Monday, March 30, 2015
Monday, March 23, 2015
that many postings, there's no doubt that you'll have no trouble finding the dates you need! So what is it that makes Marriott's Aruba Surf Club such a hit and the topic of this month Resort Spotlight? It all begins with the location...
Palm Beach is, in every way, a perfect tropical retreat. Year-round sun and warm temperatures make Aruba the perfect getaway to close in more continental climes, and Palm Beach is particularly renowned for it's proximity to the capital of Oranjestad as well as the award-winning Eagle Beach. The Palm Beach area has quickly blossomed into a mecca with with a vibrant, beach-centric culture, a newly completed shopping area and a host of nearby activities ranging from golf to water sports. The resort itself makes quite an impression - a massive, towering facade painted in shades of warm caramel, tan and cream.
The amenities offered at Marriott's Aruba Surf Club are unrivaled by surrounding resorts. A sprawling pool and lazy river wind around and among palm trees and blossoming gardens, feeling every bit the tropical oasis. The resort is also home to the glitzy Stellaris Casino - 10,700 square feet of high-stakes fun where you can try your luck. Or perhaps a relaxing spa day is more your style? Surf Club guests have access to the neighboring Aruba Ocean Club's Mandara Spa, complete with VIP treatment rooms, and extra-large Jacuzzi bath, steam room, nail salon and more. And off course, no one wants to let their workout routine fall by the wayside on vacation. The Surf Club's state-of-the-art fitness center is equipped with free weights and cardio equipment. Equipment and area for tennis, volleyball and table tennis are also provided.
|The Surf Club's winding pool is a blast for all ages|
Colorful, bright and breezy rooms accented with vibrant redwoods perfectly epitomize the resort's island spirit. Rooms ranging in size from studio units to three-bedrooms makes finding the perfect size for your group easy. In the one-bedroom and up villas, enjoy full kitchens, spacious living and dining areas, flat-screen televisions, high-speed internet, upscale bathrooms and private balconies. Studios trade the full kitchen and separate living and dining rooms for a kitchenette and combined living/dining area, providing all the necessities in a compact area.
|Open, airy rooms match the carefree attitude of Aruba|
Marriott's Aruba Surf Club's popular reputation is well-earned, and the perfect option for anyone looking for the perfect Caribbean getaway. An enviable location, plentiful amenities and activities, luxurious accommodations all under a much-beloved name in the lodging industry have all contributed to this Palm Beach success! If you've enjoyed a stay at the Surf Club, let us know what you think - is its reputation among RedWeek members deserved?
|Sunset at the Surf Club is a beautiful thing!|
Monday, March 09, 2015
1. Details Count!
2. Make Sure the Price is Right!
3. Show the Value!
4. Be Flexible in Payment!
5. Post at the Right Time!RedWeek research has shown that most members tend to book their accommodations about six months out from their date of travel, and this is why our rental postings run for six months. If you have the extra time and funds, it doesn't hurt to advertise a year out from check-in and renew again in six months. If you don't want to worry about renewals, however, we recommend posting an even six months out from your check-in date. Those 1-2 months before your rental starts are invaluable; it's at this point the resort is often booked solid, and last-minute vacationers are on the hunt for availability. Your renter gets a reservation and you've successfully rented your week - it's a win-win!
With these five tips, renting your timeshare doesn't have to be a shot in the dark! Have you rented out your week through RedWeek, and have you had success? What tactics have worked for you? Or, if you rent from owners, what are you looking for in a posting?
Monday, March 02, 2015
1. Be sure your accommodations are pet-friendly.
2. Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations.
3. Take care if traveling internationally.Traveling internationally with your pet can open you up to quite a headache. Depending on your destination, your pet may be quarantined. Thoroughly research the regulations on animals in your destination and if in doubt, instead consider leaving your pet in the care of a friend or family member or a trusted boarding service/kennel.
