Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

Forum: Sheraton Vistana Resort

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By Elizabeth L.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

The two-story units in the Courts are larger than the other units, I believe, and so are being required to pay a larger fee. I, for one, am happy to pay the refurbishment fee if it means that my unit will again be top of the market in what must be the most competitive timeshare market in the world.

With regards to the cost of construction, it might be possible to build new for $200/sf, but don't forget they also have to be furnished.

Lastly, it's my understanding that at the conclusion of the Courts' refurb we will be enrolled in the Starpoints (or is it Staroptions? I can never remember which is which). That alone is worth a significant part of the refurb to me.

Just my 2c . . . please don't flame me; I don't work for Sheraton/Starwood, and I bought knowing the refurb was coming. My only regret is that I bought week 51 instead of 52. But that was my mistake.

Avatar for Elizabeth L. Elizabeth L.

10 years ago
Sep 27, 2009

By Brett W.

elizabethl98 wrote:
The two-story units in the Courts are larger than the other units, I believe, and so are being required to pay a larger fee. I, for one, am happy to pay the refurbishment fee if it means that my unit will again be top of the market in what must be the most competitive timeshare market in the world.

With regards to the cost of construction, it might be possible to build new for $200/sf, but don't forget they also have to be furnished.

Lastly, it's my understanding that at the conclusion of the Courts' refurb we will be enrolled in the Starpoints (or is it Staroptions? I can never remember which is which). That alone is worth a significant part of the refurb to me.

Just my 2c . . . please don't flame me; I don't work for Sheraton/Starwood, and I bought knowing the refurb was coming. My only regret is that I bought week 51 instead of 52. But that was my mistake.

Actually elizabeth, I received my enrollment stuff for the Falls already. My deadline to decide on enrolling is October 1, 2009, if I decide after this I will have to pay the $500 enrollment fee (which they are very strict on, my brother-in-law missed his date and now they are telling him that if he doesn't buy another timeshare unit he can't get around paying the enrollment fee.

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Sep 27, 2009

By Kevin K.

Important Update Affecting Resale Purchasers

Hi We agree with your assessment of what we should pay for fees. Did you find anything in your contract that helps us not pay this refurbishment fee? I read mine and I don't see anything that would allow this excess with out my input. you can contact me Kevin at kwj.klassen@comcast.net

Avatar for Kevin K. Kevin K.

10 years ago
Oct 01, 2009

By Sharon K.

What I would ask you all is to think about what you would do in the position of board member? Would you ask other members of the association what they would like to see (they too are only owners themselves) or would you simply send a letter telling the other owners they now owe $5K (in my case) with no consulation. I knew nothing about the refurb till i booked into my accomodation last year. The figure has doubled since then and despite repeated requests to speak to board members or have our questions answered .......... silence. We have developed many properties over years and we cannot believe the actual costs here. We do think that the refurb is looooooong overdue but there are so many things not thought through about this. Look at the costs. There is almost 25% contingency when everything has been planned for. This contingency is so that we pay for Starwoods weeks once they take posession from those who give up their units. Over $100K per unit of 2 bed. The credit crunch comes and they keep going gun ho like nothing has happened. Builders are cutting prices to get work but do they revise costs again? No. Pay at your own peril. Personally I'd rather get answers first than hand over my hard earned cash to a bunch of dictators with little business accumen and even littler respect for their fellow members.

Avatar for Sharon K. Sharon K.

10 years ago
Oct 01, 2009

By Brett W.

sharonk221 wrote:
What I would ask you all is to think about what you would do in the position of board member? Would you ask other members of the association what they would like to see (they too are only owners themselves) or would you simply send a letter telling the other owners they now owe $5K (in my case) with no consulation. I knew nothing about the refurb till i booked into my accomodation last year. The figure has doubled since then and despite repeated requests to speak to board members or have our questions answered .......... silence. We have developed many properties over years and we cannot believe the actual costs here. We do think that the refurb is looooooong overdue but there are so many things not thought through about this. Look at the costs. There is almost 25% contingency when everything has been planned for. This contingency is so that we pay for Starwoods weeks once they take posession from those who give up their units. Over $100K per unit of 2 bed. The credit crunch comes and they keep going gun ho like nothing has happened. Builders are cutting prices to get work but do they revise costs again? No. Pay at your own peril. Personally I'd rather get answers first than hand over my hard earned cash to a bunch of dictators with little business accumen and even littler respect for their fellow members.

