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Consumers Should Report Timeshare Exit Scams

September 13, 2018 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – The timeshare industry, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and ARDA Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC), have united to stop the misconduct of those deceiving timeshare owners into paying for illusory timeshare exit services through fraudulent means. Recently, the Supreme Court of Tennessee disbarred attorney Judson Wheeler Phillips, founder of the Castle Law Group, on a myriad of charges relating to consumer fraud complaints. In the past few weeks, Castle Law Group has ceased business operations following federal lawsuits brought by developers against Castle Law Group and those acting in concert with the firm. In another matter prosecuted by Wyndham Destinations (NYSE:WYND) against American Consumer Credit (ACC), among the largest timeshare exit companies, the pursuit of ACC, its principal, Dana Micaleff and its attorney, Michael Saracco, Esq. resulted in ACC filing bankruptcy on September 7, 2018.

In Phillips’ case, the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Phillips after reviewing upwards of 18 client complaints, many of which made similar allegations of fraud, highlighting a pattern and practice of misconduct. In its ruling, the Tennessee Supreme Court found that Phillips “poses a threat of substantial harm to the public.” Central to the series of complaints were allegations that Phillips and his business partners misled and/or defrauded consumers by taking exorbitant fees from timeshare owners for purported timeshare exit or cancellation services based upon fraudulent and misleading representations.

The ACC case is based on various legal theories, some of which are founded in federal law, known as the “Lanham Act.” The case remains pending against Micaleff, individually, and Saracco, individually, although an automatic stay has been issued relative to ACC in the U.S. District Court action as a result of the bankruptcy filing. That, however, has not deterred the prosecution of the case. As of today, there is a motion pending against Micaleff and Saracco to punish them for, among other things, failing to appear for a deposition.

“The constant pressure that our member companies, owners and federal and state agencies are putting on disreputable timeshare exit companies has again produced a positive result for the consumer,” said Robert Clements, ARDA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. “Seeing two significant actions against these companies sends a very clear message to others trying to take advantage of timeshare owners: You won’t get away with it.” Clements continued, “If you feel you have been unfairly taken advantage of or defrauded by a timeshare exit company, please contact your state Attorney General, local law enforcement or the ARDA-ROC Consumer Support Team at 1-855-939-1515.”

In addition to ARDA’s advocacy efforts that support stricter laws, enforcement measures and tougher penalties on offenders, ARDA created a Joint Investigative / Enforcement Taskforce last fall to minimize fraud in the secondary market.

“A top priority for our industry and owners, and for law enforcement and other agencies, is to protect consumers from dishonest individuals or companies trying to take advantage of them,” said ARDA-ROC Chairman Ken McKelvey. “These actions send a strong signal to criminals that fraud and deceptive activities will not be tolerated by our industry and it tells consumers that we take the actions of these individuals very seriously.”

“We are committed to protecting our owners to ensure they aren’t taken advantage of,” said Michael Brown, President and CEO of Wyndham Destinations. “Through our partnership with ARDA, ARDA-ROC and regulatory and enforcement agencies, we support consumer protection legislation and law enforcement’s efforts in cases like these. We encourage our owners to reach out to us or ARDA for participation in legitimate available programs in order to avoid becoming victims of timeshare exit company scams.”

Nearly two years ago, Diamond Resorts implemented an aggressive litigation strategy in pursuit of third party exit companies for their nefarious and unlawful conduct in an effort to protect the interest of their members who were promised outcomes that could not be legally accomplished. In tandem, Diamond Resorts also pursued those unethical law firms, such as Castle Law Group, which were assisting these timeshare exit companies in their illegal business practices. To date, these efforts culminated in approximately 12 lawsuits prosecuted by Diamond Resorts throughout the country, six of which have already resulted in broad injunctions against the defendants, while the others remain pending.

Senior litigation counsel, Bud Bennington, of the law firm Shutts & Bowen LLP, counsel for Diamond Resorts in the Castle Law Group litigation in the U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tennessee, and, counsel for Wyndham Destinations in the ACC matter pending in the U.S. District Court, for the Southern District of Florida, commented that “the various timeshare companies, their law firms, ARDA and ARDA-ROC have undertaken a relentless effort to arrest the nefarious and unlawful conduct of the multiple timeshare exit companies around the world and the unethical lawyers that assist them in the perpetration of their deceptive practices.”

