The Murphys’ vacation in Punta Cana did not go well

Remember Murphy’s Law — anything that can possibly go wrong, does?

Well, meet the Murphys: Kevin and Amber Tait, who booked their 27th wedding anniversary at the Gran Bahia Principe in the Dominican Republic through CheapCaribbean.com.

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Their vacation did not go well. Not at all.

When they landed on the island, they were dropped off at the wrong hotel. They waited in the rain for an hour for a ride to their resort. They had reserved an ocean view room, but when they checked in, the property was out of oceanview rooms.

That was the best part of their vacation, it turns out.

Amber Tait writes,

I’m disabled due to a rare neurological problem and diabetes. I went into the hot tub in my room, and woke up the next day with bumps that itched. They turned into open sores and my husband caught them from me.

The toilet in their room didn’t work. The all-you-can eat buffet at the property was covered with flies. The Tait’s room was infested with cockroaches and centipedes.

And then, mercifully, their vacation ended. But not before one final insult: Their ride to the airport didn’t show up.

“A gardner took us to the airport in an old truck,” she recalls.

The experience left the Tait’s with $550 in medical bills and deeply disappointed. “I was in misery,” she says.

The resort wouldn’t answer their emails and CheapCaribbean.com offered her what appeared to be a form apology.

I contacted CheapCaribbean.com to get its side of the story. Here’s what it said:

On June 21, 2010, Mr. Tait contacted our sales department at CheapCaribbean.com to purchase a vacation package he had seen advertised for the Gran Bahia Principe in Punta Cana.

Our agent quoted Mr. Tait for the travel dates of July 21 – 29, 2010, in a “Junior Suite Club Golden” room, with airport transportation (transfers), and our Complimentary Hurricane & Weather Protection. Mr. Tait informed our agent that the trip was for their 25th Wedding Anniversary, so our agent advised him that we would put in a request for an “Ocean View” room, but we could not be assured they would be given it.

Our agent advised the client that the property was rated as a 3 ½ Suns (we use “Sun” ratings) out of 5 possible. The agent covered a list of the resort amenities available, and gave step-by-step instructions on how to view this resort on our website. The agent offered travel insurance, which the client opted to not purchase.

As I am sure you know, most travel experts recommend travel insurance for international travel to protect the client for unexpected issues that may arise prior to or during a vacation. The agent then covered CheapCaribbean.com’s “Terms & Conditions”, which the customer agreed to, after which the customer’s credit card was charged and the clients’ travel documents were emailed to them.

Upon the clients’ return from their vacation, we received a complaint regarding issues they had while at the resort. Customer Service is of the utmost importance to CheapCaribbean.com, and we take every client complaint very seriously. We forwarded the client’s complaint to the Gran Bahia Principe in Punta Cana, for their response. While awaiting a response from the resort, we sent our client an apology and offered them $100 in “Sun Dollars”, which can be used for future travel through CheapCaribbean.com.

The Gran Bahia Principe in Punta Cana informed us that they did not have any record of the client visiting the resort’s medical facility about their ailment while in the destination. Additionally, they have not had any other complaints of this kind of illness at the resort, even though many guests have stayed in that same room both prior and subsequently to Mr. & Mrs. Tait’s visit.

With no other complaints, the lack of a medical record while at the resort, and Mrs. Tait’s other ailments that she listed, the resort does not feel they can be held responsible for this unfortunate illness. We have worked closely with both the resort and their parent company about this issue, on behalf of our client, but there is no actual evidence that the client contracted their illness at this property. Therefore, the hotelier does not feel they should accept the liability or offer additional compensation to the client.

I contacted Mrs. Tait last week to let her know the resort’s position and that there was nothing more that we could do. Mrs. Tait told me that she was not looking for money, but would like another vacation as compensation. Unfortunately we are not able to give away vacations as customer service gestures, especially when we cannot validate the reason for her illness.

Gran Bahia Principe in Punta Cana is a well known and regarded resort. Trip Advisor and Expedia both rate the property at 4 stars, and Yahoo Travel and Hotels.com rate it at 4.5 stars (out of 5 possible). Literally thousands of guests travel to this resort, and the other Bahia properties, annually, yet I was unable to find a history of this type of ailment at their property while doing a search on the internet.

We express our sincere apologies for any difficulties our client may have encountered. Our aim is to always provide the best service possible to our customers.

I’m not sure if there’s anything more that can be said. No one disagrees that the Taits had a very, very bad vacation. But how much of it was the resort’s fault, and how much of it was just bad luck?

(Photo: carLe StyLe/Flickr Creative Commons)

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