Friday, April 28, 2006


Timeshare Resort Planned Near CW

A hotel with a prime location near Colonial Williamsburg will be renovated and turned into timeshares as part of a plan to build around 500 timeshares next to the Historic Area.

The Patrick Henry Inn and open land next to the Historic Area would become a timeshare resort in a project planned by a new development company.

Colonial Penniman LLC plans to build 400 timeshares on 18 acres at the corner of Page and Penniman Streets, according to site plans the company submitted to the city this week. The Colonial Capitol Inn, which is on that land, would be replaced by six four-story buildings. The group also plans to renovate the Patrick Henry Inn on York Street, converting the two hotel buildings to timeshare suites. That will add about 90 or 100 more timeshares to the resort, group spokesman Jim Bennett said Thursday.

The project will attract visitors throughout the year who will stay longer than they might if they were in a hotel, Bennett said. The location will be the timeshares' biggest selling point, he said. "You're right across the street from the restored area."

Hotelier Hunter Vermillion will sell the land and hotels to Colonial Penniman, Bennett said. Colonial Penniman is made up of local business owners and real estate developers, he said. The 2- and 3-bedroom timeshares would also have access to a spa, exercise equipment and indoor and outdoor pools.

How soon the timeshares would be built depends on the city's approval process. The land is already zoned for business use, but the Architectural Review Board must OK designs for the timeshares, since the project is near the Historic Area. The Planning Commission is slated to review the plans in June.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Unraveling A Bad Timeshare Purchase Is Possible

Spending money wisely is important, but it's also important to undo money mistakes. Timeshare vacation properties are a good example.

Timeshares are the right to use a vacation home, often a condo at a resort, usually during a specific week each year.

We've previously examined why timeshares are a complicated purchase and are bad as real estate investments, especially if purchased new from a resort.

But what if you succumbed to the hard-sell pitch from a timeshare sales representative and bought one, then regretted it? Getting out is difficult, as many readers have found. Here's a sampling:

"Please send me anything that may be helpful to sell these timeshares. I would be happy to get my initial investment back."

"Do you have any suggestions after the damage has been done, as far as unloading this beast?"

"Help! We have a timeshare and don't know how to get rid of it. We know that we will not get our money back, but we don't know where to turn."

"I simply want out of this time share, even if it means forfeiting my initial investment and assessments paid to date."

Jeffrey Strain, operator of the Timeshare Trap Web site (, said he hears about those situations all the time.

"Unless the timeshare owner is in an extremely unique situation, they are going to lose a lot of money," Strain said.

There are no perfect ways to get out of a timeshare. But here are some do's and don'ts that might help.

Don't pay an upfront listing fee. If you pay an upfront commission or fee, often $400 to $700, to someone promising to sell your timeshare, you'll probably get no results.

"More often than not, these companies are in the business of taking your listing fee and nothing more," said Lisa Ann Schreier, founder of Timeshare Insights, which guides consumers through timeshare arrangements, and author of "Surviving a Timeshare Presentation ... Confessions From the Sales Table" and "Timeshare Vacations for Dummies."

Do try to sell it back. Check with your home resort to see if it will buy back the timeshare. "Resorts that are sold out or close to being sold out may make you a reasonable offer," Schreier said.

Do try renting your timeshare week. In a few years, you could make more than if you'd dumped it on the resale market at a fire-sale price. And renting it should more than make up for your annual fees, which can run about $500 per year.

Do try to sell it online. Use eBay and other timeshare listing Web sites that don't charge upfront fees but take commissions on the sale. Just realize you'll rarely get all your money back on a resale, and eBay shoppers are looking for timeshares at huge discounts.

Do try selling it yourself. Advertise in local newspapers and vacation magazines. "If you want to get the best price, you're going to have to sell it yourself and do a lot of leg work on your own," Strain said.

Don't abandon it. If you owe money on the timeshare, stopping payments probably will damage your credit rating.

Don't ask too much. Listing a timeshare above the cheapest comparable timeshare will mean it will sit unsold.

Do consider using a pro. "You can use a reseller or commissioned real estate agent that only gets paid for the sale, but you'll have to price it under market value or give a bigger commission to get rid of it fast," Strain said.

Do your homework on resellers. Check out the reseller by contacting the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general's office and consumer protection agencies in the state where the reseller is located. "If there are any complaints against the seller, walk away," Strain said.

Do try to transfer payments. If you financed the timeshare, just turn it over to someone willing to take over the remaining payments. Whatever you paid will be lost, but you will avoid any future payments and monthly fees.

In getting rid of a timeshare, you'll have to fight human nature, which wants to at least get even on a bad deal before abandoning it. Realize that won't happen on a timeshare you don't want. Dump it, take the loss and be rid of it. Holding onto it while waiting for a good price offer that may never come just makes a bad spending decision worse.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Partial Ownership & Timeshare Real Estate Financial Realities

Timeshares, fractional residences, and destination clubs offer the chance to spend time in a coastal home without the responsibility of maintenance. But do they make sense financially?

Before making a decision, answering the following questions can help you choose the best second-home or timeshare option.

Do you want to make a real estate investment, or an investment in your lifestyle? If you want a real estate investment, individually purchasing a second home not a timeshare is probably your best bet.

How much time do you spend in your coastal home each year? It depends on what you’re willing to pay, but you generally get one to two weeks with a timeshare, four to 13 weeks with a fractional residence, and four to eight weeks with a club membership. (Some clubs do offer unlimited stays.)

Do you like returning to the same place, or would you rather join a destination club and try different locales each year? If you decide on a fractional or timeshare, make sure you really love the area because—unless you can swap weeks at a different timeshare through an exchange company—it’s where you’ll be vacationing forever. When choosing a destination club, look for one that offers amenities you’ll use. If you’re an avid golfer, research clubs that specialize in locations with the best courses.

How much money do you want to spend? Timeshares typically cost the least, and club memberships, the most. All three most likely require annual dues, property upkeep fees, and other charges.

As with any property, resale prices for fractionals and timeshares depend on market conditions. However, real estate values are not comparable to those of a second home. Historically, timeshare resale values have been low. Many timeshare contracts require owners to offer the unit to the resort company before trying to sell it on the open market. This helps developers protect property values for all units, new and old. Fractional residences, which have fewer owners, can often compete more directly with the second-home market. Destination club memberships cannot be resold, though most are refundable at about 80 percent of the purchase price.

The bottom line:
Average timeshare: $12,000–$14,000 per week
Fractional: $300,000–$500,000 for four to 13 weeks
Destination club: $75,000–$500,000 or more; some offer unlimited stays

Monday, April 24, 2006


Arab Timeshare Real Estate Market 'Is Worth $1BN'

The timeshare research was commissioned by RCI Middle East, part of the global RCI Global Vacation Network, the largest vacation exchange and vacation timeshare organization in the world and conducted across a sample of nationalities including Saudi Arabians, Kuwaitis, Emiratis, Iranians and Egyptians.

A preview of the findings said Arab nationals purchasing various types of shared ownership, is conservatively estimated at well over $1 billion. The research will be unveiled at a major leisure real estate industry symposium in Dubai on April 29.

Vivienne Noyes-Thomas, managing director of RCI Middle East: "The main purpose of the research is to quantify the potential pan-Arab market for luxury timeshare, fractional ownership and other types of shared ownership in leisure developments in the region. There are numerous superb timeshare projects in the planning stages, but now we can qualify what the consumer is really looking for and what this product can deliver in increased returns for developers and operators."

"The research is still being finalised so it's too early to be fully precise at this stage. But this news will be welcomed by the many industry delegates already signed up for our Symposium, 'New Horizons in Shared Ownership', taking place at the Burj Al Arab," added Noyes-Thomas.

Possibly one of the most exciting of these is the new trend for what is known as religious timeshare. A number of major projects are already underway in the Islamic centres of Makkah and Madinah and the research indicates these are likely to be highly popular amongst Muslim pilgrims.

Another timeshare pattern that the study has quantified is the regional preference to holiday close to home. The domestic tourism market in Saudi Arabia is understandably vast, with nearly half the Saudi respondents expressing a preference to timeshare holiday within the Kingdom.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Marriott Profits Hit By New Timeshare Accounting Charge

Marriott International, the world's largest hotel operator by revenue, on Thursday said first-quarter profits were hit by an accounting charge for timeshares, but adjusted earnings beat expectations as hotels raise room rates.

With business and leisure travel surging and hotel supply limited, Marriott boosted room rates 8 per cent in first quarter and continued to improve margins.

Few new hotels are being built in the US because of the high cost of commodities due to feverish construction in emerging markets such as China.

Marriott, whose brands include Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance, said demand for timeshare resorts continues to be robust, particularly at its properties in Las Vegas, Maui, Phuket, and St Thomas.

Timeshares have been an engine for growth for large US hotel chains in the past few years as families and the swelling population of baby boomers devote more time to leisure.

Many of Marriott's projects are sold-out or selling faster than expected, which will result in a 2 per cent decline this year in total revenue from timeshares and vacation products as inventory shrinks.

