Timeshare resorts cutting services and facilities as they halt sales operations
Club La Costa, Diamond Resorts Europe and Anfi among resorts facing condemnation for no longer providing amenities and services members signed up for
People who paid tens of thousands of pounds for timeshare memberships, did so for many reasons. Most wanted better standards than they could find with regular travel agents. They fell in love with an exclusive club, and they expected the standards to last at least as long as their membership did.
As well as a sizable upfront joining fee, timeshare owners usually pay as much in annual fees as other people do for regular holidays. They have to pay those fees every year, even if they don’t want to (or are unable to) go on holiday.
Timeshare companies collapsing
The rest of the travel industry has overtaken timeshare. Holidaymakers can now guarantee the standards they want by checking user review sites like TripAdvisor.
Most timeshare complexes are no longer exclusive and non members can book to stay in them through regular booking sites. The rental price is generally no more expensive than a member’s annual fees. There is no longer any discernible advantage to owning a timeshare and because of that, people are not buying.
The giants of Europe are disappearing one by one. Anfi, Club La Costa, Azure, Silverpoint and Diamond have all either stopped selling, gone into administration or otherwise ceased to do business. Others may be hanging on, but today’s consumer does not want to be tied into annual payments for something they are now able to rent as and when they need.
With the huge revenue stream of ‘new member sales’ drying up, the resorts seem to be slashing many of the services and facilities that timeshare owners were promised when they signed up.
“The fact is that these companies have had to cut costs,” explains Andrew Cooper, CEO or European Consumer Claims (ECC). “We speak to angry timeshare members all the time. They are disappointed that facilities and services like the kid’s club, and onsite entertainment are missing from their resorts now. There is often no welcome pack in people’s rooms, or welcome meeting when they arrive. Concierge services have been cancelled and restaurants are closed.
“Many of these people signed up and paid a lot of money based on a sales presentation that promised all of these little touches whenever members came to their ‘home from home’.
“Even when it became indisputable that timeshare no longer made financial sense, many resort members didn’t kick up much of a fuss. They continued using the system they had become accustomed to.
“Firstly they were used to their resort and that familiarity made them feel at home on their holidays, despite declining standards.
“Secondly (and this is why a lot of people tell us they convinced themselves of the first reason) they didn’t know it was possible to escape from the contract.”
Industry experts believe there is a more pragmatic reason for resort facilities and standards dropping: Without active sales operations, the expense of maintaining high quality services is no longer financially justifiable.
“Most people bought timeshare during a presentation on the resort itself,” clarifies Cooper. “Because of this, the resorts needed to appear amazing. Facilities and services had to be demonstrably plentiful and high quality. The people staying onsite had to be happy. That way when a salesperson is showing a prospect around, they see the kind of resort they would like to join.
“The high standards and great facilities were never for the existing members. They were to impress potential new members.
“The ‘welcome breakfasts’ for example were only subsidised so that in inhouse sales staff could spend time with clients and attempt to upgrade them into ever more expensive memberships.
“Now that sales are suspended or ceased altogether at many resorts, the need to impress has evaporated. The remaining revenue stream is annual fees and members are contractually obligated to pay whatever the resort demands every year, whether they are happy with standards or not.
“Once new member sales slow down or stop, that’s when people start noticing towels being changed less often, rooms not being made up every day, painting and pool maintenance becoming less frequent and so on. In short, the financial model becomes that of any budget hotel. They minimise expenses by cutting corners.”
Members seek escape
With benefits rapidly becoming outweighed by the downsides of expense and inflexibility, timeshare owners have been searching for ways to free themselves from the commitment of their contracts.
“It isn’t easy to escape,” says Andrew Cooper. “For timeshare companies the annual fees are their only remaining revenue source. They don’t care if members want to leave, they are forcing them to stay and to keep paying as long as the contract can be legally enforced.”
“It’s a sad fact of life that people will agree to things more easily when they are in a good mood,” says Cooper. “People signed these long, detailed contracts while they were surrounded by sea, palm trees and Spanish sunshine. Decades later, seemingly small details are still costing them hundreds or even thousands of pounds a year.”
Is there a way out, and if so how? “Yes, usually it is possible to get free from a timeshare contract,” confirms Cooper, “but in most cases unless you have enough legal understanding to navigate the process (and plenty of free time), you will need expert help.
“The good news for anyone who bought in Spain on or after the 5th January 1999, is that there is a strong chance your contract is illegal. If so, you can not only escape, but you will be in a position to claim significant compensation.”
For a confidential, no obligation chat about options regarding your timeshare membership, get in touch with the advisory team at ECC
- ECC contact details
- Most timeshare resorts can be booked online without joining
- Feet in the desert. Timeshare industry giants disappearing into history
- Your moral obligation to claim timeshare compensation
- Escaping unwanted timeshare memberships
- Can timeshare owners in Spain really claim compensation?
- Is timeshare a thing of the past?
- Interview. One man’s timeshare claim journey
- Why timeshare doesn’t work
- European Consumer Claims CEO Andrew Cooper’s 2021 review and outlook for 2022
- Leading timeshare claims firm targets £billions in refunds over “unfair” 2020s maintenance fees
- The timeshare exit minefield. Can you safely escape an unwanted membership?
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First published on MyNewsDesk April 2022