FLORIDA:

BOCA RATON: This week’s big timeshare news is that BFC Financial Corporation and Bluegreen Corp. have scrapped their original merger plan and have entered into a definitive agreement for an new all-cash merger instead. Shares of Bluegreen stock took an immediate hike skyward on the news.

In the earlier deal of November 2011, stock holders of Bluegreen were entitled to receive eight shares of BFC class A common stock for each share of Bluegreen common stock.

BFC, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Woodbridge Holdings, currently owns approximately 54% of Bluegreen’s outstanding Common Stock. Under the terms of the agreement, Woodbridge will acquire the remaining approximate 46% of Bluegreen’s outstanding Common Stock for $10.00 per share in cash (approximately $150 million) in a merger between a wholly-owned subsidiary and Bluegreen. Once the transaction is completed, Bluegreen will become a direct wholly-owned subsidiary of Woodbridge. The all-cash offer represents a 73.6% premium above the 5.76 closing price of Bluegreen’s Common Stock on November 14, 2012.

The merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by a special committee comprised of Bluegreen’s independent directors as well as the boards of directors of both companies, is subject to approval of Bluegreen’s shareholders, Woodbridge obtaining the financing necessary to complete the transaction and the satisfaction of certain other customary closing conditions. Woodbridge plans to fund the acquisition through debt or equity financing, including by issuing up to 46% of the equity interests in Woodbridge and utilizing Bluegreen’s assets. It is currently anticipated that the transaction will be completed promptly after all conditions to closing are satisfied.

Stay tuned.

ORLANDO: Who would’a thunk it? After all the reporting of CEOs “threatening” their employees with dire consequences if President Obama was re-elected, our own timeshare mogul David Siegel (Westgate Resorts) turned out to be among the least a$$holey. He did NOT fire people (some even got a raise); he will continue to grow his business; etc.

Others, including “Papa John” (who is threatening to cut employee hours so he won’t have to provide them with benefits at all), the owner of a coal mining business often-cited for unsafe conditions, who promptly fired at least 22 miners; and several other jerk-waters too numerous to name, have (IMO) taken advantage of the opportunity to blame Obamacare in order to make more profit for themselves while screwing their employees over. The days of the Robber Barons have returned.

hat tipSo, King David it’s nice to know that someone in the much maligned timeshare business is actually not the worst of a bad lot of American CEOs.

SARASOTA: Oombaga. Isn’t that a delicious word? I don’t know if that’s a real word or not, but it IS the named of a real company, a “middleware” owner-based mobile application allowing timeshare owners to pay maintenance fees, make reservations and carry out transactions with their resort in real time.

Triton Timeshare Software recently integrated its systems with Oombaga, and for help to to broaden the marketing and business development efforts of both companies, Triton has engaged the services of Locher & Associates, a professional services firm specializing in online customer acquisition and efficiencies, marketing and business development. It would be hard to find a company with stronger creds to do the job.

John Locher, founder of Locher & Associates, has headed up ARDA’s Technology Group for five years and has actively served the industry since 2002. John is a founder of RedWeek.com and formerly its Vice President of Marketing. Prior to RedWeek.com, John was the VP of Marketing and Promotions at Classmates.com, the original social networking site. He formed his new company in 2010.

Think he might know what he’s doing? ;)

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NEW JERSEY:

WILKES-BARRE: Things seem to be heating up over at the Boycott Sundance Vacations Facebook page. Has war been declared?

On Nov. 9 this was posted:

MEMBERSHIP UPDATE

As of November 8th, 2012, there were 872 members. As of this date (11/9/2012) there are 932 members. That’s a net gain of 60 members in less than 24 hours and it’s only just begun because the page grows exponentially!

Somebody made somebody very angry to generate that much record breaking activity in a 24 hour period, but we love it!

Then, on Nov. 16, there was this:

Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is portrayed at the very end of the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, and in the 2001 film Pearl Harbor, as saying after his attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” An observation articulated by another page manager.

This page has received more than a hundred new members in five days and, for what ever reasons, most are in the legal profession!