ARDA and ARDA-ROC continue to pursue and support appropriate timeshare resale and transfer legislation in an effort to protect owners against fraudulent timeshare schemes. For more information about the timeshare secondary market including resales, visit the ARDA-ROC Timeshare Resale Resource Center at www.arda-roc.org/resales.

State of the US Timeshare Industry 2018

Some vacationers have found the secret to vacationing better – timeshare! And this is witnessed in the U.S. timeshare industry as it enjoyed its eighth straight year of steady growth in 2017. According to the State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry: United States Study 2018 Edition conducted by EY for the ARDA International Foundation (AIF), vacationing with timeshare is strong and shows a promising future.

In 2017:

  • Sales volume increased from $9.2 billion in 2016 to $9.6 billion in 2017, nearly a four percent increase and more than 26 percent increase since 2013.
  • Average occupancy rate was more than 81 percent, compared to a 65.9 percent hotel occupancy rate. Higher occupancy rate extends benefits beyond the resort itself and into the local surrounding markets and communities such as spending at local restaurants, purchasing groceries for the fully-equipped in-unit kitchen, and purchasing gas for rental cars.
  • Rental revenue increased from $1.9 billion in 2016 to $2.3 billion in 2017, a 20 percent increase.
  • There were 1,570 timeshare resorts in the U.S., representing approximately 205,100 units.
  • About 72 percent of timeshare units are two bedrooms or more and the average unit size is over 1,000 square feet.
  • The average sales price was $22,180 per interval.
  • The average maintenance fee was $980, remaining relatively flat with a one percent increase over 2016.

Other interesting facts from the study were:

  • 34 percent of resorts are beach resorts, making them the most common type of resort.
  • Island resorts had the highest occupancy rate of nearly 90 percent.
  • Florida had the highest number of timeshare resorts with 373.
  • Nevada had the largest resorts with 249 units on average.

For more details from the study, check out the Timeshare in 2018: Paradise Found infographic and for a copy of the full State of the Industry study, visit www.arda.org/foundation.

A vacation can be one of the best ways to recharge, restore and relax. From experiencing a new city to soaking in sun-filled beach days, vacations are proving to be instrumental in balancing overall fitness. Another way to ensure a healthy balanced life is to exercise and eat right. Exercising or dieting on vacation may not seem like your ideal way to spend your time-off. Hey, what’s is a vacation for, if you aren’t taking a break?

Exercising is actually an important part of relaxation. It helps improve your mood, fills your body with energy-inducing endorphins and is meditation in motion. Eating right can also help increase your energy and limit your stress levels. And the best part of less stress means more restful sleep!

In fact, enjoying fitness activities while on vacation is much more common than you might think. A recent survey from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) conducted by research group Leger, found that 52% of vacationers work out every three days. And timeshare owners are leading this group, with 90% stating that they work out while on vacation.

So, are you wondering how to maintain your fitness while still making your vacation restorative? Take a look at these easy health trip tips.

1. Get Your Workout In

Sometimes the easiest and most rewarding exercises can be done in thirty minutes or less. And with the average timeshare unit measuring up to 1,050 square feet there’s plenty of room to fit in a quick exercise routine without leaving the comfort of your room. Fitness apps such SWEAT and Kineticoach are great for finding short exercises that utilize your body weight and circuit training to keep your heart rate up, and your endorphins flowing.

Another way to get in some exercise is to explore your destination. Taking a  relaxing beachfront stroll, or discovering local attractions on foot or on a bike, are perfect ways to take in all your destination has to offer while keeping you active. One of the best parts of being a timeshare owner means you have access to exclusive excursion and activities that get you moving without making it feel like work.

2. Eat Healthy

One word – fresh. Take a tip from locals and find farmers markets, produce stands and specials that are unique to your destination. You’ll get to explore the people, food and culture of your vacation spot while finding tasty new ingredients to cook with. Utilize the fully equipped kitchen in your timeshare to make vibrant and fresh meals with your family and friends. Not only can it be delicious and healthy, but you can increase quality time with the ones you love.

3. Balance Your Metal Health with Sleep

A good night’s rest goes a long way and vacations are the perfect time to catch up on those zzz’s. Having multiple rooms in your timeshare ensures everyone on your trip has their own space to unwind. Not only are you able to be in a new bed to help you detach from the usual stresses found at home, but you can get up to an extra hour of sleep. More restful sleep at night means you wake up with a clearer head and more energy to seize the day.

