Hickory Mist -- Vacation Lodging Management Company in Gatlinburg Shut Down
By Jeaneane Payne
Hickory Mist Luxury Cabin Rentals, LLC, an overnight vacation lodging management company in Gatlinburg, TN, was shut down on Wednesday, May 18th. According to a majority owner Eddie DeVane of Nanjemoy, Maryland, Hickory Mist was shut down because of its inability to pay homeowners in April and May of this year. DeVane stated the company is also unable to honor previously booked reservations.
The Knoxville Daily Sun has received numerous phone calls from individuals and groups who had booked reservations through Hickory Mist as far back as November, 2010. According to Dave Frank, High School Minister for Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan, the church made a $2,000 deposit to Hickory Mist last November to reserve a large cabin in Gatlinburg for a college student retreat for 32 people. The group was scheduled to arrive in the Smoky Mountains on June 9, 2011.
On February 15th a restraining order was granted in Grainger County 4th Circuit Court against Hickory Mist minority owners, Patrick and Ricki Landers based on evidence presented by Petitioners, Eddie DeVane and other majority owners.
According to DeVane, approximately $838,000 is missing from escrow funds. DeVane states the Landers are responsible for the missing funds.
On May 10th, DeVane, along with other majority partners, filed an Amended Complaint in Sevier County Circuit Court claiming that the Landers "have used the assets of the business to enrich themselves and their family…" and that "the defendants knowingly and intentionally deprived the Plaintiffs from access to the company financial and tax information…."
According to Ricki Landers, "The escrow was affected by the fact that prior to the company being profitable the Devanes demanded that we use escrow funds to pay them a monthly check plus their credit card bills. On several different occasions they asked for larger sums of money as well. For example, they asked for $25,000, $12,000, $14,000 all while the company was still not profitable. Since the company was not profitable there was only one place for the money to come from and that was the escrow. Many times we went without a paycheck even though this was our full time job, just so we could meet payroll. We did what we had to in order to make the company a success."
Landers further indicated that after the DeVanes obtained a restraining order against them, Hickory Mist paid an outside firm $30,000 to build a new website for the company.
Landers stated that Hickory Mist accepted a reservation from a guest as recently as three days ago from a cabin that is personally owned by the Landers. A Hickory Mist employee stated they had taken in 70 reservations themselves recently on other properties on the company's rental program.
Hickory Mist had over 100 vacation rental properties on its program. If you have booked a cabin for a future date, an assistance center has been set up by the Smoky Mountain Vacation Lodging Association to help you find another cabin at discount rates. You may reach the center by calling 1-866-744-5926 toll free or by calling the local phone number at 865-286-1831.
Guests might also be able to find the specific cabin they booked by calling Stony Brook Chalets at 865-436-7428.
Published May 20, 2011
Subscribe to Knoxville Daily Sun
Gatlinburg Vacation Rental Management Company Taken Over
Restraining Order Granted Against Minority Owners of Hickory Mist Luxury Cabins & Lodges