If I were the powers that be at Sundance Vacations, that would give me cause for concern.

As of Nov. 16 the page had 994 members. That’s pretty impressive growth!

If you remember, back in October I posted news of a lawsuit filed by Sundance against one Albert Whitehead, apparently part of their ongoing crusade to have that Facebook page removed. I mentioned Wisconsin attorney DeVonna Joy, who has civil cases pending against Sundance and is publicly critiquing the company on the Boycott page. Well, she’s still there posting information and advice, although the buzz on the street says Sundance tried to silence her, too, with a claim that she was essentially illegally advertising her lawyerly services via her comments and a warning for her to cease and desist.

Did Sundance tick off a whole bunch of lawyers? It’s my understanding that Sundance/John Dowd has even begun subpoenaing attorneys; could that have had something to do with the sudden influx of them to that Facebook page?

One of the newest members, for instance, is a woman who served with the Illinois Attorney Generals’ Office as a “Senior Policy Adviser” from 2007 until 2010 and appears to be righteously outraged. Another, who provided a link to the National Association of Consumer Advocates where “there are NACA lawyers waiting for your call”, said “If you want to know why you are expanding, you might check on members who posted recently, and were threatened by sleaze-balls.” Really?

A moderator’s response to that comment said this:

…we are aware of those threats and to whom they were directed because they were briefly posted on this page although the author rescinded the public comments. Our page managers copy every page, every 30 minutes for that very reason; to have a record of all comments, most particularly the deleted comments, because often times they are the result of the “gag” order compliance.

Whatever is going on, it’s sure starting to look ugly (and therefore much more interesting to me, the gatekeeper :P ). I can’t help but wonder, though, if Sundance has found itself playing a game of “Whac-A-Mole” with the folks at Boycott Sundance Vacations. That’s not a good game to play when the population of moles grows faster than you can whack ‘em.

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“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

CALIFORNIA:

ESCONDIDO: In union there is strength? Escondido-based Chicago Title Timeshare and Maitland, FL-based Fidelity National Title Group seem to think so, having joined forces to form a new alliance called Fidelity National Timeshare (FNT).

In their published statement they said, “The two entities have joined forces to strengthen their service and respond better to the needs of an ever-changing timeshare industry. The new relationship enhances the company’s ability to serve the industry through its existing East and West Coast office and is dedicated solely to working within the timeshare and shared ownership arena.”

The new group will maintain offices in both California and Florida; its website is located at www.FidelityTimeshare.com.

ALSO IN ESCONDIDO: A California federal judge has dismissed a putative class action lawsuit brought against Welk Group, Inc. by plaintiff Hermenegildo Martinez that claimed Welk Resort San Diego allowed mold to grow in its rooms.

In a nutshell: Judge Anthony Battaglia determined Martinez couldn’t sufficiently demonstrate that his “Platinum Points” lost value as a result, largely siding with the resort’s arguments that Martinez failed to produce any witnesses, any documents or any evidence to support that the purported mold problem diminished the value.

Next?


SACRAMENTO: Heads up if you’re an employer in California whose services involve paying commissions! Effective January 1, 2013, California’s new Labor Code section 2751 requires you to provide written commission plan agreements to all your commissioned employees. That means you if you’re selling timeshare.

Under the new law the agreement has to explain the method by which the commissions will be computed and paid, must be signed by the employer and the employer must obtain a signed receipt from each employee.

The definition of commissions from California Labor Code section 204.1 defines commission wages as “compensation paid to any person for services rendered in the sale of such employer’s property or services and based proportionately upon the amount or value thereof.” Types of payments that are specifically excluded from this definition include:

  • Short-term productivity bonuses such as are paid to retail clerks;
  • Temporary, variable incentive payments that increase, but do not decrease, payments under the written commission contract; and
  • Bonus and profit-sharing plans, unless there has been an offer by the employer to pay a fixed percentage of sales or profits as compensation for work to be performed.

But I suppose your attorneys are already all over this, right?

