Browse Month

August 2016

My Thoughts for Today: End of August.

So here we are, the end of August and what a month it has been, we ended July with the breaking news about the Anfi Beach Project at Tauro. It was announced the Guardia Civil Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) had begun an investigation into irregularities in the permissions that were granted.

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This resulted in the dismissal of the head of the Coastal Authority, it appears the investigation which is ongoing may result in more dismissals and may even end in charges being brought. Inside Timeshare has been following the case as more information came to light, on 1 August Ben Magec of Ecologists in Action called for “the immediate shutdown and sealing” of the project, pointing out that it was having a detrimental effect on the nearby Special Area of Conservation.

 

Then on 5 August, Inside Timeshare published the story about the floods that occurred the day before, posting a video made by one of the local residents. At the time the flooding occurred it was a high tide, this would not have been a problem when the beach was in its original state. The rocks and pebble beach which was much higher than the sand beach, created a natural defence, with the rocks breaking up the waves. Without this natural defence the sea just rolled over the beach, flooding several homes.

 

August 8th, we published further videos of the flooding and photographs of some of the damage caused to homes of the local residents. The Bomberos (fire brigade) spent considerable time helping to pump out the water from these homes, but damage to many appliances such as fridges and washing machines was considerable. The local population then made denuncias (official complaints) to the Guardia Civil, who are now investigating. One comment from a resident was who was going to pay for the damage, they also felt they were being ignored that they were “desperate, nobody pays attention to us”.

CLA Logo

On 9 August it was announced that Canarian Legal Alliance had just won their 18th Supreme Court Victory, this took the rulings by the Supreme Court against Anfi to an incredible 17. In this particular case the court awarded over 45,000€ plus interest and legal fees to the client. Again the court stated that contracts over 50 years, floating weeks and taking deposits within the 14 day cooling off period illegal. So another happy client of Canarian Legal Alliance.

 

Then on 15 August another win for a client of CLA, this time at the High Court in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. A staggering 66,907€ plus interest and legal fees were awarded to the client, also their contract was declared null & void. The High Court cited the Supreme Court rulings in making this judgement, showing that the judgements from Madrid are having a profound effect on how the lower courts rule.

 

The following day we published an article on the argument that is raging between TESS (Timeshare Exits & Support Services) and the Monster Travel Group. It highlighted two articles published on the TESS website on the same day, in this Tess pulled no punches in the accusations laid against Monster Travel. It also made a scathing attack on the sales staff, particularly what TESS called the “Taylor Twins”, again TESS pulled no punches.

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Then it was published in the Spanish press that the boss at Anfi (one of the part owners) Santana Cazorla was moving to Morocco for “retirement”. El Diario headlined it as Santana Cazorla se refugia en Marruecos” or Santana Cazorla takes refuge in Morocco. Inside Timeshare published this story on 17 August, in the article the questions asked are what had prompted this news. One only has to see the problems of Anfi with the court cases being brought by their members, then to cap it all the accusations and investigation into the Tauro Beach Project.

 

Just to move away from Anfi for once, Diamond Resorts announced that they had sold off their interests at the Garden Lago resort in Mallorca. The ONA Group now run Garden Lago, they also have interests at the  Cala de Mar and Cala Pi resorts, also in Mallorca. It also highlighted one member who bought because they loved it there, now Diamond have no interests there, the only way for them to use the points they own is to use them on exchange, or book direct with the resort. With this last option they would have to pay the going rate as their points would not be used.

 

19 August, CLA announced another victory at the High Court in Las Palmas, the British couple Mr & Mrs Hammond had their contract declared null & void. They were also awarded a full refund including interest and legal fees, it was not stated how much this was.

 

So in all, August has turned into quite an eventful month, it remains to be seen what September will bring.

 

If you have any questions relating to any of these articles please contact Inside Timeshare and we will do our best to answer them. It only remains for me to say have a great bank holiday weekend and I hope the weather is just as good for you to get the BBQ´s out.

bbq man

Diamond Resorts Sell Garden Lago Interest.

Just recently it was announced that Diamond had sold its interest in the Garden Lago Resort, Alcudia Mallorca. The new management company that has taken over is the ONA Group, who also run the former Sunterra / Diamond resort Cala de Mar in Cala Egos and also the Cala Pi resort in Llucmajor.

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Diamond did not own the resort, they were purely the management company charged with operating it. This is the same for all the resorts that come under the Diamond Brand. Many of the original owners at Garden Lago purchased fixed weeks, then were converted to the points system under Sunterra and then Diamond. Under this system they are members of Diamond Resorts International and have no rights at Garden Lago.

 

So what does this mean for members?

 

While Diamond ran the resort, members had the right to use with full member benefits that Diamond offered. Now the only way to stay at this resort as a Diamond points member is to use the exchange programme, either through Interval International or RCI. Unfortunately this will not include the full Diamond member benefits.

 

For one family this has come as a rather big blow, their story was posted on Tripadvisor just recently. They state that they had been on holiday in Mallorca and attended a presentation at Garden Lago, and liked what they saw, they then purchased the Discover Diamond Package.

 

After visiting the resort on several occasions, they decided to purchase the full Diamond Points system, as they told the sales staff, it was on the basis that they only wanted to use Garden lago. They were not interested in other resorts that Diamond had to offer, Mallorca held some special holiday memories for them, and as stated before they loved the resort itself.

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Now that Diamond no longer has a presence on Mallorca and especially at Garden Lago, they believe that their contract with Diamond has been altered significantly. Unfortunately, this is the problem with the points system, members do not have any rights at the resort in which they made the purchase. So, the only way their points membership will get them the full benefits, is to use another resort managed by Diamond.

