ISSUE 7 â€˘ Summer 2011
PLATINUM FROM RCI
TATOC launches Code of Conduct More resorts win official OK Scambusting news
Front page sponsored by RCI
Welcome from the executive chairman
t has been a busy time for all at TATOC. Since the last issue of Sharetime we’ve been involved in resort accreditations, meetings with the industry, speaking at the GNEX conference in the Bahamas and a very active helpline. The Global Networking Expo (GNEX) sponsored by Perspective Magazine was a great success and a short report is printed in this issue. But getting there was a bit of a nightmare. As there were no connections from Manchester to Heathrow for my Saturday morning flight, I travelled to the airport by train on Friday. I had chosen a special Internet deal which included a night’s stay at a hotel attached to terminal 5.
Harry Taylor, executive chairman
On Saturday morning my flight was delayed for four hours so I decided to go for breakfast and ordered the kippers. The plate duly arrived containing… a quarter of a kipper. When I asked what had happened to the rest, I was told that it had already been served! I have a photograph to prove it. Times must be hard in the hotel industry.
Arriving into the Bahamas the plane descends on to the runway at Nassau. Approximately twenty feet from the ground the pilot decides he will treat us all to a roller coaster ride by powering back into the sky. The extra trip was not entirely appreciated, judging by the screams and expletives from fellow passengers. The second attempt was fine and we all staggered to the terminal safe and sound. Things could only get better! And they did. The GNEX event was a great success. Individual member numbers continue to grow rapidly and, again, I ask all resort officials and committees to ensure that they give their members the opportunity to read the magazine by making the online details available in their member magazines, communications and at the resort. Why not make Sharetime a homepage on your resort’s computers? Finally, if you are ever staying at the hotel attached to terminal 5 at Heathrow do not order the kippers!
GNEX 2011 – TATOC speaks at latest timeshare conference by Sharetime reporter
he inaugural GNEX 2011 timeshare and fractional expo took place earlier this year at the Atlantis Resort, in Nassau, Bahamas. Delegates from five continents attended the two-day event. TATOC, represented by Mr Harry Taylor, executive chairman, was involved in a session that examined creative new ways to grow the timeshare industry. “It was a departure from the usual way presentations are given with speakers and panel members interacting with delegates,” said Mr Taylor. The panel - on ‘the burning issues” session - comprised industry representatives from Canada (Mr Ross Perlmutter), Australia (Mr Ramy Filo) and Thailand (Mr Bryan Lunt), U.S.A. (Mr Jason Tremblay and Mr Robert J Webb).
He added: “Clearly the vacation ownership industry must change its developer marketing model. Selling timeshares through individual sales presentations adds roughly 50 per cent in marketing costs to the price of each timeshare sold. “Today’s consumers want to comparison shop. Not only do Generation X prospects arrive at timeshare sales presentations with their iPods, iPads and Blackberries, so do the ‘baby boomers’. Search engine traffic shows that the demand to buy timeshares online is already extremely high.” In another session Mr Jim Madrid, president of Entelechy Training & Development, spoke about the need to equip people with the skills to deal with rapid, unpredictable change.
“The times we are living in today are challenging. It is a time of great change. Those that do not change in times like these are severely challenged.” Dr. Richard Ragatz, globally recognized as the leading feasibility analyst and market researcher in the resort real estate industry, outlined his optimism that the fractional market, while not yet fully recovered, is on the way back. Thirty-four winners were announced during the first Perspective Magazine awards gala dinner from nearly 150 nominees in a wide variety of categories such as best timeshare resort, best technology award and best industry leader. A full list of award winners can be viewed at perspectivemagazine.com
Mr Webb, a board certified real estate lawyer from Baker Hostetler, said that, in five years the timeshare product will be sold on the internet. “If a company is not ready for that, they’ll be out of business,” he said. Mr Tremblay, founder of Sell My Timeshare NOW.com, pointed out that about 17 per cent of the traffic through his company came from outside the United States.
TATOC’s Harry Taylor on the panel at GNEX
TATOC’s Harry Taylor with Craig Nash, II
“It was a great event and the name and the message of TATOC was spread far and wide. The image and credibility of the association definitely benefited from our attendance,” explained Mr Taylor.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Behind the scenes at the TATOC consumer helpline by Sharetime reporter
he aim of the TATOC helpline is to provide free, professional and unbiased information. A wide range of subjects is covered: from timeshare re-sales, take-over offers and bogus legal companies to resort information, bonus weeks and details of how to claim money back from rogue deals. Mark Caldicott manages the helpline with assistant Francis Seaver. “Every day on the helpline is challenging,” says Mark Caldicott. A normal day begins with checking the answer phone service and the emails that have come in overnight. “TATOC aims to reply to email within 24 hours and many receive a reply the same day. We pride ourselves on our response times”. The team makes sure everyone receives a call back before 10am. “You never know what phone call or email will arrive next. It could be as simple as someone requesting information on how to sell timeshare ownership or a consumer who has lost several thousands of pounds to a rogue company”. The team also don’t know how each call will go. “Sometimes we have irate and upset timeshare owners screaming at us because they have lost thousands of pounds to rogue companies. Other times it is a happy owner just calling to check on a resort”. While calls from consumers who are upset are the hardest to deal with the team always aims to end the call with the owner feeling more positive about the situation in which they are involved. During June 2011 the helpline team took 765 calls and over 125 emails. The team produces a monthly report providing a detailed breakdown on all communication and response times. (These can be viewed on the TATOC website at www.timeshareassociation.org).
“Working on the helpline is a very rewarding role,” says Mark. “The most satisfying part of the job is receiving a phone call from a consumer you’ve helped revealing they’ve received their money back. Sometimes this can run into tens of thousands of pounds”.
Q2 “In October 2008 I was sold six separate weeks of accommodation at £574.00 to be taken within two years, 11 months. I was verbally informed that if not used the weeks would be extended at no further cost.
Feedback from owners who have been helped is featured on the TATOC website and can be viewed under the timeshare testimonial section.
The company says these weeks expire in September 2011 and to extend them for a further two years and 11 months will cost a further £349.00. We have not tried to use the weeks so do not know if this is a genuine company. Could you please advise?” - Peter Phillips
If you are in need of help and would like to discuss the options available, please call the helpline on 0845 230 2430 or visit the website at www.timeshareassociation.org
Questions the helpline has answered recently: Q1a “I have been approached by an organisation claiming to have a client wanting to buy my three weeks of timeshare in Spain. They appear to be a new organisation as they are not listed on your site as far as I can see. Although they are offering to do the transaction through an escrow with a Spanish bank, they are asking for a nine per cent security deposit “in accordance with current EU-directives”. This immediately made me suspicious. Are you aware of any such Directive? ” - Mr Duncan Crockett Q1b “Could you tell me how to sell my timeshare? I have one week but will be unable to use it due to ill health. Hope you can help.” - Mrs P Barbour Answer (to both questions) “We recommend timeshare owners exercise the greatest caution when so-called ‘re-sale companies’ approach them. They’ll often claim to have sold - or can sell - their timeshare and then request credit/debit card details, or an up-front payment. Whatever it is called or however it is justified, we recommend timeshare owners not to pay any form of ‘security deposit’, ‘bond of trust’, ‘tax requirement’ or any other ‘fee’ irrespective of who the re-sale company may be.
Conference 2012 Date for your diary
Requesting an advance payment in this way is in contravention of a timeshare code of ethics that we strongly support.
he TATOC annual conference will take place the weekend of 9th-11th March 2012 at the Park Royal Hotel in Warrington.
This practice is illegal in line with a new Timeshare Directive passed by the European Parliament in October 2008 and transposed into national laws by member states.
Delegate forms and sponsorship information will be available to download from the TATOC website in the next few weeks.
The exception to this is where reputable companies such as those on our timeshare consumer guide No 14 request a reasonable and voluntary marketing fee to advertise a timeshare for re- sale.”
Answer “There are a number of issues here so we would recommend you read the consumer guide number 70 on the TATOC website. If you feel that you would like to claim under the 1974 Consumer Credit Act or want to know the rules for claiming with Visa, we have consumer guides on both these issues on the site as well.
Helpline feedback: Here are some of the latest testimonials from consumers who have been assisted by the Helpline team: “Many thanks for the supportive/helpful phone conversation while I was still away and embroiled in this matter (in June 2011). The phone conversation in June was really helpful. Keep up the good work!” - Mr Clive Harvey “Thanks for all that. Much obliged for such a comprehensive reply and thanks for the good work you are doing.” - Mr David McCandless “Thank you so much for your response to my telephone call regarding disposing of my timeshare in Scotland. The information you sent has been most helpful and my wife and I are satisfied that we have all the information we need.” - Mr Jim Doyle “Many thanks for your help Mark. We have had a refund from our credit card company that satisfies both parties. We used our credit card when we joined and they are now in receivership. They promised to take our timeshare off our hands but failed to deliver. Thanks again. Your guides were very useful and explained the steps to take to obtain a refund.” - Ms Marian Lewis “Just wanted to thank you for all your advice and support. We got our money back and it was such a relief. We are getting calls each week now from people wanting to buy our timeshare. They all sound such genuine, lovely people, but I know now I am easily conned. Anyway, thanks once again, it’s good to know you’re out there.” - Mrs Mary Wheeler
TATOC launches its timeshare Code of Conduct Developed to provide a formal structure for partnerships between TATOC (on behalf of timeshare owners) and reputable companies operating in the timeshare arena, the code incorporates detailed codes of practice for specific areas of the timeshare experience.
suppliers will recognise both the commercial and the consumer benefits achievable through a commitment to the code, and grasp this opportunity to demonstrate their consumerdriven credentials.”
ommitment to the code is now an essential precursor for any company to be recognised by TATOC or before it can be considered for affiliation or accreditation,” says Mr Geoff Chapman, an association director.
He added that the code is the first of its kind in Europe and breaks new ground in forming meaningful partnerships between timeshare suppliers and recognised consumer representatives.
“It is also a necessary requirement before any company is allowed to place advertising material in any TATOC publication. Commitment to the code will be through a formal agreement signed by both parties.”
“In an industry fighting against a poor historic image and reputation consumers are looking for some trustworthy credentials for a company in which they can place their trust. A partnership with TATOC through this code is precisely those credentials.”
The reputation of timeshare has suffered badly from poor historic practices and the actions of disreputable and fraudulent companies preying on timeshare consumers, he said, “Nothing is more important to consumers than to be able to identify a reputable company from the ‘scam merchants’.
The full code of conduct and the codes of practice are published on the TATOC website (under About TATOC). Additions will follow over the next few months, and thereafter wherever a need is identified. TATOC is currently seeking official recognition of the codes by the Office of Fair Trading and other government agencies.
“Nothing can now be more important for timeshare companies than to demonstrate that they have taken every possible step to put consumers at the forefront of their products and services.”
...the code is the first of its kind in Europe and breaks new ground in forming meaningful partnerships between timeshare suppliers and recognised consumer representatives. The Code is a realisation of the TATOC mission “to protect and enhance the timeshare holiday experience for users, and to be the voice of owners.”
Commitment to the code creates a partnership between timeshare businesses and consumers that will help secure a strong and healthy future for everyone involved, he said,
“It is a natural extension of our mission into a commitment by TATOC, our members, our accredited and affiliated companies to the highest standards of business ethics, principles and practices, said Mr Chapmen.
“We believe there is no more powerful recommendation and positive marketing message for a timeshare company than to proudly boast a partnership with, and a commitment to, the code of conduct of Europe’s largest consumer association for timeshare owners.
It is a commitment to the highest standards of products and services – correctly sold, well maintained and well managed, with the consumer as the principle focus.
“It is our passionate hope that high-quality, consumer-focused timeshare companies and
The new European directive (2008/122/EC) and U.K. Regulations (2010 No 2960) that came into force on February 23, 2011 provide for professional bodies and other associations to establish codes of conduct and behaviour. Timeshare companies are required to include in their marketing material information about which of these recognised codes they have committed to, or to indicate where they have not signed up to operate to any code. “The TATOC code is an opportunity for reputable companies proudly to boast the high quality of their business ethics and practices, and their consumer-focused products and services,” he said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT: www.timeshareassocaition.org
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Interval International adds Naima Village in Italy to Global Vacation Exchange Network
The Residence Club, Slovakia
RCI affiliates resorts in Turkey and Slovakia
ontinuing its strategy to expand the geography of its holiday exchange network, RCI has affiliated two resorts in destinations that are fastgrowing in popularity with holidaymakers across Europe.
Kamelya World Vacation Club, Turkey
First Slovakia, where The Residence Club is located in the stunning mountain village of Donovaly, in the Low Tatras National Park. The resort comprises luxuriously furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments. There is also 24-hour room service, courtesy of the adjacent Residence Hotel, where guests can enjoy amenities including Ayurveda and spa centres, as well as restaurants and bars. The area is home to one of the country’s largest winter resorts with more than 11 kilometers of ski slopes. The location is also popular during the summer months offering, among other activities, hiking, climbing, mountain biking and tobogganing on a dry track. RCI’s newest resort in Turkey, the Kamelya World Vacation Club, is a haven for sun and beach lovers.
It is part of the luxurious Kamelya World Holiday Complex – a stunning seafront resort in Colakli which also features two five-star hotels and a holiday village. Kamelya World Vacation Club enjoys beautiful views over the Mediterranean, while the resort features many attractions including an aqua park, tennis courts and water sports such as windsurfing, parasailing and jet skis. There are nine restaurants and 13 bars at the resort and RCI exchange guests will initially be accommodated in rooms at one of the resort’s five-star hotels before the timeshare units are complete in 2013.
