Divi timeshares still incomplete

Although there is no movement with the sale of the Divi Tiara Resort on Cayman Brac, the corporation says the re-construction of timeshare units there is to be completed in a matter of months.

But one timeshare owner finds it difficult to believe that the construction will soon be in motion, as the building in question was gutted two years ago and has stood open since then.

‘We have been told, over two years, that the construction ‘was about to start’,’ said timeshare owner Edward Haladay of Baltimore, Maryland. ‘Today the second building stands stripped to its bones, wind and water swept – empty. We’ll believe Divi when we see it completed and occupiable’.

Six of the total 12 timeshare units have been renovated. Divi Resorts Vice President Sales and Marketing Mark Steward, said construction for the remaining six is to be finished within several months. ‘The construction team arrives next Monday to finish the project,’ he told the Caymanian Compass this week.

In a letter sent to the Compass newspaper and also to the New York Times Travel Section, Mr. Haladay had outlined several concerns with regard to the timeshare situation at Divi Tiara in Cayman Brac. He and his wife and family have spent 14 years diving for two to four summer weeks at Divi Tiara and love Cayman Brac.

The Divi Tiara hotel closed down last September, but the timeshare part of the operation has remained operational since then.

Because of ongoing problems surrounding the renovation of the timeshare buildings, the owners have been put into small hotel rooms instead of occupying their apartments over the past few years. ‘The owners have not been given a time schedule from Divi for work completion,’ said Mr. Haladay, of the second building yet to be completed.

Mr. Steward had not given a reason for the delay with construction work by press time.

Since the closing of the Divi Tiara beach hotel some of the timeshare owners have been housed at Brac Caribbean Resort and Carib Sands Beach Resort.

The closing of the Divi Tiara beach hotel has given the timeshare owners a new set of problems, Mr. Haladay wrote.

‘Now, to make matters worse, the closing of the hotel – this is a diving resort – leaves the owners without food, bar, and pool facilities as well as a diving staff and boats.’

Mr. Steward said that since the closure of the resort, timeshare owners have been using the Brac Reef Beach Resort dive facilities, restaurant, pool and bar. ‘The pool is allowed for free by Brac Reef and the other facilities are rate driven as they were at Tiara. None of these amenities are part of the timeshare fee as they were not at Tiara,’ he said.

Mr. Haladay also claims that Divi was unilaterally trying to cancel all timeshare contracts at the property and force owners into other venues.

Mr. Steward said that Divi offered the ability for the owners to switch if they chose to move to one of the other resorts owned by Divi. He added that Divi is providing what the timeshare contracts outline as the developer’s requirements, such as twice weekly maid service and check in.

He affirmed that there are no plans for the sale of the timeshare development at this time.

‘We are sorry that the owners are unhappy at the closure of the resort. However, that is a separate business from the timeshare and that is delineated in the contract. Therefore, we did what was fiscally responsible as a corporation.’

The letter from Mr. Haladay also states that requests to monitor the annual maintenance fee expenditures the owners have paid over the years remain unanswered and owners trying to discuss the situation with Divi receive only form letters.

Mr. Steward said that during the reconstruction phase maintenance fees have been used to rebuild the units.

‘We are continuing to maintain the timeshares and with the new construction crew on island, we will have all 12 units available within months. Therefore the owners should be happy that the developer is still fulfilling his responsibility to them even though the maintenance fees that are collected are a huge shortfall in maintaining this resort.’

But Mr. Haladay says that it is Divi’s contractual obligation, so it is not something owners should need to feel happy about.

‘We love the Brac, and we hate to see what Divi’s abrupt exit has done to its economy,’ he stated.

He said that for years Divi has let their facilities at Divi Tiara, along with the timeshares, decline, causing an overall erosion of the properties’ potential.

Recently there had been problems with the renewal of licensing of the resort, based on the resort not meeting minimum Hotel Licensing Board standards.

Mr. Steward said that the company would have invested the money in the resort to get it to the standards that are required by the Licensing Board as it had done every year.

‘However, in reviewing the infusion of cash that our stockholders have had to input on a yearly basis due to lack of revenue from tourism, this project was deemed as not profitable since we have no chance of regaining the investment due to the loss of the business caused by the airlift situation.’

Divi Resorts has cited lack of direct airlift, baggage restrictions, bad weather and increased competition as reasons for closing the Divi Tiara Resort, for which there has been no movement with regard to a sale.

The asking price is from US$9 to $US11 million and as yet nothing from the resort such as dive boats or the dive shop has been sold as a separate entity.