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A New Study of Hawaii Timeshares

A New Study of Hawaii Timeshares

More hotel properties in Hawaii are being converted to timeshares and condominiums, according to a recent study.

On October 27, the Hawaii Tourism Authority released a study, “Analysis of Trends in Accommodations Supply, with Focus on Condominium and Timeshare Conversions“. This study describes how a number of existing hotel units are expected to undergo conversion to timeshares or condominiums within the next several years.

What does this mean? Here are my thoughts:

-For a while, timeshare industry professionals have been saying that Hawaii timeshares are growing in popularity. Now, these claims appear to have been substantiated.

-The study predicts more Hawaii timeshare developments to crop up in the months and years to come. Consequently, more Hawaii timeshares will be available for purchase on the resale market.

-This study is a clear indication that Hawaii’s government is not ignorant of the income-generating potential of timeshares. Vacation tourism is a huge portion of Hawaii’s economy, and timeshare owners make up a significant number of Hawaii’s visitors. Local authorities are no doubt pleased to see an increase in projected tax revenues. For more, visit my post “New Timeshare Taxes on Hawaii’s Big Island“.

-I think this survey could also indicate an overall change in vacation habits. Visitors to Hawaii might be looking to timeshare as a cost-effective alternative to paying top dollar for less-than-ideal hotel accommodations.

Cendant Corporation’s “De-Merger”

Cendant Corporation’s “De-Merger”

Cendant’s decision to split itself into four publicly traded companies has many folks wondering what Cendant will do next.

For what we can assume to be a wide variety of reasons, Cendant Corporation announced on October 24 that a plan has been approved which will ultimately separate Cendant into four separate publicly traded companies by next summer. Cendant itself describes the break-up as a strategy to increase shareholder value, while some cynically say that the giant conglomerate is insulating certain of its holdings from possible legal trouble. Regardless of the reasons why, Cendant has been very busy in the past few weeks, possibly accelerating the break-up and reorganizing its corporate structure.

As Cendant is one of the major forces in timeshare today, timeshare owners and prospective timeshare buyers would do well to keep up-to-date with these stories. Google News is a good resource, as one can track these stories by date, as they happen. Cendant’s original press release gives some details on the intent behind the de-merger as well as the possible future fate of these companies.

Don’t think this story affects you? Not only is Cendant heavily involved with timeshares around the world, this corporation also owns an impressive share of the global travel, lodging, and leisure industries. Cendant is a massive conglomerate which currently numbers a wide array of subsidiary companies among its holdings. Take a look at the Hoover’s fact sheet for Cendant Corp., and you’ll see what I mean.

Florida Recovers From Wilma

Florida Recovers From Wilma

While Florida struggles with the largest power outage in the state’s history, $10 billion in damages is expected to result.

Either we’ve seen it in the news, or we heard it roaring outside our homes earlier this week, but everyone knows about it. Hurricane Wilma plowed through southern Florida leaving a big mess behind.

An estimated 2.5 million homes are without power in the state of Florida today, as rescue workers and cleanup crews go about their business. In regard to what is described as the worst power outage in Florida history, it could take a month to restore electricity. Widespread power outages plus the usual assortment of telecommunications foul-ups make it hard to find out about damages to specific resort areas. In this instance, the affected area was so broad that a huge number of resort properties took at least minimal damage. I’ll try to summarize what I know at this time.

– The Florida keys have flooded, and the Overseas Highway has been rendered impassable in at least two places. Key West International Airport is shut down due to flooding. Concern was voiced yesterday over damaged docking facilities which could hamper rescue efforts. About 90% of Keys residents stayed in their homes during hurricane Wilma. Consequently, right now there’s a lot of people without power, refrigeration, or clean water (a water main broke because of the storm). The Keys are reportedly experiencing the worst flooding in years. We’re waiting to hear more from the Keys, but I don’t expect good news.

-Though flooding in the streets was as deep as five feet in some places, Naples survived the storm more intact than previous estimates allowed for. Flooding from the storm surge is receeding, and Naples expects to be back in business by the end of this week. Marco Island survived better than expected, though 3,000 homes had their roofs damaged. The Radisson Suite Beach Resort on Marco Island also sustained some roof damage, and it will reopen once it has been repaired. The Ritz-Carlton at Naples expects to reopen at 12 PM on Friday, October 28, and is only waiting for additonal clean-up and power restoration. As for other hotels in the area, The Registry Resort & Club also expects to be open for business later this week.

-Wilma’s winds grew stronger as she passed over Florida’s East Coast, and this is where some of the worst damage occured. High-rise buildings in Miami lost their windows, and the storm lobbed pieces of asphalt into parked cars. 98% of homes and businesses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties remain without power. This in turn complicates the assessment of damages; most resorts are waiting until the power is back on before they investigate damages. What we do know is that Fort Lauderdale hasn’t been hit this hard by a hurricane since 1950, and that structural damage to resort properties is likely.

-Many airports in southern Florida are not operating. However, Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers is open, and flights should resume today. MIA and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airports are unsure whether or not they will be able to reopen today.

Regardless of what you read here today, remember that online information and third-hand news reports can be faulty. If you’re worried about your specific timeshare or other vacation property, contact your resort ASAP. Unless you weathered Wilma in your timeshare (we’d love to hear stories if anyone has done this) you won’t know the extent of the damages until you ask. Due diligence, coupled with an equal measure of assertiveness, has saved many a timeshare owner from nasty surprises.

More on Florida as more information becomes available.

Mexico’s Riviera Maya in Ruins

Mexico’s Riviera Maya in Ruins

Flooding, power outages, and looting continue to plague Mexico’s Yucatan resort towns.

An estimated 10,000 tourists are trying to make their way home safely following the aftermath of hurricane Wilma. Most of these tourists have spent the past three days stranded in humid, crowded shelters with few amenities, eating nothing but crackers and canned tuna. Cancun’s airport remains closed until Wednesday, so vacationers are desperately trying to reach Merida, where the nearest airport is located. Inevitably, this journey will be complicated by roads which either remain submerged under several feet of water or are still impassable because of storm debris.

“The level of destruction is without precedent” said Felix Gonzalez, Governor of Mexico’s easternmost state, Quintana Roo.

Over the weekend, 30-foot waves pounded Cancun’s oceanfront hotels and businesses. Some reports indicate that most of these were submerged up to their third stories. The hurricane’s storm surge caused widespread coastal flooding, cutting off many beach resorts from the mainland. Wilma has caused extensive beach erosion along the coast, exposing bare limestone in many locations.

After the hurricane moved on, much of the Yucatan peninsula was left without water, electricity, and other essentials. Rioting and looting soon followed, and most storefronts were stripped bare of merchandise.

It is known that most of Cancun’s resort hotels were damaged severely, but little information is available. 

Marriott issued a release earlier, stating that the three Marriott-owned properties in and around Cancun would be closed due to damages, not reopening until next year. The full text of this release can be found here. Starwood Hotels and Resorts acknowledged Sunday that their two hotels in Cancun would be closed for business, but Starwood seemed to indicate that the full scope of the damages was still unknown.

Both of these hotel chains stand to reap insurance benefits, so most agree that the cost of repairs in the wake of this disaster should be offset. However, most folks who own timeshares in this part of the world are probably wondering whether they will have to pay special assessments or other fees on properties that could remain unuseable for several months at the very least. 

For those affected by this hurricane, we extend our hopes, prayers, and best wishes.