Split, Croatia: Guest House Vlado Is A Scam And Hotels.com Could Care Less!


Guest House Vlado
Split, Croatia

Guest House Vlado in Split, Croatia is a RIP-OFF!  Do not book a room with this “so-called” guest house. Do not fall for the lies they tell in their description on Hotels.com and don’t expect any help from Hotels.com if you have any problems with a reservation.

I made a reservation from Dubrovnik the day before we left for Split.  Here’s the description Guest House Vlado gives on Hotels.com:

“Enjoying a beautiful Mediterranean climate, crystal clear seas and warm sands, this fascinating area of Croatia is also home to the Guest House Vlado, Split , where guests can take advantage of affordable 3 star accommodation .”

This is no 3-star accommodation and it is not a guest house.  The room we were eventually shown was on the 3rd floor (no elevator) of an old building with a 2-star “Sobe” sign on the front (a Sobe is a private residence in Slavic countries and anything below 3-stars has minimum essentials).

 “A warm welcome awaits you at this attractive property, and you are assured all the benefits you would expect to find in an upscale hotel. Located close to the Diocletian Palace and the beautiful Bacvice beach, visitors have no excuse not to relax and soak up the sun and the culture. Do not hesitate to ask the experienced staff for local tips and advice. Please Note: This guest house only accepts payment made by cash. “

The Hotels.com map locating Guest House Vlado near the bus/train station and Split’s Old City is a total lie.  I booked the room the day prior (and agreed to pay 80 Euros – $103) because we were only staying in Split for one night and needed to catch a train the following evening, so I was willing to pay extra so we didn’t have to drag our bags all over town.  We followed the map as shown on Hotels.com (with all of our baggage in tow), but Guest House Vlado was nowhere to be found.  When I asked several people where 86a Matice Hrvatske (the address listed on hotels.com) was, we were sent on a wild goose chase around Split for the next 1½ hours, finally locating the address about a mile from the station where we had arrived.  In fact, Diocletian’s Palace was 1.06 miles from Guest House Vlado, not 400 yards as advertised on Hotels.com.  The “warm welcome” was an old hag (woman I believe) with a beard sitting in front of a worn out apartment building in a very seedy area.  She was extremely rude and condescending, even when I pointed out all of the inaccuracies of her description and the amenities listed on Hotels.com:

Amenities (all rooms include)

·         Air conditioning
·         Balcony
·         Cable television service
·         Ceiling fan
·         Kitchen
·         Non-smoking only
·         Television
·         Air-conditioned public areas
·         Bar/lounge
·         Garden
·         Grocery/convenience store
·         Number of rooms: 15
·         Restaurant(s) in hotel
·         On-site car rental
·         Room service (24 hours)

This is not a hotel, but several (five according to the old hag) sub-standard properties located in some terrible areas.  There was AC in the room we were shown and a very small balcony.  There was a TV on the floor, but we did not stick around long enough to find out if there was cable.  There was no AC in public areas because there were no public areas.  This is a room on the top floor of a building.  There was no ceiling fan, bar/lounge, garden, grocery/convenience store, car rental agency, room service, or restaurant in the “hotel” because THIS IS NOT A HOTEL.

When we finally got to the room (2½ hours after we had arrived by bus from Dubrovnik), the hag said “Everybody always says thank you so much for this beautiful room, is it not a beautiful room?”  I said, “Actually, no it’s not” and proceeded to tell her about all of the beautiful rooms we had stayed in on our journeys, rarely paying more than 50 Euros for rooms directly on the sea.  She became very rude and threatening at this point, so I told her that we were not going to pay 80 Euros for a room which was falsely advertised and misrepresented on Hotels.com in order to trick me into making the reservation.  She showed me a list of about ten names (with prices ranging from 70 to 130 Euros) which she was expecting from Hotels.com bookings, saying “see how much they are paying, you have a very good price”.  I told her that I refused to be swindled or bullied into staying in (and paying for) a room which was misrepresented in the advertisement, so we told her so and left.  She and her friends followed us for a while as we searched for a place to go (it was now around 7:30 PM), but we finally lost them when we got on a bus for the train station. We were very concerned because of her aggressive nature and did not know what their intentions were.

