Kindly pause your vacation while the models parade through

Have you seen the promotional materials for Sandals Turks and Caicos? Beautiful models lounge on white sand beaches, selling the Caribbean dream vacation that singles, couples and families spend thousands to experience.

If you imagine that Sandals stops accepting guests to accommodate its photoshoot, you’d be wrong. Sandals welcomes paying vacationers like Arthur Boas 365 days a year.

But perhaps it shouldn’t.

Last March, Boas and his family spent thousands of hard-earned dollars on a Sandals vacation, staying in the most expensive suite in the Italian Village.

Halfway through his stay, a sheet of paper was slid under his hotel room door, with the following announcement:

The Beaches will be using the property for a promotional photo shoot for the next 4 days. All pools will be closed except one, and the poolside chairs will be removed for your safety owing to the wind from the helicopter being used.

Boas reports that all chairs were removed, chained and locked, beaches and restaurants were closed, and helicopters flew noisily 100 feet overhead while swimsuit models occupied the property, floating in the pools, for 4 days.

Boas, his family and hundreds of Sandals guests were furious.

“The lineup to see the manager was 50 people deep, and then they decided to take appointments for when you could see him, which was limited to 15 minutes,” he says. “When I finally got to see him, I was pretty steamed. I demanded to know how he could justify depriving resort guests of their vacation time. Out of sheer frustration, he showed me the fax from corporate alerting him of the shutdown with just one day’s notice. Powerless to do anything, corporate basically just hung this guy out to dry.”

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Boas returned home and after several fruitless phone calls to Sandals management, he totally gave up on doing anything more.

“I have a philosophy in life: When you’re walking down the wrong road, turn around,” he says. “I had realized Sandals was content to do nothing. I decided to chalk it up to one of life’s awful experiences, and so I vowed to never give them another cent of my money, so long as I live.”

Boas’ horrible experience was buried in his mind until he recently began planning another vacation. His travel agent asked if he would consider Sandals Jamaica.

“I related to her what awful treatment my family and a resort full of guests were put through,” Boas explains. “She was horrified and insisted I report it immediately on TripAdvisor.”

Boas did write his review on TripAdvisor, which, according to him, garnered a great deal of attention. “More than 1,500 people gave it a ‘thumbs up,’ and people started sending me private messages about how they’d had the same experience — and got no compensation.”

Boas says shortly thereafter the review mysteriously disappeared from TripAdvisor, so he reposted it.

After reading the review, Sandals contacted Boas. A Sandals rep told Boas that according to their records, he had previously been offered two complimentary nights on a future Sandals vacation.

Boas insists that offer never came, and if it had, he would have rejected it on principle.

“In order to claim this ridiculous offer, I’d have to again spend thousands of dollars, not to mention airfare, and commit my family’s valuable vacation time.”

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That agent escalated his complaint, and Boas was finally contacted by Sandals Managing Director, Donald Dagenais.

Thus far, Sandals has refused to refund any money to Boas. But Dagenais did invite Boas to email him directly to make sure “all goes well” when he books his next Sandals vacation.

Boas puts Dagenais’ invitation into perspective:

So, let me get this straight.

Step 1: Completely forget about how Sandals ruined our first vacation to their resort.

Step 2: Book another vacation at full cost.

Step 3: Contact the Managing Director and ask them to make sure that they treat me with the respect I deserve.

Boas’ Sandals vacation took place a year ago, but research on TripAdvisor reveals that his experience is not unique. In fact, others report similar tales stretching back over the last three years.

The response from Sandals would suggest that marketing campaigns to attract new guests are more important than its current guests.

Should we take Arthur Boas's case?

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Jessica Monsell

A writer and natural advocate, Jessica joined our consumer advocacy effort following a decade of work on behalf of air crash victims at one of the nation's largest plaintiffs' law firms. She has lived in Europe and Asia, but now calls Charleston, S.C. home.

  • Jim Zakany

    I’ve stayed at Sandals properties two times (Beaches resorts) and had wonderful experiences. They handled any issues promptly and correctly to my full satisfaction. I would definitely follow up on this case because either the company has changed or I’ve been lucky.

  • Stephen0118

    So now he wants his money back:? But he already said that he buried the incident in the back of his mind and would never go there again. How long has it been? Over a year? Can he even get his money back from the last time?

  • moonshin

    ive been to sandals a few times. always had a good time. but after hearing this im crossing them off my list for the future

  • S363

    Getting to watch all the models in action must be worth at least $10 :<)

  • cscasi

    He may never get any money back from his last stay. However, I certainly applaud him for writing a review on TripAdvisor as it does garner a lot of attention from the traveling public; especially if things were as he portrayed and if there were all those angry customers at that time). Perhaps it can get the attention of its corporate managers and some changes can be made. Or, perhaps corporate is fine with things the way they are as they get all that money from the photo shoots. This may just be an occasional thing and they do not worry about it; although I would think they would want happy guests who would return time and again.

