Viral: A mother’s emotional review and the resort’s apology letter

Published December 9, 2020, 10:00 AM

by Jane Kingsu-Cheng

Everyone looks forward to a relaxing vacation, especially now when travel is very limited. But what if your happiness, especially your child’s joyful mood, gets halted. How should a parent handle this scenario? How should the resort take care of its guests?

A mother’s review
Such is the case of a mother named maipages when she left an emotional review on Plantation Bay Resort and Spa on the travel site Tripadvisor. “It could have been the perfect getaway for Fin, my child with special needs,” she started as she explained how her child squeals when he’s happy. Everything was wonderful until a lifeguard told them to be quiet. “So I told him not to squeal because it wasn’t allowed,” she admitted that it was a difficult moment for her. A second lifeguard approached her and told her the same thing. This time, she explained her child has special needs. 

“Every time Fin jumps in the water he’d be so happy that he’d laugh and squeals again. I tried hushing him and at one point tried to cover his mouth. But then I realized this is so wrong? This isn’t right at all!” The mom decided to bring her son back to the room. 

“It’s a discriminating experience. We often get this a lot. When normal people who are ignorant of people with special needs, give us that stare of please control your child,” she continues to talk about her child and how they were treated. “My Fin is a happy child. He has autism. He is special. Very special! I will never consider staying here ever again. No luxury of this proportion can make this experience okay because that is not what we need. We need a friendly and empathetic environment for kids and families with special needs.”

Image by Pixstar from Pixabay

Resort’s response
A day after, Efren Belarmino, general manager of the resort, responded to the review with a lengthy message from one of the company’s resident shareholders Manny Gonzalez. He started by using their website and social media accounts as reminders about their policies on making noise. 

He then further explained why, “Our first reason for this is safety. There are almost three hectares of lagoons and swimming pools in the resort, ten times more water area than most resorts in Mactan. It is essential that our staff be able to hear cries of distress even from far away. Moreover, it is essential that our staff not become so used to hearing screaming that they ignore a real cry for help. And once one child starts screaming, others tend to follow in imitation. Therefore, since our opening, for the safety of all guests, we have imposed stricter rules on noise-making than other resorts.” He also noted that because of this, “no child in Plantation Bay has ever come to serious harm, much less drowned. No other resort in Mactan can claim this safety record. Children have died in all other major resorts on the island, as indeed they do in most resorts around the world, even those with tiny wading pools. Zero deaths in 25 years is a good safety record, one we aim to keep.”

He also pointed out their resort is a place to respite. “You cannot relax if people around you are constantly screaming. Every customer should be respected, not just one parent and one child. Most of our guests fully understand and agree with this idea—it is not a resort for noise-makers, regardless of their reason. To demand that all the customers just shut up while one child screams his head off? That’s not our idea of fairness.”

The third reason reminded interested guests to read the resort’s policies which includes making sure you have your child under control. “While we are sorry that we are not the right resort for this parent and child, we hope that in the future other parents who want their children to scream constantly and bother other guests, will do their homework and choose another resort, one which doesn’t care about the ninety-nine percent of guests who want to relax in peace and quiet.”

Lastly, they noted that with Covid-19, “everyone should remember that screaming, even loud talking, spreads a higher viral load a much farther distance than ordinary talking. With loud shouting, viruses scatter in a radius of 10 meters or more, not 1 meter as in normal speech. For public health, it would benefit society that everyone learns to speak in a soft voice in all circumstances except real emergencies.” 

Additional apology
On the same day, the same shareholder composed an apology letter addressed to the public on the resort’s Facebook page. “I was wrong to question the mother’s motives, and regret leaving the impression that we are not supportive of the community of parents and children who have special needs.” He still stressed the company’s policy on keeping the noise levels down in the pool and at the restaurants. “As a result of that policy, in almost 25 years we have never had a child die here. A mother’s pride is important, but more important are the lives of the children who come here.”