Vampire bugs ruined my honeymoon

Rachel Meredith’s account of her honeymoon reads like a script from a National Lampoon’s Vacation movie — minus the funny.

First, the wires got crossed on her reservation at the Westin Playa Conchal in Costa Rica. Then she and her husband encountered numerous service problems. And finally, they were eaten alive by insects.

I don’t want to keep you in suspense. The picture above is of Meredith’s leg. I’ll let her explain.

On the third day of our honeymoon, I noticed what looked like flea bites on my husband. They were little red bites that he said where itching.

I didn’t have any on me so I was confused. I had him take a bath and little black bugs started floating up to the top.

When we got into the States I noticed that I started having the same bites as my husband.

As my husband was looking at one of my bites he noticed that a little bug had flown out of my skin. We went to the ER, and were told that we were infested with botfly.

Luckily there was one pharmacy in our area of the state that had the medication that we needed to get rid of larva and bug infestation.


The human botfly, Dermatobia hominis, lays its eggs under your skin through mosquito bites. They hatch in about eight weeks.

That’s some wedding present.

But hang on. Did Starwood, which owns Westin, infect this couple with botfly? No, it did not.

Here’s the response from Starwood:

Please note the hotel cannot accept responsibility for the infestation of botflies which you encountered.

We are truly sympathetic to your situation, though based on the nature of these insects, and that they lay their eggs through a vector (such as a mosquito), it is not possible to determine the exact time nor location of the introduction to you.

We would suggest you follow up with your medical insurance and/or travel insurance regarding the medical bills.

So what about the rest of the experience? It was far from ideal. Let’s hit a few of the highlights.

The room at the Westin wasn’t available, so the couple was “upgraded” to a condo a mile from the resort.

“The condo looked lovely at first glance,” says Meredith. “Then I found a big cockroach. I thought nothing of it after all it is the rain forest. Next morning went outside to see our great view. It was their golf course which would have been lovely — had either of us actually liked golf.”

Service was slow. The couple would call for a ride, and it would take forever for a van to show up.

“When we would call for rides or for room service it would take them longer each time we called,” she says. “I had to argue with the front desk just to get our fridge restocked with water.”

You get the idea. Everything that could go wrong on this honeymoon seemed to go wrong — a lot of little things that added up. And then, of course, the botflies.

I contacted Starwood on her behalf. It refunded the 60,000 points Meredith’s father-in-law had used to pay for the honeymoon and offered its sincere apologies for the problems the couple encountered on its vacation.

Meredith is unhappy with that resolution. It doesn’t cover any of her other expenses, including the visit to the emergency room.

“We feel that this offer does not benefit us in any way, since the points aren’t even going to us,” she adds.

But is this enough compensation? I’m on the fence. I don’t think you can pin the botfly problem on Starwood, and the service lapses were fairly minor.

Still, the overall experience, as Starwood admits in an email to Meredith, “was not flawless.”

No kidding. This one is definitely making my pinboard on honeymoons from hell. But I’m not sure if Starwood could do any better.

Update (4:30 p.m.): I’ve corresponded with Meredith this afternoon, and she’s asked me to add something to her account.

During check-out, the couple got into a confrontation with the hotel staff over the bill. They missed their flight and had to spend the night at another hotel and pay for a new flight home.

They spent an additional $136 for the hotel and $217 on airfare.

Meredith felt this was an important detail to add to the story, and the main reason she was unhappy with the refund.

I had assumed, based on our correspondence, that she and her husband were primarily upset about the bugs. In writing this post, I omitted this detail for the sake of brevity.

Meredith says she wants a “stress-free” do-over of her honeymoon to compensate her for the additional expenses.

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 Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • mythsayer

    I’m going to have to side with Starwood on this one.  I doubt the botflies were from their hotel because they take 8 weeks to hatch, so how could her husband have had bugs come out (ewwww) in the bath if they’d been infected on the vacation? I could be wrong… maybe botflies grow quick enough to be seen, but it doesn’t sound like it.  As for the little stuff, yeah, I be pissed but THEY didn’t “pay” for the room.  One of their fathers did, with his POINTS.  He got his points back.  That’s a pretty good resolution, I think.  They could kick in some kind of voucher for a night’s stay for her, but what she went through it’s worth more than maybe $150 in future hotel stays, in my opinion.  And I’m usually pretty liberal with stuff like this.

  • Bob

    Another generic list of complaints…  nothing to see here, everyone.


    I think Starwood went well beyond what they could and should have. As beyond creepy as botflies sound, for 60,000 Starpoints, I would put up with a TON! Once again Starwood shows why they are TOPS in the hotel business.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well first of all — EWWWW!  Did you really have to include the photo?  TMI, man, TMI!

