A Timeshare at the International Space Station?

It looks like the "last frontier" may be closer than you think for timeshare - a recent article from mashable.com says maybe even by 2020! A partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin called United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Bigelow Aerospace are collaborating on how to launch a small (330 cubic meters) apartment-like habitat to attach to the International Space Station (ISS) or float freely as an autonomous space station.

NASA Primary Customer

The habitat would serve as a test bed for industry partners and science organizations interested in launching experiments to space.  Founder and President of Bigelow Aerospace, Robert Bigelow, hopes that NASA would be the primary customer and give permission to the partners to commercialize. 

"Essentially we would be time-sharing," said Bigelow at a National Space Symposium press conference. ULA President and CEO, Tony Bruno added, "How exciting is that? A timeshare in space? Come on." The habitat called B330, could also be a short-stay tourist destination for those wanting to explore what life in space is really like.  

Democratizing Space

Bigelow and Bruno see their partnership as a major step toward democratizing space. They'd love to see companies brand their own space station - maybe even a Disney space station. Sure to be timeshares there!

Virgin Galactic Transportation 

In related space hospitality news - Virgin Galactic is moving forward on their quest to provide space flight to all people. Its purpose - to become the spaceline for Earth; democratizing access to space for the benefit of life on Earth. Its aim - to make space accessible to almost anyone who dreams of viewing Earth from space and experiencing weightlessness. 

Become a Virgin Galactic Astronaut

It won't be easy to become a Virgin Galactic Astronaut. Safety of their passengers, crew and vehicles is their top priority. First, you'll have to prove that you don't have any medical conditions that would prevent you from flying into space, and then you'll have to submit an application of the Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut submission form. If accepted (and this may be what stops most of us), you have to give them the full price of $250,000 as an upfront deposit. Only then can you go through the three days of intense pre-flight training at Spaceport America, where you'll learn all the good stuff such as tips on how to be the most comfortable in macrogravity. Have a good flight!

Hundreds of Shenandoah Crossing Owners Given Foreclosure Notices

Hundreds of owners at Bluegreen Vacations' Shenandoah Crossing Resort were given foreclosure notices in March. The foreclosures are related to tenant-in-common ownership stakes in properties recorded in Louisa County, Virginia. The defaults date to January 1, 2012 according to the legal ad for the notices.

Attorney Comments

"There are clearly a lot of people who have not paid their timeshare assessments and probably an owners' association that would like to resell the timeshares to new owners that will pay future assessments," said John D. McPhaul, an attorney for Troutman Sanders, a Richmond law firm, specializing in commercial lending and foreclosures.  

McPhaul went on to say, "Legal advertising for the sale of timeshares tends to be done in bulk because it is more cost-efficient, as the sale of individual timeshares does not typically generate the same amount of proceeds that the sale of a single-family home or condominium unit would."  He added that he didn't know if the Shenandoah notices represent more than the usual number of owners in default for this particular timeshare project, and that the number of timeshares in any project can vary widely.

Timeshare Resort Offers 1000 Acres of Wilderness

Shenandoah Crossing is located near Gordonsville, Virginia and northeast of Charlottesville. It's owned by Florida company Bluegreen Corporation, which manages and markets the Bluegreen Vacation Club that includes Shenandoah Crossing. The resort opened in 1989. According to the website of the sales center, the resort offers 1000 acres of wilderness area, including a 60 acre lake for fishing, pastures, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Accommodations include yurts, round canvas tents with central air and heat, recreational vehicle pads, cabins and town homes.

Notice to owners in Richmond Times-Dispatch

According to an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a notice to Shenandoah Crossing owners which ran Monday through Friday at the end of March stated, "You are in default on your assessment due to the association. Unless you take action to protect your property, it may be sold at a public sale. If you need an explanation of the nature of the proceedings against you, you should contact a lawyer."

The property owners were listed individually as having a 1/6,000th undivided interest as a tenant-in-common. The default amounts listed for each owner range from about $2,700 to more than $20,000. The estimated foreclosure cost for each property owner is $650. 

