Welcome to the GateHouse

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

PUBLISHED WEEKLY, EVERY SATURDAY

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)

Open All Night. No shirt, no shoes, no problem!

Just leave your tips at the bar…


EMAIL: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com


 Powered by Max Banner Ads 

on the phone
 
 
“What I said was that with the 500 points you purchased last month you could, subject to availability, get two nights a year at selected resorts during the off season and subject to availability. Not 2 weeks each year.

Now Bob if you’ll pull out your paperwork and look for the Verification and Acknowledgement form and then look under the heading “You Bought It You Own It” you folks will clearly see where you both affixed your initials acknowledging that understanding…”
 


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


 
 

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse

This week Scoop takes a look at Memorial Day with some facts and figures plus a personal story of the tragedy of war. For instance, did you know that about 4.45% (9 million) of all ‘Americans’ (202.2 million) were on duty during the Vietnam War era, but only about 1.24% (2 ½ Million) of the U.S. population actually served in Vietnam with the actual percentage of U.S. combatants being a much smaller percentage of the total U.S. population?

The same basic percentages apply to our most recent Wars, too!

So what’s the Scoop? What does the title of this week’s Scoop du Jour mean in the larger context of war and Memorial Day? You’ll have to discover that for yourself at Scoop du Jour: A Hamburger, A Cold Beer. Have a hanky ready.


Here we are at Memorial Day Weekend already, the USA’s official start to the Summer travel/holiday season (even though Summer doesn’t actually start until June 21). All the booking agents are offering travel deals, like 12 Great Memorial Day Getaways; 15 Cheap Memorial Day Getaways; 10 Memorial Day Weekend Getaways Not on the Beach; Memorial Day Weekend Travel Deals — and so on. It’s a big big day on the tourism front.

But let’s not forget the meaning of this holiday, which is to remember and honor all the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. (Veterans Day, when we honor all Veterans, is in November.) This is particularly poignant in this post-9/11 era due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the grievous losses we have suffered in those wars. Enjoy your long weekend your barbecue, your boat, but never forget that Memorial Day is a holiday to honor a very real sacrifice.
Floating Lanterns at Ala Moana Park, O'ahu, HI

“Memorial Day’s annual Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony brings more than 50,000 people to Honolulu’s shore and 6,000 glowing lanterns bearing remembrances and prayers float on the water. Hosted by Shinnyo-en, an international Buddhist community.” Photo courtesy: Shinnyo-en
All gave some; some gave all. Lest we forget…


When Mexico’s Villa Group started out as timeshare developers their first resort (1984) was the 131-suite Villa del Mar in Puerto Vallarta. The contracts were sold as right-to-use with an ending date, beyond which all contracts reverted to the developer.

That end-date, as it turns out, was the end of December 2015, so as of 2016 there will be no more Villa del Mar. Actually, there isn’t much left of it now, as part of the original resort has already been demolished to make way for fancier stuff, and what’s left will become — something else? It had a good run, though, and led to greater things for the company.

They had a very clever program running at Villa del Mar regarding defaulted contracts. Called the Takeover Program, in a nutshell it worked like this: For a low transfer fee of $100, ANY Universal Vacation Club member could take over a delinquent Villa del Mar week for the remainder of the contract (until 2015). The program was open to all UVCI members, not just VDM owners. The only requirement was that you had to keep the maintenance fees current. Available weeks were listed on a form and updated weekly.

At least on the surface it seems like a no-brainer doesn’t it?

Have other developers or HOAs initiated a similar program to deal with delinquencies? If so, who are they and how is it working out?


TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Where are you going this year?


 

 

 

Five Blind Boys Of Alabama – Way Down In The Hole (Extended Version)

IMO this is the best cover of the Tom Waits song ever recorded. If you watched the TV series “The Wire”, you will recognize this as the theme song for the series’ first season.

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:

ORLANDO: Here’s this week’s BIG news: Orange Lake Resorts, via its parent company Orange Lake Holdings, has purchased Silverleaf Resorts from an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.

Whoopee! I for one am glad to see it because if you judge by publicity not much of note has happened with Silverleaf ever since Cerberus bought the company and took it private. Of course it isn’t really that they didn’t do anything, it’s that they couldn’t be bothered to issue occasional press releases to tell anyone about it. I blame it on Cerberus. :P I’m expecting more from Orange Lake…

ANYhow, Orange Lake will not be folding Silverleaf into its Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand. Instead they will operate the two brands separately. Together the two brands encompass 26 resorts, 7,200 villas and over 320,000 owners. Club members in each brand will continue to enjoy all the benefits of their existing membership plans and I’ll bet there will be a lot of reciprocal enjoyment going on as well.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations operates 12 resorts across eight states, with another in development in Scottsdale, Ariz., scheduled to open in late 2015.