    Second of all — I did some reading up on botlfies, and clearly they cannot blame the resort for their bodily infestation. Botflies do, in fact, take 8 weeks to hatch, so if there were actual bugs flying out of their skin, it’s unlikely they caught them there.  And even if they did acquire them in Costa Rica (which is possible if they were still in the larvae stage when they noticed them), no hotel, anywhere in the world, can protect its guests from mosquitoes, which are by far the most likely source of human botfly infestation.  These are not bedbugs, folks.  They get into your skin from a mosquito bite!

    Haven’t these people ever heard of mosquito repellant?  I never go anywhere tropical without bottles of it.  I’ve been to Costa Rica numerous times myself, and yup there are definitely mosquitoes there.  Deet, folks!

    Take away the disgusting vampire bugs and what do you have:  a few minor service-related complaints, not even worth the compensation that the father-in-law got back.  Sheesh, if I could get full points reimbursement for slow vans or pokey room service, I’d be traveling all over the world for free!

    I’m with Bob.  Move along, folks…nothing to see here.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    Hotels will always deny that the infestation, infection, illness is related in any way to the hotel. The OPs problem is that they have no evidence that they got the infection at the hotel.  Once in Belgium I got food poisoning.  The hotel strongly denied that they were responsible.  It was only by happenstance that I discovered two other people with the same issue and a medical doctor to corroborate the timelines.  Even then it took several weeks for get the hotel to relent.’

    Absent hard evidence the OP is SOL.

  • $16635417

    I’m sorry, but this statement rings like a money grab:

    “We feel that this offer does not benefit us in any way, since the points aren’t even going to us,” she adds. 

    Hard to believe your father-in-law won’t let you use the points again for another stay somewhere. 

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    LOL. Agree with LeeAnneClark. I’d LOVE to have a free re-do for something like this. I recently spent a few nights in a bungalow on a deserted Thai island and walked away with a plethora of bed bug bites. Didn’t even think about asking for my money back from the Thai government. Wonder if any other guests at the Westin’s condo experienced the same problem – might be something for the hotel to warn guests about…

  • mythsayer

     Right?  That’s the thing… they didn’t even pay for the room!  And now he’s going to get all stingy?  I doubt it.

  • emanon256

    So they got a full refund on the room because room service and the hotel shuttle were slow?  Because they got upgraded? Because they had to ask to get the fridge re-stocked? Because they saw a roach? Oh, and because their view was of a golf course and they don’t like golf? I need to go to that hotel! I don’t like golf either.  If the hotel is giving a full refund over very minor issues that are sort of the norm for tropical resorts, then that is above and beyond good customer service.
    Those bugs are kind of freaky, but I don’t see how the hotel could be responsible for airborne insects that are through the entire country.  I agree with the hotel, that’s what health insurance is for.  And if the OP doesn’t have health insurance, than that’s something they really should have considered before spending money on a honey moon.
    I have had many strange bug bites and even a parasite or two that requires medication when traveling abroad.  It comes with the territory.  It sucks, but unless the hotel is truly infested and causing these bugs to infect humans, it’s not really something the hotel can be responsible for.

  • sirwired

    They got a full refund for all the problems with the condo.  What else could they possibly be due? 

    You cannot possibly hold the resort responsible for a parasite indigenous to the region.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Starwood has done enough. As gross as botflies are, there is no way to pin them on the hotel/condo/whatever they actually stayed in. They’re not confined to a hotel; they exist in nature. Much like when I dive, I can’t blame the dive boat or resort for being stung by a jellyfish. They’re in the habitat I’m in and they’re gonna win.

    Since they were non-rev guests, that’s probably the reason they were “walked” to the condo rather than someone else. The points have been fully refunded, so I can’t see what else the hotel could do for her.

    My suggestion: maybe she could ask the FIL to let them use the points for a getaway close to home? Go to a nice hotel for a weekend, relax, get a massage…

    ETA: I am amused there is now a “botflies” tag. LOL.

  • sirwired

     It’s Costa Rica.  It’s tropical, wet, and rains often.  There are lots of mosquitoes in the country, some of them cause a botfly infestation, and there is nothing the hotel can do about it.  It’d be just as productive (and correct) to blame the hotel for the weather being cloudy or the waves being too rough.

    Next time, the couple needs to wear DEET.

  • Terri Lundberg

    I think they’ve been compensated enough.  I view it as, “just a bad vibe with that location.”  Stuff happens, but this is by no means the fault of the hotel,who refunded all the points used to secure a room.

  • Christopher Elliott

    Of course there’s a botflies tag. You never know when I might have to write about botflies again.

  • john4868

    Wow … two times in less than a month that @LeeAnneClark:disqus and I agree on something. I should have bought a lottery ticket.

    I couldn’t have said it any better than she did.

