Florida USA Timeshare News: June 6, 2015

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

ORLANDO: Word on the street is that the NTOA (National Timeshare Owners Association) is in the getting BIGGER mode in that they have appointed 6 new Advisory Board members. The new guys are: Fermin Cruz (formerly with DAE, now rumored to be with weholi); David DeShaw, Chief Hospitality Officer at Capital Resorts; John Farrow, CEO of FARROW Commercial Construction; Bruce Griffith, a Canadian timeshare owner of long standing; Paul Mattimoe, President & CEO of Perspective Group who just accepted a similar position on the board for C.A.R.E.; and Joe Nahman, Owner of RMC Resort Management.

They join an already experienced and diverse board comprised of Wes Sattenfield, Dennis DiTinno, Michelle Donato, Suzanne Harris, Wes Kogelman and Bob Kobek.

I think that’s called a scoop. :D

NTOA has been expanding aggressively ever since Greg Crist took over the reins of the Association, and this is just the latest evidence of that.

WEST PALM BEACH: Another Florida-based telemarketer has paid the price for his part in the massive Palm Beach-based timeshare resale fraud known as C&G Marketing Associates, LLC. and Premier Timeshare Solutions (PTS).

Nathan Christian, 31, of Boynton Beach, FL, was sentenced in the United States District Court in East St. Louis, Illinois on his conviction for conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud in connection with telemarketing. Christian, who worked as a “closer” at C&G, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison, to be followed by one year of supervised release. The court also ordered Christian to pay a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

PTS operated out of offices located in southern Florida. The company targeted owners of timeshares throughout the United States and Canada who wished to sell their timeshares. By falsely representing that PTS had located buyers who were interested in purchasing the victims’ timeshares, the closers convinced the victims to pay upfront fees of approximately $2,000 to PTS. During the lifespan of the scam, PTS defrauded over 7,000 people out of approximately $14.5 million. Victims were located throughout the United States and Canada.

This prosecution is one of more than 50 timeshare resale fraud prosecutions brought in the Southern District of Illinois over the past four years. The case is part of an ongoing investigation by the St. Louis Field Office of the Chicago Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service. Both the Florida Attorney General’s Office and the Florida Department of Agriculture have assisted in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Verseman and Michael Hallock.

The big wigs in the scam have long since been arrested and sentenced. You can get the low down on everyone involved so far at this link. Get a cup of coffee and settle in for quite a read.

KABOOM! jail smilie




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

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Florida USA Timeshare News: May 23, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more exciting news on this front in the future. It’s a GOOD thing!




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

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

Florida USA Timeshare News: April 25, 2015

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

See the note in this week’s Odds & Ends about Senate Bill 932, and then go sign the petition asking Gov. Scott to veto it. Or just go straight to the petition: https://www.change.org/p/florida-governor-veto-senate-bill-932-florida-timeshare-act Time is of the essence, so no procrastinating is allowed. Move it move it move it!


CELEBRATION: Now that Disney Vacation Club has opened the first phase of its Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, they’ve also amended the timeshare license for them. But don’t worry, it ain’t a bad thing.

Originally the timeshare license authorized the company to sell up to 8,262 weeks, the equivalent of 162 units (at 51 weeks per unit). The new amendment authorizes Disney to sell an additional 11,118 timeshare weeks, the equivalent of another 218 units. That’s a total of 19,380 weeks of time, or 372.69 years.

So what’s it all about, Alfie? Put simply, it means that Disney is now authorized by the State of Florida to sell the whole shebang that makes up the Polynesian condominium association — 360 Deluxe Studio studios and 20 Bora Bora bungalows.

That’s a lot of inventory. How long do you think it will take them to sell out?


KISSIMMEE: In the getting BIGGER category, Westgate Resorts has completed an additional 176 new, fully furnished villas at the Westgate Town Center Resort & Spa, expanding the property to more than 3,000 luxury villa units.

With the opening of that new building, Westgate will be able to offer five-bedroom accommodations for the first time in Central Florida.

The new eight-story building includes 96 new one-bedroom villas and 80 new one-bedroom grand villas, which feature fully equipped kitchens and wet bar. The units can combine via internal doorways to offer up to five bedrooms and sleep 20 guests, all of which will be available to overnight guests as well as timeshare owners.

