May 15, 2010: WHAT’S ON THE MENU THIS WEEK?
FIELD OF DREAMS: Any huge baseball fans out there with access to cash and a dream for their own baseball timeshare resort? Well, the 193-acre farm in Iowa where Kevin Costner starred in “Field Of Dreams” has been put on the market by its owners, with an asking price of $5.4 million. What comes with the deal? The farmhouse, the baseball diamond that was cut into the cornfield, and the 65,000 or so tourists who still visit every year.
Want to put in a bid? Visit SellFieldofDreamsMovieSite.com I’m just sayin’… 😉
WHAT’S UP IN THAILAND? Have you noticed the crisis going on in Thailand? If you haven’t been paying attention, the political situation there is a mess, with protests, gunfire, rioting, etc., especially in Bangkok. You can get the basics at the dreaded Wikipedia.
So what? Well, I’m just wondering if all the violence and unrest has had a negative effect on timeshare operations there, especially Bryan Lunt’s Absolute Vacation Club, with 2 offices in Bangkok as well as resorts and offices in Pattaya, Samui and Phuket.
The tourism industry accounts for about 6.5 percent to 7 percent of Thailand’s economy; I can’t imagine the turbulence has been good for business.
GETTING BIGGER: Mexico’s Sunset World (remember when they were just the Sunset Group?) has announced a $26 million dollar investment that will expand its range of accommodations to six resorts and more than a thousand hotel rooms in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
The multi-million dollar investment will add 80 new units to expand the Sunset Fisherman Beach Resort in the Riviera Maya and a complete renovation of the Royal Sunset Beach Resort in Cancun, according to Orlando Arroyo Marroquin, Chairman of the Board of Directors for Sunset World. The investment is not including the scheduled construction of its new Riviera Maya luxury resort.
The company recently incorporated two new boutique hotels in Cancun, the Laguna Suites Golf + Spa and the Ocean Spa Hotel, which were purchased and remodeled with an $11 million dollar investment. The group also announced the completion of the first phase of Hacienda Tres Rios Resort. The corporation invested $60 million dollars to build this 273-room Riviera Maya luxury resort.
With these new acquisitions, Sunset World will own six hotels and more than a thousand rooms. Plus their other companies.
Nice to see somebody growing during these hard times…
SCOTLAND, DRACULA & TIMESHARE: One of the coolest ruined castles in all of Scotland is about to get un-ruined, if all goes as planned. I’m talking about the famed 16th Century Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, up by the Bay of Cruden. This castle was reputedly the inspiration Bram Stoker used for Count Dracula’s Transylvanian home. Of course, at that time the castle still had a roof on it and was not the picturesque ruin it is today. (The most recent owner gave up on the place in 1925 and its roof was removed to avoid paying taxes. That led to the inevitable ruin seen today.) In case you’ve never seen it, here’s a picture for you (click to see it bigger). Imagine owning a timeshare there!
ANYhow, making a long story short, Edinburgh-based Slains Partnership first proposed plans to restore the castle and turn it into holiday homes in 2004. The Partnership was awarded outline planning permission in August 2007 to develop the castle into 35 timeshare flats, but everything was delayed by the state of the economy.
The good news is that things are moving ahead again, and the £6million proposal is back on track. The developers said that work to transform the castle could begin next year, and they do NOT intend to demolish the place and start over. Douglas Forrest, the architect behind the development, specialises in the imaginative re-use of historic and listed buildings. They will preserve it as much as possible.
Seriously, at least as it relates to the exterior of the building, how could it possibly be improved upon?
SCOTLAND TWO– CHANGES: Meanwhile, De Vere Seasonal Ownership is acknowledging the effect the economy has had on fractional ownership. The company, which is selling fractions of two-bedroom apartments in the Mansion House at The Carrick, has expanded and relaunched its ownership offering in a bid to make its properties “more accessible”.
