Barcelo Hotels and Resorts complaint: Lovely Resort, Terrible Wedding Coordination, Service

Complaint from KelseyW1857 reported on 14 February 2024 about Barcelo Hotels and Resorts

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My complaint:

It is with great displeasure to have to write this, I was hoping I would be writing a raving review. We were incredibly excited to have our wedding and our 70 wedding guests at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace in Punta Cana February 2, 2024. Overall, as a group we spent over $100,000 for the week and we feel our money, time, and wedding happiness were taken advantage of. We started our wedding journey in June with the wedding coordinators at the resort being referred to start our room block with Lawernce and Oscar through the company ARMCUS. However, it became apparent that their main focus was on revenue optimization and marketing, rather than providing assistance with additional specials and deals. As a result, we took matters into our own hands and managed to secure better rates for our guests, saving thousands of dollars. It was frustrating for both us and our guests to have to personally book all 70 guest rooms.
Furthermore, we had planned a 4-day resort vacation/tour in September and attempted to coordinate room accommodations with Lawrence for a price match. However, he failed to respond, leaving us no choice but to book through a third party. We later discovered that he had used a medical issue as an excuse, which he had previously used to ignore other emails. We have the evidence of these ignored emails.
Apart from the challenges of booking rooms through our room block coordinator, the initial room we were assigned was unsanitary, with hair, nails, and dirt in the corners, white and black stains on the pillows and furniture, and filth on the cups and bar area. We didn’t want to sit anywhere or touch anything. However, upon notifying the front desk, they ly switched us to a cleaner room. Unfortunately, the air conditioning in the second room didn’t work, but the maintenance staff was very helpful and moved us to a third room, which was satisfactory.
During our September stay, we met with our assigned wedding coordinator, Vitaly, who initially seemed kind and attentive. We met in the premium lounge, she gave us a tour and we sat down by the Carey bar. At that time, we gave her our cocktail and reception menu, she wrote it down. We left having high hopes, however, as our wedding planning progressed, we encountered numerous issues that went beyond the typical challenges of wedding planning. The room bookings were a nightmare, causing frustration and dissatisfaction not only to us, but also among our guests. Despite repeatedly emphasizing the importance of a rooming list, none of our guests were placed in a room block upon arrival.
After expressing my frustration with the lack of communication and response, I reached a breaking point and seriously considered moving all 70 of our guests and our hard-earned money to a more cooperative resort. To my surprise, on the evening of January 11th at 6:01 PM, I received a phone call from Vitaly’s co-worker, who I later discovered to be an unprofessional and rude individual who clearly did not possess the necessary skills for a customer service position. Our conversation lasted for 24 minutes, during which I voiced my concerns and the issues that needed to be addressed. She assured me that she would follow up with an email summarizing our discussion, providing the welcome dinner menus, and presenting additional options that we could consider as alternatives to the buffet menu, of which we were previously unaware. Unfortunately, once again, I was deceived and did not receive the promised email.

November 27th, two months in advance, a rooming list was sent to Vitaly, which was repeatedly mentioned was a priority to ensure was taken care of, especially from our past experience at the resort we did not want our guests in any uncomfortable rooms. On December 5th at 1:23pm Vitaly wrote in email; “please find my comments below, also your rooms block is ed according to the rooming list that you send me last week”. This clearly was a lie, because there was no room block for our guests at the resort. We spent the first two days of our wedding vacation trying to do her job fixing that. Even after multiple emails expressing frustration on communication and lack of response. Upon arriving to the resort, none of our guests were in a “room block” and no one at the resort seemed to know there was a wedding block that was to be accommodated.
Vitaly was aware on our welcome bags for guests and us wanting them to be delivered to their rooms, I even asked, via email for them to be added to the invoice, $3 per bag, when we brought them to the lounge, we were informed that this service was not available. Vitaly had been aware of the welcome bags for weeks but failed to provide clear instructions, and recommended “handing them out at the welcome dinner. That was not an option for us and lead to more inconvenience and disappointment, especially considering one of our guests got injured from loose tile, at the El Celio pool and had to go to the emergency room, missing the welcome dinner. The way a resort certain higher up staff manager treated the resort employees and ER employees, during that time was offensive and degrading to our two guests. In addition, they had to fight with the resort for two hours after their experience to get their money back for the Emergency bills due to the lack of safety and liability of the resort.

