Is there any truth to the rumor– that Bluegreen has been terminated as the management entity at the Pono Kai Resort on Kauai, HI? Word on the street is that when their contract came to an end the HOA Board decided not to renew, instead choosing a different management company to take over.

Word on the street has not yet indicated who the new company is, though, or specifically why that decision was made. Does anyone know?

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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

Scoop learned from a comment in last week’s Western USA Timeshare News that the 2013 Ragatz Resort Real Estate & Fractional Conference that was to be held March 18-19 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina has been cancelled, due to a “lack of sponsors”. It blew Scoop’s mind. I mean, we’re talking about “The longest running, most recognized and informative global gathering in the resort real estate and fractional interest industry” here. Dr. Richard Ragatz, the main man! How could it be???

So what’s the Scoop? To find out, read this week’s Timeshare Scoop du Jour: 2013 Ragatz Conference Canceled!

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. has reported its third quarter 2012 financial results. Of particular interest to us:

  • Earnings from Starwood’s vacation ownership and residential business increased approximately $19 million compared to 2011, including $12 million of earnings from the St. Regis Bal Harbour residential project.
  • Total vacation ownership revenues increased 2.2% to $141 million in the third quarter of 2012 when compared to 2011, primarily due to the increased revenues from resort operations.
  • Originated contract sales of vacation ownership intervals and numbers of contracts signed decreased 1.2% and 3.8%, respectively, primarily due to lower tour flow partially offset by a slight increase in the average price of vacation ownership units sold.
  • The average price per vacation ownership unit sold increased 1.8% to approximately $14,300, driven by inventory mix.
  • Earnings from the Company’s vacation ownership and residential business are down approximately $5 million year over year.
  • On October 24, 2012, the Company completed a securitization involving the issuance of $165.7 million of fixed rate notes. Starwood is contributing approximately $174.4 million in timeshare mortgages resulting in an advance rate of 95% with an effective note yield of 2.02%. The proceeds from the transaction will be used for general corporate purposes and the pay down of the securitized vacation ownership debt related to its 2005 securitization.
  • Outlook for the full year 2012: Earnings from the Company’s vacation ownership and residential business of approximately $158 million.

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Wyndham Worldwide Corporation has also announced results for the three months ended September 30, 2012. Third quarter revenues were $1.3 billion, an increase of 4% from the prior year period. The increase reflected growth in the Lodging and Vacation Ownership businesses, partially offset by unfavorable currency effects in the Vacation Exchange and Rentals business.

Highlights for Wyndham Vacation Ownership:

  • Revenues were $608 million in the third quarter of 2012, a 9% increase over the third quarter of 2011, primarily reflecting increased vacation ownership interest (VOI) sales.
  • Gross VOI sales were $502 million in the third quarter of 2012, up 10% from the third quarter of 2011, primarily reflecting a 5% increase in both volume per guest and tour flow.
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the third quarter of 2012 was $155 million, a 4% increase compared with the third quarter of 2011. The increase primarily reflects the revenue increases, partially offset by higher sales and marketing expenses related to the increase in VOI sales and higher intersegment licensing fees for use of the Wyndham brand trade name.

BALANCE SHEET INFORMATION AS OF SEPTEMBER 30, 2012:

  • Vacation ownership contract receivables, net, of $2.9 billion, compared with $2.8 billion at December 31, 2011
  • Vacation ownership and other inventory of approximately $1.1 billion, unchanged from December 31, 2011
  • Securitized vacation ownership debt of $1.9 billion, unchanged from December 31, 2011

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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

Sometimes politics is all just so ridiculous, right? And sometimes that can best be pointed out by comedians, as The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart is famous for doing. So take a trip with me now to Bulls@%t Mountain: Obama – The Phantom Menace.

TRICK OR TREAT! (Smell my feet, give me something good to eat! If you don’t, I don’t care. I’ll pull down your underwear!) :P


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: Westgate Resorts is getting BIGGER in spite of David Siegel’s recent whines about losing interest in continuing on with his business if his personal taxes are raised.

The company is planning to add 300 units to its Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa in the next 12 months, spending $6 million on the expansion and creating lots of construction jobs in the process.

The 130-acre resort currently offers accommodations ranging from studios to 4-bedroom villas, ranging in size from 375 sq. ft. to 4,050 sq. ft. There are 7 heated pools, 7 children’s wading pools and 7 hot tubs and even an 18-hole miniature golf course. This is a pet friendly property, by the way.