However, the company will begin selling units at Ritz-Carlton Clubs in Miami Beach, San Francisco and Kapalua, Hawaii with more projects to come in Kauai, Hawaii and Thailand.

Timeshares, part of the fast-growing "vacation ownership" business, have come under more regulatory scrutiny as the industry swells.

New accounting rules for the timeshare industry took effect in first quarter, changing the way revenues, sales costs and maintenance fees for unsold timeshare inventory are recorded.

As a result, Marriott booked a $105m non-cash charge, which dragged down first-quarter net income 55 per cent to $65m compared to last year.

Excluding charges, adjusted net income jumped 31 per cent to $167m. Quarterly revenues rose 7 per cent to $2.7bn.

Marriott projects continued strength through the year with operating income from lodging expected to rise between 31 to 35 per cent to reach $915m-$945m in 2006.

It estimates revenue per available room , or "Revpar" - a key industry indicator - will grow 8-10 per cent this year.

But insurance costs for US hotel properties have at least trebled, especially in regions with high risk of natural disaster.

Insurance for New Orleans hotels has jumped at least 10 times, yet 90 per cent of Marriott's hotel rooms in the city are open ahead of big business conventions starting in June.

Looks like timeshare real estate is on the rise again.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Georgi Bohrod & Associates Marketing Helps Timeshare Industry

Georgi Bohrod’s role in changing the public perception of the timeshare industry is widely acknowledged. She has received awards for collateral material design, interactive media design and public relations campaigns. Most recently she received an ARDA (American Resort Development Association) Silver Award for Villa La Estancia (Cabo San Lucas) Home Owners Materials.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Bohrod has spent most of her professional life as a writer, and public relations and marketing professional. Her primary focus is on the travel, timeshare resort, fractional ownership, and real estate industries.

Most recently, after piloting her own company for a decade, she left to become director of marketing and public relations of Timeshare Resort Communications where she spearheaded the marketing, design and public relations campaign for the merger of Resort Communications and International Resort Management into ResortCom International, a leading financial and management services entity in San Diego. She returned to the helm of her own organization in June 2004.

Georgi Bohrod & Associates are credited with the industry brand positioning and consumer public relations campaign for the World’s Finest Timeshare Resorts, an exchange organization for fractional and private residence clubs which was recently sold to Cendant as the hub of its Registry Collection.

“We are proud of our consortium of writers, designers and creative people who can bring fresh thoughts and new looks into the timeshare industry,” said Bohrod. “Our work focuses primarily on marketing strategies, collateral materials and public relations campaigns in both the Business to Business and Consumer markets.”

Monday, April 17, 2006


Hyatt Plans To Swap Golfing For Timeshare Units

Newport Beach hotel is putting down its sand wedge and picking up its timeshare shoes.

Hyatt Newport Beach's owners have submitted plans to convert the nine-hole Back Bay Golf course into a time-share development and build a 24,387-square-foot ballroom on the hotel's southwest parking lot.

The expansion will require approval from the City Council and the California Coastal Commission because the project will require an exemption from the city's coastal height-limitation code.

The proposal has been submitted to a Costa Mesa environmental consulting firm that will draft an environmental report on the project.

The city of Newport Beach's senior planner, James Campbell, said the changes could present some traffic and aesthetic concerns, but he expects the process to run smoothly.

"I don't necessarily think there is going to be any impacts, but that's why we're studying it," he said.

The timeshare resort's owner, Sunstone Hotel Investors, is hoping to construct 88 timeshare units on the space currently used for the 31-year-old golf course, with buildings of three and four stories.

The proposed 45-foot structures are 10 feet higher than what is allowed in the city's coastal zone, and Sunstone is asking the city and the Coastal Commission to change the coastal zone's boundaries to exclude part of the hotel property.

The developer also hopes to build a large ballroom facility with an 11,000-square-foot master ballroom and a two-story parking center. A new 10,000-square-foot health and beauty spa is planned for the hotel.


National Harbor To Get More Hotels, Condos, And Timeshare Units

Developer Milton V. Peterson revved the engine of his silver Mercedes through the thick red mud and gravel of his $2 billion National Harbor project on the banks of the Potomac River in Prince George's County.

"Some view, huh?" Peterson said, as he extricated the car from the muck of the construction site. He pointed from a hillside of sycamore and cherry trees down to the sun sparkling on the water with the District and Alexandria skylines in the background.

After 11 years of planning and design for the largest economic development project ever in Prince George's, the first phase of National Harbor -- 4 million square feet of hotels, restaurants, retail stores and timeshare condominiums -- is under construction.

