A GROUP of timeshare owners at Macdonald Resorts is mounting a campaign against what it calls the "wholesale destruction of our resorts".

Macdonald Resorts Concerned Owners claims the Bathgate-based hotel group's plan to allow owners to exit their timeshares on payment of a fee will enable Macdonald to gain control of assets worth £250 million and disenfranchise owners.

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As The Herald reported last month, the hotel group circulated its 20,000 owners at eight resorts, three of them in Scotland, with a plan enabling owners to exit their timeshare contracts on payment of up to £2,500 per week of ownership.

The complex and radical proposals were endorsed by The Association of Timeshare Own-ers Committees (TATOC) as an industry-leading solution to the crisis of an ageing ownership who are locked into "in perpetuity" contracts.

Macdonald swiftly staged a series of special meetings in order to gain owner approval.

However two of the resorts, including Lochanhully on Speyside, have so far refused to hold the meetings, according to Mac-donald Resorts Concerned Owners.

Joan Scott, an owner at the Dalfaber club near Aviemore, said last month that the proposal to convert to flexible ownership of weeks and properties based on a points system would mean own-ers surrendering their rights and "the passing of all operational, physical and financial control of the Dalfaber estate to Macdonald".

Clubs are currently held in trust, with owner committees running them.

Now the group of Macdonald owners from all parts of the UK is appealing to owners "in the hope that we can offer advice and assistance in a bid to stop the wholesale destruction of our resorts".

Spokesman Dr Robert Webber said that by changing the constitution, Macdonald had "neatly avoided having to negotiate with individual owners, which his group has been advised by both Scottish and English lawyers is extremely challengeable at law".

He continued: "Moreover, Mac-donald's failed to highlight the alternative option of allowing the clubs to dissolve, under which procedure the entire assets of the club - including the real estate - would have been sold off to the highest bidder under the pre-existing constitutions, as is required of the trustees in the Deed of Trust.

"After the debts of the club had been paid, the residue would have been shared between the remaining owners according to the number of weeks owned at the resort.

"Macdonald's would have received a percentage of this sell-off (but nowhere near what they are getting now), and the owners would have been released from their 'in perpetuity' contracts with the prospect of receiving some money in compensation."

Macdonald is to take 75 per cent of any exit fees paid to compensate it for "loss of contractual rights".

But the owners' group says it will be able to control the sites and profit from the most attractive units.

Dr Webber went on: "Instead of voting for the only option on the table, those who wanted to relinquish their 'in perpetuity' contracts should have forced a vote on the dissolution of the club, but... they barely had chance to draw breath before the vote, and few knew this was even an option.

"The trustees would have been duty bound to ensure that the price paid for the assets would have been commensurate with their worth, so this could have been a sizeable pay-off - after all, the combined value of the real estate in the clubs has been conservatively valued at £250m."

Macdonald Resorts said: " The proposed changes in the constitution have been drafted by the same legal firm that created the original club constitutions. The club committees and Macdonald Resorts have every confidence in their legal robustness."

It could now "provide a simple exit mechanism as requested by various club committees and owners over recent years"

www.macdonaldowners.org.uk