Careful readers of this feature have probably figured out by now that it’s loosely based on the Ladies’ Home Journal column, Can This Marriage Be Saved?. We haven’t saved any marriages here — yet. But this week’s case may come the closest.
Meet Caroline Majsak, who is planning her honeymoon in Fiji. After months of research, she settled on Namale Plantation Resort, a gorgeous property that looks like it’s right off the cover of Architectural Digest. (As a matter of fact, it is.)
But then, only a few weeks before her trip, she was hit with “terrible news.” I’ll let her explain.
We were informed that Namale is closing April 22nd to May 8th, without a fraction of an explanation, yet a remarkable sense of apathy.
How does a five-star resort provide confirmed guests six weeks notification of a closure? Moreover, how does a resort close without an explanation?
If it’s renovation, I find it hard to believe that a resort receiving countless awards, accolades, and raves about their customer service, would elect to close during peak wedding/honeymoon season, much less letting guests know so short on time. Most renovations are confirmed months in advance, much like most honeymoons.
If it’s for a speaking or private event, I find it deeply insulting to place higher value on such events (presumably more lucrative) than regular patron.
The importance of a cursory search
Indeed, had Majsak done a cursory search on the resort, she would have learned that it is owned by motivational speaker Tony Robbins, and that guests — even honeymooners — are sometimes kicked out of their rooms for seminars.
A search of Robbins’ site does not show an April seminar in Fiji, but it might be unlisted because it’s sold out.
So did she do her due diligence? Yes, she says. Her fiancee spent “countless hours” researching Fijian resorts for their honeymoon.
“He visited blogs, travel boards, and contacted travel agents as time permitted,” she says.
At this point, nothing can offset the damage caused to our honeymoon, a trip we were most looking forward to as of a few days ago. We are now left researching competing resorts; crossing our fingers that any have availability, much less comparable prices and amenities.
Namale, its managers, and owners should be ashamed of the manner in which business has been conducted.
Majsak has rebooked her honeymoon at a different resort, but her perfect vacation at the Namale is ruined.
Questions of fairness and customer service
Does the resort owe her anything?
Before answering, consider the hotel’s own policy, which isn’t available though its site but can be found elsewhere online. If you cancel a month before your visit, they’ll charge your credit card for the entire visit. So if Majsak and her fiancee had decided to cancel their vacation now, they’d still have to pay for it.
Seems like a little bit of a double standard.
Could this have been avoided? Absolutely. A competent travel agent would have known about the resort’s propensity for canceling confirmed reservations, and might have steered them to a different resort or destination. These are the perils of being a DIY travel agent.
But if, as Majsak says, the resort was apathetic about their honeymoon cancellation, then I think there’s no excuse for that. They’re certainly owed an apology. (Related: The travel industry moves to preempt customer complaints.)
Question is, should I jump in and try to mediate this? And if so, what is this unlucky couple entitled to? (Here’s how to find the best hotel at the lowest rate.)
Update (12:30 p.m.) I’ve just learned that the case has been resolved. The resort contacted her, apologized and agreed to honor her original reservation. The poll was running 75 percent in favor of mediation when I closed it.