Four Seasons Aviara Resort Battle Gets Uglier


After Four Seasons announced that it has no intention to voluntarily relinquish its role as manager of Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad, CA, the following was released by the law firm Bickel & Brewer, attorneys for the owners of the former Four Seasons Aviara:

Owners of a leading hotel investment and ownership group have filed for an injunction in San Diego federal court to oust Four Seasons Hotels Limited ("Four Seasons") from its continued occupation of their Aviara Resort.

The ownership group, BRCP HEF Hotel Tenant, LLC, confirmed that Four Seasons has been terminated from its management agreement at the luxury resort in Carlsbad, CA. Four Seasons now faces charges of trespassing due to its refusal to vacate the property. Last week, owners notified Four Seasons that Dolce Hotels and Resorts would assume management of the resort property at 1 p.m., Monday. Four Seasons notified resort owners that it would resist a transfer of management, and threatened a "breach of the peace" at the resort if owners or representatives of Dolce attempted to take over possession of the hotel.

Out of an abundance of caution and in consideration of resort guests and employees, the owners opted not to risk a physical confrontation with Four Seasons at the property. Instead, they filed an application on Monday, May 11, seeking a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief to remove Four Seasons. Owners' application was filed in Case No. 09 CV 912 JM NLS and can be viewed above.

The court has scheduled a hearing on that application for May 27.

"Our client, the owners of the resort, have terminated Four Seasons -- and believe that Four Seasons is occupying the resort without authority to do so," says William A. Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and lead counsel for the owners. "Upon being notified by Four Seasons that it would physically oppose owners' efforts to install a new management company, our clients chose not to risk a confrontation."

The property will be managed as an independent luxury resort. The owners announced that they selected Dolce as the resort's new management company following the termination of Four Seasons from its position as manager of the Aviara resort— amid allegations that Four Seasons breached its fiduciary duties and mismanaged the 329-room luxury property.

Owners terminated Four Seasons and the management agreement between the parties on March 29, 2009, but Four Seasons refused to acknowledge that termination— or to cooperate in a transfer of control of the hotel property to a new management company. The owners also commenced an arbitration proceeding against Four Seasons, seeking tens of millions of dollars in financial damages.

Monday's filing states that Four Seasons "is a trespasser upon Owner's property" and "an unauthorized and unwelcome interloper in Owner's Hotel business." The filing further claims that Four Seasons has engaged in a "wide range of unlawful acts since the termination of its agency powers."

"The owners recognize Dolce as the manager of this resort and, by our court filing, seeks to put Dolce in full operational control of the resort as soon as possible," Brewer says. "We look forward to working with Dolce and its leadership team in improving the management and performance of this hotel as a premier resort property."

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