Detailed Updates on Simpson Bay Timeshare (Pelican Resort Club) Closing Part I

This is the first in a two-part series, looking at the St. Maarten timeshare, formerly called Pelican Resort Club and now known as Simpson Bay Timeshare. Information regarding the events at Pelican Resort has come primarily from newspapers and their websites. Efforts to gain information directly from the resort either have been unsuccessful or have yielded little new insight.

In December of 2010, the St. Maarten timeshare resort known as Pelican Resort Club and the adjacent property, the Pelican Marina Residences, were sold and renamed, Simpson Bay Resort & Marina and the Villas at Simpson Bay Resort & Marina, respectively. The transaction was said to have closed on or about January 26, 2011.

As part of the transition of the timeshare resort ownership, the new owners of the resort requested a ten-year tax holiday and wavier of the transfer tax as a new business operating in St., Maarten (according to Theophilus Thompson, president of the Workers Institute of Organised Labour and as quoted by The Daily Herald). The dismissal of the transfer tax, which Thompson said was equivalent to roughly US $1.8 million, was not reportedly a problem for the Union, which saw it as a new business concession to “ensure that they get some leeway in their operations.”

Problems arose, however, because an investor in the company reportedly was obligated to provide employment to workers who are not locals and not residents of St. Maarten. Doing this, according to Union President Thompson, is against St. Maarten’s labour regulations and against International Labour Organisation ILO conventions.

The timeshare resort attempted to dismiss 182 employees, and stopped paying them as of January 26.

And here’s where events become even more complicated…

Although Pelican Resorts was sold via auction this past December, the actual control over the timeshare property has always remained in the hands of Quantum Investment Trust Ltd. (QIT) and Royal Resorts Management Company Ltd.

The Daily Herald has reported:

“… the Court said it saw the whole restructuring of the resort as nothing but a means of getting rid of the homeowners association (Tenants Association Pelican Resort Club (TAPRC)) and the employees.

“The newly established companies engage in exactly the same activities as the ‘old ones’: the running of Pelican Resort in the same building for the same timeshare owners,” presiding Judge Diederik Thierry wrote in his verdict. He sees this as an abuse of a legal technicality by QIT and Royal Resorts.

The judge further pointed out that Article 32 in one CLA and Article 34 in another agreed between the previous resort management company, Pelican Resort Club, the Management Company N.V. (PRCMC) and WIFOL clearly stipulated that the labour agreements were binding on the successor of PRCMC, in this case SBRMC.

The judge therefore ruled that SBRMC had to continue paying the salaries to the workers.”

This ruling means that Simpson Bay Resort Management Company (SBRMC), (the new management of Pelican Resort,) has ordered by the courts to continue paying the salaries of the 182 employees it has attempted to fire and to adhere to regulations stipulated in the collective labour agreements (CLA) with Windward Island Federation of Labour (WIFOL) and bear all legal fees.

Simpson Bay Resort/ Pelican Resort Club is one of the largest resorts on St. Maarten, the island often called the Caribbean’s ‘Friendly Island’ in the Netherlands Antilles. It goes without saying that such changes as this timeshare is undergoing dramatically impact timeshare owners who have property there… but just how dramatically it has affected them may surprise you.

Be sure you read tomorrow’s The Timeshare Authority blog Part II on Thursday and learn about the situation for timeshare owners at this Caribbean timeshare resort.