Royal Oasis Timeshare Resort: A Litany of Problems
Monday, November 5, 2007
I have been very hesitant in the past few years to write about the ups and downs at Royal Oasis timeshare in the Bahamas. Sorting out truth from rumor and promises from cold hard fact, has been extremely hard and quite honestly, every time I heard something hopeful, it seemed to be quickly followed by more bad news.
If you are a timeshare owner and you have not heard the ugly story of Royal Oasis timeshare resort, then I will summarize it by saying that in 2004, Hurricane Frances and two weeks later, Hurricane Jeanne, hit the resort, after which Royal Oasis never reopened. But as you read the facts about Royal Oasis timeshare, I think it is clear that the hurricanes might not have been the resort’s only problem—in other words, the fact that hurricanes do sometimes hit coastal timeshare resorts should not stop you if you want to buy timeshare at or near the beach.
At Royal Oasis timeshare resort, Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne may have turned out to be merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. The timeshare resort clearly had problems long before a record-setting hurricane season blew through. Many people—many, many people—were hurt by everything that happened at Royal Oasis. The damages were far greater than a leaking roof and wind damaged timeshare units.
Let’s start by looking at the problems created for the timeshare resort’s employees—800 people according to one source, 1300 according to another. My guess is the discrepancy in number probably has to do with whether one is counting all employees of the timeshare resort, or only full time employees. Either way, we are talking about a lot of people whose jobs were gone. To add insult to injury, when Driftwood Freeport Limited closed the Royal Oasis timeshare resort, they not only left millions of dollars in debts, (source: The Freeport News) they also left employees without severance pay—to the tune of $6.12 million in severance pay according to government officials in Freeport.
In 2005, the Bahamian government stepped in and paid approximately $5 million of the resort’s unpaid severance, but many people received only half of the total amount due them, and others, who disputed the amount designated for them, received none of what they were due, rather than sign off to accept an amount they believed was incorrect.
But on Monday, October 29, the Freeport News reported, “The government is going to cause to be paid (to) the workers at the Royal Oasis Hotel the balance of their redundancy payment entitlements,” according to Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. Ingraham went on to say that, the government was taking steps to make “the reality of the payout as soon as possible.”
The article listed some of the Royal Oasis timeshare’s other debts including more than $13 million owed in casino taxes, another three-quarter million owed to Immigration, as well as debts to Customs, National Insurance, and the Union pension fund. Reportedly, Royal Oasis also was bouncing checks for employee’s deductions for their wages in order to make loan payments.
Do I know this for a fact? NO. I have not seen copies of public records or other documents to verify this information. I am basing my words solely on what has appeared online in the Freeport News.
The Royal Oasis timeshare was one of the largest resorts on the island, second in size to the Westin and Sheraton Grand Bahamas Island. When the timeshare resort closed, several neighboring businesses at the International Bazaar also went under. The culmination of the horrific hurricane season’s impact on their overall business, damages to their own properties, and the absence of foot traffic from the nearby timeshare resort, proved too much for them to withstand.
Throughout the island, grocery stores, clothing stores, neighborhood restaurants, and a host of businesses felt the pinch, when breadwinners in hundreds of families lost their livelihood with the closing of Royal Oasis timeshares. Likewise, there were independent contractors and small businesses that provided food, cleaning supplies, uniforms, and other types of goods and services to the resort itself that lost a meaningful chunk of their business revenues.
Since Royal Oasis shut its doors three years ago, the financial loss to the community has spread in a domino pattern, affecting thousands of people on Grand Bahamas Island. Thank goodness, government officials seem to be ensuring that former employees of the timeshare resort receive severance pay, despite the fact that it is not the Bahamian government’s obligation to cover the responsibilities of the resort’s ownership and management. This was an especially noble act in light of the fact that tax revenues to the Bahamian government and/or the city of Freeport probably took a dip when the resort shut down.
And as bad as this story sounds, it does not end here. In tomorrow’s Timeshare Owners Blog, we will look at what this situation has meant for vacation property owners of Royal Oasis timeshare. If you have been part of the ongoing story at Royal Oasis, or have any thoughts about it, we’d love for you to post your comments.