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What Is the American Resort Development Association (ARDA)?

American Resort Development Association: man putting money in his suit pocket

These days, vacation ownership is a tough sell to most people. When timeshares first popped up in the late 20th century, people were intrigued by this novel real estate concept. Then, as the years passed and more people began to sour on the idea, the industry evolved. Fixed weeks became floating weeks, and points-based systems came into being.

 

Whatever the next incarnation of the timeshare business will look like, though, there is one group behind it: the American Resort Development Association, or ARDA. ARDA is a Washington, D.C.-based trade association formed to promote and protect the interest of timeshare companies.

 

ARDA and its sister group, the non-profit American Resort Development Association-Resort Owners’ Coalition (ARDA-ROC), engage in heavy government lobbying (that it refers to as “advocacy”) regarding timeshares. In other words, ARDA and ARDA-ROC exist to make sure that people not only continue to buy timeshares but also that no laws are passed that could hurt the industry.

 

This article will take a look at how ARDA was formed, what its current projects are, and why it’s a bad idea for you to get information from them about timeshare exits. Finally, if you are trying to get out of your timeshare and are looking for a good source of information outside of the industry, we’ll talk about getting help from a timeshare exit company like Centerstone Group.

 

ARDA and ARDA-ROC: A Brief History and Who They Actually Represent

In 1969, a group of early timeshare companies banded together to form the American Land Development Association (ALDA). According to ARDA’s website, that company worked to establish laws that allowed the timeshare industry to prosper while “protect[ing] consumers.” 

 

In 1974 and 1976, RCI and Interval International came onto the scene, allowing timeshare exchanges, and the first points-based system was established. Soon after, floating weeks were introduced, and Marriott entered the timeshare industry. In 1989, ALDA then transformed into ARDA, the company we know today.

 

While ARDA claims that it seeks to protect timeshare owners, lawyers and government officials have been skeptical. In particular, the fact that typical timeshare contracts don’t have an ending date is a bone of contention between the industry and people, like state attorneys general, who seek to apply consumer protection laws to it in the same way they apply to other industries.

 

When deciding what truly motivates ARDA, one should consider who its corporate members are. According to ARDA’s own website, its members make up 95% of the timeshare industry. 

 

In other words, the people putting a big chunk of the money toward ARDA’s lobbying activities and “consumer protection” concerns are the same people making money off of those consumers and their never-ending timeshare contracts. If you think that putting the people selling timeshares in charge of drafting consumer protection laws sounds a bit like putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse, you’d be right.

 

You should know, though, that not all of ARDA’s money comes from timeshare companies. A large part also comes from someplace you might not expect: timeshare owners. That’s right; timeshare owners make a “voluntary” donation on each maintenance fee bill to ARDA coffers, sometimes without even knowing that’s what they are doing. So, be sure to opt out of the ARDA donation, as it is money that is used to work against timeshare owners and for timeshare frauds.

 

You don’t need to get into ARDA’s funding practices, though, to understand why the organization is biased. That bias shows up even in its supposedly neutral “studies” about the industry of its members. For example, according to an article in Forbes, they supposedly found that 87% of unit owners were happy with their timeshare experience. 

 

That article notes, however, that when a similar study was done by the University of Central Florida, independent researchers found that 85% of owners regretted their purchase. At the very least, then, ARDA’s statements about consumer protection and satisfaction are made from the point of view of industry profits, which is not necessarily helpful for consumers.

 

What Is ARDA Up to Right Now?

American Resort Development Association: men in suits talking to each other

As you might imagine, a big chunk of ARDA’s resources is being used to lobby for more favorable timeshare company laws at the local, state, national, and international levels. This includes opposition to bills in local and state legislatures. For example, in Hawaii, ARDA opposes raising the Transient Accommodations Tax paid by ARDA members (companies, not individual timeshare owners).

 

Perhaps more interesting is ARDA’s opposition to a January 11, 2022 bill in Florida that was designed to protect consumer data privacy. ARDA has also opposed the New York Legislature’s 2021 bill to establish the New York Data Protection Act.

 

If ARDA were as pro-consumer as it claims, one might expect a more thorough discussion on its website as to why ARDA opposes these bills, but no such discussion is to be found. The truth is that while ARDA would like to have it both ways, the people funding it are the resorts making money off of timeshares, not the people purchasing units.

 

ARDA would likely respond that ARDA-ROC handles its more consumer-friendly cases. That may be so, but ARDA-ROC.com’s information about its lobbying is far more vague and difficult to find than ARDA’s state-by-state summary on its own website.

 

ARDA-ROC asserts, for example, that it supports privacy laws without mentioning that ARDA opposes many of those same laws. It also claims that it “introduce[s] and pass[es] pro-consumer legislation that protects owners from falling victim to scams” without mentioning what legislation it is specifically talking about.

 

The website does specifically mention that it is fighting timeshare exit companies and describes them in negative terms, though it offers no details to back up its claims. 

 

It also mentions that the Washington attorney general rightfully recovered money from Reed Hein & Associates LLC for its fraudulent practices — though ARDA-ROC didn’t participate in that lawsuit and other exit companies, including Centerstone Group, have also criticized Reed Hein as scammers.

 

Nowhere on the website of either organization is there any mention of reforming timeshare sales presentations or the thousands of complaints about fraud in those presentations. ARDA-ROC, though, does apparently work for non-judicial foreclosure laws, meaning that homeowners’ associations (HOAs) and timeshare resorts will have an easier time foreclosing on your unit without going to court.

 

Finally, neither group claims to be helping timeshare owners with ever-increasing maintenance fees or other ownership costs. Nor would they. Again, that’s because the people influencing this group’s activities are making their money off of the unfair contracts signed by unlucky timeshare owners. 

 

ARDA Won’t Help You Exit Your Timeshare

Man reading a document

These examples are not meant to make you lose hope about getting out of your timeshare. Rather, they are just encouraging you to think critically about some of the information you are getting about timeshare exits. If the information is coming from ARDA, as opposed to your resort, you might think it is from an unbiased source. 

 

As you can see from the discussion above, though, that’s just not the case.

 

Rather than talking to your resort or a trade association like ARDA, the better route is to get a legal, ethical timeshare exit through Centerstone Group. We are staffed with people who collectively have decades of experience in the timeshare industry, so we know the tricks that resorts and their salespeople use.

 

If you have recently purchased a timeshare and regret it, we can help you cancel your purchase the right way. If you’re outside of a cancellation period, we may be able to use one of our proprietary pressure campaigns to successfully get you out. Though timeshare resales are often difficult or impossible, we’ll also look at potential ways to transfer your interest.

 

And if you are stuck and need legal help, we work with several timeshare attorneys and law firms who can help you. Apart from assisting with the process, we can also get you a discount on legal fees due to our good relationships with our attorney partners.

 

Unlike ARDA, we don’t expect you just to take our word for it. We are a certified, A-rated company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Read the reviews from our prior customers, and you will see that when you engage our services, you will get trustworthy, top-tier assistance without any agenda other than getting you the best possible result.

 

ARDA Is Trying to Help the Timeshare Industry, Not You

If you don’t see words like Marriott or Wyndham in the name, you could be fooled into thinking that ARDA is some kind of neutral third party that regulates timeshare companies. It’s nothing of the kind, and listening to its advice about timeshare contracts won’t get you out of your unit. If anything, it will just get you further entrenched.


That’s why we’re here. If you’re tired of the financial burden of your timeshare, you have options. Contact Centerstone Group today for a free consultation, and let us see what we can do for you.

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