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It's always Happy Hour at The GateHouse

THE WORLD’S BIGGEST AFTER-HOURS TIMESHARE WATERING HOLE!
 

PUBLISHED WEEKLY,
EVERY SATURDAY
Pull up a stool, order your poison and join the conversation!

What do you know that you’d like to anonymously pass along? Did we get something right or wrong? Got gossip, rumors or bitches & moans, obituaries, kudos, anything you’d like to share? Send it to [email protected] it’s anonymous… (Your identity is always protected so use any ‘handle’ you want!)


To see the special items you might have missed, run your cursor over the links in the menu above (it’s that black bar with white words on it 😉 ) and don’t be afraid to click. There’s good stuff in there, and you can always get back here with a simple click.

And for all the news that’s fit to print (or not) you’ll find all the CURRENT NEWS HEADLINES here.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2010/10/welcome-to-the-gatehouse-3/

Weekly Wisecrack: July 22, 2017

socialite

NO SINGLE MALES!
 

Fed up with not being able to pitch single males, a vacation club brought in Victoria to be the exclusive T/O for the lads. Lolita, as she is more commonly known, slam dunks about 74% of guys she’s called in to close and with a near zero kick ratio.

Some of the other closers believe it is because of her “unique” evening button-up methods. Are they just being catty?



The Weekly Wisecrack is primarily (but not always) a snarky look inside the workings of the timeshare industry, usually from the viewpoint of sales and marketing representatives. Do you have a different point of view? Leave your own caption in the Comments if you’re so inclined…
Image Source: HasslefreeClipart.com

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/weekly-wisecrack-july-22-2017/

Timeshare Odds and Ends: July 22, 2017

happyhourgatehouse 

When asked to sum the Buddha’s teachings up in one phrase, Suzuki Roshi simply said, “Everything changes.”

Addressing the same issue, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “No same man could walk through the same river twice, as the man and the river have since changed.” Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time,” said Barack Obama. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

And then there was this observation from Rick Warren, who wrote in “The Purpose Driven Life”, “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

So what’s the Scoop? “A bend in the road is not the end of the road… Unless you fail to make the turn.” That was from Helen Keller. So are too many in the timeshare industry failing to make the turn? Are they the blind and deaf versions of Helen Keller before she made the turn? Give it some thought… Scoop du Jour: Forever and Ever-More



Here for your browsing pleasure are a few more figures from Harper’s Index, this time from the upcoming August 2017 issue.

  • Percentage of American vacationers who are taking on debt to finance their trips this summer : 21
  • Number of private debt-collection firms that the IRS plans to use to obtain overdue payments : 4
  • Date on which a U.S. government agency sued one of those firms for deceptive collection practices : 1/18/2017
  • Amount of revenue the IRS lost the previous time it employed private debt collectors : $4,460,000
  • Estimated portion of U.S. employees who are bound by a noncompete clause : 1/5
  • Of those employees who don’t realize it : 3/10
  • Percentage of U.S. adults who plan on working past retirement age : 74
  • Rank of “smart” among words that occur to U.S. voters when they think of Donald Trump : 28
  • Of “idiot” : 1

“Harper’s Index” is a registered trademark.

See the rest at Harpers.org



TWEET OF THE WEEK:

Have you seen the world yet?

Where are YOU going this year?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/timeshare-odds-and-ends-july-22-2017/

Weekly Jukebox: July 22, 2017

Blue mic

Jason Isbell is one of a fresh generation of indie country songwriters/singers that is taking country music to new levels. On his newly released album The Nashville Sound, he is accompanied by the band The 400 Unit, reportedly named after the lock down psychiatric unit in one of the local hospitals that was commonly known as the “400 Unit” (located on the fourth floor of ECM Hospital).

If you like Bruce Springsteen, especially during his “River” era, you will find a bit of that feeling both in the album and in this hard-hitting song, “Cumberland Gap”. It has a more driving, chaotic (in a good way) sound than you usually find in country music, though that is not true of all of the songs on the album (“If We Were Vampires” may be the saddest love song ever written).

Without further ado, here’s the studio version (audio only). Let me know if you like it!

What are YOU listening to tonight? And what would you like to see here?



The Weekly Juke Box aims to feature good music/good fun regardless of era or genre. Send in your own favorite and if I can find a good version on YouTube I’ll post it for you! What would you like to see or hear? [email protected]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/weekly-jukebox-july-22-2017/

Timeshare Financial News: July 22, 2017

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse 

Once upon a time there was a timeshare resort in Las Vegas called PH Towers Westgate at Planet Hollywood. It was meant to be Westgate’s greatest triumph, with a whopping 1,201 units – the biggest timeshare resort in the world – and owner Davied Siegel was very proud of it. He opened it’s doors in late 2009.

