JAVAVILLAS: Why I Won't Rent from them Again
Jamaica: The Bad and the Beautiful
This was my fifth trip to Jamaica and I continue to have a love/hate relationship with this beautiful island in the Caribbean for many different reasons which I will blog in the weeks to come. There is so much about the country to appreciate; mostly the beauty of its natural resources and the charm and friendliness of most of the people you meet. I’ve been many places and to more beaches than I can count, but I have a hard time thinking of a more enchanting beach than Doctor’s Cave in Montego Bay where the water changes from blue green to green to turquoise and the nearby mountains disappear under a misty fog that sweeps in and out like Brigadoon.
This trip was to celebrate a significant birthday; mine. My family was coming along and we started planning nearly a year before the event. Where could we go where all of us could afford to come and to be together for a week? We are, after all, American and two week vacations are impossible to come by when a large group is involved. We ruled out an all-inclusive, which solved the budget issue, but left us all scattered. Finally, after much research, I decided to rent a villa in Jamaica. I had done this before many years ago (pre-children!) and it worked out well. Typically, there is a housekeeper and a cook, minimally. Or, so I thought. More on that in a moment. After doing my homework, we found a house on the beach (The Beach House) with a pool and a full staff. I booked the house in November of 2009 and we were off and counting down for our celebration in August 2010. This is the earliest I’ve ever booked a vacation and I booked through JAVA Villas. I will not do so again.
A week before we were leaving, I heard via email from the rental agent that there was a problem with my rental. A misunderstanding had occurred between the owner and JAVA and the owner had never intended to provide a cook. I had a contract from JAVA stating otherwise. In my view, JAVA should have handled this and left me out of it. If they couldn’t resolve it, I should have been offered another property. Before we left, JAVA assured me that the problem had been worked out. It hadn’t. Below is a summary of the problems I had with the house I rented. When I returned, I contacted my agent and asked for a partial reimbursement. I received nothing…not even an offer of a credit towards another rental. I was to feel as though I was lying, and as though I was at fault for calling to complain while I was on vacation. Perhaps I should have called. But we liked the house and the location. We did not want to move to another house in the middle of our trip. I did not want to take time away from our week to call and make a big fuss. Further, I had no cell phone service at the house, which was not their fault. But, the description of the house stated we had WIFI which we never did. We did complain to the owner and this was never resolved.
I am sure that many people have booked through JAVA and had a good experience. I did not. Here’s why:
1. We were told to arrive at the villa at 3 p.m. We did. The previous tenants had not yet left the villa and we could not enter our rooms.
2. The owner, who stayed at the villa until Tuesday, soon presented me with the grocery bill—including the first night’s dinner which JAVA stated was complimentary. The owner then asked me if I was paying the salary for the two women who worked as cook/housekeeper. I told her to call JAVA, but I should not have had to deal with that. In fact, if the owner is present and living on the property, I think that should be made known to the renter.
3. It states in my confirmation letter from JAVA that I was to have a cook. The breakfast table was set once—on Sunday—and no breakfast was offered ever. The table was not set again. The most egregious event was the fact that the two women who cooked left the estate on Wednesday and never returned. We had discussed what I wanted for dinner. They never reappeared and so we had to call our driver and go out; the meal cost over $400 (there were six of us) and therefore we had to cancel our last night dinner reservations, because we were not going to spend money to eat out again.
4. They did not grocery shop…I had to go. I’ve rented other villas and they did the shopping. Although I did not have this in writing, it was my expectation.
5. Beds were only made occasionally…Laundry was never done or offered.
6. There was no WIFI, as was stated in writing.
So, although we did not let these inconveniences ruin our week, the rental was nothing like we had planned for more than six months. While things happen that may have been out of JAVA’s control, their response to what happened was disappointing and unprofessional. I wouldn’t use them again. A contract is a contract and they didn’t live up to theirs or try to make things right.
More on Jamaica to come…