Categories for vacation ownership

Tahoe Beach and Ski Club Owners Solidify Control of Board Opposed to Diamond’s Potential Takeover of Resort

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA — Legacy week owners at Tahoe Beach and Ski Club strengthened their grip on the HOA board in September by electing two longtime owners to succeed directors who had perceived ties to Diamond Resorts, the giant timeshare chain that owns 22 percent of the resort’s intervals.

The showdown vote on Sept. 24 drew more than 300 owners, a turn-away crowd for an annual

The crowd gathered for the annual meeting membership meeting, with many owners expecting an election-day charge from Diamond representatives to place one or two of their own preferred write-in candidates on the ballot.

Instead, Diamond stayed on the sidelines, casting its 1,700-plus voting bloc for legacy owners Bill Costa and Kathleen Montgomery, both of whom promised to keep the resort independent and responsive to the vacation needs of longtime deeded-week owners.

Their election creates a 5-0 Board majority opposed to Diamond’s bid to gain a voting majority (by gobbling up as many TBSC timeshares as possible).

Last year, when Diamond ran one of its own corporate representatives for the board, senior vice president Frank Goeckel, the resort erected a big white tent to house the proceedings and overflow crowd of 200 owners.

This year, they brought in an even bigger tent based upon RSVPs that indicated 350 owners would attend.

Goeckel showed up, as expected, but sat just outside the tent, giving himself a few feet of space from the overwhelmingly anti-Diamond owners in attendance (as well as an easy exit path, if needed).

The proceedings were anxious but generally dignified compared to therancorous name-calling meeting in 2015

Board President Al Fong and Treasurer Jake Bercu gave impassioned speeches about the need to vote and maintain the independence of the resort (from any corporate buyer). They also bashed Diamond, repeatedly, for past attempts to gain control of the HOA by buying up TBSC intervals. Fong called Diamond a “Trojan Horse” waiting to take over the TBSC beach. Fong and Bercu described Goeckel as a “bully” who tries to intimidate the TBSC board and owners.

“He (Goeckel) is trying to lull you owners to sleep,” Fong told the faithful owners in the tent.

“Diamond is the Trojan Horse because they have 1,700 votes to use against you.”

Goeckel made no move to participate in any of it, until, after the vote affirming Costa’s and Montgomery’s election to three-year terms, Board President Fong handed him a microphone to answer a simple question: what are Diamond’s intentions for Tahoe Beach and Ski Club?

Goeckel delivered a 10-minute tutorial about Diamond’s point-based trust system of vacation ownership, then, in response to impatient groans from the audience, conceded that Diamond intends to keep collecting TBSC inventory. In so many words, he said, it’s good business, because Diamond needs to add real inventory to its timeshare trusts in order to sell more points in Diamond’s travel club.

“Our interest here is no different than it’s always been,” Goeckel said. “If we don’t contribute more weeks to the trust, we will eventually sell ourselves out at some time.”

While sitting out this year’s election contest, Goeckel made no promises about his participation next year. Regardless, he’s expected to remain a fixture at the resort because he is Diamond’s designated watchdog to keep an eye on the TBSC Board and other Diamond-related timeshares in the area.

Makes sense.

Diamond’s ownership stake at TBSC represents $1 million in annual maintenance fees, monies that are contributing to the resort’s current positive financial health.

Putting the TBSC vote into Perspective

Three years ago, Diamond owned 10 percent of TBSC’s timeshares.

Then it bought another 10 percent from Vacation Internationale, a travel-resort company. It also acquired intervals at local foreclosure tax auctions, gradually upping its stake to 22 percent. Those purchases were a red-flag to the TBSC board, which had been warned by financial advisers to avoid an “over-concentration of risk” in having one owner responsible for so much of the HOA’s maintenance fees.That risk now resides with Diamond.

Board President, Al Fong Rank-and-file TBSC owners, according to what Fong said at the annual meeting, have opposed Diamond’s bid to gain majority voting control of the HOA board for very personal reasons: they don’t want to lose their reservation rights at their home resort and, more importantly, they don’t want to be dictated to, or managed, by Diamond. Thirdly, they don’t want to be pressured by Diamond to relinquish their weeks or buy into Diamond’s very aggressive sales machine.