New resort added in China
CI has affiliated the Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotel in the sought-after destination of Huangshan, China. “We are very pleased to welcome Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels,” said Mr Adrian Lee, managing director, RCI Asia. “This stunning resort is a remarkable addition to the collection of our diverse portfolio of resort destinations we offer to our members worldwide, and a continuous effort to expand our footprint in China.” Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels is part of the Yuan Yi Group, a global lifestyle and mixed-used development strategically located in the south of Xin An River and flanked by Pei Lang River to its east. It is surrounded by renowned tourism sites such as the charming Old Antique Street, the Huangshan (also
known as Yellow Mountain), diversified cultural wetlands and historical Anhui villages. This 320,000 square meters community comprises: Grand Villa, Grand Mansion, Parrion Huashan Hotel, Hilton Hotel, an opera and concert house, multiplex cinemas, theme hotels (under development), local Anhui restaurants, a museum and Spa Club. “Timeshare exchange is a great vacation option for travellers worldwide,” said Mr Philip Ng, chief operating officer of Parrion Hotels & Resorts, management company for the YuanYi Group. “We are confident that working with RCI will make Huangshan Grandview Resorts Hotels a popular vacation destination for those looking to enjoy the natural and historical attractions of China.”
nterval International has announced the affiliation of Naima Village, a resort is located in the town of Castellaneta, on the Salento Peninsula, in the south-east of Italy. Tucked into the countryside with views of the Mediterranean, Naima Village enjoys a picture-perfect setting. Surrounded by vineyards and olive trees it has majestic sea views from the Ionian coast. Said Mr Darren Ettridge, Interval vice president of resort sales and service for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, “I know Interval members will love the rich history and scenic beauty of this area, a part of Italy that remains off-the-beaten-path for most holidaymakers.” Scheduled to open next May, plans call for Naima Village to include 105 villas with two studio units, 92 one-bedroom and eleven two-bedroom apartments. Furnished in Mediterranean style, the air-conditioned units will each feature an open-air veranda with a garden at the front and a solarium to the rear. Each will have a kitchenette with microwave oven, LCD TV with cable/satellite service, and wireless Internet. Units are also wheelchair accessible and the resort will have equipment and staff dedicated to handicapped members and guests. Anticipated on-site amenities at this family-friendly resort will be many and varied: two outdoor swimming pools, tennis court, bocci court, playground, theatre, restaurant, health club/sauna, games room, and convenience store. The staff will organise sport courses or one-toone lessons, as well as health check-ups for personal coaching. Complimentary shuttles will take guests to the crystalline beach just two miles away and to the nearby town centre, where organised excursions of the area will be available. “We are pleased to affiliate Naima Village and are very excited to offer our owners the quality and worldwide scope of its exchange network,” said Mr Benigno Maraglino, president of Via Lattea srl, developer of Naima Village. “Our first project in timesharing is a very appealing resort in the countryside near the beautiful beaches of Apulia, combining our unique expertise in EPS construction with our knowledge of all the area has to offer families.”
Scambusting with Surrey Crime Unit
Social media helps RDO enforcement fight fraud
he Mindtimeshare blog and Twitter feed launched early this year have proved to be a huge success and valuable tools in the fight against timeshare fraud.
eople continue to be scammed despite various warnings issued by the police, TATOC and various trade bodies.
So reports Mr Ian Moram, of the Surrey Police Force’s Economic Crime Unit.
The two social media aids were the brainchild of Mr Alberto Garcia, head of the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) enforcement team.
“One particular scam has become particularly popular and in one instance is not only affecting individuals but also a legitimate business operation,” Mr Moram told Sharetime.
This then allows the victim to cash the voucher but only at offices in Spain, Malta, Cyprus or Gibraltar.
up to £100,000 to fraudsters over a period of several years. This started with a timeshare re-sale scam which was then compounded by fees relating to an alleged class action being taken by lawyers in Spain against the offenders.” Any victim is now advised to either speak with their local police or Action Fraud, the national fraud-reporting centre.
The name given by the offender when she speaks to victims is Ms Philips, of Office Administration Services Ltd. This name was registered with Companies House a number of years ago but has been dormant since 2002.
“I will continue to assist any victims that contact me,” said Mr Moram. “I’ll pass on relevant information I get to other organisations to deter these offences being committed.”
“I have met the owners of the company name myself as they are local to me. They are a legitimate accountancy firm who themselves have been informing victims that they have been defrauded”, explained Mr Moram.
Timeshare scams are growing in number. To avoid these scams, TATOC says victims should take several things into consideration:
Victims are persuaded to purchase a UKASH voucher. The maximum amount is £499. When he wants to cash the voucher the victim is asked to prove that he has the voucher and provide the last 11 numbers to validate it.
“The names of new scam companies have also come to light recently and it is important that Sharetime readers are aware of their activities’”, he continued. These names include “Inmoleon” which may be connected to “Inmobilaria Leon”. A victim in Essex lost £990 to then in recent weeks. Mr Moram is also starting work on a new file that goes back over ten years. It features cases where a victim has lost a significant amount of money. “One of those we know about has lost
• Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls and unbelievable deals; • Remember to get all details of timeshare deals in writing; • Double check the company with the TATOC consumer helpline or with the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) before you pay any fees; and • Use your credit card: if you feel you’ve been swindled, inform the credit card company immediately.
Gallent Marketing website closed down
reat news for all consumers who have been called by Gallent Marketing in the past few weeks.
Gallent Marketing (www.gallentmarketing. com) was openly displaying the logos of the RDO, TATOC, RCI, Interval International and other reputable organisations on their website, giving the impression that they were genuine and trustworthy. A warning was placed on the MindTimeshare blog and TATOC and the RDO received many emails from extremely concerned consumers who had taken up the offer. They
believed the company was a member of these various organisations. The RDO enforcement team took immediate action when the first email was received. All affected parties were informed in writing about the unlawful usage of the logos and the harm this was doing to both the industry and to the consumers. “The good news is that the website has now been closed down,” says the RDO. “It is unknown if this just a temporary closure but Gallent Marketing will continue to be monitored.”
The blog constantly achieves high rankings on Google searches, simply by providing accurate details of suspected fraudulent companies who are ‘cold-calling’ timeshare owners and trying to con them. “We have received messages from many grateful owners who had found my blog by chance while searching on Google. The information provided stopped them from becoming victims of crime,” said Mr Garcia. The number of visitors to the blog has increased steadily since it started in January 2011. “The number of enquiries received by enforcement has trebled in the past three months. Calls from concerned owners often provide valuable evidence that can be used in the fight against fraud.” The activities of Mr Garcia can be followed on Twitter: @Mindtimeshare and his blog can be read on http://mindtimeshare.wordpress.com/
Cold-calling firm shut down by RDO enforcement
website allegedly displaying logos from prestigious timeshare and exchange companies without their authorisation has been closed down by its hosting company, following a warning issued by RDO enforcement. The company Timeshareconsulting.co.uk had started ‘cold-calling’ timeshare owners with “too good to be true” offers for reselling their membership, according to the enforcement team. It was feared this would be followed by requests for an upfront fee, as is often the case with bogus resale companies. Consumers are encouraged to make a note of the company’s London number - 0208 144 2957 - and remain alert in case it reappears under a different name or website. Any owners who have been approached by this company should email to email@example.com.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
In my view by Jelle Elkerbout, managing director of Nest Developers Services AND WHAT DO WE DO NOW? Where do you see timeshare in five years time? Jelle: I see the major brands and larger resorts dominating the industry which, in a way, is a shame as, in my opinion, a lot of owners enjoy the familiarity of a smaller club. Will we see many new players come into the industry? Jelle: The big hotel brands will have no other choice, as shared ownership offers a perfect re-financing opportunity for mixed use (apart)hotels. I do not see many small and independent developers coming in to the arena, unless property prices drop even more so that
developers would be able to compete on price against the re-sale of re-possessed inventory.
Accordingly, resorts should ‘manage’ their web presence.
Will smaller independent and often older resorts experience financial problems?
Who are the interested parties in most timeshare resorts?
Jelle: Yes, often. With the developer and marketer gone, it is hard to attract investment in improving and upgrading a resort and its facilities, as there is nobody who would immediately receive a return.
Jelle: Initially there is the developer who wants a return on his capital investment. Secondly, there is a marketing company that wants to make a handsome profit on selling the weeks or timeshare interests.
Often smaller resorts suffer because they are not run as a proper business. And although they are smaller businesses, they still are a business, which needs proper management.
The subsequent owners, in turn, expect quality holiday accommodation for an initial outlay and a reasonable annual maintenance fee. In some cases the developer acts as a management company or appoints a third party manager.
It’s not because there is a superstore in town that all smaller shops have to close; they just have to become more inventive and offer more personal and individual services. In the case of timeshare you could think of ‘wellness’ rooms, the introduction of entertainment programmes, airport pick-ups, concierge services and so on. Also, resorts could work as teams to encourage owners to stay/exchange in each other’s resorts. There are plenty of possibilities to make owners feel special and look forward to their annual holiday in their club. Is the fast development of the Internet a good or a bad thing for timeshare?
Generation of rental revenue of unsold or uncommitted inventory; design and implementation of ownership upgrade products and programmes; and
Defaulted inventory liquidation programmes; timeshare owners’ recommitment campaigns; design, introduction and management of exit programmes for owners; and the installation and management of owner- friendly marketing and sales programmes.
Jelle: The developer and marketer, after sellout and, especially in smaller resorts, often move on. They now leave the day-to-day running to the owners’ association, who will often appoint a management company. In the meantime owners may experience a change of circumstances, such as age, divorce, grown up children, unemployment and so on, which make them want to sell their timeshare interest.
Jelle: In general I think it’s a good thing for owners. They can now find much more information about timeshare itself and the resorts they wish to visit and compare with other opportunities.
This often proves to be difficult, if not impossible, and they may decide to stop paying their management fees. This of course creates a problem for the management, which will find a budget shortfall. In turn fellow owners have to pay more to cover the shortfall.
The bad thing is that everybody all of a sudden becomes a ‘chief editor’ and is able to make comments on various blogs and websites as he or she wishes. They might write negatively about something they experienced, while most others enjoy a positive experience.
The management company then has a few choices, such as renting the weeks or even reselling them. Both of these solutions are not easy as a tour operator or timeshare marketer might have no interest in being lumbered with fragmented, often low season, inventory.
Aids for a mature resort est Developers Services, a company headed by Jelle Elkerbout, a timeshare veteran of over 30 years, has now designed various programmes to assist management companies, developers or owners’ associations of mature resorts with the following:
It sounds as if everybody is happy but, as the resort and owners mature, why do problems arise?
All programmes are designed to generate additional income for owners’ associations and management companies and to decrease the default rate on management or membership fees thereby benefitting all parties. You can reach Jelle Elkerbout to organise an initial meeting by phone on (00 350) 54335000 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Nest Developers Services is a TATOC silver affiliate.
Submit a weblink Sharetime and TATOC are always looking for new ways to provide information and news to our readers and members. When Sharetime launched in 2010, it was important for us to find other websites that might offer interesting features, news and information that will help committee members, timeshare owners and our affiliates. To date Sharetime/TATOC have more than 49 sites, ranging from timeshare associations, travel review sites and holiday extras (such as links to flight, travel insurance and airport car parking sites.) If you know of a website that provides assistance to timeshare owners and travellers, why not let us know about it? Send your suggestions to: email@example.com
Which? complaint about unfair card charges upheld by OFT
fter years of waiting, the High Court has finally granted enforcement orders against two holiday clubs — Personal Travel Group Limited (PTG) and Geo Demographic Market Research Ltd. (GDMR).
he Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced that it is upholding the complaint submitted by Which? on unfair credit and debit card surcharges.
The orders, made in favour of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), are also applicable to seven individuals, including two directors of PTG who, likewise, served as directors of Incentive Leisure Group Limited (ILG), which is no longer trading and is currently in liquidation.
The complaint, submitted in March 2011, called for the OFT to investigate excessive surcharges for payment by credit or debit card. The OFT has responded to confirm they are introducing enforcement measures to take action against companies who are not transparent about their surcharges for paying by card.
OFT wins case against two U.K. timeshare companies
No interim enforcement order was sought against ILG since it is no longer trading and is facing bankruptcy in Gibraltar. However, the OFT is keen on monitoring the liquidation proceedings and take appropriate legal action against the company.
Debit card surcharge in headline price
on excessive card surcharges, which means that companies will no longer be able to charge as much as £5 to process a debit card transaction.
This means that customers will no longer be surprised by card fees at the end of a booking process which, the investigation showed, could be as much as £40 for a family of four booking a return flight.
This change comes after more than 2,400 people joined Which? in emailing Mr Ed Davey, consumer affairs minister, to make sure that he convinced his European counterparts to keep the ban in the directive.
The case against PTG and GDMR was filed in 2009 through the joint efforts of the South East Regional Scambusters Team at Essex Trading Standards and the OFT. Both had received a series of complaints from consumers.
The OFT has also said that debit card costs should be included in the headline price.
Make fast changes
Mr Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, said: “Thousands of people have told Which? that hidden or excessive card fees are unfair, and it’s a victory for consumers that the OFT supports this view.”