You have 1005 total units being renovated, 112 in the Falls alone. What do you expect the boards of these condo associations to do, personally call each person and get their OK? It does not make sense and is not practical. I manage a plant of 33 people do you think I talk to each one to get buy in on a decision? Just not practical. I do believe it is unfair that you have to pay $5000 when the basic property is the same trade value though. Not right, they should have equated it out over all of the Falls owners. Your 2 story property will NOT get a premium if you resell it (only for $200 according to others in this thread) and it does not demand a premium on trade that I know of as I have traded and picked up the 2 stories for my single story a couple of times in my ownership. Unfortunately the fees have been calculated and it's not like we weren't warned. A 25% contingency is not outrageous in this type of a renovation. And lastly Starwood is also infusing a bunch of cash into this renovation too. Of course they will use our cash to lessen their investment but that's what they do (any large corporation). Now I don't believe in silence from the board, they should respond to individual's questions. But another point is that there is a write in on the ballot and we can be proactive to gain a board position, for what good it will do I do not know.

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Oct 01, 2009

By Sharon K.

Thanks for your comments Brett. I've owned Courts for 4 years and I can assure you I had absolutely no warning about this refurb. Up till recently I got info booklets in Spanish which isn't great when I have no Spanish at all. I only got it in English because I was getting chased by the finance office. I checked back the minutes and from these I see the board consulted one person - fellow board member from another area on the site. I don't expect them to consult with everyone, a sample would do, but when you are there to represent owners (not manage them) I think it's pretty important. Your decisions should be representative of owners. I own another timeshare in Scotland. It is being refurbished for the 3rd time within my ownership and it is currently undergoing $3Million for the indoor pool and sports facilities. I believe my contribution to this will be approx an extra $200 (not a huge estate with 100's of units). The owners (MacDonalds) will foot the bill to keep their rental premiums up and maintain their RCI status. That is why this Sheraton business is not making me happy. I get regular updates about this Scottish timeshare and I have the contact details of my board members because they actually want to hear what owners have to say. I've never had to contact them because I am truly happy with how the timeshare is managed. I do love my Florida Timeshare but didn't think I'd end up with such a huge surprise bill to pay. I don't want to sell as we have a great family holiday there but I do want to pay for other units to be refurb'd when I get no benefit from that. I am happy to pay for refurb charged but this has not been thought out. It's just plain poor communications and poor management from Sheraton and the board

Avatar for Sharon K. Sharon K.

10 years ago
Oct 03, 2009

By Brett W.

Your not paying for everyone else's condo, the Falls Association is acting on its own and the charges are based upon the 112 condos contained in our association. The best situation for the Falls Association is to do the refurb when all the other Associations (Lakes, Spas, etc) to get a volume discount and hopefully save $. The key thing is the decision is really NOT the owners and not even the Board's. Starwood owns the property and as a large corporation they are going to force down their decisions to manage and improve the property. The Board really has nothing to do with it when all is said and done. The Board is really there just to get approval of the decision to refurb. The other bad part about our ownership is that it is located in Florida, which has always been known as a Corporate friendly state and not a consumer friendly state, hence we as consumers are not going to be treated with the utmost fairness in decisions like this in the State of Florida. That being said we received notice of the potential for a refurb in 4th QTR 2007, not to mention when we were at Vistana in the summer of 2007 we were told then too. We then received a nice brochure and email about what the condos were going to look like in 2nd QTR 2008. Then we received notice of what we were going to have to pay for the refurb, 3rd QTR 2008. How much notice is needed? It would have been better if they had given us the bill in 2007 and told us it was due in 2009, but there is only so much that can be done on notification. Plus not to say I would have preferred they not send out brochures on the refurb and just done it through the net. Less cost. Starwood is not going to consult with anyone but themselves they need to maximize return for Shareholders and refurbing Vistana is the way they are going to do it. Also, having the owners join the SVN network also helps in this endeavor of maximizing shareholder return.

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Oct 04, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

I wonder how all the shareholders are feeling now with hundreds of us refusing to pay.!!!!!!!!!!

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
Oct 05, 2009

By Sharon K.

First I heard about our Courts refurb was when we turned up to pick up my keys in July 2008. We tried to get someone to speak to who actually knew something about it while we were there. We saw a refurb'd unit but any mention of costs given was not close to the bill we eventually got. I can assure you I received absolutely no written information about the COURTS refurb till Autumn 2008 and that was in Spanish. The association is approving this plan on our behalf. It's our money and we're not happy with someone spending it without consultation.

Avatar for Sharon K. Sharon K.

