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St George’s Club members call for help

Members of the St George's Club have called for the Government to intervene after fees were increased significantly.

However, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economic Development said the Government hoped the dispute between owners and members could be resolved through mediation.

The spokeswoman said: “This has been a longstanding issue for all parties involved and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

“The Ministry is hopeful that the stakeholders will come to the table and find a resolution.”

The St George's Club has recently shifted from a timeshare-focused business into a hotel model, and fees have been increased.

Several members of the club have contacted Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development.

One member said: “Many of us have e-mailed him pleading that he get publicly involved but, to my knowledge, no one has received a response to our communications.

“What is happening at the club is sad. Just look at the recent members' Facebook posts on the St George's Club page showing the poor condition of some of the units.”

He said he has visited Bermuda every year since 1970, describing the island as a home away from home.

But he added: “I will walk away before I will give in to the demands of the St George's Club ownership.”

Another member, who said he has been with the club for 29 years, said he had sent three e-mails to Mr Simmons, but had not received a response.

He said: “We have been burdened with mismanagement by various developer/managers for several decades. Only the Government of Bermuda is in a position to stop this.

“Bermuda tourism, which has sadly suffered from neglect in recent years, will not be helped if angry people discuss their experiences on websites and social media, something which has already begun.”

Both members noted their growing expenses, with one saying the “Special Assessment Fee”, added up to $13,780 for a two-week stay in June.

Sally Kyle is president and chief executive officer of the St George's Club.

She said: “The decision was made to no longer sell timeshare going forward, as it has not succeeded since its inception, long before the current management took over.

“The loss of the golf course adjoining our property, as well as the global recession, took its toll on the membership as people simply could not pay the annual assessment even though it did not cover the costs.

“This income gap needed to be filled with something and the clear option is the model of a hotel resort going forward, although retaining the ‘rights' of all remaining members in their particular unit and designated week.”

Mrs Kyle said management have complied with the rules of the Timeshare Act and the Declaration of Club Rights and Obligations with respect to a recent 32 per cent increase in annual fees.

She added that the accumulated final assessment, the members' portion of the club's debt, needed to be paid this year.

“The AFA has been in place since 2014 and acknowledged by all for payment in their final year of occupancy,” she said.

“It was established for repayment of the members' portion of debt owed by Club Operations, but due to the necessity for more immediate repayment of this, it needs to be paid in 2018.

“As a consequence of this payment, the rules will change and we have stated this in writing so that only the annual fees will be due from remaining members, going forward.”

Mrs Roberts added that members had been given the opportunity to “buy out” their remaining years, and a “considerable” number had taken that option.

“The annual fees are still less than renting a unit as a hotel guest, so members are advantaged,” she said.

Regarding the facilities at the club, Mrs Kyle said: “We have endeavoured to continually upgrade the resort as and when we can, but with limited resources this has not always moved at the pace we would all like, but we have remained open for

business and are proud our entire staff is Bermudian apart from a very few work permits for chefs.”

She added: “We want the St George's Club to succeed and we are doing everything we can to achieve that, but clearly a few of the members have not read

what they signed or chose to ignore it.

“Some of these agreements were in place before we even owned the resort.”

Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, Jamahl Simmons (Photoraph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published January 17, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 17, 2018 at 7:36 am)

St George’s Club members call for help

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