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Old 12-31-2011, 02:42 PM   #1
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Free Camping! Is this real or scam?

Got some mail the other day. Gettysburg Battlefield Resort did facility upgrades and now they want to give us 15 days of free camping to try them out and let them know how they did. There isn't much fine print that I can find, or I'd be reading it!

Anyone had experience with these offers? They mention a VIP tour. It kind of sounds to me like those deals where they give away free vacations if you come listen to a high pressure sales talk on the wonders of time share ownership. But I am not sure...

We're relatively new to the camping scene, but are very glad we chose Sunline! Can't wait for spring!
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Old 12-31-2011, 02:48 PM   #2
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I just did some Googling and it does look like a time share deal. Didn't know they had that for camping too.
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Old 01-01-2012, 09:42 AM   #3
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Roy, DeAnn.....

They do membership sales. VIP tour is code for "potential customer".


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Old 01-02-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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Hi Roy and DeAnn!

I really hate to post negative remarks or reviews about a place, cause you can find good in about anything....but please don't be tempted by Gettysburg Battlefield Resort or Sycamore Lodge! It is part of Travel Resorts of America and let me tell you that place is NOTHING but trouble.

When we bought our Sunline back in 2006 we were offered what we thought was a great deal. At first it started 14 nights free. Then you have to go to the sales pitch. We were stupid ( we all have our moments I guess) and we bought in.

To make a very long story short...
Once you sign up there is no backing out. It is a timeshare deal. You have to pay your membership upfront, then pay a yearly fee of $400 and you can not just up and stop or quit using the park... you will either have to resell your membership yourself or be stuck with a lifetime of paying fees.
The park itself is okay. If you like being packed in with little or no privacy or room. At first they claim you need no reservations, because you are guaranteed a site. This is only partially true. On summer weekends there are huge waiting lists, and on holidays I have seen and been on the waiting list of over 200! If you do show up, they can not turn you away, but you will have to park in front parking lot by the road with no hook ups. Sometimes they will run an extension cord to your unit.

Management and staff are very rude. They have been reported countless times to the PA attorney general, and to the BBB. I myself know of a couple members who have been sued by Gettysburg Battlefield Resort.

We got lucky cause we only bought a 5 year trial membership ( they done away with this back in 2007) and they still did not want to let us out of our contract even know it expired. We actually had to get a lawyer to handle it for us.

If you would like more information please send us a private message. We can even point you to a website/forum that was set up by members for members. ( It is hidden from public cause in the contract if you even talk bad about GBR you can loose your membership, and still have to pay dues.. TRUE story)

We were never so happy to be done with that place for good! Now we are not tied down to it, and can travel to wonderful campgrounds and state parks...and enjoy the true camping experience.
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Old 01-03-2012, 08:46 AM   #5
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Wow! (That's all I can say)
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Old 01-03-2012, 01:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awellis3 View Post
Wow! (That's all I can say)
x2! It may be negative, but it is something very much worth mentioning!
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Old 01-03-2012, 03:14 PM   #7
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I had received an invitation to one of these type schemes. I think I had dropped a card in a box at an RV Show that was touting "Win a free weekend of camping" or something along that line. Well, ya show up, they take ya on a tour of the campground & facilities and then WHAM, they hit you with the "SALES" pitch when you get back to the office. Once you hear the price, and you take the time to figure out exactly how OFTEN you'd have to go to that SAME campground (or a participating sister campground), I can camp at "MY" choice of locations and for a lot less $$$. But the catch is, they really, really don't want you taking the time to think about/figure out how expensive their offer ends up being, they are high pressure salespeople. If you join, they get a paycheck. NO thank you.
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Old 01-03-2012, 04:35 PM   #8
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Wow! We threw the invitation away as soon as I figured out for sure that it was a timeshare. I knew it wasn't for us, but I didn't know it was this bad! Thanks to each of you for your input.
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Old 01-03-2012, 07:11 PM   #9
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We're glad we checked in with our friends in the SOC before considering this offer we received this past week. Thank you.
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Old 01-04-2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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Yes, these places can be high pressure and high dollar!!! We were interested in the Wilderness Presidential Resorts outside of Fredericksburg, VA. mdfiregal's brother had a membership there and we really liked the amenities. However, with thier prices in the $15,000 range we were not likely to buy in.

