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RCI Exchange Fees to Increase Again Beginning December 4

Tree Tops Resort of Gatlinburg Damaged by Wild Fires

A local news station is reporting that the Tree Tops Resort in Gatlinburg has suffered catastrophic damage from the wild fires tearing through the Great Smoky Mountains.

No official release has been issued by resort personnel, but it appears that multiple buildings on the property have been completely destroyed.  The resort featured one- and two-bedroom condos, as well as cottage style units. There were also numerous amenities including several outdoor pools, and indoor pool complex, indoor racquetball court, putting green, fitness center, and playground.  

No updates have been obtained concerning the sister property, Oakmont Resort. 

What is Vacation Ownership and Time-Sharing?

Vacation ownership is the shared ownership of a resort property for a specified period of time. In simple terms, it is an advance purchase of your future vacation accommodations. Resort villas are traditionally larger and more deluxe than simple hotel rooms. Condominium-style timeshare villas normally are fully equipped with spacious kitchens, generous living areas, and ample room for family or friends. Timeshare units range from studio villas up to four bedroom vacation homes.

If you vacation consistently, timeshare ownership makes sense! Rather than purchase a full-ownership home or condo in a leisure destination such as the beach or mountains that you can only use for a few weeks each year, timesharing will allow you to purchase only the amount of time that you need. It also divides the cost of property management and upkeep among all the fractional owners. This type of shared ownership system can give you the luxury and privilege of the resort lifestyle in an affordable and obtainable ownership package!

Ownership of a timeshare interval is very similar to ownership of a full access condominium except that your usage rights are limited to a certain period of time. The ownership can be conveyed to you by deed, or by a leasehold interest which is commonly referred to as a right-to-use ownership.

A deeded interest is owned much like a home. A legal conveyance document is filed in public records and protects your ownership rights. It is an ownership interest that can be sold, gifted, or transferred to your heirs. This is the most common form of vacation ownership in the United States. Examples of this ownership type are some Marriott Vacation Club, Hyatt Vacation Club, Hilton Grand Vacations Club, and Starwood Resorts ownerships.

A right-to-use interest, or leasehold, is common for vacation properties outside the United States, but this form of ownership is becoming increasingly popular with American developers and there are now numerous forms of this ownership type throughout the timeshare industry. In this type of of timeshare interest, the resort retains legal ownership of the property and gives you a leasehold or license to use the property for a specific term. Upon expiration of your lease, your vacation ownership will terminate and return back to the developer. Examples of this ownership are the Disney Vacation Club ownerships, The Royal Resorts in Mexico, and standard memberships with the WorldMark by Trendwest Vacation Club. The usage remaining on a leasehold interest is a primary factor in determining the value of these properties. With a right-to-use ownership, you should ensure the terms and conditions of the leasehold and usage are fully disclosed to you prior to making a decision to buy.

Using the services of a licensed resale broker can be vital in ensuring your are fully aware of any restrictions and limitations of the ownership you purchase. It is important to understand that vacation ownership is a commodity that is intended for personal enjoyment, and thus is not a traditional real estate investment.  Timeshares and vacation ownership do not normally appreciate over time. Because of this fact, buying a timeshare from the resale market can save you thousands of dollars! A resale specialist can provide you with helpful information about the different types of timeshare ownership available, and can assist you in making an informed decision of which property will be meet your needs and lifestyle.

Westgate Smoky Mountains Resort in Gatlinburg Damaged by Wildfire

Wildfires have erupted throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and torn through parts of Gatlinburg, causing millions in damage to properties throughout the area. The CEO of Westgate Resorts, has confirmed that the Westgate Smoky Mountains Resort is one of the timeshares that has suffered significant fire damage. Luckily, staff was able to fully evacuate the property as reported winds of up to 70 mph caused the wildfire to spread incredibly fast. Videos posted on social media outlets show people driving to escape the blaze with flames covering both sides of the roadway.

According to a Westgate representative, the property was occupied by almost a thousand guests when the evacuation order was given by authorities. Within hours, the embers driven by the high winds caused the first building to catch fire. By the time the fires burned down, sixty-nine buildings on the property had suffered fire damage.

