Trip Report – Hedonism III – August 10-20, 2009
My wife Louise and I have just completed a ten day stay at Hedo III (Aug 10 -20, room 412), our forth visit to the resort since Jun 08. Apart from the obvious sensual attraction of the resort the second appeal in making our choice to return is the water sports, in particular the scuba diving.
This trip was planned on short notice in order to take advantage of several bonus programs offered. We had $253 worth of Hedo bonus bucks, a two day satisfaction guarantee voucher, an offer of three free days if we spent 14 days at Hedo this year and to top it off heavily discounted airfares.
For the first time we printed our boarding passes at home the day before departure. We arrived at the airport at 0545 for our 0700 Air Canada departure. A very uninterested agent advised us that the flight had been cancelled due to thunderstorms in the Toronto area. When she realized that we were connecting to MBJ she told us to go to ticketing. While in a long line at ticketing a roving agent advised us to call an 800 number as this would be faster. I left Louise in line and I found a phone. Someone was already on line to AC and stated that he had been holding for twenty minutes. Since Louise got to the head of the line before I got on the phone we spoke to a counter agent. This agent worked quietly for about ten minutes, mentioning that we might be delayed until the next morning. After her work she advised us that the YYZ - MBJ flight was delayed because of weather and crew and therefore she was booking us to Montreal then Toronto with the hope of leaving Toronto at 1230.
Departed Toronto at 1235 and landed Mo Bay at 1525 local. Immigration was immediate but we spent at least 25 minutes going through Customs (nothing to declare). Jamaican Immigration and Customs services have to improve their passenger handling. We then spent 45 minutes waiting for the bus to depart. Nevertheless it's sunny and hot.
We arrived at Hedo after a ride of about an hour thirty and a stop at Breezes. Check in was prompt but we were told that no poolside rooms were available (our booked room) but we were being upgraded to an oceanside nude pool room. The room was in the 600 block ground level. Noise from the hot tub, the towel exchange at 6:00am and grounds maintenance at 5:30am made for a terrible night. We changed rooms early afternoon next day to a poolside room in the 400 block as reserved.
A key motivator for taking this trip was the offer of 3 free days once we had stayed a total of 14 days this year. Since our last trip in June was for 11 days we only needed to stay an additional 3 days to qualify for the 3 day credit. Prior to booking the trip I contacted Christine of guest services to determine how this would work. I wanted to use the free days immediately during this trip. I was advised that after I had stayed the required 14 days a letter/voucher would be delivered to our room. The morning of our 15th day there was no voucher at the door. I went to the front desk about 8:15 and asked the desk clerk if she was familiar with the promotion. She stated she was aware of it and that I apparently qualified. I asked for the voucher. She stated that she was unable to provide it because her manager was not present. I went back later and was told the manager was in a meeting and would not be available until 2:00pm. Went back about 2:30 and was told there was no clerk available to prepare the letter. At this point I wanted assurances that the three days would be consecutive and that we could stay in the same room. I was given a scrap of paper with a number on it which was supposed to be a reservation confirmation number. I was advised that after our current stay expired I would have to go back to the front desk to have our electronic keys revalidated. I returned again later in the afternoon to pick up the voucher. I was advised that it had been prepared but not signed. Got a call in the room about 30 minutes later saying it was ready if I wanted to collect it. Five visits to the front desk to get a letter that any good PR person should have had under the door when I woke up. Utter and absolute nonsense.
During this visit we were appalled at the state of repair and lack of dive facilities. The Hedo dive boat has been out of service since about the 8th of June, the last day of our previous visit. This is because of a broken engine telegraph cable, a failed hydraulic trim jack and a broken propeller. The loss of this boat means the sharing of the Breezes boat with resulting crowding and loss of the second daily dive. All dive equipment has been moved to Breezes so equipment cannot be issued and fitted at Hedo. This means all equipment has to be issued at Breezes and hauled through the surf either by guests or the overworked dive staff. During our stay the boarding ladder broke again and for several days divers had to be hauled aboard the boat in a manner similar to landing a very large fish. Despite the diligence of the boat crew this procedure resulted in several bruises to my wife and I. These intolerable conditions have caused at least one Hedo dive master to resign and lead to overwork and frustrations for the others. It is my intention to write to PADI and recommend that Hedo III lose its dive center certification.