Make the most of your vacation by taking care of your wellbeing and enjoying all your timeshare has to offer!

fitness on vacation

Survey shows 90% of timeshare owners enjoy exercise while on vacation

WASHINGTON, February 15, 2018 – A recent survey from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) and conducted by research group Leger, found that more than half (54%) of Americans enjoy fitness activities while on vacation, and timeshare owners are leading this group with nine out of 10 stating they perform fitness activities on vacation.

“Timeshare owners drive this preference because they know that they have more opportunities to take part in fitness activities while on vacation,” said Peter Roth, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Industry Relations at ARDA. “Owners know that exercising while on vacation allows you to relax much deeper, which makes for an overall better vacation experience. Whether you want to enjoy exclusive local fitness and recreational activities, or prepare healthier meals in the in-unit kitchen, timeshare owners have these options.”

Respondents didn’t just perform these activities once, 52 percent stated that they enjoy partaking in fitness activities at least once every three days of their vacation. Timeshare provides longer vacation stays, allowing for more opportunities to take in a variety of new, or different fitness and recreational activities. Many timeshare resorts provide group fitness activities and some offer excursions to new places and adventures that tend to be off the “beaten” tourist path.

Timeshare owners also have plenty of extra living spaces in their unit to fit in that quick, convenient exercise routine. The average timeshare unit in the U.S. is 1,050 square feet and most units have multiple rooms, allowing vacationers to exercise without disturbing their travel companions.

“Owners can also maintain a healthy lifestyle while away from their normal routine with a fully-equipped kitchen in their unit. Having a refrigerator and essential amenities in the kitchen, allows travelers to buy, store and cook with local, fresh and healthy ingredients,” said Roth.

For more details, see the infographic below on how timeshare provides more opportunities for vacationers to enjoy fitness activities and ultimately have happier, healthier vacations.

VacationBetter_Fitness-on-Vacation

It’s been proven that American workers are in desperate need of a vacation. They are feeling overly stressed, tired and stuck in a rut. These workers realize that taking a vacation would equalize their work-life balance, yet they still fail to actually go on a trip.

Well, thanks to our friends at Project:Time Off, we now know the easiest way to ensure a vacation each and every year: planning!

That’s right—simply planning ahead of time can significantly increase your chance of taking time off of work for a vacation. According to the State of American Vacation 2017, a majority (52%) of workers who say they set aside time each year to plan out their vacation days take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners.

They also tend to take longer vacations. While three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at once (42% to 18%).

Planning a vacation involves many different aspects – where to go, who to go with, when to go and how you will get there. But those parts of planning are secondary to the most important part which is informing your work that you will need some time off.

While talking to your boss or supervisor can seem like a daunting task, Business Insider has come up with a list of tips and recommendations for what to do the weeks leading up to your vacation.

They recommend you:

  • Schedule yourself some wiggle room. Doing this allows you to have a couple days to get ready prior to leaving for the trip, and when you get back it assures you will have a day or two to adjust back to daily life so that you don’t get overwhelmed with work the second you return.
  • Talk to everyone you work with. Make sure to tell your coworkers and clients of your travel plan so they can adjust their schedules as well. And in the event something urgent at work needs to be done while you’re away, you will have people in place to handle your responsibilities.
  • Prioritize your tasks. This will help you accomplish anything major before leaving for your vacation. It is important to do the most important things, so that if someone has to cover for you, they are only faced with simple tasks that are easy to handle.
  • Lay down some communication ground rules. Relay to everyone on your team, including your manager, the different ways to reach you, but more importantly discuss with them that only the most critical things should interrupt your vacation time.
  • Be careful what you post on social media. It is important to remember that you will be returning to work after your vacation, and you don’t want to irritate the other workers who are covering for you. It is essential to remain professional, and if someone is going out of their way to help cover your work so you can vacation – buy them a small gift to say thanks.

Be sure to follow these tips while you’re planning ahead for your next vacation! And to make sure vacations become a yearly escape from work, consider investing in timeshare, where each years’ vacation is already prepaid, and there is a world of opportunities to explore.

Technology is quickly becoming a cornerstone in society. Everything from ordering meals to paying bills has become more efficient through smartphones. While vacationing is a great way to escape and recharge, the surge in a technologically facilitated lifestyle begs the question – are there better ways to vacation?

Check out these top apps that are making everything from navigating to packing to exploring easier and more exciting.