ALSO IN ORLANDO: IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) is bragging that by the end of the year its Holiday Inn Club Vacations will have more than doubled its portfolio since its inception in 2008. Holiday Inn Club Vacations recently revealed its newest properties — Holiday Inn Club Vacations Panama City Beach Resort, a 37-unit beachfront resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., and Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Beach Resort, a 78-villa beachfront property in Galveston, Texas opening this December. With the addition of these properties, the brand now boasts ten locations.

This is a strategic partnership between IHG and Orange Lake Resorts, as you should know by now, in which Orange Lake does the heavy lifting. ;)

The high points of this alliance?

  • The Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort portfolio has expanded from four destinations to nine, with a tenth resort joining the brand in late 2012. This is a total of 3,788 rooms.
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations resorts see an average of 850,000 guests per year
    The brand has opened three additional sales centers and has increased timeshare sales by 35.7%.
  • The brand provides vacation ownership preview tours to 170,000 guests per year Membership in the Holiday Inn Club timeshare ownership program has risen from 51,568 in 2010 to nearly 80,000 in 2012.

Way to go!

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NEW JERSEY:

CAMDEN: The trial of Adam and Ashley LaCerda on charges of wire fraud and mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering is a little less than a month away, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. The trial is set for November 26, 2012 in Camden federal court.

One of the mail fraud charges involves the Lacerdas and a former employee allegedly obtaining jobless benefits while working for VO Group, according to the indictment. Kind of weird with a beard, don’t you think?

The LaCerdas were charged in April, 2012 for their alleged roles in a $2.6 million scheme to defraud more than 200 timeshare owners through a former company they owned and operated called Vacation Ownership Group, or VO Group LLC.

Shortly before they were indicted they formed a new company called VO Financial Corp. and restructured their business under that new name. The house attorney for the firm, Josh Gayle, has said the company continues to operate because charges were filed against its operators and not the business.

Of course the LaCerdas are vigorously defending themselves against the charges. I guess we’ll see soon enough if they are successful.

I idly wonder what will happen to VO Financial if the owners of the company are found guilty and sentenced to prison? Will it just continue with business as usual?

You can refresh your memory about this story here and here and here, if you’re interested.

If you want to read the indictment for yourself to see precisely what the government’s allegations against the Lacerdas (et al) are, go to United States of America v. Adam Lacerda et al Better bring some popcorn and a soda; it’s a long complaint.

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PENNSYLVANIA:

WILKES-BARRE: It being a slow news week, I was browsing around in the Boycott Sundance Vacations Facebook page (which now has some 860 members) to check out the action there and I found this:

I’m wondering if anybody in this group can help me. I just got an email that Google received a subpoena for information in my Google account regarding a case “Sundance Vacations, Inc v. Albert Whitehead, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, 112CV233932 (Internal Ref. No. 271483)”

Well there’s nothing like a lawsuit to pique my interest, so I did some investigating, ultimately ending up in a Pennsylvania court with another case: Sundance v. Whitehead, Luzerne County 8006 of 2012.

In a nutshell, according to the complaint in that case (which is connected to the subpoena referenced in the California case) Sundance is alleging that Whitehead created the Boycott page in violation of a previous settlement agreement in a civil suit filed by Whitehead against Sundance Vacations in 2005. Sundance is demanding that the Boycott page be removed as part of that private civil law suit. Well for what it’s worth, I have it from a reliable source that the individual being sued did not  create the “Boycott Sundance Vacations” Facebook page so Sundance may have to try elsewhere.

But what will Sundance try next, should this effort fail? Word is they have made several attempts to get Facebook to delete the Boycott page but Facebook refused on the grounds that they found nothing slanderous or libelous on the page, nor did it violate Facebook’s Terms of Service.

What really got me going in the comment I quoted above though was the subpoena of Google’s records part. “What?” I thought, “Is Sundance now sinking to that level to intimidate people who dare to criticize them online?”

I guess it’s not really that new, though. For instance there is hard evidence available that Sundance has made customer refunds contingent on the customer’s promise to retract and remove any previously publicized comments, under the threat that their contract will remain in full force and effect if they don’t agree. A “gag” order/agreement, if you will. (Or something akin to a bribe?)

As far back as 2006 you can read an inveigh about it on Scam.com (comment #17).

