Timeshares

The Queen of Versailles, a documentary about David Siegel, his family and the timeshare industry. Siegel founded Westgate Resorts and still maintains his position as chairman and CEO. The documentary shows a dysfunctional family struggling to cope with life during and after the crash of 2008 which adversely impacted the timeshare industry. You get a chance to see how timeshares are marketed and how the profits allowed a few at top to live a lavish life style. The Siegels lived in a 25,000 square foot home with 17 servants, and they were constructing a 90,000 square foot home when the bottom fell out of the timeshare market.

Timeshares are sold to lower income couples as a chance to live the good life at a price they can afford. At one point I owned 10+ units which I purchased at reduced prices at auction. I have disposed of most of my units at giveaway prices because in difficult times, few want the additional burden of annual maintenance fees that have doubled since I purchased the units.

A timeshare building of 100 units priced from the developer at an average of $20,000.00 each for a week is worth, on paper, $100 million (50 weeks x 100 units x $20,000 price) Two weeks each year are not sold to allow for maintenance. The buyer puts down 10% and signs a contract for the rest, which will be paid off over years plus the annual maintenance. The units are very nice, but it can be difficult to trade a unit for the week and destination one prefers.

My impression of the Siegel family: David devoted his life to the business, his wife Jackie was clueless, his children appeared mostly spoiled and the servants (housed in miserably small rooms) picked up after them and the pets that were not housebroken. One Filipino housekeeper lived in a child’s playhouse on the estate grounds to escape from the bedlam of the main house.

At one point in the movie, Siegel implies that he put GW Bush in the White House in 2000 because he encouraged the Republicans on his payroll to vote and discouraged Democrats working for him from voting. He believes that he added 1,000 Bush votes to the total Florida vote. I discount his claim because his votes were concentrated in the Orlando area and the Florida vote was disputed and settled in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area.

I rented the movie from Amazon. If you own a timeshare or have ever considered purchasing one, I recommend this movie as an eye-opener. It runs 100 minutes.

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6 thoughts on “Timeshares

  1. We bought a timeshare in around ’94. One of the biggest mistakes we ever made as we don’t use it and it was basically paying upfront for a hotel room for 25 years. Recently went to a seminar where we thought they’d buy it for cheap. They wanted $6K from us to get it liquidated. One of the biggest scams on the planet: timeshares. Thanks for the recommendation.

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