  1. Cool Cousin (Free)

Top travelers will be the first to tell you that the best way to experience a new destination is by taking advice from ‘the locals’. This app goes one step ahead and connects you with locals in your destination area who serve as your own personal tour guide. Create your own profile and message insiders to get the best local scoop and download local city guides!

Available on the Apple App Store.

  1. Streetography (Free)

This app gives users a unique street view alternative to traditional map viewing. Exploring cities, towns and tourist destinations through the photographs of others who have ventured there before has never been easier. You can see cities through the eyes of real people, and you can even add your own images to the map!

Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

  1. PlanChat (Free)

Thinking of planning the perfect girlfriend getaway or a family reunion, but can’t seem to nail down plan details? This app is the all-in-one trip planning lifesaver that operates like a group chat. Invite family members or friends to join your trip and discuss everything from flight plans, dinner reservations, to expense splitting. You can even plan for future adventures by utilizing the flight price scanning feature which ensures you get the best deals available. And that’s not all. The app includes a poll feature that can help your group make decisions easily and quickly over the app, SMS and even email!

Available on the Apple App Store.

  1. Packing Pro ($)

Whether you are going on a solo getaway or planning your annual family vacation, packing can become a daunting task. Nothing is worse than reaching your destination, ready for relaxation, and realizing you have forgotten something. This app is perfect for keeping track of even the most complex packers while also helping optimize your list for the weather, your destination and your family members. Share your list with family and friends to ensure that everyone is packing what they need to and assign trip responsibility. The app goes one step further and helps predict luggage weight, monetary value and more to help ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy your getaway!

Available on the Apple App Store.

  1. Venmo (Free)

Traveling can get expensive quickly, especially when traveling with friends, couples and families. Venmo is a basic yet effective app that allows you to send, or request money from other users. Venmo is easy to use and it’s secure. This app makes splitting checks and paying for meals, or activities as simple as clicking a few buttons. You can link your credit cards, debit cards and even bank accounts up to the app, and then cash out your balance at your convenience, to help keep track of your finances and your spending!

Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Federal – State – Local  

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have taken a toll on some of our most beloved timeshare locations in Florida, the Caribbean and Texas.  If you are a displaced owner or resort guest, there are resources for you to explore.  Our thoughts go out to you for your continued safety and recovery from these natural disasters.


FEMA – State/Local Assistance  

Need to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362

Some of the services may include:

– Guidance regarding disaster recovery
– Clarification of any written correspondence received
– Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
– Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
– Status of applications being processed by FEMA
– SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site
– Crisis Counseling Program
– Disaster Legal Services
– Disaster Unemployment
– Funeral Assistance – Individuals and Households Program


Federal Aid Programs for the Territory of the U.S. Virgin Islands

Need to register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362

Application procedures for the territory will be explained at a series of applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the territory from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies. Application procedures for the territory will be explained at a series of applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the territory from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.


Texas Disaster Relief Fund 

www.Texas.gov


Florida Department of Children and Families

Disaster Recovery Centers provide assistance with disaster unemployment, financial assistance through FEMA, elder affairs issues, housing and rental assistance, aid for businesses and referrals for other needs. DCF’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office works with providers to staff centers with crisis counselors, and our Economic Self-Sufficiency staff are on site to handle replacement food assistance for clients who lost food due to power outages or flooding.


Food for Florida

The Department of Children and Families’ “Food for Florida” disaster relief program provides emergency food assistance to families in need after a hurricane or another disaster under federal guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. 

For more information and to sign up for text/email alerts, visit www.myflfamilies.com/fff


The American Red Cross

UNICEF – Emergency Hurricane Relief

U.S. Department of Transportation
(State & Local Disaster Emergency Fund)  www.DOT.gov

Labor Day is almost here, and for many families this marks the end of their summer vacation.  Kids are going back to school which means homework, long days, event filled weeks and extracurricular activities.

But the work isn’t just back for the kids – parents have more to do too. Creating a harsh reality, much different from the family beach trip you were just on.

While many families are feeling that they have to wait until next summer for another vacation, this is far from the truth, and fortunately our friends at Project:Time Off have provided everyone with five tips on how to take vacation time during the school year.

