Owners furious with Deer Valley Lodging
April 3, 2009
Condo owners owed money by Deer Valley Lodging are not happy.
Among numerous complaints posted at http://www.parkrecord.com , and sent directly to The Park Record, the most common has been that it was illegal for Premier Resorts, the parent company of Deer Valley Lodging, to withhold payments.
Sanford Kassel, a California attorney and owner of multiple Park City condos, said in his state it would be considered criminal.
"We all know it’s tough times, but it’s wrong for Deer Valley Lodging to tap or otherwise use money that is not theirs, but due owners," he said in an interview on Thursday.
Scottsdale, Ariz. resident Eric Van Moorlehem owns a condo at the Caledonian and said in an interview Friday that he’s reported the situation to his Salt Lake City attorneys and to the Park City Police Department as a theft incident.
The crux of the problem, he said, is that Deer Valley Lodging doesn’t pay him, he pays them.
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On his 1099 from the Internal Revenue Service, Van Moorlehem said he’s held responsible for all of the money brought in by the condo. The company may handle the money for him, but legally speaking, they bill him for their services.
"They’re an employee of my own personal business that is the condo. That’s how I see it and the IRS sees it that way too," he said. "It’s one of the biggest scandals to happen within Park City that I can think of in recent times," he added.
It’s difficult to tell, however, how much of this talk about theft is actually being reported to law enforcement. As of Thursday evening, neither the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, the County Attorney’s criminal affairs office, the Park City Police Department nor the Utah Attorney General’s office had received any observable criminal complaints about Deer Valley Lodging.
Furthermore, representatives from all of those offices said the issue sounded like a civil affair.
Jennifer Bolton, spokesperson for the State Department of Commerce said the situation was probably not a violation of law.
According Charles Smalley, an investigator in the Utah division of real estate, property management companies are heavily regulated and must follow strict rules in how they handle their clients’ money. But, those rules do not apply to nightly rentals. Situations that involve rentals of less than 30 days are different from long-term management agreements, "like apples and oranges," he said.
Another common complaint made is that the letter sent to owners and signed by Premier Resorts president Barbara Zimonja and chief financial officer Bradley Goulding gave their office telephone numbers and invited home owners to call them directly. Many owners said Zimonja and Goulding were unavailable.
"It’s nonsense, false and untrue. I have left repeated messages for Barbara and Brad. All you get is voicemail with no return calls being made," Kassel complained.
There is also speculation that a sour business deal in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is responsible for the company’s financial troubles.
Bobby Foster, director of marketing for Premier Resorts, responded to all of these concerns.
He said that according to Utah law, his business was not required to hold money for the owners of the 568 condos in escrow or trust. Some of the contracts with owners, but not all, require his company to pay interest on late payments.
Zimonja expects to have a solution that she will report to owners in about two weeks, he said.
Foster said he understands that owners have not been able to get through to Zimonja or Goulding, but that the two were in meetings all day on Monday and Tuesday and have messages from about 500 different people to reply to.
"They all want to talk, and we’ll communicate with everybody," he said.
Foster said the problem in Myrtle Beach was that of the condo developer, and is not connected with Premier Resorts.