Traveling to the Dominican Republic had been long over due. On the agenda since 2015, on November 18 I was finally making my way to Santo Domingo. Just a disclaimer though, the above picture is just for visual appeal, because my real air bnb sucked!
I admit, I absolutely love the idea of the AirBnb app, its innovative, easy to use and offers travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves directly into the local lifestyle and culture. Nothing against the big chain hotels and resorts, but when I travel, I want a genuine experience and not all the over priced bells and whistles that mask your destination’s reality and beautiful grittiness.
While preparing to arrange a reservation to Santo Domingo for 9 nights and 10 days, I probably spent three weeks filtering through rooms looking for decent, clean accommodation at affordable rates. Keeping in mind that I was traveling out of the country for my surgical appointment with one of the best breast reduction surgeons in the region, Dr. Mallol, I had to adhere to my planned budget for accommodation which was around $22 – $30 bucks a night. I eventually, decided to book a quaint little one-bedroom apartment for my mom and I to share which cost us $220USD for our entire stay in Santo Domingo. Judging by the pictures, it wasn’t anything fancy, just decent and comfortable enough for my stay. Once I have a clean comfortable bed, air condition and wifi, I’ll be satisfied.
Prior to leaving New York, our host and I exchanged conversations about her apartment, and the purpose of my visit. Having been informed about the reason for my trip to Santo Domingo she became concerned about my dirtying her sheets and towels. Apparently, according to her, she had had a bad experience with a guest who stayed in the apartment who also had surgery. Understanding her concerns I promised in advance to be very careful not to damage any of her property.
After my tediously draining 4-hour flight, I was finally on my way to my Airbnb, I had never been so excited to just crash into bed and sleep. Our host was very polite and she spoke English really well too. Opening the door to the apartment she began mentioning–as if she had only just remembered, “Oh, we are in a electricity controlled district. The power shuts off every day for a couple hours.” I wasn’t too bothered, although it didn’t concern me until it actually happened.
The next morning at about 10am the power shut off, and with that we had no air condition, no wifi, no sanity! The room became so humid and clustered that my mom sat out on the porch until the power came back on. My second day in the country and I’m getting the true experience of life in the Dominican Republic. I just wished she had mentioned this in her AirBnB ad. It’s ironic how one problem brought light to all the things that was wrong in the apartment.
Apart from the daily power loss, our host also chose not to provide sheets or towels. How in the world can you host a guest at your home and not give them sheets or towels? We also didn’t have hot water in the shower, and this wasn’t due to the power loss, the hot water didn’t work period! I know I said that I liked experiencing my trips in all it’s authenticity, but this was a little to real for me! At least she was courteous enough to have the maintenance come to try to fix the water heater.
And I say ‘try’ because yet still on the fourth day of our stay we still didn’t have hot water. Imagine being hot and sticky with no air condition while also being to scared to take a shower in the icy cold water. We ended up having to boil pans of water to bathe which my mother hated greatly.
When the going gets tough the tough gets going! On the fifth day yet another problem came up, the wifi stopped working. Our trip was beginning to suck, suck really bad! I was extremely disappointed. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions but I was beginning to like our host lesser and lesser with each passing day.
Not sure if this was just a way for her to make a quick buck, but the business of hospitality management isn’t for everyone. Taking on the responsibility of being a host to foreign visitors should be taken seriously, after all I did pay cold, hard cash. Had I just been staying there for free I wouldn’t complain. Shouldn’t there be certain standards that these hosts adhere to? I totally understand being in an electricity controlled district, it’s really not her fault, however hosts need to be held accountable for their integrity and honesty on their AirBnB ads. She could have inserted a disclaimer explaining the true conditions of her apartment. I get it, it would probably affect potential guests interests, but you can’t advertise bread and cheese sandwiches and only serve bread!
It all became a little too overwhelming, I had to check out of her sham of a lodging earlier than planned if I wanted to maintain my sanity. I contacted AirBnB for a refund for the balance of my reservation. I did appreciate though that our host wasn’t resistant and aggressive about our decision to leave.
I definitely still stand by what I say, I always hope to have an authentic experience when I travel but I also like to know in advance what I’m getting myself into. So I guess when your AirBnb sucks you may find yourself having to upgrade to the fancy shmancy perks that I claim to not prefer, yet I will admit that perks aren’t so bad after all. Room service, breakfast buffet, housekeeping with clean fresh sheets and towels–I think I could get used to luxury traveling. Although, the last minute change of plans did put a major dent in my budget. Four nights and five days at the W&P Hotel cost us about $490USD, but when you consider all the carefree benefits, its a cost that’s worth affording. Bare in mind, I did say worth ‘affording’, because why stretch your budget if you’re going to go back home broke?
Who knows, maybe on my next adventure I will spring for the bells and whistles in advance. I really love traveling and I hope it’s something I could incorporate into my life at least once a year. Next destination on my bucket list is Costa Rica!