  1. Get Comfortable with the Calendar 
    Familiarize yourself with your school’s calendar and take note of any holiday breaks, long weekends, and teacher workdays that may be on the horizon. Key to creating a vacation strategy is not only knowing the happenings of your family calendar, but also taking the time to plan your time off before your schedule gets away from you. Less than half of U.S. households plan their vacations which is a problem, as only 39% of non-planners successfully use all their time off. Those unused days are missed chances to connect as a family. Look ahead for opportunities to extend long weekends to maximize time off and minimize absences.
  2. Communicate with Teachers and Coaches 
    Research your school’s vacation policies. Many schools allow for educational trips. Collaborate with teachers to find ways to make your vacation do double duty. Could your student give a presentation on a museum you’ll be visiting, or write a paper on a historical landmark you plan to see? One Pennsylvania dad felt so strongly about the learning opportunities of travel that he took his kids out of school to cheer him on as he ran the Boston Marathon. Think of your vacation as an extended field trip and explore ways to bring the classroom to life.

If you decide to take an educational trip, consider meeting with teachers and coaches to discuss your plans and coordinate makeup work well before you go. By communicating with your kids’ various program leaders early on, you can avoid any potential conflict down the line.

  1. Make a Game Plan for Makeup Work
    Unlike your child’s school, your office probably doesn’t have regular breaks or educational trip policies. To keep your vacation from turning into work in another zip code, hold a family meeting to discuss boundaries. If you are unable to unplug, make a family game plan so everyone knows when and how you’ll check in with work. Work only when it’s time to work and try to put books, laptops, and smartphones away when it’s time to play.
  2. Don’t Make it an Afterthought
    It happens every year: students’ summer schedules fill up with sleep-away camps, sport tournaments, and volunteer trips attempting to stave off boredom and mid-way into the season you realize you’ve left no time for simply being together. Before camps put a cramp in your style, block the family calendar with simultaneous time off. You can’t afford to keep pushing this precious memory-making time to next year.
  3. Make Your Memories Count
    Project: Time Off found that childhood memories formed during family vacations remain vivid well into adulthood. Three out of four parents believe that family vacation gives children experiences they’ll remember for years to come. Not only will your vacation be a cherished memory, but also a learning opportunity that they may not find in a textbook. After all, you only have 18 Summers.

As you can see, Labor Day no longer has to be the sign to halt your vacations for another nine months.  In fact, these months are a great time to enjoy unique experiences and travel to different locations – away from the normal beach routine.

And one of the best ways to continue vacationing throughout the year is by vacationing with timeshare. With over 1,500 resorts in the U.S., there is enough variety to keep up with your kids’ changing demands. You’ll be able to spend a long weekend adventuring at an amusement park, winter break skiing the mountains or a teacher holiday exploring a new city.

Start looking ahead to this year and see what new adventure your family wants to go on with timeshare.

Having a Kitchen and a Separate Living Area Greatly Improves the Quality of a Vacation

Timeshare vacations provide families with fantastic trips throughout the world, but there’s one thing that may get overlooked: all the extra space that’s available. In comparison to the cramped quarters of a hotel room, a timeshare provides the extra and necessary space for your family to spread out—for both time together and time alone.

In fact, this has been proven in a recent study from ARDA and conducted by Leger, which showed that 89 percent of respondents who had a kitchen on their last vacation said it improved their vacation experience, while 87 percent said that having a separate living area also led to a better vacation.

The kitchen and separate living area aren’t just making vacations better because they provide more space, but because the travelers are actually using them to their advantage.  Fifty percent said that they used their kitchen every day during their trip, while fifty eight percent used the separate living area every day. This helped traveling families create a better, stress-free vacation.

Having an in-unit kitchen can help you save money and eat healthier on your next vacation by:

  • Cooking family meals instead of dinning out for every meal
  • Having the ability to prepare healthy snacks for your day on-the-go
  • Allowing you to store any leftovers in the fridge for a later meal
  • Using the fridge so that you can buy, store and use local ingredients in your meal

Having a kitchen in your resort is fantastic for those who love to cook and want to stay healthy, while an extra living area is perfect for traveling families, especially those with young kids, because they allow for:

  • Family game time
  • A place for the kids to watch television, while the adults can enjoy some grown-up time
  • Uninterrupted downtime. While the kids are still awake and playing in the extra living area, the parents can take a nap or read in the separate bedroom, re-charging for another day of fun

The results from this survey are clear, having an in-unit kitchen and an extra living space in your resort can vastly improve your vacation. So, the next time you are thinking about traveling be sure to consider timeshare!