“I am not spending one more cent on that island”: Caravanserai victims continue to complainPOSTED: 01/7/15 4:24 PM
St. Maarten – Disgruntled timeshare owners at the former Caravanserai Resort in Beacon Hill continue to complain about the way they were robbed of their investments by the new owner, Ray Sidhom. St. Maarten Weekly News, the electronic newsletter produced by Jeff Berger, is one of the platforms that functions as a virtual meeting point for the latest victims of St. Maarten’s timeshare industry.
Berger writes this week that 2,300 timeshare owners received an email from Sidhom – or rather from the formal owner Algeria Real Estate – saying that their timeshare contracts had become worthless. Many of the victims invested tens of thousands of dollars in their place under the sun.
“They feel that if government cared about timeshare owners, it would have made sure this kind of outcome could not possibly ever have taken place,” Berger summarizes the dozens of reactions he received from victims who wrote to him personally.
Berger notes that Sidhom intends to turn the resort into an upscale hotel without timesharing.
“We have lost everything,” one female timeshare owner wrote to Berger. “I can’t imagine why the island apparently doesn’t care about timeshare owners, since we spend a lot here every year regardless of anything else that’s going on.” She was referring to recessions, hurricanes, economic downturns, etc., through which timeshare owners always return. “We are always here for the island, but at the end of the day, they were not here for us.”
Another wrote: “I’m not coming back to St. Maarten after this year. I know that most Caravanserai timeshare owners are going away and that will hurt some businesses. But if those business owners really cared about us, they would bang on the doors of government people to fix this instead of complaining about the loss of business. In my opinion, they are as much to blame as the government since none of them did anything to stop this and help us. Do I feel guilty about leaving them? Not one bit.”
Another wrote Berger to say that he personally had lost over $50,000 at Caravanserai. “There is no way I will ever go back to St. Maarten, not after this. Nobody helped, so I’m not spending one more cent on that island.”
This newspaper received the following email from another victim, Katy Hamm: “Yup, we are another couple being screwed by SXM. We love SXM and go every year but after this, forget about it. We thought of it as our second home, having the 6th week of the year, a prime time to get away from winter in New Jersey. We also paid for extra days in 2015 and we lost that too. The government should stand behind us, USA would never let this happen and, yes, businesses will lose too with so many people not returning. Shame on everyone in SXM for doing this to us. There are many more islands to change our vacations too but our losses are unthinkable.”
The reactions from these understandably upset timeshare vacationers seem to indicate that they are unaware of, or dissatisfied with the rescue operation the St. Maarten Timeshare Association has set in motion. Berger reported about this initiative last week, but it has not stemmed the flow of complaints.