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

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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.


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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 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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“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 26, 2014

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


ORLANDO: Look for an announcement from Orange Lake Resorts/Holiday Inn Club Vacations in the very near future. This would be in the “Getting BIGGER” category, as Ron Jon’s Cape Caribe Resort in Port Canaveral (Cocoa Beach) is reportedly under contract to be sold to Orange Lake with an official date for the changing of hands set for April 30.

This addition will bring the number of Orange Lake/Holiday Inn Club Vacations resorts to an even dozen, with locations in such popular vacation destinations as Lake Geneva, Wis.; Orlando, Panama City Beach and Marco Island, Fla.; Brownsville, Vt.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Gatlinburg, Tenn; Galveston, Texas; Williamsburg, Va.; and Las Vegas, Nev.

Word is that Cape Caribe owners still hadn’t been officially notified of the sale as of April 18, and they’re not happy about being left in the dark about the transaction.

Details of the deal are still scarce (but probably not for long). 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

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Florida USA Timeshare News: April 12, 2014

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


ORLANDO: Six people, claiming to work for three different companies, have been charged by the Florida Attorney General’s Office on one count each of organized fraud for operating a timeshare resale telemarketing scam. Investigators claim that timeshare owners across the country received unsolicited telephone calls from telemarketers representing Clement Park, Inc., Clyde Trails Financials, or Eastgate Solutions, LLC..

The individuals charged in the case are:

  • Kevin Michael Quinton, DOB 09/28/77, Tampa, FL
  • Susan Montiegel Siegel, DOB 04/10/51, Orlando, FL
  • Michael Matthew Ramos, DOB 06/03/66, Altamonte Springs, FL
  • Clinton E Becker, DOB 12/16/82, Wilmington, OH
  • Scott Douglas Stewart, DOB 10/27/55, Saint Cloud, FL
  • Jason Keith House, DOB 10/01/76, Kissimmee, FL

According to the investigation, no timeshares were actually sold through this scheme, and more than 350 victims have been identified with losses totaling more than $753,000.

The defendants used virtual offices in Tampa, but Kevin Jackson, Chief Investigator for Hillsborough County Consumer Protection, said, “Simply because this band of telemarketing timeshare thieves from the Orlando area utilized phony addresses, names, virtual offices, and bank accounts in Hillsborough County attempting to hide their trail, doesn’t mean we won’t spend the necessary time to unravel their scheme and make them pay for their crimes.”

If convicted the defendants each face up to 30 years or life in prison, and fines of up to $15,000. This case will be prosecuted by Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution.


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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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Getting BIGGER: April 12, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
Interval International has added five new properties to its network of affiliated resorts.

In Breckenridge, CO, Interval has affiliated The Colorado Grand, the newest project in the Breckenridge Grand Vacations (BGV) family of resorts. In conjunction with this affiliation, Interval has also extended its agreements with the three other BGV properties. The first BGV resort to join Interval was Gold Point Condominiums in 1985. It was followed by Grand Timber Lodge, then Grand Lodge on Peak 7, and now The Colorado Grand.

In Los Cabos, MX, Interval has welcomed The Resort at Diamante, a shared ownership property within the 1,500-acre Diamante Cabo San Lucas master-planned community. Situated just a few miles north of Cabo San Lucas city center, The Resort at Diamante will consist of 120 units to be constructed in three phases. The units will have a kitchen, Internet access, cable TV, iPod docking station, and private terraces. The first phase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.

Also in Mexico, Interval and and Karisma Hotels & Resorts have entered into a long-term, multi-site affiliation agreement for Generations Resorts, the newest brand operated by Karisma. This encompasses Generations Maroma and Generations Riviera Maya, two upscale beachfront developments in the Mexican Caribbean. Generations Riviera Maya recently opened with 144 large oceanfront units, swim-up infinity pools, and distinctive decorative accents inspired by Mexican culture.

Generations Maroma is a boutique property located on Maroma Beach, considered among Travel Channel’s best beaches in the world. The resort includes 30 units designed in a contemporary Caribbean decor, with views of lush tropical gardens or white sand and clear waters.

In Orlando, FL, Interval has signed a master affiliation with Club Trust LLC, doing business as staySky Vacation Club. The long-term agreement includes staySky Vacation Club’s four existing resorts in Orlando as well as future properties. Interval will provide reservation services, points-based exchange, and the comprehensive Interval Gold® package of expanded benefits.

Among the products offered by staySky Vacation Club are a points-based, multi-site vacation club; a membership-club plan; and a whole-ownership plan. The club’s flagship property is the luxurious Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, which has one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condominium-style units with private balconies in a village like setting just minutes from area theme parks.

Other resorts in the staySky Vacation Club are Hawthorn Suites Lake Buena Vista, staySky Suites-I Drive Orlando, and Enclave Suites.

