MINNESOTA:

EDEN PRAIRIE: Remember The Lusso Collection, a destination club that offered unlimited access to more than two dozen multimillion-dollar homes around the world, promising members a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”-like experience?

Remember that they filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in late 2008, which rather quickly turned into a full blown Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy?

As it turns out, the business plan for the heavily promoted Lusso pretty much sucked from the beginning, and its finances were such a mess that it’s taken more than three years for attorneys and a U.S. bankruptcy trustee to sort through it. And CEO/founder Stephen Greer’s attempt to blame a failing economy, shaky consumer confidence and tougher lending standards for its financial woes turned out to be disengenuous at best, though those things certainly played a part in the company’s collapse.

Apparently Lusso was undercapitalized and, for all practical purposes, insolvent almost from the beginning— but no one outside of the company’s founders knew that

They know it now.

Recently, the bankruptcy trustee filed an interim final report that’s gotta incense investors, who ponied up an estimated $10 million to buy partnership units in Lusso’s parent company, VREP, as well as the 150+/- members who collectively paid in the vicinity of $40 million to join the club.

It kind of gives the phrase “join the club” a whole different perspective, doesn’t it?

Court documents show that Lusso lost $26 million during its 2006 and 2007, its first two years of operation, with sales lagging projections from the start even though Lusso waived annual dues for up to 10 years for the first 30 members. The club’s only source of ongoing revenue was deposits from new members, and that was not working out very well.

Lusso estimated that it needed between 200-400 members to break even, but according to records it had only 156 members at the end of 2008, 110 short of projections.

As it turns out, the liquidation process is not going smoothly, in part because Lusso only owned five of the 26 properties it was pitching to members. The rest were merely leased. That means, of course, that with more than $53 million claimed by creditors there are probably not enough assets to sell to come anywhere near that figure.

Not a happy scenario.




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MEXICO:

PUERTO VALLARTA: Club Meliá’s resort in Puerto Vallarta has received the prestigious RCI Gold Crown Resort® Award for its ninth consecutive year! Way to go!

I guess that deserves a KUDOS! cheerleader

SINGAPORE:

SINGAPORE: Concord Developments has been naughty. Naughty enought that following an investigation by The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), a district court has filed an injunction against the company that prevents it from carrying out various practices deemed unfair under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. These practices include making false claims and/or representations on the subscription agreement (SA) between consumers and Kinson Real Estate PLC such as:

  • Claims that could mislead consumers into thinking that if they enter into the SA, they would be entitled to the “Leisure Alliance” (LA) or “Our Vacation Club” (OVC) agreements with Boston Ventures for free.
  • Claims that could give the impression that LA or OVC agreements with Boston Ventures and the SA were part and parcel of a single agreement, and that payment for this single agreement would be used as a deposit towards the SA.
  • False claims and/or representations to existing timeshare owners which could mislead them into thinking that they would be released from all liabilities under their existing timeshare agreements.

The order applies until the trial, in which CASE intends to apply for a permanent injunction on similar terms.

According to CASE, they started legal action against Concord Developments in November 2011 for alleged unfair trading, saying that as of October 10, 2011, 44 consumers had filed complaints against the company.

CASE said the company had allegedly used undue pressure or influence on consumers, as well as misled consumers and that some consumers reported that they were invited to attend meetings at Concord Developments’ office to dispose of their timeshare memberships.

During the meetings, they were allegedly told that they could be sued for their liability on the timeshare membership or that the liability on the membership could be passed on to their children or grandchildren. The consumers signed agreements but later realised that these agreements do not dispose of their timeshare memberships conclusively.

CASE also said consumers complained that they signed subscription agreements thinking they were agreements for property purchase, or realised that the payments were made to another company instead of to Concord Developments.

CASE had invited Concord Developments to sign a voluntary compliance agreement but Concord declined to sign it. So now they’ve landed in Singapore’s courts.

CASE is on the case. (OK, sorry about that one…) :D

VIETNAM:

NHA TRANG: Ninh Van Bay Holiday Club (NVBHC), with a portfolio covering more than 70 resorts in Asia, recently collaborated with RCI to roll out a new points program and managing director Friedrich Zielinski is pretty stoked about its possibilities.

