I-TEAM: Florida pool contractor gives up licenses after facing multiple complaints from Jacksonville-area residents

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A pool contractor accused of taking tens of thousands of dollars from customers in Jacksonville and around the state and not finishing the jobs will be giving up his contracting licenses, under an agreement with state regulators.

On Thursday morning, the state’s Construction Industry Licensing Board accepted a settlement agreement negotiated with Jordan Hidalgo, the license-holder for Staycation Pools and Spas. Hidalgo faced more than 50 complaints that had been filed with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, accusing him of abandoning a construction project and financial mismanagement or misconduct.

The agreement, which follows an ongoing I-TEAM investigation, stipulates that Hidalgo will give up his licenses as a pool contractor, a general contractor, and a building contractor. He was also ordered to pay restitution to more than 50 customers. The awards of restitution also make the customers eligible to apply for compensation from the Florida Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund.

MORE: 12 Jacksonville-area customers come forward, say Staycation Pools & Spas never finished building their pools

State records show Hidalgo has held licenses for six different pool companies. If Hidalgo decides to re-apply for a Florida contracting license in the future, he will have to pay $212,000 in fines related to these cases, as well as $2,000 in investigative costs.

Since July, the News4JAX I-TEAM has been hearing from customers in Northeast Florida who paid money to Staycation Pools and Spas, and say their pools were never finished or were abandoned by the company.

One family said what was supposed to cost about $70,000 and take about eight months turned into something that cost them more than double.

Brianne Wolff was afraid their investment would go to waste, so the Wolff eventually hired another contractor to finish the work and clean up the mess that was left behind.

“Every single day, I would just pray,” Wolff said. “I just hope that maybe today they’re going to call me, maybe today is going to be the day they’re going to return my phone call and tell me that they’re going to send legitimate people out to my to my residence to go ahead and complete this popl. But again, and again, no response.”

She said she never dealt with Hidalgo, whose license was being used in the project.

Hildalgo said he only owns a minority stake in Staycation and that the company was hemorrhaging money due to inflation, labor costs, mismanagement, and an inexperienced salesman underestimating project costs.

According to Pool Magazine, a majority of pool builders they surveyed last April said they had to increase prices by 40-50% since 2020 to keep up with inflation.

Hidalgo said the company lost more than $400,000 last year and he tried to bail it out with his own money.

Duval County’s Construction Trades Qualifying Board has also heard from unsatisfied customers. Last month, the board ordered him to pay more than $155,000 in restitution to two customers. Last week, the board ordered an additional $280,000 in restitution to other customers.

The president of Staycation Pools and Spas has previously told the I-TEAM the company intends to finish any pools left behind.

About the Authors:

Tiffany comes home to Jacksonville, FL from WBND in South Bend, Indiana. She went to Mandarin High School and UNF. Tiffany is a former WJXT intern, and is joining the team in 2023 as Consumer Investigative Reporter and member of the I-TEAM.

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter