American musicians threaten resort with legal action

POSTED: 02/7/12 4:13 PM

No reaction from Port de Plaisance to extensive complaint

St. Maarten – Prof. Elyena Foster-Miremonde and her son, concert pianist and composer Julian Lampert have filed a complaint against the management of Port de Plaisance about the condition under which they stayed at the resort in December of last year. The musicians demand compensation or else they will take legal action.

Foster-Miremonde and Lampert are the co-founders of New York-based Miremonde Arts Center that strives to integrate music into the lives of children and adults. On December 17, Lampert gave a piano recital at the Catholic Church in Marigot.

Foster-Miremonde, who studied music with Theodore Gutman at the Moscow Conservatory before she emigrated with her family to the United States in the 1970s, sent a furious letter to the Port de Plaisance management on January 6. This weekend she forwarded the correspondence to this newspaper, after having waited for more than a month in vain for a reply.

In the letter, Foster-Miremonde and Lampert complain about what they call “the unlivable conditions of our unit. Port de Plaisance violated a number of building codes and service requirements as defined by even the most minimal international standards of the hotel industry.”

Foster-Miremonde and Lampert have been coming to Port de Plaisance for twenty years; they now demand their 2011 maintenance fees back, plus “a detailed letter of explanation (…) that must include an answer to why such gross negligence was permitted to take place over many years, especially because they violated health and safety standards.”

The letter was cc’d to New York district attorney Janet Defiore, attorney Daniel Schlanger, deputy director Hugh Stevenson at the US Federal Trade commission in Washington, Paul Galiano at the New York City Better Business Bureau and Dominique Lavory at the St. Martin Hospitality and Trade Association.

Foster and Lampert stated in their letter that Port de Plaisance “violated a number of building codes and service requirements as defined by the most minimal standards of the hotel industry.” They wrote that the resort should have blocked access to areas under construction but that they were instead “easily accessible.”

“The building where our unit was located was unsafe and presented dangers due to exposure to demolished units, hanging wires, wet surfaces and strong chemical spells,” the complaints-letter states. The letter contains a dozen complaints – from missing screen doors to keep mosquitoes out and stench in the bathroom, to leaking faucets and broken furniture.

The air-conditioning was not functioning properly; switched on it caused freezing temperatures, and turned off it forced Foster to open the balcony doors – and because there was no screen door, this led to a mosquito-invasion.

When Foster used the dishwasher for the first time, it flooded the kitchen and the living room.

Upon arrival, she found a large roach in the sink of the master bedroom. “Ironically, fumigation treatment of our unit took place a week later, during our stay. This toxic procedure should be performed long before the arrival of guests,” the letter states.

Foster and Lampert also complained that trash was left outside their unit, even after several requests to remove it. “In addition, we were informed that other guests were greeted with baskets of fruit and flowers. As guests of Port de Plaisance for nearly twenty years, we were greeted only with an array of problems that left us disgusted and infuriated,” the letter states.

The complaint by Foster and Lampert is not unique. The traveler’s web site Tripadvisor contains many reviews about the resort, and the overwhelming majority of them are negative.

The Port de Plaisance management could not be reached for a comment yesterday.

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