  • Asiansm Dan

    It’s the classic honeymooner travel deception drama. I saw its over and over on several Travel Blogs and many of my friends and relatives. Honeymooners have too much expectations and suppose their travel week vacation should be one of a lifetime unforgettable experience.
    Most of the time the deception is due by their expectation rather than the state of the service provided (It called the Pygmalion Syndrome).
    Usually, the honeymooners are exhausted by the preceding  week of wedding preparation and ceremony and they are weakened by the fatigue and the boozes so they are vulnerable for the travel afterward.
    More than once, I traveled in organized groups and only the honemooners in the group catch the Tourista even we ate the same 3 meals a day.
    To limit the deception for the honeymoon travel, avoid trekking the Himalaya, the Amazon Jungle, the Sahara Desert and the Antarctica Continent.

  • SoBeSparky

    The “wires got crossed on her reservation” and “The room at the Westin wasn’t available” doesn’t tell us who was at fault.  Glossed over on the point.  Can’t ascribe it to the Westin, I guess. I would never have settled on a mile-away condo room.   

    The bugs?  She admits she is in the rainforest.  (She really is not, but she is in a wild area.) So what did she expect?  I have been within a few miles of the place.  All sorts of things around like huge land crabs, giant toads (softball sized) crapping all over the place, etc.  Never heard of botflies and never want to again, but logical.

    Good luck to them on their marriage.  

  • Christopher Elliott

    The hotel was overbooked; they were walked to the condo.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Really…the nerve of the hotel to reimburse the person who actually paid for the room!!!  

    If I were the father-in-law reading this letter, I might rethink my generosity in the future, knowing her idea of “fair” would be me losing my points and her receiving a cash refund.

  • AAmerican1

    They go to a third world tropical country for their honeymoon, which they don’t pay for, they get upgraded from a “room” to a condo, which they complain about because its on a gold course and they don’t play golf, they get insect bites, did I mention third world tropical country?, slow service, did I mention third world tropical country?, They complain, father gets points back so vacation is almost free and they want more??


  • Elmo Clarity

    I really hope they didn’t make them walk the mile to the condo.  *grin*

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Wow, if this is how this (fish) wife handles her honeymoon, I don’t envy this family the rest of their lives with her.

    The moment you said, Chris, that botflies take about 8 weeks to make their presence known, I sided with the resort.  When you shared her FIL, the man who donated the points to pay for their honeymoon, was reimbursed and bridezilla thought that unfair, I REALLY sided with Starwood Resorts.


    Being a travel writer, I get all sorts of great rooms and were I to have gotten a condo (instead of a room) that gave me a view of a golf course, I’d have been thrilled and I don’t like golf, either; to me, it’s like watching paint dry. However, the view would be magnificent!  

    One of my favorite things to say about travel: when I was in Ireland, it rained nearly every day we were there.  So many folks commiserated and apologized for it being so rainy.  My thoughts on it?  It’s FAR better to be rained on in Ireland than to be rained on in Arizona.  No matter what the situation, if it’s not Arizona, it’s all good (except jail – don’t think I ever want to experience something like that anywhere at all).

    They were on their honeymoon, for pete’s sake, and their stressing about it taking too long to load the fridge with water and that the van didn’t get there in a timely manner?  Talk about your nitpicking.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I get very skeptical when there’s one major problem that should be the entire focus but it gets inexplicably lumped in with a bunch of minor things.  (They got botflies but feel the need to mention it took too long to get the frig restocked?)  My amateur psychologist inside tells me that if they REALLY believed the hotel gave them botflies  they’d be so focused on that they wouldn’t think twice about the tiny stuff.  But when you invent/exaggerate your mind doesn’t sort things like it would normally and big and small things end up lumped together.

    Their letter also smacks of ingratitude in several places:  The snarky lines about the upgrade and the golf course view, it wasn’t good enough that father-in-law was reimbursed because that didn’t directly benefit them.

  • Lynda Lyle

    I agree with LeeAnneClark. Most of the complaints were petty. As far as the infestation, I am sure the couple went off the premises of the hotel and could have picked up the bugs anywhere while sight seeing, hiking, visiting other areas, etc. Even if the hotel sprays for bugs, which I am sure they do, they can’t be responsible for everywhere else the couple went. I don’t see what more they can expect fro the hotel. 

  • IrishStubborn

    I had to vote no as I don’t recall seeing that the couple got any compensation at all.  Her Father-in-law did, but not the couple.  Although, that being said, I don’t see how in the world they could have compensated them for anything.   Who knows where the infestation came from, and when you go to a tropical vacation, you do take your chances (although I really hate the picture stuck in my head of bugs hatching out of my skin!!). And the folks who paid for the honeymoon got their full points back.. What else do they expect???

  • Rosered7033

    Just last weekend my OT sister told me about a botfly patient. These are ugly UGLY creatures! Definitely you need a tag for them! Can’t say I recommend it, based on her description, but she said there is a gruesome Utube video on removal.