The other water sports are in similar disrepair. Only one of three sailboats is operable. In the past guests could sail alone but now a skipper is required. Why aren't there any Sunfish or similar boats available? How about paddleboats? The ski boat also failed while we were there and is still out of service. The only things that work are the kayaks and that's because there is nothing to fail except one's arms.
Any property maintenance requiring more than paint and woodworking seems to be ignored.
On the positive side of our visit is the extraordinary staff in all areas. Everyone was friendly, courteous and welcoming. Rooms are good and very well maintained. Food in all areas is of high quality and variety. The grounds are impeccably kept by men like Delroy. Bars are a problem because of flat mixes and unavailability of brands between bars. How is it possible in Jamaica not to have a simple white rum available at all bars?
To summarize this property I would say that if you want a great fun, sensual and party venue with little interest in water activity then this may well be the place for you. If watersports are of significant interest to you then chose another resort.
Return trip. The trip from hell. We departed MBJ 15 minutes late with a full aircraft (B-767) and the largest number of small children I have ever traveled with, probably 30 or more. Approaching Toronto we were advised that we were diverting to Montreal because of a major weather system in Toronto. Approaching Montreal we were advised that we would land, refuel and return to Toronto. After landing at 8:15 pm, we were advised no gates were available and we would have to wait for a parking space. Fifty minutes later the engines were shut down at a parking area removed from the terminal. Throughout this wait people and kids walked about freely despite the seat belt sign being illuminated. Now we awaited re-fueling. During this time two passengers with medical problems required deplaning. Passengers were asked if anyone else wanted to leave the aircraft in Montreal. We were advised that anyone deplaning would not have their baggage unloaded. Several passengers indicated interest. We were later told that Canada Customs now insisted that if anyone deplaned their bags would also have to go which would mean unloading all bags. The Captain made a PA asking passengers if they would reconsider staying aboard as this would mean that the aircraft could proceed to Toronto shortly. The cabin staff never asked if people would reconsider. Nothing happened. About 10:50pm we were advised that we were pushing back in order to start engines and proceed to a gate. Engines started and we taxied to the International arrivals area and waited a further 10 minutes for a crew to wave us in.
Our hearts went out to the families who had to endure 3 hours on the ground without water or snacks and mostly confined to their seats. AC handling of this diversion to Montreal was very poorly handled. Canada Customs and Revenue Services did nothing to ease the problem.
Passengers were told that for those going to Toronto they were being booked on a 12:30am flight and that after Immigration procedures they should go to Departures area. All others should clear and proceed to ticketing. Immigration was efficient but we waited at least 40 minutes for baggage. Louise and I thought we could rent a car so we went to the rental kiosks in another building only to learn that no company would permit a drop off in Ottawa. Back to AC ticketing where two agents were trying to accommodate a B767 load of angry and frustrated passengers. Despite our detour to the rental agencies we were well foreword in the line. Louise decided to find us a drink and I inched forward. Finally at the counter, given a hotel voucher and an AC 800 number and told to call from hotel for more info after hotel check-in or in morning. Starting to panic because no Louise. She shows up with no drinks and tells me that dispensers have swallowed $7. Proceed to find hotel shuttle and get to nearby Fairflield hotel at about 1:10am. Nice room. Find ice, make drink, have showers while on hold with AC. Give up at 2:15am.
Call AC at 6:45 and reach an agent at 7:00. Told we are booked on 8:00am flight. Told him this was impossible and requested 10am flight. He suggested we might want to go to Ottawa via Toronto. NOT. Here we are at gate 21 waiting for 7769 to Ottawa. Hoping to be in our apartment by noon.
0940 - Supposed to board at 0925. Ask Customer Services about delay. Despite the fact there is no gate agent and no activity around aircraft they insist we are on time. At 9:45 advised that crew is inbound from somewhere and ETD is now 1040. Stay tuned. We push back at 11:15 and airborne at 11:34.
Home is almost insight. Arrive at apartment at 1245 hrs. What a trip!
I know that this appears to be largely negative. However, it all occurred. Nevertheless, with the great staff, super food, wonderful sun, and the other activities at Hedo we had a wonderful time.
Dennis & Louise
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Trip Report – Hedonism III – August 10-20, 2009