) was inspired by the book Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley. According to songwriter Martin Gore:

“It’s a song about being a Jesus for somebody else, someone to give you hope and care. It’s about how Elvis Presley was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”

That information is just presented so you’ll know it isn’t about the literal Jesus or heroin or any of the other interpretations floating around out there.

Without further ado I give you Depeche Mode performing their 1989 hit “Personal Jesus”, the long version, live.




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:

ORLANDO: You know that whopping big 890-room resort that’s been sitting unfinished and vacant in rural West Orange County since 2009, one of the victims of the Great Recession? I’m talking about the Grande Palisades resort, a timeshare resort that’s been subject to a $150 million foreclosure, bankruptcy and thousands of investor lawsuits for the last several years as it sat empty and surrounded by a chain link fence.

The Grande was one of British businessman Paul Oxley’s developments; his previous (successful) projects included the timeshare resorts Bahama Bay and Caribe Cove. Oxley filed for bankruptcy after the project stalled during the recession and then took a powder, fleeing the United States for parts unknown. Orlando attorney John Urban still represents about 500 buyers with claims against him.

ANYhow, the Grande Palisades was recently auctioned off on the steps of the Orange County Courthouse for $69 million, with an investor fund affiliated with Connecticut-based Westport Capital Partners being the only bidder. The 2012 foreclosure action handed the property to the lender. Westport, which manages real estate funds for investor groups, often acquires distressed or vacant properties.

Westport says they will finish the resort, which is about 75% complete, but they aren’t sure what they’ll do with it once it’s completed. Noah Breakstone, a principal with BTI Partners asset management firm, who is working with Westport on the project, declined to speculate on its ultimate fate, saying only that it may take as as much as 18 months to finish the work and that there are multiple possibilities. It could, for instance, become a fractional timeshare, a straight condo, a combination of a condo and hotel. The decision will be made at an appropriate future time.

So stay tuned. At least the poor thing is finally going to get its groove back.


“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

MANHATTAN: Without much fanfare or advance notice that investigations and negotiations had been ongoing, New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, sprang the news on us that Hilton Resorts Corporation and Wyndham Vacation Resorts, Inc. had been bad boys but had reached an agreement to clean up their separate acts.

In the first agreement, which in my opinion has the most far reaching implications, Hilton agreed to stop using a clause in its timeshare purchase agreement that disclaimed responsibility for specific representations made by salespeople, particularly regarding the availability of reservations, hotel use rights, and the rental, resale, and buybacks of timeshare interests. Put your thinking cap on and imagine the possible repercussions of that agreement throughout the timeshare industry. As Donald Trump would say, “It’s HUGE!”

In the second agreement, which has a more limited locus, Wyndham agreed to stop offering reservation certificates, which allow members of its internal timeshare exchange program to make advance reservations at a timeshare hotel known as Midtown 45, prior to the acceptance for filing of the Midtown 45 offering plan. These certificates were given to purchasers of timeshares in other Wyndham properties, and they led some of those consumers to believe they were purchasing an interest in the Midtown 45 timeshare.

The negotiations with Hilton and Wyndham were conducted by Assistant Attorney General Serwat Farooq, Deputy Chief Andrew H. Meier, and Bureau Chief Erica F. Buckley, all of the Real Estate Finance Bureau, as well as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Karla G. Sanchez.

I wonder how many complaints from New Yorkers it took before the AG’s office began investigations?

The announcement about those agreements follows on the heels of the news last July that Schneiderman’s office is investigating The Manhattan Club. They got a court order that temporarily barred The Manhattan Club developers from selling timeshare interests; required the club’s principals, Ian Bruce Eichner, Leslie H. Eichner, and Stuart P. Eichner, to appear in court to testify about the club’s practices and produce documents to the Attorney General’s Real Estate Finance Bureau about allegedly fraudulent sales tactics; froze their assets; and barred them from foreclosing on timeshare purchasers, who the Attorney General alleges were lured into investing with false promises.

That investigation is still ongoing, so stay tuned for more news from that front.

BTW: On the political front I fully expect Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, to run for governor of New York at some point — assuming he doesn’t set his sights on the U.S. Senate or House before then. Watch for it. ;)


“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

BUSHKILL: Something apparently blew up in a vacant villa at The Villas at Tree Tops and Fairway at Fernwood Resort in the early morning hours of Oct. 15, and by the time all the excitement was over one villa was completely leveled with debris scattered all over the parking lot, three more units were completely destroyed by a combination of the blast and ensuing fire and the four additional units in the complex were heavily damaged by water and smoke.

