Eco-Friendly Timeshares

With environmental health increasingly rising to the top of global concerns, the tourism industry is following suit. A number of timeshare resorts are evolving to address these concerns by implementing eco-friendly practices such as using energy and water-efficient systems, reducing and managing waste, using recycled and/or locally sourced materials, and even offering eco-friendly cocktails!

eco-friendly timesharesAccording to the United States Green Building Council, “In the United States alone, hotels represent more than 5 billion square feet of space, nearly 5 million guest rooms, and close to $4 billion in annual energy use.”

If living “green” is something that’s important to you in your daily life, it is likely just as important when you travel. Especially if you use your timeshare weeks at different locations each year, how do you go about finding eco-friendly resort options? Fortunately, there are many resorts–both national and international–which currently utilize ecological business solutions.

With a noticeable lack of a comprehensive list of such properties online, we’ve attempted to highlight some of the timeshare resorts in the U.S. that have been recognized for their eco-friendly practices.

Each year, Newsweek, in partnership with Corporate Knights Capital and HIP Investor, ranks the world’s largest companies on corporate sustainability and environmental impact. Many resort systems are among the largest companies in the world, and thus have earned a place on Newsweek’s list. The Newsweek Green Rankings evaluates the 500 largest publicly-traded companies in the United States by market capitalization. Companies are scored based on their performance on eight specific indicators: combined energy productivity, combined greenhouse gas (GHG) productivity, combined water productivity, combined waste productivity, green revenue score, sustainability pay link, sustainability board committee, and audited environmental metrics. The following resort systems appear on the 2016 Newsweek Green Rankings in the U.S. consumer discretionary sector:

-Las Vegas Sands Corp (#39)

-Wyndham Worldwide Corp (#80)

-MGM Resorts International (#109)

-Hilton Worldwide Holdings (#161)

-Marriott International Inc (#206)

-Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (#245)

-Walt Disney Co (#249)

There are, of course, other ways in which hotels can be recognized for their eco-friendly efforts. As of today, the most prominent green building certification a business can achieve is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED is an independent, nonprofit, third-party rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council. By becoming a LEED-certified property, hotels provide numerous benefits for the environment and, in turn, reduce operating costs gained from energy-efficient practices and utility cost savings, while also attracting a widely growing eco-friendly timesharespopulation of eco-conscious guests.

LEED Platinum is the highest level of certification. In order to obtain Platinum status, hotels must earn a minimum of 80 points on a 100-point scoring system. Points can be earned in seven categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in operations, and regional bonus points. There are currently only five LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the United States:

-Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, NC

-Hotel Skylar in Syracuse, NY

-Bardessono in Yountville, CA

-College Park Marriott Hotel & Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD

-W San Francisco in San Francisco, CA

Though there aren’t many Platinum-level options, there are many which hold Gold, Silver, or
Certified status. If you have a particular resort in mind that you want to check, search for it via this website.

If being environmentally conscious is important to you while traveling, there is more you can do beyond staying at eco-friendly resorts:

-Pack light. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces, so pack only what you absolutely need.

-Turn off lights, TV, and any heating/cooling when you leave your room.

-Reuse your shower towels.

-Avoid plastic water bottles and bring a reusable bottle instead.

-Take public transportation or walk as often as you can when you leave the hotel.

-Purchase food, drinks, and souvenirs from local vendors.

Do you practice ecotourism? Have you noticed any resorts in particular that are making an effort to be green? Share your story with us–we would love to hear it!

Timeshare Class Action Lawsuits

We recently received the following comment from one of our users:

My story exactly mirrors many of the other innocent people on this website. I see all the talk about wishing and wanting to do a class action lawsuit but no action. My suggestion is to use social media to our greatest advantage. If everyone starts to make mini videos and start posting them on YOUTUBE, Facebook, etc… they will start to go viral and demand the attention we need to file this suit and win. We should also start mailing in letters to our local news station to prompt media attention. All it takes is a few strong will people to bring light to this situation through the right source. Social media, news, YouTube videos from the thousands of Westgate owners taken advantage of. Then and only then will we all start to make some real progress and retrieve our money back. Let’s take a STAND!!