Then there’s DeVonna Joy, lawyer, practitioner with and owner of the Consumer Justice Law Center in Wisconsin, who has civil cases pending against Sundance and is publicly critiquing the company on the Boycott page. Says she: “Just say ‘no’ to the gag order. It is meant to sweep Sundance’s behavior under the carpet. People should not lose their First Amendment rights simply because they have a dispute with a company. As I have told Sundance, if my clients take Sundance to trial, nothing will be confidential; trials are public.”

Freedom of Speech. Ah, there we are! That’s the real issue here, isn’t it?

Heaven knows the Intertoobz are chock full of complaints against Sundance Vacations and its various incarnations/partners/affiliates/subsidiaries, and there have been quite a few exposes about them in newspapers and on TV stations, too, over the years.

It seems to me that such bad publicity over such a long period of time could have been avoided simply by paying attention to the complaints, resolving them to the customers’ satisfaction and then taking steps to avoid generating the same kinds of complaints in future dealings. In all fairness, Sundance’s website does contain this reassurance: “Company policy warrants that all possible actions be taken to correct or rectify a client’s unsatisfactory company experience. Sundance Vacations is committed to the highest standards of marketplace ethics and business conduct.”

It just doesn’t appear that their customers agree about the sincerity of those efforts, and when they complain Sundance seems to be trying to silence them. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that those folks won’t be silenced easily.

Which leads me to this: Word on the street is that a class action suit against Sundance is being considered on several fronts both state and Federal. Stay tuned…

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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

HAWAII:

MAUI: Here’s a sign of the times. The “financially troubled” (that’s putting it mildly) Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences at Kapalua Bay will be hitting the auction block on Dec. 3. Fifty-six residential condominiums along with 567 fractional-ownership interests in 62 timeshare units will be up for sale. Also included will be the leasehold interest in The Shops at Kapalua.

But if you’re thinking of snagging something at a firesale price, forget about it; the assets are all being sold in one piece.

The problem? Well, the property is underwater with more than $304 million in principal and interest owed and an appraised value (for tax purposes) of only $208.4 million.

The project developer was Kapalua Bay LLC, a joint venture among affiliates of Maui Land & Pineapple Co., Exclusive Resorts and Marriott International and it opened in mid-2009. Oops. Bad timing there.

Only a few of the residences and fractionals were sold; the auction will sell off the unsold units and fractional interests.

Lenders foreclosed on the project in June, with the lead creditor being German bank Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg. And recently Ritz-Carlton withdrew from managing the property “as a result of insufficient funding of ongoing operating costs”.

Meanwhile, according to a recent filing with the SEC, Maui Land & Pineapple said that although the company had previously agreed to purchase the project’s spa, beach club and sundry store from Kapalua Bay at actual construction costs of about $35 million, it does not have sufficient liquidity to do so. ML&P also said it has written down to zero the “carrying value” of its investment in the project, saying that debts for the project, combined with the company’s mounting pension liabilities, “raise substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern.” That sounds ominous.

So who will buy? A bank or banks? Some third party with vision and deep pockets? Stay tuned…

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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

WISCONSIN:

MILWAUKEE: The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for a company called Luxury Event Leaders, which has allegedly been scamming timeshare owners out of at least thousands of dollars via a phony resale scheme.

The company came to the BBB’s attention when they began getting inquiries in March, 2012, and they opened a file on the company at that time. More calls began to flood in from all over the country and Canada, and to date have received more than 300 inquiries, averaging about three calls per day. The BBB says most calls are from consumers who began to believe, but stopped short of falling for it, when the company requested several thousand dollars be wire transferred for things such as “taxes” or “late fees.” But at least one elderly woman was taken for a whopping $80,000 by the company.

A BBB investigator drove to the company’s listed southwest-side Milwaukee location only to find that a different, unrelated business occupies the suite that Luxury Event Leaders claims as its address. Both that business owner and the former building owner have confirmed that they also received calls from consumers looking for Luxury Event Leaders.

Further investigation discovered the company is not located in any directories nor is it registered with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, though it claims, on its website, to be in business since 2003. The BBB has attempted to have the website taken down, but because the domain registrar is foreign they have not yet received any response to their request.

The domain was registered Oct. 29, 2011 and expires Oct. 29, 2012; the registrar and servers are in Mexico; the registrant (the person who owns the name) is one Peter Root with a Chicago, IL address (a single family home built in 1910).

Bottom line: Luxury Event Leaders is a big fat fraud. Under no circumstances should you send them as much as one thin dime for anything!

