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I'm watching you...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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While flying from the Dominican to the Occidental timeshare resorts in Mexico to figure out why in the hell there are so many kicks at each of the company’s sales centers, Luis Namnum ponders how he can also squeeze in at least 18 holes of uninterrupted golf at each stop.


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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

The survey says: It appears that the travel, vacationing and overall hospitality industry has once again become the hot market it was prior to the ‘Great Recession’ that officially began in December of 2007.

One report asserts that 85% of people with annual incomes exceeding $100,000 went vacationing at some time during 2014, a statistic that has broad implications for our industry.

So what’s the Scoop? Do you want it all broken down for you? Head on over to Scoop du Jour: Some Developers’ Trepidation!

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corporation will report financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2014 before the market opens on February 26, 2015. A conference call is scheduled to follow at 10:00 a.m. ET to discuss the company’s results.

Participants may access the call by dialing (877) 407-8289 or (201) 689-8341 for international callers. Please use conference ID 13599388 when dialing into the call. A live webcast of the call will also be available in the Investor Relations section of the company’s website at www.marriottvacationsworldwide.com

Mark your calendars!

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is warning owners of timeshare vacation properties, in particular owners of Mexican timeshares, of a fraud scheme involving unlicensed title insurance companies. As the GateHouse has been reporting for a very long time, the fraud typically begins when a person contacts timeshare owners and either says they are representing a buyer or offers to help them sell their properties. The person sends the owner to work with a specific title company, but the company doesn’t exist. The company address, phone number, and website are legitimate-looking but are all fake. Finally, the person asks the owner to send money to an account in Mexico and then disappears without providing any services. You know the drill.

Get more info from Texas, plus the state’s tips to avoid becoming a victim of timeshare fraud at Consumer Alert – TDI Warns Consumers of Timeshare Fraud

Heads up! Mexican state Quintana Roo is changing (has changed) its time zone. Effective at 2:00 a.m. on February 1, 2015, the state moves its clocks one hour ahead of Mexico’s central and southeastern regions during the winter season.

Get it? At 2 a.m. on February 1, the entire state of Quintana Roo will set its clocks ahead 1 hour (to 3 a.m.) and that time will be permanent from then on out. The state will essentially stay on Daylight Savings Time all year long forever and ever Amen (or until they change their minds). Among other things this means the state will have an extra hour of sunlight during the winter months, providing tourists with more peak afternoon time enjoying the beaches and parks of popular travel destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya. It currently gets dark around 5:30 pm, meaning less tourist activity in these areas.

If you’re heading toward Cancun, the Riviera Maya or Cozumel set your watches accordingly. Note that this does not affect Merida, which is in the state of Yucatan, or the state of Campeche, although all three states occupy the Yucatan Peninsula.


Where are you going this year?

“Sultry Chicago-blues meets hard-hitting harmonic invasion. That’s Honey & the 45s, exclusive winner of the 2014 Chicago Independent Music Award for Best Blues/Jazz band.

“Fusing elements of rock, blues, jazz, funk, Americana and soul with powerful vocals and pocket grooves, Honey & the 45s tosses it up in the air and what lands is an eclectic collection of soulful surprises.”

That’s what the group’s PR says about them, and I’ve got no issue with it.

The band was formed in Chicago in October 2009 as an acoustic group by lead singer and guitarist Kristina Cottone, and singer, violinist and saxophonist Kim Kozel (the 2 gals that form the “Honey” part of the band). Since then, Honey and 45s’ unique sound has evolved by adding bassist Sean Tatum, lead guitarist Jon Gould, and drummer Jarad Kleinstein. Try ‘em, you’ll like ‘em.

Got the Need

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:

CAMDEN: This is just a brief update on the state of affairs in the Adam and Ashley Lacerda (et al) timeshare fraud case, associated with the VO Group and VO Financial.

The sentencing dates for the Lacerdas have not changed: Adam Lacerda is scheduled to be sentenced on Friday, March 20, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. Ashley Lacerda is scheduled to be sentenced on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 10:30 a.m

For Ian Resnick, a hearing regarding sentencing in his case has been reset for 4/8/2015. No such hearing has yet been set for Genevieve Manzoni, who is still out on bail awaiting word about a possible new trial.

Sentencing for Joseph Saxon, a sentencing date will be determined at some point after the sentencing of the Lacerdas in late March 2015.