10 years ago
Oct 06, 2009

By Brett W.

jeffreyc81 wrote:
I wonder how all the shareholders are feeling now with hundreds of us refusing to pay.!!!!!!!!!!

It's like any other corporate write off. They know there is going to be a certain amount of no pay and that is taken into account. Don't believe that a few hundred folks not agreeing to pay is going to influence a thing. There are over 52,000 owner weeks affected by this refurb, so a few hundred are a drop in the bucket.

Last edit by brettw24 on Oct 06, 2009 04:38 PM.

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Oct 06, 2009

By Brett W.

sharonk221 wrote:
First I heard about our Courts refurb was when we turned up to pick up my keys in July 2008. We tried to get someone to speak to who actually knew something about it while we were there. We saw a refurb'd unit but any mention of costs given was not close to the bill we eventually got. I can assure you I received absolutely no written information about the COURTS refurb till Autumn 2008 and that was in Spanish. The association is approving this plan on our behalf. It's our money and we're not happy with someone spending it without consultation.

I see what the issue was, you bought your unit about 4 years ago, did you buy it from Vistana or a reseller? If from Vistana then I would pitch a fit with them on no notification (if you didn't receive the refurb brochure and etc). It probably will not do you any good but someone should at least answer you on not being notified. If you purchased through a reseller then you probably did not get notice because of this situation and it might be something to take up with the reseller.

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Oct 06, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

Bret, You must work for these people. You said earlier you weren't a schill for the Sheraton but I am really starting to wonder????? Sharon, what do you think??

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
Oct 07, 2009

By Joseph B.

jeffreyc81 wrote:
Bret, You must work for these people. You said earlier you weren't a schill for the Sheraton but I am really starting to wonder????? Sharon, what do you think??

Oh, no, no...Brett really DOES want to have the finest timeshare in the land, regardless of cost. I understand that now. He's aware of how tough times are for Sheraton Vistana, what with the economic climate and all. That's why I've stopped debating with him. I'm hoping that he'll pay for ALL of our refurbishment fees.

Avatar for Joseph B. Joseph B.

10 years ago
Oct 08, 2009

By Brett W.

Nope, all I am stating is that you have got to quit the BMW'ing about this refurb. It is moving you either pay the refurb fee (which believe me I was NOT happy about) or you sell your unit for the best price and saddle someone else or Starwood with the fee. If you pay the refurb you are really NOT going to get anything for the 'investment', Starwood will, but there is no value (except your week) to the owner. But this string is not getting anyone anywhere with the State of Florida or Starwood. I would say if 50,000 owners stood up and said no, then there would be discussion but that is NOT happening. You either pay or you don't, that's the bottom line. Timeshares are NOT all that they are pumped up to be. I don't regret getting the timeshare, but it does cost a bit to keep it up (i.e. maintenance fees, taxes, refurb fees, exchange fees). It's getting close to being a lose lose situation, it was a lose win situation before refurb. But let's be realistic here there is no corporate plot to take your money away, there is no corporate plot to charge you a fee that is too high for the work to be done, etc. Starwood has a commitment and that is to its shareholders NOT the owners, the owners are just a nuisance to them, hence so are the Condo Boards. If Starwood had its way it would knockdown all of the 1, 2 and 3 story units sitting on its property and build 6, 8 and 10 story buildings it can bring in more 'suckers (myself included)' to buy the overpriced time shares. You have seen answers from lawyers in this string. There is really nothing that can be done (I have also confirmed this with a lawyer in FL too). I don't know what else your going to do by extending this string and putting out mis-information on the Board (not talking to any owners about this refurb, etc) and the overinflated numbers on the refurb itself, etc. It doesn't help and it is not going to change a thing (unless of course you can sway 50,000 owners to your cause).

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Oct 08, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

josephb172 wrote:
jeffreyc81 wrote:
Bret, You must work for these people. You said earlier you weren't a schill for the Sheraton but I am really starting to wonder????? Sharon, what do you think??

Oh, no, no...Brett really DOES want to have the finest timeshare in the land, regardless of cost. I understand that now. He's aware of how tough times are for Sheraton Vistana, what with the economic climate and all. That's why I've stopped debating with him. I'm hoping that he'll pay for ALL of our refurbishment fees.

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
Oct 09, 2009

By Jeffrey C.

I'm with you Joseph!!!!!!!

Avatar for Jeffrey C. Jeffrey C.

10 years ago
Oct 09, 2009

By Eric M.

