Westgate Versailles rises again

Westgate Versailles rises again

No, this isn't a new timeshare resort. It's a private residence - a 90,000 square foot new home for the founder of Westgate Resorts. After an earlier foreclosure, construction on the palatial residence (named Versailles after the famous chateau in France) has resumed.

Have you heard about the "Timeshare King", his queen and their castle? The 2012 documentary Queen of Versailles explored the story of David Siegel (Westgate founder), his wife Jackie, and the supersized mansion they're building, supposedly the largest home in the US. The great recession left their timeshare empire crumbling, and Versailles was foreclosed and put up for sale.

Now construction on the house has restarted. In a recent interview, David Siegel says his timeshare company is "lean and mean", and more profitable than ever before. If you're a timeshare owner, is this good news for you?

The Siegel's home Versailles, under construction Construction on the Siegels' mansion Versailles has restarted

Versailles? Really?

It takes a certain amount of arrogance to decide to build the biggest house in America, and name it after one of the most famous palaces in France.

The original Chateau de Versailles near Paris was the home of Louis XIV (the "Sun King") and his court. Intended as a showcase for the glories of France and its ruler, the design and decor were luxurious and extravagant.

Chateau de Versailles, near Paris France The original palace of Versailles, home of France's Louis XIV

The new version of Versailles is also over the top. Their 23,000 sf home was too small, so the Siegels decided to go big this time. The plans reportedly call for the house to include movie theaters, several pools, a waterfall, and underground parking for 30 cars.

The four-story ballroom I can understand, but who needs 23 bathrooms, 10 kitchens, a bowling alley and a roller rink in their home?

Rags to riches...

Siegel got started in real estate in the 1960s. He owned an orange grove, bought and subdivided property, and even sold swamp land in Florida to unsuspecting investors.

From there, he moved on to timeshares, founding his company Westgate Resorts in the 1980s and opening their first resort. By 2010, his company had 28 resorts, and annual revenues of about $1 billion.

During this time, he married Jackie, a former beauty queen 30 years his junior. They lived a lavish lifestyle in their meager 26,000 sf home, with a household staff of 19 to take care of things. She bragged about buying $17,000 boots, and spending $1 million a year on clothes.

Of course a house that size is too small, so they began work on Versailles, a home enormous enough to fit their ambitions. Read more about the biggest McMansion of them all.

France's Sun King, Louis XIV Louis XIV, the Sun King
David Siegel and wife Jackie David Siegel, the Timeshare King

That looks suspiciously like a throne, doesn't it? Fortunately, while the French king liked to show off his legs, the timeshare king leaves that to his wife.

... to rags ...

In 2009, things began to fall apart, thanks to the financial crisis and the collapse of the housing market. Timeshare sales dropped as credit dried up and the recession hit people across the US hard. Meanwhile, the banks were squeezing Siegel and his company.

Construction was halted on Versailles, and the house went into foreclosure. Siegel had to sell his new high-rise resort in Las Vegas, PH Towers Westgate.

The company laid off thousands of employees, and the couple laid off 15 of their household staff. Jackie was forced to fly on a commercial jet instead of a private plane, and expressed regrets at being down to just 3 nannies.

Siegel even attempted to influence the 2012 presidential election, sending an e-mail to all his employees saying that their jobs would be in danger if Obama won the election. He closed with this...

My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, so will your opportunities. If that happens, you can find me in the Caribbean sitting on the beach, under a palm tree, retired, and with no employees to worry about.

... to riches ...

Of course Obama won the election, and Siegel didn't retire. In fact, he's now talking about his current financial success rather than the demise of his company. He claims that cost-cutting measures they instituted have made Westgate lean, mean, and stronger than ever.

See the Siegel interview on CNBC...

We're basically doing what the whole country should be doing. We're living within our means. The company today is more profitable than it was back in its heyday of 2008 in terms of actual profit. We're more profitable today than we have been in our history.

Construction on the modern Versailles has begun again, with an anticipated completion in two years.

What does this mean for you?

The subjects of Louis XIV had no choice but to pay for his lavish palaces and lifestyle. Their taxes went to the royal coffers, for the king to spend as he chose.

Nowadays, though, the people who pay for this "king" and his palace do so voluntarily. If you're already a Westgate timeshare owner, then I wish you all the best. If not, then it's your choice.

