Case dismissed: Canceled our tour after a hurricane — how ’bout a refund?

When hurricane Irene plowed through the Northeast late last summer, she didn’t just leave half of New England underwater. The storm also ruined a vacation or two, including the tour of Niagara Falls Jim Allendoerfer had set up for his fiancee and her family.

Tour operators are normally very understanding when it comes to the weather, but that wasn’t the case with the Tours4Fun, the website through which he’d purchased the Niagara tour.

Then again, Allendoerfer’s circumstances were a little unusual. His fiancee’s family had flown in from Thailand, and they’d decided to cancel their entire Empire State itinerary and head to Vegas instead.
Read more “Case dismissed: Canceled our tour after a hurricane — how ’bout a refund?”

Road trip update: Chased by a hurricane, headed toward an earthquake

It wasn’t the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled Richmond just a day before we were supposed to arrive.

Instead, it was the surprise hurricane nipping at our heels as we drove north from Orlando to Virginia’s capital — slowly gaining strength as she churned toward the US mainland — that got me thinking.

Am I jinxed?
Read more “Road trip update: Chased by a hurricane, headed toward an earthquake”

Seeing both sides of St. Lucia

Calling the Caribbean island of St. Lucia “picturesque” may be like saying Miss America is beautiful. And how.

There are Kodak moments around every hairpin turn on the road. I took this picture a few minutes ago from the top of Windjammer Landing. I’ve uploaded more photos to my Flickr page, too.

I’ll share more snapshots and stories of St. Lucia in an upcoming post on National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog. But I also wanted to offer a few early impressions.
Read more “Seeing both sides of St. Lucia”

A hurricane is headed for my hotel — how ’bout a refund?

ritaQuestion: I think that you may be my only hope! My father and I were supposed to meet in San Antonio before a conference. Lucky for us, the weekend that we were to be in San Antonio was the same weekend Hurricane Ike plowed through Texas. After experiencing Gustav just two weeks prior in Baton Rouge, I was not very keen on going for round two. My flight was canceled, anyway.

We had made reservations at the Holiday Inn on the Riverwalk for the weekend. The rate was pre-paid and nonrefundable, which at the time of booking was fine. However, when we saw where the hurricane was headed, we called to cancel our reservations independently.

After some discussion about the storm, the hotel told us both independently that, due to the extreme circumstances, we would receive refunds. I have an e-mail from the hotel regarding my “refund.”

Despite numerous e-mails to the hotel over many months, we’ve received nothing. Any assistance that you can offer me would be greatly appreciated. — Kristin Budden, Baton Rouge, La.

Answer: I think Holiday Inn owes you a refund. Not because of the hurricane, or because it was the right thing to do (although both are true) but because a hotel representative promised one in writing.
Read more “A hurricane is headed for my hotel — how ’bout a refund?”