I want a full refund for this Mexico vacation

Marnie Bute didn’t enjoy the Mexican getaway she booked through Sun Country Vacations. Actually, that may be an understatement. She hated it and she wants every penny refunded.

Normally, when someone asks for a full refund, it triggers a predictable amount of eye-rolling here in the office. It couldn’t have been that bad, we say to ourselves.

Then we read her story.

It begins with a frantic note to Sun Country on the day of Bute’s arrival at the Royal Decameron Los Cabos resort in San Jose Del Cabo.

“This resort is under construction,” she writes. “There are workers pounding on concrete outside our door. We either want our money back or to be to moved to a new resort ASAP.”

Sun Country’s response:

We have called the hotel direct, and have been advised that the construction is minimal and they will not be honoring any sort of compensation or refund. An option we can offer is the Hyatt Ziva, which is an additional cost of $1,026.

If you choose to check out and relocate to a hotel of your choice, you would also be required to pay the new hotel directly and we will process a refund for your unused nights at the Royal Decameron.

Bute didn’t want to spend more money to get the product she expected, so she and her husband stayed. They regretted it.

The construction continued without a break, she says. After asking around, they learned that the resort used to be clothing-optional and was in the process of being converted into a regular hotel.

She adds,

This place was under construction from daylight to sunset.

While we were there they put in landscaping outside our room and had to use equipment and sledgehammers to break up the concrete, haul it out, and hence the piles of rubble.

The nude portraits were in process of being taken down and replaced with new artwork leaving piles of nude art in the hallway outside our room. There was painting outside our room the day after we arrived.

I would have never booked this resort if I knew it was under any construction. I don’t recall in my 20+ years of travel being at a resort under any construction this loud and visible.

Sun Country wasn’t entirely unsympathetic. After numerous inquiries, the company responded with an apology and an offer. It said it had “forwarded your comments on to our product department” and was awaiting a response from the hotel.

“It is very important to us that our website has clear and accurate information,” it said.

Then, the offer:

As compensation for the confusion and frustration you experienced during your vacation, we would like to offer you a Future Vacation Voucher to use towards your next Sun Country Vacation Package in the amount of $500.00. You will receive another email soon with the voucher information.

Bute doesn’t want credit. She wants all her money back.

As part of my due diligence on this case, I took a closer look at the hotel’s online reputation. It appears as if the hotel’s employees have been busy stuffing the TripAdvisor ballot box — nothing to see there. I failed to turn up anything under its former name, Desire Resorts. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Bute was the only person on Earth with a complaint about this property.

But I know better.

Hotels don’t take chances anymore when it comes to their reputations. They whitewash their online reputations by gaming TripAdvisor, Yelp, and blog comments with flattering comments and fake reviews, so I really don’t believe anything I read. And I think Bute is probably telling the truth about her experience.

Question is, even if everything she says is true and happened exactly as she says it, does she still deserve to get every penny back?

Certainly, the funny money is problematic because it forces her to take another Sun Country vacation within a set amount of time. But I’m not sure if I can — or should — argue for more.

Should I mediate Marnie Bute's case with Sun Country?

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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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  • sdir

    I think the OP’s original refund request was misleading. On the first night, they demanded a refund or to be moved to another property. What they really meant was, give us a refund AND allow us to stay free of charge at the current property, or else move us to another location. I sympathize with the OP, but am perplexed someone would stay if it was truly that miserable. They DID stay, so I feel a full refund is out of the question. Go ahead and mediate, but only if the aim is for a “reasonable” solution. I’m curious what Chris thinks would be an appropriate offer.

  • Sherry

    I feel for the OP. Ideally, Sun Country should have moved her to the other property at no additional charge. I wouldn’t want to pay for the alternative property out of pocket and just hope that Sun Country would honor their commitment to process the refund for the original stay. I also wouldn’t want to pay the additional amount for the alternative hotel when it wasn’t MY fault that I was not previously advised of serious construction during my stay.

    I do think that the OP should not receive a full refund. She and her husband did have a place to sleep at night, albeit a noisy place during daylight hours. The piles of nude artwork? Not something to get overly worked up about unless you’re vacationing with kids. Painting outside my room? I’ll be careful not to touch the walls. Jackhammering? Now, that’s not cool. Still, if they were doing the all-inclusive program, then I’m sure that they ate. Did they swim in the pools? Stroll on the beautiful beach? Take a ride to downtown and shop? There are other things to do when construction is going on right outside your room.

    The property offers the following:
    Breakfast, lunches and dinner buffet style.
    Dinner a la carte.
    Day and night unlimited appetizers.(snacks 11:00 am -5:00pm/11:00pm-1:00am)
    Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
    Daily entertainment activities for adults and children.
    Tennis court, basketball, beach volleyball, football…
    Evening entertainment for adults. (hora 9:30 p.m.)

