Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Club / fraudulent charges

Dominican Republic Review updated:

This summer my wife and I took a trip to Lifestyles Hacienda in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. We had traded our timeshare in Myrtle Beach for a small studio in their hotel - like section of their resort. We paid a healthy fee for all-inclusive privileges to eat and drink in their bars and restaurants. Only two hours after arriving in the Dominican Republic we were whisked out of a restaurant and escorted into a meeting with liquor drinks being put in our hands while we were given a sales pitch concerning buying our existing timeshare and enrolling us in their vacation club. We were upgraded to a villa and received some comp gifts such as a helicopter ride, a day trip to Paradise Island, a BBQ and the use of Serenity Beach. Needless to say we took the bait.

I was unsure so I continuously inquired about cancellation possibilities. We were assured NUMEROUS TIMES by the salesman (Miguel) that if we thought we had made a mistake then we could get out of the contract with no strings attached. When we got back home and sobbered up and reality and buyer's remorse set in, we informed Lifestyles that we would like to cancel our membership. Our information and request was forwarded to a Ms. Yvette Aldomovar, who is the Arbitration Manager. At this point we were informed we could cancel but Lifestyles was going to charge us in excess of $18, 000 (for a villa that rents for $1300.00 a week) for a weeks stay and the gifts. At this point without any communication or warning, the company posted charges to our credit cards in the amount of $16, 000.

We were then emailed a statement claiming we owed an additional $2000.00 for the balance. We were shocked. That money (16, 000.00) was earmarked for a down payment on a vacation membership - not for a week’s stay. This is a fraudulent charge. Let me restate this. This $16, 000.00 was intended as down payment for a vacation club membership; not a week’s stay. Even though this point should be mute the grounds of these inflated charges are incongruent and grossly and falsely misrepresented. No where in any paper or agreement does it state that if we were to cancel our membership would we be responsible for any upgrades or gifts at an escalated price. NOT ONCE were we told by any member of the staff that if we accepted any gifts or upgrades that we would be responsible if the contract was canceled.

Also, nowhere in the contract or agreement does it state anything to the like, nor does it state that if we were held responsible, that it would be at a much inflated price. Also there is no date or time period that states the cancellation period has expired. Lastly, we were told by Miguel that only members or guests of VIP members were allowed to rent or even use the villas. We are now being asked to pay an exorbitant amount of money that is almost 9 times more than the advertised price (on a villa we were told could only be rented to members; that people “ off the street” could not just call up and rent these). The other much inflated charges are nothing more than a “fleecing” of a trapped customer. We were charged four-hundred dollars ($400) for a fifteen-minute helicopter ride. We can take the same trip in Myrtle Beach for $50 for both of us. The only restaurant that we were not allowed access to as a non-VIP member was Azul.

We ate there one night, but had we not; we would have eaten at another restaurant. We paid over $1000 for all inclusive rights to eat and drink as much as we would like. Comparing “apples to apples”, food is food. Regardless of what restaurant we would have eaten in, Lifestyles still would have had to provide food. Alcohol was delivered to our romm as a complimentary service. We were also charged for this. If it was not there when we left, maybe they should check with their staff. This brings me to the other things on your list of “upgrades” the BBQ at the villa, Paradise Island, and the use of Serenity Beach. We can throw out Serenity Beach because it is not a tangible product. We walked on the sand and swam in the water. At the most, we told them we were responsible are responsible for the helicopter ride, an excursion to Paradise Island and the use of the chef at a BBQ. We offered them $1000.00 dollars and to return our money that was charged on our credit cards (16, 000.00). So far we have heard nothing. Has anyone out there had any solutions? You can contact me at [protected]

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  • Je
      Mar 01, 2011

    Laura Sayler
    225 Broadway Suite 2900
    New York, NY 10007
    Direct +1-646-434-1143
    Main +1-212-374-5400, ext. 133
    Facsimile +1-212-208-2613

    0 Votes
  • Ba
      Jul 11, 2011

    I am very sorry to hear you have had these problems and hope that you have been able to get your money returned. That being said, my wife and I have been members of lifestyle Vacations for 5 years and have been extremely happy with the club. True you must book a villa about a year in advance for the months of February and March but we now know this and make our plans accordingly. On every visit we have found the club to be improved, more resturants, more beaches and the facilites upgraded. It is clear to us that the company is investing a lot of money back into the club. We have always found the staff to be very pleasant and accomodating and on every occassion have returned from our vacation with nothing but good memories. We have also sent friends to the club using our membership. We have always been able to book an accomodation that was acceptable to their needs and in fact have booked villas on short notice at times other than Feb and March. We have never needed to address any problems and so can not comment on the response to such an issue. Though I image your current experience has closed any doors to this club on your part, if not then I would suggest that you give them another chance, Plan your vacations in advance for peak season and book a year to 18 months ahead if you want a villa. Have a bit of patience with response from staff. They are in the Caribbean and the pace of life there is not what we live on a day to day basis and at times it will take a few days to get an email reply. We truely love the club, have had many very good vactions with them and always look forward to our next trip (now, February 2012). Just for clarification, other than our membership in the club for which we paid $32K, we are not employed by, recieve ANY financial renumeration or have any connection with the club financial or otherwise.