  • TonyA_says

    Their demands kinda makes sense. It seems like they did not want to spend a dime of their own for their honeymoon. So Dad paid for everything EXCEPT the ER visit (back home). Consistent with their mindset of not to pay for anything, they now want the Costa Rican hotel to pay for their medical bills here in the states. Unbelievable!

    Elliott where do you get these people?

  • TonyA_says

    Even in a first world country like ours they can get chiggers all over them if they are not careful where they go :-)

  • LeeAnneClark

    LOL John!  Just goes to show you that the opinions we form are not half-assed thoughtless sheeple follow-the-leader stuff, but actual well-thought-out views based on careful consideration of the facts presented.

    Either that or the world is about to end.  Buy that lottery ticket fast!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Y’know, Raven, I was out diving a couple weeks ago in surgy conditions, and I got pushed into a rock covered with sea urchins.  I got a bunch of stings on my legs.  Ruined my trip.  I’m going to demand that the dive boat give me a full refund.

    Of course I agree with you.  And if they decide to take a nice weekend getaway, I hope it’s somewhere without mosquitoes.  Either that, or perhaps we should all chip in and buy them a couple bottles of deet so we won’t have to come back here and read yet another article about botflies!  Christopher seems obsessed with them now, and I suspect would pounce on the opportunity to write about them again… ;-)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yeah, that might have been when they got bit my mosquitoes!  All that sweat attracts the little buggers… ;-)

  • reasonedthought

    So on the third day at the resort, she notices the bug bites on her husband and has him take a bath.  That’s when the little black bugs floated to the surface.  Given that it takes 8 weeks for botflies to hatch, that would seem to indicate that he was bitten long before arriving at the resort.

  • lookingforknowledge

    Unlike yesterday’s story, this is just a money grab.  Can’t be too hard to refuse them.  But the bugs do add humor!

  • Lindabator

    Especially in a case where it takes 8 weeks to manifest, and she claims her husband showed up with symptoms on day 3.   Hmmm….

  • Lindabator

    Hey, one of the other agents in the office was blamed because it rained at the destination before the clients went there!  HAHA!

  • Michael__K

    How many nights did the couple spend at this location?

    The resort is listed as a Starwood Awards category 7.  Which I believe means that 60,000 points would only have covered 2 nights, unless there was a special promotion.

    When a guest is walked to another location because a hotel is oversold, in my experience it is standard policy to automatically refund the guest for the first night.  Which means the father-in-law was probably due back 30,000 points regardless of any complaints.

    Just wanted to point that out for context.  I still voted with the consensus that they received enough compensation — the botfly infection could have occurred anywhere and the remaining complaints are minor.

  • Lindabator

    Try a trip to Alcatraz – then you can say you HAD been in jail, and didn’t mind it!  :)

  • bill0321

    ….”On the third day of our honeymoon, I noticed what looked like flea
    bites on my husband. They were little red bites that he said where
    I didn’t have any on me so I was confused.

    ***** I had him take a bath and little black bugs started floating up to the top *****

    OMG and they did not go and at least seek medical attention RIGHT THEN…….bizarre.

    Worse……they boarded their flights home and possibly infected their fellow  passengers. Disgusting and rather selfish.

    I know for myself ii can feel a creepy crawler on me within seconds and deal with it. I am alreadt scratching as I type this. YUCK

  • Lindabator

    Hon, they are everywhere!  :)

  • Lindabator

    A-greed!  :)

  • Joe_D_Messina

    It’s even worse than that–having everything free isn’t enough for them, they actually want to make money off the deal. They’re mad the hotel didn’t keep Dad’s points and convert those to cash/credits they could use.   
    Can you imagine the conversation where the father-in-law said “Hey, good news about getting that reimbursement” and she responded with “But what’s in it for us?”  

  • West Oehmig

    This couple could have avoided their infestation by simply choosing another destination for their wedding trip.  A good travel consultant would likely have informed them of potential negatives in selecting a destination.  Botflies plague travelers to Central America, especially in the rain forest or jungle.  Care should be advised to wear protective clothing, hats and use of repellant!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Just FYI – it is entirely possible that the little black bugs that floated to the surface were still in the larval stage, in which case they could, in fact, have been bitten while there.  But the reality is that it doesn’t even matter.  Botflies get into your skin from mosquito bites…mosquitoes are airborne insects which can be anywhere…they could have been bitten at the airport, or on the ride to the resort, or while walking on the beach, or any number of places that aren’t actually on the hotel property. 

    For them to attempt to blame the hotel is just…well…in a word, stupid.

    Or, in another applicable word: greedy.

  • Raven_Altosk


    I will never, ever, forget the agony those things put me through as a kid.

    I now demand two first class seats anywhere X airline flies, a free Di$ney cruise, a re-do of my last dive vacation, and monetary compensation for emotional distress. Just reading the word has triggered my PTSD and I am ENTITLED to be compensated!!


