A Sandals Caribbean honeymoon that makes her wish she’d eloped

Nicholas and Katherine Welch didn’t have a good honeymoon. Actually, that may be something of an understatement. It was dreadful.

The Welches thought they’d done everything right. They visited St. Lucia, which is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean. It’s also a gorgeous island. And they booked through a reputable all-inclusive resort, Sandals.

“We had a horrible experience that will remain with us for our whole lives,” Katherine Welch wrote to me. “Please help us.”

Before I do, I should mention a few disclaimers. Back in 1993, as a cub reporter for Travel Weekly, I reviewed a new Sandals resort in St. Lucia. It wasn’t a positive article. The owner of Sandals, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, was so upset that he canceled his million-dollar ad buy with the magazine.

The experience was truly instructive. Honeymoons are a hundred-million dollar business, and Sandals wasn’t messing around. Neither did my employer, which promptly removed me from the Caribbean beat and banished me to covering Alaska — but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Anyway, I wouldn’t be asking you, dear readers, if this trip can be saved if Sandals St. Lucia Halcyon had answered the Welches’ letter. So let’s get right to it.

Back in May, Nicholas Welch surprised his fiancee with a St. Lucia honeymoon. It took place Nov. 7 to 12, which is a great time to visit the island. It’s outside the most active part of hurricane season, but just before the crush of winter travelers arrives.

When they arrived at the resort, they found their honeymoon suite hadn’t been serviced. The shower head didn’t work and there was no hot water in the room for the duration of the Welches’ stay.

But what really upset the couple were the little things — what I like to refer to as “laundry list” items — that ordinary vacationers might dismiss. But a honeymoon is no ordinary vacation. You take it once, maybe twice, in your life. Everything has to be perfect, and indeed, Sandals advertises its product to honeymooners as being just about perfect.

• They had no champagne when they checked into their honeymoon suite.

• The knob kept falling off of the “fixed” shower.

• They didn’t receive notification about a sunset cruise Katherine’s parents had booked for her.

• Reservations for their candlelight dinner and couples massage got screwed up.

• They delivered the wrong breakfast in bed order to the suite.

My initial reaction in reading these complaints were, “Come on!” These are such little problems, and even the most significant one — which is that the couple had double-booked a sunset cruise and that the resort hadn’t refunded it yet — was fairly minor.

I know what a honeymoon from hell is, and this is not it. If her resort had been washed away in a hurricane, that would be a disaster. But this, to the average reader, is an average Caribbean vacation.

But not from Katherine’s perspective.

“This was our one and only honeymoon, and can never be replaced,” she told me. “We are telling all of our engaged and soon to be engaged friends to stay away from Sandals.”

Well, alright. That’s a little dramatic, but I can also see her point. She’d been sold the idea that this would be a perfect, one-of-a-kind Caribbean honeymoon, and Sandals let her down.

I’m a little surprised that Sandals didn’t respond to her letter. Had it done so, then she wouldn’t be asking me for help, and I wouldn’t be writing this and asking you if I should help. But here we are.

I don’t know how to handle this one. If all these things had happened to me on a stay in the Caribbean, I would just shrug them off. I would thank my lucky stars that the volcano didn’t erupt, that my van didn’t careen off a cliff or that my plane didn’t crash into the side of a mountain. (Now that would be serious.)

At the same time, I think the Welches were sold a product they didn’t get. And when they complained about it, they didn’t receive a timely answer. That’s not the way you want your honeymoon to end, is it?

Update (6 p.m.): Sandals has responded to the couple’s complaint. It sheds some additional light on their experience.

Thank you for your correspondence with regards to your experiences during your honeymoon with us in November this year. In order for honeymooners to receive the honeymoon package on arrival, we must receive information prior to arrival, indicating they are honeymooners. We had no prior information that you were on your honeymoon. However, when the matter was brought to our attention the package was extended to you the day after your arrival.

During your stay with us, we were experiencing some problems with the hot water line which resulted in the problems you encountered with the hot water. Although the hotel has a preventative maintenance program in place from time to time there may be problems with faucets etc. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

The Candlelight dinner and massage were booked for the La Toc Resort. You were informed that the menu would have to be obtained from La Toc or you would have to go to the resort to choose the menu. You decided to have it sent to the resort and that was the reason for the delay.

It is regrettable that you were not informed, prior to you booking the tour that your mother prepaid a Sunset Cruise for you. This resulted in the two tours overlapping. As a goodwill gesture you were given a fifty percent discount off the Joe Knows Tour. Your parents were refunded via credit card, numbers ending 8383, on November 17th for the Sunset Cruise which she paid for.

You informed Mr. George that in order to “ease the sting” there is a bowl in the resort shop costing $29.99 which you wanted, that was given to you complimentary.

At Sandals we are cognizant of the fact that a couple’s honeymoon is no doubt a once in a life time occasion to celebrate the bliss of marriage and for this reason we make every effort to ensure that clients are as comfortable as possible. We are disappointed that your stay was not one hundred percent reflective of our usually high standards, but we hope that upon reflection of the positive aspects you will give us another opportunity to ensure you enjoy the true Sandals experience.

