Hotelito Casa las Tortugas
in Isla Holbox
the whale shark tour was nice but...
First, two items.
One, I write not from the perspective of someone who stayed at the hotel (so I can't comment on the quality of the hotel), but from someone who went on one of their hotel sponsored whale tours. Two, my friend and I had a positive experience on the whale tour. Unlike other whale tours, it is longer, which can be good (more to see, such as a snorkeling area as well as a mangrove area) or bad (no bathroom for 7 hrs on the water).
So, what am I writing about? As some reviewers have mentioned, the quality of a hotel or establishment is not wholly in the product but also in the service. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, my friend and I got some great pictures and had a lot of fun swimming with a whale shark, however the service behind the trip was unethical and poor. This post is a cautionary tale for future travelers as well as part of my promise on an agreement I made with Las Tortugas management (read on).
This is a story of lack of consideration, inconsistency of philosophy and actions, poor customer service, and greed.
Here we go. My two friends and I were interested in kiteboarding and heard about the lessons at Las Tortugas from people around town. We went to learn more about it and had a great conversation with the kiteboarding instructor Gabriel. (side note: he was very helpful and gave us a nice layout of the island and where to go) Unfortunately, a combination of timing and weather made it difficult for us to go kiteboarding. That was okay since we looked on their whale shark tour and decided to go on that. We pre-paid for 3 people, a total of $270 ($90 each for you math wizzes).
Unfortunately, later that night as well as the next morning it became very clear that one of our friends was too ill to go on the whale shark tour. We were hopeful yet not expecting Las Tortugas to be able to refund one of the tickets. We went early the next morning to speak with Carolina, one of the front desk employees and she informs us that it is non-refundable. She says, "I've had other people come to me about the tour but had to tell them no since it was fully booked as of yesterday." We respond by saying, "Okay, that's too bad." We accepted that the hotel had a full boat of 8 people paid for and since they had to turn away others, they were entitled to the 8 paid tickets. As such, my friend and I expect to see 7 customers in the boat since our friend is unable to make it. To our surprise, there were 8 customers! In my head, either the hotel charged 9 tickets for an 8 person boat and didn't want to refund our $90 or allowed an employee to go on the tour for "free."
I make a note of this since we had expected to have 1 missing person, our friend. After the tour finishes, I go to the front desk to see if Carolina is there to ask her about the situation. She is not so I talk with Beatrice. I tell her of the situation and she says that, "yes, we had an employee go on the trip for free since there was an extra space available." As anyone knows, nothing is free, but that there is a cost to everything. I had nothing against the employee going on the whale shark tour for "free," but I had a big disagreement with the hotel for filling up a space that my friend and I had paid for. The way we saw it was that since we had paid for 3 spaces, we were entitled to 3 spaces. However, since one of our friends was sick, the hotel saw it as 1 free space for their employee.
Management, if anyone, should understand that there is a cost to the employee going on the trip. The cost, in this case, was shouldered by my friend and I. We had essentially paid for an employee of Las Tortugas to go on a whale shark tour. This is quite bizarre because on one hand, Las Tortugas management was saying, "sorry, you paid for 3 people and we cannot refund the purchase" while at the same time they acted in a way that showed they still had claim to that empty seat. We have no issues with management giving away this supposed "free" seat as long as they buy it back from us for $90. As you can imagine, this bothered us and I'm sure it would bother any of you out there.
Beatrice passed word along to management, but management still refused to refund the $90. This still makes no sense to my friend or I. I am sure Las Tortugas does very well for itself as a luxury hotel in Holbox and that is probably another reason why we are confused. That being said, this is not about money, it is about principle, customer rights, and management/hotel rights.
Before writing this review, we informed management that we would write a review of this episode should they continue to hold their ground. Although we disagree with Las Tortugas' management decision, we accept it. In the same way, we also believe that Las Tortugas should be accepting of this review. There are no surprises here.
My tips for you while in Holbox:
1. Grab a bite to eat at the Buena Vista Grill (at the edge of the beach into the main square)
2. Check out a local basketball game on the plaza court on a Friday night--yes, Mexicans can play ball!
3. Try the lobster pizza
4. Try the whale tour from Willy's (local supermarket near the square)
5. Make a reservation for the Holbox Dream Hotel and relax in the outdoor pool right along the beach; Jeremy, the French manager (he also speaks English and Spanish as well) is very friendly and we had a great stay there--I know they also have whale tours as well
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