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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

PORTUGAL:


MADEIRA:
It’s 40 years since leading the Pestana Group opened its very first property in Madeira, in 1972. Today, Pestana is Portugal’s largest leisure and tourism group. Pestana Hotels & Resorts and Pousadas de Portugal has a total of 86 properties amounting to 9452 rooms, and the group has opened four new hotels this year, including two brand new properties – one in Miami, the other in Morocco – this month.

The latest hotels to open this year include:

  • Opened April 2012 – Pousada de Cascais, Portugal
  • Opened September 2012 – Pestana Bogota 100, Columbia
  • Opening October 2012 – Pestana South Beach Art Deco Hotel in Miami
  • Opening October 2012 – Pestana Casablanca in Morocco

You’ve come a long way, Pestana!

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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

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:

The Open Door:

REMEMBER: In the world of professional selling, which is rapidly becoming a lost ‘art’, the timeshare sales center is one of the last bastions remaining where some of the most basic and fundamental sales principles are still adhered to and every rep out there can thank their developers and management for that haven!

Yet, too often in the busy day to day activities of ‘running’ as many prospects through as fast as possible, one of the biggest mistakes made is the failure, beginning with the initial handshake, to “ABC” (Always be closing).

And ‘closing’ is not just the process of going for the money, as is often incorrectly taught in our business, but starts with and should be cultivated, in depth, during the ‘discovery’ process.

This is so crucial that any lack of attention to this critical selling step will nearly guarantee failure more often than not.

Real ‘discovery’ (that is, to “ABC”) is the door to establishing rapport with each sales guest, to become conversational, to get everyone relaxed (and yes, that, too, is ‘selling’ smart) and then learn about and listen to the prospect prior to ever starting the ‘pitch’ (aka: formal sales presentation).

In fact, the more ‘discovery’ and the more a TS rep follows the “ABC” rule, then when it comes to the actual ‘close’, from the sales guest’s way of thinking, there will only be one thing to decide, which is the financial commitment. By sticking with this process the savvy TS Pro will be laughing all the way to the bank!

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Copyright InsideTheGate.com All rights reserved

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “From ghoulies and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!” – an old Scottish prayer




Will wonders never cease!

While David Siegel, the Koch brothers (who own Georgia Pacific and vast oil and gas interests), Mike White (CEO of Rite-Hite industries), Arthur Allen (CEO of ASG Software Solutions) and other corporate heads have been writing intimidating letters “encouraging” their employees to vote for a specific candidate (which Mitt Romney enouraged them to do last June during a campaign conference call) so the big wigs’ personal tax rate won’t go up, at least 80 CEOs of major corporations have asked to be taxed more.

No, seriously, I’m not kidding.

In an open letter to the Wall Street Journal (behind the pay wall) they took issue with the notion that simply slashing government spending is a realistic or desirable deficit reduction plan.

The Journal explained it this way:

“Chief executives of more than 80 big-name U.S. corporations, from Aetna Inc. to Weyerhaeuser Co., are banding together to pressure Congress to reduce the federal deficit with tax-revenue increases as well as spending cuts.”

Though they didn’t expressly call for tax hikes as such, the CEOs did endorse the principle of a broader tax base that generates higher revenue. They said that a fiscal plan “that can succeed both financially and politically” must include cost controls on health care and tax reform that “raises revenues.” Even guys like Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and GE’s Jeff Immelt, have said in recent months they were willing to pay the price of more taxation to solve the problem.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told the Journal, “You can’t tax your way to fix this problem, and you can’t cut entitlements enough to fix this problem.”

They specifically referenced the Simpson-Bowles framework. And they totally left out things like capital gains taxes.

And they ended with this:

“The plan should be conducive to long-term economic growth, protect the vulnerable, include credible enforcement mechanisms to ensure that debt reduction is achieved and leave the next generation better.”

They weren’t quite brave or tough enough to advocate higher taxes on the extremely wealthy and their endorsement of eliminating loopholes (and selectively reintroducing them) may be weak, but perhaps they understand that if their potential customers can’t afford to buy their products, if the country plunges back into recession because Congress refuses to do its job, well, I don’t need to take that further, do I?

But it’s an encouraging start!

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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

Scoop recently read a report in which the author asserted that when we all pass on to those great ‘Endless Vacations’, and after a respectable grieving phase has passed, our heirs turn into “money hungry” beneficiaries & begin to unload just about everything we left them as fast as humanly possible— including our homes, boats, RV’s and yes, those damn timeshare plans too!

