No matter how hard I’ve tried over the past seven months to put the disappointment of our disastrous destination wedding behind me, I haven’t been able to. You’ll soon understand why.
I was sitting at a marriage conference with my husband when this popped up in my Twitter notifications:
I was immediately sick to my stomach.
Billions of people use social media daily; it follows that not everyone is well behaved. Normally I can just ignore online trolls until they skitter back under the bridge, but this message was one of hundreds of tweets from the same angry Tweeter over the course of several months.
REST IN PEACE?!
The personal nature of the Tweets was most concerning. This was not some anonymous hater; rather, this was someone intimately acquainted with the details of our wedding debacle at Bahama Beach Club. Well, maybe not all the details… clearly @ToVacationIdeas has a one-sided perception of the events of that week.
Hundreds of messages piled up. I never returned a single one other than to ask him to stop contacting me.
Clearly, @ToVacationIdeas was not pleased that I ignored his demands to remove my content. He’s wavered between offering up free vacations to requesting to connect on LinkedIn to demanding answers about how many condos I rented to Tweeting at my clients, colleagues and friends about how I couldn’t afford my wedding and how he makes more money than I do. (Huh?)
You might be wondering as I did, who is this guy is and why is he threatening to get a passport and visa to meet me soon and screw me in the you-know-where? At first glance, his Twitter feed certainly looks like just the average India-based travel and Trump enthusiast, with a peculiar focus on The Bahamas.
But take a closer look at the profile page…
Isn’t that interesting? @ToVacationIdeas’ profile features a photo of the owner’s condo at Bahama Beach Club (I know because we spent more than $4,000 to stay there during wedding week), a link back to BBC’s Facebook page and a pinned Tweet outlining the property’s offerings with a link to their official handle – @BahamaBeachClub.
Have you ever heard of a stranger running a Twitter account to promote a hotel half a world away just for fun? No, of course not.
As the harassing messages and threats of bodily harm continued to roll in and upset me with their growing intensity, I had to know who was behind all the messages. I did a bit of digging and found a few more telling connections including Avdhesh Kumbhar’s LinkedIn page where he lists Bahama Beach Club as an employer… and all his published content is BBC related. I confirmed that he’s also friends with the hotel owner on Facebook.
What could’ve incited such aggressive vitriol from a stranger? It certainly seems too outrageous to be true, but as the harassment has continued over the course of several months, there’s no question what is going on.
All signs point to this account being supported by the same hotel that falsely advertised its offerings and amenities, lied about hurricane damage, refused to refund guests who stayed at their barely open resort and then accused me of extortion for having the chutzpah to call them out on it.
You read that right. In addition to defrauding our guests, remorselessly botching our wedding week and threatening to harm me physically, they’re shamelessly attempting to damage my reputation with clients and colleagues.
Check out some of the folks & brands mentioned in the following Tweets:
What reason could there be to loop in my business contacts & friends? Oh yeah, purposeful, determined defamation.
Because I really didn’t care to participate in this debacle any further – believe it or not, reliving your crappy wedding week over and over isn’t that much fun – I tried to stop it by reporting the account to Twitter, but it only worked for a few days. The employee started a new account under @AdvertisingAsk and proceeded to send me threats from there, too.
You’ve read the hotelier’s response to our TripAdvisor reviews, where he blamed a hurricane and shamed us for not caring about all those folks killed in a shipwreck 300 miles away, weeks before our event in Abaco. He’s openly defamed me on TripAdvisor, accusing me of demanding money for writing “nice things.” And my friends in Abaco have shared even more behind-the-scenes shenanigans that I won’t publish in order to protect them.
In the face of so much physical evidence, photographs, voicemails indicating that the hurricane was a non-issue, he’s soldiered on unabashedly with his smear campaign.
Perhaps this latest development isn’t so shocking now that I think about it.
As a business owner, I guess I understand why a hotelier would use sneaky tactics to get our reviews removed from TripAdvisor – he wants his money and will let no one stand in the way of making it.
But most rational travelers and hotel owners agree that threatening customers is an unacceptable way to handle negative reviews.
I take these threats very seriously. I have no way of knowing if this is just bark with no bite, or if these men, some who live within easy driving distance, will put action to their threats. No one ever really expects a disagreement to turn into assault or murder; then again, I never would’ve expected any of this. Who knows how far it could go or if there’s someone waiting for me outside?
Perhaps in other countries you can get away with such behavior, but in the U.S., it’s a crime. Cyber harassment is not innocent fun or harmless immaturity. It’s a crime punishable by 1-5 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
According to Police Chief Magazine, “Cyberstalking is an escalated form of online harassment directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. The action is to annoy, alarm and emotionally abuse another person.”