The letter is dated Dec. 9.

(Photo: Or bitalj oe/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • y_p_w

    Wow.  Don’t know what to say.

    Maybe my standards are low, but those sound like minor niggling things to complain about.  Of course I spent much of my honeymoon in a tent sleeping on an air mattress, and breakfast was typically instant oatmeal.  However, waking up to a view of the Olympic Coast or Mount Rainier was better to me than a tropical beach in the Caribbean.

  • jim6555

    I’ll bet that you didn’t spend thousands of dollars on your honeymoon like the Welch’s did.

  • gromit82

    To what extent did the Welches address their complaints to the resort while they were still there and the resort could address them?

  • http://www.one-visa.com/ Peter Lee

    We can see lots of such problems. so you should not intervene in to it. they will resolve it by their own.

    Peter from one-visa.com/

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    The problems encountered would probably annoy me as well, but not to the point of ticking me off or vowing never to return to Sandals if a great deal popped up. Just publishing the story is enough, I think – an online call out of Sandals for dropping the ball. But if they chose to ignore any compensation requests (which I’m assuming is what the OP is after), I don’t think any further action is required. Lots of us are treated worse than we’d like to be when traveling. Doesn’t mean we all deserve personal ombudsman service. Married life will be hard. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • sirwired

    Most of these were minor complaints that should have been laughed off as the experience you get with a mid-range all-inclusive resort and likewise, they should have been left out of the complaint.  (A mix-up with the Breakfast in Bed order is hardly a vacation ruiner.)  A more appropriate forum for those would have been talking to the manager and arranging some minor thing as compensation (a bottle of champagne, 1/2 hr massage, whatever.) 

    If I was in their place, I would have focused on the two biggest items: no hot water (which, if it were in the US, would probably violate sanitation codes) and the double-booked cruise, which obviously requires cash compensation.  Focusing the letter on those two items probably would have led to prompt action as opposed to a “can’t please ’em, so why bother” laundry list.

    My honeymoon to Kiawah Island was also sub par (and VERY overpriced), but I still had a great time.  I’ve certainly voted with my wallet and will never return, but those things that went wrong (and I had a MUCH longer list) I’ve just written off as part of life…

  • Raven_Altosk

    You get what you pay for. You want a five star Caribbean resort, go to Peter Island. You want Carnival Cruises on land, go to Sandals.

    I think some of their complaints are petty, but the one about the missed sunset cruise disturbs me. I think they are definitely owed a refund for that if they didn’t get to take it.

  • toniv

    Sandals should respond. But even a honeymoon is TRAVEL, and we all know that things go wrong. I avoid the use of the word “perfect” because it’s a trap. Nothing is ever, ever, ever PERFECT, least of all Caribbean travel. When I hear a person talk about how their PERFECT trip was ruined, my antennae go up. And now, sweetie, I promise you, this is not going to “haunt” you for the rest of your life. Really. It’s not. And if it does, because it turns out to be the worst, most disappointing thing that ever happened, then LUCKY, LUCKY YOU.

  • DIYtraveler

    ROITG “Rolling over in the grave” – A. Fredericks

  • Raven_Altosk

    Well said, man. Well said.

    Yeah, I had to laugh at “OH NOES THIS WILL HAUNT ME…” Someone needs to put her big girl panties on and buck up.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Oh, I was waiting for that one. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4AMV2JHTEN5BWPEEO6NTSXY6SA ChrisP

    I vote no solely because of the histrionics.  

    “We had a horrible experience that will remain with us for our whole lives”


    I also don’t agree with the conventional wisdom that says that
    honeymooners should be treated differently or be shown a better time
    simply because it’s their honeymoon.  Every problem should be addressed
    for *every* traveler, not for some because they self-classify their trip
    as being special. 

    These travelers have some complaints that should have been addressed at
    the resort.  I’m not sure I buy the “no hot water all week” (perhaps it
    wasn’t as hot as they desired, or didn’t have enough of it) but that
    should have been addressed at that time. 

    No need for a travel mediator.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I agree with you.

    It seems like they booked directly with the resort.  If this is correct, they should have used a travel agent since this was a once in a lifetime trip, a special event, etc.   First, a travel agent might have set the proper expectations when traveling outside of the US.  Second, a travel agent might have recommended another property on the island or another destination.  Third, a travel agent would have been their ombudsman to resolve their problems during their stay.  Fourth, they probably didn’t save any money from booking direct with the resort.

    Also, it seems like the OPs didn’t talk with the general manager with the resort to resolve these issues.  In previous articles, usually there is something mentioned about the OPs talking to the manager, etc. to resolve the problem during their stays. Nothing was mentioned in this article if they made any attempts to resolve these issues or asked for compensation during their stay.

