Timeshare in Belize
There are many timeshare companies in Belize with more appearing every year, and I would like to point out the pitfalls and also the joys of owning a “piece of paradise” on Isla Bonita, and Belize in general.
Timeshare has a very poor name in tourism which is a little unfair as the majority of users thoroughly enjoy what they purchased (over 80% express satisfaction).However one has to look at the resale value which is virtually non-existent on the majority of resorts, and this is shown as a yearly average of 8% of timeshare owners just do not pay their maintenance fees and the week goes back to the developer which he promptly tries to resell.
Let us look at the stages of the Sales and Marketing Program.
1. You are approached on the street and offered a gift with no “strings attached” to come and tour our beautiful resort-with offers of free lunch and some drinks you wander off to look at the resort.
2. You make a pact with your partner that you are just going for the gift and nothing else.
3. You meet a very pleasant knowledgeable salesperson (who may have been in Belize for a very short period of time). The first thing that will be discussed over a welcoming drink is that while being shown around the wonderful resort that you do not have any pre-conceived notions about vacation/holiday/timeshare ownership, and all the salesman wants you to do is give a “yes” or a “no” at the end of the tour(this is called breaking the pact). He then ensures you shake hands on this (most important in sales is to get a commitment early from your client) and he/she shows you around the resort and tells you all great things about it.
4. After the tour you all sit down (normally with the sales person sitting between you), and he starts to explain about the exchange companies, and you get to see a lot of pretty pictures of where you can go and stay (over 80 countries). It is then further explained that various destinations have a higher exchange value than others (Belize is naturally included in this list), and therefore it is almost inconceivable that you will not get the exchange that you want, and as you have to apply for three resorts it is almost 100% that you will get one of those resorts to stay in .The salesperson will then go on to elucidate on the wonders of the island and all the great things that you get as becoming a member of this particular vacation club.Timeshare used to be sold high/medium/low seasons and also on a fixed week system i.e. week 1 would be the first week in January after the two week Xmas break(there are only 51 weeks on a timeshare calendar)-it is now sold under a “floating time” this means that you purchase high season you may go on holiday anytime of the year, as long as there is availability. However due to the exchange companies needing a week to register you-you are actually given a week by the resort (you just do not know which one). Here the salesperson mentions the exchange/membership fees and also there is obviously a maintenance charge per week of timeshare owned (normally 400usd per week, and can go up by as much as 10% per year)
5. You have now been at the resort for over an hour and you are having a really good time (no-one has asked for any money -yet), and you are overlooking the ocean everything is wonderful, and you really would like to know how much joining this club would cost. The salesperson does not answer this question directly and says “How much do you think owning two weeks every year of paradise would cost ?”.The customer has no idea but thinks it is far more than they can afford as this really is only for the rich and people who want exclusivity, and are willing to pay for it. The salesman the writes a figure down on his notepad turns it toward the customers and shuts up.
6. This is where things can change depending on the operation a) the salesperson hands over to his manager, and he then will not say another word (he is not allowed to under point of death, and even worse no commission on the sale). Everything has now changed to business, and the manager asks if the price is affordable (normally not); everything has been angled at a two week sale. Therefore the price is very high, and the customers are asked what they can afford – if they answer a goodly amount they may not realize it then but they have just bought a timeshare. The same will happen if the salesperson takes you through the whole sale with the obvious changes.
7. The manager then says you can always buy one week and did the salesman not tell you that. The answer of course is no and then he writes a different price down and says if you buy today you get 25% off but this is only good for today but the normal price you can come and pay that anytime (bull).the customer then pulls out the cc and makes a deposit and is given 45 days to pay the balance through raising a loan in the U.S. but to get the 25% discount just sign this credit application form at 16% p.a. interest which can be cancelled by the resort if all monies are received within set period of time.
8. The customer then says I would like my lawyer to review the contract. The manager will give the client a letter stating that if there is anything illegal in the contract all monies will be refunded (the contact was written by a U.S. lawyer so of course there is nothing wrong with the contract).
9. You then sign a contract and you are liable for on average 10,000 usd which you can not get out of.
1. If it is not in the contract it will not happen, and does not exist (Boat rides/tours/maid service/drinks etc.).
2. Most resorts do not have their own sales teams they employ a sales and marketing team which obviously the resort is not responsible for any of their promises etc. etc.
3. The average cost of maintaining your timeshare appt.:
4. 400usd per week owned (maintenance) per year
5. 70usd Exchange membership per year
6. 125usd per week exchanged to exchange company.
What a Customer should ask, and understand (realizing there is no timeshare law in Belize)
1. Who owns the lands and the building (prove it)
2. How much debt is owed on the building and land.(in the U.S. it is a maximum 20% debt and 80% equity holding)
3 .How long the Sales and Marketing company been in operation
4. How many people have joined this resort
5. References from bona fide members.
6.What guarantees are there of the resort not going bankrupt (if the resort goes bankrupt you will not be allowed to remain a member of the exchange companies).
7. The exchange companies (R.C.I. and I.I. have no financial or legal responsibilities in the running or the operation of any resort in the world).
8. It is almost impossible to resell your timeshare week.(so it is like buying a new car when you drive out of the dealership over half its value has gone).
9. Guarantees from the legal owners that they will buy back your week for a guaranteed price.
10. Guarantees on exchanges in writing from resort) - for exampkle you want to go to Hawaii for Xmas,Switzerland to ski,France for the summer.
11.Is your timeshare deed registered in Belmopan,and what legal right do you have for week(lets say 45-a week with almost no exchange power)
Benefits of owning timeshare in Belize
You can come back every year.
It guarantees a holiday every year
You can holiday worldwide
You can leave it to your kids
A min. of four people can use the appt.
The units are generally prestigious and pristine
Locations are generally always good
You may save money in the long run
There are many other advantages of belonging to the exchange companies