4. Help your pet relax.
5. Bring along a tagged collar and a photo.
6. Have a supply of your pet's preferred food.
7. Research your destination.
Sunday, February 22, 2015
A new chapter --- among many --- has opened in the New York Attorney General's investigation of possible fraud and securities violations at The Manhattan Club. This week, lawyers for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched a direct outreach campaign to club owners who previously filed complaints about the Manhattan Club's sales-and-reservations practices.
The outreach, confirmed by owners and representatives of the AG's office, follows many months of deliberate silence during which the AG continued its yearlong investigation without meeting or communicating with owners who had bitterly complained about their inability to secure timely reservations at the club. Over the past six months, in fact, many owners expressed outrage on RedWeek.com and other internet forums about the AG's seeming disinterest in keeping owners apprised of the inquiry. During this period, FYI, the AG also declined a direct offer from RedWeek to post occasional announcements about the case on RedWeek as a service to the many Manhattan Club owners who follow the case on RedWeek forums.
Now, however, despite the cold snap back East, the AG has warmed up to the idea of getting detailed testimonials from owners about their purchasing experiences with the club. The lead contact --- the gatekeeper --- for owner complaints and related communications is Brenda Heredia of the Real Estate Finance Bureau, based in Manhattan. She can be reached at 212-416-8956; her fax is 212-416-8179. Her e-mail is: Brenda.Heredia@ag.ny.gov.
RedWeek talked to several owners this week who have already been contacted by the AG. They told similar stories. They filed written complaints with the AG's office after learning that the AG had obtained a court order July 24th that temporarily (and indefinitely) shut down timeshare sales, stopped foreclosures, and froze spending at the club. The owners heard nothing for months, then recently received written confirmation from the AG that their complaints had in fact been received. Then they were contacted by an assistant attorney general (one of many) who interviewed them about the details of their ownership: the who, what, when, and where of what they bought and, most importantly, what they were told compared to what was in the public offering documents they received after purchasing their timeshares.
One owner, Greg Hyer of Florida, purchased a Metro Suite timeshare at the Manhattan Club in 2007 while living in Connecticut. At the time of purchase, he said he was told that his maintenance fees would be $990. Within a few months, however, he learned that the actual fee was $1,600, and that it was due and payable in April, eight months prior to the beginning of his first usage year. When he complained, he said the club told him that the sales people had given him "bad information." Like many other owners, Hyer also said he had a difficult time getting reservations and, as a result, started converting his ownership to RCI points so he could stay at other resorts. His complaints to the club, he said, went nowhere.
"I'm encouraged by my contact with the AG," Hyer said, "even though they told us they have no idea how this will all fall out. I told them I'd like to see owners who want to get out of their timeshare, get their money back."
Hyer's sentiments seem to be shared by the army of owners who have posted notes on RedWeek's forums and other sites. All talk of restitution, however, is extremely premature, because the investigation is nowhere near a conclusion, according to the AG's office and outside attorneys who are familiar with securities cases.
Manhattan Club Must Disclose Assets, Bank Statements, Electronic Files
This month, for example, the AG went back to court to compel the club to disclose more documents about sales and reservation policies, training documents, bank statements, tax returns and contracts with other travel-and-vacation companies. It also requested electronic files dating back several years. The first group of requested documents was turned over Feb. 13. The club has agreed to turn over a second group of documents to the AG by Feb. 27. These procedural steps will be followed up by a status conference March 6 with New York Court Referee Steven E. Liebman. That conference will be private, not public, the AG's office says.
According to attorneys interviewed by RedWeek, the electronic files may turn out to be more valuable than bank statements and check stubs, for the following reason: digital documents provide complete detail about the date and time when documents were originated, edited, revised and/or deleted. So even if a paper trail no longer exists for some documents, the original digital trail still lives, buried in the electronic files --- unless the hard disk drives are erased or destroyed.
