It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

BIG ISLAND: Hilton Grand Vacations members can probably look forward to a new location on the Big Island in the future. Sort of new, anyway.

Global Resort Partners, which owns the 62-acre Hilton Waikoloa Village complex north of the Kona airport on the Kohala Coast, wants to convert 601 hotel rooms in the Ocean Tower to 450 timeshare units.

It’s not gonna happen without at least a bit of a fight from the neighbors, though. Planning Director Duane Kanuha’s granted the planned unit development request but that decision has been appealed by some condo owners at the adjacent Hali’i Kai, who are concerned about the potential effect it might have on their properties. (They’re wondering about things like parking, a new road and the design of the port cochere, too.)

The Planning Board won’t be hearing the appeal until April 10, and if the plan is approved it would still take about 3 years to complete all its phases so don’t call for reservations just yet. But I’d bet Hilton will eventually get this done, and when they do all you HGVC owners/members, who already have access to the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort, are going to have one helluva new resort at Waikoloa Village to make your home away from home!

PS: Who is Global Resort Partners, you ask? Well, essentially it’s a subsidiary of Hilton Hotels Corporation. In 1993 Pan Global and Hilton Recreation partnered up to purchase the Hyatt Regency Waikoloa for $76 million, forming Global Resort Partners. Pan Global owned 86% and Hilton Recreation owned 13%. In 2002, Hilton Hotels Corporation purchased Pan Global’s shares in the resort for what was reported to have been $150 million. So any way you look at it today, it’s all Hilton.

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It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> WESTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

LAS VEGAS: The big ARDA World 2014 love fest is just around the corner, to be held April 6-10 at The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino in Vegas. My favorite part is the naming of names for the ARDY Awards, and the names of the finalists have now been released.

While I honor ALL of those finalists for their fine work, in this blog I concentrate on the categories nearest and dearest to my heart: Sales and Marketing. So here are the best of the best in those categories this year.

Category 12: Marketing Manager/Team

      David McDuffee, Holiday Inn Club Vacations
      Crissa Graham, Holiday Inn Club Vacations
      Diana Bridi, Wyndham Vacation Ownership
      Travelers Plus Team, Bluegreen Vacations
      Welk Resort Marketing Team, Welk Resorts
      RCI Global Marketing Team, RCI

Category 18: Sales Operational Support Team Member

      Cindy Diaz, Holiday Inn Club Vacations
      Phil Gerbracht, Welk Resorts
      Nichole Hegge, Wyndham Vacation Ownership
      Adelinia Petrov, International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE)

Category 19: Salesperson Traditional Line

      Malika Lagzouli, Holiday Inn Club Vacations
      Art McMahon, Breckenridge Grand Vacations
      Mason Gangel, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

Category 20: Salesperson: In House

      Adam Smith, Holiday Inn Club Vacations
      Ken Waller, Welk Resorts
      Brent Henry, Breckenridge Grand Vacations
      Vicky Roberts, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

Category 21: Sales Team

      Ron Jon Sales Team, Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort
      Sales Team, Welk Resorts
      Grand Lodge on Peak 7, Breckenridge Grand Vacations
      WVO Branson Super Team, Wyndham Vacation Ownership

For the full list of finalists in all categories, go to ARDA’s website.

KUDOS to everyone, you top dogs you!


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“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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

MUMBAI: This is really BIG news! Thomas Cook (India) Ltd and Sterling Holiday Resorts have announced a merger. The part equity, part share-swap deal involves multiple stages of share acquisition before Sterling becomes a Thomas Cook subsidiary. Sterling, which is a public company, says they might also consider a de-listing.

The transaction is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2014, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals as required.

And what are the advantages of such a merger to both companies? Well, Thomas Cook India gains access to Sterling Resorts’ network of 19 resorts in 16 holiday destinations across India. Sterling also has 15 additional sites where it plans to add new resorts in the coming years.

Sterling stands to benefit from Thomas Cook’s iconic brand reputation and TCIL’s large base of domestic and inbound travel customers and its members stand to benefit from the wide range of services available through TCIL. There is also scope to add value to Sterling’s Vacation Ownership members through the synergies that exist between the two companies. You’re looking at a combined customer base of over a million people with this merger!