There is no fresh news regarding sentencing dates for Ryan Bird, Catherine Bannigan, Jeffrey Sawyer, Steven Cox, Alfred Giordano, Francis Santore, Joseph Diventi and Eric Rieff.. There’s been nothing in the court records since late 2013.

Stay tuned. When I know anything new I’ll pass it promptly to you.

“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:

NEWPORT NEWS: This could just as easily be plopped into the Mexico FRAUD section since the scams I’m talking about mostly originated there. But since accused fraudster Keith Kosco is being tried in Virginia for his alleged crimes and since his “World” headquarters are in Williamsburg, I’ll keep everything here in Virginia so it’ll all be easy to find.

NOTE: This post is photo heavy, so for those of you with slow or weak Internet connections I apologize in advance. And because this will be long as well as photo heavy (and with lots of names) and will also include some information (and photos) about travel club operator Adam Armstrong, I don’t want to burden the front page with all of it — so follow me below the squiggly thingy if you’re interested in the Kosco scandal or Mr. Armstrong (and friends).

Follow me for more!


US VIRGIN ISLANDS: Here’s an update on the status of vacation club product the notorious Richard Franken was looking to sell on St. Thomas.

Word is he managed to obtain his business license after all, by putting it in the name of his partner, Mike Scott. This has not endeared him to the legitimate vacation ownership-type companies on the island, and they have made note of the fact that Franken has OPCs soliciting in plain clothes, and without a solicitors license. The new DLCA Commissioner is probably going to be hearing about that in short order. Here’s a pic of his booth.

Richard Franken's OPC booth on St. Thomas I’m not sure that it has all been what he was hoping for, though. Word on the street is that the two weeks he was closed hurt him. He is hardly able to scam coax any sales out of unwitting tourists and has had lots of employees leave already, though Glenn Willis has stuck it out.

They say he’s stringing people along on paychecks, and is still housing his entire staff in a big group house near Bolongo Beach and they have few if any tours. A sales manager named “Blaum” left already, and so have several OPCs.

Meanwhile back in Fort Lauderdale, FL (where an investigation has been underway by a reporter from the Sun Sentinel), Franken’s office is closed for “renovations”. This is high season in Ft Lauderdale, so it seems he’s gotta be hurting financially.

Stay tuned.

“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


EVERYWHERE: Here are the names of the Mexican timeshare resale scam companies/agencies I’ll be exposing this week, some of which have been mentioned in previous posts and/or comments.

  • Referral Network LLC, purportedly in Northbrook, IL and acting in concert with the already-exposed fraud company D A Realty
  • Fairmount Real Estate & Equity Group, purportedly in Philadelphia, PA
  • Fidelity First Escrow Services, purportedly in Dallas, TX, working in conjunction with Fairmount (above)
  • Mountain View International, purportedly in Mountain View, CA

Note that just for starters most of the above companies do not legally exist within the states where they claim addresses. Regardless, they are all fake companies. More information follows below the squiggle.


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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS

SAN CARLOS: Up along the western coast of the state of Sonora, about 178 miles south of the Arizona border at Nogales, is the resort town of San Carlos (aka Nuevo Guaymas). It’s a fairly easy drive down on good roads, taking between 4 and 6 hours from Tucson depending on traffic and other imponderables, and it has been a favorite retirement/snowbird location for gringo expats for at least a couple of decades. It even has a bowling alley, which is rather remarkable for such a relatively small community (pop. about 7,000), and a very large and active diving community. It used to be a real happening place!

It also has timeshare, including the Sun Club at the former Plaza Las Glorias and Diamond Resorts’ Sea of Cortez Beach Club, formerly an ILX resort, and it’s possible that more might be on the horizon.

Paradiso Resort (former Club Med) in San Carlos, MXAbout 6 miles outside of town, overlooking the Bay of San Carlos, you’ll find a 62-acre resort located on Playa Algodones (famed for its role in the movie Catch-22). In better days it comprised a 430-room village offering a fabulous beach restaurant, night club, entertainment, and conference rooms, fitness center, a theater, oversized pool, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, horseback riding, tennis, golf and much more. It’s a very lovely location!

Once upon a time it was a Club Med, but after that closed down the resort kind of fell on hard times, though the new owners rebranded it as the Paradiso Resort & Beach Club and tried real hard to make something grand of it. The global meltdown put a stop to those efforts, though (and to gringo tourism, too), and the property has decayed over the last decade until it’s really turned into kind of an eyesore.

