Our Dream Beach Wedding in The Bahamas
Everyone has been asking us about our destination wedding in Abaco, and I’ve been avoiding the topic. Truth is, it’s been weighing on me so heavily. As I continue to grow and evolve as a writer, I’m doing my best to present the whole picture with less emphasis on perfection. I thought perhaps today was the perfect day to get it all off my chest… because you know how much I like writing up the negative side of travel. (See here, here, here and here for the 4 negative stories I’ve written in the past 657 posts.)
But y’all, things did not go well with our wedding at Bahama Beach Club. (And, UPDATE: things have gotten much worse. Stalking, defamation and death threats from hotel employees… I wish I was kidding.) I feel compelled to share so this doesn’t happen to anyone else.
Planning a Wedding in The Bahamas
Why did we choose to get married in The Bahamas? Easy question! It’s one of my absolute favorite countries – the beaches in The Bahamas are perfection – and I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends and family. I worked with the Ministry of Tourism as a publicist from 2006-2010, visiting several dozen times, coordinating conferences, visits for journalists, TV show tapings, brand partnership, b-roll shoots, pageants – you name it! As part of my work projects, I visited Mayaguana, Rum Cay, Cat Island, San Salvador, Inagua, Nassau, Grand Bahama, Andros, Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Crooked Island, Long Island and of course, Abaco.
Once I quit my PR job to become a full-time writer & blogger, I continued to write about The Bahamas and represent various hotel clients in Abaco and Exuma. My long-standing, positive relationship with the country was the main reason we chose to have our destination wedding on Treasure Cay, Abaco.
Related Content: Why You Need a Bahamas Vacation
All About Our Bahama Beach Club Destination Wedding
I don’t write about sad feelings very well – you guys know I’m here to tell you about all the fun stuff there is to do in the world – but I don’t know how to put a positive spin on this massive disappointment. But Bahama Beach Club took away our one opportunity for a fun, relaxing wedding week in Abaco and we can never get that week back.
Soon we’ll have all the pretty professional photos and with any luck they’ll warp my memories from the mess we ended up with to a fuzzy version of the week I wish we’d had. I just want to point out before I share the gorgeous footage and pictures of smiling faces and perfection, that our wedding week was hot gar-bage.
The reality: I was a crying ball of stress, Rick was furious as we tried to track down management for an explanation and our loved ones who scrimped and saved for months didn’t get the resort vacation they paid for.
It’s easy to get away from authenticity in the social media realm, where we often present stylized, filtered, sometimes unrealistic images of ourselves, our DIY projects, our brunches and our travels. I don’t want to be that person, and I really don’t want to perpetuate a myth that all destination weddings are picture perfect and Pinterest-ready, so I’m making a particular effort now to say:
Our destination wedding at Bahama Beach Club on Treasure Cay was a huge mess. We didn’t get what we paid for with our destination wedding package. We are extremely unhappy with the way the entire week went down and we don’t want anyone else to waste hard-earned money on an experience that isn’t worth it.
What Went Wrong at Our Bahamas Wedding Venue
So what went wrong at our Bahama Beach Club destination wedding? Literally, all of the things. 100 details slipped through the cracks and all I could’ve dealt with each and every one without batting an eyelash. Hello, I work in PR.
But for now, I’ll just focus on the biggest debacle of all – the one I couldn’t do anything about. After months of wedding planning purgatory – both hotel-related and not – we finally made it to Treasure Cay on Oct. 18 and checked into our condo. I was so ready to relax and focus on the big day ahead. We were starving so I gathered the family for a property tour en route to lunch.
Confused and bewildered – I mean, I confirmed everything was up and running the day before we arrived – we made our way to the Pool Bar & Grill on the other side of the resort. This area was set to be the site of our Thursday night rehearsal dinner.
To our horror, the area was in a much worse state than the Pavilion – unpaved, covered in tarps, dust, equipment and a dozen workers. The pool with swim-up bar and the hot tub were both bone dry and unusable and naturally, due to all the construction, the restaurant and bar were closed.
With the rehearsal dinner five days away, I realized that there was nowhere to eat or drink on the property. Since it was the last week of off-season on the island, most Treasure Cay restaurants were shuttered and not within walking distance anyhow. The closest restaurant by a long stretch was the Tipsy Seagull, a bar about 10 minutes walk down the road.
How would you feel if you promised your family and friends (some who came from as far as Italy, Australia and Afghanistan) an unforgettable beach vacation in a super classy resort only to bring them to a low-rent situation with no available food? That’s me, the professional travel expert of the family, bringing everyone to a construction site where you have to hike to eat or drink.