In the midst of these discovery moves, other aspects of the case appear to be changing as well. The Feb. 11 court filing, for example, shows that the Manhattan Club recently switched attorneys. Developer Ian Bruce Eichner and his affiliate companies are now represented by the high-profile firm of Winston & Strawn LLP. The club's new lead attorney is Kelly A. Librera, a partner in the firm's litigation group who, according to her online biography, "advises clients in white collar criminal matters...complex commercial litigation, fraud and securities," among other specialty practice areas. The club's former attorney, Patrick Smith of DLA Piper US LLP, told RedWeek this week that he would not talk about the case without authorization from his client. RedWeek also tried to reach Librera but, according to her office, she was unavailable.
It is common for people to change attorneys. In high profile cases, substitutions are even more common. But in this case, the substitution follows a decision by the AG, in a Dec. 31, 2014 letter, denying the club's request to withdraw money "for the payment of legal fees and related costs." The wording of the letter makes it extremely clear that the AG is unhappy with the level of cooperation it has received from the Manhattan Club.
Here is a Key Excerpt of the AG's Dec. 31 Letter to the Manhattan Club
"As you know, over the past several months you [the Manhattan Club's attorneys] have repeatedly asked to modify the [July 24th] order, citing the need to pay employees' salaries, immediate construction costs, and trade payables, resulting in seven prior stipulations. As you also know, we consistently received misinformation or incomplete information in connection with the prior stipulations. Moreover, despite repeated requests, we have not received information sufficient to identify the amount of funds in the accounts [of the Manhattan Club companies], or all of their current sources of revenue, income or other receivables. We cannot agree to further stipulations until we attain an understanding of these issues."
When asked to provide additional information about these issues, the AG's office offered a succinct NO.
AG Forced Club to Put $525,000 in Escrow Account to Safeguard Assets
In December, the AG's office compelled the Manhattan Club (with the backing of Court Referee Liebman) to deposit $525,000 into an escrow account to safeguard the club's assets. In a stipulated agreement approved by both sides, the club also agreed to cancel "amnesty agreements" with 37 owners who had tried to turn in their units to cancel out future obligations and fees. Now, with the club barred from participating in any buy, sell or exchange agreements on timeshares, those owners get their usage rights back (along with the bills to pay current maintenance fees).
Since the Dec. 10 court filing, the AG has had many back-and-forth exchanges with the club to identify additional assets, including rental income, new accounts, investments and debts. In political circles, this pursuit is known as "following the money." The club's next deadline for filing additional documentation to the AG is Feb. 27.
Club's Contracts with Bluegreen, Disney and RCI Under Scrutiny
In addition to chasing the paper and electronic paper trails of the Manhattan Club's finances and programs, the AG's lawyers are seeking full disclosure of the club's contracts with Bluegreen Vacation Club, Disney Vacation Club, and exchange company RCI. The limited amount of documents filed to date show that Bluegreen had an "ownership interest" in several, if not many, units at the club. The court files also reveal that Disney had two contracts with the Manhattan Club. The first was signed Feb. 1, 2013 while the second is dated Feb. 4, 2014 --- during a time when the club was actively being investigated by the Attorney General's investigators. The club also had an extensive ongoing relationship with RCI, its preferred exchange company. According to an Oct. 31 e-mail from one of the Manhattan Club's former attorneys, Jeffrey Rotenberg, 5,917 Manhattan Club owners participated in RCI week exchange, 2,311 enrolled in RCI's points program, and 4,943 owners had no RCI membership.
The AG is seeking information about these third-party relationships to determine how many of the club's 286 suites were actually made available for owner reservations --- compared to the number of units that were sold to other clubs and/or rented to the general public. The answers may be critical, because a key question in the entire investigation is whether the club deliberately oversold memberships in the club, then denied reservations to owners while renting out rooms to non-owners.
All three companies appear to have ongoing relationships with the Manhattan Club. Disney added the club to its online Concierge Connection in February 2013. Bluegreen's website lists the club on its resort collection. RCI not only handles exchanges for Manhattan club owners, but maintains a "Welcome Desk" at the club, offering two free luggage tags to owners who drop by during their visit.
