Landing Resort settles claim involving Yelp


By Rebecca Jarvis, Kinga Janik and Chris James, ABC News

It was the Yelp review that led to Yelp revenge.

After wedding guest Rabih Zahnan stayed the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, N.Y., for a friend’s wedding, he turned to the business-review website Yelp to write about what he thought was an abysmal stay.

“There was a musty order, it smelled bad, we kept the windows open for the entire time we were there,” Zahnan told “Nightline.”

But the Guest House fought back. Zahnan said he received an email from the inn saying there would be a $500 fine to the bride and groom for each negative review posted online by them or their guests.

The bride and groom apparently overlooked the fine print in their wedding contract put forth by the guest house, which said, “A $500 fine will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review of USGH placed on any Internet site by anyone in your party.”

As this story went viral last week, a collective consumer fury ensued, and the inn’s star rating on Yelp plummeted to a dismal 1.5 out of 5 stars as a barrage of users posted angry, and clearly facetious, reviews about the business. One person even called it “the worst hotel in history.”

Over the last few years, the Yelp review has taken on a life on its own, and has truly become make-or-break for businesses nationwide.

James Demetriades owns the Landing Resort and Spa in South Lake Tahoe. He admits to reading online reviews of his hotel all the time, but he took issue with the one comment he said went too far.

“In one case we had an individual who made extremely derogatory remarks about the manager, about the restaurant, about the food, about myself individually,” Demetriades said. “We decided to file suit against this person for defamation.”

Court records reveal the case was settled out of court with no money exchanged.

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Comments (11)
  1. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: August 11, 2014

    To Mr. Demetriades, I grew up in the motel business here on So.Shore, going back 52 years ago, (can it really be that many years ?).
    I would suggest you do not file suit against your guests who have a complaint. Quite the opposite! You address their complaint and try to make everything right so the guest is happy and maybe you’ll have a repeat customer and build your business with returnees and thru word of mouth.
    Please do the right thing and do right by your guests. Apologize for what they were unhappy with and maybe offer them a free room on their next visit to Tahoe. Now you’ve got a repeat customer!
    Owning a motel and making it work , keeping your guests happy and making a profit is no easy job. I know this from first hand experience.
    See, the idea is to ensure the folks staying at your place enjoy their time there and want to come back, not with the threat of a law suit because they complained about smelly rooms and poor food.
    I hope you do right and are succsesful in your newly remodeled resort. Good luck, OLS (the motel kid)

  2. reloman says - Posted: August 11, 2014

    OLS without knowing the exact circumstances of this lawsuit, I would hesitate to critique the hotel. They do have some very bad reviews(mostly about the resort fee not being disclosed and mandatory valet) I would guess that the one they sue on may very well have gone beyond the pale or could have been someone that is a miserable mean person or a downright liar. None of us really know, some people you can’t please no matter what you do. I have even heard people demand money or they will write a bad review

  3. 4-mer-usmc says - Posted: August 11, 2014


    The days of well-mannered civility and deals made on a handshake because your word was your bond are long gone. Things have changed and it’s not Ward and June Cleaver anymore, and it’s not even as nice as Peggy and Al Bundy. The clientele is a lot different, and not necessarily for the better, and a lot of them you don’t want back. It seems that no matter what a business may do to satisfy a customer there’s always the chance they’ll get slammed on social media.

  4. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: August 11, 2014

    Reloman, You bring up some good points. Having worked with the public for many years, some people are just A#% holes!!!
    ;.Some lie, some steal and deny, some just complain because…? well, because, that’s just what they do, justified or not.
    If these people have a legitamte gripe, then it should be remedied.
    I don’t know how many times people have made up stories, trying to get me to pay them money based on false and completely fabricated acusations. But if those guests are honest in their grievances then the owner should make it right. If the complaint is bogus? Then the heck with them.
    I hope it all works out for all parties concerned. OLS

  5. copper says - Posted: August 11, 2014

    I pay attention to business reviews, particularly on internet sites, but I try to view them all with skepticism, reading between the lines with, I suppose, my own value system in action.

    But anyone accessing internet forums, this one included, although on a somewhat lesser level, is exposed to the truly crazies of the world whom, while we might know enough to ignore most of them, still catch our attention and probably, subliminally, influence our decisions.

    It’s a brave new world, although, to date, a great deal different from the one Huxley envisioned. I have no solution, and am old enough that any solution I proposed would likely be irrelevant. My kids, now middle aged, seem not to care, so perhaps the solution is to simply learn to ignore.