If you aren’t familiar with Thomas Cook you may not recognize how big a deal this is, so for your edification: Thomas Cook (India) Ltd is the leading integrated travel and travel related financial services company in the country offering a broad spectrum of services that include Foreign Exchange, Corporate Travel, MICE, Leisure Travel, Insurance, Visa & Passport services and E-Business. The company set up its first office in India in 1881. TCIL‟s footprint currently extends to over 242 locations (including 23 airport counters) in 99 cities across India, Mauritius & Sri Lanka and is supported by a strong partner network of 134 Gold Circle Partners and 165 Preferred Sales Agents in over 150 cities across India.


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"If you haven't got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me." -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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

RIVIERA MAYA: First the GOOD news, and it’s something of a whopper. Grupo Vidanta has partnered up with Cirque du Soleil to establish a resident show at Vidanta’s Riviera Maya resort. By “resident” show I mean a permanent location with a permanent Cirque du Soleil crew, the first such in Mexico and the only one outside of Las Vegas and Orlando.

They’re building a special 600-seat theater to house the show, an intimate affair that includes a culinary component where “world-class dining and champagne service will be integrated with the spectacle”.

Vidanta Theater, new home to Cirque du Soleil in the Riviera MayaIt turns out that the two companies have been working on this for four years (way to keep a secret!) and they’re pretty excited about it — as well they should be. The Premiere is scheduled for November 2014. (For more information, visit

In terms of entertainment in Mexico’s timeshare resort world I think Grupo Vidanta just stole a march on the competition. This act is going to be hard to follow!

ANYWHERE: I’ve decided to stop calling the scum who operate the expanding variety of Mexico escrow/bank wire frauds “scammers”. That’s what they do, of course, but I think the word “criminals” is more apt because that’s what they ARE. And those criminals, some of whom are American or Canadian expats, are getting more sophisticated with their methods by the hour.

I’ve been swamped this last week with communications from decent timeshare owners who were taken or nearly taken by these grifters. It’s really got me steaming.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m advising every victim (or almost victim) of these scams to contact their State Attorney General office (or its equivalent in Canada), the FBI and any other government agency you can think of that might be appropriate. File a complaint. Send them copies of all the documents (including emails). Notify the Better Business Bureau; report the details to every complaints board on the Internet. AND contact your local newspaper(s) and TV stations with your story; just using the words timeshare and scam in conjunction with Mexico would probably be enough to get their attention and you would most likely be allowed to remain anonymous.

Make sure all the sources you contact understand that this is a huge, multi-state, international scam that is raking in millions of dollars for the criminals involved.

But don’t stop there. The USA, Canada and Mexico share information about international criminals regularly and this should be no exception. So contact Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency, PROFECO (, tell them your story and be prepared to send them copies of the documents. Profeco alone is not powerful enough to do the necessary investigations or get your money back (I’m sorry, but you’ll likely never get that money back), but they DO know who can.

You can contact the criminals and tell them you’re doing all that, too, if you want.

The thing is, the criminals are now using forged documents and mimicking email addresses, etc., pretending to be agents of the Mexican government — everything from Mexico’s tax agencies to SECTUR (the tourism agency) to PROFECO itself (check out this bogus email address used by one set of criminals: Here is the REAL address:; did you catch the subtle difference?). This is a type of phishing, and what these crooks are doing amounts to bank, mail and wire fraud (and possibly money laundering and RICO), all of which crimes have stiff penalties attached to them.

Anyhow, Mexico’s government doesn’t appreciate that sort of thing any more than the US or Canadian governments do. Help put them on the alert. In time (probably a long time) some of the grifters might actually see the inside of a prison if we’re lucky.

At the very least we can all help each other avoid becoming victims of these crimes and perhaps slow down its spread somewhat. There are many THOUSANDS of timeshare owners out there who are potential victims and this is a very lucrative scam.