Furthermore, our meeting with Vitaly was delayed, as she arrived almost half an hour late, citing rooming issues as her excuse. This was frustrating, as it was our vacation time that was being wasted by her again. During the meeting, she went over the wedding details and menus, which we had already provided to her back in September. It was concerning that she did not have this information readily available. Additionally, she discussed the included decor options, which had caused confusion as we had received conflicting information through email and the wedding package pamphlets. I was particularly upset because we had brought six suitcases, three of which were filled with decor items, based on the understanding that it would be more cost-effective to bring our own. The lack of clear communication was evident, and it seemed that unless one spoke Spanish, it was difficult to make progress. Vitaly also claimed that she did not receive our menu for the welcome dinner, which was the breaking point for me. I showed her the email with the exact date I had sent it, and she appeared surprised and offered another apology. This was just one instance among many where she claimed to not have received important information, including details about the cake flavors, which were also sent to her via email. Despite providing these details well in advance, she blamed me for not getting them to her in time.

Additionally, Vitaly’s communication and organization skills were severely lacking. She consistently blamed us for not providing information on time, even though we had given her all the necessary details within the required timeframes. Her unprofessionalism was evident when she dismissed my concerns as negative energy and failed to take responsibility for her own shortcomings.
The following day, we had 14 groups checking in, and once again, we had to deal with the issue of rooms not being assigned correctly within the designated area. While we understand that there may be limitations on the availability of King beds, it was disappointing to see that our room requests, which were submitted two months in advance, were not taken care of earlier. This resulted in a last-minute scramble to address the room assignments, which was frustrating considering the time and effort I had put into creating a detailed spreadsheet with each guest’s ation number, name, and dates of arrival and departure. This level of disorganization is simply unacceptable.

To add to our dismay, two groups were initially placed in rooms that were far away from our group. Both groups had to be relocated immediately due to the unsanitary conditions and unpleasant odor in one room, and the presence of bugs and lack of cleanliness in the other. It was disheartening to witness one of our guests in tears over the condition of their room. Ensuring the comfort and satisfaction of our guests in their accommodations was a top priority for us, and I had sent multiple emails to the wedding coordinators, Barcelo Bavaro Palace resort, and management well in advance, expressing my concerns about this issue. It is truly absurd that these concerns were not taken into consideration.

On the day before the wedding, Vitaly informed us that we could make the payment at the premium lounge. However, when we arrived there, we were left waiting for an hour because no one knew how to assist us or process the payment. After numerous attempts to contact Vitaly, she finally instructed us to show the invoice, which was a clear example of her poor communication skills. Additionally, weeks prior, we had sent Vitaly our spa roster to schedule our couples massage and facial, but she failed to do so. As a result, we were squeezed into inconvenient time slots and were unable to fully enjoy the experience as many of our guests were already leaving.

Furthermore, we were supposed to receive a complimentary breakfast to our room at 8:30 on the day of our wedding. However, it didn’t arrive until 10:30, and this was only after my wedding officiant and friend had to yet again, contact Vitaly to express how unacceptable the delay was. This delay caused a disruption to the groom’s preparations, as he needed to be in his room by 11:00. It was a disappointing start to the morning.

During our wedding ceremony in the chill-out area, our officiant arrived early and was initially told by another coordinator that the area would be cleared out at 1:00, and then later at 2:00. This other coordinator, whose name I don’t know, displayed rude and unpleasant behavior. Later to find out it was the unpleasant associate who called me weeks prior that never followed up. To our dismay, the area was not only filled with filth and cigarette butts, but was filthy and it was also not prepared for the ceremony. Our officiant had to seek help to clean it up, and even our usher was disgusted by the condition of the area. When maintenance was called for assistance, they failed to respond, and our groomsmen had to take matters into their own hands and clean the wedding ceremony area themselves. This level of service from the wedding coordinating staff was truly disappointing.

As a gesture to address some of the issues we had already experienced, Vitaly offered us complimentary tiffany chairs for our wedding, which we appreciated. However, our officiant had to inspect and clean many of the seats due to dirt and filth. This should not have been their responsibility, but rather the responsibility of the wedding coordinating staff, who once again failed to fulfill their duties.

Included in our wedding package was personalized assistance from a wedding coordinator, as well as a decorated wedding location. However, Vitaly’s lack of proper communication and failure to provide these services to our satisfaction left us confused and frustrated. She was often late, didn’t show up, was unresponsive, or took days to respond. Even when we followed up, it sometimes took nearly two weeks for her to reply to our emails.

• We would like to pre pay and reserve Feb 3rd for the day all of the cabanas at the El Cielo
• [[Vitaly Rijo]] the cabanas is not available for rent, the first one who arrives is the first one who uses it.

I felt extremely frustrated because I had already spoken to a manager in September who assured me that we could reserve the cabanas ahead of time. I specifically mentioned this in an email to Vitaly as well. It seems to me that Vitaly’s actions reflect laziness and a lack of knowledge on her part. Despite what we were told, Vitaly once again informed us at the resort that we needed to go down in the morning to reserve the cabanas. To make matters worse, when one of my guests went to reserve the cabanas the day before, they were already booked by other guests for the next four days. This made me furious and made me feel deceived once again. Additionally, I noticed that when I was not present, Vitaly would blame me for any issues that arose, but when I was around, she would shift the blame onto others who were not present. This is not the way to grow and advance in a career; it is a way to sabotage it. This inconsistency and lack of knowledge on Vitaly’s part were frustrating and felt like a breach of trust.

Moving on to the wedding reception, I must say it was absolutely stunning. However, I want to give credit where credit is due – it was my amazing friends who truly made it that way, not the wedding coordinator. I have the support of 30 girls who can attest to this. They were the ones setting up decorations and fixing things to ensure everything looked perfect.

Now, let’s talk about the issue with the tables. Vitaly told us “for up to 6 people with a white tablecloth”, and she was aware since December that we had well over 60 guests. Since December, she knew we would need at least 10 tables. However, when we met with her, she informed us that it would be too many tables to fit in the La Palapa and said that some tables be placed on the beach. This upset me greatly because I had already created a seating chart, which Vitaly was unaware of, but even if she had known, it wouldn’t have made a difference. My seating chart included 12 tables, accommodating all 70 guests.

Days before the wedding, when we met with Vitaly at the resort, she suddenly told us that she could use different tables to fit 8-10 guests per table inside the La Palapa. This meant we had to spend another two hours reconfiguring the seating chart and doing unnecessary work and wasting more of our paid vacation at your resort once again.

On December 5th, Vitaly notated in email that she would add the cake table we chose to the invoice. However, once again, we did not receive what we asked for. We requested a gold sequin table cover and a circular table with greenery wrapped around it. Instead, we were given a square table with a white cloth. We had sent images to Vitaly and she acknowledged that she would make the necessary arrangements, but she failed to deliver on her promise. This is another example of her lack of proper customer service and failure to perform her job correctly.

Another issue that arose was the missing menu items. The minestrone soup, more then likely among other items, was not served, even though there was plenty of food, it was included in our package and we had paid for it. This is unacceptable and unprofessional, especially considering the amount of money we spent on our wedding.

During dinner, a different coordinator whom I had never met approached me and started discussing issues and payment. This was highly inappropriate and disrupted the enjoyment of our reception. Throughout the evening, the wedding staff repeatedly tried to have us pay the invoice, and sign disclosures. Despite the fact that we had already spent an hour in the lounge the day prior trying to make payment and sign necessary documents. The unprofessionalism, lack of courtesy, and overall unacceptable behavior displayed by the staff was the worst service I have ever experienced, as well as other guests.