 

This is one example of why the Spanish Supreme Court declared the points system illegal, the other is that it is subject to availability, your holiday at a particular resort is not guaranteed.

 

For this family it will also now incur considerable expense, when it was managed by Diamond they would use the Diamond booking system. Now they will need to pay Interval International or RCI membership, including the exchange fees.

 

As reported elsewhere, Diamond have had a fall in their net income of around 28%, normally Diamond are buyers, it may be this fall that has prompted the sale. Could this be just the first, are there more planned? Are Diamond offloading some of their European Collection and is it linked with the acquisition by Apollo?

 

These questions may not be answered yet, but time will tell. As the news comes in Inside Timeshare will bring it to you.

 

If you have any questions about this or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare for free and impartial advice.

Anfi Boss Cazorla Going to Morocco: Is it Retirement or Escape?

El Diario a Spanish Daily newspaper has today published news that Santiago Santana Cazorla, the 50% shareholder of the Anfi Group is moving to Morocco for “retirement”. Their headline is Santana Cazorla se refugia en Marruecos” or Santana Cazorla takes refuge in Morocco. (see links at foot of page).

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Cazorla himself puts it down to starting a new phase in his life with new business projects, but within the business world it is seen very differently. Some of the explanations are somewhat different, it is widely believed it is down to the endless succession of problems he is facing, not only within his company but also it seems his private life.

 

It is known that he has had many conflicts with his brother Manuel, and various lawsuits have taken place. One is still in process, this involves a corruption scandal known as the Gondola case, it has been ongoing for around ten years at the court of San Bartolomé de Tirajana. This case has been in the hands of around a dozen judges and several prosecutors.

Santiago Santana Cazorla
Santiago Santana Cazorla

 

 

 

 

 

His involvement with Bjorn Lyng began during the development of Anfi Tauro, Cazorla purchased 50% of the Anfi company as Lyng needed investment for his Project of Anfi Tauro. This has presented many disputes between the partners over the years, the most notable was the lawsuit brought by the Lyngs over the misappropriation of funds. The Lyngs instigated criminal proceedings at The Court of Instruction No 3 of San Bartelomé de Tirajana, after it was discovered that around 9 million euros had been diverted to the Cazorla company Hermanos Cazorla, it was said that these funds were used to pay private debts. This money had to be replaced to avoid criminal proceedings so is basically on hold.

 

It has also been suggested that Cazorla is selling off his 50% share of Anfi, it is rumoured that Alfredo Morales may be the buyer, this has been sparked off by the relationship between him and the Director General of the Anfi Group José Luis Trujillo. Morales is also a shareholder of Binter Canarias, the Canarian Airline. This will no doubt please the Lyng family to be rid of Cazorla, after all on many occasions they have tried to oust him from the board, which he controls (see link Battle of Partners).

ANFIDELMAR, (MOGÁN), 30-08-2006, FOTOS: SANTI BLANCO. ENTREVISTA A JOSÉ MANUEL SORIA, PRESIDENTE DEL CABILDO DE GRAN CANARIA.
José Manuel Soria during his stay at Anfi

It is the projects at Anfi Tauro and now the Tauro Beach project that has been the cause of many of his headaches. The first notable scandal was the Salmon case, this involved the then head of the Canarian Government José Manuel Soria and involved his trip with Bjorn Lyng, flying by private jet to Austria for a concert and then on to Norway for salmon fishing. Hence the name of the case. Then staying as a guest at Anfi del Mar also courted controversy. At the time the Anfi Tauro Project was about to undergo considerable streamlining, permissions would not be granted unless this happened. Just after this trip and holiday at Anfi the project was given the go ahead by the government in its entirety, with no streamlining. A reporter then made a denuncia against Soria for corruption, the judge in the case due to certain senior Anfi management testimonies found no case to answer. Again this caused major uproar in the press and in local communities.

 

Now we have a possible corruption scandal about to erupt over the Tauro Beach Project, which Inside Timeshare has been highlighting over the past few weeks (search Tauro Beach). The project involves the creation of a man made beach, boardwalk, shopping center and marina at the Barranco de Tauro, this is being constructed by the Cazorla Construction Company on behalf of the Anfi Group. It involves the importation of 70,000 tonnes of sand from the Sahara, it has also caused many problems for the local residents. It was only at the beginning of August the high tides began overflowing the beach and flooding local homes, had there been a storm at sea coupled with the high tide the situation would have been worse.

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The Guardia Civil Nature Protection Unit (SEPRONA) have  instigated an investigation which resulted in the dismissal of the head of the Canary Islands Coastal Authority José Maria Hernández Leon. The local residents of Tauro have also made formal complaints to the Guardia Civil over the flooding, which the Guardia are now investigating. This particular episode is still in the early stages and may cost the Anfi Group dearly.

 

So the question has to be asked, is this “retirement” or is he fleeing in order to escape the consequences of his actions? After all he is no stranger to scandal, accusations of corruption and lawsuits. The Anfi empire is certainly in disarray, with the scandal erupting over Tauro Beach, then there is the matter of all the court cases for mis-selling and illegal contracts. They have already lost millions of euros in the past year alone, also having 17 Supreme Court judgements against them, with hundreds more in the pipeline.

 

Could it be you the members of Anfi who may just be more victims in all this, what happens if these scandals become full blown court cases? Will you be lumbered with special levies to cover lost money or will you just lose your membership? Only time will tell.

 

If you have any questions or comments about this or any timeshare matter, contact Inside Timeshare and we will try to answer them for you.

 

http://www.eldiario.es/canariasahora/topsecret/Santana-Cazorla-refugia-Marruecos_6_549155083.html

 

http://insidetimeshare.com/great-anfi-battle-partners/