Travel Troubleshooter

What happened to the Iberostar waterpark?

Q: I booked four rooms for my extended family on a vacation to Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Having been to the adults-only side of the resort before, we chose the suites for its family-friendly reputation -- specifically, because they had a kids waterpark and kids club, which we thought would be the perfect speed for our toddler.

About a week before our arrival, I began reading some reviews that stated that the waterpark was under construction and kids club was closed. I was hopeful that it was a quick maintenance closure of just a few days.

I immediately reached out to my travel agent and resort. My agent said he hadn’t heard anything about construction. I didn’t receive a response from the resort for over eight days. They confirmed that indeed the waterpark was under construction and wouldn’t be ready until November. But by then, we had arrived.

We chose this resort based in part on the waterpark. Had we known that it was unusable before we embarked on the trip, we would have changed resorts.

To make matters worse, we ended up having our room directly above the construction of the waterpark. My toddler saw this view from our balcony daily, which made it difficult to explain why we couldn’t use it. Additionally, the construction noise was very disturbing and happened all day.

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We certainly understand that construction and remodels happen, but we would have chosen a different resort or different time, had the resort made us aware. I reached out to the concierge while we were on-site to see about some type of concession or credit, but none was available. Can you help?

-- Danielle Savena, Wexford, Pennsylvania

A: Your travel agent should have known that you were booking the Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites for the waterpark and monitored the property for you. Once it became clear that the waterpark was out of service, your agent should have negotiated with the hotel for a transfer to a different property that met your expectations.

It isn’t clear what your agent knew, but we can all agree that he knew that the waterpark was under construction during the dates of your stay because you contacted him about the problem. But it appears that both he and the hotel waited until you’d arrived to start addressing your grievance. That’s too late.

Something tells me that if you’d been clear with both the agent and the hotel that you were coming to use the waterpark, you could have avoided this problem. Even a quick phone call to Iberostar Suites letting it know that you were interested in a room near the waterpark would have tipped them off that there might be a problem.

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Yet the hotel’s site continued to promote the amenities. “The younger guests will delight in facilities specially adapted for children,” it said. “The kid’s pool, water park, and playground provide plenty of fun under the sun.”

Yes, they do -- when they’re open.

I think you could argue that these amenities were part of the “all-inclusive” resort offering at the Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites. If that’s true, then the hotel should compensate you for these missing amenities.

I list the executive contacts for Iberostar on my consumer advocacy website, Elliott.org. You could have followed up with a manager in writing and then escalated your issue to an executive. Also, your travel agent could have acted as your advocate to help you secure a refund.

And that’s exactly what happened. I reached out to your agent, who contacted the hotel. Iberostar was “sorry to learn about the inconveniences” and offered a $624 refund.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at chris@elliott.org.

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