FYI, Diamond owns a very nice, and much larger, resort right next door. Diamond’s Lake Tahoe Vacation Resort is one of the best in its network, but it has no private beachfront. The Tahoe Beach and Ski Club, in contrast, has a spectacular, private 400-foot Lake Tahoe beachfront that is the envy of many Tahoe resorts.& TBSC also has many longtime deeded-week owners who have bought multiple weeks to maintain their ability to enjoy the resort during the primetime summer weeks. They fear those privileges will all go away if Diamond somehow gains control of their board.

Diamond’s Lawsuit Against Board goes to Mediation Oct. 20th

Another relevant detail: Diamond is currently suing three members of the TBSC board for refusing to recognize Diamond’s purchase of 245.5 Association-owned timeshare intervals in December 2014. Diamond is NOT suing the other two members of the then-board because they supported Diamond’s purchase. Those two board members, FYI, Shannon Krutz and Steve Williams, were replaced by Costa and Montgomery at the Sept. 24 election.

The TBSC board rejected Diamond’s bloc purchase because it was not authorized, in advance, by the board. The board majority learned later, after the fact, that the purchase purportedly had been validated by Krutz, who had an affiliation with the club’s former management company, VRI, that brokered the sale.

VRI’s contract renewal with TBSC was terminated prior to the disputed transaction. Krutz has not appeared onsite at TBSC for months (in all likelihood, because she is a key part of the Diamond vs. TBSC litigation).A judge presiding over that lawsuit has already opined that the transaction will not be upheld, and that Diamond would lose at trial.

The case goes to mediation on Oct. 20. Mediation works if both parties agree to abide by the outcome. It’s a precursor to a trial on the merits.

So it continues to be a tangled web at TBSC, which represents, in the bigger picture, a legacy resort’s attempt to stave off a threatened takeover by a giant timeshare company. Diamond has never said, publicly, that it intends to acquire a controlling interest in TBSC.  But it is an acquisitive company that continues to add inventory to its network. In the past year, for example, Diamond bought Gold Key Resorts (with six resorts) and Intrawest Resort Club (nine resorts). That’s the business model.

One Final Threat Before the Vote

Two hours before the Sept. 24 board election, Goeckel informed the HOA board that Diamond would.

Mary Ann Gutierrez, owner activist dispute the election results if the Board did not retract votes attributed to association-owned inventory (not including the 245.5 that relate to Diamond’s 2015 lawsuit).  The board declined to retract the votes.

Final tally: Costa and Montgomery, the board’s preferred candidates, won unanimous seats on the board with more than 3,900 votes apiece. If you deduct Diamond’s 1,700-plus voting bloc from the total, the approximate tally was:

  • Costa 2200
  • Montgomery 2200
  • Diamond 1700

Next year, board member Sedric Ketchum is up for re-election. When he won his first term, his margin of victory was 23 votes, with Diamond throwing all of its voting power against him. Stay tuned.

After the vote, RedWeek asked Goeckel if he had any comments about the proceedings.

“I have absolutely nothing to say to you. You are not authorized….” Not sure what the “authorized” comment meant, but if we find out, we’ll inform you. Goeckel and Diamond’s public relations department did not respond to email requests for additional comment after the election. That is their standard operating procedure.

This post was written by Jeff Weir, RedWeek’s chief correspondent. He is also a Diamond timeshare owner.

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Hyatt Timeshare Resorts Introduce “Toy Box”

Family timeshare vacations are a joy, a bonding time, and a way of creating memories for a lifetime. They can also be a challenge. Hyatt has announced a solution – the Hyatt Resort Toy Box.

To keep your children entertained, Hyatt has partnered with the Toy Tips Research Institute – an independent group that provides unbiased research reviews and toy report cards – to select an assortment of toys and games that are easy to use, fun and educational for young guests to enjoy while they are visiting Hyatt resorts.

Filled with an assortment of age-appropriate toys and games for children age toddler to tween, the Hyatt Resort Toy Box has everything you’ll need to make a family-friendly vacation. Toys are carefully chosen based on age, educational value, and special circumstances.

Parents will appreciate that each toy features a “scorecard” that combines Toy Tips researchers’ observation of enjoyment and development skills. Each researcher uses an original survey written by psychologists so results are accurate, independent and academic. The total score is weighted and calculated into an A through C- rating scale and Toy Tips only reports on toys with these ratings.