But word on the street is that angels have come to rescue it. Angels in the form of the Coppel family, via their Mexico XXI real estate company, who reportedly signed a contract to purchase the property back around last October or November (they probably got it cheap). Around mid-January eight vans full of Coppels and/or associated investor types spent at least a week in town, exploring both the Paradiso and the town, creating GREAT EXPECTATIONS among residents — along with free-flowing speculation.

In case you don’t know, the Coppels developed and own the Pueblo Bonito Resorts in Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas, which include vacation ownership, fractional and whole ownership residences.

Of course that makes one wonder what their plans might be for the Paradiso property. The primary rumors include:

  • Tear it down and build department stores
  • Tear it down and build restaurants and a casino
  • Tear it down and build a Pueblo Bonito Resort with additional upscale private residences and a marina

One issue discussed endlessly is the fact that for most US and Canadian tourists San Carlos is not very convenient to get to. This is both a plus and a minus, depending on who you talk to (once upon a time Los Cabos was little and inconvenient, too…). However, the area gets plenty of national tourists, even attracting lots of summering Mexican families. Being only an hour’s drive from the big city of Hermosillo, it’s a very convenient vacation destination for Mexicans. Regardless, hopes are high that this could be the incentive needed to bring back the glory days of San Carlos.

The Coppels don’t build junk and they’re very savvy so whatever they choose to do with the property you can bet they’ll make it a success.

Stay tuned for more details about this — hopefully.

“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:


REMEMBER: When prospects show up to the welcome center they will often, within the first 10-20 minutes, ‘leak’ all over the place, telling their rep why they can’t and/or won’t buy today. Yet what they are ‘hinting’ at are the very reasons why they should be buying ‘if’ the rep catches and then focuses in on those ‘clues’ and/or ‘hints’!

Take for example the young honeymooning couple, married for the first time, who are apartment renters and just started their new jobs. Those are ‘clues’ and seasoned TS reps (and closers) already know the young love-birds will puke (at the end) weeping that:

“Golly gee. This is all so exciting! We love it and we’re going to do it but we just got married, spent thousands on the wedding/honeymoon, need to purchase the first love-nest, start the family and blah, blah and blah…”

Or, what about the husband and wife in their late 60′s who have no kids and never traveled before? Or the couple in their 40/50′s and the wife is an Attorney and the husband is an accountant and they have all the kids in school?

Back to that honeymoon couple for a moment (and as an example). Instead of just sharing all the wonders of timeshare ownership during the presentation (not to be confused with ‘closing’) the rep also needs to spend time talking about the importance of their new lives together…

That would include the advantages of renewing that marital commitment they just made to each other every year. To take time to themselves, get away from the rate race and reignite their ‘love’. That ‘today’ there is nothing more important to them than ‘them’ and, as it should be, that ‘love’ and bond is what they both must insure, protect and commit to guarantee for the rest of their lives.

In the ‘honeymoon’ example alone there are so many ‘hot-buttons’ (heart strings) to explore, which most newlywed couples will embrace, that if the rep does so during the presentation then at the end of the presentation it will all come down, as it should, to the money.

And that is true of most all prospects, because they provide the clues upfront on how to sell ‘em. The difference between a Super Star rep and all the ‘rest’ in the ‘biz’ is that the savvy TS Pro will use those clues/hints during the presentation to everyone’s advantage and then 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: “People pay millions for a house with a view but a window seat on any airplane is so much better.” – Lawrence O’Donnell

The Florida city of St. Augustine celebrates its 450th year of continuous existence in the United States. Settled in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine has weathered centuries of trial and triumph as America’s oldest permanently settled city and encompasses vast historic and cultural value.

Coming in just behind St. Augustine in terms of longevity is the New Mexican city of Santa Fe the oldest capital city in the United States and the second oldest city founded by European colonists in the US. Santa Fe’s full name when founded in 1607 was La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís. (OK, so it’s tied with Jamestown, VA, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas)

Note that neither St. Augustine nor Santa Fe had anything to do with Pilgrims or with the Mayflower, which didn’t make landfall until the end of 1620. I’m just saying that Plymouth and Williamsburg (founded in 1632) and other historic sites of their ilk need to get over themselves. :P

But there are some wonderful timeshare resorts to visit at all of those locations, so don’t limit yourselves! Explore. Dream. Discover! You only live once!