Although the CRD could take up to two years to come into effect, the OFT’s demand that companies be upfront about charges could begin straight away. Which? is urging companies to make the changes as soon as possible, rather than waiting for the OFT to start enforcing the ruling.
Victims complained of being invited to presentations by PTG and GDMR sales representatives who sold up-market holiday club memberships for up to £12,000. They were promised that they could dispose of their timeshares at any time and cut back on the annual maintenance charges.
Mr Cavendish Elithorn, senior director of the OFT’s goods and consumer group, said that people were frustrated about being asked to pay for paying. He added: “Consumers find it harder to shop around and find the best deal if they have to invest time and effort in discovering
Mr Vicary-Smith said: “We want to see the measures recommended by the OFT put in place as quickly as possible and finally put an end to the practice of card surcharging.” While some of the regulatory changes would take some time, “we urge the OFT to take
“Consumers find it harder to shop around and find the best deal if they have to invest time and effort in discovering surcharges. This also weakens competition between retailers which is bad news for the U.K. economy.” surcharges. This also weakens competition between retailers which is bad news for the U.K. economy.’ The OFT has also suggested that HM Treasury amend the payment services regulations to force companies to be up-front and honest about their pricing, or face legal action.
steps immediately to ensure that consumers know the true cost of their purchase up-front.”
Worse, the sales reps took advantage of buyers’ fears by telling them that the timeshare maintenance fees were soon to be shouldered by their children. This caused alarm among the consumers and many of them wanted to cancel their subscriptions but were not permitted to. By virtue of the court orders, the involved companies and individuals are prohibited from using misleading sales and marketing practices in promoting holiday club memberships and other related products that tend to violate consumer rights.
Consumers pledge their support
OFT goods and consumer group director Mr Jason Freeman said he was glad that the enforcement orders are now in effect, as these would finally put a stop to the use of unlawful practices which harm consumers’ interest. He further stressed that consumers have cancellation rights and traders should not deprive them of such.
Over the course of the campaign more than 43,000 people pledged their support, with many citing examples of other industries that charge over the odds for card transactions.
No date for the final hearing has yet been set. OFT has promised to put a stop to any unlawful trading practice and protect consumers’ rights.
“Businesses can start to be fair over card charges today – there’s no point waiting until the OFT forces action. Industry shouldn’t drag its feet over this.”
Europe bans unfair card charges There is also a longer-term solution to the problem on the horizon. The consumer rights directive (CRD) includes a proposed ban
The perks include a 95per cent money back guarantee yet without clear explanations on the terms and conditions that apply.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
The concept of CARE by Alain Carr, CARE president
CARE continues the tradition of offering information and networking opportunities to holiday providers. What is CARE? What is its purpose? Who needs its services?
One of the most exciting new tools that CARE will officially unveil at its up-coming autumn conference in Chicago is a purpose built, online advertising service.
fter working for more than 15 years in the U.S. marketing two projects located just outside Salzburg in Austria, I still had those very same questions.
Designed to allow members to advertise their available inventory or find suitable accommodation offered by other CARE members, the service is extremely simple to use and will save a huge amount of time.
But coming from a sales background that is not too surprising. Other than my elemental knowledge that it stood for the Cooperative Association of Resort Exchangers, I was not really certain. It is only recently as I became involved with the fulfillment of vacations that I learnt more. But I certainly did not expect to come to dedicate myself completely to its cause. The concept for creating CARE originated in 1985, when Ms. Kathleen Gallardo, of New Orleans, contacted one of her members whose maintenance fees were due. The owner told Kathleen that if she could get her requested exchange to Orlando, she would happily pay her delinquent fees.
In the past, members have had to email each other separately to find a particular resort unit in London, Milan, Zermatt or wherever. The new advertising services means there is now just one central point for members to search for and advertise inventory.
However, maybe even more powerfully, it displayed the hard reality that we all rely on our members’ satisfaction. Living up to their expectations has to be paramount and we must serve them with conviction.
It offers access to more than 2,500 holiday properties and services approximately one million owners and members.
Kathleen’s dedication to her work and inexorable effort to serve her client was, no doubt, a tremendous example of great service.
The directory offers more detailed information on company contacts and our conferences
This attitude may be labour intensive but without making a conscious and noticeable effort, our member bases will dwindle, along with precious new opportunities. Moreover the industry will suffer as a whole around the globe. Today, CARE comprises resort developers, homeowner and management companies, exchange organisations, travel clubs, agencies and resort service companies in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia.
With that, Kathleen took matters into her own hands, called a resort in Orlando, and offered them a week in New Orleans in exchange for their week in Orlando. The exchange was made, the fees were paid, and CARE was born.
CARE also helps member companies connect through its members-only online directory, semi-annual conferences and its magazine, Connections.
CARE is not an exchange company. It does not own or control any type of inventory or guarantee fulfillment of travel requests, or the sale or rental of any type of inventory, services or products. It is simply a trade association that provides a networking platform for its member companies, focusing on raising professionalism and value of service within the vacation industry.
provide members with the opportunity to network, tour area resorts and enhance their personal and professional growth. CARE membership is a testimony to a company’s desire to provide that extra level of service that is required in today’s competitive vacation industry. Many CARE member companies proudly display the CARE logo when listing their affiliations, so look for the logo and if you don’t see it, ask if your resort, travel club or service provider is a member. That is what CARE is about. That is its purpose. And anyone who runs or works for a business that concerns themselves with the attitude and fulfillment to the end user, should apply for membership. For more information about CARE, visit the website at www.care-online.org.
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ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
The first Silverpoint Experience Centre opens in Gran Canaria
n an exciting development for the timeshare industry, Silverpoint has opened its state-of-the-art ‘Experience Centre’ in the bustling holiday resort of Playa del Inglés, in Gran Canaria.
The Gran Canaria operation is marketing Silverpoint’s innovative Explorer product – a three-year trial membership that gives clients the chance to familiarise themselves with the levels of quality and service associated with Silverpoint before committing to the full Vacation Club product.
The centre is a large open-plan building which houses the Silverpoint travel agency – a facility dedicated to providing special flight and holiday offers with an easy and instant booking service for members – as well as a light and airy presentation area with giant screen televisions and the latest Apple computers.
“We are very confident in selling the Explorer because we truly believe it represents genuine value for money. It offers plenty of choice and flexibility, while the Silverpoint anchor resorts are absolutely first-rate destinations.
Highly experienced sales director Mr John MacDonald heads this latest marketing operation. Said Mr MacDonald: “We wanted to move away from the clichéd idea of a high-pressure sales environment. It was important to us that the presentation and the time that customers spend with us should be relaxed, enjoyable and pleasant.”
“The feedback we received from customers who have taken their first holidays has been nothing but positive.” Silverpoint’s rationale behind opening an operation in Gran Canaria was to tap in to the multi-national demographic that visits this major tourist destination. It was fortunate that Mr MacDonald was, at the time of launch, looking for a new
business venture on the island that has been his home and workplace for many years. He said: “I was delighted to have been chosen by Silverpoint to head up this fantastic operation. It’s a pleasure to work with such a professional company that invests so much of its time in creating really great leisure products. “The industry is changing and I am absolutely committed to Silverpoint’s fair and ethical business practice and positive vision of the future.” Mr Mark Cushway, CEO of Silverpoint Leisure, said: “John has always been a well known and respected figure in European timeshare. “We regard his involvement as a real coup and look forward to the coming months and years as the Explorer product takes off. We are also excited at the opportunities this product offers us in the shape of future members of the Silverpoint Vacation Club.”
Three new TATOC affiliates
he re-sale company Travel & Leisure Group has extended its support of the consumer association by becoming a TATOC platinum affiliate, the highest level of affiliation for the association. By making this commitment, Travel & Leisure Group has confirmed its ongoing adherence to the association’s Code of Ethics for timeshare re-sale organisations. As a platinum affiliate the company enjoys a number of benefits including the addition of their logo to the homepage of the TATOC website where it can be viewed by the many hundreds of visitors to the site each week. “Travel & Leisure Group, over their 19 years of existence, has always been advocates of consumer protection within the industry and we are happy to support TATOC as an unbiased independent consumer body,” said Mr Jim Wilson, from Travel & Leisure. “The work that they do can only be commended. TATOC picks up where
the U.K. government fails in policing the timeshare industry. It offers consumers help and advice as well as recognising and supporting the legitimate companies who can only better the name of timeshare and holiday ownership.”
or owner associations of mature resorts with the challenges that face them. These include the assistance with the generation of rental revenue, development of upgrade products and defaulted inventory liquidation programmes.
Said Mr Harry Taylor, executive chairman of TATOC: “We are delighted that Travel & Leisure Group has made this additional commitment to the association. It is a great support for TATOC and wonderful news.”
TATOC has also announced that CBC International has become a silver affiliate. CBC has several years’ experience working on the collection of annual maintenance fee payments and finance charges. The team understands the importance of timely payments in maintaining the standards at a resort. Late payments can add financial strain and may even cause further increases in annual fees.
Backed up by years of experience, the Travel & Leisure Group has concentrated on making timeshare properties easier to sell. Their multilingual team finds buyers for timeshare properties across the continent. Find out more at www.travelandleisure.co.uk. Silver Affiliates TATOC is also delighted to confirm that Mr Jelle Elkerbout, a timeshare veteran of over 30 years, and his recently launched NEST Developer Services company has joined TATOC as a silver affiliate. Nest Developers Services has designed various programmes to assist management companies, developers
CBC recognises that resorts value their owners and want to maintain a long-standing relationship. Tact, diplomacy and empathy are required when communicating with owners so that a satisfactory outcome can be achieved for the benefit of both parties. CBC International is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading, registered under Data Protection and holds the international Quality Assurance Accreditation ISO: 9001/2008. You can find out more at www.cbc-international.co.uk.
TATOC accreditation: the new resort standard “TATOC’s resort accreditation has proved to be the success we thought it would be.” - Mr. Harry Taylor, the executive chairman. He had just announced that Diamond Resorts, at Los Amigos Beach Club, in Spain, is the latest resort to undertake successfully the accreditation process. “We are on course to achieve the targets set in 2010,” he added. The accreditation process began in 2009 with Club las Calas, in Lanzarote, and Macdonald Vilacana, in Spain. Since then, 26 resorts have been accredited and more are planned for later this year. “We are at the point where, if a resort is not accredited, owners will want to know why,” he added. Launched to recognise resorts that are truly customer driven and committed to the association’s ethics, accreditation is now recognised as a valuable and independent award by timeshare owners and resorts. “It is the only award that is given to timeshare owners by timeshare owners,” he said.
The accreditation process is rigorous, robust and comprehensive covering every aspect of a resort’s operations. “It is essential that the award is seen as hard-earned and meaningful,” he added.
Club las Calas
An accredited resort must prove that it adheres to all European timeshare legislation and the TATOC and RDO code of ethics for selling. It has to provide clear evidence that a robust complaint handling process exists at the resort.
“Before we arrive, the resort must provide documents such as public liability certificate, proof of exchange affiliation and sales and ownership documentation,” explained Mr Taylor.
Importantly for guests, the resort has to adhere and provide supporting evidence that it follows all international and local legislation and standards and provide proof of relevant resort insurance.
Once on site, the accreditors grade the resort’s accommodation, facilities, reception (including housekeeping, security and maintenance procedures), restaurant and bar hygiene and the sales process to ensure that it complies with European legislation.
Considerable work is undertaken before the on-site accreditation begins.
“Owners and guests at an accredited resort know they are staying where the entire working team has met very strict operating requirements – we look at everything,” explained Mr. Taylor, who is also a trained accreditor and undertakes many of the accreditations.
When the on site evaluation is completed the resort’s final grades are determined and the resort is informed whether it has been successfully accredited.
“It is important to know how our member resorts are working and meet our members on a one-to-one basis,” he added.
“A full report on the accreditation is provided covering both the good points and if any, areas, where we feel improvement is required”. The accreditation awarded to each resort is reviewed every three years to ensure that standards are maintained.
Accreditation was developed for resorts in active sales that sell more than 30 weeks a year. However, over the past two-and-a-half years resorts at all stages of the life cycle have taken part. “The Osborne Club in Torquay is England’s oldest timeshare resort and chose to be accredited because they understand the need to be associated with a consumer organisation,” said Mr. Taylor.
Accredited resorts list:
“We evaluate and grade every aspect of the operation from whether the resort offers a repair service over the weekend to the number of times the apartments are cleaned in a week. Everything is considered,” he said.
1. Club Las Calas, Lanzarote 2. Macdonald Villacana Club, Malaga 3. Sunset Bay Club, Tenerife 4. Fairways Club, Tenerife 5. Royal Sunset Beach Club, Tenerife 6. Pine Lake, Northern England 7. Hollywood Mirage, Tenerife 8. Beverly Hills Club, Tenerife 9. Beverly Hills Heights, Tenerife 10. Palm Beach Club, Tenerife 11. Crown Resorts at Club Calahonda 12. Crown Resorts at Club Marbella/Regency Palms 13. Crown Resorts at Club Caronte
While the process is stringent the accredited resort is able to promote that a professional consumer association has endorsed it. “They can fly the TATOC accredited resort flag with pride”.
14. Crown Resorts at Club Delta Mar 15. Crown Resorts at Club La Riviera 16. The Osborne Club 17. The Kenmore Club 18. Santa Barbara Golf and Ocean Club 19. De Vere Cameron House at Loch Lomond 20. De Vere The Carrick at Loch Lomond 21. Club del Carmen 22. Macdonald Dalfaber Golf & Country Club 23. Macdonald Plas Talgarth Health & Leisure Club 24. Royal Tenerife Country Club 25. Cromer Country Club 26. Los Amigos Beach Club
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
How was it for you?
