(Pelican Resort) Disgruntled timeshare owners present their grievances to PM

POSTED: 02/21/11 1:39 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The demonstration of disgruntled Pelican Resort timeshare owners at the government administration building yesterday afternoon did not bring out tourists in droves, but the fifteen people that did make an appearance had a powerful message for Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

In a letter signed with Pelican Resort Club Owners in Action, the timeshare owners urge the Prime Minister to “immediately intervene” with the Simpson Bay Resort, Wifol, Pelican Resort Club owners and any other parties involved in the unfortunate situation currently plaguing the Pelican Resort Club, now called Simpson Bay Resort.”
“All the owners have been closed out and deprived of the use of their units “until further notice” even though they paid their required annual maintenance fee for 2011.”
The letter further states that the locked out timeshare owners that wished to stay on the island had trouble finding alternative accommodation and that they did not get compensation for the extra expenses. “Many owners have cancelled their plans to come to the island. Many have nonrefundable airline tickets. Income from units placed in the rental pool is lost.”
The owners ask the Prime Minister in the letter to keep them informed about any progress in negotiations through public venues like this newspaper.
Though the Prime Minister car with the MR-1 number plate was in front of the government administration building, it was unclear whether she was in her office.
She did not come out to meet with the timeshare owners, and when a representative wanted to hand the letter to a security guard he initially told her that the government does not accept letter during the weekend. Later however, Wescot-Williams’ secretary Ramona arrived, and she accepted the letter on behalf of the Prime Minister.
Some of the timeshare owners told this newspaper that they’ve been coming to St. Maarten since 1980. Asked whether he would come back after this year’s experience, one of them said: “We probably will. We have been coming here for thirty years and we like the island. We just don’t feel it’s fair that they took up our maintenance fee and then locked us out. There are probably a lot of people who won’t come back.”
The timeshare owner said that he had a hard time renting his units. “We mostly rent out to friends but even that will probably be harder to do after this experience. I had to tell a lot of my friends to go and rent somewhere else.”
Asked whom they are most angry at – the government, the labor union of Royal Resorts, timeshare owner Burton Schaffer said, “Royal Resorts, most definitely, but I also think that the government should have more influence on what happened. Now they tell us that they’re going to make laws, but they should have done that before.”
Schaffer added that he has no problem with free enterprise. “But free enterprise does not have to treat us like this. They never asked us for more money to upgrade anything and to keep the resort going. They kept their maintenance fee the same way all other places have raised them. In think they didn’t really try very hard.”
Another timeshare owner reflected on the 10 percent Royal Resorts takes from the maintenance fees under the management agreement with the Pelican Resort the Management Company. “They took that ten percent whether the fee was paid or not. They took it from the billed maintenance fees. As a result they ran up a debt, and then Royal Resorts started borrowing from the bank.”
Another timeshare owner said that it looked like “Royal Resorts deliberately took advantage of the owners who are here only for a few weeks,” and that they managed the resort “in such a way that they could eventually foreclose on it. Now they’re trying to get a better deal out of it for themselves with the unions, and in the meantime they pay no attention to the rights of the owners.”
The timeshare owners conceded that they are cornered, because there is no easy way for them to get out of the situation. “How are you going to sell your weeks under these conditions?” one of them asked. “Who is going to buy?”
The owners pin their hope on Dutch legislation that protects their timeshare weeks, though what bothers most of them is the limited value of a timeshare week in a closed resort.
“Right,” one owner said. “But the way I see it they cannot take away our weeks as long as we pay our annual maintenance fee.”
“But who wants to pay $800 if you cannot use the resort?” another owner chimed in. “They’re taking our weeks away from us by making owners so discouraged that they don’t want to pay their maintenance fee anymore. It will take a stubborn owner in the face of this kind of treatment to keep paying the maintenance fee.”
Some owners said that, they would give up on paying the maintenance fee if the resort remains closed. Others are contemplating to contact their credit card company to examine possibilities to get back the maintenance fee they paid already for this year.
Rita, the time share owner who handed the letter to Prime Minister Wescot-Williams’ secretary said there was no agreement to meet with her. “We are sending her a message so she will be able to address it first thing in the morning. We’re told that under Dutch law they are obligated to the original owners of the Pelican Resort for the use of their timeshare for the balance of the 99 years that they contracted for. Is the Prime Minister going to abide by that and make it happen? That is what we would like to know.”
One timeshare owner showed this newspaper a calculation of the extra cost he has incurred due to the resort’s closure. On top of the $3,000 he already paid for three weeks at the resort, the cost for alternative accommodation for him and a second couple came to almost $6,000.
In spite of these steep extra expenses, the timeshare owners at the mini-demonstration seemed inclined to remain faithful to St. Maarten in the years to come. Two female timeshare owners said that they had finally found new accommodation, but that they were unable to check in before three o’clock yesterday afternoon, so they had been on the streets ever since the closure in Pelican. But the women will come back next year: “We have too much invested here,” one of them said.
The timeshare owners received a most cordial welcome from the Prime Minister’s secretary. When the slightly agitated owner who handed her the letter suggested that maybe she would have to go to the prison to find accommodation, the secretary told her sweetly, “Oh no Madame, that will never happen. I would invite you to my house first. This is still the Friendly Island.”

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Comments (3)


  1. Marilyn says:

    I first came to St Maarten in 1976 – when it was natural, few roads , many goats, cattle in the road, and always friendly local people. I bought at Pelican in 1984.

    What has happened to our investments at Pelican Resort
    is a travesty. WE helped build the tourism in St. Maarten!
    WE have brought our dollars and our friends here for years !
    If the govm’t here doesn’t recognize us – shame on them.

  2. Yolande Michaud says:

    Marilyn – we have owned since 1993. Shame on the governments for not protecting the employees at the Pelican, shame on the governments for not protecting the owners and most of all shame on Corso and Sutton for being what they are… (no words are necessary)!!!!

  3. Malcolm Arrick says:

    I’am sorry to say this, but I think the Island of St. Maarten will suffer big time for years to come because of this mess at the Pelican and other timeshares on the Island, The people of St. Maarten will be hurt because of bad leadership,

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