According to a recent Sentinel newspaper report, federal investigators have recovered more than $868,000 in back wages for more than a thousand workers at Central Florida Investments, the Orlando timeshare operator that does business as Westgate Resorts. The US Department of Labor had determined that 1,065 company employees who scheduled tours, officially called “off property consultants” were not paid at least the federal minimum wage for all the hours they worked. The agency also said that workers premium pay did not include commissions, and that overtime was incorrectly computed. The report also indicated that Westgate failed to keep accurate time-card records. According to a Westgate representative, there was no finding by the government of intentional wrongdoing, noting that management of commissioned-based sales people is complex.
Westgate Resorts says it workforce has had a net gain of 800 people since the start of 2010. The Orlando based timeshare company is still far behind its peak employment period, which once employed over 11,000 people in the Orlando area. Early in 2009, Westgate Resorts had reduced its workforce to about 7,000. According to Westgate Resorts Chief Operating Officer, the company now employs 5,200 people. Westgate Resorts maintains eight properties alone in the Orlando area.
Westgate Resorts is attempting to eliminate $350 million in assets. Amid the nation’s real estate slump, Westgate Resorts under President and CEO, has listed a portfolio of properties with Carlton Advisory Services, an international real estate investment banking firm. A total of 60 assets are now listed for sale, and include two private aircraft, a 500-room Ramada hotel in Kissimmee, rights to land at the entrance to Disneyland in California, the Grenelefe Tennis and Golf Resort in Haines City, and the River Ranch dude ranch on 1,700 acres on the Kissimmee River. The sell off amounts to $350 million in assets and is virtually everything not needed for Westgate’s timeshare business.
One of Westgate Resort’s most anticipated vacation ownership properties will be open soon. The Planet Hollywood by Westgate in Las Vegas is putting the finishing touches on this much-ballyhooed project and plans to begin hiring workers soon.
In preparation for the new Westgate Tower opening, the Planet Hollywood held a job fair on July 30. Their plans call for hiring between 600 to 800 workers. Planet Hollywood President, Bill Feather, has said that the hiring for all positions will begin in November.
Westgate Resorts has eliminated its telemarketing program and laid off at least 600 people in one office in the Orlando area according to a recent report in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.
According to the report, the telemarketing program has been eliminated for the time being, as the continuing worldwide credit crunch has forced the timeshare industry to evaluate programs and cut less profitable ventures to conserve cash.
The same Orlando Sentinel story also states that Westgate Resorts has also been hit with $1 million in punitive damages related to a marketing campaign that promised potential timeshare buyers a free vacation.
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