  • jerryatric

    Since I have had several terrible experiences with Starwood, dating back 5 years, I have NEVER used their facilities anywhere we travel.
    We take at least 1 “exotic” trip per year & spend up to 2 months a year in either Palm Springs or Scottsdale -NEVER with a Starwood property.
    Even when they tried to make it right they goofed. Put us in a suite @ $285 night to compensate, but  no heat ,or hot water in it. They then moved our belongings, while we were out attending a function,  to a horrific room by a lane used by service trucks all night long. Since there are many hotels & chains out there I don’t need them & I’m sure they don’t even notice our absence after years of using their facilities.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I was just there a year ago and LOVED it!  My son and I opted to not use the earphone thingies and I think that made it better.  People were wandering around, bumping into each other because they were so focused on the headphones and what was being said.

  • Nachtswerg

    Since the FIL obviously forced them to go to Costa Rica, I’m surprised they didn’t demand that he transfer the 60,000 point to their account!

  • TonyA_says

     LOL. Did I forget that you were traumatized at the sight of that rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead.

  • Raven_Altosk

    My GF used to be a cast member at WDW. She said everytime it rained, some loon would come into guest services and demand a refund. One guy was insistent that it was “part of the show” and he was mad because his kids were all wet.

    Yeah, people are just stupid.

  • judyserienagy

    Starwood made a huge blunder here by not supporting their “sympathy” with something tangible.  This is probably the most horrible bug story I’ve ever heard, Starwood is lucky they’re not having to pay bills from the mental institution.  Of course nobody can prove the hotel is responsible for the bugs, but it should not have to escalate that far, the hotel should step up and make it right for these unfortunate honeymooners.  Even without the bugs, shunting them off to a condo with slow service on their honeymoon (a trip that is very memorable for most peoplle) is TERRIBLE customer service.  Add in the disgusting bugs and you’re looking at a free WEEK at a hotel of their choice.

    Companies involved with travel need to hire and train staff who can read, listen, comprehend and THINK, and who can make decisions.

  • TonyA_says

    Don’t give him ideas. He might demand money from that other place he’s been to earlier.

  • TonyA_says

    Sorry but Dad was not an outfitter of clothing, hats, and DEET. They were not listed items in the wedding registry either. They have to pay for those things. No wonder they didn’t have them.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Upgrading them to a condo on a golf course is “TERRIBLE” customer service?  Uh, okay…  And they credited back the full amount of points to the father-in-law who paid for the stay.  That’s not “tangible” enough for you?

  • sirwired

     You just recounting your experience with Chiggers up has filled me with feelings of dread and revulsion.  I think I’ll ask Chris for a free signed copy of his book as compensation since it’s his website your comment has appeared on.

  • sirwired

     Well, since they take eight weeks to get out of the larval stage, as long as they were treated promptly upon arriving home, there was no risk of them infecting other travellers.

  • TonyA_says

    Well now that explains it. Who would fly to (far) Costa Rica and spend only 2 nights??? They may have spent a couple of days in the jungle (since they did not play golf) and then checked in at the Westin afterwards. Since the Westin had running water and a nice tub in a speckless bathroom, they took a bath after more than 3 days (yuck). So they were able to see cooties float on the water. Too bad for the Westin, they shouldn’t have grifters for guests. Excuse all my speculation today.

  • Zod

    I Don’t understand why Americans insist on taking their most important vacations/honeymoons in third world countries! For half the price of what these people paid for what turned out to be a no-frills tropical vacation, they could have had a first class experience right here in the good old US of A!
    I’m talking about Hawaii of course! Hawaii is Honeymoon central and Vacations are all they do! So your “special day” is routine for any resort on any of the islands!

  • MeanMeosh

    I could maybe see some compensation for the service issues at the condo.  When you’re at a resort like the Westin, you expect five star service, and it sounds like it may not have been up to the mark all the time.  That being said, it seems Starwood was being exceptionally generous here.  I could see a $100 voucher or a comped meal or something, but they effectively received a full refund.  I’d take that deal any day.  And, like several others, I sure wouldn’t consider being walked to a condo with a view of the golf course a “downgrade”.  Sounds like a pretty fabulous room with a view to me, though to each his own, I guess.

    On the creepy crawlies, though – agree with Carver and the others that the couple’s SOL.  To borrow a line from my favorite movie Airplane! – “Get that mosquito off of your leg!  You don’t know where that mosquito’s been!”

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I think you’re onto something regarding the jungle trek. That might also explain the “wires getting crossed” on their other reservation. Possibly, their hike was a little longer (or shorter) than they’d originally planned and they didn’t hit their arrival date. (Or they were doing things completely on the fly and it was the hotel and daddy’s fault for not being able to read their minds regarding when they were going to arrive.)


  • john4868

    You must have had your coffee… the Snark is back

  • john4868

    Umm @judyserienagy:disqus a mistake happened and the resort gave them an upgrade… pretty good customer service in my book.