    Being that the resort is not going to cough up any money for a refund, I feel that Sun Country should cut the OP a check for 50% back. She got about half a trip.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I don’t know what I think about this case yet. I’m hoping the discussion will help me make up my mind. One minor obstacle is Sun Country, which historically hasn’t been the most responsive to my mediation requests.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    Different people have different moral standards and different tolerances to nudity. You can’t say “not something to get worked up about” for another person. Noise is pretty stressful, and breaking concrete is not quiet. Paint has fumes, and some may be allergic. If the point is to get away for a little bit of R&R then it is a major fail in a big way. Alcoholic drinks, tennis, etc. are optional items that the guest may not use. You can’t count them into the equation. The OP let Sun Country know about the problem right away and the company willfully failed to make it right. Sun Country committed fraud as they did not provide what was promised.

    It should be noted that Royal Decameron Los Cabos is marketed as a family resort with kids activities. So nudie pics would indeed be an issue.

    50% falls far short of the main point of a vacation – to rest and relax.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    More complaints about construction here:


    Week of 12/21/13-12/28/13

    And here:

    Look at the Christmas week.

    Complaints of jackhammers, and one quote in particular:
    “nothing worked, no elevator, no lobby restroom, no room keys, no shower heads, light fixtures missing.”

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    My first thought was that the OP had a place to sleep. But then I thought about it some more. The OP didn’t really have much choice. Paying additional money for another hotel didn’t seem like an option. Its unlikely that the OP could have just gone home as the airline tickets were probably non-refundable. What other option did the hotel and Sun Country leave the OP?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That’s not how I read it. I read it as give us our money back so we can find another hotel and have the funds to pay for it, or move us to another hotel. I don’t think the OP was asking to stay for free.

  • TonyA_says

    If you decide to be your own travel agent, you DIYed it, then it is all your problem. You better be ready to do all the research. Blame yourself if you did not pick correctly.

  • John Baker

    I definitely think that Chris should take a look at the case but I don’t think the OP deserves a full refund. After all, they did get something of value during the stay.
    Couple thoughts…
    1. Sometimes its pays to have someone else do your research
    2.From the OP’s narrative, its obvious that they didn’t research the resort before making their choice. To me, that says that they bought on price and not anything else. I wonder if the resort was greatly discounted because they were doing construction (sounds like it was almost $150 a night cheaper than the next closest resort).

    Without knowing the initial price of the package, its hard to evaluate the $500 offer. Based on some quick google work, I’m guessing they paid less than $2500 per wk (Spring Break is going for $3200) for the entire package (including airfare). If that’s true, I’d say $1000 would be better unless they paid even less due to the construction.

    Go get them Chris.

  • Charles Owen

    You are accusing Royal Decameron Los Cabos of stuffing the ballot box with fake reviews. You also state: “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Bute was the only person on Earth with a complaint about this property.” This is a pretty serious accusation and I wonder what your basis for it is? The fact the some reviewers liked the property? I’m looking at the reviews today and see 101 reviews for a relatively new resort. There is one terrible and four poor reviews. There are early reviews complaining about the nude pictures and many, many reviews complaining about the noise. They are ranked 22 of 39 in Los Cabos, so if they are gaming the system, they are not doing a very good job of it. On the specific page of reviews you linked, only one short review could be called “glowing”. All of the others, including the other 5-star views, have some criticism of the resort in them. Most of the reviewers have long histories with TripAdvisor and some have many reviews around the world. As for finding reviews of Desire Los Cabos, I have no idea what that has to do with anything. They are no longer running the property. TripAdvisor has removed those reviews.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    if it was that bad, she would have moved. Sounds like a very very dodgy over exaggerated complaint.

  • Naoma Foreman

    I DO NOT think she deserves a full refund. And, no mediation on this one. But I seem to be in the minority!!!! “Big deal” nudity. Look int he mirror when you go home. VOILA!!!! Nude. .
    Once I was in a “construction area” zone at a resort and by acting nicely and being very polite, I
    was give a small “villa” on the other side of the resort. Nice matters.

  • Cam

    I vote to mediate, but the op does not deserve a full refund. Perhaps 50% of the cost of the hotel would be fair.

  • EvilEmpryss

    You know, a few video clips of the noisy construction taken throught the day and some pics of the debris and such would go a long way toward proving things were as bad as they said they were. The corporation couldn’t argue those away and YouTube is a wonderful place to make them public.

    Still, I don’t think a full refund is warranted. Did she spend all day of every day of her vacation in her room? Was there construction at night? Were the other amenities she should have been able to enjoy (beach, bar, restaurant, etc) closed for construction?

    I wouldn’t take the voucher if I didn’t trust the service of the company, but unless the vast majority of the resort was unusable I don’t think she deserves a full refund.

  • SoBeSparky

    OP sounds a bit hysterical and prone to hyperbole. The fact she dotes on the former clothing-optional status leads one to believe she may have, in fact, been more offended by the low moral fiber of the facility, at least in her eyes.