Comments? Questions?

Timeshare Buyer's GuideDid you see the movie? Do you own a Westgate timeshare, or have you stayed at any of their resorts? I'd love to hear from you, so let me know in the comments below!

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You can pay a company like Westgate many thousands of dollars for a timeshare, or you can do it a smarter way. Before you go near any timeshare presentation, check out our tips on buying a timeshare. You'll discover what you need to know to save big and make a smart decision on this important purchase.
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Hi! I'm Deanna, founder of Winning the Timeshare Game, and author of the books. After running an international tour company, I'm now into the fascinating world of timeshares. I enjoy sharing all the tips I discover, and I'd love to see everyone have as much fun with their timeshares as we do!

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PHOTO CREDITS:  Versailles - Renata Barros, King Louis XIV - Hyacinthe Rigault

12 Comments

  1. Sid

    Do this people expect that we should feel sorry for them, sh%t. They are stupid. In this documentary they should have shown they have change their ways and live under their means. But NO they continuing to do the same dumb a$$ shi% actions as they always have. Dumb a$$es need to learn to learn to read and read the book The 4 Laws Of Debt Free Prosperity. Learn to be more discipline now and in the future about living under your means. People remember the dumbest people call themselves smart and they have the U.S. in in debt. They got this country and all the nations around the globe f#&k up. Ya get absolutely no sympathy from me and many others...

  2. Vera & Jim Furedi

    We stayed twice at the westgate in Orlando. The place is nice , the sales people are very pushy.We didn't buy anything,
    We saw the movie and the King and the Queen They have no clue how to live within theare meens. They want us to belive they are nice people? Really? We are not sorry for them.If you can become so rich in just a matter of few years, you didnt get rich by beeing nice!

    • Hi Vera & Jim -
      Thanks for your comment! I totally agree with you about not feeling sorry for them. So much money, and so much spending. In the movie, they seemed quite out of touch with how "normal people" live.
      Thanks for stopping by! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Should I buy a timeshare to get a certain exchange?

  3. Emanuel Coleman

    I'm here now nl until Saturday and I'm NOT BUYING BECAUSE THE PACKAGE/ROOM SHOW/SELL YOU IS NOT THE PACKAGE YOU GET! We are extreamly dissatisfied with our room and the SERVICE PROVIDED. CAN'T WAIT TO LEAVE

    • Hi Emanuel -
      Thanks for leaving a comment! Hearing about your experiences could be very useful for other people who read this. Just to clarify, I'm not associated with Westgate, and I'm not selling timeshares - I just write about timeshares, providing information for timeshare owners and potential buyers.
      Thanks again, and best of luck with it! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...Florida bill aims to weaken timeshare protections

  4. Jeffrey

    Westgate Resorts Las Vegas is a rat trap espestice field piece of s*** hotel exposing all their employees to asbestos the place should be condemned I have pictures to back that s*** up

    • Hi Jeffrey -
      I'm not sure what the best place to report something like that is. If there is an unsafe workplace that is endangering employees, I'd guess perhaps the Department of Labor. Somebody there could probably give you better advice on the proper channels to report the issues.
      Best of luck with it, - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...What is Flexchange, and how can it help you?

  5. John Trip

    I congraulate business people who have made, big and little.
    I especially want like and congratulate David Siegel and his wife, Jackie.
    I have read lots about them and I think they both deserve their successes.
    Case in point, I have a project that is safe, secure and will make a billion dollars
    but the work to get funded is why I appeciate what Siegel had to put up with to succeed.
    To the critics, Dale Carniegie said, "any damn fool can criticize and complain and
    most damn fools do"

  6. Harry Samuel

    I watched the movie, and just like the lottery you win by not buying into the promise. The builders make the money, just like the states do with their lottery. They both make promises you will live like a king, and after a week you're broke, and you never win the lottery.

    You are locked into paying year after year, and like the government the cost is out of line with reality.

    STAY away from both.

    • Hi Harry -
      It's true that the company is making the big bucks, while the owners are locked into paying year after year. There are timeshares that I like and think are a good deal, and others that definitely are not. Personally I wouldn't like to think that my fees are paying for that mansion! 🙁
      Thanks for writing! - Deanna.
      Deanna Keahey recently posted...How much is my timeshare worth?

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