Updated Dec. 3, 2016 at 1:25pm EST
Q: Which Westgate Smoky Mountain buildings were destroyed by the fire?
A: After our thorough inspection the following buildings that remained un-damaged are: Building 1000, Building 5000, Cabins (521, 519, 203, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 307, 308, 315, 317, 319, 321, 323, 325, 327, 329, 331), the Sales Pavilion, the water park, and the original check-in building. All other buildings and cabins were destroyed and will be rebuilt.
Q: Will Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort be open this month / when will it reopen?
A: We will be announcing an opening date very shortly for the undamaged portion of the resort . The good news is that over 260 units in the resort core and another 100 or so near the top of the mountain along with many of the amenities survived the fire and will be open for use within weeks.
Q: What if I left items behind at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort?
A: The property is temporarily closed to the public while we clean up the resort core and prepare our buildings for occupancy. We have a dedicated team that has entered all of the undamaged buildings on property, videotaped each unit and retrieved any belongings left behind. These items will be packaged and returned to guests within the next two weeks. In addition, our construction team is carefully sifting through the remains of the damaged units to look for any personal items that might be salvageable.
Q: What do I do if my car was left behind?
A: Please contact us through the Gatlinburg Owner Hotline at (800) 413-0923 or Direct Message us on the Smoky Mountain Resort Facebook Page and provide a description of the vehicle, including make, model and license plate number. Please also include your reservation information and the general area where you left the car. If you car has not been damaged by the fire, we can have it removed from the property immediately.
Q: Does Westgate’s insurance cover the damage to my personal property while I was at the resort?
A: Your personal homeowners, rental and travel insurance may cover damage to property lost in a natural disaster. Please reach out to your respective insurance companies.
Q: Does the resort have insurance to cover the damage?
A: Yes, the resort has adequate insurance to replace all the units that were damaged by the wildfire. Those premiums are paid each year out of the maintenance fees as well as the developer pays its portion of the premiums of the maintenance fees it pays on its share of the units..
Q: Do I get a refund for the nights affected by the wildfire?
A: Any nights that you were impacted by the wildfire along with any deposits will be automatically refunded. Please give us up to a week to process these refunds.
Q: What do I do regarding Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort reservations between now and December 31, 2016?
A: Currently, all existing reservations have been automatically cancelled through the end of the year – you will be receiving an email confirmation of your cancellation in the near future. Stay tuned for updates on reservations made for 2017. If you are a rental guest and booked through a third party, you will need to contact them for a refund; however, if you have any issues, please call us immediately.
Q: What if my reservation is after December 31, 2016?
A: We are in the process of reassigning reservations to the available units on the resort. You will be notified within the next the next few weeks regarding your reservation.
Q: What happens to my week if I was using it while the wildfire occurred on property?
A: We will be re-crediting all ownership weeks for Westgate owners who were impacted by the wildfire. Those will be returned to your account and be usable within a few weeks, or you can opt to exchange to any of our other Westgate Resort properties. We are waiving all developer exchange fees for owners who own or had reservations at the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort.
Q: What are my options to use my Gatlinburg Owner Week?
A: You will be able to reserve from our remaining rooms at the resort (based on availability), do a complimentary developer exchange to other Westgate Resorts (based on availability and ownership type), bank your week for future use for no fee or trade through Interval International.
Q: Do I have to pay my mortgage payment?
A: Yes, your mortgage payment remains due and payable to ensure you have access to book reservations, trade your week and utilize the amenities. By continuing to make your payment you protect your timeshare equity.
Q: Why do I have to pay my maintenance and taxes if my building was destroyed?
A: Even though your building was destroyed, you are part of the floating use plan, which means that all owner units float together within their unit type. Upon the resumption of reservations, you will be able to reserve a unit as similar as possible to the one you own. The maintenance fees you pay will be used to cover the reservations that you have on the books, those that you book at other Westgate Resorts, and other normal operating expenses of the HOA.
Q: Will there be a special assessment?
A: No. At this time we have no reason to believe that the insurance reserves are not adequate to fund reconstruction.
Q: How do we determine what is left for reservations?
