The Palazzo Versace’s Aurora day spa  has launched legal action after the hotel’s Chinese owners
The Palazzo Versace’s Aurora day spa has launched legal action after the hotel’s Chinese owners

Versace hotel’s Chinese owners taken to court

A SPAT over a luxury spa between one of Australia's richest men and a swish Gold Coast hotel is headed for a Supreme Court showdown.

The Palazzo Versace's Aurora day spa, part-owned by wealthy Melbourne businessman Paul Little, has launched legal action after the hotel's Chinese owners moved to boot the business out of the Main Beach establishment famed for its lavish decor and celebrity guests.

Aurora also runs "five-star" spas in Melbourne and Qantas Clubs but the Chinese, who have been accused of cutting costs since buying the Versace six years ago, claim they can run the spa better for its "very high calibre guests" and want the operator out.

A trial has been set down for next week and a string of ex-Palazzo Versace bosses, including recently departed general manager Claire Huang, have been called as witnesses.

The feud first erupted last year when the hotel owners moved to terminate the day-spa lease held by Palazzo Aurora Pty Ltd, headed by Gold Coaster Scott Mitchell and business partner Mr Little - the Toorak mansion-dwelling Toll Holdings founder and former Essendon AFL club chairman.

Wealthy Melbourne businessman Paul Little is taking legal action after Palazzo Versace’s owners moved to boot the luxury spa centre out. Picture: Jerad Williams
Wealthy Melbourne businessman Paul Little is taking legal action after Palazzo Versace’s owners moved to boot the luxury spa centre out. Picture: Jerad Williams

Palazzo Aurora, which has operated the spa since 2012, alleged the hoteliers unlawfully refused to extend its lease despite a five-year option it had to continue operating beyond last May.

The company has accused the Chinese of breaching Australian consumer law, "unconscionable and unreasonable" action and "misleading and deceptive conduct".

Among witnesses at the four-day trial will be Ms Huang, who recently became the fourth Versace GM in less than four years to quit the hotel.

In a court affidavit before she left, the hotelier said it was always her understanding that Aurora had no options to extend its lease.

The Palazzo Versace’s Aurora day spa  has launched legal action after the hotel’s Chinese owners
The Palazzo Versace’s Aurora day spa has launched legal action after the hotel’s Chinese owners

Ms Huang alleged that Mr Mitchell moved to cut access to showers and toilets for hotel guests, condominium owners and gym members outside hours, reduce spa operating times and prevent guests from charging spa services to their rooms.

She also alleged the Aurora had refused to offer in-room massage services often sought by VIP guests and failed to act on complaints, claiming the spa had been the subject of "at least" five negative comments on TripAdvisor between January and April this year.

Ms Huang alleged Aurora had failed to undertake proper maintenance and that Mr Mitchell had been "very uncooperative and unwilling to engage".

"It is our preference to operate the spa facility as we can control the level and standard of service, the product and service offerings and communication and guest relations and maximise hotel profit with our own strong brand of Versace," she stated in her affidavit.

"We regularly host VIP guests of very high calibre including musical artists, film stars and wealthy business people and tourists from around the world."

News Corp Australia


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