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Members angered by timeshare rates rise

The owners of St George's Club have come under fire from members after fees rocketed.

One timeshare owner said the assessment of his annual maintenance fees had risen by more than 60 per cent.

The source added the club had told members the increase was to get rid of the club's deficit.

But he said he believed it was an effort to drive timeshare owners away as the property moves to a hotel model.

The member said: “We love Bermuda and that is why we bought the timeshare.

“We have been coming to Bermuda for well over 20 years. I consider it my second home, but this action by the St George's Club cannot be supported or condoned.”

Sally Kyle, general manager at the club, said in an e-mail to members in November that the club needed to “eliminate the deficit that is sitting, and has been agreed is due from the members”.

The e-mail added that after consultation with the Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, the club amended the declaration of club membership rights and obligations to require that members would be responsible for the “accumulated financial assessment” immediately rather than in the final year of their contract. The e-mail said the club had increased the estimated amount to be made by members next year to accomplish its goal.

It was revealed last year that the owners wanted to change the club into a hotel, and a potential buyer was said to be interested in investing in the property.

The proposed sale did not go ahead but the owners decided to continue the move to a hotel.

The e-mail from the club said: “It is clear from the recent ‘buy-out' that while many members did take the opportunity to exit from the time-sharing scheme at the St George's Club, nearly an equal number wished to continue, even understanding that the St George's Club was becoming more of a hotel operation.”

“We are now at the point that we are more hotel than timeshare, and we need to address the deficit that is left after all funds from the ‘buy-out' were used to reduce the large deficit and with it the accounts payable outstanding.

Ms Kyle said that the club was aware it was a controversial move and that management expected be criticised.

But she added: “Hopefully our commitment to change the way the club operates while maintaining your ability to visit each year when you want and stay in your allotted unit is some consolation, especially as we are also committed to ensure that this is the final time that we will be billing you an additional assessment.

“We want The St George's Club to succeed, and we want everyone to be satisfied with their experience when they visit.

“We are working to that end and will continue to do so.”

One timeshare owner told The Royal Gazette that his annual maintenance fee assessment had risen “significantly”.

He said: “They have increased the timeshare members' annual maintenance fees in excess of 60 per cent with the intent to drive the timeshare members out.

“Each of the members have paid a substantial upfront fee to guarantee a specific cottage, week and number of years as a timeshare owner that is willing to pay an annual maintenance fee to cover additional expenses to maintain said facility. This fee is usually pegged to inflationary increases.

“This latest assessment does not appear fair or reasonable. In my estimation it is not at all promoting Bermuda.”

Ms Kyle said last Friday that no one liked price increases but the hike was needed to meet the cost of running the resort.

She added: “We have not had a significant rise for some time. Increases in utilities, payroll costs and of course taxes has required that we have had to pass this to the consumer.

“It should be noted that the fees are still less than renting a cottage with full kitchen at the club as a hotel guest so it is still excellent value.”

Ms Kyle said the timeshare model does not work in Bermuda and the club would move towards a hotel model but preserve the rights of membership to use their specific cottage in their week.

She added: “The St George's Club has enjoyed a marked increase in hotel rentals from 2016 and we are busy updating the plant where we can to reflect our new status.

“We have a new hotel manager with vast experience joining us in the New Year to assist with this transition and we feel that with the development of the St Regis next door these are exciting times for the town of St George.”

Rates row: St George's Club have increased fees (photograph by Tricia Walters)

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Published December 18, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated December 17, 2017 at 9:52 pm)

Members angered by timeshare rates rise

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