“I am not spending one more cent on that island”: Caravanserai victims continue to complain

POSTED: 01/7/15 4:24 PM

St. Maarten – Disgruntled timeshare owners at the former Caravanserai Resort in Beacon Hill continue to complain about the way they were robbed of their investments by the new owner, Ray Sidhom. St. Maarten Weekly News, the electronic newsletter produced by Jeff Berger, is one of the platforms that functions as a virtual meeting point for the latest victims of St. Maarten’s timeshare industry.

Berger writes this week that 2,300 timeshare owners received an email from Sidhom – or rather from the formal owner Algeria Real Estate – saying that their timeshare contracts had become worthless. Many of the victims invested tens of thousands of dollars in their place under the sun.

“They feel that if government cared about timeshare owners, it would have made sure this kind of outcome could not possibly ever have taken place,” Berger summarizes the dozens of reactions he received from victims who wrote to him personally.

Berger notes that Sidhom intends to turn the resort into an upscale hotel without timesharing.

“We have lost everything,” one female timeshare owner wrote to Berger. “I can’t imagine why the island apparently doesn’t care about timeshare owners, since we spend a lot here every year regardless of anything else that’s going on.” She was referring to recessions, hurricanes, economic downturns, etc., through which timeshare owners always return. “We are always here for the island, but at the end of the day, they were not here for us.”

Another wrote: “I’m not coming back to St. Maarten after this year. I know that most Caravanserai timeshare owners are going away and that will hurt some businesses. But if those business owners really cared about us, they would bang on the doors of government people to fix this instead of complaining about the loss of business. In my opinion, they are as much to blame as the government since none of them did anything to stop this and help us. Do I feel guilty about leaving them? Not one bit.”

Another wrote Berger to say that he personally had lost over $50,000 at Caravanserai. “There is no way I will ever go back to St. Maarten, not after this. Nobody helped, so I’m not spending one more cent on that island.”

This newspaper received the following email from another victim, Katy Hamm: “Yup, we are another couple being screwed by SXM. We love SXM and go every year but after this, forget about it. We thought of it as our second home, having the 6th week of the year, a prime time to get away from winter in New Jersey. We also paid for extra days in 2015 and we lost that too. The government should stand behind us, USA would never let this happen and, yes, businesses will lose too with so many people not returning. Shame on everyone in SXM for doing this to us. There are many more islands to change our vacations too but our losses are unthinkable.”

The reactions from these understandably upset timeshare vacationers seem to indicate that they are unaware of, or dissatisfied with the rescue operation the St. Maarten Timeshare Association has set in motion. Berger reported about this initiative last week, but it has not stemmed the flow of complaints.

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Comments (7)

 

  1. Mary trgovcevic says:

    Above all, I wish someone would keep us in the loop of what is going on. For one thing, I had no idea that the Caravanserai had gone bankrupt. I did not know it was up for auction and I did not know that Alegria bought the property. The only way I found out was when RCI sent an email that Alegria was not honouring the time share agreements. What a way to find out. Perfect Christmas present. This will be the first and last time I buy a timeshare from anyone.
    I hope something is being done to compensate the time share owners of the resort. Even with bankruptcies there are laws that some sort of minimum payment is to be made. The originals owners took our money and stashed it away. I am sure that they are sitting comfortably somewhere and too bad for us.
    Very frustrated here in cold montreal

  2. Add me to the list with my submitted article as of today, 1/12/2015. TOCA (Timeshare Owners at Caravanserai Association is asking timeshare owners to contact them at TOCAGROUP@GMAIL.COM for further information on contesting the annulment of their timeshare contracts. This is not over yet at all!

  3. Elena Marchiori says:

    Hi to everyone
    I am Elena and gather with you all from Germany!

    Me and my husband also invested a lot in the past years –
    Alike Mary from Montreal , we were totally forgotten , no information, no notification , noone informed us , not even RCI!!
    I found out by pure chance , because I was wondering about the missing invoice for the due maintenance fees .. started to send emails to the usual address with no response! There I started to look up into the resort website and in general in the internet and there I found out!

