My Hotel Ruined My Vacation

No matter how beautiful the surroundings, a bad hotel experience can zap the good times right out of your vacation. Four people share their tales dealing with everything from pools of blood in the elevator to the unexpected filming of a reality TV show in what should have been a peaceful piece of paradise.

Mikey Rox, 22, the owner of a copywriting and creative consulting company in New York, travels often. But a bloody hotel elevator during a July 2007 trip to St. Thomas put a stain on a vacation in paradise.

My fiancé and some friends went down to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and booked the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa. The resort was fantastic, with a nice beach area, a bar, and lots of game areas.

From where we were staying at the resort, there was a very long wooden staircase that led all the way to the beach. We were all out having a good time one night, but my fiancé decided to head back to the room. Later, when I was walking back up the wooden staircase, I started seeing drops of blood periodically. Weird. So I followed the trail to the elevator and when the elevator door opened I saw a large pool of blood on the floor. It looked liked someone had been stabbed. I didn't want to get into the elevator, of course, so I walked up the stairwell. The trail started again on the third floor and led to another elevator, which also had a pool of blood in it. I was really afraid at this point, and ran back to the room to make sure my fiancé wasn't in trouble (he was fine). I told him that we had to go tell someone at the front desk that someone at the hotel was in big trouble. With all the blood, it really was like a scene from I Know What You Did Last Summer or something!

We hurried to the lobby and the man working the front desk just sort of brushed it off and hands us a couple of towels so we could clean it up ourselves. I'm really upset at this point. It was offensive that he would give us towels to clean up blood and I refused to take them. It's a health issue! You're at the beach, a lot of people are walking around barefoot, and just the amount of blood in so many different places. If anyone had stepped on any of that blood it could have been a precarious situation.

I did hear later, through word of mouth, that someone had cut themselves pretty badly on the beach, and the cops were actually in the room of the injured person. I don't know if it was an accident or a crime, but I assume it was an accident.

Lauren Colvin, 35, a web developer from Annapolis, didn't realize a reality TV show had commandeered the Playa del Carmen resort where she and her husband planned their vacation.

My husband and I try to go away every year. For this vacation we went through one of those travel agents in the mall, who helped us arrange a one-week trip to the Occidental Grand Xcaret, an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Only after we arrived did we realize they were filming the reality show Celebrity Mole at the resort.

We saw some of the cast on their time off between shoots -- Angie Everhart, Dennis Rodman, Mark Curry, and Corbin Bernsen (who was sporting short shorts). There was no escaping them and all anybody could talk about was "I saw so-and-so by the pool today!"

The folks in the room next to ours must have been part of the crew. They would leave their room early in the morning without turning off their alarm, which was set for 5 am. On multiple occasions we'd have to call the front desk and ask them to come and shut it off.

And since the filming was going on, areas of the beach were closed off for lighting equipment and what not. The huge equipment looming in the public areas didn't exactly add to the ambiance. There would also be random restaurant closures. One night we went to the buffet restaurant, where reservations weren't required, only to find out it was closed. It was too late to reserve a table at one of the other restaurants, so we were stuck with quick-service pizza and burritos for dinner. Another night, we were hanging out at the sports bar at the resort. There was still half an hour before it was supposed to close, but we were told we had to leave now because they were hosting a private late-night party for the crew and celebrities.

On our last day at the resort, a cell phone company conference descended on the hotel and banners were placed all over the pool area and elsewhere. You pay a good amount of money to be on vacation and you don't want to see all these advertisements hanging by the bar, by the pool, all along the walls. It's not attractive. We haven't been back and I don't think we will.

Kristin Luna, 27, a San Francisco-based travel writer, recalls a disappointing hotel stay in one of California's prettiest counties.

My now-husband and I ventured up to Mendocino County for a romantic weekend in September 2008 to celebrate an anniversary. We had booked two nights at a hotel called the Beachcomber in Fort Bragg because it was the only place in town with direct beach access. Its name made it seem quite quaint and remote, so we were hoping for a relaxing stay away from the city.

We arrived to find the hotel not at all what we were expecting, nor what the website depicted. The room was more or less a rickety bedside table, TV bolted to the wall, and double bed with a scratchy quilt (I cringed thinking about taking a black light to it). The bathroom didn't look like it had been cleaned after the previous guests, and there was a filmy residue all over the shower. The place was pet friendly, and since the walls were paper-thin we were forced to listen to a dog bark all night through one side of the wall. The neighbors on the other side of our room were a couple whose adult activities were not muffled either.

By 5 am, it was clear we weren't going to be able to sleep due to the noise, so we decided we'd find another hotel for Saturday night. Once it was a reasonable hour to get up and move around, we went down the road to a much nicer hotel. We explained the situation to the woman in charge and asked if they had rooms available. They did, but unfortunately it was way out of our price range. In a moment of error, I named the hotel where we were staying. That's a lesson to learn in small towns: Everyone knows everyone else's business.

We finally found a reasonably-priced B&B, checked in, and went back to the Beachcomber to get our bags. It seemed like they were watching for us. We parked right near the room and went in to quickly grab our stuff, but soon enough the owner was knocking on our door. The woman from the other hotel had called and told the Beachcomber owner that we were dissatisfied with our room and were leaving. My husband was very polite and explained that the room was not what we were expecting. She said she could give us another room (even though we'd called the night before and they claimed they were booked solid all weekend and couldn't give us a new one). We stood firm and told her we had found another hotel. The owner starting getting teary and spouting all these excuses -- there had been management issues, they had a fire, and a lot of people had quit -- things you would never tell a guest. We had to stand our ground and leave for our own sanity. But it was very uncomfortable, and I have not been back to Ft. Bragg since then. I really love the area, but that experience sure left a bad taste in my mouth!

Scott Van Velsor, 36, a painting contractor from San Francisco, shares unpleasant memories of an October 2008 stay-gone-wrong in what was supposed to a paradise hotel in Roatan, Honduras.

My girlfriend and I went to Roatan to go diving and to spend a little quality time in a luxury resort. For the diving portion of our trip we stayed at a rather bare-bones place. It was a lot of fun, but we were looking forward to upgrading to a fancier resort to finish our vacation. We'd been told by employees of the Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort that it was the newest luxury resort on the island, had been on a popular travel site's gold list, and so on. Yet when we arrived at the hotel, it wasn't even open!

Instead of a lobby there was a makeshift little room filled with old computers and ringing telephones. They couldn't find our reservation -- they had thought we were coming two months later. But no problem, there were plenty of rooms available. It turns out only 25 percent of the resort was even complete. Most of the resort was still covered in tarps, not quite the atmospheric, paradise ambiance we were expecting. And since it was still a construction site, jackhammering would start at 7 am and go until 5 pm. On the upside, our room was superbly finished and looked grand -- if you could tune out the noise. The pool was open and was quite nice, but the restaurant and gym weren't completed yet. The only place to eat at the resort was a snack-style restaurant by the pool with a very limited menu and a few tables under umbrellas.

The resort is located in an "off the beaten path" section of Roatan, so there wasn't a lot to do unless we wanted to drink constantly. Our nearest activity was a small strip mall with a convenience store and an Internet café (the Internet wasn't working at the hotel) where we ended up spending a lot of time since a small hurricane whirled above Central America the entire length of our vacation. I'm not blaming the hotel for the weather, of course, but it didn't help to improve our moods. We were going crazy from the rain, lack of things to do, and depressing state of the unfinished resort (we didn't see another guest at the hotel for five solid days). We decided to call our airline to see if we could fly home two days early, but no such luck. Instead, we bought some tepid and uninteresting books to kill the hours until we could leave.

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