While all our loved ones saved for 8 months to make this once-in-a lifetime getaway happen, upon arrival they received a subpar experience that cost far more than it was worth from a vacation perspective – roughly $11,000 in room nights alone for a half-open resort with no food, bar, Wifi or amenities, that are all prominently advertised on the website.
With two weeks notice, I could’ve moved our party to a resort with the capability to feed and entertain my group. Instead, Bahama Beach Club didn’t even give a courtesy heads-up.
And I spent my Abaco wedding week frustrated because I couldn’t get a straight answer about when or if the construction would be completed. Every time I spoke with a staff member, the story changed. No one could tell me a real reason why the construction was taking place during a time when guests were scheduled to be on island. The first excuse was “due to Hurricane Joaquin damage,” but when I reminded them Joaquin didn’t hit their island, that changed to “hurricane preparation.”
I didn’t know until the actual day if our rehearsal or wedding would take place as planned.
I cried myself to sleep more than once and almost packed up and went home on Wednesday night – and I’m reasonably certain that’s not how a bride should feel during her wedding week.
Short of truly serious situations, like illness and death, I have rarely been this stressed out or overwhelmed — and I have one of the 6th most stressful job in America. (PR!) As with every event I’ve planned in the past, I expected inevitable bumps and snags, and we had plenty of minor issues to go with the big ones.
I believed that once we arrived in The Bahamas for our destination wedding, all the meticulous follow-up on my part would lead to a fun, carefree week, as promised from day one by the wedding team at the hotel. Instead we were met with lies and half-truths and a management team that never once offered an apology. Rick and I attempted to meet with the owner who was lurking around the edges of the events, schmoozing with selected guests, but he never made the time to meet with us to express his regret over ruining our week.
Never in my professional life have I encountered a more disrespectful, condescending hotel management team as I did at Bahama Beach Club. It was appalling.
From Bad to Scary: Our Destination Wedding Horror Story
The hotel refunded the cost of the rehearsal dinner since we had the privilege of hosting it next to a construction site and empty pool, and they did offer a couple complimentary meals and drinks, but we still paid thousands for what amounted to a bargain basement Bahamas destination wedding package.
Why did they lie about the construction? Why didn’t they give us the chance to decide whether or not to spend our week and our money at a barely open hotel?
For receipts and a more complete look at this never-ending saga, check out:
- TripAdvisor reviews of Bahama Beach Club
- Wedding Wire review of Bahama Beach Club
- Craig Roberts, the owner of Bahama Beach Club, has had all our negative reviews on TripAdvisor removed except for one. Scroll to the bottom for screenshots of our original reviews.
- The Florida Times-Union wrote about the disaster (and our love story) in their Sunday wedding section. Check it out here. Thanks for helping us share our story, FTU!
- Read about our ongoing saga to get our TripAdvisor reviews republished.
- 1Since my post “The Curious Case of the Disappearing TripAdvisor Reviews” went viral last week, several new reviews from our wedding guests have posted on TripAdvisor.
- Bahama Beach Club is at it again with their subpar Caribbean wedding packages. Check out this bride’s TripAdvisor review from their recently botched wedding.
Obviously, we don’t share this experience lightly or without great consideration but it only got more and more outrageous once we got home. The millionaire hotelier hired a man to harass and threaten me and my family online.
When I thought it couldn’t get worse and that it was all just over, it did. When the coordinated harassment and threats started from a member of Bahama Beach Club staff, I wrote this with even more receipts and proof.
You’ve got to be really bad at customer service to solve a problem like this.
Should You Get Married in The Bahamas?
Sure. The Bahamas are still my favorite islands in the world and I still count many Bahamians as family. There are a hundred hotels, inns and resorts that would provide you a better experience. But I can’t recommend Bahama Beach Club for all the reasons outlined in this post. They ruined our wedding week, harassed me after the fact and continue to make promises they can’t keep to other brides. There are a dozen other fabulous destination wedding venues on Abaco, so please check them out first!
The good news is that, against all odds, our wedding did take place and we remain hopeful that we are legally married. We still have no marriage license or actual proof from the Bahamian government, but that’s not a concern I can entertain right now. I’ve been assured we’ll get it within 3 weeks to 6 months. (Update: we eventually got it thanks to some sneaky dealings from one of our contacts on island. WHEW.)