  • Asiansm Dan

    St-Lucia is famous for disappointing travelers. It isn’t new. Sandals is not my favorite chain, I prefer the CLUB MED. By the way, Sandals is unfriendly to solo travelers nor the gay couples.  St-Lucia has nothing to distinguish from other islands, only more expensive for nothing better. Next time, try the Club Med of Columbus Island of Bahamas.
    When the embargo of Cuba will be lifted, St-Lucia will be the first casualty.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “Back in 1993, as a cub reporter for Travel Weekly, I reviewed a new Sandals resort in St. Lucia. It wasn’t a positive article. The owner of Sandals, Gordon “Butch” Stewart, was so upset that he canceled his million-dollar ad buy with the magazine.”

    This is why I don’t trust reviews, etc. written by travel writers because most if not all travel writers are afraid to write the truth because they don’t want to lose their jobs, the free or reduced travel benefits, etc.

  • Kevin Mathews

    Wow, Does anyone else wonder how long this marriage is going to last if these minor things are going the “Haunt” them?
    I had some pretty bad crap happen to us while we were on our Honeymoon in Aruba.  Power would go out 10-12 times a day, construction next door started at 0700 each morning, no AC in the Elevator, Bathroom tub had a slight leak in it, The lobby of our building was always full with Furniture they were moving into the units, etc…  Bottom line was though, we were at a tropical paradise and we were hellbent to enjoy ourselves.  And Even with all that stuff going on, I would go back to that resort in a heartbeat now because all that construction and retro-fitting is complete and the Divi Phoenix looks amazing now…
    If this lady would’ve taken some time to enjoy her honeymoon, and all that St Lucia has to offer, her resort and room service would’ve been the least of her worries.  There is enough to do on St Lucia that staying at your resort, even if it’s “All Inclusive” should not have been your plans.  And if it was your plan, then St Lucia has one of the BEST Caribbean beers I’ve ever experienced, Piton.  She could’ve sat around at the bar, drank her honeymoon away, and had a great time…  The beer itself is named after the twin mountains on the island, that you learn once on the island, were used in a scene from one of the Superman movies.
    And depending on which Sandals she was staying at on St Lucia, the worst part of her trip could’ve been the extremely long drive from the Airport to the Resort.  It was a 3.5 hour drive for us when we went a few years back, though I can’t remember the name of the resort we stayed at…

  • KyRoamer

    No hot water for the entire stay? That is not a minor or issue.

  • Kevin Mathews

    @ Asiansm Dan
    I’m not sure where you get that St Lucia is “famous for disappointing travelers”.  I thought it was an absolutely wonderful island.  Best Food and Beer I’ve ever had on any of the islands I’ve visited.  In addition, some of the best Scuba Dives I’ve been on as well…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OSW6Y735Q2LBC5CSZUZBVTTYEQ JT

    It’s a poorly written complaint with some valid concerns.  It’s by far overly dramatic, but no hot water and the double-booking on the cruise does require some response and compensation back from Sandals.  Those are not minor issues.  Since Sandals hasn’t responded, I think you should have her pare down her complaint (and take the BS whiny stuff out) and then mediate.

  • sanibelsyl

    I voted no simply because you generally have bigger fish to fry. Lots and lots of problems and only one Chris Elliott. Sandals does not have a good reputation and has damaged it further ——not with just lacking essentials (hot water) and… failing to provide the necessary coordination (the missed cruise), but with their lack of response. This couple’s experience and your blog post here MAY spur Sandals to come up with an offer with out your direct intervention.

  • An Even Newer Alan Gore

    I think the point is not so much that honeymoons are “special”, but that Sandals did not even bother to respond to the list of complaints. Do things tend to go wrong in travel, when you’re in unfamiliar surroundings? Of course – because I live in a tourist town, I can see traveler problems happening around me every week. To me the big red flag is failure to respond to reports of problems.

  • Kotch11

    This is your honeymoon.  Forget the little things and enjoy each other.  I think maybe you are entitled to the cruise, but all the other stuff is so minor, let it go. You went to a beautiful island and evidently didn’t even see the beauty

  • FoxtrotUnicorn

    It’s Sandals for gosh sake.   The only thing “all inclusive” means is that it only takes one vendor to screw you.

    (Love the ad for Sandals in the side bar!)

  • MarkKelling

    No mention is made as to if they brought any of these issues to the attention of management while they were still there and if they did, what the response was.  

    If their suite had not been cleaned yet when they checked in, how was the champagne going to be there?  Was it provided later when the room was serviced?  Was it really that big of a deal to get the wrong room service order?  Happens all the time, you call and they redeliver.  The only real issue I see is the lack of hot water.  But if the handle kept falling off the shower, maybe the temperature selector was not working and would not move to the hot side.  I don’t know of any hotel that would not fix this issue or offer a different room if it cannot be fixed if it is brought to their attention while you are there.

    There should have been some response to the letter, even if it was a canned form letter saying too bad.

    No vacation is ever perfect and I see things that happen like this as great stories to tell friends.  Especially on honeymoons.  If the marriage lasts, you can tell about how the horrible honeymoon made your marriage that much stronger.  Move on with life and remember the good things.

