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Visiting Charleston, SC, Hearing a Festiva Hospitality Group Flex Share Pitch, and Going Home!

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 3/15/2011 - www.Littleviews.com ]



The following five articles were initially a part of blog related to a road trip that took place between February 8 and March 5, 2011. They contain more pictures than the original blog, which is no longer posted.
Kick Scooting Savanna and Vacationing Near St. Petersburg

Kick Scooting In Treasure Island, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin & Sarasota

Kick Scooting In John's Pass, Ybor City, Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock, Dunedin & Clearwater Beach

Kick Scooting In Hollywood, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale & Daytona Beach

<|> <|> <|> Visiting Charleston, SC, Learning About the Festiva Hospitality Group, and Home Again
Thank you to NYCeWheels, specialists in portable vehicles including adult kick scooters for providing guidance, adult kick scooters, and a folding bike for testing. Visit them at 1603 York Avenue (between 84th and 85th Street), New York, NY 10028.

Brrrr - we've left Florida and I do not feel warm in Charleston, SC.

MARCH 3, 2011: During the beginning of our trip, when we left 20 degree weather in Weehawken, NJ, all temperatures above 40 degrees felt warm, and above 50, a heat wave. Returning home, after basking in a week of 80 degree days, anything under 70 degrees feels cold, and the low 60s, down right chilly.

That said, our car was warm and our view of Charleston's bridges was excellent. We especially enjoyed trips over the city's Cooper River Bridge. The photo below is through our windshield.

Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, SC - Mar. 2011

Just like molasses in January, we walked around slowly. We did, however, make an effort to sightsee, but in the middle of that effort, became involved with a time-share vacation pitch. If you plan on rubbing shoulders with the locals, you'll have no problem meeting time-share salespeople! In Charleston, time-share salespeople, who often sit on stools in front of their property, hawk potential customers walking down the street! This activity somewhat reminds me of Amsterdam's Red Light District.

For our trouble, we received several free tour passes, $25 towards a meal, heard an interesting, highly convoluted pitch, and saw the inside of a stunningly beautiful boutique hotel. Ultimately, it was Theater of the Timeshare and we didn't have to buy tickets to attend.

Charleston, SC - Dolores' Southern Delights - Mar. 2011

We avoided today's cold, strong wind in the Historic Charleston City Market and in local art and craft galleries (like the Charleston Crafts Gallery), spending our way to warmth by staying inside shops. Of particular note was locally made candy by Dolores' Southern Delights (see above). Praline ingredients? Pecans. Sugar. Butter. Pure and simple.

Charleston is also known for its handmade sweetgrass baskets, which are abundantly available in the Historic Charleston City Market and in shops throughout town. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and prices. Of concern to local craftspeople, the majority of whom are African American, are Chinese imports. An article entitled Coiled Gullah Sweetgrass Basketry provides information about authentic basket makers and how to tell if fraud is involved.

Charleston, SC - Woman selling sweetgrass baskets - Mar. 2011

The city itself, however, is only sweetly historic in a relatively small area as coastal storms and fires efficiently destroyed Old Charleston. The best way to see what is left is to acquire a map and just kick scoot back and forth along designated historical streets. Once you've surveyed the area, consider taking any of city's many tours.

Should you listen to a time share pitch in exchange for dinner and tour passes? If you plan on visiting for several days, why not. Then again, you can limit the time that a pitch takes by not asking any questions and maintaining a relatively blank expression . . .

About Festiva Hospitality Group's Flex Time Shares

MARCH 4, 2011: We spent two days in Charleston, but I only snooped around the city on the first. Today, I stayed in our nice, warm hotel room and caught up on writing chores, while Phil spent time at Patriots Point, which is home to historic US Naval Ships.