We realize there may be some frustration among timeshare owners who believe they were taken advantage of. Many of you may wish to join a class action lawsuit against a particular resort, but don’t know where to start. While you might feel better by expressing your thoughts and spreading the word on social media, the only way to truly receive retribution in your situation is to file a class action suit. Below we will outline the basics of class action lawsuits and how you might be able to get involved if you feel so inclined.

What It Is

A class action is a lawsuit in which many plaintiffs who have suffered the same or similar injury class action lawsuitsue one responsible party. This is the best option when there are too many potential plaintiffs to include everyone in a standard personal injury lawsuit. One or a few plaintiffs act as representatives for the entire group (lead plaintiffs), working closely with the attorneys on the case. The other potential plaintiffs are usually only contacted so that they can choose whether or not they wish to opt out or to be instructed on how to receive their share of a damages reward.

If a defendant settles the case or loses the trial, everyone who was victimized by the defendant’s fraudulent tactics is given a percentage of the damages or, if it is too difficult to identify and contact all of the “victims,” a fund is made available to provide damages to anyone who can demonstrate they were harmed by the defendant’s actions.

How To File

Due to the complex nature of a class action suit, the best way to go about filing is to hire an experienced class action attorney. If you or someone else with little to no legal experience tries to file a class action suit without an attorney, you will likely become overwhelmed by the process. If you really want to win your case, it is wise to consider hiring an attorney. While there is no specific number of people required to file a class action suit, there are generally around 30 people who believe they have suffered similar injuries in order for the suit to be practical and cost-effective.

It is also worthwhile to note that the lead plaintiff is not responsible for paying the attorney(s) fees or legal expenses. Class action attorneys take cases on contingent fee agreements and take their fees and pay expenses when they win or settle the case. Also be aware that a judge must approve a class action suit and certify the class before it progresses. The judge must confirm that the case meets the requirements of a class action suit and then must formally certify it as a class action lawsuit before it can move forward.

How To Join

In most class action cases, you don’t have to do anything to join a suit. The attorneys will typically try to find everyone who they believe may have been affected by the defendant’s actions and notify them via mail that they’re part of the lawsuit. Members of the class can then choose to opt out if they want to file a separate lawsuit. If you think you have been overlooked in a class action, however, the best thing to do is to check the legal notices in your local newspaper or search online for information regarding the suit. You should be able to find the names of attorneys associated with the suit and request to be added to the class.

First Steps

So, the first thing to do would be to search and see if you can find a similar class action suit that already exists against your resort. If so, you may be able to join that suit. If not, you might consider starting your own. Identify a few people who are willing to be the lead plaintiffs in the case to approach an attorney to file a suit on behalf of your class. Your attorney will be able to answer any further questions in more detail as the procedure proceeds. If you have luck in filing a class action suit against your timeshare resort, please let us know and we will keep the RCIVIP community in the loop.

Canadians and U.S. Timeshares

One of our users left the following comment on our Westgate Timeshare Orlando article in response to another person’s comment:

“We are seriously considering walking away from our TS with Westgate. We are not so concerned with our credit rating since we are Canadian and the banks and creditors here tend to look at your payment history as a whole and these types of “blemishes” don’t seem to bother us much if you can offer a valid argument. That being said, I have checked and Westgate is not listed as a creditor on our credit reports. My question is (and I don’t know if you can answer this), can we be denied entry into the U.S. for this?”

canadiansAn age-old question in the timeshare world is what will happen if you walk away and don’t pay. Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer to this question. Some people have walked away from their timeshares with no consequences, while others take a major hit to their credit score. But more often than not, if you walk away and stop paying the fees, your timeshare could go into default and eventually foreclose.

So now the question is if a timeshare foreclosure could bar a non-U.S. citizen (Canadian, in this case) from entering the U.S. The answer is probably not. You could possibly run into trouble if your mortgage lender decides to sue you for the money you owe–called a deficiency judgment–but only if it rises to the level of a criminal offense, which is unlikely. Even if they did file a criminal suit against you, that would not necessarily mean automatic denial into the U.S. So, you are probably safe to continue to travel into the U.S. following a foreclosure on your timeshare property, but it is wise to not let it reach this point. You might try some of these options before simply walking away.