Among the issues that have faced NVBHC with a traditional weeks program is the different vacationing habits of Asians, compared to most of the Western world. For instance, in Asia people have less vacation time and in areas like Thailand or Vietnam holidays are generally held around national holidays such as Songkran or Tet and not around children’s school holidays as is often the case in Europe and the US.

In comparison to the West’s habits, many Asian resorts only have 8 weeks of high season. That means they are all full around the same time, which puts enormous pressure on hotels and resorts because while those weeks are sold out at other times resorts might be completely empty.

A points system that allows for shorter, more frequent getaways made perfect sense and helps keep resorts more balanced.

NVBHC is also offering a shorter membership package so people don’t have to commit for 20 or 30 years (or a lifetime) but can purchase just what they want. Memberships start at just US$5,000, which makes it very attractive. And of course NVBHC’s points can be converted to RCI points to take advantage of all the goodies RCI offers.

Vietnam is especially hot as a new timeshare destination right now, and Zielinski thinks Myanmar is poised to become a new hot spot. Stay tuned.




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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:

Think About It:

REMEMBER: When a prospect says something along the lines of “we never make a snap decision”, “we need to think about it”, time to “pray and seek the Lord’s guidance”, talk with their Attorney, their favorite Aunt (or whatever) the good news is they didn’t say ‘NO’!

What they are really saying (usually) is that they aren’t 100% sold (aka: convinced), and this is the time when the Pro should wholeheartedly agree with the prospect’s (first) buying decision instead of machine-gunning them with all (or more of) the benefits, features etc. (aka: talking past the close)

Seize that long awaited opportunity to hear their ‘objection’ and then respond by understanding their position: “I certainly understand why you need to speak with your Aunt Mary first, but I’m just curious, with the exception of talking with her is there any other reason why you wouldn’t become an owner today?”

Only one of two things will occur next: They’ll either confirm that it is the Aunt Mary (‘two-step’) or they’ll begin spewing out their real objections/conditions. Regardless of what they say, and it never matters, let them ‘box’ themselves so that you can then isolate any objection, qualify the objection, ‘close’ on being able to resolve that objection and laugh all the way to the bank!



Copyright InsideTheGate.com All rights reserved

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “There are people so addicted to exaggeration they can’t tell the truth without lying.” – Josh Billings



The official poverty line in the USA for a family of four, as of 2010, was $22,113.

The official Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (though in some States it is either higher or lower and there are many exceptions that don’t require a minimum wage). That means that a person working for minimum wage grosses $15,080 per year (for a 40-hr week, with no time off). Federal taxes are withheld from their paychecks (which will be refunded at the end of the tax year), and let’s not forget the payroll taxes and State and local taxes they have to pay. Many, perhaps most, minimum wage earners have to hold down two jobs, because lots of those jobs are capped at below 40-hours per week to avoid having to provide benefits, just to make ends meet.

If you look through Craig’s List at jobs in many categories you will find that across the board most of them are paying somewhere between $8 and $10 per hour— barely above minimum wage and hardly what could be called a “living” wage for most families. Yet millions of American wage earners are trying to make do on those earnings.

Over the last decades wages for the 99% in the USA have declined and/or remained flat while prices for almost everything we consume have continued to rise. Wages, both as a percentage of GDP and corporate profits, are the lowest they’ve been in 50 years, while the income of the 1% has soared exponentially.

And in new signs of distress among the middle class, median household incomes fell in 2010 to levels last seen in 1996. Economists point to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period, according to Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard.

Yet there are still timeshare companies out there in la-la land that think it makes sense to allow people who earn a gross annual income of $25,000— barely above the poverty line— to go on tour, receive a gift for doing so, and waste sales people’s time and talent trying to sell them something, anything, when they are clearly not qualified and will most likely kick anyway (or at least try to kick, and then hit all the online complaint forums with negative info about their experience).

Certainly those lower income folks need a vacation, but how exactly does marketing to that demographic make sense? I’ve got a minute; enlighten me.

HA! I’ll bet you thought I was going all political with this, didn’t ya!



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Be sure to read this week’s Eastern USA Timeshare News. Get your bevvy of choice, put your feet up and be prepared for some juicy stuff… :D

Industry veteran Keith W. Trowbridge’s Executive Quest has kicked off its 12th annual timeshare, vacation ownership/fractional industry salary survey, which encompasses a cross section of professional categories and is valuable for such purposes as budgeting, hiring, promoting and training objectives.

The survey data has historically been derived from the 20,000+ timeshare/vacation ownership/fractional industry professionals from around the world subscribed to Executive Quest’s free monthly online newsletter.

This year Executive Quest is looking for an ever greater industry participation in the survey. All survey participants receive a free copy of their segment of the Salary Study, a $129 value. Participation is open to all timeshare, vacation ownership/fractional professionals and not necessarily just those receiving the company’s newsletter. All information is held in strictest confidence. No names or companies are published with the study results, which should be out mid summer 2012 and available for purchase to non-participants on Executive Quest’s website at http://www.execq.com/salarystudy.htm

Just do it.

On May 16-18, Canadian Resort Development Association (CRDA) is holding its “The Resort Development Summit”: the 2012 Canadian Resort Development Association Annual Conference in Toronto. Hosted at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre, one of the receptions will be at the CN Tower where Ross Perlmutter (President/CEO of CRDA) and Keynote Speaker Howard Nusbaum have agreed to entertain us by doing a parachutes jump from atop the 1,815 foot tower. For more details on the conference go to www.crda.com

It would be worth the trip just to see Howard parachute off that building, don’t you think? What a good sport, eh?




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Boyz II MenMoney (That’s What I Want). Need I say more?

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

Sometimes it’s feast in this biz, sometimes it’s famine. Last week it was famine. This week— well, pull up a chair and get some popcorn!

FLORIDA:

ORLANDO: Getting out while the getting’s good? Premium Timeshare Depot is was a timeshare resale company that has been in business since 2008. There are lots of complaints about the company in the usual online forums such as ComplaintsBoard.com citing the usual types of tactics often employed by less-than-honorable resale companies and it has an “F” rating with the BBB.

The principals of the business are Brandon Booth, Marco Palermo and Brandon Kennedy. Other companies owned by Brandon Booth include Brandon Booth, Inc and Right Price Point Property, LLC.

Keeping in mind the recently adopted new laws regulating the timeshare resale industry in Florida, along with the number of raids, arrests and fines levied against resale scam companies/individuals, does it seem at all suspicious to you that this company has filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (liquidation) at this particular time?

Well, they did. Premium Land Depot LLC, also known as Premium Timeshare Depot, filed for bankruptcy on April 9. They claim $4.43 million in liabilities and— get this— $5,329 in assets.

That’s the company, mind you, not the principals. I wonder what their personal finances look like. And will Right Price Point (incorporated in Feb. 2011) take up where Timeshare Depot left off?
tinfoil hat
Call me a cynic, but IMO something about this doesn’t pass the smell test.

ALSO TOO: According to an article in the Orlando Business Journal, David Siegel is branching out from his Westgate timeshare empire.

The article states, in short, that Siegel

“…joined forces with residential real estate agent Lorraine Barrett — previously a star Realtor at Coldwell Banker in Dr. Phillips — to resurrect Florida Ranch Lands Inc., a company that Siegel has owned since the 1990s but had its heyday decades prior.

“Florida Ranch Lands is a legendary company,” said Siegel, who bought the brokerage when it was on the brink of extinction after the real estate crash of the 1980s. “Then I got so busy in the timeshare business that I just kind of set the Florida Ranch Lands on the shelf.”

He resurrected the name after bringing Barrett and Cheryl Logue, another former Coldwell Banker Realtor, on board in January of this year. The company has since focused mostly on residential listings and brokered about a dozen sales ranging from $25,000 to $1.3 million and has another dozen or so pending contracts.

Read the whole article: Siegel’s next endeavor is a blast from the past. So what do you think? Is Siegel hedging his bets on the timeshare industry or just broadening his options?

ORMOND BEACH: I love mugshots, don’t you? As long as none of them are ever of me, anyway.

Celeste Stalnaker and Stephanie TanosThese two winners are Celeste Stalnaker, 45, (left) and Stephanie Tanos, 39, (right). They were arrested recently following a months-long investigation into the workings of HH Holdings by the Volusia County Sherriff’s Office and the Ormond Beach Police Department.

It seems the Hillsborough County Consumer Protection Agency had received complaints about the company for allegedly using a timeshare resale scam to bilk at least 13 timeshare owners out of more than $20,000, and the two law agencies stepped up to the plate to investigate.

According to the complaint against the pair, Stalnaker was provided with lead sheets containing information about potential victims, and she would call them to offer to sell their timeshares.

Upon reaching an agreement, Tanos would get the victims to send money via wire transfer for nonexistent services such as a title search and closing fees. But of course once the money was sent, the victims never heard from them again.

The pair went together to various Walmart stores to pick up the cash, with Stalnaker being the one to collect the money because Tanos had been banned from using Western Union. Tanos gave Stalnaker 5% to 20% of the payment, according to police.

Tanos has been charged with organized scheme to defraud and five counts of grand theft.

Stalnaker is charged with two counts of grand theft, two counts of theft from a person 65 or older, six counts of obtaining property by fraud and four counts of grand theft.

The investigation is still continuing as police search for more victims, and more charges may be brought.

They take a lovely picture, don’t you think?

NEW JERSEY:

CAMDEN: Aw snap! No mugshots for this one yet but maybe they’ll be forthcoming. Sixteen mugshots!

Many of you have probably already read the story, broken by Inside the Gate to the timeshare industry on April 18 in this story: Adam Lacerda, VO Group Staff Arrested for Timeshare Fraud. If you haven’t, here’s a brief rundown (go to the story for details).

Sixteen people affiliated with The Vacation Ownership Group, (a/k/a VO Group LLC), including the principals and staff, have been arrested for their alleged roles in a $2.4 million mail fraud conspiracy involving timeshare mortgages. They will be prosecuted in New Jersey, where the company is headquartered. The people charged in the case are:

  • Adam Lacerda (President/CEO)
  • Ashley R. Lacerda (COO)
  • Steven Cox
  • Ian Resnick
  • Ryan E. Bird
  • Francis Santore
  • Brian Corley
  • Catherine Bannigan
  • Joseph Diventi
  • Alfred Giordano
  • Vincent Giordano
  • Joseph Saxon
  • Aimee Allen
  • Genevieve Manzon
  • Eric Reilly
  • Eric K. Reiff

The legal complaint against them alleges that the defendants, through the VO Group, participated in a fraudulent scheme in which representatives of the VO Group, often using false identities, telephoned owners of timeshare vacation properties purchased from Flagship Resort Development, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc., and other timeshare developers. They convinced the owners in some cases to submit money to the VO Group, purportedly to pay off the owners’ “mortgages” on their timeshares. The VO Group claimed that the timeshare owner could pay off the mortgage balance at a substantially reduced amount – often by as much as 50 percent the amount of the owner’s original mortgage – by mailing payment to the VO Group at a Post Office box in Pleasantville, N.J.

The charges go on to say the VO Group representatives also allegedly got timeshare owners to send the VO Group money purportedly to have timeshares cancelled or sold. After receipt of payments for the VO Group’s “service,” the conspirators caused those payments to be deposited into a bank account in the name of the VO Group. Rather than paying off the timeshare owner’s mortgage, cancelling the owner’s timeshare, or selling the timeshare, the conspirators used the timeshare owner’s money for their personal use.

According to the complaint, New Jersey’s investigation into VO Group also revealed that in an attempt to cover up the scheme, the conspirators in most cases engaged in a “bait and switch” tactic by purchasing an additional timeshare in the victim’s name without the victim’s knowledge. The victim purportedly had assented to the purchase based on documents the VO Group previously emailed to the victim for signature even though the victim had been led to believe he or she was simply paying off the original timeshare mortgage.

Keep in mind that the charges and allegations contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. That process could take a while.

But in the meantime I’ll bet they don’t look as good in their mugshots as they do in their official photos on their website. (UPDATE June21: Sorry about the bad link. The VO Group’s website has been more or less removed, with a notice of a “system upgrade” in place since at least May 17, 2012, and everything that was on the site is gone. Their NEW business website is up and running, though, at http://www.vofinancial.com/ Unfortunately, neither of the Lacerdas’ names is mentioned on this website, nor are there any pictures.)