    I don’t find the reviews planted by the resort, as many have multiple reviews and in other countries. I do detect, however, some sort of reward or promotion based on writing a pleasant review, as the syntax reveals superficial efforts.

    She should have left after the first night, under whatever circumstances she could negotiate. What kind of vacation is it to fume and fret when you are supposed to be anxiety free? Some people, let’s face it, like to suffer and then complain, rather than take immediate action to salvage whatever one can of the time and effort to get to one’s tropical resort location.


    I was wondering as well if the OP had photos of the mess or videos with sound of the construction work. If it is as bad as she says she should receive a partial refund but not anywhere near a full one. After all she did fly down, eat at the resort and presumably use other facilities at the resort.
    I also looked at Trip Advisor (which I do not use for my own travel) and saw a variety of reviews, including those mentioning the construction. I think Sun Country has a duty to inform customers of construction going on at any resort they are offering. Major or even minor work can impact parts of a vacation. So at this point they should refund part of the cost of her trip, but by no means is she entitled or deserving of a full refund.

  • ploughmud

    everyone has a photo phone so I can not imagine why they did not have pics to send to you. A similar thing happened to us on St. Lucia years ago. Tons of reconstruction. We went to the office, got a refund and moved. Period. I must add that we did refer to calling the police when they baulked at a refund. It is hard to find issues with a property when you are thousands of miles away and no way to inspect before you go.
    Seems that people could handle some of these problems themselves if they think outside the box.

  • jerryatric

    Another good reason, aside from the rape & murder of tourists, why we avoid Mexico.
    Lies, & corruption at every turn.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I wonder when the OP stayed in relation to these dates. Did they not do any research or simply miss these reviews, or did they show up right as the work was starting? Not a good trip, obviously.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Side point, but I found the part about all the nude artwork to be rather amusing. Wouldn’t the naked guests have eliminated the need for that? My first guess would have been that a clothing optional place would have looked pretty much identical to a normal hotel. Apparently not in this case.

  • omgstfualready

    That’s funny. Though my understanding of clothing optional places is that those participatingare never the ones you wished had so the art is probably still needed!

  • http://www.thewomenstravelgroup.com/ Phyllis Stoller

    Videos, camera shots and written confirmations from hotel management on the spot also help. Why did they just rely on sending notes to the booking entity. More photos, more proof is needed in this. Regarding TripAdvisor, fake reviews can be spotted a mile away most of the time. We cannot let a website do the investigations we should be ourselves, use Tripadvisor but do look at who is posting and what their profiles are?

  • travelfly

    The OP bought the vacation thru Sun Country Vacations, surely the travel agent (SCV) would/should have been accountable for the situation that the OP found themselves in…Being awoken at O dark thirty daily, construction noise, dust, dirt and debris surrounding one’s room is hardly a desirable vacation…I agree that the OP should have sent or better yet posted photos of the condition of the resort to Sun Country…They should have been moved or received a full refund-they did not get what they paid for…After reading OP’s story why would anyone book with Sun Country?

  • commentfromme

    Mexico is wonderful. When were you there last to make such a slanted judgement?

  • bodega3

    Sun County is a vendor, not a travel agent. All my vendors post this type of information on each property undergoing any type of work. Even if at the time of reservation, the work wasn’t being done, then started, the vendor should have contacted the OP. That is what a GOOD vendor would do. At the same time, Sun County isn’t a high end vendor, so you do get what you pay for…not that this get them off the hook.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    This is almost funny. She opted not to move out of a bad hotel, now she wants her money back? $500 towards another vacation is quite a generous offer. Whiner of the Year Award.

  • http://www.whitebeachwedding.com Trish D

    Knowing a little about Cabo, I know that this is pretty much a 2.5 star property. I would bet they picked it based on the price. FACT: you get what you pay for in travel! They did not do a good job documenting their issues. Most certainly, did not do a good job researching before they booked. Sad they do not feel they got what they paid for, but I sort of feel they GOT exactly what they paid for. I wouldn’t mediate this one!

  • Travelnut

    Hah! I was wondering, besides nude artwork that apparently couldn’t just be taken down from the mounts but had to be jackhammered off (?), what was so different about a clothing optional resort vs. the kind where you’re not nekkid, that required a massive remodeling? Regarding moving to the Hilton for $1K additional, let’s say the OP’s resort wasn’t offered at all due to the construction. Then the Hilton might have been where they stayed anyway, except if the additional money was just too much and they didn’t go on vacation at all.

    I agree with the others who said the OP should have recorded the goings-on on her cell phone. That is the first thing I thought when I was reading the story. Also, regarding this being a Mexican resort, I went on a girl trip a few years ago through Sun Country to Cancun. Our package included breakfast and lunch. When we went to check out, they tried to charge us for the meals. If we didn’t have some fluent Spanish speakers with us, we may have had to pay. Not saying these kinds of things happen all the time, but certainly something to look out for; if you have an issue with your reservation, it may be difficult to resolve in a foreign country with a language barrier.

