Construction noise ruined my Sandals vacation in Barbados

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By Christopher Elliott

Lisa Chiarello’s Sandals vacation was ruined by construction noise, the resort offers two “free” nights. Is she entitled to more?


I am writing to you as we have had a poor experience with Sandals resort. The week of June 4, my husband and I stayed at their resort in Barbados.

Major construction was going on at the resort. Unfortunately, the ongoing construction was not disclosed to me. The construction was carried on from early in the morning until dinner time. There was not a location at the resort where you could escape the loud noise. We tried to make the best that we could, used ear plugs and finally resorted to having to listen to music played very loudly with earphones to try to drown out the construction noise.

It was a very stressful vacation. We had a challenging year and were very much looking forward to this respite. We were willing to pay the price for a Sandals resort to have a quality experience. If we had known of the construction, we would have selected an alternative Sandals location.

The director of guest services would contact us within one to two days. We had to follow up with her, and she told us that they could not respond to our complaint until after we had settled the bill and were home.

We followed up with her as soon as we arrived. They offered us two free nights if we booked another Sandals vacation within a year.

Our U.S. vacation has already planned for 2018. Unfortunately, we would not be able to book another Sandals vacation within that time frame.

We have lost faith in the Sandals company. We have had three vacations with them and would have continued to do so in the future. Their lack of communication is a concern to us. We would appreciate any assistance or guidance you can provide. — Lisa Chiarello, Clarksboro, N.J.

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Sandals should have told you about the construction before you booked your vacation. After all, it claims to be the “recognized standard of romantic beach vacations,” and construction noise is not romantic.

I find the company’s preferred resolution process troublesome. Did someone really tell you that you had to settle the bill and go home before they could help? That’s nonsense. Sandals has a second resort in Barbados, which might have been able to accommodate you. I always recommend trying to resolve a problem like this right then and there. It seemed as if Sandals wanted to just take your money and send you a half-hearted offer of two “free” nights. (Of course, they aren’t really “free” if you have to pay for airfare and other expenses, but I digress.)

You kept excellent records of your correspondence with Sandals. That’s helpful when you’re trying to negotiate a resolution. Sandals wrote you a nice reply, which appeared to be a form letter, in which it apologized for your experience, noting, “it is a real concern to us when on rare occasions despite everyone’s good intentions, circumstances arise which cause the events described.” (Related: A traveler’s Sun Country Vacations Mexican getaway was so disappointing that she is demanding a full refund.)

To me, this sounds like Sandals believes the bad vacation you had was no one’s fault. But it was. The company is directly responsible not only for the construction, but also for failing to notify you of the repairs.

I might have appealed this to someone higher up at Sandals. When a company sends insincere apologies and half-hearted offers, it’s time to escalate your complaint. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Sandals executives on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted Sandals on your behalf and it agreed to refund the two nights you had requested.

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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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