  • Chris Johnson

    Don’t know when I’ll have time to vacation in the Caribbean, but I can say after reading about an experience like this, I won’t be staying at any Sandals resorts. If enough people read about experiences like these, the company might just learn a lesson about how to treat customers. I know these promotional photo shoots probably pay a lot of money to use these resorts, but is it worth it for the company in the long term, given the large numbers of angry guests who will never return to Sandals and tell their friends and travel agents about it too?

  • It strikes me that the site manager was lying. Photoshoots with models, support teams, location scouts, and travel arrangements (potentially visas depending on the nationality of the model) don’t happen overnight as this manager implied. (The fax could have been ass-covering due to the “Saigon Airlift-esque” nature of the complaint lines. Hey, send me a fax to help me cover my rear.)

    1) Why weren’t the guests informed concurrently by Corporate? After all, they have all of their contact information, right?
    2) Why didn’t Sandals proactively offer a concession, if it were truly last-second and unavoidable?
    3) Why was his comment removed by TripAdvisor?

    This smells to me.

    Because these types of vacations are “destination vacations”, taken specifically for the beach and relaxation (at the location), I believe not only is should he be reimbursed his stay, but additionally for his transportation and incidentals to/from Sandals. The core question: If any of us knew about this prior leaving, would it change our minds about going. I suspect if we are all honest about 100% would consider this as largely ruining the vacation.

  • Melinda

    Not to be pedantic, but there is no Sandals in Turks and Caicos, it’s a Beaches Resort which caters to families. Now that that’s out of the way, I would be LIVID about this. Beaches Turks and Caicos is one of the most expensive resorts in the Caribbean, and worth every penny for what you get. This, however, is so unacceptable that I can’t even put it into words my level of disgust. It should be noted as well that when you make a complaint with Sandals or Beaches, in order to get your two free nights you have to sign a contract that states you will remove any negative comments from any social media platform in order to utilize those. It’s really a gross way of doing business. As a travel agent, if my client came back with this story, I’d have stormed the damn castle trying to get them compensation. Not being able to use a number of the facilities for FOUR days… If it had been one, I’d call that an inconvenience. But FOUR days? Also, if they brought a family, stayed in the Italian Village, that trip wasn’t mere thousands of dollars, that had to be closer to 20K depending on how large the family is.

  • Bill___A

    They should not be allowed to ruin people’s vacations like this. Two nights is not adequate compensation. There is the stress, the vacation time, the tickets, the original booking. Compensation should be in the thousands for each guest this was done to. Realistically they should not do things like this.

  • MF

    Corporate arrogance; in a few months all will be forgotten by the public. There are many more fish in the sea, why worry if some are too smart to get caught? I’m sure Sandals were behind the Trip Advisor takedown, another ‘fair & balanced’ site like ‘Faux News’?

  • Altosk

    Yes, take the case. Also, contact trip advisor and find out why they keep deleting (other than being in bed with Sandals)

  • Altosk

    Cross off Le Blanc in Cancun as well. There’s a horror story on the ‘net about someone who paid top dollar and then was inundated by a group of Orthodox Jews that demanded the resort stop selling alcohol and only serve kosher food. They also had children at the infamous “no kids” resort. So, basically, this guy and his party were at the mercy of this large group and apparently his money was green enough to book, but not to give the promised experience to.

  • AAGK

    Definitely advocate! I’m not bothered by the delay. One year isn’t that long in vacation time and when he started planning his next trip he realized he was bothered by Sandals more than he cared to admit. That is perfectly normal and logical. He should receive a credit for every day the facilities were not usable as advertised, probably a credit for another vacation, minus the airfare. That shoot wasn’t planned in a day. This property sounds awful. Next time in Turks, he should go to Parrot Cay. It is amazing.

  • Chris Johnson

    Unbelievable. Why does the silent majority have to kowtow to the needs of one group (however sizeable) and why does any resort think this is good business. And what gave that group the rights to impose their beliefs on the rest of the resort. If my vacation hadn’t ended, I supposed I’d be inclined to demand a refund, leave the resort and stay elsewhere, but it’s not always that simple. It is incidents like these that have renewed the need for travel agents, at least for expensive and longer resort-type vacations.

  • pauletteb

    Wow, I thought it was inconsiderate when the Bermuda resort I was staying at covered up the hot tub and wouldn’t let guests near the pool so that a few guys on a golf trip could smack balls into the ocean.

  • Lindabator

    you’ve been lucky

  • BMG4ME

    He’s absolutely entitled to a large refund, not the whole amount but something significant.

  • judyserienagy

    A case MADE for Elliott dot gov! A corporate decision showing more blatent disrespect would be hard to find. Difficult to believe that he didn’t go after Sandals corporate at the time of the incident, but perhaps didn’t know where to start. All the people who spent their hard-earned money and vacation time to be treated like this should receive another stay plus airfare.

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