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by Michael J. Shapiro | December 17, 2012

At approximately 12 midnight local time on Dec. 15, owner representatives of the Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina assumed control of the resort and removed Hyatt Curacao, N.V., as the management company of the 350-room Caribbean property. According to the hotel investment group Santa Barbara Hospitality N.V., the resort has been renamed Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort, Curacao, and is now being managed by Benchmark Hospitality International. In a statement, the property owner indicated that employees were notified and that Benchmark plans to offer jobs to most current staff members, who will maintain their current pay rates, start dates and accrued vacation. All reservations and event bookings will be honored without change, the owner specified.

The owner claims, through legal representation, that it terminated the management agreement with Hyatt on Nov. 21, 2012, and that Hyatt has not complied with the request on that date to immediately discuss interim management and transition-related matters. Under Hyatt's management, claims the owner, the resort missed revenue projections by almost $12 million in 2011 and occupancy rates were 22 percent less than expected. Performance has been lower than projected this year as well. "The owner alleges that Hyatt failed in its duties and responsibilities with regard to the service, training and supervision of the resort's personnel, budgeting and forecasting, and sales and marketing of the resort," reads a statement issued by the owner's legal representatives.

Hyatt Hotels & Resorts issued a statement in response to the action, denying that the owner had the legal right to remove its subsidiary as manager of the property. In November, claims Hyatt, it began an arbitration process, seeking a declaration of the parties' rights under the contract. "The owner, however, has elected to take this precipitous action rather [than] acting as set forth in the management agreement to resolve matters in the arbitration," reads Hyatt's statement. "Hyatt Curacao N.V. will be taking action to protect its rights under the agreement and expects to have control of the resort restored. Hyatt Curacao N.V. is concerned about the impact of owner's disruptive action on the resort, its guests and employees."

That said, anyone doing business with the resort must contact the resort directly at this point, as Hyatt no longer can take reservations or respond to questions.