Previously the fractions were only available as quarter shares, which entitled buyers to 12 floating weeks throughout the year, with a starting price of £195,000. Now they are making the offer “more flexible” by selling four-, eight- and 12-week fractions, with increasing benefits (such as spa treatments, airport shuttle service, etc.) depending on the size of the fraction purchased.
Under the new plan four-week fractions start at £54,950, with a start-up bonus of an extra ten per cent discount on that price. So you can now get into the program for the relatively low price of £49,450. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do…
The Carrick is part of the Cameron House resort on the bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond.
GOING DOWN: On the other side of the world, in sunny Southern California, real estate prices are still going down. At least on some luxury projects.
I refer to the tony Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe. Put up for sale with an estimated $40 million value just two years ago, there were no takers. Now the 55-room hotel and spa, with 12 fractional villas that are part of The Timbers Collection reciprocity program, has been purchased by an investment group led by Jeff Jacobs. The price? $15 million. Ouch.
Still, that works out to $272,000 per room, not counting the villas or the rest of the 40-acres. The Villas were offering a total of 96 shared ownership interests at the outset, starting at $475,000 for a one-eighth deeded interest. I wonder how this purchase has affected that deal?
CRUDE AWAKENING: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is already affecting the timeshare arm of the tourist industry, and it looks bad all along the Gulf States. From a CNN report:
A time-share condominium receptionist got tears in her eyes when Reynolds asked her how reservations are doing, he said. She told him people are calling to cancel their reservations, not only in the coming weeks, but for months ahead, he said.
“She knows her job may be in danger. If the oil comes to these beaches, people won’t come to the beaches, and it will deeply affect our economy,” said Reynolds, who owns a window-covering business and has lived in Destin for 35 years.
“The oil is sitting out there, like a ticking time bomb. We don’t know when it will reach our beaches, but it will hit our shores. And its impact will be generational.”
Wanna make any bets on whether or not BP, Transocean and/or Halliburton will end up paying a single red cent to mitigate that part of this disaster?
This is a truly sad deal, man. For the rest of the report, including areas besides Destin, FL, click here.
PEOPLE: Henry Perez, RRP has been named general manager of the Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. He will oversee the resort operations of the 656 Hilton Grand Vacations units in the Lagoon, Kalia and Grand Waikikian towers.
Perez, a veteran hospitality executive, brings more than 20 years of experience in hotel and timeshare management to Hilton Grand Vacations.
Most recently, Perez served as area general manager for Aqua Hotels, overseeing hotels in Waikiki and Maui. Prior to Aqua, Perez was hotel manager of the Outrigger Guam Resort. He also served as executive vice president/chief operating officer and general manager of the Lawai Beach Resort on Kauai and has held executive positions at Embassy Suites, Marriott, Omni, Intercontinental and Crown Sterling properties in California, Hawaii and Florida.
DEAD SKUNK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD AWARD: Dave Ramsey, a personal money management expert and notorious timeshare hater, says that timeshares have no redeeming value. Really? None?
Seriously. He said that in a recent special to the Tri-City Herald, where he responded to a question about the premiums offered to entice guests to presentations this way:
Listen, there’s nothing good about a timeshare. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Besides, in most of these deals the food is bad and they’ll stick you in a room that’s not so hot, either. Timeshares are one of the few consumer products that have a 97 percent dissatisfaction rate. It’s virtually impossible to find someone who’s glad they bought in to one of these things!
A 97 percent dissatisfaction rate? I wonder where he gets his figures?
At any rate, he is so wrong, so often, on so many levels that one hardly knows where to start to correct him. Not that he would listen or be likely to change his mind anyway. Sigh. I wonder if it would even be worth the effort? Anyway, you can read his whole response on the subject here.
And that’s it for this week’s Roadkill. See ya next weekend, and keep your eyes on the road… Oh, and if you enjoyed this, tell a friend!
Published every Saturday.
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