Regina family speaks out against Cuban resort after ‘nightmare’ vacation

Kelly Morrison is telling Canadian travellers to avoid the Memories Resort in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba after she says her wedding rings and money were stolen. .
Kelly Morrison is telling Canadian travellers to avoid the Memories Resort in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba after she says her wedding rings and money were stolen. . Dave Parsons / Global News

REGINA – A Regina woman is warning other Canadian travellers to steer clear of a Cuban resort after an alleged theft from her hotel room turned her trip into a “nightmare.”

Kelly Morrison booked a stay with her husband, Steve, and her two children at the Memories Paraiso Azul Beach resort in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba with Sunwing through her travel agent from Jan. 26-Feb. 2. During the first few days, Morrison said everything was going great.

“That all changed, however, last Saturday,” Morrison said.

On Jan. 30, Morrison says money and jewelry went missing from the safe in their hotel room. This includes wedding rings and an estimated $170 in Canadian dollars and 130 Cuban pesos.

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They reported the theft to hotel staff, filled out an incident report and were interviewed by the resort’s security.

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“Rather than an interview, it became an interrogation,” Morrison said.

“It was clear they didn’t believe our story. They thought we made up the whole thing – for what reason, I have no idea.”

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According to Morrison, the security staff then brought the couple back up to their hotel room to search for their missing items. Morrison said nothing turned up and the family was told to leave everything in their room, including their passports, and move to other rooms in the resort.

She said later in the day, the family was told by staff they could move back to their original room and reclaim their possessions, including clothes and travel documents, if they withdrew their statement of the alleged theft.

READ MORE: Sick, frustrated Sunwing customers seek compensation

Morrison said she felt the staff just wanted to keep the incident quiet, instead of helping the family.

“They refused to believe anyone else was in our room,” Morrison said.

“They even threatened to kick us out of the hotel if we ‘made a scene’ and told other guests about what happened.”

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Morrison said the family contacted the Government of Canada’s emergency consular services and the Canadian embassy in Varadero. She said they were advised to retract their statement so they could retrieve their belongings and passport.

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According to Morrison, hotel management refused to provide the details of the incident report.

Hotel management company Blue Diamond Resorts released the following statement:

“In the event that we receive a report of theft by one of our customers, there is a protocol which involves items including; clearing and documenting the scene, pulling and reviewing the relevant activity logs on the door and/or safety deposit box, filling out an incident report, contacting the destination representative from their tour operator, and involving the local authorities.  We are very apologetic for the situation, but the matter was turned over to the local authorities, with whom we’ve fully cooperated.”

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After speaking with a Sunwing representative at the resort, Global News has learned that the Canadian embassy, Sunwing and hotel management have all received a copy of the report.

Sunwing further provided the following statement:

“Sunwing Vacations was made aware of the alleged theft and our destination representative assisted our customers from the time it was reported up until their departure.  We understand that the investigation followed the standard process, involving hotel management, the embassy, and local authorities.  Unfortunately Sunwing cannot assume responsibility for items which are lost or stolen in destination, but our destination services team acts as an advocate on behalf of the customer to work towards the best possible outcome for any matter which is reported to us.”

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Global News has also learned that Morrison received some compensation for her loss, valued at under $200, while she was still at the resort as a ‘full and final settlement’ of her claim.

Global News also requested any pictures Morrison may have of her wearing her rings such as wedding photos but Morrison said she could only provide a picture of what her rings  looked like from a print advertisement.

In the end, Morrison said she doesn’t care about the money but she is upset her wedding and engagement rings were taken.

“But worst of all, by far, is the way we were treated,” said Morrison.

“Obviously, I would advise everyone to stay as far away as possible from Memories Santa Maria. I guarantee we’ll be choosing another destination for our next family vacation … and leaving our valuables at home.”

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