Alas, it was bad timing; the Great Recession was happening and everything fell apart. Though he fought like the devil to keep the property, banks refused to finance sales of timeshares at PH Towers and Siegel was ultimately forced to give up on the property in order to salvage the rest of his empire.

In 2011 Resort Finance America LLC acquired a controlling interest in PH Towers. Lantern Asset Management of Dallas, one of RFA’s business units, provided management services and Hilton Grand Vacations rebranded the property as a Hilton Grand Vacations destination and provided vacation ownership sales and marketing services. In no time flat the resort was renamed “Elara”.

Fast forward and HGV has now formed a joint venture with Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII L.P. to purchase Elara. HGV will assume a 25 percent stake in the joint venture for approximately $40 million, which is expected to be accretive to HGV’s total adjusted EBITDA and EPS.

Says Mark Wang, president and CEO, Hilton Grand Vacations, “By taking an ownership stake in Elara, which has more than 500 units of sellable inventory remaining, we are receiving a strong-performing consumer loan portfolio and unfinished penthouse floors.”

In addition to its ownership stake, HGV will continue to market, sell and manage Elara under existing fee-for-service agreements.

As added interest, in July 2014 Westgate returned to just off the Strip by purchasing the former Las Vegas Hilton, (later briefly known as the LVH – Las Vegas Hotel and Casino). It is now known as The Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. It may not have as many timeshare units as the Elara, but it does have the biggest sign in town. 😉

In additional news, Hilton Grand Vacations will report second quarter 2017 financial results after the financial markets close on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 (a day before both Marriott Vacations Worldwide and Wyndham check in with their earnings reports).

The report will be followed by a teleconference on Thursday, August 3, 2017, at 11 a.m. EDT.

To access the live teleconference, please dial 1-866-490-1886 in the U.S./Canada (or +1-719-785-1747 internationally) approximately 15 minutes prior to the teleconference’s start time and reference ID# 5231524. A live webcast will also be available by logging onto the HGV Investor Relations website at http://investors.hgv.com/events-and-presentations.

Mark your calendars! It looks like this will be a busy segment on Saturday, August 5, 2017!



Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: [email protected]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/timeshare-financial-news-july-22-2017/

Florida USA Timeshare News: July 22, 2017

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CELEBRATION: Disney Vacation Club has opened Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, the 14th vacation ownership property in its growing portfolio.

Offering one of the widest ranges of accommodation types at Walt Disney World Resort, Copper Creek features 184 accommodation options, including Deluxe Studios, one- and two-bedroom Villas, three-bedroom Grand Villas and unique Waterfront Cabins.

Something for everyone!

The centerpiece of the resort is 26 all-new waterfront Cascade Cabins featuring two-bedroom, two-bath cabins that sleep up to eight and boast screened-in wraparound porches with built-in hot tubs. They’re not the most expensive, though. According to Disney that honor belongs to the 3-Bedroom Grand Villa, boasting 1 king-size bed, 4 queen-size beds and 1 queen-size sleeper sofa starting at 94 Vacation Points Per Night.

The Cabins start at 87 Vacation Points per Night; 2-Bedroom villas at 37 Points; 1-Bedroom at 28 points; and Studios at 15 Points.

Copper Creek Villas & Cabins is the second Disney Vacation Club resort at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.



ORLANDO: Way back in 2012 the Federal Trade Commission and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s Office reached a settlement with operators behind a vacation prize scheme, who were accused of  advertising a vacation package worth thousands of dollars as a prize to people who called and answered a trivia question. Callers were told they had won, but had to pay up to $400 in “taxes” or “fees.” Their victims never received those packages, though, nor did they get their money back.

In the settlement those operators were banned from marketing and selling vacation packages, permanently prohibited from misrepresenting material facts about any good or service, and from failing to disclose any material conditions to buy, receive, or use any good or service, among other things.

Here is the list of the defendants in the case:

  • VGC Corporation of America, also doing business as All Dream Vacations, All Dreams Travel, Five Star Vacations, 5 Star Vacations, Total Tours, and Travel & Tours Corp.,
  • All Dream Vacations Corp., also doing business as All Dream Vacations,
  • Violeta Gonzalez, also known as Violeta Rojas, individually, and as an officer of VGC Corporation of America,
  • Cesar Gonzalez, individually, and as an officer of VGC Corporation of America,
  • Samir Jose Saer Rodriguez, also known as Samir Saer, individually, and as an officer of VGC Corporation of America and All Dream Vacations, Corp.