When contacted by RedWeek, none of these timeshare companies wanted to discuss any aspect of their relationship with the Manhattan Club.
"We have no comment other than to say that Bluegreen is not a party to the matter involving the Manhattan Club and the New York AG's Office," said Michael Kaminer, senior vice president and general counsel for Bluegreen Corporation.
Rebecca Peddie, a spokeswoman for Disney Vacation Club, and Steven Alessandrini, a senior PR director for RCI Wyndham (RCI is owned by Wyndham), also declined to offer any comment about the Manhattan Club investigation.
Other observers of the Manhattan Club puzzle aren't so reticent.
Next Steps? What Lies Ahead for Manhattan Club Owners
New York attorney Douglas F. Wasser, who specializes in business and real estate litigation, was hired recently by a group of owners to jumpstart owner talks with the AG's office. "I am communicating with the AG and still signing up owners," Wasser said this week. "We are offering our support, but they are already doing a bang-up job seeking documents and investigating." The AG's office confirms communications with Wasser, but won't discuss details. For owners who may be interested, Wasser can be reached at email@example.com or 212-430-6040.
Gregory Crist, chairman and CEO of the 10,000-member National Timeshare Owners Association, has written and talked publicly about the Manhattan Club investigation --- not as a case expert, but as to how it hurts the overall reputation of the timeshare industry. This month, Crist met with a group of Manhattan Club owners at NTOA's regional meeting in Florida. He has also communicated directly with the AG.
"The Manhattan Club owners deserve to understand what happened and how it started," Crist said. "And as an industry, we need to ensure that this does not happen again with another developer."
Crist is guardedly optimistic that the Manhattan Club investigation will trigger positive changes in the timeshare sales process. "I think we're going to see the industry make real changes in the way timeshares are sold, accounted for and managed as a result of the outcome of the Manhattan Club issues. The public offering statements, for example, have to be front and central and covered in detail, not glossed over as a diminished document. That's the only way to return trust and transparency back to this industry."
Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick on all sides in the Manhattan Club case. The AG's investigation, now more than a year old, is based on a withering paper trail as well as video-and-audio tapes of sales presentations at the club recorded by undercover AG investigators. Those tapes, AG Schneiderman said publicly last summer, show a classic "bait and switch" pattern where potential buyers were repeatedly misled about the details of their ownership, including the ease with which they could reserve nights or weeks at the club. Manhattan Club lawyers denied these allegations at the outset, but have said nothing publicly, or substantively, since. The club's PR team is also silent.
Many Manhattan Club owners, at the same time, are fretting about upcoming deadlines for maintenance fees. Given the uncertainty of the club's long-term future, many members told RedWeek they'd rather hold onto their money until the AG's case is completed. Unfortunately, neither the AG's office nor outside attorneys consulted by RedWeek were willing to offer any specific legal advice to owners about paying maintenance fees. The only ones who are providing input, in fact, are the maintenance fee staffers at the Manhattan Club, who are already sending out dunning letters to owners who have not paid their current fees.
One such owner letter, shared with RedWeek, says: "Your account [for $2,584.72] is past due. Late fees and finance charges [$422.90] have been applied...The Timeshare Association has the right to institute foreclosure action against you in an effort to collect your past due charges."
That Jan. 8, 2015 letter, all by itself, is a puzzling document in a case full of puzzles. Why? Because, as of July 24, 2014, the Manhattan Club was specifically prohibited from foreclosing on any timeshare owners. When asked about whether this letter was in keeping with the spirit of the July 24 court order, the AG's press office said, "We don't comment on ongoing investigations."
This latest report is brought to you by Jeff Weir, RedWeek's Chief Correspondent. Please visit RedWeek.com for more articles and information on the ongoing Manhattan Club investigation.
