A Bumpy Stay at Sol Caribe: A Lesson in Customer Service

Booking a room at Sol Caribe, nestled along Los Corales Beach Village in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, was supposed to be the highlight of my vacation. With excitement building, I eagerly stepped into the apartment I had booked, ready to soak in the tropical paradise. The apartment was spacious, had a handy kitchenette, featured a charming balcony, boasted a generous pool area, and was a mere 10-minute stroll from the pristine beach, all for an incredibly reasonable price of just $60.

However, my initial elation took a small hit when I checked into the apartment. I couldn’t help but notice that the television was perched precariously on a dresser, positioned right next to the door and a window. It was an aging, lightweight AWEI brand 32″ LED TV monitor with a wobbly base, and it really needed to be securely mounted on the wall. The TV looked old and had already taken a beating.

My concerns about the TV’s placement were confirmed when, in an attempt to cool down the hot and sticky room, I opened the patio door. A gust of wind rushed in, knocking the TV down onto the dresser it was sitting on. Although it wasn’t a significant fall, I noticed that the display was cracked. It seemed like the TV had fallen numerous times before due to its unsteady stand, and this time, it finally gave in and cracked.

Without delay, I went downstairs and informed the manager of the situation. To my relief, he assured me that it was not a big issue and explained that they didn’t have any replacement TVs available at the moment. I reassured him that I could manage without television for the night and decided to make the most of my stay by taking a refreshing dip in the inviting swimming pool.

After my swim, I decided to take a nap to shake off the stress of the TV incident. However, an hour later, there was a loud knock on the door. It was the manager again, and he demanded that I pay the hotel 1200 pesos, which is about $211 US, immediately or else he would call the police.

I informed him that I didn’t have this amount of money on me and, furthermore, that it was not my fault that the TV had fallen. The TV’s unsteady stand and its position by the front door were clear contributing factors. It was an old TV, and it appeared to have taken a lot of abuse over the years.

Shockingly, the manager then escalated the situation by grabbing my room keys and shutting down the breaker to my AC, making the room unbearably hot. He went ahead and called the police, who arrived promptly. To my dismay, they informed me that I had to pay the money or face legal consequences.

Given the pressure and the threat of legal action, I reluctantly paid the hotel 10,500 pesos, which is roughly $185 USD, to avoid further trouble. In return, they allowed me to vacate the room that night, and I had to find alternative accommodation at the Bohio hotel across the street.

Now, let’s analyze how this situation was handled and whether it was fair:

  1. TV Placement: The TV’s placement near the front door was indeed faulty. It was not properly secured and was susceptible to falls, as evidenced by its condition. The hotel should have taken responsibility for the poor placement and maintained their equipment better.
  2. Customer Service: The hotel’s handling of the situation was far from ideal. Demanding immediate payment, shutting down the AC, and involving the police seemed like an overreaction to a relatively minor issue. They should have approached the matter with more empathy and understanding.
  3. Old TV: Asking a guest to pay full price for an old and visibly damaged TV is questionable. In most cases, hotels are expected to absorb the wear and tear of their equipment, especially if it poses a safety risk.

In conclusion, my stay at Sol Caribe was marred by a series of unfortunate events and questionable actions by the hotel management. While it’s important for businesses to protect their assets, they should also prioritize the safety and satisfaction of their guests. This incident serves as a reminder for both guests and hoteliers to approach such situations with patience, empathy, and fairness to ensure a positive and memorable travel experience.