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Travel Troubleshooter: Resort sale disrupts plans

  • Article by: CHRISTOPHER ELLIOTT
  • December 6, 2013 - 1:35 PM

Q: I’m hoping you can help me. My entire extended family booked a vacation at the Veranda Resort in Turks and Caicos for a week. My immediate family had stayed there last spring and we loved it. When we booked it, it was managed by Grace Bay.

We found out that it was being taken over by Beaches, which is owned by Sandals, and was being shut down, and that they were refunding our deposit (although we haven’t seen a penny of the $16,000 yet).

Beaches would not reimburse us for our flights or any expenses associated with rebooking elsewhere. Our travel insurance also would not cover our expenses.

Our travel agent was able to rebook us at Round Hill in Jamaica, but there are a lot of associated fees. Change fees for the flights alone are several thousand dollars.

What are our rights? We think that Beaches should reimburse us for our out-of-pocket expenses. How can we get them to make us whole?

 

A: When a hotel cancels your stay, it owes you a full and immediate refund of your deposit. I’m a little surprised that Beaches hasn’t given you your money back yet. Beyond that, it’s whatever you can negotiate. Generally, a hotel has no legal obligation to cover the additional costs you incurred. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t try.

Normally, when a hotel is overbooked it will “walk” a customer to a comparable hotel and pay for the room; in other words, it will make sure you don’t incur any additional expenses as a result of its overbooking. This is a similar situation. I think you can make a case for asking Beaches to cover some of the costs of moving to Round Hill.

The most effective way to do that is through a brief, polite e-mail to the company. I reviewed the long letter your travel agent and you sent to Beaches and then contacted the company on your behalf. It offered to pay you $3,800, which covers your flight change fees and 20 percent of the cost of the new hotel — a resolution you’re happy with.

This case was resolved a few months ago, and since then, Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort Villages and Spa has reopened. You signed a confidentiality agreement with Beaches when you accepted its settlement, and it should be noted that you provided this information to me before that.

 

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org

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