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TEXAS:

HOUSTON: United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson, with the Southern District of Texas, has announced the arrest of eight people in a four-count indictment alleging conspiracy, wire and mail fraud and money laundering related to timeshare resale fraud.

James Assi Jariv, 62, Alexander Jariv, the 25-year-old son of James Jariv, Thresa Lloyd, 42, Varda Jariv, 72, Jiwon Jariv, 33, Ronald Frank Muise, 50, and Michael Derek Muise, 27, all of Las Vegas, NV were taken into custody along with Leon Avedikian, 43, of Los Angeles, CA.

The two conspiracy counts carry a maximum imprisonment of 20 years in federal prison but because the wire/mail fraud involved telemarketing that involved 10 or more victims over the age of 55, federal law provides for an additional 10-year sentence in addition to the sentence imposed for mail or wire fraud.

According to the indictment, the Jarivs and other co-conspirators used a number of different named companies to conduct their telemarketing timeshare resale scheme targeting timeshare owners throughout the United States and Canada. The timeshare owners were allegedly solicited to pay advance fees in exchange for the Jariv companies providing willing buyers for their timeshare properties or points, when in fact, the defendants did not have buyers for the timeshare owners’ interests and did not market or sell the property.

The Jariv companies were registered in various states, including Texas, Nevada, California, Illinois and Washington and conducted business at multiple addresses in Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, according to court records.

According to the indictment, between Feb. 1, 2011, and Jan. 31, 2012, the defendants would and did victimize approximately 1000 victims living in Canada and throughout the United States including the Southern District of Texas, and deposited into eight bank accounts approximately $6,925,137.04 in fraudulently obtained timeshare owner funds. Approximately $5,945,433.04 in victim funds were retained by, and subsequently transferred into, other accounts controlled by the defendants.

Long may they serve…

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UTAH:

PARK CITY: A couple of weeks ago I mentioned Hilton Grand Vacations’ new resort in the Canyons Resort, noting that it was expected to open later this month. The “later” turned out to be November 21, just in time for Thanksgiving; reservations began to be accepted earlier this month.

Called Sunrise Lodge, HGV was selected by developer Resort Finance America to manage the 83-unit property and to provide timeshare sales and marketing services. This will be HGV’s first branded property in Utah.

Sunrise Lodge features native mountain stonework and timber frame design. The property offers studios, 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom suites complete with living areas and well-appointed kitchens; outdoor heated pool and whirlpool spas, fitness facilities, and amenities that include onsite ski equipment rental, complimentary high-speed internet, and complimentary year-round shuttle service within Park City.

Hilton Grand Vacations Club is growing in leaps and bounds this year. Maybe they didn’t get the memo about timeshare being dead? ;)

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“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 all about timeshare resale fraud in the Midwest this week. Sigh.

MINNESOTA:

GRAND RAPIDS: The Western Michigan Better Business Bureau has issued a warning for timeshare owners to be wary of doing business with Financial Care LLC, a resale company with a West Michigan mailing address that appears to be a scam operation.

Financial Care LLC, doing business as Financial Care Associates, has been contacting timeshare owners claiming to represent a buyer, according to the BBB. The BBB file contains several pending complaints as well two unanswered complaints.

The complaints show a pattern in which consumers state they were contacted by the company which informed the consumer that they had a buyer for their timeshare but required the seller to pay a processing fee ranging from $2,198 to $4,535, which was to be wired to the company. After the consumer paid the fee, the sale did not go through and the company would not refund the fee paid by the seller. Calls and e-mails to the business are not returned.

The 2885 Sanford Avenue SW, Suite 22223, Grandville, Michigan address being used by this company is actually a mail forwarding business, which has informed the BBB that they are no longer receiving mail for Financial Care.

The true physical address/location of the company Financial Care, LLC is unknown.

Caveat emptor!

WISCONSIN:

ST. PAUL: And here’s another one for all you timeshare owners out there: WARNING! Avoid doing business with a company called Renaissance Marketing of Property, which allegedly used a forged Department of Commerce license to represent itself as a licensed real estate broker in the State of Minnesota. They are no such thing.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has ordered Renaissance Marketing of Property to immediately halt further activity in the State of Minnesota, saying, “Renaissance Marketing of Property appears to be nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The allegations from consumers indicated this company misled, deceived, and intimidated consumers to believe there were buyers for their timeshares at inflated values with the intent to collect outrageous fees and commissions to line their pockets. We stopped any further activity of this company in Minnesota.”

The company allegedly used a tired but still-effective “bait and switch” tactic in which timeshare owners were solicited to sell their timeshares to an unknown third-party at an inflated price compared to the timeshare’s actual value. The company then requested a 10 percent upfront fee based on the inflated price, which was required to be wired to a bank account in Mexico. In addition, consumers were asked to pay a seven percent commission fee.

Guess what? There was never a buyer, the victims still own their timeshares and they are unlikely to ever see any of that money returned to them.

This company, and this type of ruse, is a TOTAL SCAM, people. Don’t fall for it, and under no circumstances give them any money!

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Tip JarDo 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

This week’s timeshare sales tip:

Business:

REMEMBER: A good part of the timeshare sales presentation is all about ‘Sun & Fun’ and painting the travel and vacationing lifestyle picture. But at the end of the day this is ‘business’, and getting too chummy with a sales guest is something that should be avoided.

Some reps overdo the need to be perceived as a ‘friend’ and get involved in excessive chitchat that is way off topic (and stay there too long). In the prospect’s mind this takes them off of the ‘business’ end of the presentation and many will come to believe they can put off a buying decision ‘today’ because (e.g.) they’re now talking with their next door neighbor.

Naturally the rep needs to be friendly and cordial at all times because the prospect will be investing a significant amount of money. However the sales guest also needs to know and have the confidence that they are dealing with a true professional and when they understand that aspect of the presentation the savvy TS Pro will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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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

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” -Erma Bombeck



Happy Thanksgiving!

Next Thursday (Nov. 22) will be Thanksgiving Day in the USA, which I personally am looking forward to. Even more than the big meal on the big day, I love me some turkey sandwiches the next day, with leftover dressing and gravy! And pie (of the apple variety).

Do all you schleps working in the historical Williamsburg, VA area get any timeshare action during this time? Or does everyone stay home for the big dinner and parades and football games? It’s gonna be dead slow where I am.

Did you know that the first Thanksgiving was NOT held in Plymouth, MA in 1621 with Pilgrims, dressed in black and white, sharing turkey with Native Americans? Nope. The nation’s first Thanksgiving took place in 1565 when the Spanish founder of St. Augustine, FL, Pedro Menendez de Avilis, and 800 Spanish settlers shared in a Mass of Thanksgiving. Following the religious service, Menendez ordered a communal meal to be shared by the Spaniards and the Seloy natives who occupied the landing site. I don’t know what they ate, but it probably wasn’t turkey.

St. Augustine is the oldest continually populated European settlement in what is now the United States, founded forty-two years before the English colony at Jamestown, Virginia, and fifty-five years before the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. (Santa Fe, NM is the second oldest continually occupied European city in the United States, by the way, founded around 1609/10; it is also the oldest capital city in the USA.) Williamsburg wasn’t founded until 1632.

Just a little history I thought you might find useful if you’re selling timeshare along Florida’s “First Coast” or up in Santa Fe, NM. Happy Thanksgiving!

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“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 Memoriam John Paul Ottino III
1955-2012

John Paul “J. P.” Ottino III, RRP, of Ft. Lauderdale, FL passed away October 27, 2012. He was 57. A pioneer in the timeshare and real estate development world, J.P., as he was known by friends and family, was born January 21, 1955 in Chicago, IL to Helene Holderman Ottino and John P. Ottino Jr.

J.P. moved to South Florida in 1958 and lived in Broward County until his death.

Growing up, J.P. wanted to enter the world of politics and at 17 began working on the campaign of US Senator Richard Stone in 1972 and continued with those of President Jimmy Carter in 1976 and US Senator Bob Graham in 1978. He attended Nova Senior High School and Florida State University.

