Monday, December 23, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews The Sea Club

I visited Sea Club V earlier this year and a most enjoyable experience it was staying at this resort. The units are comfortable but not as luxurious as some I have stayed at in the past. The units don't have their own washing machines but there is laundry room with coin operated washing machines and dryers. There are no elevators to gain access to units on the second or third floor so please consider this fact if you have any walking difficulties.

I find it hard to put my finger on it but this resort has a special feel to it. Its location is second to none being just one hundred yards from Siesta Key beach with its white powdery sand. This beach has been rated as the best in all the USA by Dr Beach. If you have never visited Siesta Key beach then you are in for a treat when you see it for the first time. It runs for miles and the beach is easy to walk on because of the firmness of the sand.

This resort really brings to mind the phrase that what is important is location, location, location. I actually think it would be a shame to spend much time in the units at Sea Club V when the beach and the Gulf of Mexico is on your doorstep. This is where this resort really scores as it has sun loungers and umbrella's on the beach these are tended to by Nick and Steve. They will also supply you with kayaks, canoes and a fourteen foot catamaran sailboat. All of this is free of charge to owners and guests staying at the resort through RCI.

Unlike Longboat Key there is numerous bars and restaurants on Siesta Key you are spoiled for choice in fact. Nearby is St Armands Circle and the Ringling museum with paintings by many world famous artists.

The resort has a pool, hot tub and shuffleboard is available. There is also a continental welcome breakfast and a cookout during the week.

When you look at this resort on the RCI web site its easy to be put off as the blocks that contain the apartments look rather dated as they are in fact but as I mentioned earlier a visit to Sea Club V is or should be about Siesta Key beach with all it has to offer rather than the accommodation available at Sea Club V.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Want To Know More About RCI/ Read On

Timeshare owners around the country continue to experience some confusion as to who RCI is and what RCI does…and doesn’t do.

In an attempt to clear up this confusion and save owners time, aggravation and in some cases, thousands of dollars, the National Timeshare Owners Association is providing you this short, but essential primer.
First of all, RCI is an exchange company.  They facilitate the exchange or trade of one timeshare to another in a network of nearly 4,200 resorts worldwide.  Timeshare owners typically pay an annual membership fee to RCI as well as an exchange or trade fee.  RCI does not sell timeshares.

Many timeshare owners have been swindled out of thousands of dollars by not fully understanding what RCI does and what they don’t do.
Here’s a quick guide to assist:

RCI does not sell timeshare

RCI does not set or charge resorts’ annual maintenance fees

RCI does not set or charge resorts’ special assessments
RCI can not and does not arbitrarily change the number of points in your account

RCI does not cold call in an attempt to sell vacation packages
RCI does not cold call with invitations for “informative meetings” at a local restaurant, hotel, meeting room or any place else

RCI does not buy timeshare nor facilitate in the transfer of any timeshare
If you have questions or doubts when you are contacted by a company claiming to be RCI, don’t do anything at all before checking with your home resort and the NTOA for verification.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Issues With and Consequences of The Manhattan Club

Timeshare Insights and other organizations have been made aware of several situations with The Manhattan Club in New York City that in addition to affecting thousands of owners there, have far reaching implications for ALL timeshare owners.

Most of the owner issues boil down to these issues:

1)    Soaring annual fees averaging more than $2,000 per interval

2)    Inability for owners to use their interval

3)    Ability for non-owners to rent inventory for substantially less than the annual fees when owners are being shut out

4)    Flip-flopping of Manhattan Club management on buying back intervals from owners who want out

5)    Lack of resale value…if the Manhattan Club management made an offer to purchase back an interval, the offer was around $100

6)    Assuming the management will agree to take the interval back, Manhattan Club owners must pay the 2014 maintenance fee in full if they want to sell it back to the management even though this means they will not have use of the interval.

While this blog and other organizations advocate on behalf of timeshare owners, it is imperative to remember that any and all oral representations that were made during or subsequent to a sales presentation cannot be held actionable.  So, while many owners purchased one or more intervals at The Manhattan Club with the intent to use it “when they wanted to” or “on weekends” because that’s what the salesperson or management said, there is little that can be done on a legal basis as these were oral representations, not written.

However, we strongly believe that positive change can occur when an entity such as The Manhattan Club is faced with not one, not ten, not hundreds, but thousands of  owners dealing with issues that can only be termed “unfair” and “lacking morality.”

This and many other issues facing timeshare owners clearly and succinctly illustrate the need for owners get education, have their documents thoroughly reviewed by a professional with timeshare knowledge and band together.