  • tomjuno

    I’m with the OP on this one. Maybe not for the full amount, but damn close to it. Sun Country and its partner in crime, Royal Decameron Los Cabos, were less than forthcoming about the condition of its property. It’s all very nice to say the OP should have done this, should have done that or whatever. But not everyone is a wise old travel maven who knows what to do in a stressful situation. Next thing you know, we’ll have to hire experts to sift through TripAdvisor reviews, and travel with a team of contract and liability lawyers – when all we want is a relaxed vacation. At best, it was a sloppy screwup, at worst an outright hustle. Feh! on Sun Country and Royal Decameron. Go get ’em, Chris.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    If one doesn’t wish to sift through TripAdvisor reviews etc. (per your post), then one really should hire a travel agent to provide an equivalent service for them. It’s an either/or situation. Either you do the work yourself or you pay someone to do the work for you. I’m still reserving judgment on this one, as @bodega3 says that good vendors will notify their clients about construction work or other problems. Perhaps the OP did not/does not know the difference between a travel agent and a vendor and put the same amount of trust in the vendor as a travel agent.

  • bodega3

    I am sorry, but with the internet, if you handle this yourself, then you have to bear some responsibility on what you book. I typed in the name of the property and renovations and found out about the work being done.

  • emanon256

    I have thought about this for a while, and can’t really make a decision. The OP was given three choices. 1. Stay and pay. 2. Pay more for another hotel booked via the same vendor. 3. Get a full refund for the unused portion and find another hotel. I would have gone with option #3. The OP pushed to stay and get refund and got a voucher for future travel. I think that is reasonable. It’s hard to know the extent without photos, but with all the reviews that appears to be from long time Trip Advior users, it appears to be an average cheap resort. I want to say no, because I believe if it were really that bad the OP would have left, and because Sun Country is a super cheap heavy discount vendor and you get what you pay for. However, I want to say yes because I hate it when hotels don’t disclose construction, and we don’t know if it was disclosed to Sun Country or the OP. Did the OP even asked to change rooms since she mentioned it was outside of her room? The OP does sound sort of whiny and some of the comments sound like hyperbole, which makes this a harder decision.

  • travelfly

    I’m not sure I understand this, if they bought this trip from Sun County, as a package, vendor or travel agent, and if it were not as advertised, how would this change responsibility? Would one have more clout with a travel agent vs a vendor…?

  • Joe Farrell

    Photos? No one goes on vacay without a camera. So – can we see the scope of the claimed hammering concrete outside their room? No more opinions in these situations without photos –

  • bodega3

    You would have more clout with me. I am your advocate. If I sell it, I will go to bat for you….unless you take something that I said you shouldn’t. Now we don’t know how this property was or wasn’t advertised. We only know how upset the OP was during their stay. My vendors have property alerts at the time of booking and then later if they received notice of something once money is on the booking. With the latter, then my clients would have been given an option to move to another property. People shop price, but they should also know the service that vendor offers. Nobody pays attention until there is a problem. I can book with scores of vendors to Mexico, but I pick the one I know will be there is something happens and will work to make the trip work. Sometimes things happen that are out of the vendors control. This might have been the case here and the OP just didn’t want to spend more…which I have encountered with some clients over the years. Sometimes I paid the difference sometimes the vendor covered it, sometimes, you can’t please anyone.

  • mythsayer

    First thing I thought, too! I took a picture of the speed test of our slow internet last night in case they tried to pull a fast one and said it was fine. Everyone takes pics of everything. If she has none, I don’t know that I can’t believe it was as bad as she says.

  • Annie M

    I think you should mediate, providing the woman can provide you with pictures of the problems she experienced. Hell, I would have been videotaping the noise as well.

    But you get what you pay for and when you book with these large online discount agencies, this is exactly what can happen – you really don’t have someone to call and fight for you when something like this happens.

    Because Sun Country did not advise about the ongoing construction, they should give her back MOST of her money but I don’t think she deserves 100% back. After all, she did decide to stay and use the facilities and eat at the restaurant. As far as a voucher, that may be all she gets because the supplier isn’t requited to give her back anything. If they give her a voucher she should make sure she comes up with a little more money for a QUALITY hotel and read reviews before booking so there are no surprises.

  • Annie M

    Yes a travel agent would have more clout and wouldn’t have booked the client through this vendor ANYWAY. We know the reliable and responsible vendors and they will stop booking with a hotel with complaints like this and they do have the ability to make a much better reimbursement than going directly through a supplier like this.

    There is a HUGE difference between price and value and the OP learned the hard way that you pay a little more for value.