  • y_p_w

    I would point out that “Chris Elliott” is a common enough name, so I’m not sure if there’s “only one”.  :)

    Just type “Christopher Elliott” as a Wikipedia search, and you’ll get the entry on an Australian actor, along with a link to the American comedian and actor Christopher Nash “Chris” Elliott.

    I was wondering why the Christopher Elliott of this site doesn’t normally go by the shortened name, although that’s what some news websites use when republishing the articles from this site.


    I actually first found out about this site via a republished article in SFGate.com.

  • sanibelsyl

    LOL, y_p_w….ya got me on a technicality!

  • y_p_w

    Sure.  I learn to adjust my expectations depending on how much I spend.  However, I’ve stayed at mucho dinero luxury resorts and had some issues, but thought they were minor enough to not complain after the fact.

    I’ll certainly complain if I’m spending $5 or spending $5000, if I feel that the complaint is for something that is inexcusable.  Usually I’m not even after any kind of compensation.  If I feel I’ve been wronged, I just want an acknowledgement.

  • Debbra Brouillette

    The “biggie” in all the things mentioned, to me, is that there was NO HOT WATER for the duration of their stay… That would not be acceptable, in my eyes, and they should’ve been transferred to a different room where there was a working shower with hot water. The other stuff I could overlook, as long as they were eventually made good (i.e. the sunset cruise that the parents had arranged for), but it seems that Sandals staff didn’t make them feel special or go out of their way to make up for the glitches.

  • bodega3

    I say yes, intevene.  Why?  Because the hotel hasn’t responded to the letter.  While these things are not major, they do add up to a lack of attention on the part of the resort.  Sadly, it appears that the one important item that wasn’t packed for this honeymoon was a sense of humor.  You aren’t in Kansas and things don’t work the way you may be use to.  Nothing is ever perfect.


    I rarely comment here even though I read all the columns and comments.  But this girl, like someone else said, needs to put on her big girl panties and deal.

    I agree that the hot water was an issue and a refund is deserved for one of the sunset cruises.  If it were me, I would have insisted the water issue be fixed right away.

    The other stuff is NOTHING and I promise will not haunt them for the rest of their lives.    Around the time of my second wedding, my son was diagnosed with cancer.  Real problems honey!!  Getting the wrong breakfast in bed??? I don’t think so. 

    When she’s older, wiser and hopefully still married, she will look back and realize that stuff happens and really this was just a tiny blip on the chart and be able to realize how much more important her day to day life is then this honeymoon.   BTW..I spent most of my short honeymoon dealing with  horrible allergies from ponderosa pine trees and stayed in a cabin across from a bison farm.   Now THAT was memorable! ha :)

  • plymouthma

    Most of her complaints i would also have shrugged off – but having no hot water for their entire stay is a very very big problem to me.

  • Michael__K

    Is this 2011 or 1911?Amazing how many voters and commenters believe hot water has become a five-star luxury.  Only spoiled brat money grubbing losers would complain about such a niggling imperfection, especially on their honeymoon.  You get what you pay for and this couple can’t be very bright if they thought they were paying enough to assure themselves a room with hot water.And heaven forbid if they even mention that they were displeased with anything else, or if they were crazy enough to dream that their resort would acknowledge their complaint.  Let’s all ridicule this crazy couple and laugh at them together! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Q5ROOLFJ3BMRA4ASYIIQZJ5SGU Kelly Jakinovich

    Wow, I am very suprised at the reaction from all the commentors. This “little stuff” shouldn’t be happening with a resort of this type, so when this resort screws up these “little” things, it is a big deal. And for all of you that say don’t sweat the small stuff, you pay $5000-$10000 to go to this resort and see how you feel after this crap has to happen to you. I bet you all wouldn’t be singing the same tune.

    What I am wondering though is if the couple brought this to the attention of the manager during their stay. The resort can’t do much if you don’t tell them at the time of the issue after you left the island. There was no comment in the article about this.

  • cjr001

    If it makes you feel better after all of these years, Christopher, I’d rather go to Alaska than the Caribbean. :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Other than a refund for a double booked sunset cruise, which already appears to be promised, what else are the Welchs looking for? Maybe one night for the hot water, which would be annoying but I hardly classify this as a vacation “disaster”. Most of them are what I would call annoyances that made your stay less than exemplary but let me guess, I bet the honeymooners are also asking for a full refund on their entire week stay and additional compensation for their trouble. Let me also add, from everything I’ve read, most Sandals properties aren’t exactly known for being 5 star luxury vacation resorts. They tend to be your mid-line all inclusive properties that are marketed based on price and the service runs accordingly. Shrug off the small stuff, and insist on a refund as promised for your double booked cruise and be thankfully for the memories you did have of your vacation. 

    EDITED AFTER UPDATE: Holy Crap, what JERKS the Welchs are. They already received a free item from the gift shop then they write Chris asking for him to help extort more from the resort.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Well said, when I start reading hyperbolic comments like “haunt me for the rest of my life” I roll my eyes and think someone’s being unreasonable.