So what’s the Scoop? Read this week’s Timeshare Scoop du Jour: I Want It to Go Away!

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RCI sure knows how to spin to win. It’s all in the language, you know. Like, how do you turn a negative into a positive? Check out this notice they sent to affiliated resorts regarding exchange fees for Weeks members (emphasis mine):

To allow us to continue to contribute to your ongoing success by providing the best products and services possible to your owners, there will be a change to some of the fees associated with the RCI® Weeks exchange program. Effective November 1, 2012, exchange fees for booking on RCI.com will increase from $189 USD to $199 USD. Call center exchange fees will increase to $209 USD. All other transaction fees will remain unchanged.

I don’t think I need to translate that for you, do I?

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Marriott Vacations Worldwide has reported its third quarter financial results and here are the highlights:

— Adjusted EBITDA, as adjusted for organizational and separation related
costs in connection with the company’s spin-off from Marriott
International, Inc. (the “Spin-Off”), totaled $33 million, a $17 million
increase from the third quarter of 2011, on an adjusted pro forma basis.
— North America segment contract sales increased 13 percent to $143
million; volume per guest (VPG) increased 19 percent year-over-year to
$3,051.
— Adjusted development margin increased to 20.9 percent in the third
quarter of 2012 from 9.0 percent in the third quarter of 2011; North
America adjusted development margin increased to 23.8 percent from 9.3
percent in the third quarter of 2011.
— Adjusted fully diluted earnings per share (EPS) in the third quarter
were $0.23.
— Organizational and separation plan related to the Spin-Off is expected
to drive $15 million to $20 million of annualized savings by 2014.
— The company is raising full-year guidance for Adjusted EBITDA as
adjusted to $130 million to $140 million and Adjusted EPS to $1.17 to
$1.31.

For all the details, read more 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

It’s Miles Davis this week, the second most important trumpet player who ever lived (after Louis Armstrong), and certainly one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time.

Miles Davis died in 1991, but thankfully his music remains. Here he is in 1964 performing the classic “Autumn Leaves”.

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:

DELRAY BEACH: 30-year-old Josphine Walker was apparently hiding from an arrest warrant for quite some time, but she didn’t hide well enough.

Josphine WalkerWanted for allegedly defrauding 72 people in 31 states out of more than $60,000 in a timeshare restitution scam anchored in Delray Beach, the Boynton Beach woman was finally caught in Tampa when she was pulled over by police on October 14. The charges? Grand theft and money laundering.

The company she was running was called Restitution Advocacy Bureau LCC, and it came to light during an investigation of two other companies — Delta Corp. and G. William Clarke, P.A. — which were running a fraud in which telemarketers claiming to be working with the Attorney General’s Office asked for fees ranging from $400 to $4,000, saying they were for court and filing costs. Victims were promised repayment with funds from a non-existent “state restitution fund.” The owner of those companies, Gerald William Clarke, was arrested in March.

That investigation began in August 2011, and when authorities gathered enough evidence to warrant searching the companies’ headquarters in February 2012 they found several telemarketers who said they worked for Restitution Advocacy Bureau LCC.

Game on. Walker’s arrest was the final result of that new investigation.

Walker’s name also shows up in various online complaint venues. Take a gander at this 2009 thread about Innovative International Resorts on ComplaintsBoard.com, for instance. See if you can pick out the IIR shills. rolling eyes


ORLANDO: Here’s another one just like the other one. Maybe I should make a new category just for timeshare resale fraud?

Do the names Resort Sales Group, Vacation Realty International and Vacation Direct USA mean anything to you? Six men associated with those companies have been arrested in Orlando on federal charges of charges of conspiracy to commit mail, wire and bank fraud. They were allegedly involved in a telemarketing timeshare resale fraud scheme operating offices in Orlando, Altamonte Springs and Lake Mary where they (you guessed it) got people to send them money by promising buyers (who didn’t exist) for their timeshares.

Their names:

  • Rani Khoury, 37
  • Amanda Rizkallah, 30
  • Bradley Gomez, 33
  • Kevin Frater, 32
  • Fabian Fleifel, 42
  • Kari Cash, 43

Those six and four others allegedly involved in the scam were indicted by a federal grand jury in Texas following a 19-month investigation by Orlando police and the U.S. Postal Office. If convicted they could be facing loooong terms in the slammer.

