Rising fees at Horseshoe Resort have timeshare
owners accusing the resort's management of trying to force them out.
The increase has resulted in 792 empty timeshare
weeks for the 2011 year. Skyline International Developmenti s now asking current timeshare
holders to pay for those losses before the building is forced to close.
"This is our vacation property and we feel that it is getting taken away by a big corporation," 10-year timeshare
holder, Leah Connor said on Saturday. "Vacations are supposed to be all positive and happy. This is really taking away from that."
Skyline purchased the resort in 2008 for a reported $37 million.
Since then, those who hold leases with The Lodges timeshare
saw their per timeshare
week maintenance fees go from $435 in 2009 to $709 in 2010, rising to $1,108 in 2011.
The Lodges is comprised of 40 units, with two bedrooms each, located at the base of the ski hill.
More than 200 timeshare
holders attended a special meeting on Saturday at Horseshoe Resort to discuss the situation.
"I think it's totally unacceptable. It's too much," said timeshare
holder Marge McCauley. "Many timeshare
holders are retirement people on fixed incomes. Where is that money supposed to come from? I'm very sad by the whole thing."
McCauley, of Brampton, has owned one week in July since 1982 when The Lodges first opened.
"There seems to be a lot of mistrust as to what's going on," she said.
Peter Cowley, resort general manager, explained the increased maintenance fee comes from a newly instated refurbishment fund to update the building, minimum wage increasing and lawyer fees related to a lawsuit.
The HST has also resulted in a $96 per timeshare
week increase. In addition to the increased maintenance fees, Skyline is asking for $913 per timeshare
week from the 933 timeshare
holders in good standing.
When the 2011 budget was created, it was calculated based on having 1,725 timeshare
holders dividing the maintenance, refurbishment and the timeshare
owner's legal fee, Kevin Toth, president of Skyline Hotel and Resorts, stated in a letter to the timeshare
holders dated March 23, 2011.
The cost was determined to be $1,108 per timeshare
With 792 timeshare
holders deciding not to use their weeks this year due to the increased fees, the 2011 fees had to be reassessed, Toth stated in the letter.
The reassessment required an additional $913 for each timeshare
The Lodges costs nearly $1.3 million each year to operate.
Because 71.5% of the total budget is fixed fees, all 2011 maintenance fees will be depleted by June 17 if the additional $913 is not paid, Toth wrote.
Without the reassessment fees, Skyline, as the property manager, will have no funds to pay The Lodge's expenses.
"Without the funds, the property manager will be unable to provide any services or maintain the building, effectively being forced to shut down the Lodges," Toth wrote.
In 2009, the timeshare
holders took out a class proceedings act on Horseshoe Resort.The suit resulted in a settlement of how The Lodges was to be operated.
According to Skyline, the document says current timeshare
holders must divide up the maintenance costs.Timeshare
holders say this is being misinterpreted.
"I don't think the judge meant for the last person holding the bag to be paying for the whole building," said former timeshare
committee member, Kristin McKenzie.
McKenzie would like to see the settlement go back to the judge to clarify the decision.Timeshare
holders also accused Horseshoe Resort of not attempting to find new timeshare
Cowley says this is not the case.
The information is on the resort's website, was sent out on its mailing list and was put in every single hotel and timeshare
"We did sell some," Cowley said. "We got a couple, maybe a dozen."
There have been "hours and hours" of discussion on how to sell more weeks, Cowley said.
When asked by The Packet whether Skyline had a plan to force timeshare
holders out, Cowley responded that The Lodges building is in the resort's master plan.
When Skyline purchased Horseshoe it spent $1 million developing a "massive" master plan.
The plan is to make Horseshoe Resort into a miniature Blue Mountain, Cowley said.
The Lodges building is included in that plan alongside a replica which would sit behind it.
"The feeling is we want to rip it down," Cowley said. "It's a big ass concrete building. To tear that thing down and build it again would be nuts."
However, "the master plan doesn't go into the detail of who's in the building," Cowley said.Timeshare
holders are a boost to Horseshoe.
"Kicking them out puts us in a worse place," Cowley said. "It's in our best interest to keep that thing rocking and rolling."
Cowley explained that during slow months of the year when the resort "can't even give away hotel rooms" the timeshare
owners keep the resort open.
"Having that building full all-year-round allows a revenue flow for activities in the spa and the restaurants. If The Lodges was full of people we would have more people employed."
Toth told the timeshare
holders that Skyline will be able to keep The Lodges open with current funding until September. Three months longer than he previously stated in the letter.
No definitive decisions were made at the meeting. The new timeshare
committee, named on Saturday, will be speaking with Skyline further on the concerns.