During that time, I researched the Festiva Hospitality Group, whose "time share" or "flex time" pitch we heard yesterday. For somewhere between tens of thousands and just under ten thousand dollars, they offer a package that supposedly cuts the cost of staying at one of their resorts (or partners' resorts or cruises) in half. If you sign up on the day of the presentation, they "give" you a discount, plus a two-year, free membership in their Platinum Rewards plan, which provides additional discounts on non-partner destinations.

Without going over the exact details here, they would like prospects to buy into their organization for a substantial price (not discussed on their website), plus pay an annual maintenance fee for (I believe) 20 years. The buy-in makes you a property owner, which means that when they repair their properties, they will assess you a maintenance fee that is in addition to your annual fee. Like owning a condo or coop apartment, I assume that these extra fees make up for inflation, plus physical building maintenance costs.

In the past, once you purchased a time (or flex) share, you could not escape paying an annual fee unless you sold your share (which, generally, is not possible). Festiva allows you to "opt out" after all of your annual maintenance fees are paid (which can be paid in full at any time), along with paying an opt-out fee of several thousand dollars.

If you normally spend at least $150 or more per night for a resort or cruise, this deal might make sense. The figures you need to consider include the buy-in price, the annual maintenance fee times the minimum number of ownership years, the opt-out fee, and a history of assessment fees over the recent 20-year period. Add them up, then determine the number of days/weeks of resort time this buys and its price-per-night as compared with your current spending and the quality of your stays.

You also need to carefully read the contract to find out more about their opt-out procedure, and then, you should submit the whole thing to a trusted attorney for review. Good questions are: What happens if the company is successfully sued, goes bankrupt, or incurs unusual expenses? Are share holders liable for those costs?

Unfortunately, the sales team only offers discounts if you buy immediately, screw the details. In my opinion, if you are sincerely interested, I believe you could persuade them to treat you right by letting you discuss the deal with an attorney, especially seeing as they receive nice bonuses with your cold cash. If they don't treat you right, walk away because that would reflect the policy of the organization itself. Of course, if you sit through a presentation (trade your time in exchange for a giveaway premium) you can just walk away, which was what we did, premium in hand.

We're home in Weehawken, NJ! Here's what we learned . . .

MARCH 5, 2011:Biggest Problem on the Trip: I simply did not have the right clothing. I thought it would be an easy matter to buy summer clothing when there, but discovered that Macy's carried what I consider to be late fall clothing. In Tampa, there wasn't a summer outfit to be had. Also, when we arrived in Treasure Island, it was very cool (but far warmer than in New Jersey at the same time), which meant that I had to wear my winter coat while walking on the beach.

I solved my temperature-related problems by buying two promotional T-shirts at Surf Style, plus some mid-calf leggings, all of which I wore continuously.

Biggest Treat on the Trip: By all means, the biggest treat was being able to sightsee while kick scooting. Phil and I did, in fact, see more with greater ease than we would have had we walked everywhere. Further, the ability to kick scoot miles through interesting areas eliminated the need to drive through these areas, an activity which is dull and complacent.

Questions? Just ask!
Karen Little

The following five articles were initially a part of blog related to a road trip that took place between February 8 and March 5, 2011. They contain more pictures than the original blog, which is no longer posted.
Kick Scooting Savanna and Vacationing Near St. Petersburg

Kick Scooting In Treasure Island, Tampa, Clearwater Beach, Dunedin & Sarasota

Kick Scooting In John's Pass, Ybor City, Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock, Dunedin & Clearwater Beach

Kick Scooting In Hollywood, Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale & Daytona Beach

<|> <|> <|> Visiting Charleston, SC, Learning About the Festiva Hospitality Group, and Home Again
Thank you to NYCeWheels, specialists in portable vehicles including adult kick scooters for providing guidance, adult kick scooters, and a folding bike for testing. Visit them at 1603 York Avenue (between 84th and 85th Street), New York, NY 10028.

Article by Karen Little. Photographs primarily by Karen Little with help from Philip Little. First published on www.Littleviews.com on 3/15/2011. All rights reserved.





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