“The noise was constant and unrelenting”

By | February 22nd, 2016

Lisa Stickevers thought she was renting a quiet villa in the Turks and Caicos Islands during the holidays. She thought wrong.

“We drove up to find a port-a-potty and dumpster at the end of our driveway,” she remembers. “The property manager said they would be planting plants, but that was all.”

That was not all. Construction crews came and went. They cut rebar. They drilled. They poured concrete. They worked from Monday morning until Thursday and then, finally, on Christmas Day, they took a break.

When Stickevers complained, a property manager eventually offered her a 10 percent discount off her next stay. But it was too little, too late, and she wants me to help her get more.

“We feel misled,” she says. “We would have booked a different villa or, with help, we could have moved during our stay. We feel our booking agent was unresponsive. I have all the emails promising us no construction, and our emails with the VP. We also recorded the noise that prevented us from [using the property] Monday through Thursday.”

So let me set the scene. Stickevers and her family show up at a villa where they have a written promise that it will be quiet. The agent brushes off their complaints until their stay is almost over. Then they get a 10 percent discount off a future stay.

Hmm, let’s see. Stickevers lives in Baltimore and the Turks and Caicos are in … Turks and Caicos. When will she be there next? Will she ever go back? Your guess is as good as mine.

Related story:   Is this enough compensation for a "horrible" Christmas flight?

What does she want?

We have asked them to reimburse us for the time we were unable to use the villa. It comes to about 17 percent of the total time, which is $2,000.

We could have asked for a percentage of the day time hours, but we didn’t.

As you know, villas are at peak pricing during the holidays. The villa was gorgeous, but the noise was constant and unrelenting.

I checked the offer from the rental company and it actually doesn’t look that bad. Turns out the rental was made through a large vacation rental site, Travel Keys, and handled by Elite Destinations, which has a worldwide portfolio of rental properties. The company had approached the villa owner for compensation, it explained, but “he has declined.”

It added,

To help make amends for any frustrations experienced, both Elite Destinations and Travel Keys offered to extend a credit towards a future rental.

Travel Keys will apply a 10% credit off of your next villa vacation with us at any of the 5000+ properties we list around the world.

Should you wish to reserve another villa that is part of the Elite Destinations (the reservations manager) portfolio, you will receive a further 10%-20% discount off the total rate, depending on the villa reserved.

That’s not as bad as we thought, right?

Well, maybe. A video on its site promises its rentals deliver a “private setting for the intimate moments,” and shows magnificent rentals on desolate beaches and smiling guests enjoying the serenity of the moment. Stickevers’ villa was not in this video, I’m sure.

While Travel Keys and Elite are probably not legally obligated to provide a noise-free vacation rental, I think an argument can be made that they are morally obligated, after reviewing some of their promotional materials.

And I feel for Stickevers. She had a crummy Christmas in the Turks and Caicos, thanks to all the noise.

Did Lisa Stickevers’ vacation rental company offer her enough compensation?

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