Do any of those names strike a bell with you?

The orders imposed in the settlement also imposed a judgment of more than $14 million, which would be suspended on the satisfaction of numerous terms and conditions designed to ensure that the defendants would be stripped of all of their assets of value. The full judgment would be imposed immediately if the defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition.

Here’s the good news for the victims of that fraud. Some five years or so later the the FTC is mailing 53,240 checks to them, totaling more than $532,000.

The FTC also wants recipients of the checks to know that the FTC never requires consumers to pay money or provide account information to cash a refund check. Recipients should deposit or cash checks within 60 days. If they have questions about the case, they should contact the FTC’s refund administrator, Epiq Systems, Inc., at 844-308-8911.

It’s a GOOD thing! dance



Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: [email protected]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/florida-usa-timeshare-news-july-22-2017/

New Jersey USA Timeshare News: July 22, 2017

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse>> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

CAMDEN: At last…

Joshua Gayl, the house attorney for VO Financial, has finally been sentenced for the part he played in the VO Group timeshare transfer scam case. Having previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, the judge imposed a sentence of 12 months in federal prison.

This sentence effectively closes out the VO Group/VO Financial fraud cases except for the appeals filed by Adam Lacerda and Ian Resnick, who were sentenced to 27 years and 18 years, respectively.

In a nutshell, following an investigation by the FBI Adam and Ashley Lacerda, Ian Resnick, and several others were charged in April 2012 with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud based on their actions at the Vacation Ownership Group (VO Group), which offered phony consulting services to owners of timeshares. After they were charged, the Lacerdas formed VO Financial to succeed the VO Group and it was business as usual. Gayl was hired as general counsel for the new company, which the Lacerdas continued to run through their July 2013 criminal trial.

The charges against Gayl were what we non-lawyers, who learned everything we know about it from movies and TV shows, call “witness tampering”. His plea deal reduced the original charges to one count of misleading a witness in the VO Group legal case against the Lacerdas et al. You can get the details in this recent press release from the DOJ. It’s worth the read.

By the way, the appeals filed by Adam Lacerda and Ian Resnick, contesting their convictions AND the length of their sentences, are still in limbo. There’s nothing to see there yet, although the court did point out somewhat crossly that it disfavors a lot of requests for continuations.

Personally, I’m guessing that ultimately the appeals court will reduce the length of the sentences. By how much? Your guess is as good as mine. Stay tuned for more about that.



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: [email protected]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/new-jersey-usa-timeshare-news-july-22-2017/

Virginia USA Timeshare News: July 22, 2017

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse >> EASTERN USA TIMESHARE NEWS:

NEWPORT NEWS: Deborah Wagner, a former attorney who lost her license to practice law in the State of Virginia due to her part in a timeshare transfer scam, was finally sentenced for her crimes on July 20.

Having pleaded guilty in September 2016 to her role in a conspiracy to fraudulently transfer of hundreds of timeshare units, she was sentenced to 50 months in prison. (That’s 4 years and 2 months, boopsie!)

According to court documents, Wagner conspired with Brendan Hawkins and Keith Kosco, among others, in a wide-ranging scheme to engage in the fraudulent transfer of timeshare units into the names of stolen identities and straw owners. Over the several years that the scheme operated, Wagner and her conspirators caused over $2 million in losses to resorts and owner associations while earning hundreds of thousands from individuals who sought a legitimate means to divest their timeshare ownership, but were persuaded to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to transfer companies. Those transfer companies, with Wagner’s involvement, then transferred the timeshare units to unqualified straw owners with no ability or intention to make the required maintenance fee payments.

Wagner worked with two Williamsburg based businesses – GoodBye Timeshare, LLC, and Exotic Equity Transfers, LLC, in conducting the transfers. Hawkins and Kosco, the owners of those businesses, were prosecuted separately and received sentences of 46 months and 74 months in prison, respectively, in 2015. These other businesses paid Wagner’s law firm hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees for conducting the fraudulent transfers. Additionally, Wagner created a nominee company for the purpose of recruiting additional straw owners to use in the scheme.

Rumors insist that Kosco is due for a premature release sometime later this year because of overcrowding and the non-violent nature of his crime. I don’t know of anyone other than his family and former cohorts (possibly) who think that’s anything approaching justice, but that’s just my opinion. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the grand poobah of the whole nasty scheme got out of prison before Wagner even started serving hers?