Investment Banker says "Not a Good Deal"

An investment banker at John B. Levy & Company in Richmond, commenting on the notice said "it looked like Bluegreen sells each home site for a separate week out of each year, which would allow them to sell 52 shares." He added that, "he couldn’t say anything else because the notice was hard to decipher, but that it looked like a deal to stay away from as a potential real estate investor."

Foreclosure Sale Draws Small Crowd

According to NBC.com, the foreclosure sale for the timeshares went ahead on March 30th and drew a small crowd. Prices ranged from $830 to $23,000. Staff at Shenandoah Crossing told NBC.com that 144 properties will foreclose and released a statement, "We are positive that this foreclosure process will allow for the sale of the delinquent inventory to new owners who will enjoy visiting the resort." The management company claims it tried to work with timeshare owners for many years on the issue, but wasn’t able to get the problems resolved.

No Word from Bluegreen Corp.

So far Bluegreen Corporation isn't talking. Calls to the company, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch were not returned.  Bluegreen Vacations is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bluegreen Corporation which manages and markets the Bluegreen Vacation Club. Its website says the vacation ownership program connects 195,000 owners with 60 Bluegreen resorts in more than 40 destinations across the U.S. and Canada.

The Best Days of the Industry are Ahead

"The Best Days of the Industry are Ahead" - those were the closing remarks of Howard Nusbaum, ARDA CEO and President, in a recent interview with Shep Altshuler of Time Sharing Today Radio. The interview entitled "The State of the Industry" was mostly positive and addressed such issues as consolidation, the new buyers of timeshare, legacy resorts, and the effect of big brands on the industry.  Nusbaum says, "The 'Golden Days' of timeshare are ahead of us, not behind us and the industry is now on solid ground." There are currently 8 million timeshare owners domestically and another 3-4 million in Mexico. A worldwide study by ARDA to be completed within 6 months will show the total global numbers.

The Headline is Consolidation

Nusbaum said it's probably not surprising that the headline in the industry is consolidation, as large brands have been buying smaller timeshare companies for the past 15 years. He feels that consolidation is a good thing as we are a capitalistic society. The big brands like Hyatt and Hilton contribute to making the industry more mainstream, they are well capitalized and have the ability to "weather the storms and to grow their business."

What New Owners Want

According to Nusbaum there is a culture shift in the industry from 30 years ago. New owners are more diverse. Of the purchases made in the last 36 months, only 49 percent were Caucasian, buyers are younger and more affluent. They are college educated and own a home. Fifty percent have kids at home and that’s the reason they are looking for a better family vacation. The millennials in particular don’t want to vacation in the same place year after year - they want to see the world. 

Legacy Resorts

Altshuler questioned Nusbaum about legacy resorts and asked what was being done to help the aging owners and the piling up of inventory at these resorts. Nusbaum said the industry should work to "create elegant exits" for the long-time owners who may no longer be able to use their timeshare, or have no one to leave the timeshare to.  He stated that the ability to recycle inventory is a key to a solution for struggling legacy resorts. Currently, ARDA is working on tools to help legacy resorts. Says Nusbaum, "We have the responsibility to educate owners." He urges owners to contact him at nnusbaum@arda.org and says he answers all of his emails.

Negative Press

Another question posed by Altshuler was concerning a New York Times article about the hard sell being back and if in Nusbaum's opinion, it was still around. Nusbaum, who says he has been going to timeshare presentations for 25 years, doesn't agree. He finds now that the presentations are much more consumer centric. He says the regulatory structure we have that includes rescission has helped greatly. Also, buyers are more educated. The average person attends 3 tours before buying a timeshare. 

Nusbaum feels the big brand companies have brought in a new level of hospitality that has helped the timeshare industry. According to Nusbaum, there is an 83 percent satisfaction level among timeshare buyers, but it is the 17 percent dissatisfaction level that concerns him. We need to find out what happened to those 17 percent. Did they not understand what they bought? Could they not afford the timeshare? Did they not get the service they expected?  He indicated that possibly the negative press comes from people who want to profit from helping buyers get out of a contract.

For more information: www.tstoday.com