The accreditation process considers every aspect of a resort’s operations. Here outlined are the accreditation experiences of three successful teams.
prior to and during the accreditation procedure and also the thorough investigation into the various timeshare club finances, documentation and future plans. Macdonald Dalfaber
Suzana Gomercic, vice president of European Resort Operations, Diamond Resorts. “Most of the timeshare clubs we manage in Europe have been long standing members and supporters of TATOC through various committees. Therefore, following on this relationship and in consultation with our Owner Committees, Diamond Resorts International enthusiastically welcomed the news of the TATOC accreditation programme as the next logical step as a consumer driven recognition standard has been lacking within the industry. We have collectively been impressed with the process, with the questions raised both
We are convinced that TATOC accreditation will become a useful flag demonstrating the commitment of the resort management committee, founding members Cameron House and the management team continuing to take an active interest in maintaining and improving standards of service excellence in the hospitality industry. It also proves that the resort meets the gold standard of holiday experience for guests and owners alike. We also hope that because this is a consumer led initiative, it will help overcome the prejudice that the timeshare industry acquired during the 80’s and 90’s so enhancing the value of holiday ownership whether by fixed weeks or points.”
“...it will help overcome the prejudice that the timeshare industry acquired during the 80’s and 90’s...” Katrina Pascazio, Operations Manager, De Vere at Cameron House and The Carrick. “The reason we chose to apply for accreditation was because we felt that being associated with such a highly regarded consumer association as TATOC could only be beneficial for both ourselves and our owners and guests. The Osborne Club
EU Legislation still not implemented across the region
he deadline for E.U. member states to enact legislation implementing the new timeshare directive was February 23, 2011. Not all countries have enacted legislation. Today, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the U.K. have implemented and begun enforcement of the directive. Sweden has also adopted the necessary legislation.
Mr Harry Taylor who spent a day at the Carrick and a day at Cameron House. Harry was very knowledgeable about our business and understood our goals and aspirations. There were no areas that Harry did not look into, including the sales process and our back of house areas, all the time asking a multitude of questions. He left no stone unturned! All in all it was a very informative and enjoyable two days. Flying the TATOC flag above both resorts is a treat. We have been inundated with owners and guests asking about TATOC, who they are, what they do and how they can contact them. So flying the flag has certainly heightened awareness and allowed us to discuss TATOC with many guests and owners that we might not have spent time with otherwise.” Tim Cubley, Crown Resorts
The accreditation process was very in-depth but relatively painless. We were visited by
“Application for TATOC accreditation was considered as essential for our resorts. Clearly being another feather in our cap, our successful application offers additional and important assurance not just to our members but also to the consumers as a whole of our determination to assure that our standards of quality and service are maintained and recognised.”
The directive is still not in force in Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and Spain, despite claims that they are considering legislation.
One of the key aims of the directive is to ensure that all companies and individuals involved in the business of timeshare and holiday clubs act in an ethical and legal manner.
Spain’s position causes the most concern for E.U. regulators. The country is the third-largest tourist destination in the world and, with a worldwide tourism rebound underway, had an 8.5 percent increase in foreign visitors for the first quarter of 2011. Spain’s occupancy rates for 2011 have increased nearly 7 percent to 60.9 percent.
As the majority of the scam companies appear to operate out of bases in Spain, it is naturally a concern that Spain is taking its time taking up the directive.
Mr Harry Taylor, executive chairman of TATOC, said, “We are particularly concerned that Spain has not yet implemented the directive and urge that this becomes a matter of priority.”
Whether or not the ultimate implementation, when it does happen, will drive these bogus operators out of the industry will remain to be seen. To date, such companies clearly have little regard for the law, so we have to hope that the new powers that will be given to the police and other agencies will be used to their fullest.
Helping resorts on the road to success by Linda Freer, managing director of Resort Solutions Limited
ur motto for some time has been ‘every cloud has a silver lining.’ In one of the most difficult economic climates for decades we as a company have had to create opportunities out of challenges.
When the economic crisis first hit we kept hearing the same concerns from existing and potential new owner-members with ‘my job is not safe’ being top of the list. We listened to these concerns and consulted with our managed resorts. The aim: to find a system whereby if owners had to cancel a holiday they would be safeguarded from losing their money.
As a result we introduced a highly competitive resort maintenance fee insurance that many of our clients have been able to include in the cost of the annual maintenance fee. Unlike many similar policies, the RSL policy covers redundancy and even volcanic ash clouds as well as the standard insured perils.This has given great comfort and security to owners; safe in the knowledge that their maintenance fees are covered should they be unable to travel to their week due to unforeseen circumstances. For a small fraction of the annual maintenance fee owners are protected against an event that occurs at short notice which precludes travel. Clients who are forced to cancel their annual timeshare holiday can claim a refund of the annual maintenance fee.
Examples include: • • • • • • •
Death or sudden illness Accident or Injury Death of a close relative Redundancy Jury or witness service Fire, storm or flood at home just before departure Emergency duty (cancelled leave order) for armed forces personnel
We have a wide variety of clients and their individual needs differ. But, for the majority, we offer a comprehensive management service including resort management and operations, innovative sales solutions (including exit strategies), reservation and rental services, comprehensive financial services, club administration and maintenance fee collection. This said there is a strong emphasis on flexibility and it is essential that clients have the option to use the full suite of services that RSL has to offer or simply pick the solutions that are right for their resort. We operate solely as a collection agent for some clients as we are able to provide services direct to owners that they cannot. These include such items as credit card payment facility, direct debit, online payment and multi-currency collections. We are constantly reviewing every aspect of the resorts we manage. Particularly we examine events that have a significant impact on the budget and overall guest experience. In today’s highly competitive market it is essential that owners feel their timeshare product is giving them great value for money. It is important to build reserve funds in order to keep resorts well maintained and allow for planned updates.
Resort Solutions today
Resort Solutions Limited (RSL) is Europe’s largest, independent property management company specialising in the holiday ownership industry. With more than 20 years’ experience RSL is able to provide professional and unbranded
management services and solutions to resorts at all stages of the life cycle - from start-up sales to mature and committee-run. Today the company provides these services to 15 resorts with over 25,000 owners throughout Europe. Resort Solutions is a TATOC silver affiliate and a member of the RDO. RSL works together with resorts to provide the best possible holiday experience for owners and guests while at the same time increasing resort profitability, boosting performance and improving efficiency.
Our specific strengths are: • • • • • • • • •
Centralised resort management Leveraging economies of scale; Inventory utilisation Maintenance fee collections; Resort and guest services; Financial administration Club administration Quality assurance; and Experience with all types of resort structure.
Resorts can choose to use all of RSL’s services or simply pick the solutions that are right for them. Resort Solutions has become a recognised industry leader, providing excellence in property management and adding value through exclusive, unique programmes unavailable elsewhere.
“We believe that the professional direction we receive from RSL is essential to the continued success of Alto Club and the complete enjoyment by its owners, members and guests.” - Alan McGee, chairman of the Alto Club, an RSL managed resort since 1999.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
RCI launches green award programme in Europe
Collections made easy
Collecting annual maintenance fees is one of the most important – and often most difficult- activities of today’s timeshare resort. Bills are dispatched in either sterling or euros. Ensuring that funds are collected is an absolute ‘must’ for every resort. Each year the list of non-payers grows as the economy and personal pressures mount up. Resorts spend much time and energy in sending chasers, urgent demands and even threats to get the money in. Resort Solutions can step in to ease the collections burden. The company has established a special department that handles fee collections and is able to offer a range of payment systems unavailable to the majority of overseas resorts. These include credit control, a credit card payment facility, direct debit systems, on-line payments and multi-currency collections. Client resorts set their annual fee and advise RSL when collections are necessary – and RSL does the rest. Simple (or as complicated) as that!
“Resort Solutions has been billing and collecting RCI Points management fees for the Diversified Resorts Group of companies, the largest seller of RCI Points in Europe, for the last seven years. During that time Resort Solutions has provided an exemplary service, always meeting deadlines and providing excellent customer support to us and our customers,” said Mr David Gibson, Diversified Resorts Limited. For more information on RSL services visit their website: www.resort-solutions.co.uk To find out how your club can benefit from professional management solutions contact Vicky Du Bois-Sandy firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1858 431160
CI has launched a scheme to recognise its affiliated resorts in Europe which actively engage in sustainable practices and demonstrate a commitment to environmentally friendly practices. The 2011 RCI Green Award will acknowledge those resorts that incorporate green measures into all facets of their daily resort operations. Mr Dimitris Manikis, RCI vice president business development, said: “Vacation destinations are defined by their natural settings, and we believe it’s important to act in ways that help preserve those environments. “With this award, we can acknowledge the great programmes already in place at RCIaffiliated resorts and inspire other resorts to adopt green initiatives.” Modelled on the successful Going Green Award programme adopted by RCI’s Pacific region, the European version requires RCIaffiliated resorts to evaluate the type and degree of environmental management practices being exercised at their properties. Affiliated resorts have the opportunity to fill out and submit a voluntary selfassessment questionnaire containing sustainability questions about all facets of resort operations. The major areas included within the questionnaire are energy, waste, supply chain and water management, site-nature and cultural environment, facility design elements, and community and guest engagement. In September, after all the submissions have been collected, the self-assessment forms will be reviewed and assessed by two third- party experts to determine the award finalists.
he resort has opened a fabulous new balcony in front of the Shower of Herring restaurant that will be used throughout summer. It is ideal for summer afternoons and evening meals. Children are welcome with adults for meals up to 10pm. Melfort’s spa treatments have also expanded to include Hot Nailz, a fantastic new nail bar where guests can have acrylic name extensions, Twinkle Toes (sparkly nail colour that lasts up to six weeks) and Kooky Nails which are patterned nail wraps lasting up to 6 weeks.
The professional assessors for 2011 are Professor Peter Burns, professor of tourism and development at the University of Brighton, and Professor Richard Butler of the department of hospitality and tourism management at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The award finalists will then undergo an onsite property inspection to validate that all aspects of the self-assessment are accurate. The third-party experts will utilise the results of the self-assessment questionnaire and on-site inspection to determine which affiliated resorts will receive the inaugural RCI Green Awards. Winners will be announced as part of RCI’s RADA (RCI Award for Developer Achievement) Awards in January 2012. “The hospitality industry is evolving to environment-conscious guests and corporate customers who, in increasing numbers, will only use accommodation that reflects their own values,” added Mr Manikis. “This award programme is designed to recognise those affiliated resorts that embrace green initiatives which continue to impact the industry and make the world a better place to live.”
Melfort Village, Oban For those who want to get out and about the resort now has mountain bikes for hire and there are some superb boat trips available including Sail and Dine, Sea Leopard cruises (fully disabled accessible). There are also river rafting on the River Awe and outdoor adventures with Stramash Outdoor Activities. Back at the resort some of the cottages have been modernised with new bathrooms and kitchens.
A truly rewarding RCI experience
“RCI Platinum is an enhanced tier of RCI membership that brings a range of fantastic benefits to build on our popular - and well-established - Weeks and Points products. It essentially offers a new level of luxury to what is already an exclusive club.” - Sean Lowe, RCI’s managing director for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.
The launch of RCI’s new Platinum membership brings even greater benefits to its members, as Steve Adams explains. RCI, the timeshare industry’s leading provider of holiday exchange services, has unveiled an exciting and enhanced version of both its Weeks and RCI Points membership programmes. RCI Platinum is a premium tier of RCI membership offering an exclusive range of privileges and lifestyle benefits that its members can enjoy – both on holiday and at home.
RCI Platinum was officially launched in the U.K. in June 2011 and comes hot on the heels of the innovative transformation of the company’s holiday exchange programme, which introduced complete transparency of trading power for its weeks members. The new luxury membership programmes are designed to make planning and taking that all-important holiday even easier and more enjoyable for RCI Weeks and Points members.
It’s a lifestyle Membership benefits include priority access to holidays in highly sought-after destinations, opportunities for free unit upgrades, complimentary secure luggage tracking and substantial savings on RCI transactions, travel arrangements, theatre trips and dining out. Mr Sean Lowe, RCI managing director for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India (EMEAI), said: “Timeshare owners are always looking for more value from their exchange services provider and RCI Platinum will give them just that – with new opportunities for Priority Access and special member discounts. “RCI Platinum membership will offer tremendous lifestyle benefits that our members can use and enjoy in a variety of different ways.”
Among the most attractive benefits for RCI members who upgrade to the new Platinum tier of membership is access to a range of room upgrade opportunities, together with exclusive ‘first look’ access to especially acquired holiday accommodation.
“RCI Platinum is an enhanced tier of RCI membership that brings a range of fantastic benefits to build on our popular – and wellestablished - weeks and points products. It essentially offers a new level of luxury to what is already an exclusive club.”
Platinum members can also receive rewards on selected RCI transactions to put towards further RCI holiday bookings, as well as enjoying discounts on many other fabulous recreational activities both on holiday and at home. (For full details see panel.)
Mr Lowe said the development had come about partly in response to member demand for an elite product that would deliver an even greater element of luxury for RCI-affiliated resort developers to pass on to their RCI owners.
“As a pioneer of timeshare exchange, RCI is always looking for ways to develop and enhance its products and member journeys to give members the best holiday experiences and exceed the expectations of the managers of our affiliated resorts,” added Mr Lowe.