    Shocked, frustrated , totally lost – and so far away…

    Luckily TOCA is assisting and there seem to be a solid ground to make a legal case.

    Elena

  4. BOB & GALE HALLER says:

    WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND HOW THE GOVERNMENT OF SINT MAARTEN CAN ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN TO THEIR TIMESHARE INDUSTRY WHICH IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE ECONOMY OF THE ISLAND. WE HAD $35,000.00 INVESTERD AT TYHE CARAVANSERAI, WHICH HAS NOW BEEN STOLLEN BY RAY SIDHOM AND ALEGRIA. DOES ANYONE ON THE ISLAND CARE? WE WILL NOT RETURN TYO THE “FRIENDLY ISLAND” AND WILL BE SURE TYO TELL EVERYONE OF OUR EXPERIENCE ON THE ISLAND.

  5. wayne and Sandra Nuhn says:

    We have been coming to this island since 1996 and have spent literally thousands of dollars on goods and services made available by business people from both the Dutch and French sides of the island. But, the debacle that has taken place at the now-called Alegria Hotel has been devastating. There are approximately 2,200 international timeshare families affected, all of whom have made a financial investment in timeshare ownership at the Caravanserai ranging from $10,000 up to $200,000 per family.

    We are shocked that the government of St. Maarten has not taken an active role, not even a minimal active role, to assist in settling this dispute: (1) for the Caravanserai owners who are directly involved; (2) for all timeshare owners at all resorts on the island who will likely someday find themselves in the same mess we find ourselves in today; and (3) for each and every St. Maarten citizen who earns their livelihood working in the tourism sector. Without a doubt there could be a severe negative impact on all fronts, inasmuch as the economy of St. Maarten centers around tourism where more than four-fifths (83.7%) of the labor force is engaged in this sector. [Source: 2014 CIA World Factbook, updated January 7, 2014]

    Furthermore, we are totally embarrassed to acknowledge that a fellow American and a neighbor, by the name of Raymond Sidhom, is the owner of the Alegria Hotel. He has ruthlessly and uncaringly disrupted many lives not only of those living in the US but globally as well, and he is tarnishing the name of THE FRIENDLY ISLAND for pure personal gain. Without a doubt we are quickly losing our faith in St. Maarten and its legal system. We find it difficult to want to return to a place where our voices are not heard and we are no longer welcome.

    THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, AND THE FINAL DECISION OF THIS CONFLICT WILL SET A FIRM PRECEDENT.

  6. Tom Dzikiewicz says:

    The blame for this timeshare failure should also be put on the bank that gave the owns the loan. I contacted the bank by e-mail with little info on the bank foreclosure. I even went to the bank when on the island on a cruise and still
    wasn’t able to get necessary info about everything going
    down. This time share is not the first to have it’s problems
    on the island. What use to be a good deal is now in some
    cases ,not. Even some of the name time share sellers have
    been accused of miss doings to the point of steering owners
    with points to less favorable places to stay even when the
    places they are looking for are available. I guess the saying,
    “Buyer Beware” has more meaning than ever. I’ve actually
    have seen owners walking away or trying to give their time shares away on the island. Some due to increase in the
    maintenance fee or increase in flight cost.

  7. LINDA DELANEY says:

    As to our surprise we were getting our flights booked when I called as I have been doing since we purchased our timeshares with our wedding money 2007. I was told by some evil woman (M) that we no longer have a timeshare and I asked when did this happen she rudely said this is no longer our problem you can blame the former owner do not call here anymore you are not welcomed. I never received one bit of anything to inform us we lost our lifelong vacation home. I am so mad the Island has not done one thing for any of us.
    WE WILL NEVER RETURN TO ST. MAARTEN AGAIN AND PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THIEVES!!!!!!!!!!!