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By Dulce Aymara
As a traveler, I see vacations as a time to relax. I’m the type of traveller who prefers a quiet, comfrotable stay full of comfort over an mishap ridden adventure like the one I lived through recently at an Airbnb in Cancun, Mexico.
My Tourist Profile
I travel several times a year, yet I’d never used Airbnb services. I’ve rented apartments for trips in the past and I don’t consider it as comfortable as staying at an all-inclusive resort.
I get that there are destinations where a hotel stay is not recommended or possible. I also know that for longer stays, a rented property is better price wise than a hotel with an all-inclusive plan. But hear me out: I’m the mother of three teenagers for whom I must cook several times a day. I prefer vacations where I free myself of that responsibility.
My Cancun Airbnb Odyssey
We recently visited the tourist city of Cancun with the whole family. Because of the number of people in our group and the length of our stay, we decided to rent an Airbnb. Our search began quite long in advance. As everyone knows, when setting up family vacations involving many people from various countries, prolonged planning is necessary.
Since my sister lives in Cancun, she was responsible of choosing a place close to her home. Days before our arrival, she visited the place she booked. It turned out to be a pigsty. All dirty, insecure, with a broken door and located in the middle of a somewhat shady neighborhood.
She immediately requested a refund and began scouting another option for us.
On the day we arrived in Cancun, we found an Airbnb that apparently “met” our demands for space and distance, so we chose it.
When we arrived at the apartment it smelled horrible and needed cleaning. The toilet in my bathroom had no seat. The floors were super dirty. It lacked basic things such as towels, batteries for the remote controls, light bulbs and kitchenware.
We were already there and we would not let that ruin our vacation. My sister-in-law and I cleaned the apartment. We lowered our lodging expectations so as not to lose another place. Only then could we go out to explore Cancun in peace.
They Evicted Us
With two days left on our Airbnb contract, the renter came and asked us to vacate the apartment. His excuse was supposed tasks that would be performed on the property’s water pipes. We had scheduled a trip to Tulum that very day, but cancelled because I woke up sick. Which means that had we not been there, he would have left us on the street.
We spent all morning pleading with the guy not to move us, but it was no use. A feared crept in that, by staying reluctantly, the owner would come in at night and rob us blind. Oh, yeah, the owner had a copy of the apartment key. Didn’t I mention that? He even came in one moment while we were out.
Imagine our fear in a country we knew little about, staying in a place where they don’t want you anymore. I felt a sense of helplessness and anger. Finally, we agreed to vacate the apartment, with the condition that they find us another one nearby where to sleep last night in Cancun. We spent the last two days packing and moving to the new place. I missed out on enjoying the beach and I got the flu. The experience was anything but pleasant.
I was reading Airbnb’s policies after the incident. It turns out that the service has a Guest Refund Policy for Airbnb stays. My particular experience was covered among their conditions. A refund is admissible should any problem arises during one’s stay. You only need to contact Airbnb and the company will partially reimburse your stay or make a new reservation elsewhere, depending on the nature of the problem.
My point is that when you travel somewhere, you days are pretty much limited. Although the same host found us another place to stay, it’s not fair that I spent two days of my vacation moving and cleaning apartments. Which is why I continue to support hotels, their facilities and their customer service. Call me old-fashioned, but holidays are for rest, in my opinion, not for cleaning or cooking at other people’s homes.
Although Airbnb is not responsible for the illicit activities of its hosts and the company seems to take care of any problem, they still have a long way to go. Ideally, their rental platform should be 100 percent regulated in all countries, with Airbnb supervisors everywhere. That way hosts would be forced to fulfill the contracts they sign to the letter. I will try Airbnb services in the future and if I have problems I will contact the company immediately. However, I will also continue to use other means of accomodation based on where I travel.
Dulce Aymará is co-founder of Destinos Ahora and a social media specialist with experience in advertising, journalism, hotels and public relations. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as @dulceaymara and @dulceaymaracocina.