In addition to those new affiliations, Preferred Residences®, a worldwide branding program for luxury shared ownership resorts offered by Interval International, has announced the addition of CéBlue Villas & Beach Resort, an exclusive private residence club on Anguilla in the Caribbean. The property is nestled on a hillside overlooking Crocus Bay and combines a relaxed atmosphere with luxuriously appointed villas. The nearly 8,000-square-foot villas feature five bedrooms and baths, gourmet kitchen, media room, state-of-the-art electronics, two spacious decks, private plunge pool and outdoor shower, and a two-car enclosed garage. Golf carts are available for use on the property.


RCI and Azure Malta have announced the signing of a multi-year agreement for the affiliation of Island Residence Club at Golden Sands Resort on Malta. Island Residence Club at Golden Sands, which joins the RCI network of affiliated resorts with the RCI Gold Crown Resort® property designation, offers a luxurious collection of residences in the prime setting of the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Golden Sands. The resort comprises 66 studio, 45 one-bedroom, 30 one-bedroom deluxes, 48 two-bedroom and two three-bedroom apartments, all generously appointed. Mediterranean styling is featured throughout the spacious accommodations, which benefit from large dining areas and unparalleled views of either the coastline or the unspoiled beauty of Malta’s largest nature and history park.


cheerleaderRCI and Interval International: getting BIGGER!


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Florida USA Timeshare News: February 22, 2014

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

CELEBRATION: Disney Vacation Club has renewed its multi-year affiliation agreement with RCI, extending a relationship that began when DVC swapped exchange partners from Interval International to RCI in 2008.

At the time of the move to RCI word on the street was that DVC’s properties just didn’t have the oomph necessary for good exchanges at Interval’s more prestigious resorts and the change made it easier for DVC members to get good trades. Be that as it may, it seems that the relationship with RCI has been a happy one (though I still occasionally hear wistful whispers from members desiring to go back to Interval).

DVC currently offers vacation ownership options at 12 resorts located in Florida, California, Hawaii and South Carolina. Its next planned resort will be built at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, located on Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World Resort, near its newest property to open, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. When Disney’s Polynesian Resort project is completed, Disney Vacation Club will have destinations at all three resorts on the monorail system, including Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Resort, allowing easy access to Magic Kingdom Park.

And of course the affiliation with RCI offers DVC’s members options to exchange at nearly 4,500 affiliated resorts in more than 100 countries. And that ain’t hay!


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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

Getting BIGGER: February 8, 2014

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
Defender Resorts has been chosen by the Board of Directors of LeHigh Resort Club as their new professional management company.

LeHigh Resort Club is a secluded and expansive 154-unit property with an on-site golf course located in LeHigh Acres, on Florida’s West Coast near Fort Myers Beach. LeHigh Resort Club joins 23 other resorts (25 associations) in the Defender Resorts management portfolio as their largest resort and first one with its own golf course.

Defender Resorts, Inc. has been providing quality management service to the timeshare and vacation ownership industry for more than 30 years. Headquartered in Myrtle Beach, SC., they currently have offices in five states. The company presently manages timeshare resorts in Myrtle Beach & North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Ocean City, Maryland; Dewey Beach, Delaware; Boca Raton, Lehigh Acres & Jensen Beach, Florida and Lenox & Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Beech Mountain, North Carolina, Grand Cayman Islands, St. Croix, USVI, Dutch Caribbean and the Florida Keys.


Elite Alliance, a leader in exchange services for prestigious residence clubs and luxury, professionally managed vacation homes, has welcomed The Residence Club of Argentina to its international portfolio.

The Residence Club accommodations, located in Argentina’s most coveted destinations, combine the advantages of real estate ownership, the services and amenities of a luxury resort, and membership privileges at private sporting and wine clubs. The three properties included are:

  • Buenos Aires – Palermo Tower
  • Mendoza – Auberge du Vin
  • Bariloche – Arelauquen Lodge

cheerleaderDefender Resorts & Elite Alliance: getting BIGGER!


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Florida USA Timeshare News: January 18, 2014

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

ORLANDO: CFI Sales & Marketing LLC (Westgate Resorts) has filed lawsuits against more than four dozen of its former timeshare sales reps, seeking to claw back thousands of dollars in commissions paid to each of them years ago. At least 53 defendants are being sued in Orange County Circuit Court alone (so far), with another handful in Osceola County Circuit Court.

At issue is the infamous “six timely, consecutive payments” clause in their contracts, and here’s how that works (in case you don’t know).

Let’s say you make a sale. In most timeshare sales scenarios in the USA you collect the downstroke, the papers are signed, then you sweat out the rescission period before you can receive your commission. Once the rescission period has passed you are eligible to get paid, but 10% of that commission is plopped into a reserve fund to offset commissions on any deals that go sideways.

Under the six timely consecutive payments scenario, depending on how it’s structured, you might have to wait until the purchaser has made those payments to collect your commission. In Westgate’s case, they pay you half-commission the next day (at least they used to; do they still?), then you wait for the remainder until the required payments have been made.

What if the purchaser makes 6 consecutive payments but one of them is received a day late? The period is started all over again, and you have to sit through another 6 timely consecutive payments period to collect the commissions owed even though the developer has in fact collected the money. As you can see, under this scenario you can wait a very long time to get paid. Meanwhile, the 10% of your sales commissions being plopped into your reserve fund continues to accumulate.

Historically — in many cases under many timeshare developers — once you leave that employer you suddenly discover that not only will you not collect owed commissions but they’ll claim you owe them, in spite of those developers having kept the down payment and whatever subsequent payments the purchasers have made.

What this clause does in a nutshell is to penalize the sales person for the payment habits of the purchasers, regardless of the reason(s) for a late or non-payment.

Anyhow, that clause is at the core of Westgate’s claims against these former sales reps, most of whom have not worked for the company for several years. Westgate alleges that the defendants (each of whom has been sued separately) were paid commissions they didn’t earn, that there wasn’t enough money in their reserve accounts to cover those commissions, and that clause gives the company the right to go after those commissions. It goes something like this (quoted from another lawsuit, Satterfield v CFI):

In the event [Plaintiff] is no longer engaged by CFI, irrespective of the reason for the termination of engagement, [Plaintiff] shall be charged back for all sales upon which commission[s] have been paid in the event the purchaser(s) has/have not made six (6) timely and consecutive monthly payments as well as ten percent (10%) minimum down payment.

But here’s the kicker: At least the majority of those currently being sued were previously involved in a class action lawsuit against Westgate/CFI for unfair wage and hour practices (alleging that Westgate improperly classified them as independent contractors when in fact they were employees and should have been paid as such). That case was finally settled last summer.

Coincidence? They don’t think so…

You can get more details, including some names and quotes from attorneys for both sides, in The Orlando Sentinel.

PS: There’s a little ditty in timeshare land that is said to have originated with Westgate sales reps years ago. Is it relevant here?

Hire ‘em in masses
Train ‘em in classes
Fire their asses
Keep their reserves.

king tut


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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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Florida USA Timeshare News: December 21, 2013

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

ORLANDO: Largo-based Finn Law Group has filed another lawsuit against a timeshare company; this time it’s Orange Lake Resort’s turn, and the lawsuit alleges that the resort and its subsidiaries engaged in unfair consumer collections practices that violated state and federal law and invaded the privacy of the timeshare owners.

The suit, Laning, et al. v. Orange Lake Country Club Inc., et al., cause no. 2013-CA-014732-O, was filed on behalf of several timeshare owners on Dec. 13 in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, in Orange County.

The suit alleges that Orange Lake and its subsidiaries began contacting the timeshare owners using an automated dialing system. The harassing calls led the plaintiffs to believe they had to choose between paying an alleged debt or they would continue to receive the misdirected communications. The timeshare owners hired the Finn Law Group and the law firm notified Orange Lake of its representation. Despite the notice, Orange Lake continued its debt collection attempts. The complaint alleges violations of Florida’s Unfair Debt Collections Practices Act, the federal Telephone Communications Protection Act and invasion of privacy.

The timeshare owners seek an injunction that would put an end to the resort’s debt collection phone calls and letters as well as an award of damages, costs, attorneys’ fees and other relief the court deems proper.

How many timeshare-related lawsuits does Finn have in the queue now anyway? Five? Six? More?

He’s a busy busy man. There’s nothing like getting an attorney mad at an entire industry to keep that industry’s own attorneys hopping. ;)


WEST PALM BEACH: In June this year Doris A. Heliin and Joseph R. Heinz pleaded guilty to mail fraud conspiracy in federal court in a timeshare resales fraud case. They have now been sentenced and will soon begin serving time in the Big House.

Heliin, who must surrender to begin serving her prison term by Feb. 18, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in federal prison. She could have received as much as 20 years, but got a lesser sentence as a result of her cooperation with authorities to help convict her three comrades in crime. She was also ordered to pay $520,342 in restitution.

Heinz, whose role in the fraud was not as great, was sentenced to one year and two months in prison and must begin serving his punishment by March 7. He was ordered to pay $74,289 in restitution.

Heliin was one of the directors for Smart Choice Vacations and TMI Enterprises Inc., which was started in 2010. With the assistance of fellow scammer Keith B. Schilling (who pleaded guilty in May), they opened boiler rooms and hired telemarketers (including Heinz) to call timeshare owners around the country. You know the drill. They convinced their victims to send anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for nonexistent services and kept the money for their own use. More than 250 timeshare owners lost a total of $1.1 million in the scam.

And that’s that.


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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