One bad trip: Aspen Hyatt owner wins at trial
ASPEN – Sometimes, a vacation in Aspen isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
That much was evident Wednesday in a small claims trial in Pitkin County Court, where two out-of-towners aired their billing dispute stemming from a ski trip to Aspen last year.
At the end, a judge awarded $540.36 to New York businessman Jory Gareliek, who owns an interest of a fractional unit at the Hyatt Grand Aspen. Gareliek sued Lubasha Chabanski, of Carlsbad, Calif., for $4,500.
Gareliek alleged that Chabanski put a stop on a $900 check she gave him for a three-night stay at the swanky resort, all the while mooching off of him during her visit there from Jan. 29-31, 2009.
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“She ate my food and drank my wine,” he told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely. “I brought her to several private parties as part of the X Games, paid for her meal at L’Hostaria, and at some point of this three-day visit I had to explain to her that she was taking advantage of me.”
Gareliek said he wanted $4,500 because he gave Chabanski such a steep discount – $300 a night instead of the $1,200 he could have charged. He also said the hassle associated with collecting the money was worth at least $900.
Chabanski, however, relayed a different story to the judge. She said Gareliek, whom she had met through a mutual friend, told her the room was a studio suite with numerous amenities.
“This wasn’t a suite or a studio – just a room connected to his studio,” she said, adding that she had to share her bed with Gareliek’s massage therapist. Gareliek denied that allegation.
Making matters worse, Chabanski alleged, was how Gareliek treated her during her Aspen visit.
“He deliberately tried to spoil my vacation by not talking to me the right way and yelling at me,” she said, adding that “he would walk into my room and he could yell and say whatever he wanted to me because he rented the room to me for this price.”
Chabanski said her Aspen visit was so bad that she put a stop on the $900 check she gave to Gareliek before he deposited it.
“I realize he completely spoiled my vacation, and I canceled my check,” she said.
Months later, Chabanski claimed she worked out a deal with a bill collector, hired by Gareliek, and paid $450 to settle the dispute. Gareliek said he wasn’t satisfied with that amount.
Then, in December, the two – both regular visitors to Aspen – crossed paths at The Little Nell. Their versions of the encounter were different, but the two agreed that Gareliek still wanted his money.
When Chabanski told him she felt the dispute was settled, Gareliek said he felt compelled to sue.
“I’m here on principle because I feel she took advantage of my good will,” Gareliek told the judge.
Judge Fernandez-Ely let both sides present their arguments over the course of a one-hour trial. The judge, however, said that a resolution was simple, and ordered Chabanski to pay the remaining $450 of the $900 bill, along with a court filing fee of $55 and a service fee of $35.36.
Judge told Chabanski that she could have stayed elsewhere if her Hyatt Grand Aspen visit was as bad as she claimed.
“You could have gone to the Limelight Lodge with that budget,” she said. “You could have left and said, ‘I’m afraid of you,’ or said nothing.”
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