The flames from the fire spread quickly to the connecting villas due to winds gusting at about 15 to 20 miles an hour, and the intense heat also caused siding to melt on some of the nearby villas.

Some eight to ten resort guests had to be relocated to other villas in the timeshare resort, but fortunately no one was injured.

The cause of the blast is still under investigation, but is speculated to have been connected to the underground propane system providing gas to the villas.

Because the cluster of villas affected are located at the rear of the property, the charred remains are not visible from the road leading into the development. Everything else is OK at the resort, it’s business as usual. I hear the fall colors are really good up in the Poconos this time of year?

But don’t you know that the guests will be sharing photos and video of the event for years to come with everyone who is naive enough to ask about their vacation… ;)


“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:

WILLIAMSBURG: For the second time in 13 months, someone at a timeshare presentation in Williamsburg had a temper tantrum that involved brandishing a hand gun. Yikes! Is this going to become a pattern?

On Oct. 5 police responded to the 5300 block of Olde Towne Road in reference to a weapons offense, according to the James City County police. That address corresponds to the address of The Colonies at Williamsburg Resort, a Vacation Village Resorts (Berkley Group) property.

According to reports Norfolk resident Quinton L. Schneider, 34, was attending a timeshare presentation at the resort when something apparently ticked him off. He allegedly made “racially motivated” comments toward a female employee there, was asked to leave as a result, flipped a table over as he stood up, charged the woman and finished up by lifting up his shirt and grasping the butt of a handgun concealed on his right hip.

A nearby sales rep sprang into action (kudos to that rep!) and was able to get to Schneider before he could draw the gun out of its holster. Other sales reps then swarmed him and together they “escorted” him out of the building, where he got into his car and fled. I imagine the room was pretty thoroughly blown out at that point, wouldn’t you say? The police were called and the rest is history.

The woman he allegedly charged was scared half to death; she is pressing charges (and good for her!).

Schneider was arrested Oct. 9 and charged with brandishing a firearm and disorderly conduct. Maybe it was all for the best, because who would want a racist, gun-toting nut job staying at their resort anyway?

In Sept. of 2013 Keith Forbes, 52, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm at Williamsburg Plantation (another Vacation Village/Berkley Group resort) following a similar scenario. Is it something in the water?

But then what can you expect when it is legal to carry a concealed loaded weapon to a timeshare presentation? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? roll eyes


“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

OAHU: The sale of the Kahala Hotel and Resort has been finalized. Resorttrust Hawaii, a fully owned subsidiary of Japan-based Resorttrust, Inc., purchased the 338-room luxury property for $282.5 million, which equates to a whopping $835,798 per room.

While not expected to be marketed as a traditional timeshare product, Katsuyasu Ito, president and COO of Resorttrust, says they are contemplating “membership sales”, such as they operate at other Resorttrust Group properties like the XIV series of membership hotel properties. For instance, the newest XIV resort in Japan will be the XIV Yugawara Rikyu, which will adopt a shared ownership model for each type of guest room with membership prices as follows: CB Type, ¥5,700,000 and ¥10,750,000; SE Type, ¥13,800,000 and ¥26,050,000; and S Type, ¥18,800,000 and ¥35,500,000 (based on one room shared by either 28 owners or 14 owners, excluding consumption tax). Total contract sales are expected to amount to ¥58.7 billion. There are 25 XIV Resorts in Japan.

The company expects to see an annual cash flow of approximately ¥1 Billion per year, not including the contemplated membership sales.

This was a leasehold sale, not fee simple, with the land belonging to Kamehameha Schools. Terms of the lease were not disclosed. California-based Landmark Hotels Inc. will continue to manage the resort.

The 50-year-old property, originally built in 1964, was operated for decades as the Kahala Hilton.



“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 >> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS

►►► CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE ALL OF THE POSTS IN THIS BLOG ABOUT MEXICO’S TIMESHARE RESALE/ESCROW/BANK WIRE SCAMS!

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE IN DETAIL HOW THE TELEMARKETING BOILER ROOMS IN THE PUERTO VALLARTA AREA OPERATE PLUS THE REAL NAMES OF SOME OF THE SCAMMERS!