MEANWHILE here are some new questionable companies to watch out for. I’ll present more info about these next week after I complete more thorough research on them:

  • 1st Professional Realty & Freedom Title Insurance Agency, Inc. Supposedly located in Georgia. David G. Marin, Daniel Mendoza, Kimberly Medina
  • My Space Vacations and Financial Planning 2 Go. Supposedly located in Chicago and Minneapolis, respectively; Sean Williams, Agent, Gregory K. Collins, President and Purchasing Director plus Charlie Sanchez, Alfred Buchanon, and Karla Frazier
  • PROFECO (not the real PROFECO!), located in Mexico; Gerardo Martinez
  • Classic Connections Travel & Georgia Escrow Services, supposedly located in Seattle and Atlanta, plus INTERNATIONAL CPA SERVICES, S.A. de C.V. in Mexico; Marco Baptist, Vincent Cooke, Sergio Reyes and Sonny Gooden
  • Corporate Services International and Trust Services, Inc., supposedly located in Minneapolis, MN and Livonia, MI, respectively; Paul Rooney, Steve Hamilton, Michael Jordan

NOTE that regardless of the details (names, locations, etc.) the basics of this scam are always the same with the end result being YOU bank wiring funds to a Mexican bank in the belief that you are paying some sort of tax or fee in order to complete the sale of your timeshare (or, more recently, to release funds from a phony baloney government resale remuneration fund). DON’T FALL FOR IT! NEVER BANK WIRE FUNDS TO MEXICO!

Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).

“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” –Alice Roosevelt Longworth

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This week’s timeshare sales tip:

Texas Tea:

REMEMBER: As we’ve discussed, sometimes it is important for TS reps to set aside a little private time and ponder value Vs costs when a sales guest is considering purchasing from the rep. The costs are always a big thing, so to speak, on the prospect’s mind.

And speaking of costs, take for example crude-oil, something most of the world cannot live without, a product that is controlled by a CARTEL, that wars are fought over, etc. At today’s market price (per barrel, about 42 gallons, or 159 liters) the ‘Black Gold’ sells for about $2.38 per gallon.

Now compare that to the following:

One gallon of regular store-bought ‘eye drops’ (like Visine) costs (depending on the ‘brand”) about $800 per gallon.

And did you know that consumers )sales guests) have been freely spending as much as $8,000 per gallon for their printers’ Inkjet ink?

What about having a few ‘coldbones’ during an NFL game at a sports bar? That, depending on brand, etc., comes in at about $36.00 per gallon.

How about men’s cologne? Take Tuscany for example. Their 3.4 oz bottle retails for around $60 or $2,229 per gallon!

And for those home gourmet chefs, how about adding some Saffron to those meals? That comes in about $40-$50 (or more) per oz or $5,000-$6,400 per gallon. Or use some pure Vanilla at $640 per gallon.

It may ‘seem’ like comparing those items (and so many more) to purchasing a TS is the old apples and oranges debate. I’ll grant you that, except that (in a roundabout way) the people who purchase ‘crude-oil’ as well as those who buy ‘eye-drops’, colognes, perfumes, spices, etc. do so throughout their lives and ‘if’ they ever sat down and crunched those numbers they would have a severe case of ‘sticker-shock’ to say the least!

Back to TS. A ‘consumer’ is able to purchase a 2-bedroom vacation home w/all the bells and whistles that they can use (basically) anywhere in the world, for a one-time purchase price plus their ‘annuals’. It is the savvy TS Pro who conveys that nearly incalculable ‘Texas-Tea’ value and return on investment to each prospect and their families, etc., who will laugh all the way to the bank!

Join us for a pithy morning meeting timeshare sales tip of the week, originally published in, 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 All rights reserved

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouseQUOTABLE QUOTES: “Let’s make a statement to the airlines just to get their attention. We’ll pick a week next year and we’ll all agree not to go anywhere for seven days.” -Andy Rooney

I’m too exhausted for thoughts this week, idle or otherwise.

How about some cats instead?

Here’s five minutes you’ll never get back. 😉

Have a great week, and don’t forget to laugh a little!

Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).