But there is an alternative, enter the after market!!! We purchased a membership off of Craig's list for $1200, and it cost us $140 to have it transferred. So, for the $400 annual maintenance fee we can camp up to 90 days a year and every 5 years we can get a cabin for a week at no additional cost.

It might not be for everyone, but we are looking forward to getting some quality time with her brother and family. The kids (and the parents) loved the activities (three pools {one indoor}, gym, craft room, boat rentals, clubhouse) when we were there last spring. Her brother has never had an issue with getting a site and so far the staff has been very pleasant to work with.

We will still be camping other places too.

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Old 01-05-2012, 08:03 AM   #11
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We did a timeshare presentation package in Orlando once. I am not one to be led on or manipulated easily but somehow they almost got me. I think it's the fast pace and well thought out flow of the presentations. It's probably all behavioural science. Luckly I still had that inner voice to finally say no.

I honestly had bad dreams for about 2 days. Afterwards when I got to actually think about all the costs it was obviously a horriable deal. It's the yearly mandatory Maintenence costs that really sour the deal.
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:52 AM   #12
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There just ain't no free lunch. I always think "pay me now, or pay me later". Someone offering a good deal doesn't need the high pressure tactics. We never buy without a twenty four hour break to think it over and that is after hearing all the details. We learned that lesson after buying some Florida swamp land.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim-Bev-2363 View Post
There just ain't no free lunch. I always think "pay me now, or pay me later". Someone offering a good deal doesn't need the high pressure tactics. We never buy without a twenty four hour break to think it over and that is after hearing all the details. We learned that lesson after buying some Florida swamp land.
That wouldn't happen to have been some swamp land a little south of Naples would it? heheh
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:01 PM   #14
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If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. A very good rule of thumb...
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Old 01-05-2012, 03:01 PM   #15
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LOL! No, it was in Ocala, just west of the interstate. Marion Oaks to be exact. They gave us a $100 gas money, three days and two nights at their local Holiday Inn, two meals a day and all we had to do was listen to their "short and simple sales pitch". It cost $7,800 to be polite and not keep telling them no. After 16 years we made all the "easy payments", paid the high Florida "non-resident property taxes" and sold the place to a builder for $3,800. Only set foot on the land a few times. The road was paved but never maintained so the local taxes went up for "improved access". We thought we could go to a short seminar and then do some sightseeing. Never happened. We had a salesman with us constantly. Thought he was going to sleep with us. His biggest lie was that "the value can only go up", LOL! Here in Sebring we have many hundreds of paved "city streets" with no houses on them. Block after block of absentee taxpayers supporting the local government. None of them live locally and all of them would like to find a buyer to get them off the hook but in the end most of them end up letting the property go for unpaid taxes to construction companies that build houses to other suckers that will end up living on potholed streets in mostly unpopulated neighborhoods. You know the kind where the lots across the street from you are uncleared, overgrown jungles and nobody but the local juveniles find you on beer nights? Even the police, 911, need GPS to find you? Those developments are not only below Naples but are everywhere in Florida.

It did teach us a valuable lesson. Ain't nothing free and never sign any papers without sleeping on it for no less than 24 hours..
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Old 01-06-2012, 11:06 PM   #16
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These "Camping Resorts" or timeshares as we all know them, can be a good thing or bad thing depending on your situation. I know these sales people feed on the new inexperienced campers. That is the reason they give these free nights to new camper owners. ( not to mention for every one customer that the dealership sends to the resort sales person, and signs up the camper dealership gets a kick back in the form of a years free camping for the sales person or dealership owner...plus other items such as free golf cart usage or free meals...and yes..even beer) Plus they are doing financing for newbies that to them sound like an excellent deal. Especially for those with young families.