As always this blog encourages comments and feedback from individual owners as well as resort management.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Lists and Likes-And Why You Shouldn't Like It

This is an actual posting from LinkedIn:

"Fresh Timeshare owner leads produced daily, people who genuinely want to sell or get out.  Contact me for price and details."

In addition to capitalizing "timeshare" when it shouldn't be, there is much wrong with this posting:

*  the poster used to work at several name brand timeshare companies
*  at the time I saw this, the posting had received 4 "likes" from other LinkedIn members
*  all 4 of those "likes" came from people within the timeshare industry

Where are these "fresh owners leads produced daily" coming from?

Why do people from the timeshare industry "like" this posting?

Why isn't the timeshare community cracking down on the practice of selling owner lists?

Why isn't the timeshare community doing anything to help owners who think they want to sell, but really are thirsting for knowledge to help them use their timeshare better?

If you're a timeshare owners, I'm sure you don't "like" this.  What are you going to do about it?  Remember, that timeshare knowledge IS timeshare power.  Go and get it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trading Power With RCI Weeks

A long time timeshare owner contacted me several weeks ago with a situation that potentially affects hundreds of thousands of timeshare owners worldwide.

It seems as if he deposited a week with RCI that had a set trading power value.  However, once the deposit was confirmed, the trading value had been diminished, resulting in his inability to obtain the exchange that he wanted.

This was problematic for any number of reasons.

I had a series of phone calls, e-mails and meetings with RCI representatives here in the United States and in Europe in an attempt to resolve this situation. (Let me add a "thank you" to all at RCI who looked into this matter.)

In order to fully understand the situation, here is RCI’s Deposit Trading Power Adjustment Schedule:

Time Frame                                                                    % of Trading

2 years to 9 months (276 days+) from check in              100%

6 to 9 months (181 to 275 days) from check in               95%

3 to 6 months (91 to 180 days) from check in                 90%

1 to 3 months (31 to 90 days) from check in                   80%

15-30 days from check in                                                 60%

14 days or less from check in                                           45%

It seems that there are only two (2) possible explanations for a reduction in trading power value: 

1)    If the week was deposited into the system close to the date where the value would be reduced (i.e. the 9 month deadline, etc.) and the home resort took some time to verify, causing the actual date to fall outside of the 9 month deadline

2)    If the week was deposited into the system close to an annual evaluation period  done by RCI (of which an owner would have no knowledge of) and again the home resort delayed in verifying

There are then two possible actions that you and all RCI Weeks owners should take:

1)     Do not wait until a week or so out from any deadline to deposit

2)     Call the home resort upon deposit to alert them that the deposit has been made

Have any other owners experienced similar issues?  We’d also like to hear from RCI resorts…how long do you normally take to verify that a week has been deposited?


Monday, November 25, 2013

When Is A Consumer Advocate Not A Consumer Advocate

More often than not unfortunately.

I won't belabor the point that there are many timeshare owners, many of them older, that are frustrated, tired, or just plain fed up with their timeshare for one reason or another.  Most of those can be addressed and overcome with proper education, but that's a discussion for another day.

The system of finding a niche market has really flourished with the proliferation of the seemingly endless pseudo consumer advocacy groups focused on timeshare.

Timeshare owners need to be educated and use more common sense when dealing with these companies.  More often than not, and I'm being generous here, these companies end up causing more problems for everyone.

Here are some tips:

*  If the company initiated contact, avoid them
*  If the company makes their money in the transfer of timeshare, they are NOT advocates
*  If the company bad mouths timeshare, they are NOT advocates

For additional tips, keep reading this blog.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews Wyndham National Harbour Resort

I have recently returned from Wyndham National Harbour resort in Maryland and the most important fact is that unless you have a really good knowledge of the geography of the USA you will probably not realise that this resort is only a few minutes drive from Washington DC and all its many attractions. I believe that resort management could have made this resort more prominent by calling it Wyndham National Harbor by Washington DC in order to stress just how close it is to the Nations capital city.

I only have one criticism of this resort and that is as soon as you have checked in and you and making your way with your luggage to the lift you are approached by a member of their sales team to take a survey about the resort and the exchange system. This approach is followed by further telephone calls which turned out as recorded messages for me as there is so much to do in Washington that we were out all day and hence were never in to answer the calls from the sales staff.

Having got the above criticism out of the way let me state that this is one of the  best exchanges that I have made in approaching six hundred exchanges I have made since becoming a member of RCI back in 1980. The accommodation is superb as the two bed two bath apartment was very spacious and luxurious. Sadly although the title National Harbor hints at great views of the Potomac this is not the case as it is located a few hundred yards from the harbour and many of the apartments currently overlook a building site.

The resort has a good activities program but we chose not to take up any of the options offered because of the attractions of Washington DC. I found the internet connect to be fairly reliable and when I had an issue with my lap top I found that the resort has four computers for guests to use free of charge. I never had to wait to use these computers which was a bonus when compared to some resorts that I have visited in the past.

In my opinion one of the first things guests should do after unpacking is to visit Randall the friendly concierge who will give you advice and guidance about where to go in Washington and how to get there. He gave me helpful advice about the metro and bus services as well as the availability and prices of various tours. I never felt any pressure to purchase any tours from him although we did in the end purchase tickets for the on off bus tours around Washington. Randall talked to me about the options of getting into Washington which included using the free twenty four seat courtesy bus from National Harbor to a local metro station. Several people told us however that this bus is often full hence there was no guarantee on getting a place on it. Another option Randall mentioned was taking a bus to another metro station and then take the metro into Washington. This sounded a better option but in the end we decided to purchase passes for fours days on the on off old trolley bus tour partly because the company picked us up just one hundred yards from the resort.

I believe the best way I can review this superb resort is to give readers an indication of what we did on each day as it gives an idea of what is available in the area. The first full day was spent on a river cruise up the Potomac river which allowed us to visit Old Town Alexandria and Georgetown plus see many of the historic buildings from a distance. We spent around three hours exploring each of these historic towns. The cruise starts at a location at National Harbor that is only about three hundred yards from the Wyndham resort.

On the second day we took a cruise up the Potomac to visit Mount Vernon the home of George Washington. The house and grounds are open to the public and we paid our respects at the location where he is buried with his wife. This trip can also be booked by coach through Randall if you prefer not to cruise the Potomac.

The next four days were spent visiting the various Washington attractions including the various memorials, the Washington Monument, the Capital building, the Arlington National Cemetery, Grand Central Railway station, Washington Cathedral, the Smithsonian air and Space museum and the Ford Theatre to name just a few of the places visited.

I visited in late October but I am told that the best time to visit Washington is in early spring when the Cherry trees are in blossom. I hope that after reading my review that some of you will be tempted to visit this really special resort but as I said earlier be prepared for some contact from the sales staff. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

When Is A Voluntary Contribution NOT Voluntary?

Let me start this post with a statement:  I DO NOT OWN A HGVC TIMESHARE.

Got it?  Good.

Let's get to the story.  I received an e-mail from one of my regular posters and a member of the National Timeshare Owners Association that stated in part that, "I am unable to opt-out of the voluntary $5.00 ARDA-ROC fee as part of my HGVC annual fee when paying online.  If I want to opt-out I must pay by mail or call in my payment."

Now before I go out on a rant, I'm throwing this story out to other HGVC owners and more importantly, HGVC and ARDA-ROC.

What's the story here?

Owners of any other timeshares encountered this issue?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Caution About Cold Callers

As many of you know, I've recently been appointed as the Executive Director of the National Timeshare Owners Association (

I am pleased to report that the NTOA has taken the same strong stance as I always have about cold callers.

Here's what the website says:

Three important messages that we want to get out to our members:
  1. No reputable company will ever call, email, fax, direct mail, message or in any way initiate contact first. If you are contacted by any firm or individual without contacting them first, DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM. PERIOD. NO EXCEPTIONS.
  2. Use caution when clicking on web based links, filling out forms for prize drawings, etc. Many times those actions legally allow companies to contact you. As with any unsolicited e-mails, do not click on any links.
  3. Report any suspicious telemarketing activity to the NTOA immediately for appropriate referral.
I strongly urge everyone to keep these tips top of mind.  Unlike many other organizations who have taken a soft approach, i.e. be careful with cold callers or talk to a lawyer before doing any business with anyone who contacts you first, the NTOA tells it like it is:  DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

News for II Members

Just found out that II is extending their standard deposit window, effective January 1, 2014.

Here's the word directly from II:

"Members can maximize their trading power by depositing their week and placing an exchange request up to two years before their week."

"Members who deposit their week 59 to 14 days before their week still use "Flexchange."  No deposits are accepted less than 14 days before the first day of a member's week."

Any tips to share with other II members?  We'd love to hear them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fees, Fees, More Fees and Questions

It’s that time of year again…annual maintenance fees and special assessments are being mailed out and many timeshare owners are getting a very nasty surprise in the form of huge increases and huge unexpected assessments.
If you own at a Diamond, Wyndham and/or older resort, you know what I mean.  I’ve been hearing from owners who plead for help with a $3,000 assessment that was levied or increases in annual fees well over 30% year over year.

First, let’s cover a few questions that all potential owners need to ask before buying any timeshare:

1)    What are all the annual fees and what do they cover?

2)   What is the “cap” on how much the fees can be increased year over year?

3)   What is the five (5) year history on these fees?

4)   When was the last time a special assessment was levied?

5)   How much was that special assessment?

6)   How much of the resort is sold out?

7)   Is there a stipulation that in the event of a fund shortage, the developer is required to make up the difference?

8)   What is the current delinquency rate at this resort?

This is NOT a comprehensive list, but a good place to start.  For more information check out the next meeting of the National Timeshare Owners Association.  (

Now, for those of you who already own and are faced with a huge bill, here are some things you need to do…the sooner the better:

1)   Connect with other owners through online forums and with the National Timeshare Owners Association to see what their thoughts are, if other owners have discovered something and to just share information

2)   Contact the resort directly and be certain that you are receiving a copy of the full annual budget, then familiarize yourself with it

3)   If you are unable to pay the entire amount due, contact the resort directly as soon as possible to work out a payment plan---they would rather hear from you than not hear from you
Another way of tackling these fees is to rent out your timeshare and use the proceeds to pay or at least partially pay for the fees.  It bears repeating that you should only be renting your HOME property, not exchanging it and then attempting to rent that.  Both RCI and II “frown” on that and there are a ton of cases where the owners’ exchange rights were suspended.
Don’t assume that the lowest price will attract the most interest…many people will be turned off by a super low rental price because they think that there is something “wrong” with the resort.

Maintenance fees and sometimes special assessments are part of timeshare ownership.  It’s important to remember that these are part of the “vacation experience”…whether you own timeshare or rent a hotel, you’re paying one way or another.
If you have questions about fees or renting, or perhaps tips you want to share, just post them below as comments.

Happy and safe travels.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Where's The Hospitality On Timeshare, Anyway?

This is an unedited portion of an online review of a large, well-known, Orlando area resort.  If this is happening here, you know it's happening everywhere else.

These tactics that pass for marketing MUST STOP.

It's gotten worst since our last stay 3 years ago.  Check in line was long and the staff weren't working quickly and weren't very friendly.  If they could work a little faster and have a welcoming smile, it would improve our impression of the resort.

Then to add more misery to the long wait, the girl checking us in gives us some $20 bogus voucher to be used anywhere in the resort.  Then some girl comes and pulls us away to bring us to yet another line.  I quickly realized that this was a marketing ploy for the timeshare demonstration.  I asked the girl and she confirmed.  I told her that I wasn't interested and gave her the $20 voucher back.  She then handed it back to me and mumbled that it wasn't worth anything anyway.  Yeah, we already knew that!

When people arrive at a resort/hotel, they are tired and simply want to get to the room.  Irritating them upon arrival is simply not good business.
On our first morning, we got a call from the sales dept. (timeshares) at 8:30 a.  They didn't even consider that we arrived from a different time zone and that 8:30 may be too early for anyone.  I told  the girl that we were asleep and she was still determined to give me the sales pitch.  This was terrible customer service!  After that call, there was no way I would go through any of their tours/discussions.  I told her that I am not interested and for her to make sure that I don't get any more calls from their sales dept.  Needless to say, there were 3 more calls during our week stay.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews The Osborne Club

I have decided to write my next review about the Osborne Club which was the first timeshare development in England when it was developed back in 1979. I have owned timeshare at the Osborne Club since 1980 however my review will be fair and objective and show no favour because I am a long standing owner there. The Osborne Club is located in Hesketh Crescent in Torquay Devon on the south coast of England. The area is known as part of the English Riviera due to its mild climate. Hesketh Crescent is a Grade two listed Regency crescent which has had its fair share of famous visitors over the years. Charles Darwin stayed in Hesketh Crescent for six weeks shortly after writing his famous book the Origin of Species. The crime writer Agatha Christie was also a frequent visitor to Hesketh Crescent.

The Osborne Club is located in a spectacular position just a stones throw from Meadfoot beach with a great view of the English Channel. Many but not all the apartments have superb sea views. I am not aware of any other resort where the location of your apartment is as important as is the case for the Osborne Club. At the time of writing my review seven RCI members have after staying at the resort written about the Osborne Club on the RCI website. Several people have commented that the Osborne Club is a good exchange destination if you exchange to a sea view apartment but they would not want to visit if they were offered an apartment at the back of the building without a sea view. One member commented that they informed the resort over a year in advance that they would like a sea view apartment. This request was never likely to be met because it is normal policy for the resort to keep you in the apartment that was banked either with RCI or Dial an Exchange. Of the seven reviews on the RCI website apartment 15 is singled out for negative comments as it is at the back of the crescent, has no sea views and the living area is located on the ground floor and the two bedrooms are located in the basement. I can see why some people would not like this apartment but for twenty years I actually owned the Christmas and New Years weeks in that apartment and as it is dark for around sixteen hours each day at that time of year and I was out during the day it really did not bother me that there was no sea view. Actually to me when staying in a timeshare resort the most important issue is to be able to go to bed without any noise that is stopping me sleeping and due to the position of the bedrooms in apartment 15 it was one of the best apartments I have stayed in that respect. If the need for a sea view is an over riding factor then before you confirm a week with RCI or Dial an Exchange you need to check with the resort the location of the apartment especially in relation to the sea views.

This timeshare resort has two swimming pools an inside and outdoor pool but due to the English climate the outdoor pool is only open from May to September and due to health and safety issues single bathing is not allowed. There are two restaurants located in the Osborne Hotel in Hesketh Crescent. The Osborne club is located around twenty to thirty minutes walk to the Torquay sea front where the ambience is much different from the peace and quiet of Meadfoot beach which is very quiet for the majority of the year.

I am well aware that most of the readers of Timeshare Insights are Americans who perhaps may not know a great deal about the British weather so please let me say that Torquay say compared to Scotland has a very mild climate in winter and if you are lucky you could visit the Osborne Club in mid winter and enjoy some very pleasant walking weather. The Osborne Club itself is located in a position that shelters it from any cold Northerly winds which can make it very pleasant to go down to the beach to watch the waves coming in over the beach. I think under these circumstances it is worth considering visiting the Osborne Club out of season when there is usually some availability with RCI and probably Dial an Exchange.

It obviously comes down to personal choice as to what to do on a visit to the Osborne Club. My choice would include walking on the coastal paths visiting places such as Babbacombe and Cockington Village and also the Paignton to Kingswear steam train which has some fantastic views of the coast of South Devon. There are some enjoyable cruises as well especially the one on the river Dart which is located where the steam train terminates in Kingswear.

Please be advised that outside of the winter months availability is very limited with RCI and you would be well advised to put on an on going search but don't put it on automatic confirmation with RCI so you can check out with the resort or their website the location of the apartment specifically in relation to whether it has a sea view or not.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Celebration World Resort/Festive/RCI Most Recent News

I know the blog has been quiet for several months about this particular issue.  I've advised readers and contributors to stay quiet as this is still on going legal matter.

However, I've received hundred of e-mails asking about what is going on, so here is what I know:

"There are ongoing resolution efforts."

Hope that helps.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Timeshare Rentals

I did a very casual survey last week.  I asked 25 friends and co-workers at my part-time, non-timeshare related job, if they had ever considered renting a timeshare for vacation instead of booking a hotel room.

I received only two (2) responses:  1)  “I didn’t know you could rent timeshares”  2) “Timeshares?  No, I don’t want to deal with the sales pitch”

This seems to clearly indicate some basic issues that timeshare is having…but the good news is that both of those answers are easily overcome.  It just takes getting the word out there.

If you’ve rented a timeshare on vacation, tell people about it—assuming you had a positive experience.  Sure, everyone knows that you can book a hotel room, but obviously people don’t know you can rent a timeshare and more often than not, save money and get more in terms of amenities, space, luxury, etc.

If you have a timeshare for rent, talk about it…don’t rely on the resort to rent it for you…I hope that you are NOT doing that as you give away all of your control and some of your money to the resort.  Everyone likes to talk about vacation plans so if you have a timeshare in a place where someone is going on vacation, don’t be shy!

As for the dreaded high-pressure sales presentation…I certainly hope that by now, all timeshare owners know that unless you are visiting a timeshare on a promotional package OR you accept whatever the resort is offering as compensation for your time, you do NOT have to attend a sales presentation, an owner update, a breakfast to talk to owners, or whatever they are now calling these sales presentations.  The same thing goes for anyone renting a timeshare.  Timeshare sales presentations are NOT mandatory.

The interesting thing is, as I can attest from being in resort sales for 5+ years, is that far and away, the people who were not required to take the sales presentation were the most open to finding out more about timeshare ownership; something that the almost 2,000 resorts in the United States have been slow to understand.

So, for you timeshare owners who have had your timeshare on the market for some time, don’t be like the timeshare resorts.  Understand the psychology behind this.  You may want to offer a “try it before you buy it” program and list your timeshare for rent.

If you’ve had success renting your timeshare, we’d love to hear your ideas.  If you’ve purchased a timeshare after renting one, we’d also love to hear from you.