“We’ve listened to our members’ comments and responded with what I believe is a terrific new product,” he added. “We’re excited to continue delivering what our members ask for with innovative enhancements and dozens of lifestyle benefits that we’ll continue to build upon and expand going forward.”
How it works
At the heart of RCI Platinum membership are the company’s points and weeks programmes, which offer the ultimate in flexibility, choice and value. By upgrading to RCI Platinum, members can enjoy even more value, flexibility and holiday opportunities. Here are the main benefits: Priority access RCI Platinum membership means priority access exchange privileges at sought-after destinations around the world, and ensures members are among the first in line to book exchanges at a number of specially acquired exciting destinations.
Foreign currency RCI Platinum members will benefit from two great foreign currency offers when launched later this year. They are:
Unit upgrades RCI Platinum members have the opportunity to receive complimentary unit upgrades if larger units are available within two weeks of check-in.
• Free ‘cash passport’ from Mastercard, a new safe and convenient way to carry travel money. Members can also earn rewards for using the cash passport.
Platinum rewards RCI Platinum membership means being able to earn platinum rewards – ranging from £15 to £20 – on various RCI transactions such as booking RCI extra holidays, purchasing RCI guest certificates and making points partner bookings or combining deposits. The rewards can then be used towards future RCI transactions.
Travel benefits RCI Platinum membership also provides a variety of exclusive discounts and offers on travel, including cruises, car hire and insurance with RCI travel. These could include 20 per cent off European Avis car hire, 20 per cent off insurance or £50 onboard cruise credit.
All it takes is a quick call to an RCI guide who will take care of it all.
Existing RCI members can upgrade to RCI Platinum membership for just £49 per year.
• Free delivery on currency delivered to members’ homes, or
Once you have upgraded, managing your RCI Platinum membership can be done on-line at RCI. com, where you can also access a range of benefits.
Additional benefits The benefits continue! RCI Platinum membership also offers: • Discounted theatre tickets – great deals on selected West End productions, with up to £30 off some of London’s most popular shows; • Leisure discounts – reductions on dining out, attraction tickets, days out and more, meaning members can more great savings at home, too; and • Secure luggage – travel with peace of mind courtesy of complimentary luggage tracking service from Call Uma. Services include tag ‘n’ traq, lost key assist, on-line document store and emergency assistance.
RCI guides are also available to answer any questions, help you book and ensure you make the most of your membership. To upgrade or find out more, call 0845 60 86 380 or visit rci.com
The benefits As the world’s largest timeshare exchange company, RCI gives its members access to more than 4,000 affiliated resorts in over 100 countries. Benefits enjoyed by members include: • Insight – Knowing the trading power or RCI points value of a timeshare week, and of available RCI Exchange holidays of comparable value (RCI Week and Points members); • Deposit credits/combining deposits – Being able to store unused deposit trading power or RCI points value for use towards another RCI exchange holiday and/or combine multiple weeks or points towards a higher value RCI exchange holiday (RCI Weeks & Points members); • Transparency – Knowing the value of RCI
Points and available RCI Points holidays (RCI Points members); • Extra holidays – Exclusive member rates on holidays that can be paid for without the need to make an exchange or use RCI Points; • Late deals – Access to last minute discounted RCI extra holidays; and
• RCI travel – A full travel service that enables members to book cruises, tours, hotel accommodation, flights, hire cars and much more.
*All RCI Platinum benefits and offers are correct at time of print and are subject to change or may be withdrawn at any time. Third party supplier terms and conditions, RCI Platinum membership rules and minimum spend levels apply.
A date with history in Northumbria by Sharetime editor, Colin Collins
hy is it that when you’re travelling along beautiful country roads enjoying the wonderful outdoors there’s always a car behind you travelling at speed, wanting to pass and completely destroying your perfect idyll? I ask the question because we’d elected to visit Northumbria for a dose of historical investigation – and (we hoped) empty road navigation. We won – mostly - on both counts. The county is liberally speckled with ancient palaces and towns, enhanced with some wonderful gardens and nature reserves. A full week of “go and see” - encouraged by large quantities of pub food and fine ales. Our timing appeared perfect: the week before half-term holidays. No great hordes of the little darlings rushing around going nowhere, no lengthy queues to halt our march towards more knowledge. We hadn’t reckoned on the wind. For three days gale force winds blasted their way along the coast and into the surrounding country. Climbing along castle ramparts was a perilous exercise, at times turning it into an adventure. It was also cold. Very cold. But once shelter had been reached and a meal ordered, the spirits were reinvigorated and it was time to set off again. Our Northumberland trip was based at the Akeld Resort, situated to the north of Woolmer. Comprising a central block of “manor house” accommodation for 15 guests, there are also three sleep two, 17 sleep four and five sleep six free-standing and individually designed cottages. And the resort is ideally placed for getting out and about. But first the accommodation. Our independent cottage probably looked good when designed. And in many ways it was. The two bedrooms were fine, a central bathroom OK and the hallway quite satisfactory. But the living/dining room was a great disappointment. With only one small window, we were forced to switch on the lights each time we entered the room. And keep them on when ever we were in residence! A big disappointment and a bigger design failure. The kitchen was smallish but just about acceptable. But next door was the second bathroom – a free-standing shower, washbasin and lavatory. To reach this entailed travelling from the bedroom, through the hall, then the (lit) living room and past the kitchen – and into the bathroom. Not very satisfactory. Although we didn’t use them, the resort’s facilities appeared good. An indoor pool plus a gym and a snooker room provided
the basics. There was no restaurant or food provision so self-catering or the local pub provided meals. There was one rather disquieting aspect at the start of our stay. On checking-in we were relieved of a cheque for over £40 as a “standing charge”. It seemed a lot of money for a week’s stay, when every day we were away from the resort. But it’s here that Akeld scored well in our satisfaction charts. Full days out were spent climbing over castles, sauntering through beautiful gardens and experiencing history at its most fascinating. First, the Scottish wars. Battles between lords and knights from both sides of the border were legion in this part of Northumbria. Stories of disastrous encounters and noble victories abound. Perhaps the most profound was Flodden Field where, in 1513, more than 10,000 Scottish soldiers were killed – almost in a matter of hours. Today, as you wander over the hallowed ground one can envisage how the battle was fought and won, how the Scottish army became bogged down in marshy fields making them easy prey for the advancing English. We spent a couple of hours trying to remember how it must have been… Our first full day out was to Bamburgh Castle, probably one of Northumberland’s most iconic buildings with 14 public rooms and more than 2,000 artefacts, including arms and armour, porcelain, furniture and artwork. It’s a trifle disappointing to learn that the present castle is a relatively recent structure, completely restored in 1900 by one Lord Armstrong whose family still owns the property. However, with a little imagination the rocky outcrop soon resounds with battles, sieges and - death! Our next day trip was to Holy Island and Lindisfarne. Great excitement here as we travelled across a causeway (jokes about being cut off and so on) to see the castle, priory, St Mary’s Church and the Heritage Centre. There’s also a good selection of pubs – though food supplies stop relatively early. A boat trip out to sea in fairly brisk weather and very choppy waters was our next adventure. One of the greatest wildlife experiences, this was quite something…a trip around the Famne Islands, and a chance to disembark and visit the home to hundreds of thousands of sea birds such as puffins, guillemots and some 20 other species. Most are tolerant of visitors who disembark – tolerant, that is, except for the arctic terns
who dive-bomb visitors to preserve their nesting colonies. A truly memorable experience - and one fully recommended. Yet another day was to Alnwick Castle and its famous gardens designed by Capability Brown. This is a beautiful spot with delightful staterooms and Italian renaissance design and paintings by Canaletto, Van Dyck and Titan. The Alnwick Garden, claims to be the most exciting contemporary garden on earth, featuring a marvellous waterfall, one of the world’s largest tree houses and even a poison garden packed full of rare and dangerous plants. Alnwick has benefitted – or suffered, according to taste – from tourism development. With classy eating places, attractions for children – and a pricing structure which separates castle from grounds and makes a trip to both pretty expensive. Alnwick originally prospered as a medieval market town, and it still retains many of its cobbled streets, narrow alleys and fine stone buildings which now house a range of specialist shops, eateries and family businesses. Very enjoyable. Four full-day sightseeing trips and we’d got pretty ‘castled out’. But there was more to come. Just a few miles from our resort were the Ford and Etal estates, one of Northumberland’s hidden gems and home to two picturesque villages that support a vibrant tourist economy. As there was time for one more visit off we went along (relatively) quiet roads to Ford and Etal which must be perfect for outdoor types who love horse-riding, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling. Attractions include a castle, the stunning murals at Lady Waterford Hall and the restored 19th century Heatherslaw Cornmill to buy mouth-watering cakes. For a different way of getting around, we journeyed on the Heatherslaw Steam Railway, a 15-inch gauge steam railway running from Heatherslaw to Etal Village - a return journey of 50 minutes. So, our Northumbria holiday was heavy on history – but it made a fascinating week of looking back into the area’s fascinating past. Most evenings we journeyed to local pubs for typical local food – and it was good! After all that travelling a couple of pints put everything into perspective. But those lovely undulating roads. Absolutely super until you see that white van in the reverse mirror…
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
U.K. more popular among European travellers in 2011
he U.K. is more popular among European travellers this summer than in past years.
This is the finding of a new study conducted by the hotel price comparison website www.trivago.co.uk on tourist travel trends in Europe. An analysis of summer travel trends in 2011 shows that many more travellers are considering the U.K. as a holiday destination this year. In 2010, the U.K. was only the 15th most popular summer destination in Europe.
The U.K. has now climbed to fifth place, beating out Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Egypt and Turkey. A similar trend was reflected in other major European countries; the U.K. ranked seventh among Spanish travellers, eighth among Italians, and ninth in Germany. In all three cases the U.K. achieved better results. When considering the preferences of Europe as a whole, the U.K. is placed fifth, behind France (fourth), Italy (third), Germany (second) and Spain (first). This summer, 27.1percent of British travellers are looking at destinations within the country. The next most popular country is Spain, with British travellers favouring Barcelona, Majorca, Salou, Benalmadena and Palma de Majorca.
London is the best European city for two years
TripAdvisor’s survey results, reported on TimesharePages.com, was taken from 3,523 correspondents who include 778 British and European tourists. According to TripAdvisor’s Ms Emma O’Boyle, the survey is based on the
here has been a lot going on at Barnsdale in Rutland this year,” says Mr Russell Waters, general manager.
The on-going refurbishment of units continues throughout 2011/12 with a planned £120,000 total refurbishment of the swimming pool changing facilities. The resort has introduced a new information brochure that provides a list of local activities, an A-Z on useful numbers and information about the resort and surrounding areas. This has been very popular among owners, rentals
However, the British differ starkly from their European neighbours: some 67 percent of Spanish, 58 percent of Italians, 41 percent of Germans and 37 percent of French visited cities in their own countries. Italians, Germans and French preferred Spain as their second most popular destination. Of the 27.1 percent of British people travelling inside the country, 15 percent are heading to the capital this summer. The next most popular British city is Manchester (4.38 percent), followed by Blackpool (3.9 percent), Edinburgh (3.55 percent), York (3.25 percent), Brighton (3 percent), Liverpool (2.92 percent) and Glasgow (2.89 percent).
Wedding last May, the Wimbledon Championships and the up-coming 2012 Olympics. Ms O’Boyle said that the excitement over the 2012 Olympics is a major reason why London is considered as the most thrilling European city. She said the momentum is expected to continue toward 2012 onwards.
ondon is without a doubt the representative of Europe and is still the best European city to visit.
The U.K. capital was named the “easiest European city to travel around in” for two consecutive years by travel advice firm, TripAdvisor. It also earned accolades as the “most exciting” and second “least friendly” in the whole of Europe. However, it has also been voted as the most expensive European city.
Other top destinations are the USA, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Egypt and Portugal.
observation of tourists. “It’s encouraging for everyone involved in London’s tourism industry that, despite the concerns around cost, the city is regarded by European travellers as a vibrant and accessible destination,” she said. London’s tourism industry is flourishing because of several factors including the Royal
Despite the setbacks, London did not discourage travellers from visiting the city, compared with Paris and Athens which were voted as the “most overrated” and the “dirtiest”, respectively. The excellent historical landmarks of Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London have also attracted tourists from all over the world. It’s no wonder that the capital city of UK earned a high mark from European travellers.
Barnsdale Hall Hotel and guests. Local attractions bookings can be arranged from the timeshare office. New half-board options are now available for all timeshare owners and exchanges so that they can dine in the resort’s restaurant and bar. There are also new welcome hampers available with the best of Rutland fare, including breakfast items or an evening of wine, cheese and biscuits. To encourage owners and guests to enjoy the leisure facilities, discounts are available on spa treatments. Free WI-FI is available
in the restaurant and bar area. Finally, the website now has a comprehensive on-line booking tool for rentals throughout the year (www.barnsdalehotel.co.uk) and the resort offers complementary overnight accommodation for those interested in purchasing a week of timeshare.
Christel House fundraiser at Everest Base Camp Former RCI employee Vivienne Noyes-Thomas has undertaken a punishing trek to reach Everest Base Camp, at an altitude of 5,700 m.
ravelling with friends and supported by a team of Sherpas and porters, the group climbed for ten days to reach Base Camp, followed by four days to descend the same route. The days were tough, sometimes as long as nine hours, battling with the steep, rocky trails and the effects of altitude. “Occasionally,” she says, “it felt as though we would never get there, but finally there we were, on the glacier right at the base of the mountain and the notorious Khumbu Ice Fall.” “Thanks to our association with a group of mountaineers who were summiting Everest that same month, we were allowed to spend the night in tiny tents at Base Camp, not usually an option for trekkers.”