Wagner, btw, is the kind of attorney who gives her chosen profession a bad name. (That’s a joke, son…) 😉



“If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me.” -Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: [email protected]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/virginia-usa-timeshare-news-july-22-2017/

Going Places: Cool, Alpine Austria

St. Anton Am Arleberg, Austria
 
AUSTRIA: It’s hot in most of the USA. In mid July you can have hot and humid or hot and dry, but either way it’s damned hot! So let’s take a trip to somewhere cool and bright. Let’s go skiing in the Tirolean Alps!

Lean in, feel the cold rising from the snow, smell the aroma of the pines wafting on cool breezes, listen to the smush-smush of your skis in the soft powder. I’m feeling cooler just thinking about it.

Oh yeah, baby! Let’s go to St. Anton am Arlberg a village and ski resort in the Austrian state of Tyrol on a perfect March day…

And what if you don’t ski or snowboard? Well, you can sled down the mountain, but the best thing is that St. Anton is famous for its apres ski, and you can pretty much apres ski all day and night if you want to. 🙂

St. Anton lies on the Rosanna River and is on the main east-west rail line between Austria and Switzerland. There are many airports that serve St. Anton by way of train and car that include Munich, Zürich, Innsbruck and Friedrichshafen, so it’s easy to get to. And once there you’ll find the centre is a pedestrian zone, perfect for eating, drinking, shopping and conversing with friends.

There are several timeshare resorts from which to choose in Austria, though none of them are in St. Anton. There are 20 resorts listed with RCI in the country (19 of them in the mountains) and 7 resorts listed with Interval International, again with none listed in St. Anton.

Regardless, I’m in! Who wants to go with?

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Aruba today. Check it out— enjoy yourself, go somewhere new this year!

Image source: By qwesy qwesy, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59103512

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/going-places-cool-alpine-austria/

Idle Timeshare Thoughts: July 22, 2017

It's Happy Hour at The GateHouse
QUOTABLE QUOTES: “Every one of us is precious in the cosmic perspective. If a human disagrees with you, let him live. In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” —Carl Sagan



If you were working in Mazatlan way back in 1987 (and I know some of you were), you didn’t have a ton of places to choose from. There was Vidafel way up at the extreme north end of the Golden Zone, near Playa Bruja. That resort was the beginning of what today is Grupo Vidanta, but at the time it was all there was of that future brand, and the units were so not luxurious that everyone sold the location and the grounds, allowing with a shrug and a smile that the units weren’t much but Hey! check out the pool and palapas, and beach, and the excellent program. You won’t believe me, but I knew someone who maintained a 65% closing ratio (without pitching heat) doing that, and with only 2% kicks!

Also still in active sales were the El Cid, which has since gotten really big; Los Sabalos (which later was taken over by the government); and maybe Torres Mazatlan, if I remember correctly. There were a few sold-out properties, too, like the Inn at Mazatlan, but really there wasn’t a lot of excitement in the biz there at the time. The best part was that we relatively few schleps had the town all to ourselves.

And then a new resort opened that made everyone sit up and take notice. I can tell you that just about every rep in town made it his/her business to stroll casually and innocently in to check it out (as IF timeshare sales reps can’t recognize each other on sight no matter where they are!).

We were totally impressed. It was a come-to-jesus moment in laid back Mazatlan. The resort was bright, luxurious and oceanfront, with attention paid to detail and best of all it was new. No one had to apologize for the suites, the food was good, the view was exceptional – and there were flamingos(!) hanging out in the gardens! And the company paid their sales & marketing staff properly, too. Everyone wanted to work there.

I bring this up as a way to bring attention to the fact that this year, 2017, is Pueblo Bonito Resorts & Spas’ 30th anniversary. We get to celebrate 30 great years of growth for the company, without ever losing its reputation in the process. The company now has eight award-winning resorts in two destinations, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlán, all offering luxury all-inclusive options and a variety of shared ownership plans from weekly to fractional.

So HAPPY 30th ANNIVERSARY TO PUEBLO BONITO!Applause
You knocked our socks off in Mazatlan 30 years
ago and you’re still going strong!



Tip JarTip us off! Share news and info with us securely and confidentially. Some of the most important stories published by the GateHouse have come from anonymous or confidential tipoffs. If you have something sensitive to share, you can safely email the Gatekeeper. We will never reveal your identity without your permission. As well, if you have something positive to share, we’d like to hear that, too! CONTACT: [email protected]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.insidethegate.com/gatehouse/2017/07/idle-timeshare-thoughts-july-22-2017/

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