On-site activities and amenities at this humongous resort include 14 heated outdoor pools and hot tubs, movie theater, mini golf, paddle boat and swan boat rentals, bicycle rentals, a variety of outdoor sports and children’s activities. Dining options include Westgate Resort’s award-winning Drafts Sports Bar & Grill and Starbucks.




“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

Florida USA Timeshare News: March 28, 2015

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

FORT LAUDERDALE: Back in December 2014 a federal jury found BankAtlantic Bancorp Inc (now known as BBX Capital) and its CEO Alan Levan guilty of defrauding investors in 2007, early in the U.S. financial crisis. In a six-week trial instigated by the SEC, BBX and Levan were found liable for securities fraud and accounting fraud.

Naturally BBX and Levan promptly filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to overturn the jury’s decision. In case that didn’t work they also sought a motion for a new trial, based on what they believe are flaws in the SEC’s case.

On March 10, 2015 the judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Darrin P. Gayles, said “No” to both requests, putting BBX and Levan on the hook for as-yet-undetermined penalties.

The SEC has a pending motion before the court asking the judge to impose penalties of $5.2 million against BBX and $1.56 million against Levan. They also want Levan banned from serving as an officer or director of a public company and to remove Levan as head of BFC Financial Corp. which owns the majority of BBX and timeshare developer Bluegreen Corp.

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, stemmed from loans BankAtlantic made on large tracts of land in Florida intended for the development of single-family homes and condominiums. Among other charges the SEC maintains that BankAtlantic and Levan made misleading statements to investors during BankAtlantic’s 2007 second quarter earnings conference call to hide the deteriorating state of its real estate portfolio.

The SEC also contended the company and Levan committed accounting fraud by scheming to minimize BankAtlantic’s losses.

But in a statement Levan argued, “BBX was one of the first companies to recognize the severity of the housing market crash and accept the losses most others ignored for many months. If this part of the verdict is allowed to stand, no officer of any public company could ever again safely participate in earnings conference calls.”

BBX/Levan’s attorney Eugene Stearns said, “We will now brief and argue the penalty phase of the case and, following that, an appeal will be filed challenging the outcome, which we believe to be manifestly incorrect.”

So nothing is over yet. Stay tuned.




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

Do you have tips or rumors you’d like to share (ANONYMOUSLY)? Something you’d like us to investigate or follow up on? CONTACT: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

Florida USA Timeshare News: February 28, 2015

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

MARCO ISLAND: Marriott Vacation Ownership is FINALLY starting work on the long-awaited next phase of the Marriott’s Crystal Shores Resort, which was put on hold during the Great Recession (need I explain why?).

Phases II and III of this project, on Collier Blvd. where the old Radisson used to be, will consist of two additional buildings that will continue the cleaner, less cluttered, look and feel established in Phase I. According to Coleman Partners Architects, these Phases will consist of the main Lobby and Public Spaces for the Project as well as an additional 153 two-bedroom units in two new towers. The main Porte Cochere entrance will be constructed and the Pool and Deck will approximately double in size. Additionally, a new 380-car underground parking facility will be constructed for guests and there will be exterior and interior improvements to the existing tower building.

Additional proposed resort features and amenities upon build out include:

  • Two pools that cascade from an open-air lobby offering views of the Gulf of Mexico
  • Two whirlpool spas
  • Fully equipped fitness center with locker rooms and two treatment rooms
  • Owner’s lounge with large terrace and indoor/outdoor seating overlooking the pools and the Gulf

A lighted paved pathway and a showering facility with a boardwalk access to the beach will be built on the north side next to the Hilton Hotel to provide access to the beach for members of the public. Construction of the resort is currently slated for completion in 2017.

The current units at the Crystal Shores consist of 67 two-bedroom villas and three-bedroom penthouse suites in a 14-floor tower. It opened in March 2009.




“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

Florida USA Timeshare News: February 7, 2015

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

BOCA RATON: Bluegreen Corporation has completed a securitization involving the issuance of $117.8 million of investment-grade rated securities. The notes have interest rates of 2.88% and 3.47% respectively, for an overall weighted average interest rate of 3.02%. The gross advance rate for this transaction was 94.25%.

“We are pleased at the successful completion of this transaction, which was our tenth securitization of vacation ownership receivables,” said Anthony M. Puleo, Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Bluegreen Vacations. “We believe that this indication of the demand for our securitization bonds highlights the quality of our receivable loan portfolio as well as the strength of our overall business model.”