  • TonyA_says

    I still owe my wife that grand honeymoon. We spent all our money to make that 10% down payment on our first home. I bet the OP spent a fortune in one of these over-hyped resorts. Hope she get something back for her misery. I hope there is a lesson learned here.

  • jennj99738

    I hit “like” by mistake.  What I really wanted to say was “Huh?”  How will problems “resolve it by their own?”  The resort didn’t respond to the couple’s letter.  

  • jennj99738

    Exactly but I think you meant “hyperbolic” instead of “parabolic”  When I think of parabolic, my eyes go up and down in an arc-like fashion.  Maybe that is correct after all… ;)

  • y_p_w

    Except that Alaska has more aggressive mosquitoes.  Natural selection at work due to the short time to reproduce.  Known as the unofficial state bird of Alaska.

  • emanon256

    Thats a spam bot, its trying to generate links.  Hit the flag, if enough if us do it will go away.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I spent most of my honeymoon at a luxury resort in Maui in bed with the flu while my groom was out on the beach, alone, kicking rocks. I finally started feeling well towards the end, only to find that the sunset dinner cruise for which we’d pre-paid was overbooked and there was no room for us, and the only way we could get our money back (a substantial amount for a young couple starting out) was to spend the entire next morning, our last on the island, standing in an hours-long line filled with all of the other honeymooners who’d been ripped off. I got to spend the very last afternoon of a 10-day trip snorkeling…for an hour, before it started raining.

    And yet here we are 30 years later. We survived, and it doesn’t “haunt” us. It gives us a hilarious story for dinner parties. “You think YOUR honeymoon was bad, lemme tell you about ours…!” We’ve had some of our funniest nights sharing travel horror stories.

    That being said…I voted yes because, in spite of the hyperbole and histrionics, there are some specific and serious customer service failures here. We all deserve to get what we pay for. Ignoring the petty complaints (OMG they got their BREAKFAST wrong??), here’s what definitely deserves some mediation:

    1. Yes, one of the most basic expectations is that we will get HOT WATER in our room. This was not a campground, or a rustic cabin in the woods. It’s a luxury resort, and hot water is a requirement. Lack of this basic amenity should result in a refund of some amount.

    2. Not getting a sunset cruise that had been pre-paid must be addressed (I can relate to that one!) A full refund is in order, as it was not the customer’s fault that they didn’t get to take it.

    3. Not getting a response to their letter is flat-out unacceptable. If travel providers won’t respond to valid customer complaints, then that leaves all of us wide open to be scammed and ripped off with no recourse.

    I can’t help but wonder if the letter was ignored because it written using so much hyperbole and histrionics that the valid customer service issues were buried in the drivel. Regardless…they deserve recompense, and I trust Christopher will be able to get it for them.

    By the way, I agree with Chris P that the fact that it’s a honeymoon should have no bearing on the case. Travel is a product, and you should get what you pay for regardless of the reasons for purchasing it. My trip with my mother to celebrate her 75th birthday should get no less attention than honeymooners.

  • emanon256

    I am a little disappointed in Travel Weekly.  I think it’s very wrong when a magazine punished someone for giving a bad review of an advertiser.  I know the advertisers pay the bills, but I don’t think it’s right for bad placed to be unfairly given a good review just because they are paying for it.  Kudos to Chris for his honesty in the review.
    As far as the story, I voted that it should be mediated.  The no hot water for the entire stay and the no refund for the double booked cruise are big deals, and the fact that they never responded make them worse.  They others were quite petty and I hope they complained right away and got them resolved.  The hyperbole is a bit un-necessary, focus on the real issues, please!

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    I think were this an ordinary vacation, the laundry list of items could have been chalked up as “That’s just how it goes.  We now have a bunch of funny stories for years.”

    However, it was a honeymoon.  There are expectations when one does something like this for their honeymoon – hot water being a most realistic expectation.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…  Were it just one or two items, it’s far easier to just let it go.  However, it seems Sandals went out of their way to help this couple have a bad honeymoon (Not really, but it sure seems like it, doesn’t it?)  

    Once more than a couple things go wrong, it becomes more irritating, much like a kid kicking the back of your plane seat for the full 8 hours of the flight (or whatever).  The first hour or so, yeah, it bugs you.  But when it goes on for the duration, in spite of your best efforts to fix it, it’s a major annoyance bordering on the desire to commit Hari-Kari.

    I’d intervene if I were in your shoes, Chris.  Sandals couldn’t even be bothered to respond to a letter of complaint, even with a form letter.  That’s arrogant, IMHO.

  • TonyA_says

    If you can afford it then why not rent a whole tropical island surrounded by a coral-reef and have food prepared by a Swiss chef. They are taking reservations here

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    You’re right Jenn! I will edit my comment. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4PDSGTE6V2IARAUWDA7HLHPGNA Scot

    Sorry Folks, I disagree. I have stayed at Sandals on 4 different occasions. What is advertised is not delivered. Katherine is absolutely right. Sandals has consistently mis advertised for years. Check out some of the complaints on Tripadvisor.com and you will see that the services offered are deseptive.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4AMV2JHTEN5BWPEEO6NTSXY6SA ChrisP

    IF there was no hot water for an entire week, then yes.

