Hilton Grand Vacations Inc. has been on an acquisition spree in the timeshare industry over the past few years. Starting with the purchase of Diamond Resorts International in March 2021, they are now advancing further by merging with Bluegreen Vacations.
For Bluegreen timeshare owners, this might initially seem like an opportunity to explore the luxurious vacation destinations offered by Hilton Grand Vacations (HGV). However, beneath the surface of the Hilton Grand-Bluegreen merger, potential downsides for the future may be strategically hidden.
Bluegreen Vacations is no stranger to controversy in the timeshare industry. Its track record includes a class-action lawsuit, deceptive practices in timeshare sales, and widespread customer dissatisfaction. Therefore, Bluegreen owners might want to pause before viewing HGV‘s acquisition of the company as a wholly positive development.
In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons behind the Hilton Grand-Bluegreen merger, its potential effects on timeshare owners, and strategies to avoid falling prey to the pitfalls of this corporate consolidation.
After purchasing Diamond Resorts, HGV’s clear aim to achieve market dominance became evident through their relentless expansion of timeshare opportunities. This ambition naturally led them to seize the chance to acquire Bluegreen Vacations’ resort portfolio.
This acquisition will increase HGV’s membership base from around 525,000 members to about 740,000. Hilton Grand will go from offering approximately 150 vacation destinations to around 200. Thanks to Bluegreen, this merger will provide HGV timeshare owners with more East Coast locations, a greater variety of outdoor-themed resorts, and increased ski destinations throughout America.
Another advantage of this transaction is Hilton Grand Vacations‘ newly acquired 10-year exclusive marketing agreement with Bass Pro Shops. Previously, Bluegreen Vacations had a joint venture with the outdoor retailer and was its official vacationing partner.
With their inclusion in this partnership, Hilton Grand Vacations now has the opportunity to market and promote their timeshares within the stores. They can directly reach Bass Pro Shops’ customer base, which has become familiar with Bluegreen’s offerings and is likely interested in the types of vacation experiences HGV offers.
But beyond numbers, a huge motivation for the move according to HGV CEO Mark Wang is to “track a solid customer at an earlier stage in their life.” What the CEO of Hilton Grand Vacations is saying is that the demographic that typically buys Bluegreen Vacations’ timeshares is presumed to be younger, a segment that Hilton Grand Vacations has struggled to attract, likely due to its higher price points.
In theory, this merger should be advantageous for Bluegreen timeshare owners, granting them access to a range of upscale HGV resorts previously beyond their reach. But let’s set aside the touted benefits of the merger as presented by Hilton Grand Vacations and focus on the real implications for Bluegreen timeshare owners.
These owners, without their explicit consent, are now part of one of the largest timeshare companies globally. This raises critical questions: Will this change be beneficial for them? Or could it lead to increased maintenance fees and forced enrollment into HGV’s expensive membership programs?
According to Bluegreen Vacations, this merger is about enhancing “technology, systems, and customer experiences.” In their quest to achieve this goal, they selected HGV as a highly recognizable brand capable of “providing expanded and unforgettable vacation experiences” to their timeshare-owning customers. This partnership was seen as an opportunity for both companies to grow in ways that would not have been possible independently.
But what does the acquisition of Bluegreen Vacations truly signify? Does it indicate that Bluegreen, similar to other timeshare companies, is grappling with a challenging economic climate that presents issues like high inflation, changing travel trends, and an increasingly savvy consumer base aware of the drawbacks of timeshare ownership? Or was it simply a matter of being unable to turn down the attractive $1.5 billion all-cash offer from HGV, a deal that also encompasses Bluegreen’s net debt?
If you are a Bluegreen timeshare owner who is just learning about this acquisition, the real question you probably have is how is this going to impact you. Is this truly going to give you access to a diverse catalog of luxury properties in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Charleston? If you know anything about Bluegreen’s track record of dishonesty and misrepresentation, you’ll know that the Hilton Grand-Bluegreen merger is likely too good to be true.
Bluegreen has a history of drawing customers into timeshare contracts with a bit of smoke and mirrors, often using misleading information to seal the deal. This approach led to a class-action lawsuit in 2016, where they faced allegations of making false claims. These included misrepresenting sales presentation lengths, understating the costs and durations of timeshare contracts, and incorrectly asserting that maintenance fees wouldn’t rise, despite their annual increases.
Furthermore, on the Better Business Bureau’s website, Bluegreen Vacations has a 2-star average for their customer reviews, many of which say that the company periodically uses high-pressure sales tactics and misrepresents the benefits it offers to consumers.
Bluegreen’s communication regarding the potential impacts of their impending merger has been notably vague and non-committal. While they reassure customers that access to current inventory will stay the same and that they will function independently until the merger is finalized, the anticipated closing in the first half of 2024 leaves customers with little foresight about future changes and implications.
Considering the history of timeshare company mergers and Bluegreen’s track record with misinformation, the outcomes of this Hilton Grand-Bluegreen partnership may not be entirely favorable. Given Bluegreen’s past dishonesty about maintenance fees, timeshare owners should brace for the possibility of significant fee increases, possibly aligning with the higher rates associated with HGV timeshare dues. HGV‘s diverse array of membership programs, such as Hilton Grand Vacations Club, might also suggest that this merger could be a strategy to force Bluegreen customers into enrolling in HGV‘s more expensive membership tiers.
While the Hilton Grand-Bluegreen Vacations merger promises expanded offerings and access to a wider range of luxurious destinations, it also raises critical concerns, especially for Bluegreen timeshare owners. Given Bluegreen’s history of misleading sales practices and customer dissatisfaction, there’s a looming uncertainty about the true impact of this partnership.
Timeshare owners should remain vigilant about the Hilton Grand-Bluegreen partnership, considering the potential for increased fees and the likelihood of being forced into a more expensive membership program under HGV. This merger, while seemingly beneficial on the surface, warrants a deeper examination of its long-term implications for timeshare owners and the overall quality of their vacation experiences.
Our suggestion? Consider exiting before you find yourself burdened with maintenance and membership fees that don’t align with the benefits received, particularly if you’ve already faced dissatisfaction with timeshare vacation ownership. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, high-pressure sales tactics, or misrepresentation at the hands of Bluegreen Vacations or Hilton Grand Vacations, Centerstone Group can help.
As a full-service advocacy group with an A+ and a 4.76-out-of-5-star rating on Better Business Bureau, Centerstone Group specializes in facilitating swift and cost-effective contract releases, outperforming many in the timeshare exit industry. If you meet our criteria, we’ll employ our effective three-pronged strategy to ensure your release from the contract.
Contact us today for a free consultation.