“That was truly a night to remember, very cold of course, but with a full moon hanging over the peak lighting up the chaotic,
Christel House golf open by Vivienne Noyes-Thomas
inners of the ninth U.K. Christel House Golf Open were the team from Club La Costa’s U.K. operation.
Gerry Graber of signature sponsors Nexus (second from left) with three members of the winning team from Club La Costa
Held at Ealing Golf Club, Middlesex, the event was supported by major sponsors RCI Europe, Nexus Leisure, Club La Costa, First National Trustee Company and Vision-AM. The event attracted 11 teams of four players to compete for the Christel House trophy. Players and non-players had a great day; the weather was kind and the atmosphere
jumbled outlines of the ice and rocks: it was at once eerily beautiful and desolate.” One of the reasons for making this epic journey was to raise funds for Christel House, the charity founded by the former owner of RCI, Ms Christel DeHaan. Providing education, healthcare, nutrition and life skills, it serves some of the poorest communities in the world. Close on 3500 children attend Christel House schools, where their lives are transformed and they are given the tools to escape the cycle of poverty and deprivation and become self-sufficient, contributing members of society. (Read about their work at www.christelhouse.org or on Facebook.) Vivienne’s efforts raised a total of almost £3,000. Readers who would like to make a donation, her donations page at Just Giving is still open, go to http://justgiving.com/ Vivienne-Noyes-Thomas0 and make a credit card donation. If you are a U.K. taxpayer, the charity will benefit even further.
Teams from a number of businesses took part including Nexus, Hoseasons, CLC, RCI, FNTC and Diamond Resorts.
throughout the day and at the evening dinner was most enjoyable. Mr Harry Taylor, of TATOC, was due to play in the event but sadly he was detained in Spain and could not make the trip; we missed his company. Thanks to the sponsors, the players and bidders at the evening auction, over £9,000 was raised, a generous total that, in keeping with Christel House’s philosophy, will go 100 per cent to benefit the children that the charity supports around the world. No deductions are made for administrative costs, the entire amount going directly to the charity’s programmes, transforming lives and breaking the cycle of poverty that blights the future for so many children.
Next year will see the 10th anniversary of this worldwide competition that spans seven different countries - with 15 venues in the U.S. alone. Christel House is hoping for a record turnout to mark this milestone and we will keep you all informed about dates and locations and hope to see some TATOC members competing and enjoying a great day out in aid of a tremendous cause.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Wise words from across the pond by Lisa Ann Schreier, the timeshare crusader
magine this: You own a car, free and clear; you paid $25,000 four years ago; as with any car, it needs periodic maintenance such as oil changes, tyre rotation, front wheel alignment and so on. Nothing out of the ordinary. Now imagine that your car owning habits have changed. Perhaps you move to a city such as New York where you don’t need a car, or you just don’t want your car anymore. Happens everyday. So, what to do with that car that you no longer use or want? Well, if you are like most consumers, you put an ad online, put flyers up, tell your friends/family/co-workers that you have a car for sale or advertise it in a newsletter of some sort. Just to see if you are paying attention here; you don’t expect to sell the car for $25,000 do you? How about $32,000? Of course not. What if you received a phone call out of the blue from a company that told you that they had a buyer for your car and that all they needed was $1,500 for the paperwork? Chances are that you would hang up on them. OK, what if you received a glossy, four color postcard from the company that said, in part, “We provide a contractual agreement that guarantees the transfer of your car out of your name and a 100 per cent guarantee in writing” and said that they were going to be in town for three days next month and that you should call to secure an appointment? What if you were curious and took them up on their offer only to find out at this meeting
orldwide Timeshare Hypermarket has announced the launch of a marketing campaign at airports across the country.
Oh, and by the way, just so you aren’t confused here the $3,500 is just to transfer the title. If this company actually ends up selling your car for say, $7,500, you don’t receive any of the proceeds. You are just supposed to give them the free and clear title and the cash and walk away. I know what you are thinking. Are you out of your mind? Who would ever do such a thing? Heck, it would be better to just give the car away outright rather than pay someone $3,500 to transfer the title. Right? Well, change ‘car’ to ‘timeshare’ and change ‘oil change, tyre rotation, front wheel alignment’, and so on to ‘maintenance fees’ and you have the insane story of what thousands of timeshare owners in the U.S. are doing each year. To the tune of over $40 million annually in “transfer fees.” There is nothing at all to stop companies from doing business like this. There is nothing illegal about it. But there is something that both the timeshare industry and timeshare owners can do. They can educate themselves and wise up, or suffer the consequences. The industry must stop hiding its collective heads in the sand and pretending that the resale and transfer issues do not exist. They do. Just as the traditional auto industry works hand in hand with the secondary auto
The industry must stop hiding its collective heads in the sand and pretending that the re-sale and transfer issues do not exist. They do. that the “transfer” they were talking about consisted of you handing over the title to your car and a cash payment of $3,500, thereby relieving you of the cost of the oil changes, tyre rotation, etc.?
Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket set for take off
industry there are guidelines and of course a value proposition is clearly defined. As for timeshare owners, it is time to stop pleading ignorance and educate themselves. That goes for buying a timeshare, accepting an invitation to a timeshare sales pitch, understanding timeshare rentals and of course, the re-sale and transfer of a timeshare. There are no quick fixes, as we did not get into this situation overnight. The first step is to take some responsibility, acknowledge that there are issues and simply use some common sense. I look forward to taking the lead and striving for some positive changes. What do you think of Lisa’s views? If you have any comments on this, please forward them to the editor at
The first phase of the project will take place at Bournemouth International Airport and will be in the form of a digital visual media display showing a specially designed slideshow presentation. The key message that comes across is that Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket provides the greatest access to re-sale weeks and that it is also the ideal company to speak to if you are an owner who wants to sell. Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket works closely with many of the major timeshare developers such as Silverpoint, Club la Costa, De Vere Resorts, MacDonald Hotels and Resorts and Elite Resorts. Bournemouth International Airport, with its £45million refurbishment and investment programme, was seen as the ideal choice as the launch site for the campaign. Roll outs to other regional airports around the U.K. are expected over the coming months allowing the message to reach an audience in excess of four million passengers per year. Other innovations from Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket include a timeshare guide ‘app’ for iPhone, iPad and Blackberry, television educational programmes in association with The Travel Channel and sponsorship and support of events such as motorsports and airshows. All this activity is aimed at raising the company’s brand profile and also highlighting the benefits of timeshare ownership to a wider market. You can view the presentation here: http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=31xPtSQUQws
week 52 throughout the year, resort by resort. The number of points required for each week depends on the time of the year, the quality of the resort and the number of bedrooms per unit. Advertorial
owners to trade in the name of the club for po the week - a useful optio
For example. a young, n bought an out-of-seaso No restriction is placed on the number of cost of possibly £5 000 Although timeshare was the best method of pegging holiday costs over the past 30 years, flexibility was limited, even the exchange organisations. A new product needed whicha had all thethree b points thewithmember may acquire and presence the wasacquired large, positive attributes of timeshare but none of the negatives. The need was met with the formation of SPICE in December member may 2010. purchase additional points at season at a cost of £30 any time. The total of the members’ points the couple now have th Adding SPICE inSPICEthe clubthe istimeshare represented by the asset made other family’s children falls within industry but it is not timesharing in the true sense. up of holiday accommodation owned by the Ideally the two families It is a holiday club whose members receive certain rights which enable them to holiday club. Once the member has been allocated each other’s weeks. in many destinations throughout the world. Members of the club do not acquire points he can book With SPICE, the family individual timeshare weeks but purchase a holiday. holiday points. The system can easily be compared with that would be allocated poin Each week of holiday accommodation is
A concept that evolved out of change
valued on a points basis - from week 1 to week 52 throughout the year, resort by resort. The number of points required for each week depends on the time of the year, the quality of the resort and the number of bedrooms per unit.
No restriction is placed on the number of points the member may acquire and the member may purchase additional points at any time. The total of the members’ points in the club is represented by the asset made up of holiday accommodation owned by the club. Once the member has been allocated points he can book a holiday. The system can easily be compared with that of a bank, where you deposit money into an account and it continues to grow until
you withdraw it, as and when you need to and however much you need. Each year you are re-credited with the number of points that you have acquired. The points are held to the credit of the member’s account and can be
accumulated for up to three years. At any time the member can make a reservation and his account will be debited with the number of points required for the particular unit in the particular resort of his choice. SPICE’s policy has been to acquire holiday properties mainly in the peak holiday periods and at the moment, a high percentage of the points held are in peak periods.
growth over the last 25 years.
eir timeshare in the oints to the value of In February 2011, a new directive in respect of a Timeshare Week on asConversion needs change. of timeshare and long term holiday products
SPICE has a unique facility allowing timeshare owners to trade in their timeshare in the name of the club for points to the value of the week - a useful option as needs change.
The couple with the three bedroom unit would have a large number of points, enabling them to take four or five outof-season holiday weeks. Alternatively they could give points to their children or surrender surplus points back to the club.
The SPICE system is the most flexible holiday option available and allows you to holiday anywhere and anytime, in any size unit. The choice is yours.
came into force around Europe.This directive newly married couple has been welcomed by Spice as it finally allows The industry is moving more and more to For example. a young, newly married on studio week at studio a week the points system couple bought an out-of-season for a level playing field within the industry, and the majority at a cost of possibly £5,000, while a family of the sales within man acquired a large, three bedroom unit in 0, while a family man it has slowed sales down considerably as the timeshare peak season at a cost of £30,000. Ten years industry are on later, the couple now have three children bedroom unit in peak many entities struggle to adapt, however a points basis. Club Leisure 0 000. Ten years later, Spice believes that it was exactly what Group, pioneer was of the points has shown hree children and the needed in the industry and has alwayssystem, been phenomenal growth over the have all left home. a firm supporter of considerable consumer last 25 years. now need to swop protection and Spice really In February 2011, a new directive in now interma respect of is timeshare and long holiday products came into force This directive has position to be the Club ofaround ourEurope. time.... been welcomed by Spice as it finally and the other family’s children have all left y with studio unit allows for a level playing field within home.a Ideally the two families now need to the industry, it has slowed sales down swop each other’s weeks. considerably as many entities struggle to nts amounting to the adapt, however Spice believes that it was With SPICE, the family with a studio unit
would be allocated points amounting to the current market value of their unit and they could purchase additional points which would be added to their trade-in enabling them to holiday during school holiday periods.
exactly what was needed in the industry and has always been a firm supporter of considerable consumer protection and Spice really is now in a position to be the Club of our time...
Huge rise in handluggage only travel
Tourism Alliance meets with shadow secretary
here has been a huge 233 percent increase in the number of people going on holiday with just hand baggage.
he Resort Developers Organisation (RDO) has reported that the Tourism Alliance, of which RDO is a member, organised a breakfast briefing in London recently with the shadow secretary of state for bulture media & sport, Mr Ivan Lewis.
A study by Co-operative Travel into over 68,000 flight bookings has revealed that more people now carry just 10kg of luggage to avoid paying baggage charges to budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet. It calculated that a family of four travelling with just hand baggage, rather than a suitcase each, would save an average of £233.12 on baggage charges from their outbound and return flights. This rises to a £440 saving on Ryanair’s peak season flights.
baggage,” he said, “ it does allow people to decide exactly what they’re prepared to pay for.
The Co-operative Travel’s research shows that 26 per cent of passengers are lightening the load in order to reduce costs.
“For the airlines this is probably the desired outcome, lowering the weight of the flight and time spent handling luggage.”
It estimates that over 16,000 of the families flying with budget airlines in 2011 will share just one suitcase between four, saving an average of £149. A further 51,000 couples will do the same, saving £49.
But the Co-operative said complex charging structures make it harder for customers to shop around for the best price.
Mr Trevor Davis, director of retail distribution at Co-operative Travel, said “people are getting smarter” and minimising the cost of their budget airline flights. “While not everyone will want to go to the extremes of holidaying with just carry-on
“Prices for budget airline flights are rarely quoted with a typical baggage cost, and most often the price you see just includes a hand luggage allowance,” said Davis. “This, combined with the broad range and complexity of charges, makes it hard for holidaymakers to compare prices accurately at face value.”
New life for the holiday postcard
ife has not been easy for the humble postcard. Modern technology such as texting and smart phones has meant many travellers no longer use the postcard to tell family and friends what they are up to on holiday. Why go to the trouble of buying the postcard and stamp and then finding a post-box when a text is so easy to send? In many cases, you’re home before the card reaches its destination.
a selection of handwriting and unique messages for the front of card.
However, all is not lost for the postcard with the introduction of a new business, sendmypostcards.com, which launched in July this year and is set to target the growing on-line card market in the U.K.
The site also includes a simple ‘copy card’ feature, which enables quick replication of the same postcard – suitable for sending to many recipients or also for occasions requiring announcements or thanks.
The service enables users to create and edit quickly personalised postcards using their computer and then sendmypostcards.com prints and sends postcards on their behalf. Images can be added from Facebook, Flickr, the 15,000 global image gallery or their own camera/phone/computer to create memorable cards. Each can be personalised with a person’s own image (or one from their gallery),
For those without access to a computer on holiday the team is currently developing an easy to use version of the site for smart phones that will be released later in the year. The service costs €1.79 for printing and postage of a single postcard anywhere in the world. “Sendmypostcards.com, is bringing the postcard bang into the 21st century, says the company.
The meeting, which included guests from ABTA, VisitBritain, the British Hospitality Association and RDO, took place at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, in London. Issues on the agenda, which have previously been debated with the minister for culture media and sport, Mr John Penrose, included VAT, airport passenger duty, how to harness the Olympics, the cost of visas and planning permission. While Tourism Alliance welcomed the prime minister’s statement earlier this year that he wished to “take tourism in Britain to a whole new level and harness the huge potential this area holds to grow our economy” it has been disappointed that the issues above, which currently act as a real deterrent to the growth of tourism in the U.K., have not been addressed to the benefit of either the traveller or the industry. For example, VAT is unlikely to be reduced for the travel industry (unlike other European countries), airport passenger duty still remains prohibitively high (again, unlike other European countries) and visas for overseas visitors still remain costly as the U.K. stands outside the Schengen agreement. The following was agreed: • Tourism Alliance will provide briefings on current issues;
• Mr Ivan Lewis confirmed his intention to support tourism and asked for a briefing on policy changes which would provide the greatest benefit to the sector; and • Tourism Alliance will arrange a further meeting to discuss what can be done to improve the U.K. tourism industry’s international competitiveness
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Just part of the jigsaw that is lost? by Jennie Thompson, TATOC member
timeshare resort is like a jigsaw puzzle where different pieces fit together in order to make the whole.
The developer, the trustee, timesharer, management company, sales organisation are all essential elements but with different motivations and responsibilities. In the last edition we looked at trustees and their function in a resort and the reason they are there in the first place. This time we want to examine a specific duty that trustees have: protecting the land and buildings. The Office of Fair Trading report identified land and buildings as an important aspect of protection. The reason arose from the fact that timeshare was in its early days and, whenever there is an opportunity to make money, there is always an opportunity for those less scrupulous people to commit fraud. It was quite easy really. Lovely photos of the resort; sun, sea, palm trees; and a well furnished apartment (even though at that moment it may be nothing more than a sand pit). When these elements were combined with a smooth-talking salesman the attraction to becoming a timesharer was obvious “holidays for a lifetime”. Unfortunately, the dream could become a nightmare - and often did. Money passing hands, resorts not being built or even worse resorts being built and the developer then finding himself in financial difficulties. Borrowing from the bank, using the resort as security, but not being able to keep up with the payments saw the bank move in and the dream of holidays for a lifetime became a wakeup call. In those early days developers usually called at the exchange company offices first to look at ways of assisting sales. The exchange company, however, wanted to make sure that its members had a resort to holiday in and so there was an inevitable link with the trustees.
But the special relationship that exists between the trustee and the timesharer (the beneficiaries) is not as complex as that between the developer and the trustee. Let’s look at a typical structure for an early 1980s resort:
This has to be done in line with the constitution or club rules and the trustee will ensure that all details are covered, legal opinions sought and voting administered correctly.
SIMPLE CLUB TRUSTEE SCHEMATIC Developer
However, there are circumstances when a trustee may allow units to be taken out of trust. Remember: they have to act in the best interests of the members. If the resort is facing a financial crisis that increased annual fees will not assist, then there may be no alternative but to take a unit out of trust and sell it on the open market.
Holding (Title) Company
The area we are concentrating on is on the right hand side of the diagram. The developer transfers the land and/or buildings to a company called the ‘holding’ or ‘title’ company which is wholly under the control of the trustee. It cannot trade: it is purely there to secure the occupancy rights for the resort members. So the land and the construction, which is being paid for by the developer, is ‘given’ or transferred to the trustee. Hmmm? The developer pays the trustee but he acts for the members. See what I mean about complexity? How many times has a resort been saved by the trustee’s protection of the land? The trustee must always do what is best for the beneficiary. So if the developer wants to use the land and buildings as security for a mortgage or loan then the answer is “no”. Recently with the economic crisis, especially in Spain, greedy eyes have looked at the resorts and wanted to try and sell the apartments (without the members of course) on the free market. Many would have succumbed but for the protection of the trustee.
The answer to any query and the responsibilities and duties of the trustee in this respect of land holding are laid down in the trust deed. This is part of the legal documentation that every potential purchaser must be able to read before purchasing under the EU directive. But we will come back to the directive shortly. The occupancy rights can be held in a variety of ways. Maybe through an assignment or maybe through a lease: every country has its own law to say how land can be held so not all resorts are the same. It must be remembered that we said the holding/title company must not trade. This is again to protect members’ rights because if it is a trading company and makes a loss then action can be taken against it and the timesharers are in danger of losing their holidays. So the duty of a trustee in relation to the securing of the land and buildings, the very fabric of the resort, is immensely important. I said we would come back to the EU directive and legislation. Why? Because despite all the words and the protection and the rights of the consumer not in any of the legislation I have read is this aspect of protection even mentioned! Possibly one piece of the jigsaw that Europe lost? Next time “Money, money, money”
Sharing Holiday Time Interval International is a leading global provider of vacation services that has served member families for 35 years. It offers a quality resort network of approximately 2,600 resorts in more than 75 countries.
ere we share the holiday exchange stories of four Interval members, each of whom have seen the world in different ways. In so doing they’ve made the most of their initial timeshare purchase. They know what they want from their holiday time; through membership, they’ve fulfilled their holiday dreams. Ian and Teresa Clancy Ian and Teresa Clancy have owned timeshare at Ocean Club, Ramla Bay, Malta, since 1989, when they were invited for afternoon tea by a couple who already owned at the resort. They were so impressed by the quality of their friends’ apartment they decided to purchase a week. They have exchanged twice a year since 1990, using both the on-line option on IntervalWorld.com and by phoning – as they like to have two separate week-long holidays. They have visited Spain, Portugal, the Canaries, the Balearics, Cyprus, Madeira, Italy, Turkey, and took a special trip to Antigua for their silver wedding anniversary. Their favourites? Teresa recalls Monte Anfi on Gran Canaria; Marriott’s Marbella Beach
Teresa and Ian Clancy in Valentinos restaurant in Arguineguin on Gran Canaria on their most recent exchange.
Resort; Club Akamas, in Cyprus; Es Pueto, at Aldea Bonsai, Ibiza; Cala Pi, in Majorca; and Club del Carmen, in Lanzarote. They say that overall they have had exceptionally memorable exchanges. Teresa especially remembers their holiday at the Royal Savoy, in Madeira, which might not have been financially viable had it not been for their Interval membership and timeshare.
Teresa says, “Whenever we receive the new resort directory, I always look through to see what’s new. I then use IntervalWorld.com to get further information and also look up Google Earth to see the surrounding areas!” Timeshare ownership “gives us convenience, variety and choice of locations, independence and value.”
Michael and Pauline Perry Michael and Pauline Perry currently own at Westgate Town Centre in Orlando, Florida, having previously owned at Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa. Recently, they upgraded to a larger apartment closer to the Disney Parks for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. Over the years, they have exchanged 35 times, visiting resorts in Aruba, Utah, Gran Canaria, Malta, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman, Kauai (Hawaii), Fuerteventura, Phuket (Thailand), Madeira and Malta.
Michael and Pauline Perry after successfully completing a Thai cooking course at Marriott’s Phuket Beach Club: Certificates to prove it in their kitchen!
They prefer to make their exchanges over the phone but often use the on-line resort directory at IntervalWorld.com to look up new resorts and find information on their destinations. “The personal touch we receive from Interval is a large part of why we’ve been exchanging for so long,” they say.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Whether it’s relaxing by the pool, hiring a car and finding local hidden gems or sightseeing at their destination, visiting other countries is a passion of theirs. The ability to exchange has been a driving force in their extensive travel experiences. In addition, almost all their travel throughout the year is arranged through Interval.
Martin Neill relaxing in a hammock at Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club.
Martin and Marianne Neill Martin and Marianne Neill own a week at Marriott’s Harbour Point, on Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina. They previously owned at Marriott’s Desert Springs, in California. A clue here? The Neills regard the Marriott brand as a guarantee of quality accommodation. Prior to owning at Harbour Point, they exchanged mostly to other Marriott resorts in Majorca, Marbella, Maui, and Utah. Through exchanging, they’ve also visited Ireland and the Maine coast and often hire a car to explore the local area. The Marriott in Maui (Hawaii), is a resort that really appeals due to its location right next to the beach and near to the traditional town of Lahaina.
This, says Martin, is very local and traditional and so appeals more than somewhere more “touristy”. Another memorable and more unusual exchange was in 2003 to the Williamsburg Plantation, in Virginia. The town of Williamsburg is a living-history museum with preserved and restored houses and shops from the period when the American Colonies were struggling to win independence from Britain. “It was a fascinating experience,” they recall, “to wander the streets, engage with people in period costume in the houses, shops and taverns, and participate in reenactments of late 18th century courthouse proceedings, military manoeuvres and craft workshops.” The Neills bought their first timeshare because the apartment quality was superior to those experienced on other holidays; the exchange option didn’t really come into it. When the possibilities were opened up to them they started to buy weeks solely to exchange and broaden their holiday possibilities. The social aspect of timeshare and exchanging is something that they have really taken to and over the years have met friends with whom they are still very much in touch. Martin and Marianne believe that their experiences demonstrate how diverse and exciting holidays can be with timeshare and Interval.
Shirley Mitchinson Shirley Mitchinson jumped at the opportunity to exchange to a truly exotic destination: the Gokarna Forest Resort, in the mountains of Nepal. The week was filled with exciting and inspiring activities and outings, from morning yoga sessions to day-long mountain treks to evening temple pujas (sacred rituals). Shirley started off with a flight excursion to view Mount Everest by air. Further explorations led to a tour of the ancient city of Bhaktapur, famed for its intricate, lace-like wooden carvings and palaces; a trek to the mountain-top village of Nagarkot, to take in the panorama of Himalayan peaks; and a visit to the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupatinath by the holy Bagmati River.
Shirley Mitchinson during her visit to Nepal
Shirley couldn’t have been happier with the accommodation after her adventure-filled days. She says, “My room, with terrace on to landscaped gardens, was a veritable haven of tranquillity, a reflection of the ethos of the resort.”
Resort news DeVere at Cameron House & The Carrick
t’s been a great year so far for Cameron House and The Carrick. Rentals have been incredibly popular and the team is on line to smash last year’s rental income. The website has been upgraded which has really paid off. Although sales are not where we would ideally like them to be, they are still happening - especially at the fractional resort, The Carrick. The refurbishment programme at Cameron House continues to go well. Each lodge upgrade costs approximately £70,000 and the feedback from owners and guests has been tremendous. A new staff incentive scheme has been launched for all full- and part-time staff. The reward programme, with prizes from store through cinema vouchers to a week’s holiday in Europe, will be awarded at the end of the year. The resort management would like to thank the executive housekeeper and head housekeeper who have had a hectic time to contend with. Well done, ladies. Elsewhere on the resort there are new recycling facilities and the resorts also have a park ranger who helps advise on initiatives and activities.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Life in the day of: Claire Rivero
ilverpoint is one of Europe’s biggest timeshare organisations. It has 1,300 employees and Claire Rivero recruits between 60 and 100 staff members a year.
Global recruitment manager for Silverpoint Leisure.
Every day starts with my email inbox. Whether I am at Silverpoint’s Central Office in Tenerife or in one of the company’s other destinations I always wade through my inbox to check on new applications for jobs and to deal with the multitude of things that raise their heads every day.
Depending on where in the world the applications come from I will schedule some Skype interviews throughout the day.
Claire Rivero has been a recruiter for over 18 years in both the U.K. and the U.S.A. After joining the staffing industry with Reed Employment in the U.K., she moved to California where she was an account specialist and project manager for Kelly Services. She returned to Europe after ten years in the United States and was recruitment manager for Resort Properties in Tenerife before joining Silverpoint Leisure at the beginning of 2011. Claire is trilingual – English, Spanish and French - and has lived and worked in Switzerland, Spain, France, Canary Islands, Morocco, the U.K. and the U.S.A. She has two grown up children and is married to a jazz musician.
Often I can have an interview with someone in St Petersburg in the morning, a follow- up call with a French applicant at lunchtime and another initial interview with an East Coast American in the afternoon. Despite our business being global we are very ‘people-focused’ and this kind of technology allows me an instant level of response to enquiries and applications. It also tells me far more about an applicant than a CV usually does – many of our job vacancies are for customer-facing staff so it is invaluable to see and hear a candidate before arranging a meeting. Very often, when I’m travelling to other Silverpoint offices in Europe technology kicks in again and I rely heavily on my smart phone to keep in contact with the business in general and to communicate with job applicants and employees. At intervals during the day I will catch up
Diamond Resorts expands portfolio...
...and receives rewards at its TATOC member resorts
iamond Resorts International is to acquire substantially all of the assets of Florida-based Tempus Resorts International (Tempus).
iamond Resorts International, received 2011 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Awards for six resorts.
Tempus operates Mystic Dunes, in Orlando, Florida and has ownership in Dunes Village, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
They are Sunset Bay Club and Sunset View Club in Tenerife, Spain; Los Amigos Beach Club, in Malaga, Spain; and Greensprings Vacation Resort, in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Located on over 600 acres in Central Florida and close to the major theme park attractions, Mystic Dunes provides more than 700 fully furnished one-, two- and three-bedroom units, as well as an 18-hole championship golf course. From an Atlantic coast beachfront location in Myrtle Beach, Dunes Village brings a new location to Diamond Resorts International.
