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.
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Honeymoon in hell: “I wanted to leave and go home”

Jessica Kase describes her stay at Sandals Grande St. Lucian as a “honeymoon from hell” and she wants the all-inclusive hotel chain to make it up to her. But has it done enough for her already? And how do you make up for a honeymoon in which you spend “three days in my room sobbing because what was supposed to be an amazing vacation and honeymoon was completely ruined”?

Kase and her husband booked a week at the resort and another week at a Sandals property in Antigua, despite some misgivings. The online ratings were mixed, but another couple they knew had recommended the hotels.

“I should have been smarter than that,” she says. “It was the worst vacation of my life.”
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Worst. Honeymoon. Ever.

sandalsAdam Salamon’s honeymoon did not go well.

His all-inclusive resort wasn’t what he expected. The food was lousy, the staff was rude, there were bed bugs and his travel agent didn’t care, he claims.

Although the companies involved in this vacation debacle offered some compensation, it wasn’t enough for Salamon. He wanted a full refund, and he wanted me to help him get it.

Here are the unpleasant details. (A warning to those of you who are squeamish: his account is somewhat graphic.)
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A very unhappy vacation: couple charged twice for Sandals getaway

luciaMari Ann Chaney paid for her vacation at Sandals in St. Lucia twice: once to her travel agent, which paid Watsonville, Calif.-based Happy Vacations, and again when she checked in.

Why did she and her husband, Tom, get billed twice? Turns out Happy Vacations suddenly went out of business, taking the Chaney’s money with them. When they arrived at Sandals, no one had heard of them.

This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with a double-billing scenario and a bankruptcy. But this time, there’s no happy ending.
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