Buyer Beware! I know it’s bizarre to see such a negative review in this sea of positive reviews and overall it’s unlikely to change people’s impression of this place. However, I hope anyone reading will at least give this review a little credence because we are actually repeat visitors and as such, following our first visit, we wholly concurred with what most of the positive reviewers are saying. We first stayed in the Dream Walk 3 bedroom villa for a week in February 2011. We had a fantastic time except for at check-out. Thirty minutes before departure we were presented with the bill (we had elected to ‘pay as you go’ rather than the all-inclusive rate). We were a party of four (2 adults, 2 kids ages 8 and 6) and the food and drink bill came to $1,200. We were a bit taken aback by the high total, particularly because the bill wasn’t itemized in any way. It was simply broken down into four segments: ‘Alcohol’, ‘Meat & Poultry’, ‘Fruit & Veg’ and the vague ‘Groceries’. The groceries portion seemed very high, and we were told it was for whatever the chef needs to prepare meals, plus additional items (maple syrup etc). We asked for an itemized bill but the office said they couldn’t provide one, so with no other options we paid and left. Flash forward to February 2012. Aside from the cost, the vacation had been perfect. After we recovered from the sticker shock we decided to book Dream Walk again. This time we were expecting the cost and although what we paid in 2011 still seemed high, we figured it was the price of staying at a ‘luxury villa’. This time the vacation was just good, not fantastic. There was a lackluster air about the place and the service. We didn’t even meet the concierge (who last year had visited us daily) until 5 days into the trip when I went to check on the whereabouts of the server and the chef who had not turned up at their usual time. As another example, on the first night our 7 year old son was badly bitten by mosquitos and the next morning he was covered in angry oozing bites including all over his face. I pointed this out to the server and asked if there was any mosquito repellent we could spray in the room. She came back with some Raid ant spray which was added to our bill. Two days later, at the suggestion of one of beach staff, we asked our server if we could get any mosquito nets. None were forthcoming but I happened to mention the request to the concierge on the 5th day and two nets were immediately installed in the children’s rooms. They couldn’t find a third for our room. The concierge also expressed surprise that we were not using the vaporizers in our rooms! Apparently there were mosquito repelling vaporizers in each room which our server had not considered it necessary to mention. However, this is a digression and not the real reason for this review. We decided to ask for the bill on Friday afternoon this time, so we would not be blindsided upon departure. We had braced ourselves that it would be the same as last year and we’d agreed we would just pay it because once again, we’d had a good vacation. When we got the bill the total this time was $2,200 – an increase of $1,000 over last year. As last year, the ‘grocery’ portion was disproportionately large. We asked for an itemized bill, a request that was greeted with an air of panic. It took several hours to compile and we unfortunately spent the last evening going through it line by line. The bill was rife with errors. Our children ate only grilled cheese, mac & cheese etc., so the majority of the bill reflected two adults consumption. Some items on the bill were simply extravagantly padded. There was 7lbs of rice for a cup of rice at one meal, 4lbs of fish for a piece of red snapper, 12 oranges PER DAY for one small glass of orange juice, 15lbs of potatoes and on and on. Some of the entries were eye-wateringly audacious. There were also many items that we simply didn’t have any of (3 bags hot dog rolls, 2 bottles chocolate syrup, 3 bags of plastic cups etc). We held in our hands one sheaf of papers that tarnished two wonderful family holidays. I particularly felt like a fool, as just that day I had given the chef, the server and the housekeeper (who was wonderful) an additional pre-tip (separate from the final group staff tip) for ‘taking such good care of us’. You can guess the rest. The general manager was summoned to meet with us on the morning of our departure and chatting with him revealed some sad but not surprising information including: The management was not prepared to provide us with a copy of last years bill, itemized or otherwise, for comparison. Even though our consumption was pretty much identical except a little less because we ate one meal out this year. The chef and the server were the only people authorized to requisition items on our behalf. Most troubling, the villa staff are not required to keep any kind of record on what meals are provided and what extras or drinks are consumed. Food orders are written down on a post-it and then discarded. There is simply no way to reconcile what groceries were used for what meals. There’s not a single check or balance in place to guard against fraud. To the manager’s credit, faced with this morass of information, he allowed us to leave without paying while he attempted to get to the bottom of the situation and provide us a more accurate accounting of what we used. The more I think about it, the more impossible a task it seems. He asked for three days to present us with the final bill and at seven days and counting we’ve still heard nothing from him. The reason I’m sharing all this is, it’s hard to believe this is an isolated incident, pre or post this review. It is not our intention to try to dissuade people from staying here. Nor is it our wish to malign the many good and honest people of Jamaica. However, to stay here at all you have to have a certain amount of disposable income because it’s not cheap. Perhaps in that case, some people simply sign the bill without looking or just consider it to be the cost of doing business. If you do care about whether you’re being charged fairly, we can only believe that the all-inclusive rate is a better safer option. If I had to sum up our experience in three words it would be ‘Familiarity Breeds Contempt’. We will never go back.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Idle Awhile Villas invites you to experience the finest rental accommodations in all of Negril, Jamaica. Beautifully situated on Negril's spectacular 7-Mile Beach, Idle Awhile Villas is actually six elegant and incredibly comfortable beach homes. Each offers you the services of its own devoted and delightfully attentive staff: chef, bartender, and housekeeper- all committed to making your Jamaican getaway a truly pleasurable adventure in paradise! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Moon Dance Villas Hotel Negril