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Fatality at Celebrity Resorts Brigantine

Jennie

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This message was recently posted at the Celebrity Resorts Yahoo Group:

"Celebrity reversed its past practice of allowing owners to use the
facilities(pool, etc.) outside of their allotted weeks this past July. A
woman drowned in the pool one month later trying to save her son.

I am a local owner who used the pool regularly and had the experience of
having to jump in to help a mother holding a young child one day when
she didn't realize how steep the drop was from shallow to deep end in
the pool. T

Through the years, local owners were allowed to use the pool
and there were no fatal accidents. The policy gets changed and one
month later there is a fatality. Celebrity needs to reconsider."
 

Carolinian

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If you have any local lawyers among your members, you might ask if Celebrity's policy is even legal. Isn't this a resort that they bought rather than built? A small developer is more likely to have written owner friendly covenants than a big developer. At many if not most OBX timeshares, any such policy would be contrary to the legal rights of the owners.

It is also self defeating. OBBC I and II have found a good resale market for off season timeshares selling them to local people who are attracted to yearround use of the facilities. I have also heard of one rural UK timeshare that did very well in selling their off season weeks doing the same thing.
 
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JeffW

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While the death is unfortunate, I'm trying to understand what would supposedly make non-guests (ie. local owners) more susceptible to accidents than someone staying there during an assigned week? If anything, I'd think there would be more risk for non-owners, since owners (whether during their week or not) might be more familiar with the property.

Jeff
 

BILL_B

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If I interpret it correctly I think that the person posting the comment on Yahoo (Not the OP here) is a disgruntled local owner who no longer has "day use". At some point in the past this person helped save someone and now feels that because local owners have "knowledge" of the drop-off that if some of them had been present the drowning would have been prevented.

Seems like a long stretch, to use a tragedy, to get back privileges that they feel shouldn't have been eliminated.

Bill
 

sjuhawk_jd

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Life is too precious!

If I interpret it correctly I think that the person posting the comment on Yahoo (Not the OP here) is a disgruntled local owner who no longer has "day use". At some point in the past this person helped save someone and now feels that because local owners have "knowledge" of the drop-off that if some of them had been present the drowning would have been prevented.

Seems like a long stretch, to use a tragedy, to get back privileges that they feel shouldn't have been eliminated.

Bill
Bill, thanks for clarifying the intention of the OP. However, I disagree with your opinion on this. I think the OP is reporting a fact about the dangerous situation (which may educate others who may exchange into this resort) and also making a good point that the presence of locals might have been saving the lives at this place. Tragedy happened already, making it public to prevent more from occurring makes sense to me.
 

Sharhu

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Earlier this summer when we made a day trip, Dave, the supervisor at the front desk, told us that for insurance reasons they were not allowing owners to use the pool unless they were staying there. Not sure how true that is but that is the story we were given. As we almost never use the pool on day trips it wasn't a big issue for us. What was very annoying is that they also no longer issue parking permits for owners down for a day trip. You now have to find parking in the street. Again, according to Dave, this was so they could give more control of the parking to the Laguna Restaurant as the parking is shared and it is their parking valets sthat have to deal with the parking issues. That also didn't make much sense to me. There certainly cannot be very many owners that are down looking for parking each day, but that is the story I was told.

Dave however is not my favorite employee at Brigantine. We just returned from our week there. They have finished the painting and replacing furniture and carpeting in the Inn and it is a definite improvement as are the windows and airconditions. Appliances are still in the process of being replaced, more due in soon. What I was not happy about was findig that kitchen supplies have not been kept up with or replaced. I checked in to my 1 bedroom sleep 4 unit to find only 3 plates, no bowls for cereal, only 2 serving salad bowls and no bowl to mix salad, no bowls to even mix anything like pancakes, scramble eggs,etc. Also no pitcher for mixing juice or ice tea. No tea kettle. No serving dishes of any kind. I had 2 teaspoons, 4 forks and 4 knives. There were a couple kitchen knives. No dishes that could be used in the microwave to heat up anything unless it was something that could be put on a plate. No measureing spoons, no measuring cup. There was a nice set of pots but nothing that could be used in the oven. More upsetting that the lack of dishes, etc. was the attitude I got from Dave who when I went down to see what could be done, I was told todays traveler doesn't use big salad bowls they just make a small salad in the bowl. Today's traveler doesn't need a kettle, they can heat up water for tea in the cup in the microwave. Survey's have shown today's traveler doesn't use the oven much...Today's traveler doesn't need... etc. He did say they had so many complaints about not having pitchers they were going to stock them again. I ended up getting 3 cereal bowls, not the 4 I asked for, a couple more plates and a couple spoons. I ended up going out that and buying a pitcher, some bowls to use for mixing my pancakes or salad, some microwave cookware bowls and some other items. All items I didn't need at home so guess they go in a box to take with next year. I don't know what survey he was quoting but we still like to cook a lot of meals when we are staying in a timeshare. That is why we stay in a timeshare rather than a hotel.
 

