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Eastern USA: March 24, 2012


DAYTONA BEACH: How much booze is too much? 25-year-old James Robert Cannata, of Bunnell, FL, got real lucky recently when he survived a fall from the third floor at the Ocean Walk Village, a shopping center next to the Wyndham Ocean Walk resort.

He told police he had been drinking with friends at the shopping center and as they were walking down the stairs he tripped and fell over a railing to the bottom floor. He was taken to Halifax Health Medical Center for treatment.

He was not a guest at Wyndham Ocean Walk, but he might have been.

Watch your step!


NEWARK: Some lawsuits against vacation/travel clubs have recently been filed in Bergen County, so let’s get right to it.

SUNDANCE VACATIONS: Is it sundown for Sundance Vacations? (I couldn’t resist that…) A couple of lawsuits are extant against Sundance/Dowd Marketing in Bergen County Superior Court. The first is Zelma vs. Dowd Marketing – Bergen County LCV Docket # L 004507 -11 (“-11” means it was filed in 2011). John Dowd, who owns Dowd Marketing, is founder and CEO of Sundance Vacations. There is a single plaintiff in that case and as of March 16, 2012 the case was still active.

More recently a class action lawsuit was filed by Paramus-based Gaines & McKenna on behalf of around 10 to 20 plaintiffs. That case is Thomas vs. Sundance Vacations, Inc., Docket No. L 001935 12 and it was filed March 7, 2012. The lead attorney representing the class is Barry Gainey.

By the way, word on the street is that the Boycott Sundance Vacations coalition is now focusing on the state of Illinois where they reportedly have numerous plaintiffs waiting to commence legal action. This could get uncomfortable for Sundance.

GLOBAL VACATION SOLUTIONS: Meanwhile, back at the ranch house, New Jersey’s Attorney General has accused Global Travel Solutions and its owner Jason A. Krief of defrauding consumers out of an estimated $160,000 in a vacation/travel club scam.

The five-count Verified Complaint, filed on March 15, 2012, in Bergen County Superior Court, alleges that Global Travel Solutions and Krieck violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and the Advertising Regulations, among other laws, by “committing unconscionable commercial practices and deception, making false promises or misrepresentations, and engaging in the knowing omission of material facts in their advertisement and sale of memberships.” The company maintained business addresses in Montvale and Haddonfield, and staged sales presentations at its Montvale location and the Somerset Holiday Inn.

The lawsuit claims that Global Travel Solutions lured consumers into paying between $995 and $8,500 for memberships in a travel club by promising complimentary cruises and airfares along with deeply discounted vacation packages, but the company never delivered on any of those promises.

The state is asking the court to block Global Travel Solutions and Jason Krieck from continuing to operate in violation of the state’s Consumer Fraud Act and advertising regulations. It’s also seeking restitution for customers, appointment of a receiver to take control of Krieck’s and the company’s assets and the shutdown of the Global Travel Solutions website.

The lawsuit says buyers were given three days to cancel their memberships without penalty, but their online accounts at the company’s website weren’t activated for five to seven days, making it impossible for them to check out the deals being offered before the three-day grace period was up, the lawsuit claims. It also alleges that when customers finally did get onto the website, they found that the prices listed were identical to or more expensive than those available directly through the airlines’ or cruise lines’ own websites.

According to the complaint, the company also charged customers additional fees ranging from $70 to $236 to activate their complimentary vouchers, and when some consumers tried to cancel their memberships within the three-day grace period they were charged an additional fee. Others attempted to deliver notices of cancellation to the company’s Montvale, NJ address, but found the office was closed during regular business hours.

Worse yet, even after customers’ accounts with Global’s website were closed and they had attempted to cancel their memberships, the company continued charging their credit cards for club payments.

Criminal fraud charges have not been filed— yet.

You can get all the details at Attorney General and New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs File Suit Against Vacation Travel Club. Or you can read the complaint itself here (pdf file)

Wrapping this segment up, it’s interesting to note that attorney Gainey & McKenna (yes, the same firm that filed the most recent case against Sundance) has previously handled cases against Global Vacations Solutions.

Aside from those bare facts I don’t have a lot of information on these yet because I just haven’t had time to research them. Stay tuned for more details.


CHARLESTON: A boutique hotel in Charleston’s famed Antique District that was originally slated to become a luxury condo project will now become a residence club instead.

Formerly the Restoration at King hotel, it is now called The Residences on King. The 16-unit Residences on King comprises 16 one- and two-bedroom luxury apartments that will be sold in one-eighth ownership intervals, meaning each full interval owner will get six weeks in the unit.

The new owners will convert hotel inventory into fractional-ownership inventory gradually as sales are made. Chicago-based DCP International has been hired to market and sell units in the buildings. For exchange purposes, the residence club has joined the exclusive Elite Alliance exchange program.

Prices and fees for the fractional interests had not been disclosed as of press time.

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