    But it only gets a mention in their letter.  Were they able to shower? Bathe?  Was the hot water REALLY not working, or could it have possibly been not enough hot water, or that it wasn’t hot enough?

    I don’t buy that honeymooners willingly spent their honeymoon in a room for a week with NO hot water.

    And, unless Chris E says otherwise, they didn’t even bring it up with the resort during their stay.

  • PrivacyNow

    Unless the
    venue is run by some third world trekking company, it’s against the law to let
    a room without hot water.

    Will sandals
    start a new advertising campaign: come visit us for the trip of a lifetime–pay thousands
    and the following items may or may not work…

  • SoBeSparky

    The bad publicity is sufficient enough.  They should have seen the manager (not the assistant) early on in their stay to rectify the minor problems.   A short hand-written note to the manager usually gets prompt attention. 

  • Charles Owen

    As I was reading this, I kept thinking about another column I had read a while back listing 5 travel complaints that fail. One was the “laundry list”. Oh, yeah, I remember where I saw that: http://www.elliott.org/the-travel-critic/travel-complaints-that-fail-5-kinds-of-emails-you-should-never-write/  I’m surprised Chris didn’t reference his own page here. The major problem was the lack of hot water. That’s just not acceptable at any hotel. The rest made this in to the laundry list complaint that Chris himself said in the previous column will fail.

  • TonyA_says

    May we know why you kept on coming back (3 times)?

  • gratianus

    I voted that you should intervene, though I am more worried about the future of this marriage than I am about how Sandals disappointed the bride and groom. Looking back on close to 40 years of marriage, one abiding piece of good fortune is that neither of us ever saw (or at least didn’t continue to see) any single disappointment as the end of the world. Yes, I know honeymoons should be once-in-a-lifetime experiences but this furious sense of victimhood bodes ill for how man and wife will contend with each other’s disappointing moments.

  • TonyA_says

    Agree. I don’t why it is that hard to fix a plumbing issue or why they
    just didn’t move the couple to another room. But I have to believe that
    some hotels really don’t care and will try to pull a fast one. Last
    Christmas we were in Granada (Spain) and my kid’s room did not have hot
    water. After I complained I found out that the hotel management knew the
    problem for quite a while but they did not fix it due to the “economic
    downturns besetting Europe”. Yup, that’s what they told me. I explained
    to them that we’re Americans and we also have our own share of economic problems but hot water is not one of them. They quickly moved my kids to another room.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And while I don’t mean to pile onto the poor beleaguered newlyweds, I wanted to also point out that I really think people make way too big a deal about honeymoons. Look, it’s not the 18th century anymore, when the honeymoon was usually the first time that a couple actually had :::gasp::: marital relations so the trip was seen as something magical, once-in-a-lifetime, wink-wink-nudge-nudge.

    These days, especially in the US, most weddings are not much more than a legal formality (and a reason to have a big ol’ party and take a fun vacation) for a couple who’ve been at least sleeping if not living together for a long time already. Yes it’s lovely to take a nice trip to celebrate the event, but let’s face it – it’s just a vacation. If the couple stays together, presumably there will be many more to come.

    So this one wasn’t so great. Start saving now and plan a trip somewhere else…and this time, do your homework and pick a place with better reviews.

  • Chasmosaur

    1) A honeymoon is simply a vacation, despite what the Bridal-Industrial Complex has tried to tell you.

    You hope it’s a nice one without complications, but life is what happens when you make plans. And booking a stay in the Caribbean doesn’t guarantee a great time.  In fact, most of our friends envy us our domestic honeymoon in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  Who needs champagne in your suite when the wineries waive your tasting fees? ;)

    2) “A perfect, one-of-a-kind honeymoon” and Sandals Resorts don’t go together.  It’s a generic Caribbean vacation spot.

    3) Welches – if you’re reading – here is my wedding gift to you, and it’s one you can use all your life.

    When you find yourself in a situation where you are getting bad service, don’t get histrionic or dramatic.  Simply look the employee in the eye and firmly and quietly state “I’m sorry, that’s not acceptable.”  Repeat – up the chain of command if necessary and with utter calm conviction – until your *reasonable* requests are addressed.

    So for things like the honeymoon suite not being serviced, the faulty shower and the reservations?  These are the perfect situations to use this method.

    The champagne part?  If you were just expecting it because it was the “Honeymoon” suite, then you have to realize that people can book that suite without it being their honeymoon.  If it was part of the package, then see the “not acceptable” route.

    As for the breakfast – unless they brought you something that tripped food allergies or cost significantly less than what you ordered, let that one go.  It’s food and at that point, it should have been a “so bad it’s good” thing.  I know when things pile up like that for my husband and I, we start to giggle like maniacs.

    The one that I see as the most problematic is the non-notification of the cruise.  I’m sure that was a paid extra, and unless Mrs. Welch’s mother got her money back, that one should be mediated.