Silverleaf operates 13 resorts in six states across the eastern half of the U.S.

Stay tuned for more exciting news on this front in the future. It’s 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>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: In case you didn’t notice it in the Comments, the sentencing dates for Adam and Ashley Lacerda and Ian Resnick have finally been set. I know you’re all Jonesing for this, so without further ado:

  • Adam’s sentencing date is June 12, 2015
  • Ashley’s sentencing date is June 26, 2015
  • Ian Resnick’s sentencing date is June 30, 2015

Genevieve Manzoni’s sentencing date has not yet been announced.

For those of you who may have come late to this case, you can get lots of details at this link but in the meantime here’s a brief recap of their offenses.

On Thursday, September 5, 2013, four defendants from the former VO Group (aka Vacation Ownership Group) who were standing trial for various counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud were convicted by a jury in Federal Court in Camden, NJ.

Adam Lacerda, co-owner of the company (which morphed into VO Financial Corp. shortly before indictments were handed down), was convicted on 13 counts of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

His wife Ashley Lacerda, also a co-owner of the company, was convicted on 6 counts of conspiracy and mail and wire fraud. Money laundering charges against the pair were dropped last week.

Also convicted was Ian Resnick, a close associate and loyal friend of the Lacerdas, who was found guilty on 7 counts of conspiracy and mail and wire fraud.

The fourth guilty verdict was for Genevieve Manzoni, who was convicted on 2 counts of conspiracy and mail fraud and found not guilty on one count of wire fraud.

The Lacerdas and Resnick have been held in custody since the trial (for the better part of two years now); Manzoni has been free while she awaits her turn in front of the judge. Both VO Group and VO Financial Group are defunct.

So, barring some unexpected circumstance they and we will finally find out what kind of punishment (not counting restitution) the four will receive for their perfidy.

Apparently the dozen or so participants in the VO Group/VO Financial fraud who pleaded guilty a couple of years ago are going to have to wait until the main four are sentenced to discover their own fates.

And of course the victims of the group are still waiting for justice, so stay tuned. Eventually all will be resolved, and I’ll keep you posted.

And click here to see ALL of the Lacerda et al/VO Group scam information.



“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>> MIDWEST AND SOUTHERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS

BRANSON: Wyndham Vacation Ownership is rightfully proud of receiving LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for the company’s Wyndham Branson Preview Center at 240 Terrace Boulevard in Branson. They took over a three-story, 33,000-square foot vacant medical facility near their Wyndham Mountain Vista resort and here’s what they did to it to earn 46 points out of 47 for certification:

  • Reduced its energy use for lighting by 24%
  • Reduced its energy use for HVAC by 50%
  • Reduced water consumption 31% through the use of low-flow toilets, faucets and fitness center showers
  • Diverted 78% of construction waste from the landfill
  • Control 100% of lighting through occupancy sensors
  • Installing a heat reflective ENERGY STAR-rated cool roof equivalent to 149% of the roof area
  • Use 82% new ENERGY STAR equipment and appliances
  • Maximized daylight and access to views
  • Use low-emitting materials such as paints, sealants, adhesives, flooring, and engineered wood products
  • Reduced landscape watering use by 63%
  • Made a Renewable Energy Purchase for 50% of the annual consumption of the building for two years to equal 100% of a year’s consumption
  • Provide mechanically controlled ventilation and CO2 sensors for all zones of the building that will alarm and automatically provide additional outside/fresh air
  • Implemented a project-specific Indoor Air Quality Management Program during construction

My favorite part? They installed a pneumatic tube system between each floor to allow associates to send documents more efficiently during the sales process. There’s just something smile-inducing about the modern use of such an old-fashioned system. :)

This is the fifth Wyndham site to achieve LEED certification, by the way. KUDOS!



“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 >> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

HOUSTON: It looks like the multimillion dollar timeshare fraud case against James Jariv, et al, is finally on its last legs. On Monday, May 18, James became the final criminal of the group to plead guilty in connection with a telemarketing fraud and money laundering scheme spanning nearly five years.

Between Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2012, the defendants deposited into eight bank accounts approximately $6,925,137.04 in fraudulently-obtained timeshare owner funds. Some victims reversed the charges or withdrawals, leaving approximately $5,945,433.04 in victim funds in possession of, and subsequently transferred into, other accounts controlled by the defendants. The funds in the eight victim deposit accounts were all traceable to payments received from victims.