A message from CEO David Siegel posted on the developer's website promised to rebuild:

"As many of you are aware, a massive wildfire has spread through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and into our resort and the City of Gatlinburg. The local authorities have evacuated the surrounding area and we are still assessing the impact. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa has sustained substantial damage and will be temporarily closed while we complete a full assessment. Fortunately, there are no reported injuries or casualties at our resorts.
The resort will be closed until further notice and we will post more information as it becomes available. All existing reservations are being automatically cancelled through the end of the year– you will be receiving an email confirmation of your cancellation in the near future. As we determine the extent of the damage in the next few days, we will review future reservations and what we will be able to accommodate both at this resort while we reconstruct and at our other resorts.
We understand a lot of our owners have lots of questions and we will do our best to answer them as quickly as possible. In order to ensure your vacations remain as uninterrupted as possible, we will be waiving the developer exchange fee for all of our other Westgate resorts and encourage you to make your bookings at our other properties while we finalize our reconstruction plans. We have the resources and are committed to rebuilding this resort making it better than ever.
Thank you,
David A. Siegel"

RCI Exchange Fees to Increase Again Beginning December 4

RCI® Weeks has announced the new fee structure to be implemented starting December 4, 2016. Consumers who are unhappy with the ever increasing costs to exchange their timeshare reservations do still have other options. There are several independent exchange services including Trading Places International, SFX Resorts, Dial an Exchange, and Platinum Interchange which offer a smaller selection but lower costs to timeshare owners. Consumers can also focus on timeshare rentals to sell their own timeshare reservations, or can find more vacation opportunities by renting a timeshare reservation from another owner. If you aren't comfortable dealing with the rental process on your own, simply visit http://timeshare-rental.org for professional timeshare rental assistance with no upfront fees.

Annual RCI Weeks Subscription Fees Total Cost (USD)
1 YR $99
2 YRS $179
3 YRS $249
5 YRS $399 

Annual RCI Weeks Platinum Fees Total Cost (USD)
1 YR $69
2 YRS $120
3 YRS $171
4 YRS $216
5 YRS $250 

Exchange Vacations (USD)
Exchange Fee - Call Center/RCI.com $230
Exchange Fee - RCI Cruise (Deposit Trading Power of 7) $130
Exchange Fee - RCI Cruise (Deposit Trading Power of 14) $230

Last Call Rental booked through the Call Center or RCI.com
$269 (hotel/studio) $294 (1br)  $319 (2br)

Managing your Deposits (USD)

Deposit Extension - 1 Month $29
Deposit Extension - 3 Months $69
Deposit Extension - 6 Months $99
Deposit Extension - 12 Months  $119
Combine Deposit Fee  $119
Vacation Time Transfer Fee $98
Deposit Restore $69
Unit Upgrades and Changes $49

Managing your Exchange Vacations   (USD)

Guest Certificate $69
Trading Power Protection (within 30 days of booking) $59
Trading Power Protection (more than 30 days of booking) $99
Trading Power Protection (within 14 days of the date of travel) $99

Miscellaneous Fees (USD)

Membership or Deposit Transfer (MTA) $98
Guest Pass - 5 yr  $149
Directory of Affiliated Resorts (Duplicate) S&H fee $6.95

Timeshare Resorts Threatened by the North Carolina Wildfires

A number of wildfires are burning in the Western counties of North Carolina. Firefighters have been battling the blazes for days, which have impacted more than 47,000 acres and caused evacuations throughout the  region. The mountainous terrain, high winds, and the extreme drought conditions have made these dangerous fires even more difficult to contain.
While the Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Mountain and the Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Sapphire Valley remain open to guests, some areas of the Fairfield Mountain resort area are already under a mandatory evacuation. Guests who have travel plans to the area should continue to monitor reports, and those travelers with breathing disorders or other health conditions that may be impacted by poor air quality should contact the resorts directly for the most up to date information.
Other timeshare resorts that may be impacted are:
Foxrun Townhouses
Fairways of the Mountains