    Notice by the way that there’s no long paragraph on how the “wires got crossed.” Its quite possible that Bridezilla or her FIL made a mistake and the resort still got them a room.

    How else do they make it right beyond giving them a FREE VACATION?

  • Michael__K

     there’s no long paragraph on how the “wires got crossed.”

    See Chris’ earlier comment.  The hotel was overbooked.

  • Lindabator

    Just another OVER – ENTITLED raveller.  Perhaps THEY need to lerarn to THINK.

  • Lindabator

    I am a Hawaii specialist, and personally love the islands.  But believe me – NO ONE DESTINATION is the end-all, be-all for everyone.  Personally, my choice for the honeymoon was NOT Hawaii, but Europe.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Hell with that… I’m going to demand that TonyA pay for my next vacation!  He’s the one who brought up chiggers.  My PTSD is having a field day too.  Pay up, Tony!

    Raven, maybe I’ll run into you at the airport on our free comped vacations…  ;-)

  • TonyA_says

     Yeah I watched them and forgot eating lunch. Don’t do it.

  • TonyA_says

    Sorry were closed due to mosquito infestation.

  • TonyA_says


  • TonyA_says

    They don’t think of it as THIRD WORLD. They like ADVENTURE and THRILLS. These young folks grew up reading websites like Lonely Planet or something like that. Riding on a gondola to them is not that much fun.

  • Raven_Altosk

    On the Update:
    WHINE. Send Meredith packing and move on to a real case. This “update” only proves she’s a Bridezilla who wants everything now and for free. 

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    The Parasitologists down the hall from where I work say this wasn’t human botfly.  The larvae do not pupate inside the body; they grow inside their hosts for 5 weeks, wiggle out and drop to the soil, pupate inside the soil and then fly away.  Also, human botflies are not “tiny bugs”; they’re nearly 3/4″ long.  The infestations aren’t as small as those shown in the picture – should be some huge, weeping cysts on those legs.  Looks like infected chigger bites, to me.  {pausing as you all finish scratching}

    As they were all packing up to go do field work in Mongolia, I couldn’t get an answer from them as to *what* infested these people.  “It’s Costa Rica, take your pick.”  Their advice?  Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, even in the tropics, and wear repellent and keep re-applying as necessary.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Just reading the word “chiggers” starts my bites itching all over again.  Both my husband and I have them from working in the garden last night. 

    I demand a re-do of snark.

  • Don Satow

    While I can understand her being upset, I just can’t see Starwood being able to control the situation any more than it probably has and the refund of the points is probably going above and beyond the minimum it needs to do.  I don’t think she’s “bridezilla”.  I think she’s just really disappointed and wants what should be a special day done over.

  • Sadie_Cee

    The word “tropical” alone would do it.  Any country located in the topical belt, regardless of its economic status or stage of development, will have insects abounding.  One can try to keep them out of the house/hotel, but whenever doors or windows are left open, they will fly in.  People who have not been bitten before are favorite targets of mosquitoes!  Checking the information available on the climate, flora and fauna of every destination is an essential part of the travel planning.           

  • veloris

    Usually you go to a third-world country with an understanding that you can’t expect what you expect in the U.S.  “I found a big cockroach.”  Wow.  Only one, you’re lucky!!!  IT’S TROPICAL, there are bugs.  Did you read up on the country you were visiting, the climate, and what you might experience at certain times of the year?  Why would you go there for a honeymoon?  You got bitten by a horrific bug, but you didn’t know that until you got home.  You got upgraded to a golf course view (which you didn’t like), you then state “We feel that this offer does not BENEFIT US in any way, since the points aren’t even going to us.” What a “thank you” to the person who donated them for your honeymoon. You argued with the staff about the bill and missed your flight, whose fault was that?  There seems to be a thread here and not a good one.  Eleven of us ventured to CR last summer and stayed in Playa Coco.  We left our American expectations behind.  There were a few incidents that we might have handled differently in the states, but we were determined to not let them dampen our spirits.  We had frogs, geckos and howler monkeys, but the peace and beauty of the country and its people was what we came for and were were not disappointed.  Not one of us exhibited the “Ugly American” so often heard about in foreign countries.

  • Michael__K

    Without understanding what the bill dispute was about or how much margin for error the couple allowed for their flight (was this a 45+ minute confrontation delay?) I have no idea what to make of the update.

    Maybe Meredith is an inexperienced traveler with unreasonable expectations.  Maybe there’s a legitimate complaint that got lost amidst the botflies and her laundry list of petty grievances.

    Regardless, I don’t see the point of all the condescension towards her.  I think she deserves our respectful feedback.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Completely agree.  The update just further solidifies my belief they never really thought the hotel was responsible for the botflies. They’re just throwing mud at the wall hoping something sticks and more freebies come their way.

