Wisconsin Dells vacation ruined by Facebook travel agent, family says

It’s a stressful start to a family vacation: finding out you don’t have the room you booked. Multiple people say it happened to them after booking through the same travel agency on Facebook.

“It really ruined our vacation,” Laurie Hoffmann told Contact 6.

Laurie and Richard Hoffmann and their three kids wanted to spend spring break splashing in water parks in the Wisconsin Dells. The Salem family booked their room at Club Wyndham Glacier Canyon in January. By mid-March, they still hadn’t gotten a confirmation number.

Richard and Laurie Hoffmann

One day before check-in, the Hoffmanns were in the area for a bowling tournament and visited the Club Wyndham Glacier Canyon front desk to check on their reservation.

“They asked us who we made (the reservation) through. We told them “Destination Vacation,” and they just automatically were like, “oh no,” said Laurie Hoffmann. “It was just a whole mess.”

Laurie Hoffmann says they spent an entire day trying to find another room. They got a reservation, but it didn’t have the water park access they wanted.

The Hoffmanns said a Facebook ad first led them to Destination Vacation’s page. They made their reservation over Facebook Messenger. Since then, they believe the name of the travel agency’s page has changed.

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The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​is familiar with Destination Vacation. In 2019, the BBB opened an investigation into the business after receiving complaints. It gives the company an ‘F’ rating. The BBB says Destination Vacation has not responded to its requests for basic information.

This year, the BBB says there’s been an increase in complaints about Destination Vacation.

“In just over half a year, we’ve received over 20 complaints about this company,” said Jim Temmer, BBB of Wisconsin president. “People are calling us saying, “we didn’t get our money back. We didn’t have a room. Vacation was ruined.”

Jim Temmer, BBB of Wisconsin president

State records show Destination Vacation was administratively dissolved in 2022. Its registered agent was Colleen Wogernese of Appleton. Wogernese has since moved to Illinois.

Contact 6 tracked down eight cases filed against Wogernese and Destination Vacation in small claims court since 2016. Four cases are similar to the Hoffmann’s with reservations canceled by the agent and not refunded weeks later.

One case filed in May 2023 says upon the travelers arriving in Aruba, they discovered they “had no place to stay…”

Contact 6 emailed Destination Vacation. Wogernese responded that all small claims cases “have been completely satisfied, even if it doesn’t reflect that online.”

Wogernese said that Destination Vacation rents condos for Wyndham Timeshare owners. These owners rent out their units to guests to help cover their ownership costs.

Wogernese says since over the last year, Wyndham Timeshare put new restrictions in place on how often and when timeshare owners can rent out their units. As a result, she says, “Wyndham Timeshare is not only screwing over their owners, but also in turn the people who are renting these units.”

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She says the owners have no way to get out of their contracts. She blamed Club Wyndham’s front desk for canceling units and not giving enough notice to owners before their guests arrived.

The Hoffmann’s takeaway about Destination Vacation?

“They are not supposed to be doing this,” said Laurie Hoffmann.

Club Wyndham is part of Travel + Leisure. A spokesperson tells 6, “people doing business with any online websites should ensure the party they’re purchasing from has the ability to facilitate the transaction and will guarantee the customer gets what they paid for.”

The spokesperson went on to say, “Club Wyndham owners are able to rent their suites through our professionally managed rental portal ExtraHolidays.com … which ensures they get a guaranteed reservation when they book direct.”

The Hoffmanns say they filed a credit card dispute, BBB complaint and Kenosha County Sheriff’s report before getting a full refund of $685 from Destination Vacation in May. But, they say it’s not about the money, it’s about Destination Vacation renting out rooms they can’t actually guarantee.

“What he’s doing is not right,” said Richard Hoffmann. “How do you run a business like that and still get reservations?”

Club Wyndham Glacier Canyon is located adjacent to the Glacier Canyon Lodge on the Wilderness Resort. As a perk, its guests get access to Wilderness Resort amenities, including its waterparks.

The Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks sent Contact 6 a statement saying, in part:

“Both Club Wyndham and Club Wyndham Glacier Canyon are separately owned and operated timeshare operations through Wyndham Resorts. These operations are not associated, nor should they be confused with Glacier Canyon Lodge which is owned and operated by Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks.

Guests should always book directly with Club Wyndham or WildernessResort.com to make sure their reservations are valid.”

Wogernese told Contact 6 that Destination Vacation has many satisfied customers. After Contact 6 knocked on her door in Illinois, Wogenese texted “DV is closed.”

The Hoffmanns say they’re blocked from the travel agency’s Facebook page, but other customers are still seeing posts online about available rentals at other resorts.

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office says the Hoffmann’s case is open, and an investigation is ongoing.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) tells Contact 6 it has “five complaints involving Destination Vacation and related entities in the past 3 to 4 years.”

Travel + Leisure response

“As with all online travel reservations, we strongly recommend that consumers book with brands they know and trust. Club Wyndham owners are able to rent their suites through our professionally managed rental portal ExtraHolidays.comwhere consumers can safely book stays in thousands of timeshare suites around the world.

“We’re pleased that Ms. Hoffmann was able to get a refund, but we have no information to share about the individuals you mentioned … people doing business with any online websites should ensure the party they’re purchasing from has the ability to facilitate the transaction and will guarantee the consumer gets what they paid for. We strongly recommend that consumers book with brands they know and trust. Club Wyndham owners are able to rent their suites through our professionally managed rental portal ExtraHolidays.com, where consumers can safely book stays in thousands of timeshare suites around the world. Extra Holidays customers know their stay is backed by the Club Wyndham brand, which ensures they get a guaranteed reservation when they book direct.”

Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks response

“Both Club Wyndham and Club Wyndham Glacier Canyon are separately owned and operated timeshare operations through Wyndham Resorts. These operations are not associated, nor should they be confused with Glacier Canyon Lodge which is owned and operated by Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks.

“Guests should always book directly with Club Wyndham or WildernessResort.com to make sure their reservations are valid.”