Many have said, “Hey, at least you’re married.” It’s not just about the fact that we are successfully married – we could’ve saved tens of thousands in flights, accommodations and travel expenses if it was just about “being married” at the end of the day. We paid for the full “destination wedding in The Bahamas” experience, and along with our guests, a luxe resort, and neither was delivered.
12/1/2015: Bahama Beach Club is using my decorations – the ones I paid for & designed – to advertise their wedding offerings on their social media channels. Given what they’ve put us through and the amount of money we all spent on a truly subpar experience, I think this is pretty despicable behavior.
- 12/8/2015: The Chat invited me on the show to talk about romantic destinations AND our disastrous destination wedding experience at Bahama Beach Club. Check it out here!
- 12/12/2015: Y’all are going to love this. After 6+ weeks have gone by without a word from Bahama Beach Club in response to our requests for refunds for a vacation experience not received and a wedding week ruined, Craig Roberts, the owner at BBC, has responded to our handful of TripAdvisor reviews… by copying and pasting his original smarmy response to my mom about the hurricane that never hit his island. He did a bit of editing though, this time revising to say we received all sorts of freebies and refunds that we most certainly did NOT receive.
I’ve been very clear in my coverage about what was received – the rehearsal dinner ($1,700) was comped because it took place next to a CONSTRUCTION SITE and EMPTY POOL, and was only offered after many days of lying on their part. We received ONE free golf cart to transport our 38 guests around Treasure Cay. We never received a personal or sincere apology, or any conversation whatsoever to this day. As to additional refunds and free condos, I know nothing of either. I certainly paid for mine as did our loved ones, save for a couple of media who had independent arrangements with the resort. And you saw the photos… I don’t think there’s any question that we didn’t get what we paid for.
- 12/13/2015: The plot thickens. Several folks who attended the wedding and paid for a week at the Bahama Beach Club wrote reviews on TripAdvisor about how their vacations were wrecked by the construction. Suddenly, after the owner responded to all the reviews yesterday, all but one review, including my 2,000 words, have disappeared. If that doesn’t scream guilt from the rooftops, I don’t know what does!
Here are screenshots of three of the reviews I managed to salvage:
Folks, this story just keeps getting more outrageous. Why a millionaire hotelier would bully a bride and groom and their family is beyond me.
- 12/14/2015: One of our wedding guests wrote about her experience at Bahama Beach Club. Sadly, it wasn’t just construction that made for a disappointing stay. Check out her post here.
- 12/15/2015: Look! We’re in Modern Luxury Brides!
- 12/20/15: The Florida Times-Union wrote about the disaster (and our love story) in their Sunday wedding section. Check it out here. Thanks for helping us share our story, FTU!
- 12/31/2015: I spoke with a friend at the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism who has been trying to connect with the hotel to speak about a resolution. Multiple emails and voicemails have gone unanswered.
- 1/5/2016: Happy New Year! Bahama Beach Club is at it again. After reporting all our reviews out TripAdvisor & having them removed, I edited mine and reposted. The owner had this to say in response:
Someone should’ve told me I wasn’t a real blogger! What have I been doing all these years?!
But in all seriousness, BBC asked me for a comprehensive PR and social media proposal back in June and said the “sky is the limit.” They wanted someone to run their communications and social platforms, so I submitted a proposal. I never asked them for money to “write nice things.” Either they don’t know the difference between blogging and social media/PR, or they are purposefully defaming me and my career now. Obviously there’s not enough money in all of this rich hotelier’s bank accounts to make me write nice things about the bully who won’t quit.
And also, how about all these nuggets… free golf cartS, free ground transportation (ALL brides get that), FREE rooms – nope, we didn’t get any. The lies just flow so easily from this man.
- 1/20/2016: Since my post “The Curious Case of the Disappearing TripAdvisor Reviews” went viral last week, several new reviews from our wedding guests have posted on TripAdvisor. The owner’s original comments above were deleted and replaced with the following:
Isn’t it telling that trying to tear down my professional reputation is his only response?
Malicious and organized campaign from friends and family? Well, if 38 people have a terrible experience at your resort, I suspect you might get 38 negative reviews from them. Pesky math!
Our wonderful staff has apologized again and again? When? Where? We haven’t received a single personal response to any of our communications.
And my favorite part… “This Professional Blogger & very unhappy bride wanted money to write “nice things” about our resort. We refused!” The hotel asked me for a proposal to do their public relations back in June – clearly they need it, with management so off the rails. I obliged with a presentation and they decided to take their communications in another direction. That’s very different from me approaching them and demanding money to write nice things. Does he really think people buy his crazy TripAdvisor responses? Well, just in case they do, here’s the first email I received from Bahama Beach Club asking me for details on my services. Guess this kinda blows his whole assertion that I’m the unscrupulous one, huh?