    Sorry Kae, don’t mean to cut in on your action.

  6. M. Elie Alyeshmerni says - Posted: August 12, 2014

    Yelp contacted two good small businesses I know after one bad review overshaddowed the good ones and offered to fix their standing for $300 a month.
    They refused and now they’re out of business. Go figure.

  7. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: August 12, 2014

    I think 4mer-usmc summed it up best, “The days of well-mannered civilty and deals done on a handshake because your word was your bond are long gone”. I still live by the “handshake” type of thing myself, but boy , I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been burned!
    Maybe I’ve become a bit more cynical as I’ve gotten a little older or I’m just noticing it more, but yes, the days of Ward and June Cleaver are just a fond memory of my ealy years when people for the most part were honest and trustworthy. Sad, really.
    There are some honest folks out there, but it seems like the bad ones are multiplying in number.
    Seek out the good ones. Be cautious tho, it’s easy to be tricked by the shysters and liars. OLS

  8. Garry Bowen says - Posted: August 12, 2014

    As one imbued with the idea “if the quality is there, the money will follow” (original Bill Harrah, from the ’50’s), the idea that “civility is gone now” & that “some people are A%@#holes” fly in the face of the fundamental & necessary concept of ‘service’, which sometimes is in short supply these days, even in Tahoe, as those who manage either don’t take the time to adequately train OR don’t know how. . . given the turnover.

    As to “suing” one individual (good luck with that!), my other precept was to treat that “individual” as the only one I had to deal with, as all others were so satisfied that there was plenty of time to deal with their issue. . .

    As a result, the issue almost always took care of itself as one realizes that it is being paid attention to. . .as if they’re the only one needing assistance…

    If true, no problem; if not, then there’s more to deal with than any one customer. . .no matter the excuse management raises. . .when people are spending their money, they deserve some recognition for the choice they made. . . it is the ones that are silent about problems that are the real worry – never heard from again. . .

    Additional patience might be required in a place that caters to people without a specific product, such as is ‘gaming’, as they deal only in ‘loss’ (not mentioned much) versus a ‘win’, which is heralded in exaggerated ways, causing undue attention to untold loss. . .puts people ‘on edge’. . .

    Welcome to the real world. . .

  9. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: August 12, 2014

    Providing top notch service with a good product is key. Not only to the customer, but to the business it self, if they want to be succsesful and STAY in business.
    Once word spreads you have bad food,a dirty hotel room or a mechanic that charges you for work that wasn’t done to your car or boat but were billed for anyway, or any other type of business, heating and plumbinig, construction and so many others. Explain your grievances to the manager. If the problem isn’t rectified, you have a few choices. Either walk out and never go back,or tell your friends and neighbors of what you just went thru (which will spread the word, “don’t go there”) or you go public, or you can do all of the above.
    If some people don’t like working with the public and aren’ up to the task of working with the public…then don’t! Move on to another career! Don’t snear at me with an indifferent look when I mention the hamburger you just delivered to me was cold and the bun was all dried up.
    Just my thoughts on customer service. OLS

  10. Nick D. says - Posted: August 12, 2014

    So Jimmy tried to sue someone whose comments went too far, but Jimmy can lie and say his hotel is Tahoe’s only five star hotel, which isn’t true. They also make the claim they are voted in the Top 10 of the world’s most popular lake front resorts. This simply cannot be true. Jimmy needs to bring it down a notch and get realistic. I’ve toured this hotel and lake view is a term used loosely. More like parking lot view.

  11. Cora D. says - Posted: August 17, 2014

    This resort has already made a negative impact on locals and what seems by some of the terrible Yelp reviews, tourists/guests alike. It’s my understanding that there are at least 2 other known lawsuits against The Landing that I have heard through the grapevine from former local employees. SLT is a small, small town, and when a new place opens up with bad business practices, that gets around QUICK…

    Also, The Landing is not a 5-Star hotel, by any means. In order to be rated 5-Star, there must be certain amenities and the like; which the hotel lacks. I have never stayed there but have been there for dinner, (NEVER AGAIN!) The Landing can never be rated 5-Star by actual rating organizations; EX: lacks indoor pool, etc…)

    Someone should sue the owners for falsifying their enterprise and defaming their own business!

    When Edgewood Tahoe opens their resort, now I’m expecting THAT to be a TRUE 5-star location!