    ETA: I take it back. You don’t deserve to use “That is not acceptable.” It looks like Sandals bent over backwards for you.

  • Susan Fox

    I can understand, to some extent, why she was upset, especially not having hot water the whole time, which is unacceptable, but to shake down the gift shop guy for $30 bowl? That is beyond classless. Sandals should have responded in a timely manner, but she sounds like a spoiled tootsie to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Because, like most Sandals customers he shopped based on price, and you get what you pay for. 

  • http://twitter.com/Thalassatx Linda Tomberlin

    Having read the response from Sandals, I say OH NO to mediating this!  She wanted a freaking bowl?  A $30 bowl??  Well there you go, lady.  You’ve got your stinking bowl.  I feel for her poor husband.

  • Ann Lamoy

    So it looks like some of the laundry list of complaints were the fault of the husband.

    -No champagne at check-in? “In order for honeymooners to receive the honeymoon package on arrival,
    we must receive information prior to arrival, indicating they are
    honeymooners. We had no prior information that you were on your
    honeymoon. However, when the matter was brought to our attention the
    package was extended to you the day after your arrival.” So if hubby dearest had said “This is for our honeymoon when he booked, there probably would have been champagne.

    -The Sunset Cruise that the parents booked? Maybe the parents booked it under her maiden name. Even if they didn’t, the resort acknowledged the error, gave them a 50% discount on the cruise they booked and paid for AND refunded the parents. So I think they were more than adequately compensated for that error.

    -The Dinner reservation and couples massage that got screwed up? ” You were informed that the menu would have to be obtained from La Toc
    or you would have to go to the resort to choose the menu. You decided to
    have it sent to the resort and that was the reason for the delay.” So totally her fault yet she is blaming the resort for the error? No sweetie, the customer is NOT always right. Even so, she managed to con a $30 bowl out of the resort. I hate when management gives in to customers like this.

    They did address the lack of hot water which was a problem. It’s not like the resort planned on the problem though. And if she hadn’t had such a entitle tone throughout her letter, I would have been more inclined to really say that you should mediate for her. But really? Two of the three problems above were not even the resorts fault and the third might or might not have been and they resolved it on the spot/shortly thereafter (parents card refunded on 11/17).

    As for the wrong breakfast? Did she even call down and complain? I think they were looking for things to go wrong at this point.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thank you for posting the update to the story, Chris.  I like having both sides to a story.

  • $16635417

    Only time for a quick read. I don’t recall the information about thecomped bowl in the original story. Was this a detail left out in editing?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

     I agree…I like to have both sides of the story.  Too many times, we don’t have both sides of the story in these articles only to find out later that OP wasn’t disclosing all of the facts. 

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

     After reading the 6:00 PM update, I think that Chris should throw out the voting results and do another vote. 

  • LeeAnneClark

    Totally agree! What a couple of whiny, entitled nit-pickers. I call for a re-vote! Christopher should send these two back to whatever hole they crawled out of. I’m thoroughly disgusted.

  • LeeAnneClark

    After reading the update (the letter from Sandals), my opinion has dramatically changed. While I already thought they were histrionic, nit-picky whiners before I read the letter, now I think they are flat-out deceitful scammers, trying to use Christopher to squeeze more out of this resort after a few minor annoyances on their trip.

    The fact that Katherine Welch basically shook them down for a bowl from the gift shop pretty much says it all. How inappropriate! I guess some people will use any excuse to pad their pockets.

    I’m sure this couple were well aware that her mother had received a full refund for the pre-paid cruise, since it happened on Nov. 17th. They also obviously knew that they’d received a 50% discount off another tour as compensation for that error (and apparently didn’t bother to mention that to Christopher.) They also clearly knew that they were at fault for the supposed “screw-ups” with their massage and dinner reservations (I’d wondered why the description of those complaints was so vague – now we know it’s because it was their own fault!) They got their honeymoon package one day late – BFD, and not the hotel’s fault anyway.

    The sole remaining complaint with any validity whatsoever is the hot water issue – which, yes, is valid. And if they hadn’t made such a big deal over all the minor issues, and then shaken the resort down for a BOWL, and THEN tried to scam Christopher into wasting his precious time trying to squeeze even more out of them, I would have had some sympathy and suggested that at least a partial refund is in order.

    But these are nightmare customers, and I’m sorry that I believed them. They remind me of the cruising couple who made an art form out of scamming Royal Caribbean cruise line out of paybacks and extras for manufactured complaints.

    Christopher, this has helped me to understand how hard it must be for you to decide who to help. I’m sure most of the requests you get sound like valid ones deserving your assistance…but how many of them are hiding the truth, leaving out important details, or flat-out lying? I’m glad I don’t have your job…but thanks for continuing to be there for the customers with REAL service issues.

    I do hope you told these two you weren’t going to participate in their shake-down scheme, and moved on to more deserving clients.

