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'Just Want Our Money Back': Illinois Beach Hotel Closes Owing Customers Money

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Last month, CBS 2 helped a couple get their money back from a wedding that never happened because the venue suddenly closed.

And now more people are coming forward who are fighting to get a refund.

As CBS 2's Jim Williams reported Tuesday, one viewer said no one is calling her back.

This is a well known hotel in a state park. A hotel that closes Tuesday.

An hour north of Chicago, the Illinois Beach Hotel is an alluring location for a wedding.

Allison and EJ Bertke planned to say their I-dos there before 200 guests.

"We wanted to choose a resort type location that could accommodate the size of the party we had," EJ Bertke said. "And we enjoyed the scenery there right by Lake Michigan and the beach."

The couple chose a date with some symmetry October 10th, 2020 -- 10/10/20.

But the pandemic made that an impossibility.

"They could not host our wedding," EJ Bertke said. "People couldn't have parties of more than 40 or 50 people."

Allison and EJ thought they'd get back the $1,500 deposit. But there's been no refund.

The hotel said the deposit covers credit card fees, planning services and a meal tasting, even though there was no wedding.

"This has been the most frustrating scenario of the entire wedding process, of the entire pandemic process," Allison Bertke said. "For because we've done everything contractually and $1,500 is a lot of money."

Allison and EJ reached out to CBS 2 after seeing the CBS 2story on Patricia Gonzalez and Brian Downing.

They are another couple unable to get a refund for their wedding at the Illinois Beach Hotel, also cancelled because of the pandemic.

"We want to get married, Gonzalez said. "We're still going to do it. We just want our money back."

After the CBS 2 story aired, the hotel promised Patricia and Brian would get a refund.

The hotel won't be doing business with anyone anytime soon.

It sits in a state park. A private firm, Midwest Property Management, has had a state contract to operate the hotel.

That contract expires Tuesday. So the hotel is shut down.

For weeks, Sharon Eckart tried to get a $150 refund for a gift card, but has been unable to get anyone on the phone.

And she wonders what's going to happen now.

"I mean, at least give me the courtesy of a call back and say, 'yes, we can help you' or 'no, we can't,'" Eckhart said.

Frustration for these clients. EJ and Allison ended having their wedding in a backyard.

"I just can't believe that, in light of everything that's happening in the world, that they're not agreeing to refund our money," Allison Bertke said.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which runs the state parks, said it's reviewing proposals from other private operators before choosing one to manage the Illinois Beach Hotel.

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