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All I got for Christmas were bed bugs in Mexico
This holiday season our family of four found ourselves in the fortunate position of celebrating Christmas in the Riviera Nayarit region of Mexico. We arrived at the RIU Palace Pacifico Hotel (4 to 5 star all-inclusive) in the evening of December 24, 2017, and were met with a champagne bar.

Off to a great start – am I right?

We spent the next few days body surfing and boogie boarding on Flamingos Beach, swimming in the pool under the watchful eyes of lifeguards, enjoying a variety of food choices including vegan and gluten-free options and even taking in a few evening shows.

It was pretty-darn near perfect – even with a few hiccups here and there.

Things took a bit of a turn on the night of Thursday, December 28, 2017. I was climbing into one of the two double beds in our room, when I discovered a rather large bed bug crawling across the sheets.


We took some photos of the bed bug (he was so engorged with blood he moved rather slowly) to email to management and our travel agent, before disposing of it. Then I proceeded to do what most parents would do when they have inadvertently exposed their children to bed bugs – I tore off all the bed sheets and then sprayed bug repellent in every corner of the room. (Yes – we had to open the sliding doors to air out the room).

First thing the next morning, management, which was very apologetic, moved quickly to move us to another room. When we went to pack-up our things in our original room, we found more bed bugs.

Management also sent us chocolate covered strawberries the next morning, which was a nice gesture.

But other than that – we were left to learn all on our own about bed bugs: their potential health impacts (fortunately – they do not carry any diseases), and what to do to reduce the chance of spreading bed bugs, particularly when you go home.

We returned home in the early hours of December 31, 2017 – and I’ll spare you all the details – but let’s just say anything and everything that could go in the washer and/or the dryer – did.

We were feeling pretty good about how we handled the bed bug situation until bed bug bites started to appear on our bodies a few days after we got home. It turns out bed bug bites can take up to 14 days to appear. At last count, one member of our family had more than 50 bed bug bites, and another more than 20 bed bug bites.

Since returning home, I did reach out to RIU Hotels & Resorts (web form, blog and Twitter) without much success. I was told that because the vacation package was sold by Sunwing Vacations, I had to make my complaint with them first. (Subsequently - RIU Customer Service sent me an email on January 8, 2018 stating it would take 15 to 20 working days to respond.)

I contacted Sunwing through online form, call centre and Twitter – only to be directed to another web site and email address to launch my complaint. I was told through the Sunwing Twitter account that it would take 30 days for a response.

In terms of what did work – both Health Canada (Twitter and web) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (web site) were incredibly helpful resources in terms of identifying bed bugs, what to do to reduce the chance of spreading bed bugs and what to do the next time we travel to reduce our risk of bed bug exposure. We also appreciate how quickly local hotel management worked to move us to another room in a hotel that was nearly sold out for the holidays.

In terms of what needs improvement – considering bed bugs are a public health issue – we would have expected that a large hotel chain like RIU Hotels & Resorts would have a bed bug response protocol. Bed bugs happen, so why not have a process that looks after the health and safety of the hotel guests who are immediately impacted? For example – where is the information card on bed bugs? Why not provide extra plastic laundry bags to guests so they can seal up their personal belongings in their luggage before they make the trip home – to reduce the chance of spreading bed bugs?

Given that this happened during one of the busiest travel times of the year, we understand that complaint processes take time. No question. But a hotel’s complaint process shouldn’t come at the expense of a process to address a public health issue like bed bugs.

That’s just my two cents.

What do you think?
Más vale pocos pelos, pero bien peinados.
How is this news?
Bed bugs are found at thousands of hotels across America and most other countries too.
That bug in the picture is not a bed bug, it's a tick. Bed bugs are smaller.



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