The certificate of excellence is awarded to properties that consistently receive excellent member ratings. In addition to the TripAdvisor awards, Sunset Harbour Club in Tenerife received the Zoover Recommended 2011 Award in recognition of the excellent guest appreciation the resort provides to owners, members and guests.
with the various heads of department to discuss any new members of staff we have recruited recently. These meetings also give me the opportunity to identify the immediate recruitment needs of a department and to try and establish the profiles and skill sets needed to fill these roles. Although Silverpoint has a large human resources department, I am very ‘hands on’ with new recruits to the company. Relocating to a new country and a new way of life often involves lots of adjustment so I try to have an open door policy for anyone who needs help with paperwork, advice on accommodation or just wants a reassuring chat. This nurturing of employees is very much part of the Silverpoint ethos and new members of the team can expect training, support and on-going mentoring in all aspects of their working life. I also need to find time to take care of our recruitment strategy - both online and in the media. I work very closely with the Silverpoint web and editorial teams to make sure our materials are up-to-date and integrated. We regularly run campaigns on outside recruitment sites as well as attending recruitment fairs and exhibitions. Our global environment can be very challenging with language differences and time zones, but a structured approach combined with intelligent use of technology seems to be paying off as we move into the future with our incredible team of Silverpoint people. For more information about careers with Silverpoint call Claire on +34 922 788 559 or visit the Silverpoint Recruitment website: www.silverpoint.com/jobs
The Diamond resorts in Spain and Tenerife are all TATOC member resorts. According to Mr Stephen J. Cloobeck, chairman and chief executive officer, “It’s an honour to be recognised by one of the world’s largest travel sites for the level of service we provide at each one of our resorts.” “Our service excellence platform is the driving force and is what separates us and makes us a global leader in the hospitality industry. Our owners, members and guests experience ‘The Meaning of Yes’ every time they stay with us anywhere worldwide.” Annually, nearly 1.4 million owners, members and guests enjoy the Diamond Resorts product.
CLC’s new Turkish resort to get the ‘California treatment’
aving acquired a location in south-west Turkey for its second Turkish resort, Club La Costa is creating a flagship property by giving it the ‘California’ branding, the hallmark of its top quality resorts in Spain. Named Kusadasi Village, the resort, atop a hill with sweeping views to the shoreline and the Greek island of Samos, is Club La Costa’s first to feature an 18-hole golf course. (The course is also the first for the popular tourist destination of Kusadasi). A large, multi-facility resort of 750 units, with 500 more planned, it is being sold as luxury freehold holiday apartments, with rental leaseback agreements, and also offered to its vacation club timeshare members for holidays with 50 percent off specified weeks during its first year. The focus of the resort will be the Atrium, a 45,000 square feet facilities centre with reception, bar, lounge areas, shops, luxury spa with Turkish ‘hammam’, beauty salon, fitness centre, indoor pool, restaurant, games room, internet salon and ice-cream parlour – its terrace overlooking the central pool area with a mini aqua park. Within each of the accommodation addressesthe Oaks, the Olives and the Pines, are separate
pool and bar facilities. Inside the Atrium there will be a 500-cover restaurant: Millennium. There will be à la carte options at the Fairways restaurant, on the golf course, and at the Club La Costa Beach Club, accessed by regular shuttle bus. Across the site there will be 11 outdoor pools, eight children’s pools, two tennis courts, volleyball, basketball, mini-golf, kids’ club, daily activities programme, children’s playground,
giant chess, a lake and remote control boats. Apartments will range from 1 bedroom/1 bathroom to 3 bedrooms/3 bathrooms. Founded in 1984 by South African entrepreneur Mr Roy Peires, Club la Costa has 28 mixed-use resorts in England, Scotland, Austria, mainland Spain, Tenerife, Turkey, Australia and America, and manages 250,000 holidays annually for its members and guests. The company is a TATOC platinum affiliate.
Club La Costa resort ‘cleaner than the Ritz’
lub La Costa resort Trenython Manor, situated near Fowey, in Cornwall, has achieved the highest five-star rating for its standards of food hygiene in a nationwide scheme. ‘Scores On The Doors’ is a U.K. rating system which tells the public how clean the kitchens are at their local pub, takeaway or restaurant. Trenython’s kitchen received top marks for hygiene, cleanliness and training and will be able to proudly display its award – which gives it one star more than London’s Ritz Hotel.
Head chef Mr Richard Bennett has also been nominated under a separate scheme to receive a Gold Star for his ‘healthier eating’ dishes. Mr Bennett, 45, has previously worked in Switzerland, and on the QEII and the Eden Project, and has worked at Trenython since 2003. The resort menu uses fresh flavours from Cornwall, with the best produce from local farmers and the finest locally produced ingredients wherever possible. The chefs’ awards will be made in October.
Resort manager, Mr Nick Waddington said: “We work very hard to make sure our standards of hygiene and cleanliness are always at the forefront in our kitchen.” Trenython is also proud of its green credentials and holds a Green Tourism Business Scheme silver award; it is also a participant in the Eden Project Green Foundation. Trenython Manor is an elegant manor house originally built in 1872, near Fowey, overlooking St Austell’s Bay. It has been tastefully renovated and opened in 2006 as one of Club La Costa’s premier U.K. resorts. (www.trenython.co.uk) The Scores On The Doors scheme (www.scoresonthedoors.org.uk) is designed to give a star rating of one to five to food businesses, so that the public can see the results of food hygiene inspections. During inspections environmental health officials carry out a full hygiene examination for each food business and give stars for the standard of hygiene found during the visit. Cornwall Council is expected to make its Scores On The Doors public via its website in October.
ISSUE 7 • Summer 2011
Setting the standards for timeshare in Europe by Katrina Disken
In April this year timeshare owner Katrina Disken interviewed Mr Stefano Bortolotti, marketing manager at Marriott Vacation Club, about membership, owning timeshare in Majora and the general issues facing today’s holiday ownership industry.
arriott Vacation Club International is a major force in holiday ownership, with a worldwide membership of over 400,000 people. What is its experience in Europe? Established in the United States, Marriott is now developing a strong presence in Europe, with resorts in France, the Costa del Sol (two) and the Son Antem Vacation Club, on the island of Majorca. The Son Antem resort comprises 250 hectares of beautifully cultivated grounds, surrounded by two 18-hole golf courses. The facilities for members include a spa, full access to the golf, tennis and volleyball facilities, and childcare services.
equipped kitchen and private garden. Our guests are able to see the surrounding golf course from their garden. They tour the resort; visit facilities such as the spa and the children’s club. We show them all the options that are available and we only recommend that which we can stand behind.
What are your views on how timeshare is reported by the media?
Accommodation comfort and quality are very important. The villas offer exceptional furnishings, a modern kitchen and large living space as well as a pool shared with just the immediate neighbours. Who is your
What damages the image of timeshare is the media focus on negative stories. For example, the Canary Islands have been subject to media interest, reporting just the bad experiences and never the good ones. Smaller resorts are more vulnerable because it is ‘easy news’ and because the media does not understand or care about the product. Marriott Vacation Club is a trusted brand. The media cannot be as unfair with such a big, well-regarded company.
Each villa has a fully equipped kitchen, free Internet access, a private garden and communal pools shared between a maximum of eight properties. Although Majorca is a top European holiday destination one of the drawbacks is that the market is quite expensive. Is timeshare on Majorca a real alternative to buying? Many of our clients have also looked at real estate on Majorca, and at some point our property has been recommended to them. What they discover is that clients can avoid costs like lawyers fees and gardening charges. The garden and pool are kept tidy and ready for use, and the golf course is always at members’ disposal. Timeshare is a very good option here.
We have no problem whether our product is perceived as holiday ownership or timeshare. Ultimately it is simply a basis for sharing access, time and resources.
target market for this? The resort is ideal for young families. We have a complimentary children’s club and lots of activities - very important for parents who want to relax knowing the children are in a secure environment having fun. It makes sense to be an owner when the children are young. You can plan great relaxing holidays. A unique feature for members is the advisory board. What is its function?
Attending a sales presentation gives potential buyers the opportunity to visit the club and learn more about ownership. How does Marriott inform clients about membership?
This is significant. The advisory board comprises members elected by owners of the club. During the year meetings discuss suggestions by the board. The key is to ensure that high standards are maintained.
When clients visit the club, we have very important rules on how they should be approached. We want our guests to be fully informed about how ownership with Marriott works. We have a superb product, and it is vital our standards are maintained and that customers are happy.
The New Directive for Timeshare came into effect on February 23, 2011. The aim is to give consumers more protection. One area covered is a 14-day ‘cooling off’ period when clients can withdraw from a contract. Do you think that regulations will give more confidence to a client?
The presentation itself takes about 90 minutes. We have a gallery that displays the destinations that members can visit. We guide clients around the show-house, revealing the ample 120sqm living space, furnishings, fully
We agree that there needs to be protection for the consumer, especially in Europe because of so many different cases of fraud and theft. We have always offered a 14-day period where a guest can cancel for whatever reason.
The effect of new regulations will depend on how they are explained by the media. If they say there is a new law that protects consumers this is good for us. But if it they add that many people have been cheated it throws a negative light on the entire industry. The important thing for the public to know is that they are protected. New regulations must be communicated the media in a professional manner. How would you describe living on Majorca? Majorca is a beautiful island with immense diversity. There are plenty of cultural places to visit as well as the natural environment - with mountains, wonderful beaches and coves to discover all year round. Some of our clients have been coming to Son Antem for over ten years but if one year they want to explore another location Marriott Vacation Club can offer a huge choice of other destinations around the world with the same standards of quality. Finally, what would you say to someone who is considering buying timeshare? I would recommend that anyone who is interested in becoming a member should experience the product for themselves first, without obligation and at their convenience. *Katrina Disken is editor of the website ‘thevacationownershipsite.com’.
Helpline staff walkfor charity
ATOC helpline manager Mr Mark Caldicott and helpline assistant Mr Francis Seaver (and Louie the Chihuahua) joined 300 hundred walkers for the Morecambe Cross Bay Walk on July 10. The charity event was in aid of Galloway’s Society for the Blind and led by the Queen’s Guide, Mr Cedric Robinson. The eight-mile trek across the sands of Morecambe Bay is one of the country’s most popular and scenic walks. With panoramic views of the surrounding Lakeland Hills, the walk takes three hours to complete.
Resort news Diamond Resorts
Mark, Francis and Louie on walk
t Diamond Resorts International® improvements continue at a fast pace, impacting each and every resort within Europe. Accommodation renovations, common area renovations, and health and safety improvements are a daily occurrence and are greatly appreciated by our members, committees and visiting guests who have come to expect only the highest standards of branded service excellence and facilities. Over the last 12 months, amongst other improvements, we have: • Continued to install televisions in bedrooms – more than three quarter of all bedrooms across Europe now have flat screen televisions. • Resorts have been replacing beds with Diamond standard Serta beds – more than half the rooms now have new beds. All beds in the main bedroom will be either queen or king size with a zip-link feature. • Started to place iPod stands in all accommodations with a view to complete this by the end of 2012.
• Initiated Implementation of a standard kitchen list for Europe.
• Fully renovated four swimming pools to comply with the latest health and safety legislation. All of the above are carefully planned and approved by the relevant committees and executed within the allotted timeframe, within budget and above all, without disrupting the ongoing holiday enjoyment of our owners, members and guests visiting the resorts.
Facebook and Twitter doing our bit with social media
e are doing our best to use the latest social media to keep in contact with timeshare owners and our affiliates. So we have a new Facebook page and we are also on Twitter. These forms of media are great for getting out the latest information in quick, easy to
Tough talk on the air
.K. radio stations recently hosted tough-talking timeshare re-sales debates featuring two of the industry’s most famous faces, according to Ventures, the RCI magazine.
Galloway’s provides services to blind and visually impaired people in Lancashire and beyond. Money raised from the walk will allow the charity to continue its work. It needs to raise over £700,000 each year to continue providing services to more than 6,000 people.
read, bite-sized pieces. You can then either visit Sharetime or the Timeshare Association’s websites for the full article or feature. Please follow or like us. You can find us here: Find us on Facebook: “The Timeshare Association (TATOC)”
and on Twitter: @HarryatTATOC
He also referenced work by the Resort Development Organisation (RDO) and Bournemouth University producing a ‘state of the nation’ report on the timeshare industry for publication later this year. TATOC has a list of recommended re-sale companies who comply with all European legislation and TATOC’s own code of practice. Among those enterprises is Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket and the company’s founder Mr Phil Watson, author of The Timeshare Lord blog, also appeared on the broadcasts.
The Timeshare Association (TATOC) chairman, Mr Harry Taylor, appeared on BBC Three Counties to discuss the continuing challenges posed to consumers re-selling their weeks or points. Mr Taylor advised owners not to speak to any company that ‘cold calls’, but to contact the small number of legitimate companies that are available and not to pay any upfront fees.
Mr Watson was drafted on to a Radio Somerset live panel that also included ABTA risk manager Mr Steve Abrahamson. The show covered a wide range of topics and featured a testimonial from a caller who owned two weeks in Tenerife, travelled widely on exchanges through RCI and paid just £400 management fees on his apartment sleeping six. “This only goes to show that there are lots of people out there who own and enjoy their timeshare,” said Mr Watson.