As far as buying in second hand.... there is a downside to this as far as TRA and GBR that is part of Coast to Coast. Take for example you buy a presidential membership at said resort, you have to pay a transfer fee first off. Then you have to have C2C yearly membership fees. So you have two yearly fee's to pay. This might not sound so bad for a presidential membership that has a 90-120 day reservation window, and 3 reservations for up to 14 days per stay included.....but when you go to sign the papers... as soon as the membership transfers out of the first persons name it automatically converts down to a standard 30 day reservation membership. Most only allowing 1 reservation at a time.

I know from first hand experience, in Gettysburg that we had a C2C deluxe membership. When we signed the contract it was the best membership you could buy. With use of cabins also ( of course a yearly cabin fee was applied) We had a 60 day reservation window with 3 reservations allowed. Well our second visit, we went to make our reservations for 60 days out and bam, we were put on a waiting list of 78 people. In order to get a reservation you had to call right at 8am on your 60 days out just to get a spot...and it would not be the spot you wanted. Friends of Friends would get the best spots each and every time.
After 6 months of buying in, the resort created "fake" camping spots in the woodline. We all wondered why, cause this is an RV park campground and there was no way anyone could camp on or near these sites. Well... we all got told that they were selling presidential memberships with 90 day reservation windows! Plus they could sell not 12 memberships per site...the number was now 25 per site. Almost impossible to get a spot then.
In 2010 the park bought 11 acres of land that was susposed to be turned into rv sites. So they upped the number of memberships they could sell per spot to 32! A month later they sold the said land to an employee of the resort. So it was impossible to gain access . What good is a campground membership if you can not camp there?

This is just one problem with campground resorts. I am so glad we are out of that place. But we do have full time RV friends who are frustrated, but they do use their membership because they can stay 14 days, then out for 7, then back in for 14. They still have major problems booking sites and end up in the parking lot for days at a time waiting for someone to leave.

To me, campground memberships just are not what is promised and are not for us. We would rather give our money to a private campground, or state park. At least we know the park is ran with respect.
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Old 01-07-2012, 03:46 AM   #17
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As some of you know, my parents own a RV lot inside an RV condominium park. We got in it very early on and it has served us very well. Unlike a timeshare situation, you buy the lot here, you can improve it under certain guidelines, and use it as much (or little) as you'd like between May 1st and October 31st. The park is broken down into two types of lots, an all back-in section for Class A's, C's, fifth wheels, and travel trailers and now two class A only sections.

Everything started out great and went well until around 2005. At that time with only one Class A exclusive loop though, word got around among the full time, older retirees who were staying in the similar ownership parks in Florida and would often venture north for the summer months. Being the first park of this type in the north, they flocked in. At first, we had mostly people with the Monacos, Newmars, Fleetwoods, and the like. These people seemed to have a serious problem with other RVers who didn't have a similar unit to them and started a force within the park to start banning travel trailers. They struggled as half the park could still accept them and some still have TTs. Even though the 10 year old or newer unless pre-approved rule has always been in effect, these people singled out TT owners as being trouble makers and being more on the rude and messy side, when I've now realized sometimes this is the case, but just as often it's the other way around. Nothing ever happened with a ban though because they couldn't get a majority vote.

The park began to sell out. I think around 2005 IIRC, they started building a new loop that was supposed to be Class A and fifth wheel. The old A only loop had a few people with the more expensive motorhomes, meaning like anything Prevost chassis based, but not many. By the time the new loop was finished and ready for occupancy, more of that crowd heard about the new loop/sites. The new loop opened for the first time over 4th of July week, which they ended up hosting a Marathon Coach rally in the new section on all the new sites. They were everywhere, factory reps too. They sold a few lots in the new section out of them. The first three people to sign, all Marathon owners, convinced the developers that the fifth wheel people are scumbags and they just simply can't co-exist with them in the same area. So with that early strong pressure to some high dollar customers, the loop is now class A only and only about 40% sold, all this time later.

