Clive Palmer at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
Clive Palmer at the Palmer Coolum Resort. Brett Wortman

Clive 'bullies' villa owners

SOME villa owners at Clive Palmer's Coolum Resort believe they are being bullied into selling up.

They have recently discovered they can no longer earn an income from their units or enjoy privileges that had been available to them for many years.

The issue is now being considered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, with lawyers for the owners and the resort involved.

Villa owners were previously offered flexible booking arrangements, reduced golfing rates, free tennis, free airport transfers, free use of bicycles and discounted spa treatments.

One Sydney-based owner, who did not want to be identified, owns a 25% share in a villa and said he had been shocked to learn of the changes during their recent stay.

"I bought my share on the understanding that the villa would be part of a letting pool where every owner has basically a quarter of 365 days access, so 92 days a year or there abouts," they said.

"Previously you could have these 92 days, or you could book four villas for five days and have 20 days knocked off your account, which meant you could invite friends and family at Christmas for example, and that was part of the attraction.

"I made a booking a couple of months ago and a week before I was due to arrive I got a phone call from the liaison officer ... (he said) there was a new rule that owners could only stay in their own units.

"They went on to say 'we'll no longer be paying for the pick-up at Maroochydore, and the use of bicycles at the resort is now $17 a day and golf fees have increased…' and that was the first I heard of it."

When he found that golf fees had lifted from $60 to $110, they asked to speak to the manager.

"He just said 'that's the new rule, it's up to Clive Palmer, he sets the rules'."

The owner contacted the president of the villa owners' association and spoke to other owners who confirmed they had been treated the same.

An association spokesman said it appeared Mr Palmer had revoked a Hyatt agreement that allowed units in the letting pool.

He said Mr Palmer had also purchased some villas.

Resort general manager Bill Schoch said the matter was before ASIC and "given input from lawyers from both sides".

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