“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:

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
CLASSIC HOLIDAYS, Australia’s largest privately owned Resort and Club Management Company, had a bang up year in 2013 and so far this year they’re already beating their own record. In January their sales figures have surpassed the previous years’ levels, as 2014 promises to build on the company’s stellar 2013 performance.

Classic Holidays exceeded 10% year on year growth in holiday bookings in 2013, along with the highest number of new Classic Escapes members and the highest number of sales and transactions recorded over the 12 month period. Their figures for January have got the company high-fiving each other in anticipation.

So KUDOS to Classic Holidays for their strong performance!

RCI added 175 newly affiliated resorts to its exchange network in 2013, representing more than a 16 percent increase over the previous year. The newly affiliated properties include resorts in North America, South America, Europe, India and Asia.

RCI’s luxury exchange program, The Registry Collection®, now has more than 200 affiliated properties either accessible for exchange or under development on six continents.

Altogether, the company’s approximately 3.7 million members will now find their choices have expanded to nearly 4,500 affiliated resorts across the globe.

Yes, Bunkie, RCI is still the BIGGEST timeshare exchange company by far!

INTERVAL INTERNATIONAL has started off 2014 with new affiliations to brag about. Included are Residence Club at Coco Bay and Residence Club at Vista Ocotal, two shared ownership resorts in the heart of the spectacular northern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica whose affiliations were just announced a few days ago.

Segovia de la Montaña Limitada and Vista Ocotal GP Limitada are the development entities of the respective resorts.

Residence Club at Coco Bay is comprised of 33 spacious units with views of landscaped gardens or Papagayo Bay. Each luxury residence features elegant décor with warm colors and stone floors and includes living and dining room, fully equipped kitchen, state-of-the-art electronics, and a covered terrace.

Residence Club at Vista Ocotal is located in the coastal resort community of Playa Ocotal and has 19 studio, two- and three-bedroom units surrounded by tropical gardens. Each has a living and dining room, kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, tile flooring, and Wi-Fi access.

cheerleaderClassic Holidays, Interval International & RCI: getting BIGGER!

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The commandments

Thou Shalt Not Pitch…

I. Tax free rental income. II. Resell for profit. III. Owner’s airport-to-resort helicopter service. IV. Accelerated use.
Four weeks in Hawaii for only 5,000 points. VI. Wholesale owner airline tickets.
VII. Exchange one week ownership for a two week cruise in a Presidential Suite on any cruise line worldwide. VIII. …

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

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse Scoop expects to receive some emails this week about his insane notion to eliminate the commission-only pay structure for timeshare sales and marketing reps. But hold onto your hats, because he lays out his thoughts on the subject in a very reasonable way.

He points out that although it is true there are some developers who pay their sales reps a base salary (and/or a draw) plus commission, in most cases the performance-based salary (draw) is minuscule and does not come even close to being near a livable income. He also notes that TS pay schemes pale in comparison to what sales-driven Fortune 500 and many other major corporations offer the professional sales talent they are recruiting.

So adjusting the pay scale in our industry is not a bad idea. Major companies around the world use the same basic formula in order to be competitive and attract sales professionals to consider their company. And there is no shortage of sales professionals out there with verifiable and impeccable bona-fides from which to recruit.

So what’s the Scoop? What are the advantages of eliminating the commission-only pay scheme, to the developer AND the sales reps? And what kind of structure is he talking about anyway? Find out at “Time to End Commission-Only Pay”

It’s that time of year again, when publicly-owned timeshare companies begin to issue their 2013 year-end financial reports. Mark your calendars for the following:

Marriott Vacations Worldwide will report financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2013 before the market opens on February 27, 2014. A conference call is scheduled to follow at 10:00 a.m. ET to discuss the company’s results. Participants may access the call by dialing (866) 225-8754 or (480) 629-9835 for international callers. Please use conference ID 4666198 when dialing into the call. A live webcast of the call will also be available in the Investor Relations section of the company’s website at

Diamond Resorts International will release its fourth quarter and full year 2013 earnings results after the market closes on Wednesday, February 19, 2014. Management will hold a conference call to discuss the quarter’s results at 5:00 p.m. EST that day.