If they are guilty they deserve a looong stretch in the slammer.


ALSO IN ORLANDO: In an interview with Business Week David Siegel kind of doubled down on his recent email to his employees, wherein he “encouraged” them to vote for Mitt Romney for President if they valued their jobs.

Here is a quote from that interview:

I’m sure there’s quite a few employees who might take offense. But I’ve always looked out for their best interests. We’re like a family. They’re like my children, and I’m the Jewish mother telling them to eat their spinach and vote for Romney.

Siegel has often described himself as a “dictator” and for years has been referred to (not usually kindly) as “King David” by many in the timeshare industry. And he even has a golden “throne” chair in his house, so his attitude toward his hardworking serfs peasants children employees should come as no surprise to us. Even so, it’s oh so very offensive on so many levels that it practically left me speechless, but I’d bet that Siegel would be oblivious to, even puzzled by, such a reaction.

I’ll just say this one thing and then shut up.

PATERNALISM – Noun:
1. paternalism, attitude, mental attitude
usage: the attitude (of a person or a government) that subordinates should be controlled in a fatherly way for their own good

Is David Siegel aware that his company is not a fiefdom and he is not a feudal lord?

censored

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SOUTH CAROLINA:

MYRTLE BEACH: David S. Mitchell, a timeshare salesman, has been charged with 3 counts of state income tax evasion for failing to file income tax returns and pay taxes due from 2007 to 2009.

Mitchell filed W4 withholding allowance certificates with his employer claiming to be exempt from withholding tax.

According to the South Carolina Department of Revenue, Mitchell evaded the assessment of state taxes on his gross income of $488,325; he therefore has an outstanding tax liability of $28,404 due to the state.

Mitchell, 46, could face penalties of up to $30,000 in fines and/or up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges.

Is that the same David Mitchell who has been working as a podium manager at Starwood VO in Myrtle Beach?

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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

ARIZONA:

SCOTTSDALE: The Star Resort Group, headed up by Carl Berry, shows a couple of intriguing “current developments” on its website, though details are short. One is a project called “Square 97″ in New Orleans and the other is “Seahorse” on the Gulf Coast of Texas.

We can get some idea of what those might be from Berry’s blog, in his entry for July 2012. In that post he mentions having made multiple trips to New Orleans to “assist in the packaging of a number of French Quarter properties.” Square 97? If all goes well this would be a major mixed-use project comprised of a hotel, hotel condos, regular condos, fractional and timeshare condos along with plenty of retail and parking lots. That would certainly be a major deal in the French Quarter!

The Seahorse development may be the one he mentioned that is located south of Galveston. According to his post this project would include building sites on both the ocean and the bay. He says the plan is to build four bed/bath homes sold on both a whole and fractional basis and he mentions there’s terrific rental income in the area, so that should help the larger fractions that are sold.

I’m hoping that both of these projects have progressed well since that post he made in July and that both come to fruition. To quote Berry:

Our business continues to be dogged by lagging consumer confidence, as you
are aware, and a very sluggish economy. So, any starts Star has will be gradual in the hopes that 2013 and 2014 will see us come out of the current malaise.

I second those hopes. From your mouth to God’s ear, Carl.

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NEVADA:

LAS VEGAS: Did you notice? Diamond Resorts International has been busy adding resorts to its European portfolio. Counting both an outright purchase and a new partnership, you’re looking at 5 new owned resorts, 7,400 new members and 17 affiliated resorts/hotels.

See this week’s Getting BIGGER for details.

ALSO IN LAS VEGAS:
If you’ll be visiting Las Vegas soon and staying at a hotel/motel, watch out for a flyer slipped under your door that says at the very top: Attention: This is NOT a timeshare promotion in any way.” It then promises prizes if you’ll just attend “one of our fun and exciting 60 pr 90 minute travel seminars…”

But hold on there, it doesn’t lie when it says it’s not a timeshare promotion. Instead, it’s a promotion for travel club software.

Yup. A company called Elite Marketing is promoting a deal where you will be to purchase a license from Prestige Software that will let you be your own travel agent and/or to book (timeshare) vacations all over the world at really cheap prices. An Elite Marketing driver will pick you up at your hotel between the hours of 9:45 am and 2:45 pm, drive you to a building on Paradise Rd (which is in a rough area of town, where there have been several recent shootings), and then take you back to your hotel following the presentation.

