We believe that we have been scammed, duped, taken advantage of and lied to by The Villa Group/Universal Vacation Club/Enterprise Travel. As a result we are out $19,100.
While staying at the Villa del Palmar Flamingos in July2010, we attended an update. At the update we met their Sales Assistant Manager Members. We were meeting with him (as compared to just one of the sales staff) because as gold members we had a significant annual maintenance fee commitment. At the meeting, he explained that they were concerned that at some point we would want to stop being members or in the future our heirs would not want to make the payments. The program he proposed addressed the organizations concern about receiving ongoing maintenance fees.
His proposal was twofold. The first part was to upgrade our gold membership and our fixed week unit without points to a Villa Preferred Access membership with points for $18,500. The second part of the proposal addresses why we spent $18,500 to have the same fixed week unit. He said and gave us a document in writing where he would allow us to rent, for the next 3 years, both our 3-bedroom unit for a net amount of $3,400 per week (rental amount less maintenance fee) and a 2-bedroom unit for $2,200 per week. After the initial 3 year period we could rent out one 2-bedroom unit for $2,200 each year, while going back to using our 3-bedroom unit.
Also during this initial 3 year time period, we could use a 2-bedroom unit for a cost of the $798 maintenance fee. He would upgrade this unit to an ocean front or penthouse unit prior to check-in. The 3 years of $3,400 net for the 3-bedroom plus 3 years of the 2-bedroom unit for $2,200 would offset most of the upgrade fee of $18,500. Subsequent to the 3 year period, the annual rental for a 2-bedroom unit at $2,200 would cover ongoing maintenance fees. Of course the rental fees would increase by 3% annually. In addition we paid a $600 fee to Enterprise Travel to facilitate the rental process.
Unfortunately no rental monies were ever paid. But of course we paid on our side. The net result of this process has been to pay a large sum of money to convert a gold fixed week unit we already had access to into the same exact unit with points.
In January 2013 we were at the resort and found out several disappointing things, confirming what had happened to us. It started with our VIP Concierge now being an Elite Concierge. She initially thought we were elite members since our points exceeded the minimum necessary for this program. At an update we found out that we were not elite members, that the previous sales staff was no longer employed and that we were one of many who had been duped by their sales staff. They said we should be happy we only spent what we did as compared to what some other owners had paid. Naturally, if we paid more money and obtained more points we could be elite members and have access to some of the areas around the pool that we previously had access to.
The bottomline: We assumed because the Sales Manager was an employee that his proposal was credible, good for both parties and that his actions were sanctioned and managed by The Villa Group/Universal Vacation Club.
We have been in touch several times with a Ms. Castro with The Villa Group. They have concluded that, in spite of the gross misrepresentation (our words) and some accountability must be held for both parties involved (her words), that there is nothing wrong here. UVC apparently has no accountability at all.
While we would recommend the Villa del Parlmar Flamingos as a great resort to visit, we would, however, suggest that anyone listening to their spin at an update or sales presentation go in with their eyes open and understand how they operate.