TAPRC: “Open or we’ll sue” SBROC, timeshare owners go to court over reopeningPOSTED: 02/27/11 9:19 PM
St. Maarten – The Tenants Association Pelican Resort Club (TAPRC) has threatened to file summary proceedings early next week if the resort now known as Simpson Bay Resort and Marina and The Villas at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina are reopened, fully operational and equipped for proper use by today. The injunction will be filed in the name of the Advocacy Foundation Pelican Resort Club (Stichting Belangen Behartiging Pelican Resort and Club) through private mandate from Pelican Resort Club, the Owner Company and Pelican Resort Club, The Management Company.
The demand and potential action were communicated in a letter dated February 23 – three days after the resort closed its doors – to the attorney for Simpson Bay Resort Owner Company (SBROC) and Royal Resorts Jairo Bloem.
In the letter TAPRC’s attorney Gerrit van Griffen states, “The closure has great negative consequences on the time share rights of the members of my client, the Tenants Association Pelican Resort Club. This action is also in direct conflict with the undertakings given by Royal and Simpson Bay earlier, in which they have assured that the time share rights of the time share owners would be honored by the new owner of the resort.”
The attorney goes on to state that the closure, coming after many had paid their annual maintenance fee, was a shock.
“We estimate that somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 million dollars was paid because our clients were invoiced for their maintenance fees in mid 2010 and had to pay by January 15, 2011. They were also told to make the checks out to Royal or to Simpson Bay Resort Owner Company. People even had cheques returned that said Pelican and were told they had to reissue the payment. They were also given a specific account that belonged to SBROC. And now a month later the resort is closed after they were assured it would not be,” Van Giffen said.
Bloem could not immediately state how much had been collected in annual maintenance fees, choosing to classify it as “a large part.”
“Even with what was paid there is still a deficit of 4 million dollars that could keep climbing and even if there wasn’t a debt the amount would be gone in months and the circumstances would lead us to another closure. Opening now is not financially viable. In fact opening now would require us to raise more funding through either a drastic increase in the annual maintenance fee or be taking loans. I’ll go further and state that opening now will not allow the owner to protect the asset and the timeshare owners. We can’t just operate for operating sakes,” Bloem said
Van Giffen also labeled the closure “a direct material breach” of both Royal and SBROC’s contractual obligations and asserted that the compensation SBROC offered displaced owners “is inadequate and does not live up to the commitments, which Simpson Bay (ed. SBROC) has towards the time share owners.”
“In light of that TA (ed. TAPRC) feels compelled to have an injunction relief request filed soon by which the court will be requested to order Royal and Simpson Bay (ed. SBROC) to resume management of the resort. If it is not financially feasible for Simpson Bay (ed. SBROC) to comply with such relief the court will alternatively be requested to order Royal and Simpson Bay (ed. SBROC) to reimburse those time share owners who demand same, the maintenance fees as paid by them,” van Griffen wrote in his letter.
“Unless there an agreement is reached between government, my client and the Wifol (Workers Institute for Organised Labor) then the resort can’t open and they’ll have to take us to court,” Bloem said on Friday night.
The agreement he speaks of is a three way Memorandum of Understanding that will allow the resort to reopen and the employees to return to work while SBROC appeals a February 8 ruling that it must respect the terms of the Collective Labor Agreement that covers Wifol’s members. A draft was circulated on Tuesday, but parties have yet to reach an agreement, even in principal. Bloem and Wifol President Theophilus Thompson expect things to be clearer by Monday, when parties discuss SBROC’s reaction to contra-proposals submitted by Wifol on Thursday.
“We remain hopeful. We are waiting for a response to our proposal and believe we should hear something on Monday. We’ve maintained that the problem at Pelican is between the tenants and the management with the union and the workers caught in the crossfire. Our endeavor is to bring back peace and tranquility. Also let it clear that we won’t compromise on the verdict of February 8,” Thompson said.
On his turn Bloem said, “We have submitted our latest reaction to the government mediators and it’s now up to the other party (ed. Wifol) to understand but my client remains hopeful that we will still come out of this.”
In the meantime the resorts staffers have been paid their salaries.