Shortly after all that took place, the developers suddenly sold out to a local investor trying to give his son something to do since he failed in the restaurant industry. Between his interest in change and his shared views with that other crowd, they quickly and easily banned travel trailers in early 2009. They allowed some people who already had trailers to use them through the end of the 2009 season. I last had the Sunline there in September 2009. One lady still has hers there to this day, because it's custom equipped with a wheelchair lift, and they know if they fight her, she will sue.

In the last couple years, things have gone down hill. While fortunately everyone owns their lots so it's not like a membership would go up, but they keep raising the dues and adding mysterious fees that can't be explained. No one is happy now and it's a pretty hostile environment, compared to the very fun, friendly environment it started as.

We used to go to all the parties they had and knew a lot of people. In the last few years, the park has changed. We don't know really anyone at these parties now. In fact, we stopped going a few years ago and haven't complained. I make the exception for a free one, but most require you to pay a few bucks.

We've got our group of neighbors that we go out and do things with, so we just use it as a place to stay and do our own thing at, and it works fine for that purpose. I'm sure we'd all like to get out, but with over 25% of the park clearly for sale on the website and probably more like 40-50%+ really for sale and/or for sale privately, it shows that no one wants to be there. My mom was on the website tonight and the prices of the lots as a whole have dropped even more. The new developer has set a price floor for his advertising purposes and all the lots are now listed at or very close to it. That says something.

Due to this low interest, they've even had trouble filling rental sites too. What's considered the nicest park in the US appearance wise and used to have just about every weekend full, now they struggle to fill it even on holiday weekends. They raise the rental rate and with fewer rentals, they have to make up for the losses by increasing the dues and usage fees (even if you don't use it).

It's sad to see what started as a great idea and blossomed into a successful park turned into such a disaster. But at least as of now, we're able to use it for what we want and we try not to bother anyone (even though we may with laughter sometimes...) and try not to be bothered by anyone.

And here the rumor keeps going around over and over that they'll vote out Class C's and fifth wheels. Heck, they may as well do C's since they don't allow the Super C's (that cost more than many A's and usually have similar paint jobs) to co-exist with the A's in their loops. I think that would just be the beginning of the end if they did that.

They've got a reputation around the web now and via word of mouth with all these retirees of being a nasty place, so they just don't come anymore, especially to buy. I think 4 lots sold this year, three of which were resales and one of which went under the table really cheap.

Somewhere on here recently I remember reading about someone starting a discussion on RV.net about camping vs. RVing. I buy it, and in fact, for these old, cranky, full time retirees, they don't fit into either category. They, and their lifestyle, have their own category. It's defined by being extremely lonely, bitter, dog-hating, and in the end, concerned yet not concerned about the costs of anything.

Boy, I sure hope I don't get there some day. Sure isn't a glorious lifestyle.

Oh, don't get me started on the dog issue... I'm tempted to pull up and burn every "Please no dogs" sign I walk by, and I'll tell you, with a 217 lot park and sometimes up to 3 or 4 said signs per lot, I'll need an awfully big wagon.

Sorry for my little rant...
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:39 AM   #18
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Jon....


Not a rant so much as a cautionary tale. And we find that over time we're ahead by trying to RV around folks for whom the glass is half full. We feel it's simpler to do that if one's not semi-permanently invested in a particular place.



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Old 01-07-2012, 07:44 PM   #19
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Just an FYI for those who sent private messages asking for more details regarding member groups and forums for TRA and GBR. I just found out from a close friend who is still a member there, that management has shut down all forums and chats for members. They do not want members to talk about their experiences. I guess that tells us all something!
So glad we are out of there!!!
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:19 PM   #20
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Wow no wonder I like fields in the middle of no where under a nice shade tree.
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