Participating on the call will be Diamond’s President and Chief Executive Officer, David Palmer, and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Alan Bentley. To access the call please dial (866) 562-5561 from the United States, or (706) 679-1894 from outside the U.S. The conference call I.D. number is 81171106. Participants should dial in 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled time and must be on a touch-tone telephone to ask questions.

This call will also be available as a live webcast which can be accessed at Diamond’s Investor Relations web site at

Be there or be square.


(To see this image BIG so you can really see Earth, go to

Can you believe it’s been 50 years since The Beatles first arrived on U.S. shores for their debut appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show? Well, sure, a lot of you can believe that, not being old farts like some of us. The music scene was never the same again.

To celebrate the occasion I thought I’d go back in time, but not with some ancient footage of the boys playing one of their early pop songs like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. Instead, I’m taking you to the 2007 movie “Across the Universe”, a musical romantic drama set in a bohemian enclave in Greenwich Village during the turmoil of the 1960’s. The plot is centered by 33 Beatles songs, sung in brand new ways and contexts. It stars Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson and T.V. Carpio, and introduces Dana Fuchs and Martin Luther McCoy as actors. Cameo appearances are made by Bono, Eddie Izzard, Joe Cocker, and Salma Hayek, among others.

If you’ve never seen it, I recommend that you do!

So here we go, with the song Come Together, sung by Joe Cocker as the Pimp, Bum and Mad Hippie, accompanied by Jojo (a guitarist representing Jimi Hendrix, portrayed by Martin Luther McCoy), and a choir of Prostitutes. Yeah, baby!

The Video of the Week aims to feature good music/good fun regardless of era or genre. Send in your own favorite and if I can find a good version on YouTube I’ll post it for you! What would you like to see or hear?

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: I get the picture. Neither Adam Lacerda nor Ashley are innocent victims in this VO Group mess; neither has clean hands and both have allegedly indulged in less-than-savory behavior in other arenas as well.

But let me make something clear. There are innocent children affected by this VO Group mess and they are old enough to be finding stuff about their parents on the Internet. It’s bad enough that their parents have been convicted of serious crimes and will be going to jail; these kids do not need to be stumbling across vulgar comments, etc. that are unrelated to the crimes for which their parents were convicted. Please show a little compassion! Some of you have posted detailed, vile allegations, for instance, that no daughter should have to hear about her mother regardless of the veracity of those allegations. So keep the kids in mind before you comment, because I’ll spam-block you in a New York second if you’re such an ass that you post the kind of crap I’ve been having to moderate lately!

Now for the latest news.

The Court handling the case for Adam and Ashley Lacerda, et al in the VO Group fraud case has scheduled a hearing on March 20, 2014 on the motion of the United States for forfeiture, which is directed solely to Adam and Ashley and does not include Ian Resnick or Genevieve Manzoni. The parties have agreed to that schedule for the Lacerdas’ responses to the motion and the government’s reply brief: The Lacerdas’ responses will be filed by February 28, 2014, and the government’s reply brief will be filed by March 13, 2014.

This forfeiture thing is kind of interesting and you can view the relevant law at Cornell University Law School’s website. Check this out, for instance:

(2) Preliminary Order.

    (B) Timing. Unless doing so is impractical, the court must enter the preliminary order sufficiently in advance of sentencing to allow the parties to suggest revisions or modifications before the order becomes final as to the defendant under Rule 32.2(b)(4).


(C) General Order. If, before sentencing, the court cannot identify all the specific property subject to forfeiture or calculate the total amount of the money judgment, the court may enter a forfeiture order that:

(i) lists any identified property;

(ii) describes other property in general terms; and

(iii) states that the order will be amended under Rule 32.2(e)(1) when additional specific property is identified or the amount of the money judgment has been calculated.

I would guess from this that the sentencing date for the pair will be set for a date after March 20. At any rate, as of Feb. 5 the sentencing date had not yet been determined. Stay tuned for that.

Email the Gatekeeper (or leave a comment below).

"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: