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!