IT’S ALWAYS A SCAM IF SOMEONE SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENTING A GOVERNMENT AGENCY ASKS FOR PAYMENT IN RELATION TO AN INVESTIGATION. ◄◄◄


EVERYWHERE: As promised last week, here is a step by step description of how a nice Canadian couple was taken for a ride at Puerto Bahia in the Puerto Vallart area (pretty much by some of the same people who have been defrauding victims in Costa Rica and are reportedly now pulling similar crap in Roatan. Those names include George Triggs, Abe Gardner, Joe Merante and Israel Curi, among several others). So here we go; see if you can pick out the many misleading points or outright lies provided by the new crew working there. Another one just like the other one?

We purchased into Puerto Bahia last October, studio which we thought was a 1 bedroom, summer when we thought was year round, for 1 week per year with 4 bonus weeks. With maintenance fees optional (680$/year) if we didn’t want to use our 1 deeded week, we didn’t pay maintenance. They also gave us a credit to buy back our shell vacations timeshare ( which they appraised at 26000$ when redweek gives for 1000$ or less). And also referred us to a company called Mercury Management who was supposed to rent our 4 “bonus” weeks for us at 2600$ a pop, but to use that service we had to send them a one time fee of 800$. All for the lump sum of over 15000$.

In reality: We never got 4 bonus weeks cause when you become RCI member, you can purchase as many of those (as they called) bonus weeks!!! I was arguing it when on site with the salesman but he always found a way out until I came back home and phoned RCI and The Registry Collection to complain.

Next B.S. was Mercury Management, which never sent us any money after numerous lies about being on a list and next to rent out our 4 bonus bogus weeks. There went another 800$ down the drain.

And last, this other company who was to purchase our old timeshare finally told us it was too complicated to take over Shell Vacation properties and they didn’t want to touch it, so we could keep it??? Funny 3 months ago we were given 26000$ credit and now? Just keep it… Happy we could keep it, since it was yet the only thing reliable we had in this deal.

Every time I’d call back the salesman, he always had an excuse to have to call me back and never do it. Even though I had his personal cel phone, home phone (spoke to his wife) and office phone and email. Like a snake he would always manage.

Getting tired of this non sense and seeing our money disappearing, on top of never getting any paper or deed or what so ever from them, we decide to go back this year in person and see someone in the face who would want to try and fix this. We thought: ” there’s no way a developer/hotel/resort owner will want his guests to come back there year after year feeling the way we do and not want to fix this mess probably one of his bad salesman did!!!”

Me being with the airline industry, flying there was not a cost issue, and since we got to keep Shell Vacations… We used it to locate close by and not on Puerto Bahia property just in case…

So we showed up there unannounced in our little car and were asked by the guard our reason to visit, which we replied we were owners and wanted to see the progress since last year. He quickly phoned someone and gave us the ok to go. When we got to the main building, a big vacuum salesman looking guy greeted us, explaining that he was newly hired manager and the old sales company was fired and even some were in prison as a result of government investigation/closing of the place last December. He then said his day was finished but he would pull out our file tomorrow and we were more than welcome to come back and fix this with him over a great breakfast on him. ( Wow!! I felt it coming again, the same feeling of getting screwed as last time was in the air. ) He ended up talking about how he was offered this job while coming there with his mother to help her get this horror purchase straight. I was now reassured… Not!!!

So we came back few days later, were greeted same way but were transferred to another “Canadian” just like us… He had told us he was Canadian too!!!

She explained how she maintained her job after the big government/police/new take over tsunami hit and how this new partner had bought for 70 millions, half the whole development including the old sales contract and that they would honour all of them as written. But, but, but, it would make much better sense for us to invest another 5000$ to upgrade to a one bedroom unit, plus they would give us 2 “loyalty weeks” at the property which we could change in cold cash by signing in with PTC which they would pay for enrolment fees and all, plus deduct our initial investment. Plus they could cap our maintenance fees for 7 years at 1260$/year mandatory this time, instead of the 680$/year optional. Reason is they say is because even if our studio purchase isn’t yet deeded, it will be very soon, and as a result, the maintenance will become mandatory by law because you can’t have a deeded timeshare with optional fees. And that also, they are not going to be able to guarantee a cap on how those will increase year to year.

She also showed us on her iPad to be “transparent” how to enrol with PTC and we could do this anytime at home and bla bla… But I saw her putting a PIN number…

She then brought us to visit the difference between a studio and a one bedroom unit.

She then brought us back to her “new manager” and explained him what she just did with us. He tried closing the deal and said this was a one time offer and we had to decide today or sign a release form that said we were waiving this offer. My wife then brought the tone up a notch and he backed off with the release form, giving us time to talk it over and call him back next day.

