Almost lost my eye in Mykonos

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By Christopher Elliott

Watch where you’re going. Maybe that’s all Orlan Boston and his fiancee, Tomas, needed to do in order to prevent the accident from happening. They were visiting a friend who was a guest of the Starwood Luxury Collection Santa Marina Hotel last August. After lunch, they headed upstairs to freshen up and order a taxi to the airport.

While Tomas looked down to see where he was stepping, he walked right into an Aloe-like plant with razor-sharp thorns that, Boston alleges, had been improperly pruned.

“This particular plant had not been appropriately trimmed and was hanging dangerously low and far over these highly trafficked pedestrian stairs,” he says.

“I immediately saw that skin above his left eye and below his left eyebrow had been sliced about an inch,” he added. “There were two cuts, one that was one inch long and another a quarter of an inch, that began to bleed profusely.”

Although Boston technically wasn’t a guest of the resort, he was an elite-level Starwood Hotels & Resorts customer. And he did not like what happened next.

Boston contends that the resort was dismissive of Tomas’ eye injury, even after he received 12 stitches to his eye. The injury was particularly problematic because Tomas works as a model, the incident could have cut short his career.

Boston adds

When we got back to the Santa Marina Hotel lobby, a manager approached us and told us that the injury didn’t look so bad.

As you can imagine, after having just had his eye sewn together with 12 stitches we found that comment to be very inappropriate as he was clearly trying to minimize the extent of Tomas’ injury.

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As a result of this unfortunate incident, Tomas and I missed our flight to Athens that evening. We realized that given the seriousness of the injury that we would likely need to cancel our trip to Croatia.

The couple decided to stay at the hotel to recover. The way he figures it, here’s the pricetag for the hotel’s dangerous Aloe plant:

Reimbursement of $5,787.68 for our entire 5 day stay at the Santa Marina Hotel

Reimbursement of $3,304.37 for expenses incurred for cancelled airfare hotel bookings in Athens and Croatia

Compensation of $15,000.00 for pain and suffering, medical treatment and loss of modeling wages

Starwood did not agree. In a reply to his written request for compensation, it said that while Starwood was “disappointed” to read about Tomas’ injury, it couldn’t meet his request.

Please be aware that the Santa Marina Resort and Villas in Mykonos is a franchised property, which is independently owned and operated. This Hotel utilizes Luxury Collection trademarks and logos pursuant to a License Agreement and neither Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (“Starwood”) nor its subsidiaries or affiliates, including the licensor, has any ownership interest or day-to-day control over the operations of this Hotel.

Our company does work with the hotel from a brand perspective, but with respect to operational decisions, these are handled by the property management and ownership directly.

They do confirm that the injury did happen, though do have a differing opinion on the level of service and attention they have extended throughout this challenging time. They also disagree with your opinion that any safety or security hazard is present on property, and feel that all aspects of their facility meet with necessary safety standards.

It is their belief that while this accident was unfortunate, anything which has been extended to you was done out of goodwill for your experience as a guest, and that the hotel does not accept any liability or responsibility for this regrettable experience.

As such, they do respectfully decline your requests for reimbursement or compensation as requested.

Boston is unhappy with that response, and wants me to take up his case.

As I look at the problem and the response to the accident, I see a few problems.

It’s just a franchisee

First, technically Boston and his fiancee weren’t guests of the property at the time of the incident. I’m not familiar with Greek lodging statutes or liability laws, but I do know a few things about the Greeks. After all, my surname used to be Eliopolous before some bureaucrat at Ellis Island anglicized it in 1920. Half of my relatives are Greeks, and I know how they’d handle this. Let’s just say Boston was correct to appeal this to Starwood back in the States. (Related: A reader slipped and fell at a luxury resort.)

The whole “it’s-just-a-franchisee” excuse is a little ridiculous. If it’s your name on the hotel, you take responsibility or your take your name off the hotel. At least that’s how your guests see it.

But to the question of whether I can do better — I’m not sure. I know this case went to a very high level at Starwood and was turned down. It may be necessary to take the matter to court, which might not be worth Boston’s time. And some of the numbers, notably the $15,000 figure for pain and suffering, might not fly.

Should I mediate Orlan Boston's case?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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