Does Sandals owe me anything for deleting my wedding photos?

This is one of the strangest cases I’ve come across in my two decades of fielding consumer complaints. It involves a honeymooning couple’s missing wedding photos, me, and another me.

Rachel Patrick’s destination wedding at Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa in St. Lucia was flawless, except for one little item: her wedding photos, which were taken by a hotel photographer, were missing in action.
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A Sandals Caribbean honeymoon that makes her wish she’d eloped

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

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

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

Today’s adventure took us deep into the St. Lucian rainforest, where we caught a ride up the Rainforest Aerial Tram.

“Where are the skis?” asked my five-year-old son, Iden, who talks about the Vail trip as if it happened yesterday.

Alas, no skis. And no snow.

But it was an unbelievably beautiful ride into the clouds, through dense forests of fern, hardwood trees and ficus. Hummingbirds buzzed our gondola as we neared the top of the mountain, and then we turned and saw the most awe-inspiring view of the island; the Caribbean on one side, the Atlantic on the other.
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Seeing both sides of St. Lucia

Calling the Caribbean island of St. Lucia “picturesque” may be like saying Miss America is beautiful. And how.

There are Kodak moments around every hairpin turn on the road. I took this picture a few minutes ago from the top of Windjammer Landing. I’ve uploaded more photos to my Flickr page, too.

I’ll share more snapshots and stories of St. Lucia in an upcoming post on National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog. But I also wanted to offer a few early impressions.
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Honeymoon in hell: “I wanted to leave and go home”

Jessica Kase describes her stay at Sandals Grande St. Lucian as a “honeymoon from hell” and she wants the all-inclusive hotel chain to make it up to her. But has it done enough for her already? And how do you make up for a honeymoon in which you spend “three days in my room sobbing because what was supposed to be an amazing vacation and honeymoon was completely ruined”?

Kase and her husband booked a week at the resort and another week at a Sandals property in Antigua, despite some misgivings. The online ratings were mixed, but another couple they knew had recommended the hotels.

“I should have been smarter than that,” she says. “It was the worst vacation of my life.”
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Worst. Honeymoon. Ever.

sandalsAdam Salamon’s honeymoon did not go well.

His all-inclusive resort wasn’t what he expected. The food was lousy, the staff was rude, there were bed bugs and his travel agent didn’t care, he claims.

Although the companies involved in this vacation debacle offered some compensation, it wasn’t enough for Salamon. He wanted a full refund, and he wanted me to help him get it.

Here are the unpleasant details. (A warning to those of you who are squeamish: his account is somewhat graphic.)
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