Upon arrival at a participating Hyatt resort in U.S. and Caribbean, families can review a Toy Box book which lists 24 toys available for check-out during their stay. From LEGO® to Tonka trucks to board games, toys are available for four different age groups, including toddler, preschool, school age, and tween, as well as a whole category for families of all ages.

Before being checked out by the next guest each toy is thoroughly inspected for any broken pieces and then cleaned with a non-toxic cleaner. Created and manufactured by Toy Tips it is an all-natural non-toxic toy cleaner formulated just for toys and not made with chemicals.

Hyatt Hotels Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, is a leading global hospitality company with a proud heritage of making guests feel more than welcome. As a Hyatt official put it, thousands of members of the Hyatt family in 45 countries strive to make a difference in the lives of the guests they encounter every day by providing authentic hospitality, which is why the Toy Box is a perfect fit. Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc., a Hyatt Hotels Corporation subsidiary, develops and operates vacation ownership properties under the Hyatt Vacation Club® brand.

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Timeshare Resale vs. Timeshare Developer: How to Buy?

Timeshare purchase methods have changed in the last 10 years. Whereas before, the only way to buy a timeshare was directly from the resort developer, there is now a timeshare resale marketplace to consider when getting ready to purchase a timeshare for your annual vacation needs. And, with information being available so readily on the internet, there are more opportunities than ever to do your own research and be sure you are getting the best timeshare purchase deal around.

Here’s how the two methods compare:

Timeshare Resale

  • No sales pressure
  • Time to conduct your own research online
  • Prices typically 35 – 50% lower
  • Opportunity to negotiate price further
  • Units the same as the developer offers

Yes, it can be tempting to purchase a timeshare while you are having a fantastic vacation and are enjoying the amenities of the resort that wants you to buy there. But, the buyer who is not impulsive can gain valuable, objective insights about the resort by learning about the experiences of owners through articles, online timeshare forums and resort ratings. If he checks pricing online as well, he may be surprised that he can save as much at 50% on a timeshare resale unit as well.

Timeshare from the Developer

  • Trust factor: buying from a recognized brand
  • Opportunity to purchase new construction
  • Incentives and perks
  • Financing available

There is an element of trust associated with buying directly from an established and respected brand in which you have confidence such as Marriott Vacation Club, Hilton Grand Vacations Club and Disney Vacation Club. Some developers even offer perks and amenities that come with the resort if you buy it brand new. And, the earlier you buy, the more choices you have in terms of the week you want and its location at the resort (ie. With our without a view).

Perks can include rewards and points programs that are not transferable if the timeshare owner chooses to sell at a later date.

Financing options are available much easier, though you could certainly ask a timeshare owner if they are willing to finance the deal in order to make the sale. And, just because you are talking to a developer does not mean that you can’t attempt to negotiate the price. If they want the sale as much as you want the property, you could get a better deal.

No matter where or how you choose to purchase a timeshare, make sure you buy a resort that you love to insure that you get the most value and enjoyment from your vacation ownership.

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RCI TV Now Available Online for all Timeshare Owners

RCI timeshare exchange has announced that its online television network, RCI TV, is now available for any timeshare owner to view on their web site. You do not need to be an RCI member in order to have access to their TV channel.

RCI TV is a helpful resource for those who are new to timeshare ownership and want a visual reference that explains the benefits of timeshares, or for the seasoned vacation ownership traveler who likes to see videos that show the beautiful details of the timeshare resorts. There are even destination reviews to help you get ideas for the next vacation you may want to take.

“The overwhelming response to RCI TV from our members and affiliates continues to push us to expand this unique network that is truly revolutionizing the vacation planning experience,” says Geoff Ballotti, CEO of RCI.

There is even a section where owners explain why they enjoy timeshare ownership so much. Claiming the “quality time” with family, flexibility of destinations through timeshare exchange, and the high-end quality of the resorts helped them experience so many luxurious vacations that they could not have been able to afford any other way than through a timeshare.

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Timeshares are a Purchase and Not an Investment

When you buy a timeshare, you’re making a significant upfront investment guaranteeing an annual vacation with your family. Because of the additional space and amenities, timeshares are a great way to vacation. You can build family bonds and memories in home-like accommodations and unlike your typical rental home, there’s no need to pack sheets and towels. But, as a wise buyer, you must realize that you should not buy timeshare with the sole intent of reselling it or that it will be a financial investment.