As a result of pleas from all charged defendants, the U.S. has recovered more than $2 million for restitution to victims, many of whom are more than 55 years of age. Money judgments in both the civil forfeiture action and the criminal cases have been obtained to assist the United States in recovering the balance of the $5,945,433.04 restitution that is expected to be a part of the sentences.

The fraud conspiracy conviction carries a maximum imprisonment of 20 years in federal prison. However, because the wire/mail fraud involved telemarketing that involved 10 or more victims older than 55, federal law provides for an additional 10-year-sentence after the one imposed for the underlying conviction. Jariv also faces up to 20 years imprisonment for the money laundering conspiracy.

The pretrial diversion hearing for Jiwon Jariv, mentioned in this post, was held on May 18 and an agreement was entered, but the record has been sealed so I really can’t tell you what happened there.

James Jariv is set for sentencing July 27, 2015, while sentencing for co-defendants Alexander Jariv, Ronald Frank Muise, Leon Avedikian, Thresa Lloyd and Michael Derek Muise is set for 8/17/2015 at 01:30 PM in Courtroom 11C before Judge Lynn N. Hughes.

Originally on bond, James Jariv was taken into custody following an arrest for an unrelated bio-fuels fraud scheme in Nevada. He will remain in federal custody pending sentencing.

Meanwhile in Nevada, Jariv will be sentenced on August 5, 2015 for his role in the bio-fuels scam. There were 57 counts charged against him and he has pleaded guilty to Count 1: Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Offenses and to Defraud the United States; Count 2: Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments; Counts 3 & 15: Wire Fraud and Aiding & Abetting; and Count 52: Obstruction of Justice and Aiding & Abetting.

You can get more details here and here.

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

scam warning >> INTERNATIONAL TIMESHARE NEWS

EVERYWHERE: Here are the names of the Mexican timeshare resale scam companies/agencies I’ll be exposing this week. NOTE that if you are contacted by any of these companies (or have been already) there is no question that you are being (or have been) SCAMMED. I’m not listing them for the fun of it, I’m listing them BECAUSE THEY ARE SCAMS.

  • Alliance Realty Network, Inc., purportedly in La Grange, IL.
  • America West Title & Escrow Management Services, INC., purportedly in Denver, CO.
  • Trendmaker Realty Services (working in conjunction with America West Title), purportedly in Denver, CO.
  • Eaglets Real Estate Inc., purportedly in Chicago, IL
  • Dynamic Title Advantage, purportedly in Wisconsin
  • High Class Travel, purportedly a Kansas corporation

Those are ALL scam companies being worked out of Mexico in order to steal your money. More information follows below the squiggle.

popcornThis is a looong one. If you have popcorn, now would be a good time to pop it into the microwave.

Got it? Well, OK then. Take a deep breath. Here we go!

squiggly Read More/Less

This week’s timeshare sales tip:

Sparkles:

REMEMBER: A leading cause of rescissions in our industry is an over zealous timeshare rep who presents (‘sells’) a timeshare plan in the fashion and/or manner of purchasing a GIA certified D-Flawless 5 carat round brilliant cut diamond with perfect dimensions (crown, pavilion, girdle, table) in a platinum setting.

From the consumers’ perspective the difference is that when they purchase a high end piece of jewelry they normally walk out with it in tow and can constantly glance at the ‘sparkles’, show it to their friends, etc., which reinforces their purchase decision (and expense).

On the other hand (no pun intended), when they purchase a Timeshare interest all they walk out with (pretty much) is a set of ‘docs’ and real soon that ‘expense’ starts haunting them. When they can’t read about all those features (‘sparkles’) in the paperwork that they marveled over during the presentation, they will conjure up all sorts of reasons to ‘kick’.

Simply stated, an overly exuberant timeshare rep can also come off like a ‘heat-merchant’ and, like them, after the ether has worn off and the old ‘too good to be true’ syndrome sets in, many new owners will cancel.

That is why although it is important and wise to present the ‘glitter’ of being a timeshare owner it is also equally important to do so in such a manner as the ‘buyer’ realizes that there is a pragmatic aspect to owning. And when the now new owner realizes that little slice of reality the savvy Timeshare 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: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” -Mahatma Ghandi


Just for smiles this week, having nothing in particular to do with timeshare, I present you with the difference between men and women as evidenced by a haircut.

Women’s version:
Woman2: Oh! You got a haircut! That’s so cute!

Woman1: Do you think so? I wasn’t sure when she was gave me the mirror. I mean, you don’t think it’s too fluffy looking?

Woman2: Oh God no! No, it’s perfect. I’d love to get my hair cut like that, but I think my face is too wide. I’m pretty much stuck with this stuff I think.