After college, he served as the Executive Director of the Broward County Legislative Delegations. In 1980, he began working at Broward Federal S&L Association where he worked his way up to Vice President.

JP Ottino III; R.I.P.In 1988 J.P. began his legacy with the timeshare company The Berkley Group where he served as Vice President Corporate Development. His responsibilities included growth and client and customer relations.

J.P. was a master negotiator and helped establish the Berkley Group’s 10 flagship resorts across the country. During his professional career he accumulated several accolades, including the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) International Volunteer of the Year Award. He was also the youngest member appointed to ARDA’s Board of Trustees where he chaired several committees.

During his lifetime J.P. was also appointed to two consecutive terms as Commissioner on the Florida Commission on Condominiums by Governor Lawton Chiles. He served the last two years as Chairman. He was very involved in the community, serving as a board member at the Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital Foundation as well as Outreach Broward, American Cancer Society, Boys & Girls Club of Broward County, and the Ft. Lauderdale Historical Society.

In June of 2010 he semi-retired to his position of Vice President and Director of Daily Management Inc., formed in 1981 to provide professional management of day-to-day operations at resorts developed and/or owned by The Berkley Group; and Owner of East End Eats Café, a popular eatery in Ft. Lauderdale.

He is survived by his sister, Helene Kowalski of Cooper City, a sister, Kathryn Ottino of Asheville, NC; nephews Christopher Cheng, John-Ryan Calabrese, and Nicholas Damiano; nieces Nicole Murphy, Sarah Wetter and Katalina Kowalski; and an aunt, Angelique Stahl.

Services were held for J.P. at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, November 7. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, 3711 Garfield St., Hollywood, FL 33021. www.jdchfoundation.org.

His passion, smile and infallible kindness will be greatly missed.



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.

Last week Scoop outlined the Reality and this week outlines the Cure. It’s a bit long, so break out the doughnuts and cozy up with your favorite beverage for a thought-provoking read.

So what’s the Scoop? To find out, read this week’s Timeshare Scoop du Jour: The Cure: Net Sales Trumps All

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I’ve got some BREAKING NEWS for you this week in International Timeshare News that you won’t want to miss (and you’re unlikely to find anywhere else). Check out the Mexico segment, and get out the popcorn!

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Westgate Resorts recently closed a $221 million securitization. Over the past six months, Westgate has been able to raise more than $420 million by issuing securitizations through the capital markets that were sold to a large number of new investors to the company, including money funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds. The weighted average cost of the securitizations were less than the previous floating rate expenses and have allowed Westgate to lock in fixed-rate capital while eliminating refinancing risk on these portfolios. This latest financing follows a $35 million Revolving Senior Warehouse Facility with Capital One Bank and a $165 million securitization that Westgate completed earlier this year.

That is all.

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Interval Leisure Group has released its third quarter 2012 financial report. Here’s a summary:

Consolidated revenue for the third quarter ended September 30, 2012 was $117.2 million, an increase of 9.8% from $106.7 million for the third quarter of 2011. The increase was driven by the incremental revenue contribution from our Management and Rental segment, primarily reflecting the February 2012 acquisition of Vacation Resorts International (VRI).

Net income for the three months ended September 30, 2012 was $0.1 million, which reflects a $17.9 million non-cash, pre-tax loss associated with the early extinguishment of our $300 million, 9.5% senior notes on September 4, 2012. Excluding the impact of this non-cash loss, adjusted net income (defined below) for the three months ended September 30, 2012 was $11.0 million, a decrease of $0.4 million from net income of $11.4 million for the same period of 2011.

The year-over-year decrease in adjusted net income was driven by lower Membership and Exchange segment pre-tax income which includes an unfavorable variance of $1.1 million in our estimated accrual for European Union Value Added Tax (EU VAT), due to a change in estimate recorded in the third quarter of 2011, higher health and welfare insurance expense of $1.0 million and unfavorable non-operating foreign currency fluctuations of $3.4 million primarily as a result of our foreign subsidiaries holding U.S. dollar denominated cash balances. This was partly offset by stronger Management and Rental pre-tax income of $2.0 million, which reflects the incremental contribution from VRI, improved results at Aston and a favorable net change in the estimated fair value of contingent consideration related to an acquisition. Additionally, our operating results benefitted from lower interest expense of $2.2 million in the quarter due to the early extinguishment and refinancing of our indebtedness.

You can find the full report here.

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“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

If you like your rock ‘n’ roll progressive/psychedelic, then this song is for you. This recording (music with photos) is from King Crimson’s July 1, 1974 performance in Central Park, NYC. It’s the last live performance of the band’s incarnation that included David Cross and John Wetton.

At the very least, this video will wake you the hell up! :P

21st Century Schizoid Man


Send in your own playlist and if I can find a good version on YouTube I’ll post it for you! What would you like to hear?

Email: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

FLORIDA:

ORLANDO: It looks like David Siegel has changed his mind about cutting back and laying people off if Obama got re-elected. Now that the election is over and the President is in office for another four years, King David has gotten all conciliatory and reassuring to his employees, walking back his previous implied threats. He even sent out a memo telling them all he didn’t mean it and they shouldn’t worry ’cause everything will be all right in Westgate land.

Of course he blamed the media for distorting his previous letter to his employees, saying he never intended to lay anyone off and never said he did. Yeah, well…

Now he is going to bravely soldier on, in the face of great adversity caused by things like “Obamacare” and possible higher personal taxes, and will try to continue to grow the company rather than shrink it. Some “eligible” employees might even get a raise!

He and other CEO’s made quite the asses of themselves sending out those original letters to employees warning of dire consequences if Obama won another four years in office, and Siegel especially got a lot of negative press about it. It was his own dang fault, of course.

THEN he compounded his ridiculousness by granting an interview with Forbes in which he predicted that the next President will be Michelle Obama (because Barack doesn’t want to give up power) and totally dissed more than half of the U.S. population. That interview was so chock full of stupid it boggles the mind. I won’t even go there.

But I’m glad he’s at least temporarily changed his mind about closing the company and retiring to a Caribbean beach. He’s such an easy target it sometimes seems almost vaguely immoral to take advantage of all the opportunities he provides for making fun of him. :D

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NEW JERSEY:

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP: One more time for a VO Financial blurb (wow, three weeks in a row!). I’ll keep it short.

VO Financial recently issued a press release talking about how Wyndham Vacation Resorts is viciously attacking them, trying to shut their business down. I won’t go into the details of that because it isn’t relevant to this commentary.

Here’s what struck me about that little tirade of a press release. It mentioned repeatedly that VO Financial has canceled over ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS in timeshare debt for consumers who were lied to and deceived by their timeshare developer at the time of purchase. It also mentioned that VO Financial has been in business for two years.

Well, the one hundred million dollars figure is unverifiable without seeing the company’s financial papers and they go into no details about what exactly that figure represents, so that must be taken with a grain of salt.

But more than that, their claim (repeated in many other press releases as well as on other venues) that VO Financial has been in business for two years is a falsehood.

Adam and Ashley Lacerda formed a company called VO Group (aka Vacation Ownership Group) in 2010 and ran it until shortly before the Lacerdas were indicted for various types of fraud in April 2012 (their trial is scheduled for this month). At that time they “reorganized” under a new company called VO Financial Corp. and let VO Group die a natural death. However, in their public profile for VO Financial they kind of backdated its creation date so it looks like this new company has been in business for 2 years.

In a sense that is true, since the two companies are essentially the same. They simply moved the original one to a newly formed company and soldiered on. But it really is a major deception on their part, IMO. VO Financial Corp., as a company, has only been in business for approximately 8 months.

And if they are not being truthful about that, then how can they be relied on for truthfulness about anything else?

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NORTH CAROLINA:

ATLANTIC BEACH: A Place At The Beach III, an oceanfront timeshare resort managed by SPM Resorts, has been named Best Resort on the Crystal Coast by the readers of Coaster Magazine. Each year, readers of the magazine are asked to help identify the best of the best in the community. In the category for “Staying Power” identifying places of lodging, the resort category award went to A Place at the Beach III.

