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Local timeshare resorts may shut down and be put up for sale

'Even death doesn’t get you out of your timeshare commitment,' laments longtime owner
carriage hills outside
Carriage Hills has 78 units within three buildings on eight acres in Oro-Medonte Township. OrilliaMatters File Photo

ORO-MEDONTE TWP. — An overwhelming number of people who want to get out of their troubled timeshares in Horseshoe Valley may lead to the closure of Carriage Hills and Carriage Ridge resorts and their subsequent sale as soon as this winter.

“As a consequence of the survey results, the administrator has recommended that both of the resorts be shut down effective Jan. 6, 2021 and sold due to a lack of ongoing financial viability,” administrator BDO Canada Ltd., told members in an email on Tuesday.

Of the Carriage Hills owners who voted, only 9.6 per cent indicated that they wanted to stay. Combined with the 27.6 per cent of owners who didn’t vote, the survey provider procured by BDO calculated the percentage of owners wanting to stay totalled 37.2 per cent, according to the results posted on the BDO website. 

Those voting to exit represent 62.8 per cent of owners; that includes delinquents who haven’t been paying their fees.

There is no indication of how many are delinquent owners, but court documents earlier showed around one-quarter of the approximately 11,000 members holding 13,000 shares of the resorts, combined, were in default.

The vote to exit is binding, according to rules earlier established by a judge, meaning those who indicated they wanted out will no longer own timeshare units and would pay an exit fee ranging from $1,150 to $2,417. They might also be subject to another payment if the resort lands are sold, according to court documents.

Those who voted to stay were to have the option to opt out later in the process if there was enough interest to restructure the resorts.

Among the Carriage Ridge owners, a total of 55 per cent, including delinquents, voted to exit and 45 per cent, 32.5 per cent of which didn’t vote, indicated they want to stay.

BDO indicated in the email that the boards of the two member associations have voted to accept and implement its recommendations, subject to court approval on Oct. 15.

Karen Levins, a Carriage Hills timeshare owner for 20 years and active advocate for members, said she was relieved to receive the results.

“Many owners have been saying for a long time that the resorts are past their prime and that timeshare ownership in Ontario has not been a good model,” she said. “Especially because for these particular resorts there was a contractual in-perpetuity clause that bound the owners to pay their maintenance fees forever.

"Even after they die, the responsibility to pay those maintenance fees transfers over to their heirs," Levins added. "So even death doesn’t get you out of your timeshare commitment.”

This has become a concern for members as they age, given that there is almost no market for timeshares, particularly older ones.

The Horseshoe-area timeshare resorts, which started development in 1997, are seeing significant increases in maintenance fees. 

The pandemic has introduced an additional layer of complexity, which led to the closure of the resorts for several months earlier this year.

“There was no way to get rid of this financial and emotional burden,” said Levins. “It has taken a significant effort to put this vote forward that gave people who have been trying to get out a voice that was heard by the courts.

“The number of people who wanted to exit was an overwhelmingly large voice," she added.

The court had heard that a large number of owners had simply walked away from their timeshare, refusing to pay the fees.

Carriage Ridge has 78 units within three buildings on eight acres. Carriage Hills has 172 units in eight buildings on 20 acres running independently from Horseshoe Resort, a major ski and golf resort in Oro-Medonte Township. 

The vacation units, part of Wyndham Destinations, were operating at a deficit from 2015 to 2018.

About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Buineman is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering justice issues based out of BarrieToday. The LJI is funded by the government of Canada
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