Yeah, that’s fine and dandy, good on ya and all that, but what enquiring minds want to know is what is Bluegreen Vacations doing to grow their vacation ownership portfolio? What’s new, pussycat?


ORLANDO: In the “getting BIGGER” category, Timeshare Broker Associates has expanded into new offices in Orlando. TBA Managing Broker Jason Connolly says the company has been growing steadily since its inception in 2013 in Tampa, have recognized the need to expand and keep up with the demand for their commission-only broker services. What better place for that than the timeshare capital of the world, with its extensive number of timeshare professionals.

Connolly has been in the timeshare industry for the past 15 years, working in timeshare resales prior to starting TBA. Now, with the growth of the company and expanded relationships within the broker network nationally through groups such as the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association it’s time to get BIGGER, and that’s precisely what he’s doing.




“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

Florida USA Timeshare News: December 6, 2014

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

ORLANDO: Marriott Vacation Club has been busy rolling out a new program for members and guests at their resorts. It’s called Club Thrive and boasts as its purpose “a way to help break the stress of daily life that many owners and guests carry with them on vacation and provide opportunities to benefit both their physical and mental well-being throughout their vacation.”

Completely customizable to the wants and needs of owners and guests, the program blends self-directed experiences with instructor-lead classes based on these four elements:

  • Refuel: Providing well balanced food and beverage choices and education on nutritional values.
  • Renew: Helping owners and guests achieve a “vacation mindset” through physical and sensory experiences.
  • Move: Offering cardio, strength and toning programs designed to be fun and as an alternative to a typical gym workout.
  • Explore: Providing opportunities to experience the resorts’ locale in ways that are healthy, educational and fun.

So far the program has only been launched at the Hilton Head Island resort and Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas and Marriott’s Shadow Ridge resorts in Palm Desert, CA. Additional clubTHRIVE launches will take place at Marriott Vacation Club resorts in South Florida and Hawaii by early January with continued roll-out worldwide during 2015.

It’s almost but not quite a getting BIGGER event.

ALSO IN ORLANDO: The National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA) has retained Barker & Associates to produce interactive and dynamic content for its member education program, with the goal of encouraging new timeshare owners to get the most enjoyment out of their vacation ownership. Development will focus on presenting material in a fun and engaging way. This interactive learning approach will be especially important in reaching the key Gen Y demographic, an important step to take if timesharing is to thrive in the future.

I’ve long been a proponent of the importance of educating timeshare owners about the product/service they’ve purchased, with the firm belief that if owners truly understood how to get the most out of their timeshare ownership the satisfaction rate would rise and defaults (and complaints) would fall.

The NTOA has been focused on educating owners about the benefits and usage of timeshare for 20 years. Chad J. Barker said about his company’s new association with the NTOA, “We want Happy, Engaged, and Informed timeshare owners, who are excited about finding that next perfect getaway. Owner satisfaction is the lifeblood of this industry and by offering quality ‘education’ we can foster a vibrant online community of such people, spreading those positive stories and experiences that too often fall through the cracks. And, of course, interactive content and brand advocacy are the best ways to get the younger crowd involved. What I love is that, in this context, the brand is ‘Timeshare’.”

I couldn’t agree more.





“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

Florida USA Timeshare News: November 8, 2014

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

FORT LAUDERDALE: BFC Financial Corp. has reported financial results for the three and nine month periods ended September 30, 2014. And this matters to us why?

Because of BFC’s 52% ownership interest in BBX Capital Corporation and its ownership interest in Bluegreen Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Woodbridge Holdings, which is owned 54% by BFC and 46% by BBX Capital. So here we go:

Bluegreen Overview for the Third Quarter, 2014, Compared to Third Quarter, 2013

  • System-wide sales of Vacation Ownership Interests (“VOIs”) were $151.4 million vs. $130.2 million
  • Legacy sales of VOIs under Bluegreen’s traditional business model were $63.2 million vs. $63.8 million
  • Sales of VOIs under Bluegreen’s ”capital-light” business strategy (1) were $88.2 million vs. $66.4 million
    • Secondary market sales of VOIs were $21.4 million vs. $12.9 million
    • Just-in-time sales of VOIs were $7.8 million vs. $9.7 million
    • Sale of third party VOIs – commission basis were $59.0 million vs. $43.8 million and generated sales and marketing commissions of $38.7 million vs. $28.8 million
  • Other fee-based revenue rose 14% to $24.1 million
  • Bluegreen managed 49 timeshare resort properties as of September 30, 2014, compared to 46 as of September 30, 2013.
  • Income from continuing operations before provision for income taxes was $32.1million vs. $33.9 million
  • Income from continuing operations was $21.0 million vs. $22.3 million
  • EBITDA was $38.1 million vs. $38.6 million

System-wide sales of VOIs, net include all sales of VOIs, regardless of whether Bluegreen or a third-party owned the VOI immediately prior to the sale. The sales of third-party owned VOIs are transacted as sales of timeshare interests in the Bluegreen Vacation Club through the same selling and marketing process Bluegreen uses to sell its VOI inventory. The growth in system-wide sales of VOIs, net during 2014 as compared to 2013 reflects an increase in the number of tours and an increase in the sale-to-tour conversion ratio. During the three months ended September 30, 2014, the number of tours increased by 9% compared to the same period in 2013. The increase in the number of tours reflects efforts to expand marketing to sales prospects through new marketing initiatives. Additionally, during the three months ended September 30, 2014, Bluegreen’s sale-to-tour conversion ratio increased 1% compared to the same period in 2013. Get more of Bluegreen’s stats

Florida USA Timeshare News: October 4, 2014

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

ORLANDO: You already knew that Summer Bay Resorts changed its name last May, right? The company is now EXPLORIA RESORTS, and its Orlando property has been rebranded Summer Bay Orlando, By EXPLORIA RESORTS. And they’ve got Gatlinburg Town Square by EXPLORIA RESORTS; Crown Pointe Links by EXPLORIA RESORTS, etc. Get the picture?

Well, Exploria nee Summer Bay has really been on the move, getting BIGGER. They’ve recently purchased two oceanfront resorts in Florida: Ocean Sands Resort, located in New Smyrna Beach, acquired in August and in September the Grand Seas Resort, located in Daytona Beach (they purchased the Grand Seas out of bankruptcy), and they began major renovation and product development plans at Summer Bay Orlando that include:

  • A 2-year renovation project scheduled for completion in 2015. All 500+ units will be completely refurbished. Renovations and refurbishments include flooring, furnishings, lighting, kitchen appliances and countertops, bedding, accessories and bath upgrades.
  • Buccaneer Bay Adventure Park, a pirate themed outdoor adventure park featuring family-friendly experiences including a floating dock with bumper boats, a rock climbing wall, zip lines, bungee jumping, a “Wipe-Out” style inflatable zone, a food & beverage outlet, shaded seating, and an integrated Kids’ Interactive Water Playground.
  • A new state-of-the-art, 10,000 sq. ft. Activities Center is planned to provide activity, gathering and entertainment spaces for every member of vacationing families, scheduled to open in April 2015.
  • New Luxury Condo Building – scheduled to open in spring of 2015. Features of this new, 6-story luxury high-rise condo building will include: forty-five units consisting of 1, 2, 3, and 4-bedroom spacious floor plans, 2 top floors designated as Registry Collection, RCI’s highest product offering; All units will feature numerous upgrades; Presidential Lounge with rooftop observation deck; Full Service Spa with Fitness Center

To support the anticipated growth, a new Marketing Call Center and new Sales Centers are being established to support the existing sales and marketing operations based in both Orlando and Gatlinburg.

And now for the pièce de résistance. Exploria has introduced its newest vacation product, Club Exploria which company executives say provides members direct access to a growing portfolio of resort destinations numbering more than 25 at the time of launch with an additional 4000+ offered through RCI.

At the heart of Club Exploria is the EXPO, the “multidimensional currency” of the Club. Club Exploria members will use their EXPOs for resort stays at resort and hotel destinations throughout the world, in addition to other vacation and travel related benefits including car rentals, cruises, airline tickets, local attractions, excursions, golf, shopping, gift cards and other benefits. It sounds like instead of spending “points” in this club, members will be spending “Expos” — a kind of digital “scrip”?

So what we’re talking about here at its core appears to be the opportunity for Exploria to make a ton more money by upgrading current owners/members into a pure Club product that carries extra perks. Is that what it sounds like to you?

Ownership smownership! It’s membership in a club with no real estate ownership interests involved that’s going to carry them forward to glory!