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ILLINOIS:

EAST ST. LOUIS: Two more Palm Beach County, FL. telemarketers have been charged in the ongoing case involving the infamous Universal Marketing Solutions and Creative Vacation Solutions timeshare resale scams.

Joshua SchneidauA grand jury returned indictments for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud against Joshua G. Schneidau, 28, of Wellington, FL. and Lacey Marie Stone, 27, of Lake Worth, FL.

Lacey Marie StoneAs was the case for others charged and/or convicted in this case, they allegedly called timeshare owners in all 50 States promising they had buyers for their timeshares. The telemarketers said they just needed money to cover title or closing fees – anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500 or more – and the money would be refunded after the sale.

Of course it was all a lie; there were no buyers and the money went into the scammers’ pockets. The companies bilked over 22,000 people out of $30 million before they were stopped.

These new indictments bring the number of perps charged in this case to 15.

The charges follow an investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Florida Attorney General’s Office, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Boynton Beach Police Department.

And the big wheel keeps on rolling.

WISCONSIN:

MILWAUKEE: It looks like Sundance Vacations has closed down their sales office in Brookfield, WI. Or maybe a better word would be “abandoned” it. As in taking a powder.

At least that’s what Cornicione Development LLC is alleging in a complaint against Sundance filed April 3 in the Wisconsin Eastern District Court. (Edited to add: Cornicione Development LLC v. Sundance Vacations NA Inc. Case Number: 2:2012-cv-00323)

Cornicione is the company that was leasing the office space to Sundance (formerly known as Sunquest). In other words, the landlord.

Here’s the deal, according to the complaint: Cornicione held a lease agreement with Sundance beginning May 1, 2006 and expiring October 31, 2013.

According to the terms of the Lease, Sundance agreed to pay rent of $7,786.58 every month for months 67-78 of the lease term and to pay rent of $7,933.50 every month for months 79-90 of the lease term.

Sundance also agreed to pay the landlord (Cornicione) its share of the operating expenses for each calendar year. Sundance’s share of the operating expenses for 2012 is $4,792.32 per month. Cornicione estimates that Sundance’s share of the operating expenses will also be approximately $4,792.32 per month in 2013. Pretty standard stuff.

Also in the lease was an agreement that granted Sundance a one-time right to terminate the lease at the end of the forty-third full month of the lease term, which was November 30, 2009, by providing a minimum of six (6) months’ advance written notice no later than May 31, 2009.

Sundance did not provide such notice within the stated time period to Cornicione, thereby waiving any termination rights under Paragraph 29 of the lease.

However, in July 2011 Sundance did attempt to exercise its option to terminate the lease, to be effective January 31, 2012. Cornicione sent a letter to Sundance explaining that they did not have that option because Paragraph 29 of the lease granted Sundance only a one-time right to terminate which it had failed to exercise.

Well, according to the complaint Sundance failed to pay its rent and monthly operating expenses beginning in February 2012, and on March 1 they “surreptitiously vacated” the premises.

Cornicione is now saying that Sundance defaulted on its lease and breached its contract, and is asking the court to award them the entire balance due— to the tune of at least $256,683.65 for accelerated rent payments for the remainder of the lease term and operating expenses, plus interest, costs, disbursements, and attorneys’ fees.

If you’ve gotten this far sit up straight, ’cause here’s the good stuff.

Why did Sundance suddenly decide their Wisconsin sales room was untenable? Were sales down so much that it made more sense to skip out on the lease than to keep the office open? That’s one possibility, of course.

Here’s another. It’s about Wisconsin’s future service laws. I discussed that last year in the Midwest and Southern USA: August 27, 2011 post. In short, under Chapter 136.001 (a) of Wisconsin’s Future Service statute, “…the consumer [has] the right to cancel the future service contract within at least the first 30 days of the future service contract”.

So the question is, does enrolling in a vacation club meet the definition of a Future Service contract which deserves such a right of rescission?

gossipWord on the street is that Wisconsin’s Attorney General’s office, which has reportedly received many complaints about Sundance, was preparing to declare that the Travel Advantage Network (TAN) enrollment sold by Sundance is, in fact, a “future service contract” and therefore subject to extensive cancellation rights.

Rumor has it the AG has taken the position that virtually any ongoing service IS a “future service contract”, such as a video enrollment contract, book club contract, vacation club contract, exercise club contract, weight reduction enrollment contract, etc.

If that is the case, ultimately Sundance would have to inform consumers, in writing, of their extensive right of rescission. And would that mean Sundance might also be liable for past contracts where rescission was denied, in violation of the law?

Well you can imagine how that might affect Sundance’s bottom line. Is it possible that Sundance took a powder to avoid that issue?

I report, you decide.




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

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:

Opportunity:

REMEMBER: When opportunity knocks it is often as silent as a hummingbird hovering several feet away while drinking the nectar deep inside its favorite flower.

For those who want to move (eventually) from sales to management, one of the best ways to do so is to almost always keep your business/personal opinions to yourself and not ‘rock-the-boat’!

Concentrate on sales first and foremost!

Be friendly and cordial with everyone and at the same time avoid, like the plague, others who sit around at work (or ‘play’) and often focus on negatives.

Strong stats, tight lips, being agreeable without getting too close to someone’s hiney and wearing a smile on your face at all times is often the most assured way to get that promotion and laugh all the way to the bank.



Copyright InsideTheGate.com All rights reserved

QUOTABLE QUOTES: “Creativity is the residue of wasted time.” – Albert Einstein



I recently stopped by a local timeshare reps’ hangout in a certain city with lots and lots of timeshare resorts. I ordered a beer at the bar (just one, I swear) and scoped out the establishment. As I waited, a rep a few seats down made his move on a young woman seated next to him.

For a moment I thought I was in the middle of a comedy routine.

In his best swave and deboner James Bond imitation the rep turned toward her and introduced himself. “Smith. Joe Smith,” he said. (Name changed to protect the, er, innocent).

Without even looking at him she replied in a weary voice, “Off. F— Off.”

It’s a good thing my beer arrived just at that moment so I could retreat to the back of the room with some dignity.

I hope his meet-and-greet at the little round tables is somewhat more sophisticated than his pick-up line.



Tip JarDo you have tips or rumors you'd like to share ANONYMOUSLY? 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

LaTour Hotels and Resorts, which offers personalized luxury hospitality management services for four- and five-star properties worldwide, has announced that Jorge Castro has been named General Manager of Celeste Residences and Spa, Huatulco, Oaxaca, Mexico.

With more than 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, exclusively in Mexico, Jorge Castro brings a wealth of expertise including Resort Operations, Resort Sales and Marketing, Food and Beverage and Mixed Used Operations to the small luxury resort. Most recently he served in the capacity of General Manager of Los Veneros Private Residences in Punta de Mita.




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CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

RCI would like everyone to know they added more than 150 new affiliated properties to its global network last year. These additions join a collection of more than 4,000 affiliated resorts in popular destinations around the world.

The most recent affiliation is the Daya Bay Sanmendao Resort, located on an island off Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province of China. Part of China’s newest mixed development integrated resort, the beachfront property, surrounded by a tropical forest, has a palatial design, luxurious interiors and facilities such as swimming pools, a health center, a spa, a golf course, a yacht club, a fitness room and more.

This expands RCI’s China portfolio to more than 25 affiliated properties.

Interval International has affiliated The Grande Bay Resort & Residence Club in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. Just steps from the town of Cruz Bay, the resort’s villas have panoramic views of neighboring St. Thomas to the west and the British Virgin Islands 15 miles to the east.

The Mediterranean-style complex features one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas, ranging in size from 550 to 1,680 square feet. Spacious interiors feature airy vaulted ceilings and living areas surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies, elegant wood furnishings, fully equipped kitchens, and state-of-the-art electronics.

Among the on-site amenities are a heated pool, hot tub, fitness center, wireless Internet access, and underground parking.

The Registry Collection has announced a new servicing agreement to manage the Baha Mar Residence Club in the Bahamas, adding Baha Mar’s elite residences to the program’s global network of luxury resorts. This collection of distinctive properties is located within Baha Mar, a $3.5 billion luxury resort project, scheduled to open in late 2014 on the pristine beachfront of The Bahamian Riviera in Nassau.