Before leaving, I mentioned article 15 in our contract and asked him to read it. This article stating that if the above conditions were not met by all parties this contract could be voided, and to me, with the timeshare not being deeded yet, with all the time passed ( nearly one year), it was legal ground to cancel it. He wanted to keep it to show his boss because they were out of ink in their copier but I refused and instead took pictures of their “new better proposal” as well as what they had on file about our initial purchase… We shook hands and told him we would wait for his call next day to find out what his boss thought and had to offer about article 15. His last question was what we were both doing in life as jobs… My lights turned on about how big of a bone we had with article 15, our condo fees being so low and optional, and that our contract never stated anything about lifetime purchase or limited to 15 or 30 years… His “new upgraded better contract” was for 15 or 30 years, depending on how much more we were willing to pay…

We then returned to our room at Grand Luxxe and I jumped on the net to read anything I could… And found your blog and precious articles!!!

Also reading about PTC, and finding their website, found out trying to enroll without a PIN number was not possible, etc… So she had a page already set in her iPad but it didn’t work and had to put a pin… Which I remembered… Ha! Ha! But you still needed a seller’s name and other info I didn’t have. Smelled funny… Read your blog some more… Found out the truth about PTC and WHY they would slip a clause in the fine prints that: If you accept these terms and conditions, you waive your rights to bla bla bla about Puerto Bahia vacation resort at the same time… THAT’S WHY THEY WANT OLD BUYERS TO ENROLL AND ARE WILLING TO PAY THE FEES!!!!

He then called us the next day with the bad news that after speaking to his boss, article 15 doesn’t do anything for us and it’s a no brainer to accept his beautiful offer since they are willing to reduce a bit if we pay cash!!! He went on and on and at the end I said I’d call back… Never did!!!

Now I’m not too sure what to do next but I know I want to run as far from it all as possible. Not sure of understanding my possibilities, I say try to get out of it legally, and meanwhile let them deed it if they really are going to do so with the conditions we have now. At least our fees won’t be mandatory and be low, and we will be able to exchange through RCI, we won’t have limited use to it of 15 or 30 years, and I can fight the 4 weeks bonus written in it and maybe turn them in their “new loyalty weeks” because their legal firm doing their paperwork will have to comply with whatever contract is stating at initial purchase date???

I’m sorry to write you such a lengthy story but I didn’t want to miss out on any details where you might have heard or will be hearing about similar.

Hoping you can help with a way out or connect us to other scam victims of Puerto Bahia so we can join efforts to fix this painful headache?

Personally I think Puerto Bahia ought to honor the contract signed by this couple; they should do what they can to make the couple whole, so to speak, and act as though they’re a reputable company with their owners’ interests at heart.

But from the sound of things they don’t seem to be much more reputable than the original gang. Either you honor the contract or you don’t, with no more shenanigans; and if you don’t, you expose yourself for what you really are. Right?

►►►► Stay tuned for next week’s personal account of how David Benson (real name?), who claims to be the owner of known scam company Realty Centre ltd, pretended to acquire power of attorney over one of his victims then tried to blackmail her with that in a final effort to gain any monetary crumbs he might have missed during the rest of the scam. He allegedly called her, confirmed outright that he had scammed her and said to get over it and that is what he does for a living. He then threatened her with harm if she notified the police or FBI. Guess what I suggested she should do?

You’ll read all about it next week, and I’ll show you copies of the documents purporting to give him power of attorney. If you’re anything like me it’ll make you sick to your stomach.

►►►► Meanwhile, here are some things you can do if you’ve been scammed, keeping in mind that they are committing crimes that are international in nature (including bank and wire fraud; forgery; and probably money laundering, among other crimes):

  • File a report with your local police. There’s not much they can do, but at least you will have established a record;
  • File a report with your state attorney general’s office;
  • File a report with the FBI via IC3 (a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center. The IC3 not only collects complaints but also analyzes them, links similar complaints, and discerns patterns in order to help law enforcement identify the scammers);
  • File a report with the US Marshals Service;
  • File a report with Interpol – United States Central Bureau;
  • File a report with the Department of Justice – Office of International Affairs; and anyone else you can think of.

You may not hear back from any of those agencies but that doesn’t mean they aren’t investigating. At the very least you may be helping others avoid the heartache you’ve suffered at the hands of those criminals.

►►►► The points below are just a few of the common indications that you are being scammed. Don’t fall for any of them!

