April 3, 2010: SHELL VACATIONS PRANKS EVERYONE ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY: Who knew Shell had such a sense of humor? I almost fell for it myself (a travel editor in the L.A. Times DID fall for it, big time!), but the news release just didn’t sound quite copacetic, if you know what I mean. Here’s what the pranksters themselves had to say about it:
On April 1, 2010, we ran an offer that stated that Shell Vacations Hospitality launches “Left-Hand Friendly Suites”. This was in fact an April Fool’s Joke. While an amenity like that would be great to offer, the fact is our rooms cater to all people no matter what their dominant hand is.
While the product launch was a fun joke, the Travel Sale that corresponded with it is not. Feel free to scroll down and read the fun we had pranking innocent consumers, the media and even our employees.
But if you wish to get to the Travel Deals that start as low as $49/nt and available to book through April 5th, then please Click here!
Oh, you guys! 😀
You can read their April 1 travel offer here: NEW Lefty-Friendly Rooms at Shell Vacations Hospitality. Have a good chuckle!
HOT NEWS FROM HAWAI’I: Some of you old dogs from the early days of timesharing in the islands will remember Jim Quincy, the fellow who in 1981 was responsible for nearly killing Hawaii’s timeshare industry in its infancy by grossly overselling a project there. (google his name for lots of information about that bad boy). Interestingly enough, it was also Quincy who set up the timeshare sales & marketing system that is universally in use today, but that’s a story for another day.
The timeshare industry was unregulated in Hawaii back then, and thanks to Quincy’s actions a new member of the Hawaii State Senate named Neil Abercrombie set his sights on the industry. In 1982, a few months after Quincy fled the islands, Abercrombie led the drive to permanently ban timesharing in Hawaii, saying “This timeshare thing is the most pernicious device to destroy tourism and put out of kilter the housing market here.” Fortunately the bill did not pass, but due to his and Mary Bitterman’s efforts a number of good projects set for Oahu died; it took nearly two decades for the industry to recover on Oahu.
Meanwhile, Abercrombie went on to bigger and better things, winning a seat in the US House of Representatives in 1990, where he served until December 2009. (Factoid: Abercrombie attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a young couple named Ann Dunham and Barrack Obama, Sr, making him the only US Congressman to have met President Barrack Obama as a child, when his parents were living in Hawaii.)
Now running for governor of Hawaii, the old fellow has apparently mellowed over the years– or at least he’s changed his mind about timeshare.
In a recent interview about what he would do as Governor, he said that the state needs to “reconfigure” its approach to tourism and get away from unreliable markets like conventions and casual visitors. Instead, he said the state should take a page from the playbook of many island hotels, and start moving toward the timeshare and part-time resident markets. [Source: Maui News]
Will wonders never cease!
MORE GOOD NEWS ABOUT HAWAII TIMESHARE: As part of an ambitious multimillion-dollar master plan to renovate the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Hilton has unveiled plans to build two new towers, adding 550 timeshare units. The towers will replace some shops on the property and a bus stop near the neighboring Hale Koa Hotel will be moved to make way for one of the towers. Hilton officials say the timeshare market is very strong, and timeshare occupancy is a more stable part of the tourism industry. They are currently working on the environmental impact statement and hope to begin construction in 2013 with build-out in 2016. Perhaps just in time to capitalize on an upward swing for the economy?
PALACE RESORTS: Bigger? Smaller? Or going sideways? As announced last December, a big change is scheduled for the Moon Palace Casino, Golf & Spa Resort in the Dominican Republic in late summer: It is to be rebranded as the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, “bringing together Hard Rock’s luxurious style and unique rock vibe with Moon Palace Resort’s five-star all-inclusive experience.” Hyping itself as the “ultimate all-inclusive destination,” The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana will be the first all-inclusive property for the Hard Rock brand.
So what’s up with that collaboration? Will Palace Resorts continue to manage the resort? Will ts sales continue? Will it be business as usual, just with a different name?
Inquiring minds want to know…
THE STATE OF THE FRACTIONAL MARKET IN THE USA: Ragatz Associates presented the results of his 2009 survey of North American shared ownership resort real estate at the 2010 Ragatz Associates Fractional Interest Conference in San Francisco.
In a nutshell: Sales of shared ownership properties in the US, Canada, Caribbean and Mexico totalled $860 million in 2009, down around 44 per cent from the previous year, in all locations and across all sectors.
Ragatz’s research showed:
- There were a total of 125 active fractional projects in North America in 2009, broken down into 43 private residence clubs (defined as resorts with a selling price of more than $1,000 per square foot) – down from 61 in 2008, and 82 fractional ownership projects, up from 77.
- Non-equity destination clubs took the biggest hit, with just seven left standing compared with 12 in 2008 and 21 in 2007. Ragatz’s observation: “There is a basic flaw with this model in times of real estate price depreciation.”
- A total of 18 new projects were launched in 2009; 35 closed due to lack of finance or sales.
- Of the 125 projects across North America, 71 were in the US, 29 in Canada, 14 in the Caribbean and 11 in Mexico.
- Average prices for fractional projects was $147,000, with PRC shares averaging $308,000. That fractional price breaks down to $18,000 per week – cheaper than the average cost per week of a timeshare purchase at $21,000 to $22,000.
You can order the entire report via the Ragatz Associates website.
WALKING AWAY FROM YOUR TIMESHARE: In response to a reader’s question about getting rid of her unwanted timeshares, Malcolm Berko wrote in The Daily-Journal (a Kankakee, IL newspaper, subscription required):
I talked with two lawyers. One from Florida recommended that you advertise your time-share on the Internet for $10. Early last year, one of his clients sold their time-share for $625 to the first person who responded, and other buyers were waiting in line if the first contract fell through.
The Michigan attorney suggested that for $250, you could form a corporation in Michigan that is registered with the secretary of state, with its own bank account and mailing address. Then sell your two time-shares to the corporation, which also assumes the future tax and maintenance liabilities. Wash your hands, walk away and forget about it. (emphasis mine)
There’s something about that second paragraph that makes me hyperventilate, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.
I wonder if that’s legal in all states, or just in Michigan?
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY? A reader sent in a kind of intriguing note about Absolute Resorts, noting: “In 2009 the Absolute Group opened a sales operation in Tehran, Iran. Bryan Lunt, who is Chairman of the company, says the Middle East is expected to be a growing market and more offices are planned. Lunt has sales affiliates all over the world and I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bad thing to have a sales office in Iran, but with the tensions worldwide about that country, its determination to obtain nuclear weapons, its threatening stance against Israel, its march toward fundamentalism and dictatorship, its repression of its citizens and so on, doesn’t it feel just a little sordid?”
I dunno. What do you think?
THE PITFALLS OF DEEDED TIMESHARE: I recently tripped over this little blurb in a Roseville, CA newspaper.
John Rogers Burk, a prominent Time Share attorney from Roseville, recently attended the ARDA Convention in Las Vegas, California. Roger holds the highest ARDA designation of Registered Resort Professional (RRP). He enjoys representing developers in the legal formation and regulation of time share resorts. He is also able to help individuals with their time share concerns. Specializing in non-deeded time share, he alerts developers and consumers to the pitfalls of deeded time share.
The pitfalls of deeded timeshare? Huh?
And that’s it for this weekend. See ya next weekend, and watch that VPG… Oh, and if you enjoyed this, tell a friend!
Published every Saturday, or whenever there’s something that hits Woody’s VPG-ometer.
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