These Timeshare Owners Need Help
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Unusual situation at timeshare resort means problems for timeshare owners.
The Legends Resort and Country Club in McAfee, NJ has had an interesting history to say the least. Originally built in 1972 by Hugh Hefner as a 600-room Playboy Hotel, Hefner sold the property in the late 1980’s. It seems that Hefner’s vision for the resort could not be realized when the gambling license he sought was not approved.
After Hef sold the property, the hotel faced one problematic ownership situation after another. When the current owners, Metairie Corporation, purchased the property, it was already in bankruptcy.
At first, the purchase seemed like it would bring better days. Metairie turned 28 suites into studios and one and two-bedroom timeshare units. They promised owners amenities including indoor and outdoor pools, a children’s pool, conference center, a health club, restaurant, and other enticing features. The timeshare units sold for prices between $8,000 and $18,000. Some 1600 people invested in the timeshare units, which means that the funds generated by their sale netted Metairie Corp. roughly $15 million.
Fifteen million should have gone a long way to building and maintaining promised amenities at any timeshare resort. But instead of The Legends improving with the influx of capital; it went downhill.
Over the years that followed, despite the fact that timeshare owners continued to pay their yearly maintenance fees, conditions at the resorts deteriorated. Not only were many of the promised improvements never made but routine maintenance was also neglected. Currently the outdoor pool, the gym, store, restaurant, and clubhouse are closed and the tennis courts have deteriorated significantly. Other complaints include mold problems, protruding nails, sinks falling off walls, and abandoned cars left in the parking lot.
Perhaps the final indignity came in August of 2005, when RCI, the largest timeshare exchange company in the world, dropped The Legends Resort from its exchange privileges. Since that time, other timeshare exchange companies have dropped them as well. The timeshare owners have now organized as a group called, Legends Owners United, and are trying to effect legal action. In March, New Jersey State Real Estate Regulators began investigating the situation. Until last year, in the state of New Jersey timeshare issues such as this one did not fall under the direction of the State Real Estate Regulators, which in New Jersey, is a division of the State Department of Banking and Insurance.
It goes without saying how much we all hope the members of Legends Owners United get satisfaction. Let me also add, first, that this type of problem is the exception, not the norm in timeshare resorts today, and that secondly, buying resale timeshare rather than buying timeshare units as new or pre-construction property, reduces your risk of getting caught in such circumstances. With resale timeshare, you are buying a proven product, and just as importantly, you are usually spending a lot less of your money to do so.
You can also look at the unfortunate situation at The Legends in a speculative way. This might be an ideal time to purchase a timeshare resale from a current Legends timeshare owner, in anticipation of a positive resolution for the resort and its possible future status.