    Bart T., Ottawa, Canada

    0 Votes
  • Ke
      Sep 17, 2012

    Bart T. - Ottawa, Canada
    Have you used your vacation club to travel outside of the DR? To either one of their sister resorts or an RCI location?? How was the service and availability?

    0 Votes
  • Ri
      Oct 05, 2012

    I wish I would have checked before I signed the contract. I too have been lied to. I feel like such a fool.

    0 Votes
  • 13
      Oct 30, 2013

    these guys are lieing ###. Especially VANCE! we asked to cancel our membership within the alleged four day period and he gave us the run around in order to stall and ensure that time frame was up. they gave us false information that we were guaranteed certain rates All over the globe and not just within DR AND that this would be a lucrative investment. ALL A BUNCH OF ###. save your money folks avoid them at all cOSTS. THEY LATER tried to get one of us to sign a non disclosure agreement so that if we either got legal assistance or revealed any information to anyone they would be able to keep the money we had initially deposited.. IT IS A COMPLETE SCAM. . watch out and dont get fooled the moment they realize they have everything they need they will begin to reveal there true colors and you will shortly realize how inflexible the system truly is.

    0 Votes
  • Kk
      Feb 04, 2014

    We were lied to as well. I wish I would've had time to look up these other sister resorts that were possibilities. Unless you're staying in an all inclusive Caribbean resort, this is a waste! Here I was hoping to use it in the US or travel to Europe--those hotels offered in those areas look like JUNK! We were in love with the Puerta Plata resort and were looking forward to bring our entire family to stay in the 6 bedroom they showed us ( which they said would be no problem...we can't say at the resort we bought the package at with upgrades...what?) We also were told that we would be able to upgrade to a villa no problem and there were NO additional fees. Now we come to find out there's an $80/per person per day resort free and we are not able to upgrade to a villa until 30 days before we arrive...who schedules vacations like this on a 30 day notice?? Not logical. We feel like we were lied to and scammed big time! Lesson learned!

    0 Votes
  • Wi
      Jul 28, 2014

    IMPORTANT: Their sales people greatly exaggerate the package and vastly mislead individuals to buy the package. They also claim that they are not legally liable for their lying sales pitch. This is wrong, they are liable. They can be sued, but the only way to make it through the judicial system in the DR is through a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit may take time, but from what I have seen around the net and the number people that have been misled, the litigation would most likely be successful. The folks who were misled need to reach out to one another here (and other places on the net - complaint sites) to start a class action lawsuit against Lifestyle Holiday Vacation Club. Something else of interest - the owners of the club are Austrian and could most likely be sued through the appropriate channels there as well. What they have done with their business plan from the sounds of it, is a public offering in disguise. Although you may have bought a 'membership' you are indeed a shareholder because it was sold to you as an investment. That also means that someone should look into the reaching power of the SEC or similar groups that are international. International laws do exist.
    It just takes someone to step up.

    0 Votes
  • Ht
      Sep 28, 2014

    Has anyone had any luck getting out of the charges? How? We have disputed with our credit card companies, but so far nothing. We wonder about their Barclay card we signed?

    -2 Votes
  • Su
      Dec 21, 2014

    Has anyone begun the class action lawsuit mentioned in the previous post?

    0 Votes
  • Ro
      Aug 23, 2017

    We travel there for the Super Bowl and until my friends upgraded to platinum there were no problems however in 2014 we booked for 2015 for a 6 br villa for 5 guys instead they gave us 3 brs with no compensation we left the 2nd day with no refund or recourse $600 down the drain my friends are stuck with ownership but I won't return they are crooks

    0 Votes
  • Ro
      Nov 26, 2017

    Yep, got scammed like a lot of you here. Bought a junior suite 35 year membership(60$ per day) for 15000$ thinking that it would cost 60$ for 35 years in all their sister resorts, but turns out that its true for their resorts only in DR and Mexico. We don't intend on travelling to DR or mexico and now we are stuck with the membership. Sister resorts through Ice is BS as it gives 10-15% discounts which you can get in other websites like .

    +1 Votes
  • Ro
      Nov 26, 2017

    @rohit ramesh The sales person K T misguided us and gave us wrong information that it would cost 60$ in all the sister resorts of lhvc which is not true. Now, trying to figure out the next steps .

    0 Votes
  • Ma
      Mar 24, 2019

    I tried to cancel 2 days after signing and paying
    10 000 and was told that the cancellation fees would be 5 000. I need help. I want my money back. Did anyone get their money back?

    0 Votes
  • Ca
      Apr 22, 2019

    My father went to DR and he was lied to and charged over 18, 000 & they took over 17, 000 out of my mother’s account my father is very upset he can’t eat sleep and is very depressed stay away from these people they lie and will end up telling you that you can make money. My dad is a hard working man almost 80 years old and still working if this has happen to someone else please share & let me know if there is anything we can do to fight this! It’s not right

    0 Votes
  • En
      May 17, 2019

    So sorry to hear of your father losing so much money, I gave almost $22, 000 and wish I could get mine back, $80, 000 could buy you a 3 bedroom house in DR, not everything that glitters is gold. Me too could not get out of my contract 2 days after signing but they said it would cost me $1, 200 which even that was too much, I wish I had taken that offer though better than losing $5, 500 and the promise of making money was not true either my rep promised to help me the next day, never saw him again!!!

    0 Votes

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