In case anyone is interested, here is the leadership team for EXPLORIA RESORTS: Paul Caldwell, President/CEO; Juan Barillas, Executive VP/COO; Mary Kay Racher, Developer Controller; Santiago Creus, Director, Business Development; Santa Barillas, Director, Sales; Karen Kraftchick, Director Club Operations; Phil Brewer, Director Marketing; Bill Edmonds, Director, Financial Services & Compliance; Pat Cox, HOA Controller; Mario Plasencia, Director, Resort Operations; Celina Hallman, Director, HR.


“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

Florida USA Timeshare News: September 20, 2014

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

LARGO: Largo-based Finn Law Group has filed another lawsuit against Bluegreen Corp., this time alleging that the resort developer engaged in unfair consumer collections practices when it reported delinquent accounts of its timeshare owners to credit agencies as foreclosures. The lawsuit also asserts that Equifax Information Services and Experian Information Solutions violated federal law when it reported delinquent installment loan accounts as foreclosures.

Finn filed a similar lawsuit in May 2013 on behalf of eight timeshare owners against Bluegreen Corporation alleging it provided false and damaging credit information to Experian and Equifax and that the credit reporting agencies refused to correct the inaccurate information.

Here’s Finn’s point: The plaintiffs bought into Bluegreen’s points program, known as Bluegreen Vacation Club. The memberships did not include ownership in any real or tangible property. A trust agreement between Bluegreen and the plaintiffs stated that 120 days after owners defaulted on their obligations, they would be deleted from the trust estate. That agreement did not say anything about foreclosure nor did it give Bluegreen any authority to foreclose.

Essentially Finn holds that there was in fact nothing to foreclose upon since no ownership of property was involved and furthermore that Bluegreen did not undertake any form of foreclosure action.

What they DID do was send the plaintiffs letters advising them that they had been deleted from the Trust and reported the status of their accounts as foreclosures to the credit agencies. The plaintiffs alleged that their credit reports showed the Bluegreen accounts as foreclosed and that the credit reporting agencies subsequently reported the information to numerous third parties.

The suit, Best, et al. v. Bluegreen Corp., et al., case no. 14-cv-80929-JIC, was filed July 14 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida.

The complaint, which seeks class action status, alleges violations of Florida’s Consumer Collections Practices Act, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, defamation and slander of credit. The timeshare owners seek award of damages, costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief.

What do you think? Does Finn have a point here, legal or otherwise?




“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

Florida USA Timeshare News: May 24, 2014

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

ORLANDO: It’s taken longer than I expected, but a potential class action lawsuit is pending against Marriott Vacations Worldwide/Marriott Vacations Club regarding their switch to a Points system in 2010.

Originally filed in the Ninth Circuit Court in Orange County, FL, it was subsequently moved to Federal District Court. The Plaintiff is Salvatore Desantis on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated; the Defendants are Marriott Vacations Worldwide Corp., Marriott Ownership Resorts, Inc. d/b/a/ Marriott Vacation Club International, and Marriott Ownership Resorts Procurement LLC.

The complaint against Marriott is kind of reminiscent of the discontent generated when RCI developed its Points system and “Weeks” owners felt discriminated against; a class action lawsuit was filed against RCI in that case in 2006 (Murillo vs R.C.I.) and settled in 2008/09.

In this case Salvatore Desantis alleges that when Marriott stopped offering its Weeks Program in 2010 and switched to a Points Program, the company considerably devalued the timeshare interests of those in the Weeks Program. Because Weeks owners may only exchange with other Weeks owners, without enrolling new Weeks owners those currently in the program face a dwindling pool of properties/locations available for exchange.

Making it worse, Marriott allegedly has targeted Weeks owners for upgrades into the Points Program, claiming that it’s a better system — but the upgrade isn’t free. According to the complaint, Marriott charges upwards of $10,000 for Club Members in the Weeks Program to convert to the Points Program.

Note that in 2006 Desanti paid $17,400 for his timeshare at the Horizons by Marriott in Orlando, and has since paid all applicable maintenance fees, etc.

According to the complaint:

As a consequence of Marriott’s hard-sell effort targeted at Club Members in the Weeks Program, it has profited enormously by selling to its customers something Marriott has already sold them — the right to easily vacation in Marriott Club resort locations across the globe using their timeshare. Furthermore, with each “upgrade” sale it makes to Club Members in the Weeks Program, Marriott further undercuts the market for exchanging weeks and further devalues timeshares of those in the Weeks Program.

Marriott Vacation Club members enrolled in the Weeks Program have thus been left with two unappealing possibilities. They may accept that the once-robust trade network that once allowed them to new and different places is now so depleted that it either severely limits their options or confines them to only using their deeded real estate; or they may pay Marriott an enormous amount of money to receive a benefit they had already bargained and paid for.