Today, Peterson, accompanied by County Executive Jack B. Johnson, plans to announce that five major hotel chains will open properties at National Harbor, in addition to the 2,000-room hotel and convention center that is already being built by Gaylord Hotels.

Peterson said the additional hotels and timeshares being announced today will include a Hampton Inn, a Residence Inn by Marriott, a 195-room Westin, a boutique hotel called Aloft run by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., and a 246-unit Fairfield Resorts timeshare property. They will bring the total number of hotel rooms at the 350-acre complex to just under 3,000.

"We want to draw the tourist, the conventioneer and the business traveler," Peterson said as he showed off the mounds of dirt, cranes and bulldozers on the site where the hotels will go. "We want to give each of those kinds of travelers something more than a bed, a bureau and a bathroom, as in a timeshare."

That prospect is causing increasing concern in the District's hospitality industry, which is already starting to feel the effects of a new, nearby competitor in Peterson's project.

Over the past three decades, Peterson, 70, has built some of the largest timeshare developments in the Washington area, including Fair Lakes and Fairfax Corner in Northern Virginia and the Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg. He also played a major role in the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring.

The state and county have provided more than $300 million for roadway interchanges and infrastructure near the National Harbor project, just south of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Peterson designed it after seeing Las Ramblas, a popular street in central Barcelona.

"I just fell in love with the feeling of Las Ramblas because it was so active and it has a center plaza," Peterson said as he showed off a 12-by-10-foot model of the project, which about 30 consultants are helping him design and build.

The model in the lobby of an office he rents on Oxon Hill Road, overlooking the project, is complete with little people walking along wide sidewalks and sitting at outdoor cafes, a maritime museum, water taxis docking at piers, condominiums with balconies, the large atrium at the Gaylord hotel, and trees that he wants to line the main avenue.

"We'll have that with kiosks where you can buy something to eat, and we'll have art shows and entertainment," Peterson said as he fussed with the miniature trees. "We're creating a city" -- a city that will compete directly with the District for hotel guests and business meetings.

Gaylord, which expects to open its hotel in March 2008, already has booked almost 600,000 room nights -- the total number of rooms booked, multiplied by the number of nights they are reserved -- Peterson said. Many groups that hold large-scale meetings book hotel rooms and convention space years in advance. Gaylord owns complexes at Opryland in Nashville, near Disney World in Kissimmee, Fla., and at the Lake Grapevine resort in Texas.

The District's largest hotel, the 1,300-room Marriott Wardman Park on Connecticut Avenue NW, has lost three events to the Gaylord -- two military-related shows and a major computer software company's meeting, according to Ed Rudzinski, the general manager at the Wardman Park. He said losing the three annual shows cost him $6 million a year in room revenue, food and beverages, and banquets.

"They're not to be taken lightly," said Joe Stern, sales director for the Grand Hyatt Washington, referring to National Harbor. The National Harbor has not had any "dramatic effect" on his hotel at this point, he said. But, as its opening gets closer, he expects to compete with the Gaylord hotel for shows that need 1,000 to 2,000 rooms. "Every dollar lost to Prince George's can be directly linked to lost tax revenue to the city," Stern said.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Luxury Residence Clubs & Timeshare Ownership Take Hold On Strip

What some call the "ownership society" appears to be one characterized by home ownership, often several homes at once -- and that is what timeshare developers like Marriott Vacation Club International are banking upon. The number of multiple-home-owning families in the U.S. has doubled since 1994, and properties such as Marriott's Grand Chateau are positioned to capitalize on that trend.

Located a stone's throw from the Strip (75 E. Harmon Ave.), the Grand Chateau is still in quasi-embryonic condition. That hasn't held back demand. Since the first wing of an eventual X-form tower opened last October, some 9,000 timeshare owners have signed on for 200 available units.

When the Grand Chateau reaches 895-unit capacity (projected in 2016), Marriott will be able to accommodate approximately 46,000 timeshare owners every 51.5 weeks. Currently, the first tower is running at 90 percent occupany midweek and 98 percent on weekends. Construction on the second tower begins in March.

Timeshare properties like Grand Chateau are part of a growing trend, the so-called "luxury-residence club," whereby the affluent can divide their year between multiple residences in various chi-chi locales. Marriott's grasp extends from Bailly-Romainvilliers, near Euro-Disney, in France, to Oahu.

One competitor, Exclusive Resorts, boasts exotic getaway holdings in Costa Rica and Fiji ... and even aboard ocean liners, for those who take the phrase "a moveable feast" literally.