I immediately bought an international calling card (which cost me another $10) and called Hotels.com’s 24-hour “emergency” number, knowing that they would be very supportive and help us out of our predicament.  Wrong!  After getting cut off the first time, I finally spoke with Melvin (Employee # 5262899) at the Hotels.com toll-free emergency number where they advertise their “RISK FREE BOOKING”.  After explaining our situation to Melvin, he said he was sorry, BUT “there is nothing we can do because we are merely a booking site, a middle man, between the property and you.  If you have a problem with the property, you need to work it out with them”.  I asked him how Guest House Vlado could be allowed to lie and cheat people out of large sums of money and Hotels.com doing nothing about it.  He said he was sorry again, there was nothing he could do, the property could still charge us even though we did not stay there, and was going to hand me off to somebody else to try to find us a room.  I had had enough by this point, hung up the phone, and called my bank in the U.S. to warn them about a possibly fraudulent charge on my credit card.  We went directly to the train station and booked the first train out of Split, headed for a much more civilized country, Slovenia.

I have booked many rooms over the years with Hotels.com and never had a problem until now.  They are apparently unconcerned about their customers and allow fraudulent business practices on their site (Guest House Vlado is still advertizing rooms and tourists are getting ripped-off two days after our complaint to Hotels.com).  I tried to post a review, warning other travelers about Guest House Vlado, but Hotels.com does not allow it, even though I have an account and have been a customer for many years.  They make you wait for an e-mail with a link “a couple days after your stay” to submit a review.  I finally received the email 5 days later (Aug 19th), but when I clicked on the link, the message I received was “Sorry, you are not eligible to submit reviews”.   More and more Hotels.com customers are being ripped-off by Guest Housel Vlado as I write this, even after warning their employee (Melvin) on 8/14/2010.  We will never book a room with Hotels.com again and I urge you to consider doing the same!!!
Boycott Hotels.com until they show some concern for their customers and stand behind the “risk-free” booking they so proudly claim!

“We never charge a cancellation or change fee because it’s just not fair.  At hotels.com, we understand sometimes your plans fall through. Or, perhaps you just decide you’d prefer to spend your vacation lounging on the beach rather than visiting your in-laws.  Hey, it happens. That’s why we never charge you hotels.com change or cancel fees. Other travel sites may charge you a fee to change your plans, but with hotels.com just go online or call 800-2-HOTELS (800-246-8357) to change or cancel your plans. Please note, you may still be subject to change and cancellation fees that the property itself may impose and require us to pass on. So go ahead, be free to change your mind.”

It’s all a lie!  Guest House Vlado is still listed on Hotels.com, Expedia, and other travel sites, so they could obviously care less about the consumers…US!  READ ALL REVIEWS BEFORE BOOKING ON THESE SITES!!!

CombatCritic Gives Guest House Vlado And Hotels.com 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A spot On My ‘WALL OF SHAME”

One Bomb Equates To:
“Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Split, Croatia: Guest House Vlado Is A Scam And Hotels.com Could Care Less!

Key Words: Croatia, guest house, Guest House Vlado, Hotels.com, problems reservation book, RIP-OFF, room, scam, Split, CombatCritic, travel, value, TravelValue, hotel, review

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Editorial: Airbnb Condones Unprofessional Behavior And Discrimination By Its Hosts


Airbnb
San Francisco, California

I have noticed a recent trend on Airbnb, in Eureka, California at least, where hosts have either canceled after having made a “confirmed” Instant Booking or ignored my requests to reserve a room posted as “available” on their calendar during the applicable dates.

I requested a reservation on two different occasions at Jennifer’s Garden View Room for a upcoming trip to Eureka, changing the dates due to unforeseen circumstances, but never getting a response despite promises to get back to me the “in next day or so”. Here is the transcript of messages:

July 6, 2016

Hi Jennifer! 

I’m thinking of coming to Eureka for at least a week. Your calendar looks clear and I’m finalizing the rest of the details, but want to make sure your place is available and for how long before I make reservations in other towns. 

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks!

Chris

——–

July 6, 2016 

Hi Chris! 

Nice to hear from you. I will have to check with a couple of possible renters and get back to you in the next day or so. 

Thanks! 

Jennifer 

 ———-

July 9, 2016 

Change of plans out of my control … Please let me know if your place is available (during these dates) or know (of) another option. Not much available in my price range in town during that period. 

Thanks! 

Chris

——- 

July 9, 2016 

Hi Chris. Good to hear from you. I need to check my calendar tomorrow and get back to you. 

Jennifer

—— 

Not one, but six days later and no response from Jennifer, I sent he another message: 

July 15, 2016 

I’ll take the silence as a no. Not having much luck with Eureka hosts. Thanks anyway! 

Chris 

—— 

July 16, 2016

Sorry Chris, I haven’t been able to check my phone or work on your questions. But I think I’ll pass on this one. 

Extremely unprofessional behavior and bordering on discriminatory, considering the fact that the room is posted as available, but she refuses to accept my reservation. Maybe I should change my profile:

About Me 

School: Los Altos High School (Hacienda Heights, California); California State University, Los Angeles, California 

Work: Retired Air Force Officer, Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in the treatment of PTSD with military and Veterans 

Languages: English, Italiano

After being ignored, then refused, by Jennifer, I checked Airbnb for other options in Eureka during those dates and, oddly enough, Jennifer’s Blue Room – Arcata, CA, United States was still available for the exact dates I was requesting. It seemed obvious that Jennifer did not want me staying with her for some reason. Maybe she does not like Veterans because that was all she knew about me based on what is in my profile, that and the countless positive reviews from hosts we have stayed with.

As I mentioned earlier, I made an “Instant Book” reservation (for the very first time) at Terri’s “Serene Views”, a different private room in Eureka, California. Instant Book is a feature that allows you to enter your dates of travel and if a listing’s calendar has no occupancy during that time, you can get an instant “confirmed” reservation instead of waiting for the owner to get back to you. Sometimes it takes days to get a confirmed reservation from some of these ding-a-lings, so when I saw what looked like a nice place at a good price, I cancelled a reservation I had made on another site in the interim and booked with Eureka Terri … BIG MISTAKE!


An hour-and-a-half later, I got a message from Terri:

“Looking forward to meeting you!”

BUT … nearly four hours later, as I was prepping for my trip, I received this surprising, inadequate and unprofessional excuse from Terri:

“My family requests a visit during this time. Hope you find a suitable replacement. Thank you.”

Here is Airbnb’s CONFIRMATION OF MY CANCELLATION:

UNSAT … FUBAR … My week in Eureka was now Tango-Uniform  and I scrambled to find a place to stay in my price range … thanks, for nothing Jennifer, Terri and Airbnb!

I had to pay hundreds of dollars more because a couple of Airbnb Airheads, an unprofessional newbie and a tree hugging liberal, could either not keep their calendars up-to-date or simply discriminate against guests based on the information in our “verified” profiles. It makes Airbnb look bad because they condone this unprofessional behavior and it should not have been allowed. 

What is the purpose of Instant Book if your confirmed reservation can simply be cancelled on a whim by the host? Useless … both Instant Book and Airbnb’s response to the situation … because when I sent them a message communicating my dismay, all I got was an automated response telling me, to paraphrase: “we’re too busy and important to respond to every customer … sorry, you are on your own bub!”

Here is the message I sent to Airbnb, telling them about the discriminatory behavior by their hosts:

I requested a room for these exact dates on two occasions with Jennifer and she told me there was no availability (just yesterday), yet this room in her home is advertised as available during that period. She told me twice that she’d “get back to me” the next day, but failed to contact me after more than 5 days both times, leaving me hanging without a reservation. 

She is the second inconsiderate host in Eureka, having Instant Booked a room at another house (with Terri), only to have (her) cancel four hours later.

Airbnb should police their hosts a little better to prevent unprofessional behavior and/or outright discrimination against Veterans (and many others according to the NY Times and numerous lawsuits). It’s obvious that these “liberal” hosts don’t want a male, conservative, retired, military officer staying with them and that is not just wrong, it’s illegal.

If you don’t do something about it, I will. 

Thanks!

Chris S

I have yet to receive a response from Airbnb, hence, I am writing this editorial. If you would like to read the New York Times article on Airbnb’s condoning of discriminatory behavior by their hosts, you can read more here: New York Times: Discrimination by Airbnb Hosts Is Widespread, Report Says

CombatCritic Gives Discriminatory Jennifer, Cancellation Terri And Airbnb 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On MY WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!

