In 2001, I, for the first time, nervously traveled out of the United States for vacation to the Bahamas, Nassau specifically. Little did I know that it will probably be the last time I ever do. It has nothing to do with the Bahamian people, the culture, the food, or even the weather. It has everything to do with a company who has presented themselves to sell their vacation packages to unsuspecting tourists. That company is Royal Holiday Club, aka Royal Holiday (I'll refer to them as RHC from here on in).
To make a long story short, my visit to the Bahamas was going very well, the people there are very friendly and helpful and were able to give me information on daily trips to some of the different islands where we could benefit from the culture and beauty that they are proud of. My last day there is where everything goes down hill.
We decided to walk over the bridge from Nassau to Paradise Island and enjoy some of the scenery and to discover what amenities were available for the next trip. This is when we ran into a few sales representatives from RHC that were talking among themselves until we continued through the doors of the Sheraton hotel. At that point, we were offered some food and drinks if we were willing to sit and listen to a presentation they had on their company. Well, we got bottled water and then 2 sales reps sat down and started informing us of the company and how they are teamed up with RCI and a few airlines to help make vacation planning a cinch. I listened causiously and understood everything they were offering and for the price, it sounded like a great deal, despite the annual dues that came with it. 5 hours later, we agreed on buying the 15k point "silver" package that would come with a 30 year annuity, $1000 towards our first trip booked with the company, a one time 15000 bonus points to use anytime, the ability to call and ask them to resell our package should we decide to, the ability to rent out our points, the ability to stack points if we decide to skip a year, the option to find our own financing within 15 days of returning home, and the final agreement - to be moved from the Holiday Inn to a double suite room at the Sheraton Hotel for our last night stay, including a fully paid cab ride and tolls to and from our previous hotel room.
2 days later, we flew back home to Colorado and after discussing this package on the way home, we remembered that we could cancel the contract within 5 days and that all we'll be responsible for is the last night's stay at the Sheraton. So I contacted the name and number that we brought home to inform him of our decision and after a few times of being on hold and transferred, I gave up. He did call me back about 3 hours later and after talking about our decision to cancel, he informed me that we couldn't cancel now because it was too late and that if we didn't complete our agreement of finding my own financing, he was going to turn in the paperwork to have a 3rd party company finance the plan. I was a bit stunned and I remember not knowing what to say next because I didn't know what could wind up happening if we ignored him and still canceled. I called the 800 number to talk to someone else about this and the first person put me on hold and said that they were going to transfer me to another department that handles my request. Never got another person on the line, I hung up and called back and again, same thing. 6 hours throughout the day on the phone and not a single resolution. I remembered that they said that we cancel, but we didn't have any information as to how to do it. One more conversation with the original guy in the Bahamas and I gave up...maybe this would work out...we'll see. So, needless to say, i got the financing done and had the check sent to him and that was the last time i had any conversation with this guy.
I sat down later on that week and attempted to view a vhs tape that he had given me that was supposed to show me how the whole thing worked. It was in Spanish, so i called the customer service line again and asked if they could send me an English version and they told me they could...it would take 2-3 weeks as they are out of stock right now. Never received this video. We remembered that there was a book that we were supposed to call up and ask for once we got back home so that we would have their entire listing of properties on hand. So I called and asked for that as well and they said that they were behind on getting those out, but they did receive a new shipment and they would put me down for one, should be 2-3 weeks. Again, never received it.
Time goes on and in that next year (2002), we wanted to go back to the Bahamas, so we called the customer service line and asked to get our reservations setup for our stay. We were told that the dates we selected were booked and that we would have to try another date. So we called back and tried 3 other different times of the year to get a reservation, again they were booked. So we thought we would just stack our points over to 2003 and try to use them next year, maybe with a bigger room to stay in or to stay during the high season. Well, the wife passed away in July of 2002 and never got a chance to do that. I called RHC right after the loss and requested that they put my package up for sale right away because I knew that I would not be able to keep up with the yearly maintenance dues, especially after receiving a late notice and fee in 2002 after not paying in the month of January. I thought we had all year to pay it, but maybe not. Anyway, i was informed that they do not resell the vacation packages and that I would have to contact someone else to do that for me. I informed them that it was mentioned in the presentation and that all we had to do was call up and ask for the resales group and they would take care of it....again, they don't and will not do this for me.
For the next 5 years, I continued paying the yearly dues and continued attempting to get this package sold and I still remain unsuccessful in getting rid of this curse. The last time I talked to RHC, I asked to cancel or have this package resold and one more time, they denied me. 3 hours later, my cell phone started getting calls from Florida and California from resellers who wanted to sell it for me, but interesting enough, wanted me to pay them first before they did anything for me. I told them that I would not pay them a dime until I hear that they have it sold and then after the checks were cut and the paperwork signed, I would pay them their fee. I even offered to pay them more after the fact but they wouldn't do that either.
Its now 7 years later and I've had enough with Royal Holiday and their Club that they represent. I've sent some angry emails to almost every email address I could find on their website and to some specific email addresses for the "official spokesperson" and to this day, they have not offered one reasonable negotiation to help me out. Even after getting a letter in the mail from their spokesperson and then informing him via email that I didn't get the club rules, the cancellation procedures, the property directory, the video tape in English, the annuity, the $1000 flight certificates, the bonus points certificate and to this day, not being able to successfully take one single vacation under their club plan, he still denies me the cancellation and refund. I don't know what you all think, but to me, this looks like a very clear breach of the contract we signed. I might as well have a contract that says nothing but "pay me" because that's all i've ever seen out of it.
So vacationers beware!!! Royal Holiday Club has offices everywhere and they will try to offer you free this and that to get you to sign, even alcohol for some of the people that went to Mexico and saw them and documented it in the yahoo groups forum that I belong to. See for yourself, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Royal_Holiday_scam/ there's only 608 of us registered and having the same problem....
Get the word out and be informed...don't let yourself or anyone else fall into their traps. It will feel like a lifetime to get out of it.
Thank you for reading.