Alternately, you can follow them to the building in your own car, which they seem to prefer; probably because they don’t want to have to drive you back if you don’t buy.

Prestige Software does not have a good reputation, related as it is to other companies selling the same product. According to the Las Vegas BBB, Prestige Software is an aka for the infamous Worldwide Resort Club (WRCI— http://worldwiderci.com) (with an address on Howard Hughes Pkwy) which has an “F” rating. And they were also, once upon a time, called VIP Software.

Google or Bing Worldwide Resort Club and you’ll get a real eyefull.

The names associated with Prestige Software, Inc.’s corporate filing are SHEHNAAZ PIRBHAI (President); MANAF VIRJI (Secretary); and CRISTINE (M) ARPON (Treasurer).

Note that Cristine Arpon also has “Vacation Priority Rewards, Inc.” registered in Las Vegas, which is an aka for, guess what?— VIP Software, Inc. It also has an “F” rating from the BBB.

Before you hele on down to the presentation you might also want to see:
http://www.bizapedia.com/nv/SM-VOYAGE-LLC.html (S&M Voyage, LLC – Default)

And http://www.bizapedia.com/nv/WORLDWIDE-RESORT-CLUB-LLC.html (Worldwide Resort Club, LLC – Default)

Caveat emptor, my friends. Caveat emptor!

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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

CANADA:


NEWFOUNDLAND:
Newfoundland is getting its first ever fractional ownership resort, a 4-star development called Marble Inn Resort. Located in Steady Brook in Western Newfoundland between the Humber River and Marble Mountain, phase one of 38 new luxury Condominiums has been completed and expansion of the existing Inn is now underway. This phase of 14 luxury suites, expansion of Madison’s Restaurant, the addition of a new cafe and enhancement of pool and spa facilities is scheduled for completion by December, 2012.

Construction is well under way and sales for the resort suites opened on October 15. They expect Marble Inn to improve visitation to the entire region by accessing thousands of resort condo owners from around the world through their partnership with the Intrawest Resort 2 Resort exchange program.

If you’re lucky enough to be a resident of Newfoundland or Labrador, you are eligible to receive a 45% rebate under the Resort Property Investment Tax Credit program. As an example, this brings the final purchase price of a $70,000 suite down to $38,500. Individuals can receive a rebate cheque of up to $150,000. Prices will start in the mid sixty thousands.

Joe Dicks is the CEO of Marble Inn Resort, and I wish him luck!

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INDIA:


MUMBAI:
Sterling Holidays Resorts (India) is aiming to increase its non-member business, with an eye toward introducing Sterling to the market and also generate member business for the future. The member and non member business is currently at a ratio of 70:30.

Timeshare sales have been increasing at a good rate for Sterling. With a current membership of 75,000, the company’s third quarter financial report recorded income from timeshare plans increasing by 250% from Rs 45 million in the previous year to Rs 158 million. The quarterly total operating income of the company was reported as Rs 317 million, as compared to Rs 185 million for the same period of the previous fiscal year, representing a 71%. The company declared an EBITDA of Rs 10.80 million. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

The company is also looking forward to opening resorts in Daman, Dharamshala and Sariska— three new locations –– in the coming two to three months.

Getting BIGGER!

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THE U.K.:


NOTTINGHAMSHIRE:
Sandy Grey has a new report available for download that might be of interest not just to those connected with European timeshare but to the rest of us, too. It’s called The Rise & Fall of Timeshare in Europe, and it’s a pretty pessimistic assessment.

He says, “The report identifies why the industry failed to achieve its full potential and points a finger at those responsible for this failure.”

On the landing page he gives a brief history timeline which ends with this paragraph:

The future looks bleak. An industry which launched nearly 50 years ago with high expectations is now a shadow of what it was or could have been. What will remain will be very different from the past. A smaller industry; higher quality; sensibly priced accommodation but with a limited life obligation. And far fewer rogues.

You may remember Sandy Grey as the man behind the Crimeshare.com website, and he also runs the Timeshare Consumers Association (TCA). His reputation is not squeaky clean, but he’s certainly always been consistent and it may be a plus on his side that he’s pretty much universally despised by timeshare developers. Of course, Mr. Grey pretty much despises them back so that’s kind of a wash.

So read the report with an open mind. His general analysis seems sound, though he may be somewhat off base in some areas (RDO took issue with it here). Use your own judgment.

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If you want it printed, you have to tell us about it! 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