Celebrity Resorts LLC made headlines in March of last year when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but according to an Orlando Sentinel article financial problems may have started as early as 2008. While these types of bankruptcy filings rarely affect individual ownerships, they certainly undermine consumer confidence in a specific resort or developer, bringing down resale values. For owners of Celebrity Resorts timeshares, the company's recent reorganization is welcome news: The new company is called Legacy Vacation Club.
Will the new name mean a new legacy for Celebrity Resorts and its owners? Quite possibly. The family-owned company has been selling timeshares for over 30 years, making it one of the most experienced resort developers in America. According to company lawyers, Celebrity Resorts exited bankruptcy intact, and with no job losses. In addition, Legacy Vacation Club has announced plans to implement its own internal "points" program, that will offer owners more flexibility. What may ultimately mean success for Celebrity Resorts, however, will be whether it can adapt its sales strategy to the tastes of a new generation of buyers. There are only so many upgrades that can be sold to aging timeshare owners; lasting success for any timeshare developer hinges on bringing new and younger buyers into the fold.
Just as generational differences have proven difficult for the timeshare industry, it's generational differences within the Meyers family that have been blamed for the bankruptcy and subsequent reorganization of Celebrity Resorts. Brothers Neil and Hillel Meyers were the original developers of Resort World, predecessor to Celebrity Resorts, and remain legendary figures in Orlando's insular timeshare community. Reportedly, disputes between Hillel Meyers and Neil Meyers' son Jared led to partitioning the company in 2003. During last year's bankruptcy proceedings, control of the company was hotly disputed between various family members, but the company's reorganization plan approved this January leaves 34 year-old Jared Meyers in control as President and CEO. With a gen-xer at the helm, perhaps Legacy Vacation Club will succeed where Celebrity Resorts failed; retooling the timeshare sales process for internet-savvy younger buyers.
For now, all former Celebrity Resorts properties have been renamed to reflect the Legacy Vacation Club brand, and all resorts are now listed with both RCI and Interval International. Existing owners that want to sell their Celebrity timeshares will, no doubt, benefit from the re-branding; gradually escaping the stigma of bankruptcy. And while there are parts of the timeshare community that might still be skeptical of the new entity, I'm excited to see what the future holds. Best of luck to Jared Meyers and Legacy Vacation Club!