Carolinian

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The issue is whether management has this authority. Unless there are some specific provisions to the contrary in the covenants, owning an undivided interest is probably going to legally give you the right to use the grounds whenever you want. Try to find an owner in the same boat who is a lawyer in the state involved. Some covenents may put that power in the hands of the HOA. One place it probably does NOT reside, however, is in the hands of mere management.

The defense about insurance also seems bogus to me, having served on an HOA board of a timeshare that had a pool that was open to owners whenever they came down, and some local owners who used it regularly. We never had an issue come up on that with our insurance. Call his bluff by asking for correpondance or any other proof that insurance indeed has anything to do with this.

If memory serves, isn't Celebrity the organization that tries to make its HOA's non-functional? If so you are dealing with some VERY slippery characters.
 

tonyg

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Not sure if Steve has their agenda right, but they are a shady outfit that is best avoided. I think an online search will get you more details and maybe even an owners group.
 

pianodinosaur

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The loss of life in a swimming pool is always tragic. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about a swimming pool. A 2 year old child drowned last year in our community during a Thanksgiving Family Celebration. Numerous people were present but nobody was watching. The accident took place at the child's grandparent's home.
 

Jennie

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Celebrity Resorts acquired ownership of the Brigantine property after Leisure Resorts went bankrupt. Long-term owners (including one or two TUG members) who served on the HOA for years were ousted. There has been no HOA for several years.

Maintenance fees are now about double what they were ten years ago. There was a Special Assessment (around $1100.) levied in 2007 with no advance notice given to the owners. When the SA notices were mailed to owners, they were given a very short period of time to pay--about 30 days, I think. This created a financial hardship for many seniors on a fixed income who have been owners since the 1980's. When they called to discuss the situation, they said they were treated in a very harsh, threatening manner. Collection letters, with late fees added, began arriving soon thereafter.

After Celebrity came into control, the annual owners meetings were not held for several years. When owners inquired/complained, a meeting was scheduled 2 years ago in October. The notices mailed with the time and date arrived after the meeting date. They were postmarked the day before the meeting.

Last year members began calling on a regular basis in August asking for details about the time and date of the annual meeting. The Front Desk staff either had no idea, or had vague information. This time the notices arrived about one week before the meeting, which was held at a VFW hall, difficult to find, about a mile or two from the resort, on a Friday morning in October at 9:00 a.m.. . It was pouring rain. Yet about 100 owners showed up. (For many years, the meetings had been held in the meeting room at the resort in the late afternoon). A slick team made a presentation re: the progress (or lack thereof) of the renovations.

During the meeting, the team leader (can't remember the guy's name), when questioned about several issues, including the parking and day privilege changes, claimed that the bankrupt prior owner (Leisure Resorts) had left no papers behind so they had no idea what the owners were entitled to. An elderly, polite, very well-spoken gentleman stated that he had been on the HOA for years and had tons of boxes of paperwork at his home, including copies of his ownership papers. He offered to provide any documents they wanted. I have no idea if anyone from Celebrity Resorts followed through on this offer, but me thinks they did nada.

It was evident during the meeting that many of the owners felt a great deal of affection and loyalty to the resort. They spoke about all the great family vacations they have had through the years with their children who are now adults coming with their children. You could hear the hurt in their voices re: the way they had been treated when they could not immediately come up with the sudden Special Assessment payment. It's a shame that Celebrity does not appreciate the value of having loyal long term owners, who have hung in during the years when the resort was decaying due to lack of proper maintenance.

