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Timeshare Hustlers Arrive Before Timeshares

Timeshare Hustlers Arrive Before Timeshares

Tiny Bahrain must put in place legislation to regulate timeshare sales, because the scams have already begun.

East of Saudi Arabia, in the Persian Gulf, lies the archipelago of Bahrain. This semi-arid country, with 161 kilometers (100+ miles) of coastline, draws 60% of its national income from petroleum and petroleum related products, but like so many countries in the Middle East, Bahrain is seeking to increase tourism as it looks toward a time of reduced dependence on the oil market.

In 2004, Bahrain signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States, the first agreement of this type between the US and a Persian Gulf state. And as we in the timeshare industry have seen, when the door is opened for commercial relations between the US and any country, development of timeshares can’t be very far behind.

While there are presently no timeshare properties in Bahrain, timeshare hustlers have already made their presence know. According to a January 28, 2006, article in the Gulf Daily News, a leading periodical published in Manama, Bahrain, “A new law regulating the sale of timeshare properties in Bahrain has been proposed…The move follows some alleged incidents by Bahrainis who purchased properties that did not exist…The MPs (Members of Parliament) want clear rules which would prevent such incidents from occurring in the future and which would clearly regulate all contracts.”

Good for them. The Bahrainis have put out the welcome mat for timeshare developers in their country, but are making the smart move of putting laws in place to regulate it even before the first developer has broken ground.

Keep your eye on Bahrain. The United Nations World Tourism Organization reports that tourism in Bahrain increased by 11% to 4.8 million visitors in the first nine months of 2005, with most of the visitors coming from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, the United Kingdom, the US, and Ireland.

Employees at Westgate Resorts Join in the Search

Employees at Westgate Resorts Join in the Search

Central Florida Police continue an all-out search for clues to the disappearance of Westgate employee.

Jennifer Kesse

Jennifer Kesse is a 24-year-old financial analyst for CFI Investments (Westgate Resorts) in Ocoee, (Orlando) Florida. She has been missing since January 23, 2006 when she failed to report to work. Authorities in Orlando continue an all-out search, and have classified this as a missing and endangered person case.

On January 27, law enforcement officials reported finding her car parked about a mile from her home, the last place she was known to be before heading to work on Tuesday morning. A spokesperson for the Orlando Police Department declined to comment on what evidence the car revealed.

An anonymous donor is now offering a $115,000 reward for information leading to Jennifer’s safe return. If you know anything that could be of help in finding Jennifer, please call 1-800-423-TIPS. We join her friends, family, and her extended family at Westgate in our prayers for her safe return.

Curious about the Difference Between Timeshares and Fractional Ownership?

Curious about the Difference Between Timeshares and Fractional Ownership?

Many people are hearing the words “fractional ownership” for the first time and wondering about this new take on timesharing.

According to research by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, (a leading marketing, advertising, and public relations firm for the travel and tourism industry) almost 97% of affluent families are familiar with the concept of timesharing. (The study defines affluent as families with $150,000 in annual income and greater.)

Of this group, nearly one in five already owns a timeshare property and an additional 4% are interested in purchasing one. Additionally, 60% are familiar with the concept of vacation ownership (as in vacation clubs) with one in ten being members in vacation ownership clubs and an additional 5% actively thinking about joining. Yet when presented with the idea of fractional ownerships, only 40% even knew what the words actually mean.

Very simply, fractional ownership is timeshare’s more costly cousin. In fractional ownership, each property owner owns between one fourth and one thirteenth of a calendar year in a luxurious residence. Prices to buy into fractionals start on the low end at $40,000 (rare) and quickly move to over a million, with the average range being between $100,000 to $500,000.

Fractional ownership comes with some remarkable perks. Fractionals typically include use of a luxury car (Jaguars are a favorite), a domestic staff, and little amenities, like the storage of your personal belongings that are unpacked and placed in the home before you arrive and repacked and stored upon your departure.

And there is one other important distinction between fractionals and traditional timeshare—besides the price tag. To date, fractional ownerships have reportedly increased in value on the resale market. According to Hobson Advisors, a consulting firm that specializes in fractional ownerships, resale value at Deer Valley Club in Utah has increased 16% per year since 2001 and resales at the Colorado Timbers Club are 50% higher today than they were in 2000.

Are there fractional properties that don’t appreciate in value? No doubt. So before you consider dropping money in the six-figure range, do the smart thing and do your due diligence—or pay someone to do it for you.

Because fractionals, like any other type of shared vacation ownership, should be considered an investment in many years of happy vacations, but definitely not a financial investment.

Do You Own Timeshare Property at Magens Point Resort in St. Thomas?

Do You Own Timeshare Property at Magens Point Resort in St. Thomas?

Fire seriously damages at least one of the timeshare property’s buildings.

According to reports by the Virgin Island Daily News, one of the three accommodations buildings at Magens Point Timeshare Resort in St. Thomas was seriously damaged by fire on January 16, 2006. While no guests were injured, the damage reported is extensive.

When firefighters from St. Thomas, along with nearby Anna’s Retreat arrived, they found the building on the east side of the property engulfed in flames with the most severe damage being to the eight units on the building’s upper floor.

According to St. Thomas Fire Chief, Glenn Francis, the fire did not originate in any of the occupied guest rooms, however the actual cause is undetermined at this time. An investigation is ongoing into the cause as well as to find out if the fire alarm system was operational at the time the fire broke out.

If you were scheduled to vacation at Magens Point this year, you should contact the resort immediately for a full report on the damages and the future availability of accommodations. It also occurs to me that it might be a smart idea if we all brought along a small, fully-functional, battery-operated smoke detector for future vacations…