A: Our first priority will be to confirm existing owner reservations. Once that process is complete and we know what we can accommodate, we will open the inventory on a first come, first serve basis. In order to accommodate as many owners as possible, the developer has agreed to relinquish its developer owned inventory to the Smoky Mountain owners to make it as easy as possible to book. We will continue to offer updates through our website, Facebook and via e-mail.
Q: What is your procedure for existing reservations that weren’t canceled?
A: We have canceled reservations through the end of the year. We will contact you if we open before the end of this year and offer you the opportunity to reserve a unit a the resort. Affected owners are given an option of making modifications at no additional costs. Future reservations will be reviewed within the next few weeks
Q: How do I book my reservations and get answers to questions not on this list if I am a Gatlinburg owner?
A: A special hotline will be created to handle all issues related to our Gatlinburg owners throughout the reconstruction process through our new Gatlinburg Owner Response Team. The number of that hotline is (800) 413-0923. Our team of specialized and trained team members will guide you through your options and help escalate any request or item you may have.
Q: When does the team start taking calls and assisting owners?
A: We will begin assisting owners and answer questions as we can on Monday December 5th. Our hours of operation for our special team will be Monday through Friday 9am to 5pm. After those hours, your calls will be handled by our Owner Reservations Team Members.
Q: Will you book me at your other area resorts if I want to come back and the Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort is full?
A: We will try to accommodate as many owners as we can with our remaining inventory. We encourage you to book at other Westgate resorts or through Interval International.
Q: How many Westgate Resorts employees work in the area?
A: More than 1,100 team members work in the Gatlinburg area.
Q: How can I help Westgate Resorts Team Members who were affected by the wildfire?
A: Westgate Resorts is a family, and many of our team members nationwide want to help team members impacted by the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg. The Westgate Resorts Foundation is accepting online donations for our team in Gatlinburg – 100% of the money donated will go directly to Gatlinburg-area team members in need through the Foundation. Please visit https://www.westgateresorts.com/gatlinburg-wildfires/ for more information.
Resorts Foundation is accepting online donations for our team in Gatlinburg – 100% of the money donated will go directly to Gatlinburg-area team members in need through the Foundation. Please visit https://www.westgateresorts.com/gatlinburg-wildfires/ for more information.
Q: What do I do if I am a team member at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort?
A: Contact your direct supervisor if you are a Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort team member.
Q: What is the timeline to start reconstruction on Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa?
A: Reconstruction efforts have already commenced. We are still assessing the damages and timelines may change but we have an anticipated total construction timeline of 18- 24 months. As buildings are completed, they will come online much sooner than that.
Q: Is my Villa going to look the same after reconstruction?
A: The reconstructed units will be improved and be in better condition and even stronger than before, including enhanced fire protection and sound proofing.
Q: What amenities will be open?
A: The following amenities will be available upon opening: The 60,000 sf Wild Bear Falls Water Park, fitness center, our new Grocery Store and Deli, Water Park Snack Bar, Activities Center, and we will open a day spa in the retail section of lodge building 1000.
Q: What is currently open in Gatlinburg?
A: Please see Gatlinburg.com for the latest updates on which attractions, restaurants, etc. are open in the area.
Q: Who will get to make reservations at the resort?
A: We will be reserving nearly all units for our Smoky Mountain owners and greatly limiting all rental and exchange guests as well as non-Smoky Mountain owners to help ensure Smoky Mountain owners get best access to the remaining inventory. The developer has offered to provide all of its unsold weeks to the Smoky Mountain owners to help them vacation.
Q: Was there fire damage to River Terrace Resort & Convention Center?
A: There was minimal damage to the resort. In fact, we are opening up for existing and new reservations starting the weekend of December 9, 2016.
Q: When will River Terrace Resort & Convention Center reopen?
A: We will begin accepting guests on Friday, December 9, 2016.
Please be advised that we have been notified by some of our owners of fraudulent companies either pretending to be representing Westgate Resorts or contacting Westgate owners advising them on paying exorbitant fees to relinquish their timeshare. In many cases they are spreading false statements regarding the future of Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa, including comments that we are planning a special assessment – all of which are completely false. If you have been contacted by any of these companies or have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us on our Gatlinburg Owner Hotline at 800-413-0923. Thank you.
Updated Dec. 1, 2016 at 2:10pm EST
To Our Valued Westgate Smoky Mountains Owners & Guests,
We would like to acknowledge the tremendous support of our entire family of Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa owners, guests and team members during this challenging time. In particular, we are thankful for our dedicated Westgate team members who evacuated more than 700 guests from the resort with very little notice and saved many lives that night from the wildfire. The fact that none of our guests or team members was injured in the tragedy is a miracle in itself and reflects strongly on the outstanding team at Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort.
While many buildings were destroyed by the wildfire, Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort has the necessary insurance in place to cover this damage. Please be assured your timeshare equity is protected because your property will be rebuilt to an even better standard than before. We will start reconstruction of the damaged units immediately and will utilize every resource available to us to complete that process as quickly as possible. In fact, our construction team is already in place and we have sourced the materials needed to start the reconstruction effort. The good news is that most of the resort core, including the original check-in center, Lodge 1000, waterpark, fitness center and swimming pool are intact, as well as 352 units in and around the resort core. Our goal is to have the main resort open within 30 days.
We have met personally with many of the guests who were evacuated and we appreciate their concern and desire for retrieving any items that they left behind. Unfortunately, due to the still dangerous conditions, guests will not be allowed to return to the resort at this time. Therefore, we have put together a team to retrieve, package and return any items left behind. Our security team has entered all of the undamaged buildings on property, videotaped each unit and retrieved any belongings left behind. These items will be packaged and returned to guests as soon as possible.
If you are one of our guests who left items in a building that is still intact, we will box and ship your items to you within the next two weeks. Please private message us on Facebook or call us at 800-925-9999 with your room and contact information and we will follow up with you. If you were in a unit that was destroyed, we have paired our construction demo team with an operations group that will sift through all debris to recover any personal items we can find. If you provide us your contact information with a description of any valuable personal items, we will contact you if any item is found. Please understand this process may take several weeks or more.
During the reconstruction process, you will need to make your maintenance, tax and mortgage payments as regularly scheduled. As noted above, we have 352 units of buildings and cabins that were not affected or had minimal impact from the wildfire. Within the next two weeks we will announce the re-opening date for the resort and resume the process of accepting reservations from Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort owners. Please understand that irrespective of which building you are deeded, you are a part of the floating usage plan. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort owners will have access to utilize these rooms while we make arrangements for speedy reconstruction of the remaining buildings at the resort. You also have the option to visit any of our other Westgate resorts, and we will waive the developer exchange fee for Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort owners. We will also be setting up a special hotline for our Gatlinburg owners to help you with your reservations in the coming weeks. In addition, you still have the ability to bank your week for usage for future usage.
Again, we want to thank our family of Westgate Smoky Mountain owners, guests and team members for your understanding and support during this difficult time. This is an unprecedented event that no one could have ever imagined, but we are fortunate to have an outstanding group of team members who are passionate about serving their owners. On that note, at least 20 of our team members lost homes in the wildfire, along with the hundreds of other homes lost in the local community. We are collecting donations for all of these families on our websites (www.westgateresorts.com and www.westgateresortsfoundation.org) and 100% of any monies donated will go to someone who lost their home in this fire. We appreciate any support you can give the people of this community.
In closing, you have our assurance that Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa will be back bigger and more beautiful than ever, and we look forward to serving you in the years to come.
David A. Siegel
Updated Nov. 29, 2016 at 2pm EST
As many of you are aware, a massive wildfire has spread through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and into our resort and the City of Gatlinburg. The local authorities have evacuated the surrounding area and we are still assessing the impact. Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa has sustained substantial damage and will be temporarily closed while we complete a full assessment. Fortunately, there are no reported injuries or casualties at our resorts.
The resort will be closed until further notice and we will post more information as it becomes available. All existing reservations are being automatically cancelled through the end of the year– you will be receiving an email confirmation of your cancellation in the near future. As we determine the extent of the damage in the next few days, we will review future reservations and what we will be able to accommodate both at this resort while we reconstruct and at our other resorts.
We understand a lot of our owners have lots of questions and we will do our best to answer them as quickly as possible. In order to ensure your vacations remain as uninterrupted as possible, we will be waiving the developer exchange fee for all of our other Westgate resorts and encourage you to make your bookings at our other properties while we finalize our reconstruction plans. We have the resources and are committed to rebuilding this resort making it better than ever.
David A. Siegel