The Better Business Bureau is issuing a consumer alert about Bella Solviva, an Antrim County “glamping” resort that has failed to open despite two years of accepting reservations.
“This non-existent resort has been accepting reservations for an upscale camping experience for more than two years, but to date, still does not have a working campground, nor has it even started initial construction,” according to an alert published by the BBB on Wednesday, Aug. 9.
The BBB warned consumers who have sent deposits to Bella Solviva that they are unlikely to receive any refunds.
Using a polished website, Bella Solviva owners Brad and Sandy Carlson promised high-end camping experiences that would offer vacations in converted yachts, airliners, luxury tents with running water and travel trailers.
“They initially planned to use the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise $100,000 for their proposed 107-acre camping facility, but only managed to raise $2,951 towards their lofty goal,” according to the BBB.
“Since then, the couple has continued to solicit online donations for this massive undertaking, while also showing no proof of progress on this project,” the BBB said.
“Their website currently offers ‘annual memberships,’ ‘reservations,’ and a ‘rewards program,’ and you can even buy ‘gift certificates’ ranging in price from $100 to $5,000 to help fund Bella Solviva.”
The BBB alleges Bella Solviva’s website is deceptive when it claims to be “Michigan’s first and only green, sustainable glamping destination” while using images from other “glamping” websites and non-existent amenities to promote the site.
“Based on multiple unanswered complaints from consumers, this business is no longer responding to consumers and does not refund investments or deposits,” the consumer alert said.
“BBB has reached out via phone and written communication to the owners of Bella Solviva, and received no response to date. BBB advises consumers that any funds given to Bella Solviva for a deposit or reservation are likely never to be recouped, plus they’ll have no camping experience to boot.”
In a message on its website, Bella Solviva’s owners said they still hope to create their campground.
“We feel very badly that an idea that has captured the imagination of Michigan, the nation and even the world has experienced such birthing pains,” the website said.
“With over 1.6 million web hits from over 320,000 people to date, numerous media interviews and accolades, many thousands of social media followers and inquiries, the concept obviously has merit and will be a tremendous success, bringing joy and relaxation to many people.”
Claiming they have refunded more than 50 percent of the deposits, the Bella Solviva owners said they hope to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
“We feel sickened that we have let people down, certainly not treating them the way we would want to be treated, nor with the quality that we have all envisioned for Bella Solviva. Our desire is to continue to refund remaining deposits, as funds become available,” the website said.
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