Does anyone know if the HOA can legally be discontinued when a new resort group obtains ownership through bankruptcy. Does the bankruptcy "wipe out" former agreements?

Clearly there is a need for an attorney to look into the entire situation. The annual meetings were resumed only after the owners pushed for it. The laws pertaining to timeshares in New Jersey are said to be very strict. Perhaps they could be asked to investigate. The main problem is that so many of the owners are seniors who are not computer savvy.

Any suggestions on how to proceed would be greatly appreciated.
 

ljwhit

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Can anyway tell me if any of our "special assessment" has gone to the refurbishment of the units yet? I know a lot of work was done on the outside, but what about the sad conditons inside? :confused: :bawl: :shrug:
 

Jennie

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Can anyway tell me if any of our "special assessment" has gone to the refurbishment of the units yet? I know a lot of work was done on the outside, but what about the sad conditons inside? :confused: :bawl: :shrug:
Yes, there has been great improvement to the units. Those at the Inn were completed around June 2008. Work began last month in the Villas. The elevators at the Inn are still problematic, despite a very expensive upgrading (cost around $300,000. and it still is out of service too often).

While the quality and appearance of the new carpeting and furniture is rather ordinary (certainly not a Marriott), they are 1000% nicer than before. King size beds have replaced the queens in the master bedroom. In some of the units, this means there will be no end table or lamp on the left side of the bed. The windows and walls have been painted and upgraded throughout the units so they are no longer peeling and leaking. There's new larger flat panel televisions. The bathrooms have been somewhat updated. However, there is no cabinet or shelves to hold cosmetics and toiletries.

The lobby has been renovated. There's now a sitting area with 4 very comfortable upholstered chairs, and a free computer (30 mins. max use).There are white wooden rocking chairs on the front terrace which were always in use. I heard that they had purchased about 15 chairs but some of them "disappeared".

I spent two very enjoyable weeks there in July. One of the weeks (a one bedroom on the 5th floor--ocean view) was purchased on Ebay for $6.00.
 

Carolinian

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Find out what state government agency regulates timeshare in that state and give them a call. In North Carolina, as in many states, it is the state Real Estate Commission. The HOA is also probably set up as a non-profit corporation. Find out who regulates corporations and give them a call. Also try the Consumer Protection Division of the state Attorney General's office.
 

ljwhit

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Thanks Jennie for the update. Makes me feel much better about the $$. I'll have to return soon to check it out. My last visit was July 07.:whoopie:
 

Jennie

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Thanks Jennie for the update. Makes me feel much better about the $$. I'll have to return soon to check it out. My last visit was July 07.:whoopie:
I rented out (through an ad on Redweek.com) one of our Celebrity Brigantine weeks in early August to a woman who owns many timeshares, including some Marriotts. We spoke by phone and I told her honestly that this is a rather "plain" but clean and comfortable "resort." I consider the spectacular beach, the charming town of Brigantine, and the proximity to the Atlantic City casino to compensate for some of the things that are lacking in this 80 year old historic building. I was a bit apprehensive, hoping that she would not be disappointed.

Within a few days of her return from Brig, she sent me a lovely "thank you" Email saying that she and her family had a wonderful time and that they would love to rent the unit again next summer if I am interested.

So it's good to know that other people are seeing the value of the improvements we paid for.
 

BobS

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I called Brigantine last week and was told by the new (again!) manager that this year's Owners meeting will take place Saturday, 15 Nov. He indicated that the meeting was moved later to allow for the completion of room upgrades, and so Owners could see the improvements.

I have a copy of the original developers Public Offering, and HOA Covenents. In my opinion the CR management is operating in violation of documents filed with the state of New Jersey, specifically by not sending out proxies that might allow owners to re-take control of the HOA.

I urge Brigantine owners to confirm the meeting date with Celebrity Resorts and make every effort to attend the meeting.
 

pgnewarkboy

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I think that NJ has an official office of consumer advocate. I don't know the actual title. I suggest that you contact the NJ Attorney General's Office in Trenton, NJ. They should point you in the right direction.
 
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