  • Did the company/business entity cold call you? Walk away.
  • Did they tell you they have a buyer/renter for your week(s) who is willing to pay a suspiciously high amount for it? Walk away.
  • Were you told that some agency of the Mexican Government has established a fund to recompense timeshare owners who were defrauded by the timeshare company and you’re one of the lucky ones? Walk away.
  • Were you told (and shown) that there is an actual bank account in your name with funds in it? Walk away.
  • Were you told that you are required to pay some type of government fee and/or tax to complete the transaction? Run away.
  • Does your little inner voice tell you it’s too good to be true? Walk away.

Again: CLICK ON THIS LINK TO SEE ALL OF THE POSTS IN THIS BLOG ABOUT MEXICO’S TIMESHARE RESALE/ESCROW/BANK WIRE SCAMS! If any of them resemble a scenario that applies to you, EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT EXACTLY THE SAME, assume it’s a scam and walk away.

And if you still think that maybe your case is different and might be for reals, send me the details BEFORE you wire any funds to Mexico (or anywhere else) and I’ll check it out for you. Email gatekeeper@insidethegate.com


“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 >> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS

GUANACASTE: ***For those of you who feel you have been scammed and lost money you need to make the effort to contact your local FBI office and report your losses, or better yet file a Form IC3, available online at http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.aspx , which is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). The more people who file that form the better; as individuals (unless your loss is huge) not much will be done, but as a group you can pool your losses and possibly reach the criteria to set an investigation into motion.

Keep in mind that many of the people you may have dealt with in Costa Rica are U.S. citizens; they may be held liable for their actions under various U.S. statutes regardless of what country they were in when they defrauded you. (The Michael Kelly Ponzi scheme comes to mind…)

Take whatever evidence you may have, make your case and make sure you explain that others across the country are doing this, too, that the scheme affects many people from all over to the tune of millions of dollars.***


Just in time for Halloween…

For several months we’ve heard that the main players behind the Coco Bay Estates (et al) scam were preparing to take their show on the road and there were many indications in the past few weeks that they were leaving Coco Bay. Well, it appears that I may have been wrong about Ivan Valverde and his father setting up resale boiler rooms in Mexico; word on the street is that what he was really doing was setting up companies in Mexico for their new venture with Parrot Tree Plantation/ Parrot Tree Beach Resort in Roatan in Honduras’ Bay Islands, which was allegedly lined up by their go-to guy Dmitri Pekhterev at Interval International.

The sharks are circling RoatanPoor Roatan.

According to sources Todd Dehn, Abe Gardner, George Triggs and Fernando May are reportedly running the same kind of operation in Roatan that got them so much attention (and money) as the Puerto Bahia and Costa Rica flim-flams, but it’s supposedly so top secret that they didn’t use any of the old sales people or VLOs to staff it in order to keep it quiet. They seem to have thought they could keep it on the down low, but secrets have a way of coming out. Sometimes all it takes is someone finding a picture of someone else on the Internet and making that connection. Hey, that’s the same guy who…

What product, going by what name, are they selling there? A new version of Luxury Leisure Alliance/Las Palmas Travel Network? Amerashare? Some newly annointed version of the “let us sell your timeshare/we’ll pay you $2,600 per week for five years” scam?

I don’t have a lot in the way of information yet from Roatan, but expect to learn more about it as time goes by. Wouldn’t it be great (and a miracle, considering their history) if all they did was sell the Parrot Tree Plantation/ Parrot Tree Beach Resort clean?

So who got left behind in Coco Bay? Is Zoe Graham still there? Randy McIntyre?

What I’m hearing is that Coco Bay is “closed for good”, the “laundrymat” businesses they had are also gone, and it looks like they are still selling in Coco Sunset/Bahia Turquesa and The Residences at Ocotal and Segovia. The question then becomes, are they selling the scammy deals like Las Palmas Travel Network or are they selling straight shared ownership?

Word is that the town is pretty much under siege, with regular police check points several times a week but no arrests as of yet. The outfit has reportedly lost a lot of their power and grip on the town (not to mention their credibility) but some of the old crew are still around.

As far as the honest business people in town goes, I hear they are warning the scammers’ potential victims at every opportunity. That can’t be good for business.

And here’s a big rumor: Hard Rock is rumored to have bought a hotel in the area and will begin operations as a timeshare operation, fully backed by a real company. That would be huge news, if true. The guess is that it’s likely they wouldn’t allow the scammers to stay around since they obviously would have more influence with the local government and entities.