Marriott has been in the vacation-timeshare game since 1984, when it opened Marriott's Monarch, on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Business was evidently so good that five other Marriott Vacation Club resorts have since sprung up on Hilton Head alone. In the last decade, Marriott Vacation Clubs has seen year upon year of 20 percent growth. Half of that business comes from extant Vacation Club timeshare owners adding additional properties or referring friends. Some Vacation Club members own at least four timeshares apiece.

Vegas proved a tough nut to crack, however. According to Edward Kinney, Marriott's vice president for corporate affairs and brand awareness, it took the company 10 years to find the right location. The eventual site, just around the corner from the Aladdin Resort & Casino, "was a home run for us," leading the company's portfolio for sales by a considerable margin, Kinney said. It's also one of the first high-rise vacation clubs, a decision mandated by the Grand Chateau's 3.2-acre footprint.

Stays at the Grand Chateau can be "floated" throughout the year, depending on demand. (Translation: Unless you're already a member with multiple timeshares to your name, don't expect to get dibs on New Year's Eve.) During a slow period, $16,000 buys you a week in a one-bedroom condo, while $75,000 nabs you a three-bedroom. That fee also purchases bellman service and valet parking for one of the tower's 900 garage spaces.

Although the units tend to be long and narrow, and tightly packed with furniture, they do not lack for amenities. Sony supplies alarm clocks, DVD players and multiple TV sets -- including 42-inch, wall-mounted plasma displays -- for each condo. Granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances are becoming standard, and Marriott is in the process of upgrading the bedding over the next year and a half. "We have essentially taken over every textile factory there is," said Kinney of the 800,000 sheet-set order.


Hilton Grand Vacations Company Announces Official Grand Opening of Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Waikoloa Beach Timeshare Resort

Hilton Grand Vacations Company, LLC (HGVC) today announced the official grand opening of the 120 timeshare unit Hilton Grand Vacations Club at Waikoloa Beach Resort in Waikoloa, Hawaii. A spectacular celebration marked the debut of the 30th vacation timeshare ownership property in the HGVC resort portfolio.

Incorporating a "Taste of the Big Island" theme throughout the gala event, the HGVClub opened in grand style as the newest addition to the renowned Waikoloa Beach Resort. More than 200 invited guests and local dignitaries joined Hilton executives and management team members for the celebration. Featured speakers included Antoine Dagot, President and CEO of HGVC; Mark Wang, HGVC Senior Vice President - Hawaii; and T.J. Oesterling, Regional Director of HGVC Resort Operations, Hawaii.

This project has been met with an enthusiastic response from customers throughout the world, and our sales of timeshare intervals remain on target."

Mr. Dagot further emphasized the significance of the new timeshare resort as he noted, "Today, the HGVC collection of timeshare resorts has been enhanced with an extraordinary new property in Hawaii. The Big Island provides an ideal location for the newest Hilton Grand Vacations Club resort. Throughout the past six years, we have progressively strengthened Hilton's leadership presence in luxury timeshare development in Hawaii. With the debut of this spectacular new resort, the tremendous success of two thriving HGV Club destinations at the Hilton we truly regard Hawaii as one of our mega-markets. We look forward to fulfilling our Club Members' expectations of returning to this magnificent region for generations to come."

The new HGVClub property is superbly situated within the Waikoloa Beach Resort, near the Hilton Waikoloa Village and is adjacent to the HGVClub-affiliated Bay Club resort. Panoramic views of two championship golf courses complement the spacious two-bedroom condominium-style accommodations. Upscale tropical decor is incorporated throughout each casually elegant suite. In addition to two private bedrooms, each unit (accommodating up to six guests) is complete with living and dining areas, and a full kitchen equipped with refrigerator, microwave, range/oven, blender, toaster, rice cooker, coffee maker, dishwasher, and a selection of cookware, glassware, and dinnerware. Color televisions with cable/DVD are located in both bedrooms and the living room; additional amenities include high-speed, wireless Internet access; a CD player, AM/FM clock radio; washer and dryer, iron and ironing board.

On-property amenities include a heated swimming pool with children's area; whirlpool spa; a pool bar; and picnic areas with barbeque grills. Additionally, timeshare owners, HGVClub Members, and guests staying at the resort have access to the extensive recreational amenities at the neighboring Hilton Waikoloa Village. Complimentary shuttle service is also provided to the Waikoloa Beach Resort, offering abundant facilities and amenities including an enticing array of restaurants, boutiques, beaches, and water recreation. Another great opportunity for some timeshare real estate.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Hyatt Timeshare Resorts and Cranium(R) Announce Exclusive Partnership

Hyatt Timeshare Resorts today launched the newest addition to its portfolio of family-friendly offerings with an exclusive partnership with Cranium, Inc., the company that reinvented the board game category in 1998 with the launch of Cranium® and a pledge to give everybody the chance to shine. Together, Hyatt and Cranium are partnering to offer Hyatt guests full access to a Cranium Game Library plus the time to play together during "Fun Family Hour" at Hyatt's 18 stunning resort properties in the continental U.S., Hawaii and the Caribbean. Cranium games also will be available for advanced purchase through the new Hyatt E-Concierge, a service that allows families to plan vacation itineraries weeks in advance of their stay. Additionally, families will be greeted with a signature Cranium welcome gift throughout the summer months.