“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

 KUDOS go out this week to Palace Resorts, which experienced a travel demand growth of nearly 20 percent in 2014 when compared to 2013. Palace Resorts is also reporting an increase in the average length of guest stay from four nights to more than five nights and growth in the weddings, golf and spa segments across the brand’s eight oceanfront properties in Mexico and the Caribbean.

In 2014, the markets that generated the most demand for Palace Resorts were the United States and United Kingdom. The United States market reported a growth of more than 50 percent when compared to 2013, while United Kingdom reported a growth of 20 percent. The fastest growing feeder markets in 2014 included Canada with a 51.4 percent increase and Asia with a 46.7 percent increase.

You’ll find more details here, but in the meantime KUDOS and a tip of the hat to Palace Resorts! whoopie!

Is there any truth to the rumor— that there have been several sudden layoffs of senior management at RCI? Word on the street is that some senior division vice presidents have gotten the boot in what is being called a “restructuring” move by Wyndham Worldwide.

Of course that rumor opens the door to lots of questions. Who exactly was shown the door? What kind of restructuring? Earnings have been somewhat flat for RCI the last couple of years; are they just trimming fat? Are they moving businesses around – say, folding RCI into Wyndham Vacation Ownership and the vacation rental business into the Hotels Group?

Is Wyndham Worldwide preparing to spin off its lucrative timeshare segment?

Or is it all just idle gossip?

See what happens when information is limited? We get to speculate wildly. What’s more fun than that? ;)

“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

In Memorium Jay Charles Finley III
April 22, 1947 – January 20, 2015

Jay Charles Finley, III, RRP, a well respected figure in the vacation ownership industry, passed away January 20, 2015 in his home in Branson, MO.

Jay was born April 22, 1947 in Jersey City, New Jersey and was raised in West New York, New Jersey. He attended Fairleigh Dickinson University and Montclair State College and worked at New York Telephone before joining the Army and serving in Vietnam. Jay was a decorated Veteran, earning a purple heart, among other citations, and was honorably discharged.

A member of the Masonic Lodge in Branson, he became a 32nd degree member of Scottish Rite Valley of Joplin, MO in 1997. Jay became a Shriner in 1997 with the Abou Ben Adhem Temple in Springfield. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Branson, MO, a Noble of Abou Ben Adhem Temple, a member of Taney County Shrine Club and the Ends of the Earth Club.

Jay Charles Finley III, RRPJay spent more than 35 years successfully navigating the waters of the resort real estate industry with a particular focus on sales, marketing, management and development. Known for building high performance sales teams, he even wrote sales training manuals and was responsible for sales totaling more than $2 billion.

Throughout his career Jay has been affiliated with many real estate industry leaders. In 1989 he was COO for the Rank organization who specialize in timeshare and fractional sales and development. In 1992 he joined RBC enterprises as senior vice president of the Mid-West division. In1997 he launched a new timeshare company called Grandvista Resorts which ranked among the industry’s top 20 timeshare sales companies in the U.S. based on sales volume and was eventually purchased by Westgate Resorts.

In 2008 he created Compass Resort Group, LLC with partner Chuck Frey. Compass deals predominately with legacy resorts that are experiencing a decline due to maintenance issues, shrinking revenues and escalating debt.

During his long career he earned many ARDA awards in sales, marketing and management including 12 Silver and 6 Gold Awards in the Sales, Marketing, and Management categories. Additionally, he served as chairman of the awards committee, former vice chairman of the resale forum and an active member of the ARDA membership committee.

Jay married Theresa Kathleen Law on October 19, 2013. He is survived by his wife; his brother, Robert James Finley, New Jersey; a niece, Michele Turner, Branson; and two step-sons, Alec G. Stack, Springfield and Erik M. Stack, Branson.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Elsie Mae Miller and Jay C. Finley, II and a sister, Kathleen Ruth Devaney.

Burial with full military honors was held on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 in Missouri Veterans Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or the American Heart Association, 2446 E. Madrid St., Springfield, MO 65804.

Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with his family and friends at this sad time.

If you have an In Memoriam to share with the timeshare community, please send it to: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com so we can honor them properly. Thank you.

David Siegel cartoon
David Siegel stopped by the sales meeting to remind his peeps they need to close more deals so he can finally finish his 90,000 sq. ft. mansion.


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