Friday, February 20, 2015
- Which meals or how many meals are included? Your all-you-can-eat food plan may be only for breakfast and dinner with lunch not being included in the offer. Or, like in some college meal plans, you may be offered eighteen all you can eat or drink meals and you pay for the remaining ones in the time you are there. This plan gives you a lot of flexibility to plan days out for shopping, sightseeing, etc. and it allows you to eat at the various cafes and restaurants in the area to soak up a bit of the local "culture and cuisine".
- Are meals served at specific times or available 24/7? If you pay for meals, you don't want to miss them. If you are a night owl and breakfast is only offered from 7:30-9 a.m. you might miss this meal for which you have already paid.
- What is meant by “drink"? Does this include all types of beverages? Coffee, tea, water, soda, hot chocolate, milk, etc? Does it include wine, liquor and beer?
- Are all restaurants onsite included in the plan? Or are the specialty restaurants not included in the all-inclusive?
- Does the plan also include transportation to and from the airport? Resort-offered transportation is becoming more common, and if such a service were offered, you wouldn't want to miss out!
- Will there be additional resort fees such as tips for service? When you are doing your research, be sure to get offers in writing so you know for sure exactly what is included.
- Are different units rated at different amounts? The view of the ocean will be different from the fifth floor as opposed to one from ground level. Is it more costly to stay in a unit on the higher floors?
- Does your all-inclusive plan allow you to choose what size unit you want? Be sure to ask how big each unit is, how many beds and the size of the beds are in the unit. Be careful…many resorts today call a "double bed" or one that is around fifty-four inches wide a "queen", whereas a typical queen bed is usually sixty inches wide. Being able to sleep comfortably is important when on vacation.
- Are upgrades available? If you are unhappy with the unit or its location, can you upgrade once you arrive?
- Is the all-inclusive price a good deal? Sometimes, plans are cheap for a reason. Always check online to see what reviews are posted about the resort where you will be staying.
- What's high season at your resort? If you are going at high time or during a holiday, the all-inclusive vacation may not be relaxing. Will you have to fight for a lounge chair at the pool? Will there be enough towels so you can have one to sit on and one to wrap up in? Do you have to wait at meal times for a table?
- What is the goal for your vacation? Do you want to go to a resort where you are busy most of the time? Or do you want a resort that is relaxing, restful and quiet?
Monday, February 16, 2015
|Disney's Beach Club Villas takes first place again!|
- Disney's Beach Club Villas
- Harborside Resort at Atlantis
- Disney's BoardWalk Villas
- Marriott's Aruba Surf Club
- Marriott's Maui Ocean Club
- Marriott's Ko Olina Beach Club
- Marriott's Aruba Ocean Club
- The Manhattan Club
- Marriott's Newport Coast Villas
- Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
- The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
- Costa Linda Beach Resort
- Marriott's Grande Ocean
- Marriott's Maui Ocean Club - Lahaina Villas
- Disney's Old Key West Resort
- Hilton Grand Vacations Club (HGVC) at Hilton Hawaiian Village
- Marriott's Ocean Pointe
- Marriott's OceanWatch Villas at Grand Dunes
- Playa Linda Beach Resort
- The Royal Sands
- Marriott's Waoihai Beach Club
- Marriott's Maui Ocean Club - Napili Villas
- The Westin St. John - Virgin Grand Villas
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Orange Lake Resort - West Village
- Kaanapali Beach Club
Links for Owners & Travelers
- ▼ March (4)
- ► 2014 (96)
- ► 2013 (220)
- ► 2012 (257)
- ► 2011 (247)
- ► 2010 (256)
Timeshare Resort vs. Hotel
Many travelers are unaware that renting timeshare units are far superior to hotel rooms in comfort and price, especially for families and large groups.
A typical hotel gets you one room with a bed and a bathroom. Most timeshare resorts, however, feature multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, living room, kitchen, dining area, and many have resort activities and amenities not found at hotels.
Learn more about timeshare travel»