This all-inclusive resort is missing something really important

An all-inclusive resort that doesn't include anything?

Sara Hernandez recently found something critical missing from the all-inclusive resort she booked on Priceline: the inclusive part. After booking the Sheraton Buganvilias All-Inclusive Resort in Puerto Vallarta, she received a confirmation for the Sheraton Buganvilias Convention Center. Her rate included a room — but nothing more.

Now Hernandez wants Priceline to confirm her reservation for an all-inclusive vacation, as advertised. So why is the company blaming the problem on Hernandez?

This tale is a warning for travelers considering using online booking sites to make nonrefundable hotel reservations this summer. The financial savings are often minimal, but the headaches can be extreme should something go wrong. And you might find yourself sifting through layers of customer service agents who have a limited ability to help.

Surprise! An all-inclusive resort that doesn’t include anything

Hernandez, her husband (Martin Cardenas) and her brother were planning a week-long getaway to Mexico. They decided that an all-inclusive resort would be the easiest type of vacation to book on their own.

“I browsed through Priceline’s hotels in Puerto Vallarta and found The Sheraton Buganvilias All-Inclusive Resort,” Hernandez recalled. “The hotel description stated that the rate included all meals and drinks. And so I booked the resort and airfare all through the Priceline site.”

This all-inclusive resort is missing something really important
Priceline’s reasons to book this “all-inclusive” resort.

The trio was pleased with the ease of putting their entire package together in just a few clicks. But soon, Hernandez received an unusual confirmation from Priceline.

This Priceline email mentioned nothing about any all-inclusive resort features. And more alarming, the hotel’s name on the confirmation showed the Sheraton Buganvilias Convention Center.

“I grew worried and clicked on the photo on the confirmation,” Hernandez recalled. “The hotel details link took me to the Sheraton Buganvilias All-Inclusive resort.”

Booked an all-inclusive resort. Got a convention center.
The “hotel details” still linked to the Sheraton Buganvilias All-Inclusive Resort

Not sure what had gone wrong with the booking, Hernandez made her first call to Priceline. She assumed she could quickly clear things up with a Priceline representative.

It couldn’t.

The Priceline agent explained that the nonrefundable rate Hernandez chose did not include anything but the room. And the fact that Hernandez had booked a property with the words “all-inclusive resort” in the name didn’t sway Priceline.

Asking Priceline to cancel and refund this not-inclusive, all-inclusive resort

Things became even more frustrating for Hernandez when she requested a cancellation and refund for the phony all-inclusive resort reservation.

I immediately asked for a refund. But the representative stated that it was my mistake. So I explained that I had pictures as proof of what was in the description. I insisted on a refund and asked to speak to a supervisor since I was getting nowhere with this agent.

Escalating the case, a supervisor seemed to understand that the Priceline site had misrepresented the hotel and the rate. Hernandez became a bit hopeful that this representative could quickly correct the problem.

But her hopes were dashed again.

Unfortunately, the supervisor could not correct the problem. He told Hernandez that he would forward her case to “upper management” and she should have a response in a few days.

What was meant to be a simple vacation planning venture had now turned into a troublesome irritation. Hernandez just wanted to be able to cancel this “all-inclusive resort” that was missing all the inclusive features and start over.

But now Priceline had the family’s payment and they had no choice but to wait for a (hopefully) positive resolution.

Is this the best resolution Priceline can offer for this all-inclusive confusion?

A few days later, a Priceline representative contacted Hernandez with a decidedly murky resolution.

Priceline suggests to pay for the upgrade to an all-inclusive resort and ask for a refund later.
A terrible idea: Travel to Mexico and hope for a refund later.

A first-name-only Customer Service Relations Specialist, “Cameron,” conceded that Hernandez had made a reservation at the “All-Inclusive Resort.” But Priceline’s proposed resolution was not to cancel and refund the clearly mistaken listing on Priceline.

No, the suggested “fix” was for Hernandez to travel to Mexico. There she could request an upgrade to an all-inclusive rate at the resort. Later, once home, she could submit the receipts to Priceline. And after all that, Priceline would consider the request for “possible reimbursement.”

Hernandez, a regular reader of our site, had enough now. This was not a good bet for her family. She knew the evidence was on her side. This all-inclusive problem was a Priceline advertising error. And she wasn’t about to travel to Mexico and hope for the best. She wanted this problem resolved before her trip — not later, when the problem would be much easier for the company to ignore.

And that’s when Hernandez and Cardenas contacted the Elliott Advocacy team.

“I just want an all-inclusive resort. Can you help me, Elliott Advocacy?”

Late one Friday evening, I received the request for help from Hernandez. She was clearly in distress.

Now, what was meant to be a stress-free vacation was a giant sore spot for Hernandez and Cardenas. The rate they had booked, factoring in the all-inclusive features was a great rate, but definitely not a “fat finger rate*.” However, if no food, drinks or activities were included , the trip would become significantly more expensive.

*Fat finger rates are mistakes that become available only as a result of a human clerical error. And the Elliott Advocacy team doesn’t mediate those types of cases:

I took a look at the paper trail and I immediately could see that Hernandez had the facts on her side. On that night, Priceline was still offering both the Sheraton Buganvilias All-Inclusive Resort AND the Sheraton Buganvilias Convention Center simultaneously. But the property is the same hotel. So it would seem that the hotel is converting from an all-inclusive resort to a convention center type hotel.

Does this convention center include food and drink?
This resort seems to have an identity crisis.

Priceline will make this reservation all-inclusive as advertised

Our team knows the Priceline executive resolution team to be fair and attentive to its customers who contact us.

So I assumed we could put an end to Hernandez’s dilemma very quickly — even late on a Friday evening. I contacted Priceline with the screenshots of the dueling Sheraton listings.

As I suspected, the Priceline executive team was able to reach a positive resolution of the problem at lightning speed:

Hi Michelle-

We have finished the investigation. We are upgrading Mr. Cardenas at no charge and have confirmed directly with him. The hotel has quoted us an upgrade fee of $99 per person per night ($2079 in total). Mr. Cardenas is going to book this directly with the hotel and share the upgrade receipt with us. When we confirm that the reservation was utilized, we will reimburse him. And we have also edited the “All Inclusive” language on our site, which was obviously confusing.

The couple is delighted with this resolution and is looking forward to their Mexican adventure. And we’re happy to have been able to help.

Tips for your online vacation planning

It’s essential to keep a few things in mind if you choose to use online booking agents for your travel planning. Here are some tips for a (hopefully) stress-free and positive self-booking experience:

  1. Read the descriptions very carefully. In this case, even when I made a mock reservation at this “All-inclusive Resort” it clearly stated only breakfast was included. A keen eye might have detected the discrepancy before pressing “confirm.”
  2. After you make your reservation, make sure to confirm with the hotel directly. Hernandez was on the right track contacting the hotel immediately after she received her confirmation. Things could have turned out quite differently for the family if they had traveled to Mexico before resolving this problem.
  3. Only use well-known, established online booking agents: Each day,  complaints come into our helpline from consumers who were lured to obscure online websites with promises of extremely low cost airfares and hotels. Unfortunately, these travelers found out too late that many of these sites have very little to no customer service should a problem occur. If you decide to use an online booking agent, stick with the well-known companies that have customer service teams.
  4. If all else fails: Remember the Elliott Advocacy team is always here to help consumers — 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. :)

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend