ORLANDO: Westgate Resorts is getting BIGGER in spite of David Siegel’s recent whines about losing interest in continuing on with his business if his personal taxes are raised.
The company is planning to add 300 units to its Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa in the next 12 months, spending $6 million on the expansion and creating lots of construction jobs in the process.
The 130-acre resort currently offers accommodations ranging from studios to 4-bedroom villas, ranging in size from 375 sq. ft. to 4,050 sq. ft. There are 7 heated pools, 7 children’s wading pools and 7 hot tubs and even an 18-hole miniature golf course. This is a pet friendly property, by the way.
ALSO IN ORLANDO: IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) is bragging that by the end of the year its Holiday Inn Club Vacations will have more than doubled its portfolio since its inception in 2008. Holiday Inn Club Vacations recently revealed its newest properties — Holiday Inn Club Vacations Panama City Beach Resort, a 37-unit beachfront resort in Panama City Beach, Fla., and Holiday Inn Club Vacations Galveston Beach Resort, a 78-villa beachfront property in Galveston, Texas opening this December. With the addition of these properties, the brand now boasts ten locations.
This is a strategic partnership between IHG and Orange Lake Resorts, as you should know by now, in which Orange Lake does the heavy lifting.
The high points of this alliance?
- The Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort portfolio has expanded from four destinations to nine, with a tenth resort joining the brand in late 2012. This is a total of 3,788 rooms.
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations resorts see an average of 850,000 guests per year
The brand has opened three additional sales centers and has increased timeshare sales by 35.7%.
- The brand provides vacation ownership preview tours to 170,000 guests per year Membership in the Holiday Inn Club timeshare ownership program has risen from 51,568 in 2010 to nearly 80,000 in 2012.
Way to go!
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CAMDEN: The trial of Adam and Ashley LaCerda on charges of wire fraud and mail fraud, conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering is a little less than a month away, and it will be interesting to see how it turns out. The trial is set for November 26, 2012 in Camden federal court.
One of the mail fraud charges involves the Lacerdas and a former employee allegedly obtaining jobless benefits while working for VO Group, according to the indictment. Kind of weird with a beard, don’t you think?
The LaCerdas were charged in April, 2012 for their alleged roles in a $2.6 million scheme to defraud more than 200 timeshare owners through a former company they owned and operated called Vacation Ownership Group, or VO Group LLC.
Shortly before they were indicted they formed a new company called VO Financial Corp. and restructured their business under that new name. The house attorney for the firm, Josh Gayle, has said the company continues to operate because charges were filed against its operators and not the business.
Of course the LaCerdas are vigorously defending themselves against the charges. I guess we’ll see soon enough if they are successful.
I idly wonder what will happen to VO Financial if the owners of the company are found guilty and sentenced to prison? Will it just continue with business as usual?
You can refresh your memory about this story here and here and here, if you’re interested.
If you want to read the indictment for yourself to see precisely what the government’s allegations against the Lacerdas (et al) are, go to United States of America v. Adam Lacerda et al Better bring some popcorn and a soda; it’s a long complaint.
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WILKES-BARRE: It being a slow news week, I was browsing around in the Boycott Sundance Vacations Facebook page (which now has some 860 members) to check out the action there and I found this:
I’m wondering if anybody in this group can help me. I just got an email that Google received a subpoena for information in my Google account regarding a case “Sundance Vacations, Inc v. Albert Whitehead, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, 112CV233932 (Internal Ref. No. 271483)”
Well there’s nothing like a lawsuit to pique my interest, so I did some investigating, ultimately ending up in a Pennsylvania court with another case: Sundance v. Whitehead, Luzerne County 8006 of 2012.
In a nutshell, according to the complaint in that case (which is connected to the subpoena referenced in the California case) Sundance is alleging that Whitehead created the Boycott page in violation of a previous settlement agreement in a civil suit filed by Whitehead against Sundance Vacations in 2005. Sundance is demanding that the Boycott page be removed as part of that private civil law suit. Well for what it’s worth, I have it from a reliable source that the individual being sued did not create the “Boycott Sundance Vacations” Facebook page so Sundance may have to try elsewhere.
But what will Sundance try next, should this effort fail? Word is they have made several attempts to get Facebook to delete the Boycott page but Facebook refused on the grounds that they found nothing slanderous or libelous on the page, nor did it violate Facebook’s Terms of Service.
What really got me going in the comment I quoted above though was the subpoena of Google’s records part. “What?” I thought, “Is Sundance now sinking to that level to intimidate people who dare to criticize them online?”
I guess it’s not really that new, though. For instance there is hard evidence available that Sundance has made customer refunds contingent on the customer’s promise to retract and remove any previously publicized comments, under the threat that their contract will remain in full force and effect if they don’t agree. A “gag” order/agreement, if you will. (Or something akin to a bribe?)
As far back as 2006 you can read an inveigh about it on Scam.com (comment #17).
Then there’s DeVonna Joy, lawyer, practitioner with and owner of the Consumer Justice Law Center in Wisconsin, who has civil cases pending against Sundance and is publicly critiquing the company on the Boycott page. Says she: “Just say ‘no’ to the gag order. It is meant to sweep Sundance’s behavior under the carpet. People should not lose their First Amendment rights simply because they have a dispute with a company. As I have told Sundance, if my clients take Sundance to trial, nothing will be confidential; trials are public.”
Freedom of Speech. Ah, there we are! That’s the real issue here, isn’t it?
Heaven knows the Intertoobz are chock full of complaints against Sundance Vacations and its various incarnations/partners/affiliates/subsidiaries, and there have been quite a few exposes about them in newspapers and on TV stations, too, over the years.
It seems to me that such bad publicity over such a long period of time could have been avoided simply by paying attention to the complaints, resolving them to the customers’ satisfaction and then taking steps to avoid generating the same kinds of complaints in future dealings. In all fairness, Sundance’s website does contain this reassurance: “Company policy warrants that all possible actions be taken to correct or rectify a client’s unsatisfactory company experience. Sundance Vacations is committed to the highest standards of marketplace ethics and business conduct.”
It just doesn’t appear that their customers agree about the sincerity of those efforts, and when they complain Sundance seems to be trying to silence them. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that those folks won’t be silenced easily.
Which leads me to this: Word on the street is that a class action suit against Sundance is being considered on several fronts both state and Federal. Stay tuned…
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