Woman1: Are you serious? I think your face is adorable. And you could easily get one of those layer cuts – that would look so cute I think. I was actually going to do that except that I was afraid it would accent my long neck.

Woman2: Oh – that’s funny! I would love to have your neck! Anything to take attention away from this two-by-four I have for a shoulder line.

Woman1: Are you kidding? I know girls that would love to have your shoulders. Everything drapes so well on you. I mean, look at my arms – see how short they are? If I had your shoulders I could get clothes to fit me so much easier.

Men’s version:
Man2: Haircut?

Man1: Yeah.

cheers!


“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

Apple Leisure Group/AMResorts has gotten BIGGER three times since last we took note.

In Jamaica AMResorts announced it will open the Sunscape Montego Bay its family-friendly brand, Sunscape Resorts & Spas first resort in Jamaica. This is AMResorts’ third property on the island, and marks the seventh new hotel deal announcement by the company in 2015. AMResorts will begin enhancements at the resort in May 2015 to incorporate Sunscape Resorts & Spas’ brand standards. The upgrades will be carefully planned and integrated, allowing guests to continue to enjoy the property during the process. AMResorts will officially assume operations of the resort on Aug. 1, 2015, which will remain under the Sunset Beach Resort, Spa and Water Park, and the Oasis at Sunset name until its official rebranding in late 2015. The property is comprised of 430 rooms across two 10-story towers.

In Panama, AMResorts inked a resort management agreement for Secrets® Playa Bonita Panama. The deal introduces AMResorts’ adults-only Secrets Resorts & Spasbrand to the region, and marks the eighth deal announced by the company since the beginning of the year, representing a 20 percent growth. Guests will continue to enjoy the resort under the InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort & Spa name until Dec. 2015, when AMResorts will assume operations and commence rebranding as Secrets Playa Bonita Panama. The project includes enhancing the resort’s 303 rooms, meeting facilities, 10,000 sq. foot spa and amenities to Secrets Resorts & Spas brand standards.

And in the Dominican Republic AMResorts will increase its presence with Now® Onyx Punta Cana, the company’s third new resort management deal in the country in 2015. This will be the second resort from the family-friendly Now Resorts & Spas brand in the Punta Cana region, and marks a 30 percent growth in Apple Leisure Group’s resort product portfolio since the beginning of the year. The company will break ground on June 1, 2015 and is scheduled to open in November 2016. Consisting of 500 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites, the resort will be located in the Uvero Alto region of Punta Cana on the Dominican Republic’s northeastern coast. Offering spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea and access to a pristine white sand beach, Now Onyx Punta Cana will be adjacent to sister property Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spa.


cheerleaderApple Leisure Group/AMResorts/Unlimited Vacations Club: 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

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> TIMESHARE PEOPLE ON THE MOVE:

Magda Hanna and Linda Finley have been appointed to executive positions in Mexico’s Palace Resorts family.

Hanna is the new Regional Director of Sales for the West Coast and Linda Finley has been appointed Director of Sales for the Southeast Region. In their new roles, both Hanna and Finley will lead sales initiatives relating to the meetings, incentives, conventions and events (MICE) market for the brand’s eight oceanfront resort properties in Mexico and the Caribbean.

With more than 12 years of experience in the Meetings & Incentives industry, Hanna brings a strong sales background, a deep familiarization with the meetings and incentives segment, a passion for generating new business opportunities and a proven track record in achieving results to her new position.

Respected throughout the Meetings & Incentives industry, Finley boasts invaluable experience specializing in international resort sales throughout the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Finley launched her career as Associate Director of Sales & Marketing with Bonaventure Resort & Spa where she built a solid foundation leading sales. Throughout the course of her nearly twenty years in the industry, Finley has also held the titles of Director of Group Sales for Occidental Hotels & Resorts and Director of Sales for the Sheraton Orlando North.

Palace Resorts’ sales directors are responsible for developing and executing effective sales strategies and new business plans with a focus on the MICE segment. Additionally, Hanna and Finley will be frequently collaborating with the Palace Resorts field sales team who work closely with the travel agent community.

welcome to Mexico
 
 
Having finally made the costly move from Canada to work in laid back Mexico, Rick Greenpea was surprised and concerned his first day on the job about signing a mandatory working agreement because it had never been mentioned before and not one word was in English.

When he questioned Paco about that the company comptroller told him: “Señor, no es un problema. Don’t worry, be happy Amigo! Ahora estás en México.

Now sign the last page my friend and go out to the lobby for your first tour.”
 


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