    I feel like we need an update on the update…How could there be a huge debate over the bill when they weren’t even paying it?  And not only did they have a dispute, they missed their flight over it?  I bet the extra night they had to to buy would have covered any disputed amount they had with the first hotel!

  • Michael__K

    How could there be a huge debate over the bill when they weren’t even paying it?

    Again, 60,000 Starwood points usually pays for only 2 nights at an SPG Category 7 hotel.  Maybe they stayed additional nights at their own expense or maybe they were charged for incidentals or both.

  • Linda Loudermilk Tomberlin

    What an incredibly greedy, selfish woman!!  Her father paid for the trip with HIS miles.  Starwood gave the miles back to him,  and she complains that SHE isn’t getting anything out of it??  No no no, do not do anything further for this awful woman.

  • Joe Farrell

    Ain’t no such thing as stress free travel today unless you fly yourself . . .

    The bugs were not Starwoods problem – they got the bugs in the states – which is interesting – where do they live again? 

    They got into an argument over the bill and missed their plane?  WTF? 

    They cucarocha was no big deal – ok then – argued over something else. 

    We’ve all had situations where travel underwhelmed.  These folks were using free hotel nights – and it was not even their points. . .

    Look – sometimes hotels overseas have less than the normal idea about service. . . .next time stay at a local inn – and stop trying to do the luxo thing in Central America.


  • subra mani

    These Bugs should be completely removed in this world, Everyday lot of people suffers due to bugs bit

  • LeeAnneClark

    Okay, so I read the update – and without the details about what the bill dispute was about, I don’t have enough information to alter my earlier opinion.  Given what we know so far about this couple’s complaints, I can’t help but assume they were demanding freebies or a reduction in the bill to compensate for their dissatisfaction, which the hotel probably (and rightfully) denied.

    Even if there were actual fraudulent charges on their bill that they were arguing about, they shouldn’t have allowed the argument to prevent them from catching their flight home.  They should have paid the bill, caught their flight, and then immediately filed a credit card dispute.

    But somehow I don’t think that’s what happened.  What I am imagining is a couple of angry kids loudly insisting that bugs and slow service spoiled their “once-in-a-lifetime” (ha–unlikely) honeymoon, refusing to pay their bill, and refusing to leave until they got what they wanted.  Which they probably didn’t get, since nothing that was reported in this article is worthy of Starwood giving their services away for free.

    Sorry, dear – your update through Christopher did nothing to buy you any credibility.  Your bug bites are not the resort’s fault (if you haven’t gotten the message yet:  there are BUGS in Costa Rica, buy some deet!).  The cockroach – are you serious?  It’s Costa Rica!  The golf course view – the idea that someone has to “like” golf to enjoy a lovely view over rolling green lawns is laughable.  Slow vans and room service – minor irritants, and not uncommon in tropical countries which tend to move at a slower pace.

    I’m right back where I started:  just another overly-entitled special snowflake who doesn’t know how to roll with the punches that come with international travel.  Move along, folks…nothing to see here.

  • AAmerican1

    She must be related to the bride. I recall a cartoon in the New Yorker years ago where an irate woman is standing in front of the manager of the complaint department in what appears to be a department store and the caption read.

    “OK, what if we return your money, give you a replacement item of your choice at no charge, and hang the salesman, will THAT satisfy you”.

    There are some people you can never please.

  • Loco2

    It was really disheartening to read this. It is shame that Starwood took no responsibility for the infestation of the botflies. Despite the fact that they were refunded at the end of the day for the experience in a whole, it probably will not replace the bad memory. I definitely agree with Meredith; she should consider a ‘stress-free’ do-over!

  • Rosered7033

    I agree she should consider a ‘stress-free” do-over, on her own nickel.  Where do you think she would find this?

  • veloris

    Meredith’s legs are quite hefty!  I think she also misrepresented whose leg we’re looking at….

  • Rebecca

    I had to go with no. 
    Yes the in law got compensated the points, but do any of you know the relationship between them. 
    Just amuse me….what if she never gets a stress free do over???  Then how would you feel in this matter???  Whether the in law paid for it or not.  How would you feel if your honeymoon horror profited someone else????
    Is this the full account of what happened?? 
     I am guessing this trip was a wedding gift seeing as it was paid by the in-law.
    When you get all those repeat gifts you take them back and the newlyweds get something in return, not the individual that got the gift in the first place.
    I really think starwood could have done something differently.  They just looked at this as how can we make this go away quickly….heres 60.000, and they got those points because their stay wasn’t flawless….I want to know how unflawed their experience really was to get that many points.
    If you look past the botflies, what else happened???

  • CarolinaLannes

    Well, if she never gets the stress-free do over she’ll just have to do. I never heard of anyone dying of a bad honeymoon. Hell, I got maried and had to move to Africa the day after. Some honeymoon. Didn’t kill me.

    And even if she never gets it, well, why should the hotel mind? They did what the were supposed to, even went the extra mile (by giving the points back). If she does feel like she NEEDS the new honeymoon, she should do it at her own expenses.

  • Rosered7033

    1) What does the relationship between the honeymoon couple and his father have to do with whether Starwood owes them anything more?
    2) Who in life is guaranteed a do-over for a bad experience?
    3) Are you implying the FIL profited from this?
    4) Since this is the ONLY account we have, supplied by the OP through Chris, are you implying that he has not given all material facts here?

    There are many people who have conjectured scenarios, and most seem quite plausible, given the facts we have. You seem to be either doubting the facts as given, or you are implying you know there are more to be had.

  • Rebecca

    I am not implying anything.  I am just looking at what has been written by Chris.  Do any of us even know how much the in law actually paid or how many days were spent at the hotel?  And if starwood gave back those points not for the botflies, then why did they refund them?  Chris even said what could go wrong on this honeymoon went wrong a bunch of little things that added up.  That must be some long list of things that occured to them while there.

    Why would Meredith ask for a stress free do over and believe that the compensation wasn’t agreeable, if getting it wasn’t going to be stressful…..Meredith probably believes that there will be a lot of stress involved in getting a do over….and yes most people dont get a do over….but with certain circumstances why not.

    Going to Africa the day after your wedding….what does that have to do with her situation…I bet you have many good memories about going there….and yes Meredith could have chosen another destination, yet she must not have believed any of this would have happened to her….and who says she had a choice in where she was going her in law paid for it and must have arranged the vacation….not even he could have forseen what would happen.

    I am just saying there are plenty more scenarios that could have panned out.  None of you are actually placing your selves in her situation.  I see many “What ifs.”

    Yeah there are many people that fed off of other peoples scenarios, I haven’t seen anyone with their own opinion or looked at it from her POV and agreed with starwood…

  • Rebecca

    Always ask the important question of, why.

  • jennj99738

    I’m really trying to understand what you’re saying here and I’m not understanding it.  The woman can’t prove that she was infected by botflies through any fault or negligence of Starwood.  Why should Starwood compensate her for this?  The woman has a laundry list of minor complaints and missed her flight to complain more.  Would you miss your flight to complain about a bill or make your complaint known, go home, and then file a dispute with your credit card company or Starwood?  If you would miss your flight over this, then I understand why you’re commiserating with her because that is, to put it plainly, nuts.  Starwood most likely refunded her FIL the points because it was easier than listening to her one minute more.  Points are easier than cash.  Why should they do more for her than a refund of the points to the original form of payment? 

    I don’t need to put myself in her situation.  I have had my own situations when traveling.  I have been bitten by tropical bugs requiring a doctor visit but did not demand a refund from my tour outfitter because I am rational.  I would not beg for more compensation than return of the points paid for the hotel.  And I bet, if she acts her new FIL nicely and not like the self-entitled individual she appears to be, he will use those points for her “stress free do-over” you want her to have.  That’s the point of the refund of those points.

  • jennj99738

     You have now made me more nauseous than the original article.  Thanks.  ;) 

  • Lindabator

    Agreed – Starwood did MORE than enough – but a lot of people here seem to think they are entitled to far more, because they are “special”  HAH!

  • Rosered7033

    Show of hands…who thinks the OP & Rebecca share DNA?

  • Raven_Altosk

    *waves hand*

    Oh yea. We have a White Knight Troll in the house.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Ok, Cupcake. Listem up.

    If she never gets “a stress free” do-over the world will not end. To that, I ask, “What is stress free.”What happens if the OP gets a do-over and gets stranded in an airport due to weather? Or maybe she ends up at a resort she doesn’t like? Or she goes to Vegas and doesn’t like the smoke in the casinos?

    Does she just keep getting “do-overs” until she declares them “stress free?”There is no case here. Crawl back into your cupcake troll dungeon.
    Kthnx baibai.

  • Raven_Altosk

    My mom used to put nail polish on them. One time she didn’t have clear so I walked around with giant bright red stripes on my legs for a few days.

    Oh noes…more flashbacks!!!!

  • Rebecca

    I had a situation with a Hampton Inn.  I didn’t pay for the room, it was also paid in points by someone else.  Their shuttle failed to pick me up from the airport.  I waited 3 hours and they never showed up, when I called they told me to get a taxi and they would pay the fair.  That wasn’t all they did though, they reimbersed the points to the person that paid them, they upgraded my room and also gave me a free night stay. 
    They did this because I was the one inconveinenced by their lack of service that they provide.
    So you are all saying that Starwood is in the right, yet a Hampton compensated better than a Starwood with a slightly similar matter. 
    In my opinion there is something wrong with the way they handle this matter.

  • Grey Last

    Especially a honeymoon in a strange country.