Stay tuned for updates as I learn them. I wonder how long it will be before complaints start emanating from Roatan?



“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

This week’s timeshare sales tip:

2nd is OK

REMEMBER: Although TS Reps work in a very competitive environment and being Numero Uno is always a highly sought after and desired pinnacle to achieve, it is good to always remember that at the end of the day each rep is really only in competition with themselves.

That is why it is very important to make absolutely sure that instead of just aspiring to always be #1 on the sales line there is another much more important slot to hold. That spot is in the sales guest eyes, letting them know that they are Numero One and in that sales situation the rep being 2nd is just fine and dandy.

Each sales guest needs to know that the rep’s primary goal is not to make a sale but to instead explain the ownership program in its entirety so that the prospect can have sufficient and correct information so that they can evaluate ownership options on their own merits in order to come to a proper decision.

Once that is accomplished, the prospect should also know that if the sales guest finds the program to their ‘liking’ their rep will design the best possible program that fits the soon-to-be-new-owners ‘needs’. By treating each sales guest in such a manner the savvy TS Pro will 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: “What do cops and timeshare sales reps have in common? They’ve all heard every excuse in the world, in all of their colorful variations, and don’t believe any of them.” -Anonymous


Here’s some video footage of Los Cabos in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Odile, which hit a month ago as a Category 3 storm. It’s a mess, that’s for sure.

BUT, it’s recovering fast and many of the resorts/hotels that primarily suffered cosmetic damage have already reopened and scores of restaurants and other businesses are waiting for guests to return. In the end, Cabo may not look as pretty right now as it did before Odile, but check with the individual resorts to see what’s open and give it a shot anyway. They need you, and you’ll be welcomed as you’ve never been welcomed before!

And here’s a lesson in how to say “Thank you” for a job well done, from the guests at the Sheraton Hacienda del Mar. You couldn’t buy better publicity.


“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

The Registry Collection, the world’s largest luxury exchange program, has affiliated 10 lodges within Club Paradiso’s North Devonshire development, Kentisbury Grange to its network. Club Paradiso is a Silverpoint Group project. The lodges are set in the landscaped grounds of the Kentisbury Grange boutique hotel, an elegant Grade II Victorian country house located in North Devon on the edge of the Exmoor National Park.

According to the company, the double-fronted lodges have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with contemporary stylish interiors designed by local interior designer Karen Gray, who has created airy, bright modern living spaces featuring handmade furniture and exclusive fabrics from design houses around the world, including Jim Thompson and Christian Lacroix. The panorama of natural unspoilt beauty that surrounds Kentisbury Grange provides breathtaking views.

Aston Hotels & Resorts, an operating business of Interval Leisure Group, has entered into property management agreements with Split Rock Resort & Golf Club and The Mountain Laurel Resort & Spa situated in the scenic Pocono Mountains region of Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania.

Aston will provide a full range of management services for both resorts including sales, marketing, revenue management, and reservations. The company will also be responsible for handling daily resort operations, including managing more than 100,000 square feet of meeting room and conference space, a full-service 250-seat movie theatre, an eight lane bowling alley, and an award-winning indoor water park. Aston will also lend its extensive hospitality expertise to assist in the areas of planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

Interval International has announced the addition of Guaduales del Café, the shared ownership component of a mixed-use resort in Montenegro, Colombia. The property is located within the heart of the Coffee Triangle — a region famous for its coffee that is considered by many to be the best in the world.

The property’s two-bedroom units will feature modern interiors with light neutral tones and colorful accents. Each will have contemporary furnishings, tile floors, flat-screen TVs, and wireless Internet access. Guests also will enjoy a number of planned amenities and services, including a restaurant, swimming pool, specialty coffee shop, rooftop terrace with exercise area, concierge, and room service.

The first phase of Guaduales del Café is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015. Designed to maximize use of natural light and air flow, it is being built using environmentally friendly materials, water conservation methods, and renewable energy sources.


cheerleaderThe Registry Collection, Interval International and Aston Hotels & Resorts: 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</a>

Is this where we come for our free gifts?
As the Quinella approached the sale center that morning only George seemed to be at ease while the others were overpowered with trepidation.

“All we have to do is go on a brief and informative 90-minute tour of this ocean front hotel, like the man said,” George assured them.

“And then we really will get that free beach towel and a bottle of the hotel’s own private label Buena Suerte Amigos Tequila, just as we were promised. Easy peasy!”


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