The Cranium partnership complements Hyatt Timeshare Resorts' already established menu of family-friendly amenities such as extraordinarily designed pools, Camp Hyatt and action-packed activities indigenous to each timeshare resort area. In an increasingly digital age, this partnership emphasizes opportunities for families to take the time to unplug, unwind and engage in fun together.

"At every Hyatt Timeshare Resort families can participate in creative, fun and culturally relevant activities such as etching silver jewelry with the Hopi Tribe at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa or surfing lessons in Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach," explains Jeff Flater, assistant vice president, Hyatt Timeshare Resort Marketing. "Cranium's emphasis on laughter and togetherness blends well with Hyatt Resorts goal of encouraging family interaction on vacation."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Timeshare Development Proposed

Bluegreen Corporation wants to build a 76-unit timeshare development at Treasure Island resort, the Lake Delton plan commission and village board heard Monday.

Village engineer John Langhans recommended approving the conceptual plans for the development, provided issues with watermains, easements, new roads, and parking and internal signage are taken care of.

"We are recommending that the water main shall be extended along Clara Avenue to serve this development. So an extension of the Clara Avenue water main is to extend to the east of the proposed access drive to the property line. The developers have proposed the interconnection of the private Treasure Island main to the existing private main to connect that to this proposed Bluegreen system," Langhans said.

However, due to differing interpretations of municipal codes, Langhans said connecting the private main to the proposed development is not allowed.

"Both myself and the developer's consultants are trying to work with the regulatory agencies Department of Commerce and PSC, as well as DNR to find out if this is actually a legal situation," Langhans said. "Future determination on the feasibility of this shall be made pending code clarification from the regulators."

Langhans told the board the shared water main issue may not be a problem at all because the Bluegreen parcel could use a separate main. "Then this issue goes away," Langhans said.

The existing 40 foot access easement off Clara Avenue has been looked at, and Langhans said it would need to be expanded to 66 feet so that the easement could connect Clara Avenue and Highway 12. "All of that would be on currently Mattei-owned property," he said.

The easement would allow for shared access and possibly a future right of way between Clara Avenue and Highway 12, Langhans said.

Langhans also recommended a new roadway be installed from the existing Treasure Island parking lot to the proposed shared access for Bluegreen off Clara Avenue.

Internal signs will need to be developed by Bluegreen and Treasure Island to instruct guests where and how to exit the property on Clara Avenue. The main exit for the proposed development would be off Clara Avenue, so as to not further congest Highway 12.

Langhans asked that the proposed Bluegreen parking lot be revised so it would not encroach onto the proposed easement. "It looks like that can be easily accommodated," he said.

A three-party development agreement will be necessary to address development issues with the project, Langhans said.

Since this project is only at the conceptual stage, further plans would need to be submitted for final approval.

Carter Arndt, an architect with ADCI also spoke at the plan commission meeting. He told the commission Bluegreen, which is a vacation timeshare company, was looking forward to coming to Lake Delton. Bluegreen is not new to the area, as one of its timeshare developments, Christmas Mountain Village, is off County H in Dellona.

Arndt told the commission he feels the plans submitted to the village are consistent with Langhans' recommendations and concerns.

Village trustee and commission member Jeff Hynum asked Langhans about the impact of the traffic on Clara Avenue. Langhans said right now, Clara Avenue already gets quite a bit of traffic from Treasure Island, and he doesn't think an exit on Clara Avenue would be a problem. Down the road, Langhans said, traffic issues on Clara Avenue may need to be revisited.

Hynum said, "If we recommend it to them (Bluegreen) that we would like them going out the back rather than out the front because it would impact Highway 12, that same impact could have an impact on Clara Avenue - not necessarily traffic wise but road widths, road quality-wise."

Village trustee and commission member Tom Diehl said it was like Noah's Ark, with one entrance on Highway 12 and two exits not on Highway 12. Internal signs, Diehl said, would direct traffic to where it needed to be.

Langhans said he did not recommend a traffic impact analysis for this particular development.

