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.”