Furthermore, Vitaly seemed to hide whenever I was around. Part of our wedding package included personalized service from a wedding coordinator, but this service was not provided and Vitaly let us down tremendously. Throughout our interaction with Vitaly, she displayed a lack of professionalism, poor communication, and a tendency to shift blame onto others. This behavior is unacceptable for someone in a customer service position.

Following the wedding day, there was a significant issue with the wedding coordination team. They somehow managed to lose my personal ceremony décor, despite the fact that the wedding package clearly states that setup and take down are included. This is entirely the fault of the wedding coordination team at the resort, and we have serious doubts that the décor was actually lost. It is clear that this situation arose due to the irresponsibility and lack of coordination on the part of Vitaly and the other associates who were assisting on the wedding day. Once again, this adds to our frustration and irritation, as it is yet another example of the lack of services that were promised to us but not provided.

Despite multiple requests to speak with a manager, not just a supervisor, our requests were either ignored or met with empty promises that someone would contact us, which never happened. This not only shows a lack of consideration towards us, but also towards our guests who were expecting better service.

Our last day at the resort was spent trying to find managers to address our terrible experience. Instead of enjoying our vacation, we were forced to redo the tasks that we had already paid Vitaly and the wedding coordinators to do. We were also trying to locate our personal property that had gone missing. To add to the frustration, when a guest and I went to speak with the Wedding supervisor, Isabella, we found ourselves in the décor area with a rude associate, who had the audacity to try and call me out for “not showing up to the day after the wedding meeting” which I did, however I was experiencing uncomfortable sickness and needed a few extra minutes that morning to settle myself, which is none of her concern. (My husband, father, and wedding officiant were all present for the 15-minute morning meeting, I showed up as they were wrapping up). She refused to leave the meeting we asked to have with the supervisor, despite our repeated requests. We had to once again explain the lack of professionalism, communication, disorganization, and overall disappointment that we had experienced. Instead of taking accountability for their actions, they smirked and treated the situation as if it were a joke rather than a serious issue. It is clear that neither the associate nor Vitaly took responsibility for their actions, instead choosing to shift the blame onto others.

The complimentary gestures that were offered to us did not make up for the terrible, unprofessional, and irresponsible service we experienced. Instead of enjoying quality time with our friends and family during our 9-day stay, we were busy redoing tasks that were supposed to be taken care of by Vitaly for the wedding. We also had to deal with the issue of getting our guests into comfortable rooms, despite the fact that Vitaly and the resort were already aware of the previous issues we had encountered. Our time was mostly spent indoors, trying to find a resolution for the unacceptable service we received. I sent a few emails, during our stay and after, to the general manager Cesar Guilmao, and have not heard back.

I myself, am in the wedding industry and work with brides every single day. If I was as unorganized and blamed my brides as much as these coordinators did, I would not have a job. Taking accountability is extremely important, and placing fault on everyone else around you is unnecessary and unacceptable when you are the coordinator.

Although the resort itself is lovely and we made some wonderful connections with the staff, we cannot and will not recommend it for weddings. We will make sure to spread the word on every website and review site to steer clear of Barcelo Bavaro Palace resorts for weddings, especially this one.

Overall, our experience with the wedding coordination at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace in Punta Cana was extremely disappointing. We did not have the opportunity to enjoy our time with our loved ones due to the constant need to rectify the coordinator’s mistakes. We will not be recommending this resort for weddings and will make sure to share our negative experience on various review websites.

We feel we should we should be receiving our money back for the tangerine package because our
Services were not rendered nor upon satisfactory.

In addition, our invoice shows complimentary chairs as money compensation taken off the invoice. That amount shouldn’t even be taken into consideration nor be used as a “discount” towards our wedding package. Also the disclosure that was signed dated in both the bride and grooms name and both did not sign it, therefore it is not a legal document and is void. We want someone from the Barceló to make this right.

Suggested solution:

Refund our services paid for and part of our stay due to spending half our vacation we spent money on having to stay inside and fix the things that were never taken care of.

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