Happy vacationing!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews The Manhattan Club

I visited the Manhattan Club in New York city in May and this is my review of this timeshare resort which is probably the most famous resort in RCI.
The first point I wish to make is that anybody who is asked by the resort to visit a sales presentation should read Lisa's recent blogs as it appears that owners are having some difficulty booking time at the resort unless you book it nine months in advance. I was contacted twice via E mail by the resort prior to my visit and I was asked if I wished to attend a sales presentation. I politely declined and rather to my surprise and I give the resort credit for this no timeshare sales staff phoned me during my week long stay at the resort.
This timeshare resort is unique in my experience because the  trading power required to obtain an exchange is always fifty eight for a studio and sixty for a one bed apartment. At all other timeshare resorts as far as I am aware some account is taken of the time of year and the demand pattern at that time of year. In my view the best time to visit the Manhattan club is the spring and autumn months so avoiding the potentially harsh New York winters and the hot summers where temperatures are often in the 90'sF.
I think one of the first questions you have to ask yourself before trying to get an exchange to the Manhattan Club is the costs involved as it is certain that you will need to combine at least two and potentially up to five or six weeks to get an exchange to this timeshare resort. We therefore need to consider these costs plus the thirty dollars a day housekeeping fee so this is not a cheap timeshare exchange holiday by any stretch of the imagination. I was fortunate in having to combine only two weeks and had a balance deposit credit left after booking my exchange to this timeshare resort.

I found the staff to be friendly and check in and out was done without any undue delay. The location of the Manhattan Club could not be better as its just three blocks from Central Park and three minutes walk to the nearest subway (underground for us UKers) station with a fast, cheap and reliable service to all parts of Manhattan and beyond. I found it worthwhile to book the open air bus tours as there is so much to see in New York so that travelling underground you obviously miss many of the sights. I am not going to give an extensive list of what to do in New York as that surely is a matter of personal taste and many of the highlights be it the Empire State building or the Statue of Liberty don't need any introduction from me.

I have read some reviews of the Manhattan Club on the RCI website that complain about the size of the apartments and therefore question its Gold Crown status. In my opinion this is unfair as it's like comparing apples and pears as New York is unique and the costs of accommodation is very high there so you will find a large two bedroom apartment at many locations that would cost less to build and you would pay less in taxes than a small studio in Manhattan.

It is wise to plan ahead re a potential exchange to this resort as space is frequently not available due to the high demand and the limited number of weeks that are placed in RCI usually in batches by the Manhattan Club. It is wise in my opinion to put on an on going search for this resort due to its limited availability and don't forget that this resort will only let you visit there on exchange once every four years. A question I often ask myself at the end of each exchange is would I like to go back and the answer with the Manhattan Club is a definite yes I would like to return there some day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Timeshare Maintenance Fees Don't Do

Over this past weekend I read an article I where one of the points was "timeshare maintenance fees insure the resale value of a timeshare."

Took me back to my timeshare selling days where I was taught by management types to say, "Yes, the fees occasionally do increase.  Because if they don't go up every now and then, what do you (the client) think is going to happen to the value of the property?"  At which point my client would nod and say "Ah, the value of the property would go down."  And everyone was happy.

This is, obviously, wrong on many counts.  The "value" of the property has little or nothing to do with the fees being charged.  And absolutely nothing to do with the cost that the resort is charging for the property on the primary market.

Unlike a car or a house, both cases in which the upkeep and maintenance play a large part in the "value" of the product, particularly on the secondary market, timeshare does not operate that way.

I'm certainly NOT advocating against these necessary fees and I am certainly NOT advocating for consumers to not pay these fees, but I am tired of the talking heads in the community getting coverage for things that aren't true.

Maintenance fees are a necessary part of OWNERSHIP.  They are not there to insure the resale value of a timeshare.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Timeshare Sales Pitches in 2013

I was not looking to write a post about timeshare sales pitches.  I was doing a search about a resort in the Orlando area totally unrelated to sales.  After all, even I get sick and tired of hearing about sales pitches.

After digging around for less than 5 minutes, I came across this gem on Yelp (I've removed anything that would lead anyone to guess the name of the resort):

Second (and VERY IMPORTANT) - the Horrible Timeshare Presentation:

The sales staff is rude, deceptive and inconsiderate.  We arrived on time for an 8:30 a.m. presentation.  We told the guy up front that we had pre-paid for a tour of Orlando at 12:30, and that we had been told the presentation was 90 minutes long.  Oh, you'll be out in plenty of time, the guy assured us.  WRONG.  

The entire presentation consisted of high-pressure requests to purchase it today, before even seeing the property or hearing the price.  I repeatedly said I would not agree to purchase anything that I hadn't seen, and without knowing the price.  That didn't matter - the guy repeatedly demanded an answer about purchasing.

After more than 90 minutes, we told the guy we needed to make our tour, and to get on with it - he ignored us.  More high pressure.  Still haven't seen the property.  Finally, after two hours, we were loaded onto a bus and taken to a unit totally unlike the one we stayed in (by the way - if you like the idea of going to the bathroom in a place with no walls - you might enjoy the 'open-bay' master bath - how romantic . . . ).  

