News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Todd Pack, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 9--Sunterra Corp., the time-share operator whose meteoric growth in the late 1990s ended in financial collapse, is moving from Orlando to Las Vegas as part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy court protection.
Its corporate offices probably will leave the area by year's end, Chief Executive Officer Nick Benson said Friday.
Although Orlando is considered the nation's time-share capital, Sunterra is moving because "a significant part of our U.S. business already is located in Las Vegas," and many of its other properties are on the West Coast and in Hawaii, Benson said.
He expects many of the company's 160 Orlando-area employees to make the move.
"We're going to encourage them [to move]," he said. But if they don't follow the company west, "we will be looking after them and treating them very fairly."
Besides moving its corporate offices, the company is dividing its operations into two regional divisions: Sunterra Europe will be based in England, Sunterra USA in Las Vegas.
Sunterra also plans to shed several more of its time-share resorts, Benson said.
During the past 12 months, it had reduced the number of properties it owns or manages from 89 to 75.
Sunterra's rapid expansion was brought crashing down two years ago by enormous debt and, in June 2000, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. It filed a reorganization plan in January as a first step toward emerging from bankruptcy-court protection from its creditors, a process it hopes to complete within a few months.
Before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, Sunterra was in the process of renovating a former Montgomery Ward department store on West Colonial Drive to use as its headquarters.
Orange County bought the building in early 2000 and is now turning it into a headquarters for the Sheriff's Office.
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(c) 2002. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. OWN,
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