  • TonyA_says

    I thought you were describing an American city like Chicago :)

  • Annie M

    You need to rethink that comment. The problems in Mexico are not in the area this client traveled to, it’s at the US border. That is like saying don’t go to Florida because there is crime in Minnesota. What occurred with the OP can happen ANYWHERE when you book with a discount supplier and has absolutely nothing to do with the fact it is located in Mexico. Your comment is irresponsible.

  • Annie M

    That’s because they are probably not the most reliable supplier – check their YELP reviews.

  • TonyA_says

    Sun Country is an airline flying from MSP as far as I know. And they do bundle vacations with their flights.

    If this is the way the OP chose their hotel, then that suggests not much research went to it. Maybe this was one of those polar vortex escapes.

  • TonyA_says

    This Canadian travel blog has an excellent thread on the Royal Decameron. It did cover the opening of the new hotel.
    It does look like it took a little while for the place to get in top shape.

  • Kristin

    Had this been resolved when the OP originally complained to Sun Country, I think a fair offer would have been a refund for unused nights plus a credit/voucher for future travel in the same amount as the extra cost of staying at the Hyatt (~$1000). The resort was disappointing but probably not uninhabitable, and it appears they purposely chose the cheapest hotel, which had rates that were discounted compared to others with the same location and similar packages, but didn’t research the place or look into why it was priced noticeably lower than its neighbors, which came back to bite them. Construction noise was present during the day, when most travelers would not be in their rooms, and there’s no indication that advertised facilities/activities on-site were inaccessible during their stay. Since they chose to stay the full week, I don’t think they’re entitled to a full refund, although a larger credit than the $500 offered is probably appropriate.

  • TonyA_says

    Real good travel agents and consultants have either been to the property themselves or have local contacts and affiliates who have.
    They just don’t go click on a GDS hotel source and blindly pick something for you. If that is all they do, then you don’t need them.
    The point is a good agent minimizes your risk of a ruined or lousy vacation. Negotiating for compensation after a bad trip should not happen in the first place.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Me, I want to see the nekkid pix. :-D

  • Kristin

    This is a good point, as well. If they had evidence that the construction was unreasonably disruptive or that the resort was overall in poor condition, that would change my position on only offering a voucher. They were on a vacation in a foreign country and almost certainly had a camera or a phone that would have done the job. If they planned on asking for their money back, there’s no excuse for not documenting the reasons. Otherwise, it’s just their word against the resort/agency, and the fact that they chose to stay put does not work in favor of their claims.

    However, I still wouldn’t advocate for a full refund.

  • TonyA_says

    Sun Country is an airline. They also bundle hotels and cars and call those Sun Country Vacations. Since 2009, they sold Tourico Holiday’s inventory (according to their press release).

    The source of hotel properties should tell you something :)
    You are a pro so you know the game. But the rest of the people reading this blog may not have any clue about hotel distribution. I hope Elliott educates them.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Tony, it’s folks like you and @bodega3 and @lindabator etc. who help in our education. Thank you.

  • jerryatric

    Detroit, Chicago & many other major cities are dangerous. But Mexico is dangerous period. Between the cartels, the many Canadians who have been beaten, robbed, raped, & murdered there, it IS a dangerous country. Be it next to the U.S. border or elsewhere.
    Come to Canada, my city has 2 or 3 murders so far this year, & that’s considered getting up there.

  • bodega3

    I’ll throw this back to you and ask, what options did the OP leave for themselves? They booked with a discounted vendor. They picked a budget property that I found online stating construction was taking place. They were in another country but were offered the chance to move, at their own extra expense. My guess is they didn’t want to spend the money to upgrade.

  • bodega3

    Thanks Jeanne. Sadly, the internet gives people a false sense of control over their travels. We use to have a company here in CA that was like Sun Country. Everyone loved the low prices, but that was basically all that company offered. Not much service when something went awry.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’ll pick up the gauntlet ;-)

    This is about weighing the behavior of each party. If the circumstances were as the OP described, Sun Country should not be selling this property without adequate disclosures. As far as I am concerned, the OP was scammed. As such, I don’t blame the victim.

    The OPs behavior was perfectly reasonable. There is nothing wrong with booking with a discount vendor. Numerous people do it ever day. I can’t fault the OP for not wanting (or perhaps being able to) spend additional money.

    When weighing the actions of each party, the vendor’s (and by extension) the hotel’s are far more egregious than the OPs

  • Joe Farrell

    SunCountry Airliines [and their vacation vendor] are a bottom of the barrel selection for a vacay and likely selected SOLELY on the basis of price .

    Its like selecting a vacation from Spirit Air or EasyJet and being surprised when they charge you for a lock on the door. . . .

    What part of ‘you get what you pay’ do folks not really understand . . . .

    As for the condition of the property “What did the brochure promise?”

    As for Suncountry Vacations – they said: “hey, the hotel told us its not that bad!” And thats where they left it . . .

    The question here is what would have another hotel have cost at the time of booking – not at the last minute on the ground – if this was truly the bottom of the barrel cost wise . . . well – what did they expect?

  • Mark Cuban

    “Its like selecting a vacation from Spirit Air or EasyJet and being surprised when they charge you for…”

    Exactly. You get what you pay for every time.

  • bodega3

    I agree that this should have been disclosed. Do we know it wasn’t? Did the OP did their homework before committing to this property? Too many holes in the story at this time.

  • Mark Cuban

    A nude painting. Oh the horror…..

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I don’t think that the OP’s lack of diligence excuses the property or Sun Country at all, assuming that the construction was not disclosed.

  • Mark Cuban

    There have been many stories in the press about Yelp, TripAdvisor, and others soliciting service providers and business owners to pay up and get compensated in the form of bad reviews disappearing. Sorry you seem to have missed all those.

    Also the web is full of advertisements for “digital marketing” firms that have freelancers who do nothing but write reviews. In fact they are paid per review. Look them up. It’s very common.

  • bodega3

    I went to the website for this company, booked air and the same AL. I can’t book past April in their system, so I picked the end of April. Nothing came up about construction when I picked that property. I looked to see if there was an advisory section and nothing came up. At that point, I would certainly be checking online about it and since I did that earlier, the construction is noted. So if you pick a budget company, you also have some responsibility to do some homework before placing money down. But the vendor did, at an increased amount of money, offer an upgrade to a better property. This is a budget vendor, so it doesn’t surprise me that they wouldn’t offer to pay the difference. The OP decided to stay, so a full refund isn’t warranted.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Why would the OP know to try to book past April?

    In any event, if the vendor did not provide what was contracted, regardless of whether its a discounter, the aggrieved party is entitled to a refund. The only question is how much?

  • bodega3

    My mentioning of the date is that the construction could be slated to be done, so I was trying to find a date to book close to now to see what might be showing in the way of comments on the construction.

  • Travelnut

    Yeah, they would hate it in Europe.

  • Kristin

    Since Sun Country is an airline and was presumably the carrier for this trip, getting at least a partial refund (or a voucher for the round trip fare) and having change fees waived might have been an option if they chose to return early. However, it doesn’t sound like they considered this solution or asked for their flight to be moved up. To me, their request reads like “we either want to stay at the current hotel for free, or we want a new hotel booking at no additional cost.” Quote from the OP: “There are workers pounding on concrete outside our door. We either want our money back or to be to moved to a new resort ASAP.”

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I read it differently. If I ask for my money back, its because I don’t intend to use the item.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Kristin

    In either case, I don’t think they’re entitled to a refund on airfare, especially now that they’ve stayed the full week and taken the originally scheduled flights.

    As far as we know, their flights were without incident, and they had the option of searching independently for a new hotel that was cheaper than the Hyatt, getting a refund for the unused nights at the original property, and maybe negotiating for a voucher as additional compensation.

    If there was nothing cheaper than the Hyatt and they couldn’t afford the extra $1000, they could have asked for seats on the next flight home, a refund on the unused nights, and a voucher to compensate them for the airfare and the first night at the resort. If they pushed for this option, the OP doesn’t give us any details on Sun Country’s response to it.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I agree they should have asked to go home. In which case I would absolutely want a full refund, including the airfare as they got nothing for their money except a round trip ticket.

    My problem with the moving idea is that it means more money out of pocket with the hopes that a refund is timely processed. I don’t think that’s a reasonable requirement.

  • Helio

    It’s difficult to me to avail how much dangerous a city or country is, because I live in a dangerous one, according to US media.
    Even because the last time I was robbed I was in NYC… :(

  • vacaygirl

    If they left and came home early, they should get unused nights refunded, but what this traveler is doing is “eating her entire meal, and then sending the empty plate back to the kitchen and declaring the food inedible”. If you stayed, ate, slep and used the facilities, you should have to pay the agreed upon amount. Did they ask the hotel while they were there for any compensation? The fact that is not been brought up in the story makes me wonder if she was not somehow compensated while there.

  • vacaygirl

    That is just a sad, un-informed and inacuarte statement. Please tell me how many people were killed in NYC last year compared to people killed in Cancun.

  • vacaygirl

    If the OP brought their issues to hotel management, I would bet anything they got some form of compensation.

  • Raven_Altosk

    If they had left, I would say yes, they deserve all their money back.
    But…they ate the sandwich and then whined that the bread was stale.

    No. Take the voucher.

  • Kristin

    Fair enough, but for a full cash refund I would expect some documentation (photos, videos, etc. like discussed in recent comments) that the property deviated from what was advertised and that the environment was unacceptable. The information provided by the OP hasn’t convinced me that they did everything in their power to get the situation resolved while they were in Los Cabos or that their description of the resort was accurate.

    In my mind, some daytime construction doesn’t justify a 100% refund, and it sounds like a discount for this inconvenience was already built into the price they paid. The resort is no longer “clothing-optional,” so that wouldn’t justify it either.

    It also feels like we’re missing relevant details about the impact of the renovation. Was it only audible from the guest room? Were any of the amenities or services included in the package unavailable or compromised during the stay? Was there noise at night that kept them from sleeping? Were the construction noises disruptive in other facilities at the resort (restaurants, bars, pool, beachfront, spa, etc.)? Did they try asking for a quieter room further from the construction?

    It seems quite possible to me that they were disappointed after booking the cheapest package in town and saw the construction as an opportunity to push for a full refund while still enjoying their vacation. Regardless of what they might have been entitled to after cutting the trip short, a full refund is definitely off the table now. The most I’d mediate for now is a larger voucher, maybe $1000 instead of $500.

  • sanibelsyl

    I voted no largely because I feel the request is not only unreasonable but because of its nature, you will not win the case. The OP stayed put and one must assume had a bed, a shower, a pool, etc. Etc. Were I the judge in this instance, I would argue for a 25% refund in cash. I am surprised that such a large percentage of voters thought you should mediate for a 100% refund.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The hotel management was presumably notified via Sun Country.

  • jerryatric

    This is an idiotic comparison! Comparing a major city with a resort town. Don’t know the murder rate per capita of either. Just know several Canadian tourists have been murdered, robbed or raped in Cancun Resort area. Something no one should expect at any resort area.

  • Cheri Head

    I have said this before, but I think that your blanket comments on this and other articles about how hotels “whitewash their online reputations by gaming TripAdvisor, Yelp, and blog comments with flattering comments and fake reviews,” are VERY unfair. ALL hotels don’t do this, yet your making a blanket statement of this sort indicates they do. At least you could say is that SOME hotels do such things. Sorry, but statements like this make me discount other things you say, because they are so blatantly dismissive and spoken as if they were the definitive truth…which they are not.

  • vacaygirl

    Right, people don’t flock to vacation in NYC either. Please, you are ignorant and you know it.

  • vacaygirl

    I meant while the pax were actually IN resort, while they were experiencing the issues, not post travel.

  • Mel65

    I agree the construction sounds pretty awful, but… you’re on vacation … were you really hanging around the hotel all day while construction was being performed? Or were you out and about, seeing sights and having a good time, which should minimize the impact of the construction/destruction/whatever. The nude paintings are a nuisance complaint and I’m enjoying my mental image of hundreds of nudes on velvet (my Uncle had one of those when I was a kid) propped up lining the hallways and staring at the guests. However, when all is said and done, a goodwill “we’re sorry if you feel bait and swtiched” refund is in order, not a voucher for another trip. I’ve never understood the LOGIC of saying “Since you hated our service/location/product so much, here’s a voucher to use it again!”

  • Mel65

    I’ve always found that business that give a whooping funt are very responsive; if they don’t respond, it’s because they don’t care and they know there will be another sucker along any minute. They know they’ve already lost a customer’s business for the future and they already have their money for the past trip soooooo *shrug* no incentive, no response :(

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, this exchange between the LW, Sun Country, and the hotel happened during the LW’s stay, possible within the first day or two as the LW immediately notified Sun Country on the first day of arrival.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If you get raped, murdered, or robbed, what does it matter whether its a major city or a resort?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    For some people laying about the resort is the vacation. Just getting away from the stresses of everyday life, nothing to cook, clean, or straighten up. I occasionally take that kind of vacation. One August I went to Indian Wells, about 25 miles from Palm Springs. The temperature reached 110+ during the day, but that was fine because I was chilling, reading in my room. Of course, because it was murderously hot my 4* hotel was only $45/nt, and they upgraded me to a 1000sf suite with a jacuzzi.

  • Charles Owen

    I didn’t “miss” those reports. I never said “there are no fake TripAdvisor reports”. Read my post again. Saying there are fake report on TripAdvisor is nothing new. Saying that Royal Decameron has been “stuffing the TripAdvisor ballot box” is a direct allegation at a specific company. It should be backed up with actual evidence. What reports does Chris think are fake? All good ones? I know there are fake reports on TripAdvisor and Yelp. I read reviews with that in mind. But, I do not assume all good reviews are fake. I also took exception to the idea that there were no bad reviews or reviews that pointed out the paintings or the noise. There were.

  • Charles Owen

    Thank you. I also felt that was unfair. It also is not at all true. You’ll find lots of reports online stating that about 20% of all reviews on TripAdvisor are fake. There is NO EVIDENCE of that at all! It’s just a bunch of people looking and saying “good review, must be fake”. Where researchers have rigorously studied this question in detail (see http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2128860), they have found about 6% fake positive reviews and 4% fake negative reviews on average. They also found that fake reviews were more common on smaller, independent hotels. There were much less common for larger chain hotels such as Royal Decameron. It is, in fact, risky for Royal Decameron to intentionally create fake reviews. They risk negative publicity or consequences with TripAdvisor.

    I’m sure I’ll get attacked for saying this. Facts generally don’t mean as much as what a bunch of bloggers say or what Chris Emmins believes to be true.

    Another point: there are 54 reviews for Royal Decameron Los Cabos on Expedia, and they have an average rating of 4.1 out of 5, almost identical to TripAdvisor. Expedia reviews are only accepted from verified travelers, so there are people going to this resort who really do like it a lot. It’s a shame Chris chose to discount positive reviews because of one unhappy customer.

  • jerryatric

    First – makes no difference. With the selection available why go to Mexico with cartel violence, & crimes against tourists, & corruption on a huge scale.. Many other Caribbean MUCH safer countries to go to relax (key word). Besides I’m advocating for myself, unlike Vacagirl who like some typical ignorant American calls others ignorant.
    Never forget waiting for dinner in Seattle restaurant & this finely dressed woman, on discovering we’re Canadian, berated us for getting the billions in aid from the U.S. Tried to explain this was not the case, but to no avail.
    Unfortunately far to many ignorant Americans & why your country is in such trouble.

  • Cybrsk8r

    How bone-headed is the management at this hotel? They leave the nudie paintings face-out when they could have just flipped them around so the painting was faciing the wall.

  • Michael__K

    I found online stating construction was taking place

    If you booked in 2013, what would you have even found online other than this? —

    New Resort Opening: Royal Decameron Los Cabos

    Experience rest and relaxation as you’re surrounded by clear skies and stunning scenery where the desert meets the sea at the Royal Decameron Los Cabos! With a solid four-star rating, modern makeover, and affordable price-points, Royal Decameron is that Los Cabos gem travellers are seeking this winter. A fantastic value, Royal Decameron costs about $400 less per couple than comparable hotels!

    In December, Royal Decameron Los Cabos will open to guests eager to explore the peaceful San Jose del Cabo region of Mexico.

    Sounds like the hotel wasn’t ready to open as scheduled but opened anyway.

  • Michael__K

    If you book your travel at least a couple months in advance, you would do this research in 2013, and at that time you would have found that construction was supposed to be complete and the new “4-star” resort was supposed to open for “rest and relaxation” vacations as of December 2013.


  • TonyA_says

    I would not touch any hotel doing renovations or changing ownership. Give it some time to find out more about it.

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

    Whenever I book anything using an online vendor, I view it as a method to book only. Personally, given what I know, I wouldn’t expect any “courtesy” notices from them, other than something serious, ie. the flight has been changed / the hotel has closed… Low expectations always deliver!

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

    No sharp objects… anywhere. And I’m guessing no white sofas?

    (just joking…)

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

    In this case, you’d have to settle for pictures of pictures of nekkid.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m with you to the extent that we are talking about soft items such as quality, preferences, etc. But when we are talking about an outright misrepresentation or material omission, then I don’t think we should be blaming the victim.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    One thought. The OP may or may not have had additional funds to secure #3. The refund would take several days which may have prevented the OP from getting another hotel.

  • Michael__K

    That’s a personal choice and a perfectly reasonable one.

    That doesn’t justify blaming the consumer who makes a different choice and not the new new hotel which engages in misrepresentation.

  • TonyA_says

    Sure, and people must be more responsible for their own choices.
    When you pick a hotel from a list provided by a (cheap) airline and the source of that room is from a dodgy wholesaler, then what do you expect?

  • Michael__K

    That the representations put in writing are accurate.

  • TonyA_says

    Oh dear Michael, welcome to real world. Caveat emptor.

  • Michael__K

    When the misrepresentation is verbal, the consumer gets mocked for not getting it in writing.

    When consumer has it in writing, they are mocked for believing what was put in writing.

    I’ll defer to Carver, Joe, et. al. on the law, but I believe Carver has pointed out on several occasions that Caveat Emptor is, thank goodness, NOT the law, generally speaking.

    And the vast majority of businesses which operate honestly are probably thankful we don’t follow the Caveat emptor model, or else opening a new hotel (for example) would be an extraordinary challenge when no customers show up.

  • TonyA_says

    Booking a (all inclusive) resort or hotel room from some airline websites is nothing but a “branded” link referral to a hotel wholesaler.
    I would not be surprised that in the bottom of her prepaid voucher there is a notice to call to hotel wholesaler for any issues.

    Good luck to those who chose their vacations this way :-)

  • Joe Farrell

    if they get a refund its for the lodging component . . . nothing else. But even then – they had a roof over their head

  • JenniferFinger

    A partial refund might be in order, if she really couldn’t find another hotel and they refused to walk her and her husband, but they did stay there.

  • Mel65

    True. You’re correct. I always feel like it’s such a “waste” when I’m someplace beautiful to just stick around the hotel, that I forget that for some people just being anywhere but home is a vacation in and of itself. In that case. the destruction/construction would definitely be a far larger issue….

  • Travelnut

    White sofas are never a good idea. :)