Maintenance Fees are Painful Reminders of Timeshare Purchases that Many Owners Regret
Coalition to Reform Timeshare Staff | January 21, 2020
Forget the Ides of March. January is the cruelest interval for most timeshare owners, because it’s the month when maintenance fees are due and payable. These fees are constant reminders, painful for many, that they bought an over-priced timeshare years ago and, now, use it or not, they’re still paying for it.
The history is instructive. On March 15, 44 BCE, Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated by his not-very-faithful colleagues in the Senate. It marked the beginning of the end for the Roman Empire and, since then, thanks to Shakespeare’s 1601 play (Julius Caesar) the Ides of March have been associated with two things that fit timeshare owners like a noose. The Ides are known as the time to “settle debts.” They also stand for “bad luck.”
Welcome to the Ides of January. Timeshare Maintenance fees average around $1,000 per weekly interval, according to industry stats, but here’s the reality of owing them at selected resorts owned by Coalition members. These are 2020 annual usage fees that increase, on average, 3-5 percent per year. Special assessments for damages, like hurricanes, are extra.
- Bluegreen’s Manhattan Club, NYC: 1 bedroom penthouse: $3765
- Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui: 2 BR, island view: $3422
- Wyndham Bonnet Creek, Orlando, FL: 3 BR: $2373
- Hyatt Pinon, Sedona, AZ: 2 BR fixed week #9: $1475
- Marriott Newport Coast Villas, Newport Beach, CA: 2 BR, $1372
- Diamond’s Villa Mirage, Scottsdale, AZ: 2 BR, high season, $1098
- Westgate’s Smoky Mountains Resort, Gatlinburg, Tenn.: 2 BR floating: $875
Fees for legacy resorts differ wildly from the brand-name resorts that are still owned and/or managed by developers pushing active sales programs. Here are several examples:
- San Luis Bay Inn, an older resort in Avila Beach, CA, managed by Diamond: 2 BR, $962.
- Cape Winds Resort, Hyannis, Massachusetts: 1 bedroom, summer week: $760 (you can buy this timeshare for $499 on RedWeek.com, one of the most reliable resale and rental sites.)
- Christie Lodge, Avon, CO: 1 bedroom, summer week: $496 (available for resale at $10 or less on RedWeek.com).
So, what are all these fees for?
As their name describes, maintenance fees cover all resort expenses, with housekeeping and taxes typically among the most expensive categories. Most resort HOAs also allocate 10-15 percent of all maintenance fees to pay for management services, which are pure-profit centers for those resorts owned AND managed by a major developer.
For owners who don’t scrutinize the fine print on their maintenance fee invoices, these fees also subsidize the industry’s efforts to promote legislation that benefits developers. On a typical invoice, these fees are listed as voluntary donations to the American Resort Development Association’s Resort Owners Coalition (ARDA-ROC), which purports to represent more than 1.6 million owners in nationwide lobbying efforts to protect consumers. ARDA-ROC has done a creditable job of fighting various state efforts to raise taxes or impose nightly user fees on timeshare owners, but most of its programs dovetail with the priorities and lobbying campaigns of major developers.
For example, ARDA-ROC testified in the Florida legislature last year on behalf of a developer-sponsored bill to prevent timeshare owners from hiring lawyers or exit companies to help them get out of timeshare contracts. The bill died in committee, but it clearly revealed ARDA-ROC’s allegiance to developers.
The “voluntary” ARDA-ROC contributions are listed at the bottom of all maintenance fee bills. Typically, they ask owners to contribute $5-$10 per interval to support ARDA-ROC.
Best advice from the Coalition? Keep the money in your pocket. Just say NO to ARDA-ROC. Instead, sign our Petition and support the Coalition’s campaign to reform unfair timeshare business practices.