I wrestled (and if you follow along on Snapchat you’ve seen how little sleep I’ve been getting) with whether to post about this at times debilitating situation, or delete my reviews altogether.
- Do I keep quiet so as not to anger these men further?
- Do I delete my truthful review and article of the experience because of threats?
- Do I uphold my integrity, or shut my mouth and pray that no one shows up at my house or on my next trip?
- Do I keep writing about the bad experience even though I just want to put it behind me?
- Do I run the risk of alienating readers and potential business partners by writing about yet another drama with this hotel?
As an entrepreneur and small business owner, every aspect of my success is my responsibility. Researching, writing & editing every post, photography, travel booking, new business, administration, invoicing, contracts, taxes – I do it all, lock, stock and barrel.
If you’ve been around these parts for any length of time, you know much of my life happens online. I live and breathe social media. It’s where I interact with clients and colleagues, find new leads for freelance projects and conduct the day-to-day business of being a blogger and media consultant.
Though it’s taken place in the virtual world, Avdhesh Kumbhar has been effectively storming into my office every day and shouting accusations to clients and colleagues about my inability to perform my job with integrity.
I wish having a horrible wedding week was the worst of this whole experience, but I’ve spent the majority of 2016 fielding these threats. I’ve been sick over this for months. Watching politely & quietly while men tear my reputation apart and threaten to hurt me… I won’t even bother to list the health problems I’ve been having as a result of the stress.
As I said, I have never engaged with the harasser and I hoped my refusal to participate would stop it all. I asked them to stop contacting me and I gave them months of grace.
Nothing has worked.
I’m backed into a corner. Having read the lies spewing from the hotel owner’s mouth on TripAdvisor, hearing from my friends in Treasure Cay the yarns he’s been spinning to save face on island and now facing months of threats online, I am forced to choose between fight or flight.
I am making this harassment known to protect my professional reputation & my physical wellbeing. This is a business dispute, not Game of Thrones.
These men should know I will not be intimidated by threats. I will not pretend that our experience was something it wasn’t. I will not delete the one review I wrote on TripAdvisor, nor the post I wrote here on my site.
- These men can lie about the details of the wedding in the face of photographic proof and dozens of witnesses.
- They can accuse me of extortion.
- They can pay people to write glowingly positive reviews on TripAdvisor in order to bump negative ones to the bottom.
- They can cyber-stalk me.
- They can call me names.
- They can curse at me.
- They can hack into my Twitter account.
- They can report our wedding photos as inappropriate on Facebook.
- They can write articles on Medium.com about how the wedding disaster was all my fault. (Seriously, read this article. The fact that this is their PR strategy for dealing with unhappy guests makes me wonder how they stay in business at all!)
- They can defame me in the hopes of tarnishing my professional reputation.
- They can threaten to show up on my travels.
- They can shout their nonsense at my clients and colleagues in the Twitterverse.
- They can threaten to assault, rape and kill me.
At the end of the day, this site is based on the real me – and I refuse to hide the bad stuff in favor of an always shiny life. I’ve never strayed from the truth in the thousands of articles I’ve written over the years, and I won’t now because a few grown men don’t know how to respond to complaints in any other way than a temper tantrum.
My sole aim in writing this post is to protect myself and my family from threats and further harassment in my place of business. By publishing these Tweets, I’m putting those who threaten me on notice.
UPDATE: WTLV interviewed me about the cyber-harassment from Bahama Beach Club. Craig Roberts was given the chance to provide his side of the story and proof. He didn’t respond. Full segment here.
*Friends, please, please don’t bother returning these threats with more verbal volleying on the Internet. There is enough wickedness in the world that we don’t need to add to it. I’m not writing about this incident to incite a campaign to destroy the hotel. The hotel staff and the individual condo owners have nothing to do with this; I’d be shocked if any of them are even aware of what’s been going on behind the scenes. I don’t want these people to lose their jobs and of course, I don’t even want the hotel to shut down. I want families to be able to visit Bahama Beach Club and actually get what is advertised. I want brides and grooms to be able to have the relaxing, fun weddings they paid for. That’s still not happening, per this latest wedding review from another bride.
**And please, please don’t let this deter you from visiting The Bahamas. The country’s only role in this drama was the location. Nothing would make me happier than if you booked a flight to The Bahamas and met the wonderful people who live there. Swim with the pigs, dive with Brendal, eat all the conch. I will continue traveling there, too, albeit with beefed up security!
***If you receive any threatening or defamatory communications from “SEO Expert” Avdhesh Kumbhar, @ToVacationIdeas or @AdvertisingASK, please screen shot and send for my ongoing police file.
****Apologies for the strong language in some of these screenshots. I’m presenting everything exactly as I received it. And just in case anyone needs more proof, I have thousands more screenshots of every single message I’ve received.