Hynum asked Langhans if he had ever driven on Clara Avenue at night, to which Langhans said he didn't think he had.

The commission approved recommendation to the village board.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Siegel's Vegas Timeshare Affiliates With Interval International

Orlando timeshare developer David Siegel's Las Vegas project, the Planet Hollywood Towers by Westgate, has come to an exclusive agreement with Interval International to provide accommodation exchanges at other timeshare resorts.

The 50-story condominium tower will include more than 1,200 units ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. It is expected to open in late 2007. Meeting and convention space will total 35,000 square feet.

The Towers will be connected to the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, which includes 12 restaurants and a full-service mall with more than 140 stores.

Westgate Resorts is a subsidiary of Orlando-based Central Florida Investments Inc., which operates and manages timeshare properties in Central Florida and other parts of the United States. The company is the third-largest timeshare company in the world with more than 350,000 owners.

Interval International services nearly 1.8 million members with a global network of more than 2,000 affiliated resorts in more than 75 countries, and has 28 offices in 19 countries. Headquartered in Miami, Interval is part of IAC/InterActive Corp., which also owns, Citysearch, Entertainment Publications, HSN, LendingTree and Ticketmaster.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Timeshare Ordinance OK’d

There aren’t any timeshares at Richland Chambers Reservoir yet, but members of the Navarro County Lake Planning and Zoning Commission weren’t waiting.

The commission approved a new ordinance governing timeshares and other fractional uses, during their monthly meeting Thursday at the courthouse.

P&Z vice-chair Barbara Moe, leading the meeting in the absence of chairman Terry Jacobson, said there is nothing to stop four or five people from going together and jointly purchasing a home and mapping out when each could use it “and if we did anything about that we ... could be infringing on their rights.”

But when it comes to a timeshare situation where it is for commercial use, it’s another story, she said.

P&Z member David Martin noted that there is a key difference between the two situations, the group buy and timeshares.

“In a timeshare you are purchasing time not a real estate interest,” Martin said. “In the other case it’s a real estate deal ... there’s a property interest.”

Moe said the ordinance passed at the meeting spells out what can and cannot be done, like actually having a timeshare project. The ordinance prevents that type of business from being in a residential area, for example.

With the ordinance in place, if a situation arises that is out of line, it gives a neighborhood or a homeowners association a leg to stand on. They can also pursue civil litigation in regards to deed restriction violations, Moe said.

Lake area developer Jerry Jackson said he had never considered the timeshare situation rising, but was glad the commission had.

“It seems like a good place to start,” Jackson said of the ordinance. “I’m glad there’s enough timeshare interest (in the lake) that we’re having to talk about this.”

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Timeshare Roads Point To Wolf Creek Ski Development

It would be the largest ski resort development in Colorado, and it just inched closer to becoming a reality, despite the outcries from environmentalists and even the timeshare owners of the nearby ski area.

The Denver Post reports that on Monday, the Forest Service approved two short access roads to reach the proposed Village at Wolf Creek. The massive timeshare development is planned for southwest Colorado near the slopes of the no-frills Wolf Creek Ski Area, whose owners have joined a chorus of environmentalists in blasting the project.

Texas billionaire Billy Joe “Red” McCombs and business partner Bob Honts are planning a resort village that could bring 10,000 new (occasional) residents to this quiet area on the eastern flank of the Continental Divide. The Village at Wolf Creek would have up to 2,172 residential or timeshare units and 222,100 square feet of commercial space. Now, the Post reports, Mineral County has fewer than 1,000 residents.

Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Peter Clark said the law required his agency to allow the timeshare owners access to their private inholdings surrounded by National Forest.

“It was never an option for me to determine not to do it,” he said.

Opponents are crying foul. The conservation group Colorado Wild is calling for an investigation of the approval process by the Agriculture Department’s inspector general. A state senator and state representative are calling for an investigation, too. They’ve accused the timeshare developers of using political influence to sway the deal.

Clark said he hadn’t had any attempts from above to influence his decision, despite documents that show Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey, who oversees the Forest Service, met frequently with proponents, and that his deputy, David Tenny, followed the progress of the development.

The Forest Service has given the green light to a new road connecting the timeshare site to the highway, and an extension of a road through the ski area for emergency vehicles. Developers say the new roads will cost upwards of $8 million. Developers are suing the ski area to determine who will pay for them.

“We have always acknowledged the private landowners' need to access their property,” Wolf Creek Ski Area spokeswoman Michelle Ames said in a statement. “We continue to be disappointed with the timeshare developer's constant attacks on the ski area and (its owners) the Pitcher family. This includes the well-funded Texas developers' continued attempts to try and force the ski area to foot the bill for their massive timeshare project.”