Timeshares are simply pre-paid vacations at wonderful resorts you love and want to visit every year. They do not appreciate in value. While many timeshares are considered deeded real estate, they should not be thought of as a money-making investment. If the timeshare you’ve chosen to buy is deeded, you are buying real property, with the option to treat this property in a variety of ways: give it away, will it to your heirs, rent it out, resell it, and so on, but this is not the same as buying a home which most likely will appreciate in value over the years.

Due to the upfront costs, and the fact that the majority of timeshares do not appreciate like normal real estate, the cost savings is in future vacations. You pay a one-time purchase fee that entitles you to a one week vacation every year at a resort. The savings come when you calculate how much you would have spent renting hotels for the same amount of time every year, considering hotel room rates increase every year. With timeshare ownership, you experience long term savings and guaranteed vacations and that is the reason timeshares are a vacation purchase and not an investment.

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Most Timeshare Owners Rent Before They Buy

According to the Vacation Timeshare Owners Report, prepared by the ARDA International Foundation (AIF), almost half of the recent timeshare owners say they chose to rent a timeshare before deciding to buy. The report also went on to show that recent purchasers are younger, (58 percent are under the age of 45) wealthier (with an average household income of $94,933) and happy with their timeshare purchase.

The biggest motivators for the timeshare purchase were: The quality of the accommodations, savings on future vacations, and the credibility of the timeshare company.

“This study underscores the flexibility and value of vacation ownership products for a broad range of consumers and lifestyles. The value of timeshare that comes from its use gives people the discipline to have a better vacation year after year,” said Howard Nusbaum, ARDA president and CEO.

Eighty-six percent of all timeshare owners responded that owning a timeshare was an excellent, very good, or good experience. Sixty-nine percent of all owners would recommend their own resort or vacation club and cite that beaches (52 percent), attractions/entertainment (48 percent), and shopping (39 percent) are the most appealing resort characteristics.

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Resale Advisories on ARDA

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is a forerunner in educating consumers about the timeshare industry and vacation ownership. Next month they are launching several advisories, Forums and task forces all focused on timeshare resales. The current economy has uncovered some unscrupulous companies trying to take advantage of owners who need to sell their timeshare. These new efforts from ARDA will help educate consumers on the best way to resell their timeshare, should the need arise. The goal is for these tools to help ease public confusion about how to resell a timeshare and who they can trust to help them.

There are two resale advisory documents available from ADRA. These guidelines have been posted to their Web site and can be found at: Resale Guidelines Advisory I and Resale Guidelines Advisory II.

For more information on the topic of timeshare resales, see our previous posts:
Protect Yourself From Timeshare Scams and Resale Fraud
How Do I Post A Timeshare Online For Rent or Sale

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Use our Top 25 List to Plan Your Next Timeshare Vacation

If you’re starting to think about where to plan your next timeshare vacation, but you could use a few ideas, you’ll want to check out our list of the Top 25 Timeshare Rental Resorts, chosen by members. Timeshare owners know that one of the joys of vacation ownership is being able to exchange your week for a week at another resort and those who use our site to rent from these owners know what great deals area available to enjoy the ultimate vacation experience.

This year, our members chose Disney’s Beach Club Villas and Disney’s BoardWalk Villas as the number one and two top timeshare locations. Located in Lake Buena Vista Florida, near Orlando, both of these resorts have been awarded five-star ratings from travelers. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities such as: water slides, pontoon boating, tennis and volleyball courts, fishing, and midway games. And of course the Disney Theme parks themselves are a free bus ride away for a great family attraction.

Last year’s number one pick, The Manhattan Club, slipped to third place this year. Located in the heart upper-midtown Manhattan, this resort is an easy walk to Central Park, Carnegie Hall, and Times Square. The elegant wood paneled and marbled lobby is a delight to the eyes. The Club features doormen, valet parking, and a knowledgeable concierge staff waiting to help you with dinner reservations and theater tickets.

That was our members’ top three resorts to give you ideas for planning your next vacation. For the complete list of all Top 25 Timeshare Rental Resorts visit our web site. Sign in free as a guest to browse details on each property.

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