 One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Editorial: Airbnb Condones Unprofessional Behavior And Discrimination By Its Hosts

Key Words: Airbnb, room, apartment, stay, Jennifer, Terri, Eureka, Arcata, CA, California, accomodation, hotel, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog, airbnb.com

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Airbnb – Eureka, CA: Terri Dropped The Ball And Airbnb Fumbled For A Safety


Serene Views (Terri)
Eureka, CA, United States
As a frequent traveler and regular Airbnb customer, I made an “Instant Book” reservation for the very first time at Terri’s “Serene Views”, a private room in Eureka, California with this description:

“My place is close to close to beaches, Old Town, Henderson Center, Hiking, Parks, great views, restaurants and dining. You’ll love my place because it is in a beautiful, private, quiet neighborhood overlooking the golf course, tucked into a green belt forest with a comfy bed, private bathroom, use of the kitchen and big private backyard”

It’s “close to close beaches”, must be pretty damn close, anyway … Instant Book is a feature that allows you to enter your dates of travel and if a listing’s calendar has no occupancy during that time, you can get an instant “confirmed” reservation instead of waiting for the owner to get back to you. Sometimes it takes days to get a confirmed reservation from some of these ding-a-lings, so when I saw what looked like a nice place at a good price, I cancelled a reservation I had made on another site and booked with Eureka Terri … BIG MISTAKE!

Here is my confirmed Instant Book reservation:

An hour-and-a-half later, I got a message from Terri:

“Looking forward to meeting you!”

BUT … nearly four hours later, as I was prepping for my trip, I received this surprising and inadequate message from Terri:

“My family requests a visit during this time. Hope you find a suitable replacement. Thank you.”

Here was Airbnb’s CONFIRMATION OF MY CANCELLATION:

UNSAT … FUBAR … My week in Eureka is now Tango-Uniform  and I am scrambling to find a place to stay for a week in my price range … thanks, for nothing Terri and Airbnb!

Now I’m going to have to pay hundreds of dollars more because some Airbnb Airhead, an unprofessional newbie, could not keep her calendar up-to-date. It makes Airbnb look bad because they condone this behavior and should not have been allowed. What is the purpose of Instant Book if your confirmed reservation can simply be cancelled on a whim by the host? Useless … both Instant Book and Airbnb’s response to the situation because when I sent them a message communicating my dismay, all I got was an automated response telling me, to paraphrase: “we’re too busy and important to respond to every customer … sorry, you are on your own bub!”


CombatCritic Gives Eureka Terri And Airbnb 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On MY WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!


One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Airbnb – Eureka, CA: Terri Dropped The Ball And Airbnb Fumbled For A Safety

Key Words: Airbnb, Airbnb.com, Terri, Eureka, California, room, private, serene, view, accommodation, hotel, reservation, confirmed, cancellation, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Airbnb – Brooklyn, NY: Jose’s Bedroom In Front Of Prospect Park


Jose’s Bedroom In Front Of Prospect Park
Website: Airbnb
Jose was a wonderful host. The apartment is centrally located next to Prospect Park and a 5-minute walk to the F Train Station (Fort Hamilton), so getting around Brooklyn and NYC was a breeze.
Jose sold us a weekly transit pass ($31) upon arrival, providing us with unlimited subway and bus access throughout NYC and its burroughs for a full seven days, quite a bargain in a city where one subway ride costs $2.75.

The apartment is on the second floor of a six-story brick building and there is an elevator for those with heavy bags. Being a fashion designer, the flat is simply and tastefully furnished. Access to the kitchen and bathroom were never a problem and Jose provides filtered and bottled water, coffee and tea, clean linens and towels, and privacy. 
The private room is large, although there was little closet space to hang our things. The bed is large and comfy, there is a large flatscreen TV with cable, and a large desk is provided along with fast, free wi-fi. We did not spend much time in the room, but while we were there we were quite comfortable. There is also a window air conditioner in the room which came in handy as the temperatures were unseasonably warm in Brooklyn during the end of May.

There is a small market next to the subway station, but you must walk 10-15 minutes to find a selection of supermarkets, restaurants, and other shops. Parking can be a challenge because of the street sweeping schedules, but we were very lucky to park right in front of the building during our entire 8-night stay. The area is very safe.
Jose was not around a lot, but when he was, we enjoyed his company very much. He even made my wife two lovely bags with some leftover material he had in his work room as well as giving us souvenir bag tags to remember our visit … Muchas gracias Jose!

The apartment was clean, comfortable, convenient, and cost-effective at just $68 per night plus fees (less than $80 per night, including a $20 cleaning fee and a $68 Airbnb service fee), an excellent value in one of the most expensive cities in the world!

CombatCritic Gives Jose’s Bedroom In Front Of Prospect Park 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!