The lawsuit claims that Marriott’s attempt to extract thousands of dollars by trying to resell members in the Weeks Program the very benefits they have taken away from them is fraudulent, deceptive and unconscionable.

The Class the Plaintiff seeks to represent is all MVC members who owned their timeshares under the Weeks Program at the time Marriott stopped selling that program, which was June 20, 2010. Man, that’s a whole lotta people! Attorneys in the case opine that the class could number up to 15,000 timeshare owners.

Marriott is being represented in this case by Greenberg Traurig. The plaintiff is being represented by three law firms: New York-based Squitieri & Fearon, Varnell & Warwick of Lady Lake, FL and Gersowitz Libo & Korek also of New York.

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

Florida USA Timeshare News: May 17, 2014

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

ORLANDO: Westgate Resorts has reported that the company has added 1,500 new positions this year, with 775 of them added in Central Florida. Nearly half the new positions, 673, are in sales and are commission-based. The hiring represents actual growth in the full-time and part-time workforce and not just seasonal hiring.

According to company spokesman Frank Blanco, the company’s total employment currently stands at 8,236. Last year at this time, it was less than 7,000.

Among the new positions are 150 employees the company took on when it purchased the Cocoa Beach Pier.

CEO David Siegel said that the company is in the “best financial position it has ever been in its 44-year existence.”

I could unleash a whole lot of snark here, but I’m feeling kind today so I’ll reserve the snark for another time… ;)

ANYhow, there’s no question that Westgate is getting BIGGER.


ALSO IN ORLANDO: Timeshare exchange company Resort Travel & Xchange’s member base has been growing so fast that the company recently opened a new 5,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art call center in Orlando.

Currently, the call center specifically services members of the Festiva Adventure Club, RTX’s largest client. RTX now serves more than 60,000 members, including nearly 22,000 Festiva Adventure Club members.

RTX works a little differently than most exchange companies. Unlike exchange companies that affiliate resorts, RTX recruits members instead. RTX allows its members to place search requests anywhere (not only affiliated resorts), after which the dedicated team searches for availability in all resorts and hotels in that area, rather than just in a directory. As a result, RTX members have access to the lowest exchange fees, the flexibility of split-week reservations and the longest deposit period in the entire exchange industry.


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: gatekeeper@insidethegate.com

Florida USA Timeshare News: May 3, 2014

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


COCOA BEACH: The big news in Cocoa Beach this week is only peripherally about timeshare, in that CFI/Westgate Resorts’ grand poobah is involved. Yep, “King David” Siegel, along with Jim Gissy (Westgate’s Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing) have partnered up to make a pretty impressive real estate investment in Cocoa Beach but it ain’t no resort. It’s the legendary Cocoa Beach Pier.

No price was revealed for the purchase, but an article in WOFL FOX 35 Orlando quotes Siegel as saying they are planning a massive facelift costing several millions of dollars and the “new pier will be wider, newer, and have a more corporate feel. Big named franchises like Starbucks, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and a Hershey’s Ice Cream store will soon be moving in, says Siegel. The 150 employees who work there can also keep their jobs, and plans call to keep the pier open while renovations are made in stages. The existing restaurants, bars, and their menus will be given a complete overhaul.” They plan to make it the premier family dining and entertainment destination for the Central Florida/Cocoa Beach community.

They currently have no plans to build a small timeshare on the massive parking lot by the pier, but you know how it goes. If the wind changes, well…

Established in 1962 the pier is currently home to 5 restaurants, 4 bars, gift shops, free live musical entertainment and an 800 foot long fishing pier! The pier also offers beach rentals, fresh water showers, regulation beach volleyball courts, lifeguards year round and some of the best surfing on the east coast. Annual events include beach concerts and surf festivals throughout the year.

Members of the Siegel family have called Brevard County home since 1972. During this time, David Siegel founded one of Central Florida’s most popular indoor family attractions – the Mystery Fun House, where he and his family learned the hospitality industry. David grew this early business into Westgate Resorts, which is now the largest privately owned timeshare company in the world.

David Siegel plans to utilize the pier as a means to bring his children into the family business and learn the art of entertaining families. I’m assuming that when he says “his children” he is referring to the eight kids he has with Jackie Siegel, since his other children are already all grown up?


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