It certainly didn’t seem like a tough assignment, a trip to a beachfront resort in the Dominican Republic. But we were about to learn that it’s possible to go too far off the beaten path.
We bought the travel getaway on Groupon, the trusted site known for its quality discounts and signature getaways. On Groupon we found a ten day tour of Machu Picchu, two romantic nights at Niagara Falls, a six day wine tour of northern Italy, which all had great reviews. But tucked away among them was the deal we booked, two nights at a junior suite at the all inclusive Don Juan beach resort in the small town of Boca Chica.
Groupon had claimed that I was getting 44% off on my rooms, a junior suite marked down to $173 a night. But when we arrived, my other producer booked a deluxe room, similar to the junior suite, directly through the hotel for $150 a night.
Still puzzled as to why our room cost more on Groupon than at the front desk, we headed off to the Don Juan beachfront to relax in the sun. But the beach is public, not private, and as soon as our troubles started melting away, local vendors started selling us everything from souvenirs to prostitutes.
The next morning we confronted the manager of the resort to find out why the trip we booked wasn’t what we found when we arrived. When we asked why our rooms were actually more expensive than a room booked on site, he told us space was limited at the resort and he would gladly compensate us on our next visit. When we contacted Groupon regarding the room rates, they noted that travel prices fluctuate dramatically and they’re always adjusting them.
In the brochure and online it shows a very relaxing beach, but the manager said that the beaches are public and that beyond a security staff, there was nothing the hotel could do to prevent solicitors.
When asked how they pick their hotels, Groupon replied that they rely on customer feedback and in the case of the Don Juan 20 other customers have complained, all of whom have been refunded and they removed the hotel from their site.