Stuck at the Royal Palm Beach Resort During Hurricane Irma
We had the unfortunate experience of being stuck in St. Maarten and at the Royal Palm Beach Resort during Hurricane Irma. We sheltered in our room (the innermost bathroom) during the hurricane. While we were assured in advance the front desk would be staffed 24/7 throughout the event, the hotel staff abandoned the hotel. After the hurricane had passed and many rooms were blown out / destroyed, we went down to the front desk for an update / any news on the condition of the rest of the island, how the airport had fared, if there was any hope for a back up generator or communication with the outside world, but there was no one there, only a portable defibrillator laid out on the desk, getting wet. Additionally, there were no flashlights in the rooms, even though we were told each room was equipped with them, and we had no way to close/lock our rooms because the key cards no longer worked.
While I’m not mad at the staff, as I’m sure their homes were destroyed and they were worried about their own families, I am VERY disappointed in Diamond Resorts International. They should have plans in place to protect their guests in the face of natural disasters. While many other hotels had security, twice daily meetings, communications with the US Consulate, we received nothing. While some of the staff did eventually come back with their families, it was impossible to tell who worked there and who didn’t. When we asked folks who we thought might work there for things, like could you shut off the smoke detectors that are beeping around the clock, or do you have a broom so I could move some of the debris from our front door/hall, or do you have tape so we could tap plastic bags to our blown out rental car window? They would do/give nothing. My husband and I personally walked into destroyed rooms to disable smoke detectors. When the threat of Hurricane Jose was imminent, I used my bare hands to pick up pieces of plaster with insulation stuck to it, to move it down the hall away from our front door, out of fear that the wind would cause it to bust in our room door or front window. When I went to the front desk a couple days post-hurricane, and they had acquired a radio, I asked the people sitting there (again no identification as to whether they worked for the resort or not) if they could give me an update on Hurricane Jose – was it headed for us, were there precautions we should take? I was met with a shoulder shrug and offer of a shot of rum…
While many hotels moved their guests into centre conference rooms for shelter, set up operations centre, fed their guests throughout the event, provided daily updates, and even chartered flights to get their guests out- we were totally on our own. We had to travel to other hotels for updates, even amidst reports of looters and social unrest. We waited in lines at local supermarkets for 2.5 hours to get some food and water. We couldn’t even get updates on additional weather coming our way. There was NO security to speak of, many of the guests sought security at other nearby hotels because they were scared of looters. The most our hotel did for us:
1. Fed us 1 meal after the hurricane – not sure if this was even the hotel, I thought more that is was the bar on the property which is run separately from the hotel
2. Finally gave us those rechargeable flashlights that were already supposed to have been in our rooms (a bit of a joke since we didn’t have power)
3. Gave us glow sticks (like raver glow sticks) when no one had flashlight power left
All of this to say, I am incredibly disappointed in Diamond Resort International. We are members there and the most they have done since the hurricane was refund our points and save them for next year. Even that was AFTER I was adamant to share our story and demanded to speak with someone to complain.