A Place at the Beach III has 279 units, some of which are wholly-owned units and others which are timeshare units. It offers one- and two-bedroom accommodations with resort amenities such as indoor and outdoor swimming pools, game room, tennis courts, playground, conference space and more.

KUDOS to A Place at the Beach III! cheerleader

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SOUTH CAROLINA:

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH: Rebecca/Rebekah Jean Morgan, a former Horry County resident and timeshare sales rep, was arrested recently on charges stemming from the tax years of 2007 through 2010, according to S.C. Department of Revenue authorities. She was taken into custody at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center and charged with four counts of tax evasion of a tax or property assessment or payment, according to jail records. Morgan was released on $4,000 bail.

She was apparently working on a 1099 basis (independent contractor) and filed withholding allowance certificates with her employer claiming to be exempt. But South Carolina says she never paid those taxes on her own.

According to a release from the Department of Revenue, Morgan failed to file state income tax returns from 2007 to 2010, even though her gross income exceeded that of the minimum filing requirements. Her state tax liability totals $19,924.

If convicted of the charges, she could face up to 20 years and/or $40,000 in fines and other charges.

Morgan is currently residing in Louisiana, where she is selling timeshare.

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“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

CALIFORNIA:

CARMEL: Hyatt Carmel Highlands, a highly regarded timeshare resort in a very special location overlooking California’s famous Big Sur, lets no grass grow under its feet in its efforts to add new and exciting programs for its guests. Recently the resort announced its new culinary experiences for 2013 in its Pacific’s Edge Restaurant. The four programs introduced for its Forks. Corks. Action! 2013 include: Experience the Wine Maker Series; Meet the Farmer Lunch Series, Shake, Rattle and Roll; and Hello Sunshine Thursday’s.

You can get all the details at Hyatt Carmel Highlands Announces Its 2013 Culinary Programs, and if you can possibly arrange to participate in any of these programs you shouldn’t delay!

A AAA Four Diamond award winner, Pacific’s Edge was named one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the U.S. by Zagat and one of the Top Ten Restaurants with a View by USA Today. Like I said, this is a highly regarded resort!

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Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be much going on in timeshare land west. Nothing juicy, anyway. Sorry ’bout 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

CARIBBEAN:


DOMINICAN REPUBLIC:
Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club is getting BIGGER. They have unveiled a new structure, called “The Tower,” that stands four stories tall and features many new services and attractions for LHVC members.

On the ground floor, The Tower has opened its newest gourmet restaurant, Azul, offering a white tablecloth experience and a specialization in fresh seafood.

On the roof terrace Anja’s Lounge can be found, Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club’s tropical-themed cocktail lounge with a relaxed and casual atmosphere. It also doubles as an observation deck, offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the mountain ranges that surround the resort. Oh yeah, and there’s a helicopter pad up there, too.

In between you will find Member Services and the Sales Department.

I’ll say one thing for LHVC, they think BIG!

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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! Today’s tip:

Security:

REMEMBER: Too often during the sales presentation the topic of security is overlooked, but the fact of the matter is security is not only an important aspect for the sales guests’ consideration it is also a great selling tool as well.

Most resorts these days, worldwide, have a host of security systems including keyless doors, smoke and fire detectors, double and triple door locks inside the suites, video and grounds surveillance and/or video equipment, night-time and/or 24-hour security guards/patrol, 24-hour front desk personnel, etc.

Pointing out those features while on tour is very important, but keep in mind that during the presentation the prospect is hearing about travel adventures abroad and they should know that when they exchange to other destinations they and their families will experience the same sense of safety as well.

It is also very important to let each sales guest know that along with that peace of mind, TS resorts worldwide these days mostly have access to an ‘on-call’ relationship with a local doctor or medical facilities so that, God Forbid, if an emergency arises they’ll be in good hands.

Safety and security is important to all sales guests regardless of their age. By letting each sales prospect know that as a TS owner they are ‘covered’ while on their family vacations the savvy Pro will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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