Back to the Sales Prison.  After about 2-1/2 hours, Mr. High Pressure finally gets someone else to come to the table and tell us the details of purchase.  We are running late, but we listen.  BEWARE - their sales pitch is extremely deceptive.  They ask you what you pay for vacations on a regular basis, then try to show you it's a trade-off to own one of their condos.  Not true, because they factor in things like food and transportation - which you will still need to pay for even if you buy a timeshare.

After pointing out the fallacy of their sales pitch, I say I am not interested - but that's not good enough for them - yet ANOTHER guy has to come to the table.  We tell him we need to leave in five minutes (our tour will start soon, and we need to return to the room, get the paid receipt for the tour and change clothes, and drive there).  As with the other guy - he is RUDE.  The attitude at this place is if you are smart enough to ask questions, and if you make a legitimate decision NOT to buy, you are dumb, and they insult you.

We finally escaped - after more than three hours.  We were given two $50 'gift cards,' but not told they would expire in 60 days.  Because we had to return to the room, change, get the address, etc. for the tour, we MISSED the tour we had paid for prior to arriving.  The tour people put us in a car with some guy, but we did not see the sights we had signed up to see - and the tour bus was long gone.

After leaving Orlando, I complained to the marketing staff and requested them to 'make good' on the money we had spent for a tour that we missed due to their staff.  Then, a few months later (long after they told me they would 'get back to me'), we learned the gift cards had expired!  So I contacted them again.  And again.  We paid hundreds of dollars to go to Orlando, rent a car, and be held hostage by several jerks on their sales staff. 

I was finally 'upped' to the Marketing Director - she was extremely rude.  She rudely said she 'didn't have time to fool with us,' and would refund the money for the tour and for the gift cards.  I sent documentation on the fee for the tour, and although they did 'make good' on the gift cards, they reneged on their pledge to pay for the tour - claiming that we could have made it there in time, that we 'did' have a tour, and that the presentation had been a 'podium' presentation (which it was NOT).  They've also referred to a 'breakfast' prior to the pitch - we saw no breakfast.

AVOID this place at all costs - they're rude, deceptive, and they don't even know how they run their own show.

Even if you discount the story about the "tour of Orlando" (which I do because there is no such thing), I have to ask myself:  Why is this still going on?  Why?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Here's A Interesting Timeshare Scare Tactic

Late last week, I received an e-mail about getting rid of my timeshare.  Which in and of itself is interesting, as I don't own a timeshare.

Here's the newest scare tactic that some companies are using:

Avoid paying 2014 maintenance fees - act now!

I wanted to take a moment to give you an update on an upcoming deadline that will affect your donation.  If you are an owner at Bluegreen Resorts and do not want to pay your 2014 maintenance fees it is very important you submit your donation to our office by June 1st, 2013.

Bluegreen Resorts will not allow any transfers to take place once the maintenance fees are billed out to the owners.  Most Bluegreen maintenance fees are billed in October for 2014.  In order to transfer this ownership into our charity and back out to a new owner before the fees are billed, we need all signed donation agreements returned to us by fax or email by June 1st.

There are other resorts that invoice early also.  Please call me today to determine if your resort falls into this category. 

True?  Not true?  Anyone from Bluegreen care to comment?


Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Short Word About Comments That Are Really Ads

In a word, "no."

I do not post comments on this blog that are ads.

If you are a timeshare owner with comments about a company that you've dealt with, I'm happy to post your comment provided it is relevant to the topic that you're commenting on.

This blog has been hit with a rash of "comments" that are advertisements.

They are not published...and will not be published.

I hope you, my readers and contributors, appreciate this stance I've taken.

NTOA Looking For Two Research Assistants

As I announced here some time ago, I've been appointed the Executive Director of the National Timeshare Owners Association.  There's lots of exciting news to follow and once I firm up the membership structure, I'll announce it here.

In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that the NTOA is seeing two research assistants.  Here's the text of yesterday's Press Release:

The National Timeshare Owners Association

( today announced that it is seeking two
volunteer researchers to assist the association in media development. "There are
literally great stories going on in the timeshare community right now and the NTOA
wants to highlight the benefits of vacation ownership through member involvement and
by bringing much deserved attention to these positive experiences. While there appears
to be no lack of negative attention in the media about the timeshare industry, we feel it
is important to be fair and balanced”, said Lisa Ann Schreier, Executive Director of the

Training will be provided and individuals can apply for the research position by emailing or calling 727-502-6877 ext 1001 Applicants should include some
information on their timeshare knowledge, if any, and indicate why they are interested in
this position. The deadline for applications is September 15th, 2013.

