Dominican resort without power 'worst vacation of my life,' says Nova Scotia woman

Sunwing apologizes to a Yarmouth County, N.S., woman who says the week she spent at an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic with no hot water and limited power was “the worst vacation of my life."

Sunwing apologizes after guests at all-inclusive resort used cellphones to see their evening meals

Michelle Murray, seen with her husband Joe Murray, says passengers were so relieved to return to Halifax, they clapped when the plane landed. They were among Nova Scotia residents who spent a week without power at a resort in the Dominican Republic that. (Chelsea D'Entremont)

From sleepless nights in a suffocatingly hot hotel room to dinners eaten by the faint glow of a cellphone, a Nova Scotia woman says her week spent at a Dominican Republic resort was "the worst vacation of my life."

Michelle Murray of Kemptville and her husband, Joe Murray, arrived at the Playa Dorada resort in Puerto Plata on the evening of Feb. 21 along with another couple for the all-inclusive trip, booked through Sunwing Airlines.

A total of about 25 Nova Scotia vacationers were on the trip, but they soon were clamouring to get back home.

Michelle Murray said trouble started a day after they arrived at the resort, around 10 a.m., when the power went out and the water ran cold.

'I never had hot water, not once'

"There was no hot water the entire time," Michelle Murray said. "I never had hot water, not once."

Michelle Murray says her all-inclusive week at this resort was anything but relaxing. (Angie Romard)

Murray said the power would occasionally come back on, but only for about 20 minutes before it went dark again.

"There was no light," she said, adding it was pitch black at nighttime. 

Murray's husband uses an oxygen mask for sleep apnea, but without power, the machine wouldn't work, meaning he got little sleep.

Murray said she, too, was unable to rest in the hot, sticky, stuffy room without air conditioning.

"It was like sleeping in a tent all day with the sun shining on this tent. It felt like there was no air," she said.

Sunwing says it's negotiating compensation

Sunwing spokesperson Rachel Goldrick told CBC News in an email that the company first became aware of the power outage on the evening of Feb. 25.

She said intermittent power interruptions are not uncommon in the Caribbean. Goldrick said the issue was immediately brought to the attention of hotel management staff, "who advised that they were rectifying the problem." 

She acknowledged there were additional intermittent disruptions to the power and water supply that impacted some room blocks in the following days. However, she said all rooms in the area were sold out, so there was no place to relocate vacationers.

"We are extremely apologetic for how this has affected our customers' vacation experience and have been negotiating compensation for the impacted customers directly with the hotel," Goldrick said, adding local management is reviewing the situation to ensure the resort is meeting proper standards.

Guests repeatedly told power would be restored

Michelle Murray said staff at the resort were unhelpful and repeatedly promised the problem would be fixed "in an hour."

Meanwhile, "gut-wrenching" temperatures hovered around 28 C and 38 C, she said.

The Playa Dorada resort in Puerto Plata was frequently without power for the week Michelle Murray and her husband vacationed there. (Courtesy Sunwing Vacations)

"I cried. I just wanted to come home but once you're there, you're stuck. I had nowhere to go."

Murray is a seasoned traveller who had been on six previous trips south.

"I've gone to two-star hotels. This was a three-star. The two-stars were like the Hilton compared to this one," she said.

'So happy to be home'

She said there were approximately 25 people on the trip from Nova Scotia.  

"We were clapping when we arrived in Halifax. We were so happy to be home."

The Canadian Transportation Agency said in an email that tour operators and flight resellers fall under the oversight of provincial government departments that deal with consumer matters.

CBC News tried repeatedly to call the resort, but the phone never rang, instead going directly to a busy signal.

About the Author

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days, she's focused on helping consumers get the most bang for their bucks and avoid being ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca.

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