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Verscace Mansion To Add Timeshares

The late Gianni Versace's mansion along Miami's South Beach may be converted to include luxury timeshare units, it was reported Friday.

Peter Loftin bought the property for $19 million in 2000, three years after the fashion icon was shot to death on the front stairs by Andrew Cunanan.

Loftin turned the 20,000-square-foot mansion into a luxury hotel that costs $35,000 -- or $1,000 a night -- to join.

Kevin Osterhaus manages the mansion for Destination Club Management, which is considering a plan to build timeshare suites near the pool and courtyard, the Miami Herald reported.

Osterhaus said the plan would not alter Versace's original design of the estate. Although the mansion is along Miami Beach's historic district, that particular building is not considered to be historic.

The 12-bedroom, 13-bath home was built in 1930 to look like the 1510 residence of a son of Christopher Columbus, The Herald said. Versace bought the rundown building in 1992 and gutted it. Do you think it is time for Verscace Timeshare Real Estate?

Monday, April 03, 2006


Morritt’s Timeshare Resort & Lloyds In Arbitration

Morritt’s Tortuga Timeshare Club is in arbitration with Lloyds of London in an attempt to finally settle the resort’s Hurricane Ivan insurance claim.

It’s a last–ditch attempt to collect money its management says is owed so that rebuilding can be completed.

The timeshare resort suffered $20 million in damages in the 2004 storm. Insurer Lloyd’s has already paid out about $3 million, but Morritt’s wants the remainder of the settlement, which will amount to less than the full $20 million.

“We’re trying to firm up and assess the full extent of the timeshare resort damage,” said Steve Minotakis, chairman of the board of Morritt’s Tortuga Club and the resort.

The club’s website gives timeshare owners an update of the arbitration process.

At issue is “our estimates versus the insurance company’s on the extent of damage and what cost was assigned in arriving at the figures of our claim. As we have previously stated, we are confident we have done a diligent task of documenting the damage and are moving along with the process of arbitration and look to do so timely,” the website states.

In the meantime, timeshare owners at Morritt’s can be assured that the property is insured and will continue to be insured, Mr. Minotakis said.

“There is continued coverage and there will be renewed coverage in the future. We’re looking to resolve this settlement in a timely manner.

“Our goal is to get the people back down here and enjoy their piece of paradise.”

There are 10,000 people with 99–year leases at Morritt’s. Additional units being built on site mean that more timeshares will be available for sale.

The absence of an insurance settlement hasn’t stopped redevelopment at the East End resort.

The Grand and Tortuga Club units opened in September and the Oceanfront Wood Building (4002) will be ready for bookings by mid–April.

The foundation of the 4001 building, which is the smaller seaside building, is in process, footings have been placed and concrete is being poured. It is slated to be completed in early 2007.

Mr. Minotakis said the resort is working around turtle season while building the dock.

“We’re working with the Department of Environment to ensure we have the right amount of protection for the turtles,” he said.

While guests are waiting for the restaurant and bar to be rebuilt and opened, they can dine at Ivan’s.

“Once the restaurant opens we’ll turn Ivan’s into something else like a disco, lounge or club,” Mr. Minotakis said. It was timeshare resort owner David Morritt’s idea to name the room Ivan’s.

Occupancy at the resort is running at about 95 per cent, which is close to the occupancy rates before Hurricane Ivan. There are 137 units available. Some owners lost their timeshare units in the storm and are being assigned to other, similar units.

Most of the timeshare owners appear happy with the rebuilding, Mr. Minotakis said.

Only two have hired lawyers to request certain information from the timeshare resort.

They are asking for financial statements, an opportunity to inspect books, a copy of management services agreements, a copy of the insurance policy at the time of Ivan and details of construction plans.

While he can’t comment on possible pending litigation, Mr. Minotakis said the resort is making an effort to answer all questions.

Many timeshare owners have questioned why unspent maintenance fees from the prior years of 2005 and 2004, when the resort was partially closed, were not used to offset any maintenance fee increases estimated for the 2006 operating year.

Mr. Minotakis explained that although prior year maintenance fees were not fully expended and the by–laws call for application of any remaining funds to the subsequent year budget, the 2006 budgets were prepared as if no excess funds were available for application to be conservative pending the settlement of the insurance claim and resolution of some related items (i.e. expected reimbursement).

The excess funds from the prior years are being held in operating, reserve and special assessment accounts. It is most likely that the preparation of the 2007 budget, which will be concluded in mid to late September of this year, will also be prepared similarly, not assuming any excess funds from prior years until the insurance claim is resolved.

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