The Baha Mar Residence Club offers more than 300 luxurious residences and villas managed by such world-class brands as Rosewood, Mondrian, and Grand Hyatt, as well as The Baha Mar Casino and Hotel. The Registry Collection will provide marketing support during the pre-sales phase and will offer Baha Mar Residence Club owners the ability to enjoy a wide range of luxury travel options even before the residences are completed.

cheerleaderRCI, Interval International and The Registry Collection: getting BIGGER!


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A new scheme which would allow foreign buyers easier access to the US is currently being debated by Congress.

The Visa Improvement to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America (VISIT-USA) Act has several parts but includes the creation of a new non-immigrant visa, renewable every three years, for overseas investors who spend at least $500,000 to purchase single-family homes in the United States. In order to be eligible, those applying must spend at least $250,000 on a primary residence where they will reside for at least 180 days out of the year while paying taxes to the U.S.

What do you think?

Adding to the economic woes that kept visitors away from Mexico for a time has been the media frenzy— especially in the USA— about the drug-related violence that has made too many Americans afraid to go to Mexico’s resorts.

Recently Canadians have joined in the hysteria, aided by a willing press, especially following a January incident at Hotel Riu in Mazatlan when a young Canadian woman was discovered nude and severely beaten in an elevator. (An arrest has been made in that case, btw.) As should be expected, that sad story made headlines all over the country.

To counter the impression that Mexico is not safe for Canadian visitors, these facts have recently been cited:

In 2011 1.6 million Canadians visited Mexico— enough to fill the Air Canada Centre 80 times. Tragically, six of those Canadians were murdered. In 2010, according to crime statistics compiled by the Department of Foreign Affairs, four Canadians were killed in Mexico, two in the Dominican Republic, one in Costa Rica, and five in the United States.

Also in 2011, 21 Canadians died in accidents in Mexico and 76 died of natural causes (many of those among the 60,000+- retirees who live there).

In total, 22.67 million travelers visited Mexico in 2011, not counting the many million who arrived by cruise lines, breaking the record set in 2008. The United States was the source of the largest number of visitors, but the increase was also driven by travelers from other countries, whom Mexico is actively courting.

And here’s one last statistic: According to the U.S. State Department, there have been a total of 2,010 non-natural deaths of US Citizens in Mexico between Oct. 2002 and Dec. 2011, and that includes everything from various accidents (motor accidents, falling off a balcony, drug overdoses and so forth) to homicides, suicides, drowning, etc.

Think about it.

RCI is upgrading their system— again. Here’s an email from April 9 telling us all about it:

Dear xxxx,

RCI will be temporarily closed for business over this coming Sunday, as we launch exciting new benefits for our RCI® subscribing members.

In order for us to upgrade our systems, RCI.com and our call centers will temporarily close for business to minimize any possible disruption to you.

Our call centers will be closed on Sunday, April 15th, 2012 only.

Also, RCI.com will be unavailable between the following times:

From: 9:00pm EDT Saturday, April 14th, 2012
To: 8:00pm EDT Sunday, April 15th, 2012

We will resume our normal business hours on Monday April 16th, 2012 at 8am EDT. If you have any urgent travel issues, please feel free to contact us prior to the closure. When we re-open on Monday, April 16th, we expect higher than normal call volumes so if the matter is not urgent, we suggest that you call later in the week. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this may cause you.

We hope you know that we are always working to improve your membership experience. We look forward to sharing exciting news in the near future about new benefits and online enhancements which will help improve your RCI vacation experience-Because your vacation means the world to us®.

Sincerely,

Gordon Gurnik
President, RCI

Upgrading their systems again? RUNNNNNN-N-N-N!eek




Tip JarDo you have tips or rumors you'd like to share ANONYMOUSLY? 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 video, I mean this particular video, comes by way of a special request from a fan of The GateHouse. It made me smile, maybe because I’m old enough to remember it.

This is an updated version (1996) of Arlo Guthrie’s original song/monologue (1967), the famous Alice’s Restaurant (the song’s official title, as printed on the album, is “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” —pronounced “mass-a-cree,” not massacre— but no one calls it that.) Based on a true incident, the original was a whopping 18 minutes and 34 seconds long. This “update” from the album Alice’s Restaurant (The Massacree Revisited) is somewhat longer because he added a postscript to the original. So put on your earphones and put your feet up and prepare to enjoy yourself.

For you young’uns, listen to it even if you’re pretty sure you won’t like it. Some things never change…

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