FULL DISCLOSURE HERE FIRST: I worked as Celebration World Resort's Director of Communications from 2007 until August of 2010 when I was laid off with a promise of a 4-6 week layoff...which obviously was a lie. I was well aware of the problems that the resort was going through; in five years they had dropped from an RCI Gold Crown Resort to merely a Standard Resort, they had assessed a special assessment to the owners to cover long promised refurbishments that never quite materialized, the sales department was hawking a vacation club and pitching against timeshare ownership, etc.
I attended the HOA meeting through an owner's proxy in early 2011 and it was obvious to all the owners who attended that all was NOT well with CWR. The speakers had no answers for any questions, claimed to not know the status of the resort, etc.
I received this e-mail earlier this month from an owner who will remain anonymous here.
Hi, I'm Bill, my wife and I have acquired a few timeshares over the years and for the most part the systems have worked well for us. Recently we were notified that Festiva had purchased Celebration World Resort and we would lose our RCI points program at that resort. Our option was to upgrade with Festiva and use their points program. Considerable assessments could be levied on the original owners to refurbish the property if they were not in the new program. How can I find someone who will tell me the truth? Thanks for your consideration.
This seemed weird even for timeshare; Festiva was threatening to levy yet another assessment if the owners didn't "upgrade" to Festiva's program? Several weeks later, I received this follow up e-mail from the same owner:
Hi Lisa Ann, We went to the meeting today. Festiva officers pleaded ignorance to sales dept tactics. Many owners there were furious over the intimidation they got at their Festiva update. The company reps outlined their plans to refurbish and even continue new construction when finances allow. Concerning RCI: seems as though RCI Points had been sold without inventory to back them up. These plus other financial details went undetected prior to the purchase, so say the new managers. My understanding is that a study needs to be done to determine from contract wording, actual deed content, or how much equity we each control and what maintenance fees we are responsible for. Thanks very much, the meeting was worth going to and now I am confident knowing we did the right thing to cancel that Festiva contract.
I've tried to contact Festiva to talk about this issue to no avail. Celebration World Resort has more than 10,000 owners. I'd like to hear from others...what is happening? Did you get similar non-answers?
And if anyone from Festiva is reading this...what is going on? Financial details went 'undetected" prior to purchase? Really?