  • Nigel Appleby

    I voted yes after a lot of deliberation and oscillating backwards and forwards and then read the update. If I had read that first I would have voted no from the get go without any hesitation.
    I gree that a new vote should be taken, or in my opinion as the result is fairly close accept what Sandals has said and done.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I didn’t know about the bowl. Had I known, I probably wouldn’t have written about this case.

  • pauletteb

    Sandals is the K-Mart of resort companies; you get what you pay for.

  • andrelot

    I think this is a case of an over-entitled, whining costumer who can get involved in transactions involving more than purchasing a physical item off-the-shelf. Maybe, not even that, as they shook the hotel to get the bawl for free.

    The lack of hot water was most certainly an issue, a serious one, indeed. If the letter revolved around it, I’d be sympathetic to the couple or any other guest at that resort, regardless of whether it the fault was due to lack of maintenance, some broken pipe or else.

    However, from the reply I can see the couple tried to play dumb and get every possible handout from the situation. It is another version of that person that, having spotted a water leak in a restaurant, make sure they walk over the wet floor before employees cordon it off so to fall and then claim pain and suffering payments.

    Then, it became clear the couple was at fault for the other already minor mistakes. Overall, it seems one of those (rare) cases in which the costumer not only got it wrong, but also tried to “name and shame” the resort, using Christopher as an amplifier. It is possible they felt aggravated because of the lack of hot water, but that is not an excuse to act the way they did.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Just read the update…
    She conned the gift shop out of a bowl?!!??! LOL, this one gets better by the minute. 

    While I’m totally NOT a fan of Sandals, it sounds like they went above and beyond to make these people happy despite their complaints. I’ll stand by what I said earlier: BRIDEZILLA needs to put her big girl panties on and grow the F up.

  • Isildain

    They really should have researched the resort before booking, and consequently, I don’t feel as sorry for people who have a bad experience at Sandals.  My wife and I also honeymooned in St. Lucia.  We were about to book at Sandals, but the more research we conducted, the more apprehensive we became.  We ended up booking at a much smaller resort whose worst comment was “there are too many steps.”  On our flight down there, 75% of the plane was filled with newlyweds going to Sandals, and only 3 couples going to our resort.  In the end, we had a PERFECT honeymoon.  Research pays off, especially at all-inclusive resorts.  After doing enough reading, you begin to pick out the whiners from the legitimate complaints.

  • naoma

    WOW.  The bride sounds a bit of a complainer.  Glad I was not the husband on that trip.  Certainly not the best of trips, but they have the rest of their life together to “laugh at it” — providing she can overcome her attitude. 

  • naoma

    Raven_Altosk — yes.  I agree with you 100%.  

  • Diana Smith

    I think honeymoon is incomplete with out beeches..I am also planning to go to Cyprus in January..I already booked Cyprus Villas(Villasrentcyprus.co.uk) for 3 nights and 4 Days..I am very excited my trip to Cyprus…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V2IYC4TC6NDYG5GJJMQBMQ3HYQ Linda Bator

    WOW!  The update CLEARLY shows a DIVA!  They don’t tell anyone they’re on their honeymoon, but the hotel should have known?  You book a meal for another resort, and want the menu sent over, and expect it to be there immediately?  Your mother didn’t TELL you she booked the tour you wanted, and you went ahead and booked it, and its the hotel’s fault?  They give you a gift, because you WANTED it, and that’s still not enough?  Dude – dump this bridezilla – she’s FAR too high maintenance!  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V2IYC4TC6NDYG5GJJMQBMQ3HYQ Linda Bator

    They DID bend over backwards for them – ridiculous clients!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V2IYC4TC6NDYG5GJJMQBMQ3HYQ Linda Bator

    Sounds like the issue wasn’t no hot water, but a water line (pressure) problem.  And since she only mentioned this in passing, not as WE DIDN’T HAVE HOT WATER ALL WEEK!  I tend to believe she stretched the truth on this claim as well.  Just another bridezilla.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V2IYC4TC6NDYG5GJJMQBMQ3HYQ Linda Bator

    Like here!  :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_V2IYC4TC6NDYG5GJJMQBMQ3HYQ Linda Bator

    HAHA!!  Couldn’t agree more!  With all the real problems that could have happened, THIS was her nightmare honeymoon?  Only for her hubby IMHO.

  • naoma

    Not sure my comment was posted, Diana.  But, I’ve been to most of the best beaches in the world — all over the Caribbean, Hawaii, Rio, and, my favorite, Tahiti.  Bora Bora.  Water goes from pale green near the shore to deepest navy blue far out.  I have become allergic to the sun and now must view my Power Point of Tahiti because I can’t go any more.

  • Fred

    What is the matter with all you people you pay for something but you do not expect to get what you pay for? If you paid for a 5 star hotel and are given a tent is it not right to complain?
    I work hard to earn my cash and if I pay for 5 star treatment then that is what I expect.
    These people constantly rip people off take their money but do not give them what they have paid.

    For anyone who thinks this is ok next time you want to pay for goods or services please call me I would be more than happy to give you less than you paid for, let me know!!!!