I had stayed in unit #5 once before with my husband and sister-in-law and liked it well enough, despite some hang-ups: poor distribution of a/c throughout rooms, no hot water, and a severe leak through the sliding glass door on a stormy night that required we use our pool towels to stop the leaking. Because of the size of the condo, the a/c, the pool and the kitchen I decided to overlook the previous hang-ups and return with a friend and her 3 year old daughter…BIG MISTAKE!!
The first indication that things would not go as expected came four nights before our reservation, when I received a call from management (Mariya and Ray) informing us that they were expecting us that evening (problem #1). It took two additional phone calls to clarify the exact dates of our reservation and the exact number of people in our party, details that had originally been confirmed over the phone but were not written down by building management.
We arrived at noon on check-in day and initially had no problems , and Mariya was kind enough to drive us to the condo after checking us in and reassured me that, unlike during my previous stay, there would be hot water. However, she did inform us that construction was being done in front of the building (problem #2). She wasn’t kidding! The beachfront near the property was completely inaccessible, power saws were operating from 8am until sundown, and our “oceanfront” view was obstructed by building materials and a team of construction guys. Additionally, the beach chairs reserved for guests were not usable, as they were occupied with tools from the men. Given the scope of the construction and the fact that it was planned and scheduled well in advance of our initial booking, I was surprised and disappointed that neither Mariya nor Ray mentioned the construction until after we had arrived and checked in.
We stepped into unit#3 and everything looked great. We went to turn on the a/c and nothing happened (problem #3)! I immediately called Mariya, but left a message because she was away for lunch. While waiting for a call back, I knocked on a neighbors door for help but they couldn’t figure out the problem either (I felt awkward having to interrupt a guest to ask for help with what should have been a management issue). After about an hour of tinkering and playing I finally walked over to the office to inquire and asked Mariya about my message which she said she never got. She did send Ray over to look at the problem and this is where things really started to go downhill. The “a/c guy” was in Belize City (an hour away on boat), so they were told that he would be on the next boat. When we didn’t hear from Mariya at about 4pm we again stopped by and we got a long story about how the guy never got on the boat so he wouldn’t be coming until the next morning. When we returned to the condo we attempted for about ½ hour to open some windows but they wouldn’t stay up (problem #4). We had to call management yet again to have Ray come over and take a look at them. Turns out the cleaning crew had removed some springs that were needed. By about 6pm I received a call from Mariya offering us some fans to get us through the night. Around 9pm a rain storm came through and forced us to close those windows that we had managed to prop open, and we were back to a stuffy condo for the rest of the evening. We had discussed moving to another building (as all the units in this building were occupied), but we had unpacked and were reasonably settled with the three-year-old child, so we decided to wait for the a/c repairman to arrive that morning.
On day #2 we saw the a/c guy working on the problem as we headed out to the beach. When we returned at noon for lunch the a/c still didn’t work and, not having heard any word from management, we assumed the problem was still being fixed. Even as we grew worried about another evening in a stuffy condo with no a/c, we decided against acting like overbearing obnoxious tourists, so we did not call to complain about it and let management sort through the problem (problem #4). We were very wrong to have sat on it!
On day #3 we returned to the office first thing in the morning and let Mariya know that we still had no a/c. She immediately contacted Ray to check on it because the a/c guy had told them that the problem was fixed. As it turns out, it was official that the a/c unit was completely un-repairable, so at that point we were moved to condo #2 (problem #5). Not only were we not kept up to date on the status of the a/c repairs, but the unit managers had not clarified the issue with the repairman.
Unit #2 was smaller and darker. Though the a/c unit was working it was a bit difficult to control. It was extremely loud in my room and woke me up a few times in the night when it kicked on. Again, the a/c was not equally distributed as it blew a lot of air in my room but not enough in any other bed room. Our kitchen table was on its last leg (figuratively) and appliances needed upgrading (our can opener did not work). We also had a broken tv control (problems #6 -9).
The worst part of the whole experience was not, in fact, the two days of no a/c or the construction-ruined view but our check-out experience (problem #10). The first words out of Mariya’s mouth were that since we were already getting a repeat-customer rate she could not give us a discount despite our two nights without a/c, the lack of beach access and the chronic failures to communicate. We stated our case to her about how we felt it was only fair to get a discount because, regardless of the rate we were paying, we were expecting a/c, an ocean view, beach access and luxury accommodations. Not only was she reluctant to give us a discount, she quickly became discourteous and outright disrespectful. We allowed her to tell us what she thought was fair but she only kept saying, “The customer is always right.” She tried to argue her case by telling us that had she known how unhappy we were on the first night she would have helped us find a new place on the beach and would not have charged us the rest of the nights we had reserved. In addition she noted that she assumed everything was all right because when we did speak, we did not seem bothered by the issues. In other words, because we didn’t complain enough or voice how unhappy we were, we were not deserving of an additional discount. She argued with us to the bitter end and was certain to have the last word. Having been disappointed while staying in three of the six different units in this condo, and after this last experience has left a bad taste in my mouth with management, my decision to never stay here again has been solidified.
The lesson learned: You can never complain too much or too often, especially when you are expecting a “Dream Vacation Rental” with “Luxury Amenities.”
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Seaside Villas consist of 6 beautifully appointed beachfront condos on the island of Caye Caulker. Each Condo overlooks the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea and the second largest barrier reef in the world.With the luxury of both swimming pool and rooftop Jacuzzi, Seaside Villas Condos are ideal for couples or families alike. Seaside Villas is located only five minutes from the Caye Caulker Airport, a short stroll from the water, shopping, restaurants and bars. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Seaside Villas Condos Hotel Caye Caulker