A decision will be made on the research assistants on October 1, 2013 and these
research assistants will serve a six month term as well as receive a one-year
complimentary membership to the NTOA.

About The NTOA

Started in 1997, The NTOA is the largest independent association serving the timeshare
community in the United States. Originally formed as the Maryland Timeshare Owners
Association, the NTOA is focused on timeshare owners and the issues related to their
vacation ownership. For more information on NTOA, please visit

I hope to hear from many of you.  As a reminder, the NTOA website is in the middle of a total overhaul.  We thought it best to keep the site up while we were working on the new site which will be operational within 3 weeks.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Steve Burton Reviews Stouts Hill

I have been looking forward to writing my review about Stouts Hill in England not least because it is my favourite timeshare resort of the many that I have visited in my home country i.e. the United Kingdom.
I would first of all like to say that my review of Stouts Hill is totally impartial not least because I am not an owner there because by the time I first stayed there in the mid 1980's I already owned ten timeshare weeks so I had no need to buy further timeshare weeks even at such a superb timeshare resort as Stouts Hill.
In my view there are three important items that you look for in a timeshare resort and yes I have heard the saying it's location, location and location. However I would say that they are location, quality of the units and amenities/activities. I have visited many resorts where we have two of these and as Meatloaf would say two out of three ain't bad. However in the case of Stouts Hill it has everything and I mean everything.
Let's start with the units:  nine of them which are two and one bedroom units plus one studio are to be found in a Gothic country house mansion that was constructed in the 1740's with five further two bedroom units in a separate block that was constructed in the early 1990's. The units are all of a high standard and I guess its a matter of personal taste if you would prefer to located in the Gothic mansion or the newer outbuilding. In the mansion there is a superb library, drawing room and a dining room. I would like to especially mention the dining room because most Wednesday evenings there is an opportunity to have a meal in the dining room and meet other guests staying at the resort. A four course menu is available with several choices for twenty one pounds i.e. around thirty two dollars. I mention this figure in dollars as I believe that the majority of readers of Timeshare Insights are probably Americans.
I have many American friends due to my extended stays in your country and many of my friends enjoy watching Downton Abbey on TV. Well Staying at Stouts Hill is in my view rather like staying in Downton Abbey such is the scale of the country house and the extensive grounds. The amenities at Stouts Hill are by far the best of any timeshare resort that I have stayed in and they include twenty seven acres of private grounds in which to stroll. In these grounds there are two rose gardens, a three acre lake for fishing, a nine hole pitch and putt golf course, nine hole putting course, croquet lawn, tennis court, swimming pool and a Jacuzzi. Indoor amenities  include a badminton court, indoor swimming pool and a games room which has snooker and pool tables, table tennis and air hockey.
So far I have talked specifically about Stouts Hill resort but not its location so let me say straight away to my American friends that Stouts Hill is located in the Cotswolds which is an area of outstanding natural beauty an area that many would consider to be the most beautiful part of England. It is so beautiful that several of the British Royal family live just miles from Stouts Hill , for example Prince Charles' home is Highgrove in nearby Tetbury. The Cotswold area is as Americans imagine England to be with country lanes, quaint pubs and rose covered cottages. When visiting the Cotswolds it is like going back in time to how England used to be many years ago. I would recommend visitors to Stouts Hill should consider planning day trips to historic Bath, Cheltenham and Gloucester.
A further point I would like to mention is that with there being only fourteen apartments at Stouts Hill you never feel if you are overwhelmed by the number of other guests staying there in the way you may feel when visiting other large resorts such as Orange Lake in Orlando.  I remember staying there in February one year when I did not see any other guests I felt like I was the Lord of the Manor having all that Stouts Hill has to offer to myself. I recently mentioned this situation on the telephone to Maureen the resort manager and she told me that a number of owners and guests had said the same thing to her at the end of their stay at Stouts Hill. I will not pretend that availability is good at Stouts Hill with RCI because most owners don't want to exchange their weeks at Stouts Hill and after staying there on perhaps ten exchanges since the mid 1980's I can understand why most owners don't bank their weeks. However because of the excellent indoor amenities it is worth considering visiting Stouts Hill in the out of season winter months when availability may be a little higher. I well remember being there one February when it started to snow lightly and yet I was enjoying a swim in the warm water of the indoor swimming pool and apart from my friends the pool was all to myself. This is a feeling you get time and time again at Stouts Hill as there is so much to do and so few other guests around. It truly has an exclusive feel to it and I cannot wait to return there next June. I hope some of the readers of Timeshare Insights will have the opportunity to visit this fantastic resort in the coming years.