Fury as island resort leaves partygoers stranded
GOLD Coast businesses claim staff Christmas parties have been ruined when partygoers were left stranded and unable to get to a popular island resort - but the operator is claiming sabotage.
Multiple firms forked out thousands for functions at South Stradbroke Island's McLaren's Landing beach party bar but instead ended up with a festive fizzer stuck at Mariner's Cove.
The resort's general manager Jason Nicholls is accused of not answering emails and phone calls plus failing to provide refunds but he is vigorously denying the claims and said it wasn't his fault.
Mr Nicholls said the cancellations were the result of a "perfect storm" of bad weather, a busy holiday period and alleged malicious actions of others.
Kim Wise from All About Cabinets and her 30 staff were left stranded at Mariner's Cove after arriving on Saturday morning to find their planned staff party had been cancelled.
Ms Wise said she paid $7000 to Mr Nicholls for a Christmas package and had not received notice of the cancellation.
"We were well and truly let down by the McLaren's Landing people," she said.
"We spoke to the company the night before and they said they would let us know if there would be a cancellation due to the weather.
"But we heard nothing and turned up to find no boat and nobody around."
Ms Wise said she later received a call from Mr Nicholls saying the trip had been cancelled.
"He promised a refund but I'm not holding my breath on getting it back," she said.
CBRE Gold Coast office managing director Jonathan O'Brien said more than 20 guests for his staff party were left stranded at Mariner's Cove on Friday.
His team of 20 staff were asked to go to Runaway Bay Marina after the boat did not show and then to Paradise Point Marina, he said.
They waited until the MV Skylark charter catamaran, run by boating veteran Ian White, arrived, he said.
"When Ian got there … he wouldn't take any of us there because he hadn't been paid."
Mr White is not the business associate Mr Nicholls has accused of sabotage.
"There was nothing organised at McLaren's Landing. If he had of got all 60 people there, there would not have been any food, there wouldn't have been anything," Mr O'Brien claimed.
Mr O'Brien said they then called the police and waited with Mr Nicholls until police arrived.
"We are preparing a statement with our lawyers to take this further involving the police," Mr O'Brien said.
CBRE was left $3600 out of pocket and provided a separate Christmas function at his own expense at Fisherman's Wharf to make up for the "disaster".
Mr Nicholls said a combination of poor weather, malicious interference in his business and the busy time of year led to the cancellations on Friday and Saturday - and that all groups would receive refunds.
"It was an unfortunate situation where the boat I hired did not show up," he said.
"We went to plan B and started to get other boats ready to get these guys out there."
He said the business started suffering six months ago when he broke a foot and had to bring on staff to assist with his business.
Mr Nicholls said the people who he had engaged to pick up the passengers did not show and his Mariner's Cove wharf had been destroyed, costing his business $1 million.
Mr Nicholls said someone had falsely claimed to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority his catamaran was being run without a crew.