Vacations to sun kissed beaches in the crystal clear Caribbean can be an expensive adventure for anyone. Many people turn to those deals-of-the-day bargains that are offered online by such popular sites as Groupon.com. But are some of these deals too good to be true?
To find out, INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero packed her bags and headed to the Dominican Republic on a Groupon getaway for $429.00.
The deal included four all-inclusive nights at the Casa Marina Reef Beach resort. The Groupon deal boasts that the hotel has a "private stretch of beach" and superior rooms with ocean views. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
But Guerrero found several issues at the hotel when she checked in.
There was no deadbolt on Guerrero’s hotel door and no lock on the in-room safe either.
But that wasn’t the half of it. She found several nasty stains on the sheets and pillowcases. She also discovered hairs inside her bed sheets. “Finding somebody’s hair inside your bed is almost as gross as finding someone’s hair in your food,” said Guerrero.
As for the bathroom, there was no soap, no shampoo, and no conditioner. But there was a bug in Guerrero’s bed and a spider web in the one of the doorways.
After discovering how disgusting the beds were, Guerrero decided she was going to sleep on top of towels and use her own clothes as pillows.
If you think Guerrero’s room sounds bad, her producer’s room might have been worse. When Guerrero spotted what looked like a stain on the bedside lampshade she went to check it out and discovered it wasn’t a stain but an old piece of chewing gum left stuck inside.
Guerrero and her crew did try to make the best of it, and headed down to the beachfront to relax and soak up some sun. That’s where they met a hotel employee who calls himself Mr. X. When he's not handing out life jackets and taking guests on snorkeling trips, we found him running a side business selling marijuana.
Mr. X told our producer, “You have $40 bucks, I bring you three grams.”
Thirty minutes later the snorkel guide returned to the beach with $40.00 worth of pot.
Later that night, while many families staying at the hotel were watching a show, we spotted a female hotel employee dancing in the hotel’s disco. She works for the Casa Marina resort in their guest services, handing out towels at the pool, making sure guests enjoy their stay. And holy cow did she aim to please!
When she started dancing with our producer, she made it clear what other service she offered: sex in exchange for money. Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic, but you wouldn’t expect a hotel staff member to be soliciting sex.
After a quick smoke break, she told him her price.
“How much in American dollars?” asked our producer.
“One hundred,” she replied.
And guess where this hotel hooker ran her operation? Right in a hotel room! After making sure the coast was clear, she beckoned our producer into the room.
That's when Guerrero stepped in pretending to be his girlfriend, saying, “My boyfriend’s in there, he needs to get out.”
Guerrero and her producer quickly left, and the next morning Guerrero approached the hotel manager, saying, “One of your employees tried to sell my producer drugs on the beach. Isn’t that a problem?”
“Well, we don’t do that here,” said the manager.
“One of your employees propositioned my producer for sex for money. That's prostitution and she's one of your employees,” said Guerrero.
“No, that’s not true,” said the manager.
Guerrero informed him, “It is true. We saw it. We have it on tape.”
He later told us he would look into the matter.
So the lesson here is to make sure you do your homework before you jump at that Groupon getaway deal of the day, because you might just end up in a place like this.
In Groupon's fine print, it says the hotel is solely responsible for the care and quality of the trip. They said if customers have a problem they will work to make it right or give a refund. In our case they apologized and offered a refund.