Before you flame me, please take a moment to read my previous posts. After a year of fighting this, I have come to the conclusion that there are only three possible outcomes to this situation: 1. I get rid of my week. 2. Sheraton gets my money. 3. Sheraton gets my money and my credit is ruined. If you do not plan to pay the refurbishment fees on your unit as they come due, please do yourself a favor and sell (if you are lucky) or give away your week immediately. I believe the time has come to turn our attention from stopping or modifying the refurbishment (which, just like the other associations before us, we have failed to do) to trying to keep track of how the money is spent. I am especially concerned about all of the slop built into the numbers that we have received.

Avatar for Eric M. Eric M.

10 years ago
Oct 09, 2009

By Sharon K.

Brett ref your comments on "not talking to any owners about this refurb, etc) and the overinflated numbers on the refurb itself, etc." The information we got was direct from the Lawyer hired by the board to speak to owners like us. I resent you stating this is misinformation. We won't pay until we get answers from the board. They are the ones voting to spend our money, not Starwood.

Avatar for Sharon K. Sharon K.

10 years ago
Oct 09, 2009

By Brett W.

sharonk221 wrote:
Brett ref your comments on "not talking to any owners about this refurb, etc) and the overinflated numbers on the refurb itself, etc." The information we got was direct from the Lawyer hired by the board to speak to owners like us. I resent you stating this is misinformation. We won't pay until we get answers from the board. They are the ones voting to spend our money, not Starwood.

Sharon, sorry to say the board is not the one in power here, Starwood is, if the board puts up a stink the board is changed. Starwood is running this show, you are one owner and again an annoyance (just like I am and the rest of the owners in Sheraton Vistana). Starwood management answers to the shareholders and that is foremost in their thoughts. Whether or not an owner or a minority of owners are unhappy is just NOT important to Starwood. Ericm put it concisely in his post above yours, you have 3 choices. Unfortunately if you choose the last one it will have damage on your credit report, if you choose the middle you are really not getting a return on the money invested (this is the one I chose, I am not happy about it either but I am living with it), the first is really the only way out. Since you are not all that good at paraphrasing my statement about mis-information stands. When you only take part of what someone says and spin it, which you even did above to my statements, that kind of proves it. Refurb is happening whether you want it to or not and the Board has really no say, other than voting to uphold the refurb charges, these were already set by Starwood. The Board may have gotten to choose wall colors and furniture colors, but everything was already setup. Just like building your own house through Ryan Homes or Centex, you have limits on what you can choose.

Avatar for Brett W. Brett W.

10 years ago
Oct 10, 2009

By Sr E.

I disagree with Brett. There are more choices than just the three which Eric suggested. A possible alternative is to have each person who is upset or opposed to the imposition of the 'refurbishment' fee contribute a percentage of the 'refurbishment' fee, let's say a $100? to a fund to retain a lawyer to commence a derivative action. A derivative action is defined at www.nolo.com as "a lawsuit brought by a shareholder against the corporation's directors, other shareholders of the corporation, or a third party for failure of management or fraud. The suing shareholder sues on behalf of the corporation..." (http://www.nolo.com/dictionary/derivative-action-term.html). It allows a minority shareholder to obtain relief against the oppressive actions of a board of directors or majority shareholder. If Brett is correct that Starwood is the majority shareholder then the court is able to examine the conduct and to determine if it is not only reasonable but also whether it was properly authorized.

Has anyone asked for a copy of the Minutes of all the meetings where the refurbishment fee was discussed? Has anyone requested details of the vote in favor, and against, the motion to impose the fee? Many of the postings here are perceptions and assumptions and estimations but what is needed are facts. I think everyone here wants transparency and knowing the facts would go a long way to establish that.

The Vistana Boards and Starwood should provide an opportunity for owners to communicate with one another. Many other associations, including other timeshares and interval ownerships, have a secured members area where they can post their opinions, comments and concerns, similar to this website's forum. Of course, such a forum could possibly run counter to the interests of Starwood, which is exactly why it is in the best interests of the owners and should be supported, and implemented, by the Vistana Boards. I would not oppose a nominal additional amount included in my annual fees for the expense of running such a website. We would not run into the difficulties of trying to discuss this among the thousands of owners as we seem to be having now. I suggest that if you support this idea that you send an email to your Association Board requesting that an owner's forum be created.

I do feel that Brett is right in one thing - that the refurbishment is going ahead regardless of the way any of us feel. But I also believe that will not put an end to it. There will still be resentment, and questions, about how it was handled.

Avatar for Sr E. Sr E.

10 years ago
Oct 12, 2009

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