- 1/24/2016: Bahama Beach Club is at it again! Check out this bride’s TripAdvisor review from their recently botched wedding:
That’s two destination weddings messed up at the hands of Bahama Beach Club. Brides and grooms, beware! There are dozens of other options in Abaco for your wedding. Don’t risk it at BBC!
- 2/7/2016: It’s been a little while since the last update! It’s hard to even know what to say about Craig Roberts’ responses to our guests’ latest TripAdvisor reviews. He continues to lie and say that I’ve asked him for money to write nice things – a risky move considering I have all the emails and voicemails where his team asked me for a PR/social media proposal to help their failing business. With the amount of evidence I have, I am shocked anyone could be so shameless! It really just continues to prove the level of deceit and appalling customer service we’re dealing with here. In his latest rant against a paying hotel guest, Craig alludes to the bride’s aliases, as though I’m sitting here writing a bunch of reviews against his hotel. I don’t need aliases. There were dozens of unhappy, paying customers that week, at my wedding and at another wedding, and they’re all entitled to their opinions. I wrote one review and everyone else who was defrauded by the hotel’s false advertising has the right to share their story, too.
In a string of bizarre and irrelevant statements, he mentions how many people came to our wedding vs. how many he assumes we invited. He also says something about my Mom’s credit card charge being denied… which is A. untrue, B. has nothing to do with this guest’s experience anyhow and is C. not legal for a merchant to disclose customer transactions to anyone who is not the customer.
It’s a perplexing answer to a guest’s complaint that the pool was closed, right? Maybe next time Craig could actually address WHY no one told us that the hotel was under construction so we could move the festivities to a more prepared venue?
He’s now posting his whacko rants about how I’m extorting him to every negative review, not just the ones from our guests. I guess since he’s dug himself into such an embarrassing hole, he thinks smearing my reputation is his only way out. But all the proof I have speaks for itself – do you think his colleagues at the hotel are embarrassed about this yet?
His instability, lies and pride are driving his business into the ground, which is a shame, because Bahama Beach Club has many employees and condo owners who depend on revenue and his unhinged responses on TripAdvisor just prove that it’s not a good place to stay — not while he’s in charge. I hope and pray he gets the help he needs sooner rather than later!
Also to note: a curious number of gushingly positive reviews have suddenly appeared. Whether they’re from actual guests or compensated fake reviews, I can’t say. But it certainly makes you wonder…
- 2/8/2016: I feel for the other bride whose wedding was botched by Bahama Beach Club. She posted her negative review about the experience on TripAdvisor and what do you think Craig did? He copied and pasted the same old defamatory nonsense about my wedding on her review. You’d think after they wrecked her wedding to such an extent that she CHANGED VENUES the day before, they might deign to respond to her individually. Absolutely shameful!
And here’s the message she sent to Craig afterward:
- 2/9/2016: My hunch was right. Bahama Beach Club has been sending out gifts & incentives to past guests who write positive reviews. No wonder so many over-the-top positive ones have popped up lately. This is expressly against TripAdvisor policy. I wonder if they’ll actually hold them to the rules this time?
- 2/24/2016: My husband posted a review and here is Craig’s response.
And then the harassment and threats began. For that part of the story, click here.
It’s a lot, I know. But brides thinking about this venue need to know what they’re wading into. If I can stop just one person from subjecting their family to this, then I’ll count it a success.
Maybe in a year, we can have a stress-free vow renewal somewhere peaceful? I’m not inclined to return to the same spot anytime soon and I just feel so sick about the whole thing, especially because I have had such a positive relationship with The Bahamas for the past 10 years.
Disclaimer: I received a menial discount from Bahama Beach Club on our rehearsal dinner bonfire. As you can see, we got the discount destination wedding experience, too. FTC rules require that media make it clear if they received anything free or discounted and also that they provide their honest opinion. You know I always do, hence this honest review of the Bahama Beach Club destination wedding experience. Also, I fully realize there’s nothing worse than reading a sob story about some girl’s first-world problems, and wedding complaints squarely fall into that category. Rick and I are the most blessed married couple in the world, and the most grateful. I write this post out of disgust for the way my guests were treated and taken advantage of, in the hopes that our experience will help other couples make better, more informed decisions when choosing a destination wedding location in The Bahamas.