Nine Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Airbnb – Brooklyn, NY: Jose’s Bedroom In Front Of Prospect Park

Key Words: Airbnb, Jose, Prospect Park, Brooklyn. New York, Prospect, park, room, apartment, accomodation, private, bath, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH = “U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Philadelphia, PA: Nice, Clean Airbnb Room With Shared Bath in Central Philly … Excellent Value!


Airbnb

Leane’s “A Fabulous Night’s Stay”
Website: Airbnb.com – A Fabulous Night’s Stay

The room and home were very clean and the price reasonable for such a central location near downtown Philadelphia. 

Pros: 
1) Easy walk to the bus or Metro and central enough that you can walk to many places around downtown. 
2) There are markets, pharmacies, shops, and restaurants within a 10-minute walk of the house. 
3) The room is reasonably large and private, having nearly everything needed for a short stay, including a large closet, fold-down desk, and folding chair. 
4) The shared bathroom is very big and has plenty of supplies (hair dryer, shampoo/conditioner, extra toothbrushes, etc.) 
5) The neighborhood is clean, well kept, safe, and the people in the area were friendly. We felt safe and welcome in the neighborhood and were not concerned about our safety, even after dark. 
6) There is a washer and dryer in the home. 
7) The wi-fi is fast, free, reliable and we never had a problem connecting, loading pages, or watching video/movies. 
8) The host stays to herself mostly, does not “hover”, and was helpful when we asked questions about the area. 
9) Coffee, tea, instant hot chocolate and cookies are provided in the dining room downstairs for breakfast. 
10) No TV in the home, so you can spend more time seeing Philadelphia! 

Cons: 
1) Parking on the street near the house was scarce when we arrived, but I managed to find a spot down the block after dropping our bags. 
2) The bedrooms are upstairs and the staircase is narrow, making it tricky to maneuver large bags to the room. 
3) The bathroom is shared among three rooms and access was occasionally a problem. 
4) There is no ice or bottled/filtered water available, so bring/buy your own if you like ice and do not want to drink tap water. 
5) The coffee was nearly gone and the host unavailable when we awoke on our first morning, so I had to figure out where the coffee and filters were stored to prepare more. 
6) The host did not respond to the text and email I sent the day before arrival nor did she answer two phone calls I placed when we first arrived and had difficulty locating a parking place. However, she did answer the door once I found a temporary parking spot to drop our bags and was very responsive thereafter. 
7) No TV in the home if you want to catch up on news or your favorite show(s). 

In summary, Leane is a very personable host, the room an exceptional value, and the home in immaculate condition. A comparable hotel room would cost well over $100, making this Airbnb option an excellent value if visiting central Philadelphia. 

CombatCritic Gives Leane’s “Fabulous Night’s Stay 2” 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Eight Bombs Equates To:
Leane’s Response:

“Thank you so much for the review. It was lovely to have met you both and I am pleased you would stay again when in Philly. Sorry I missed your call, I have a 100% response rate and take communication very seriously. On occasion I will miss a message because I am physically unable in the moment, but fortunately we spoke within 10 minutes of your call. My response time is within a few minutes if I happen to miss you, which most of my guests will tell you rarely happens. It is so funny you mentioned about bottled water. Before seeing your review I actually went out and stocked the fridge with sparkling water, an assortment of flavored, natural lemonades, orange juice and of course… bottled water. There is also ice, chocolate fudge and vanilla ice cream and fruit bars available in the freezer for guests. You should have stayed one more day! Now folks can make iced coffee and oreo cookie sundaes to beat this Philly heat! Lol! Thanks again for all the feedback and happy travels!”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Philadelphia, PA: Nice, Clean Airbnb Room With Shared Bath in Central Philly … Excellent Value! 

Key Words: Airbnb, Philadelphia, PA, Leane, Pennsylvania, Philly, room, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, motel, B&B, bed and breakfast, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! =“What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Andre’s "Cozy B&B" (Airbnb) … Close To Center, Port, Stations, and Restaurants


Andre’s “Cozy B&B” (Airbnb)
Near Malaga’s Main Train/Bus Station
Malaga, Andalucia, Spain
Prices: € € € € 

Close to the main train and bus stations, and just a 15 minute walk from Old Town Malaga and the port, this accommodation was “as advertised”. Andre, short for Andreina, was very welcoming, friendly, and helpful, explaining about the apartment, breakfast, and her three simple rules when I arrived.


The room I stayed in was very small with hardly enough room to pass the bed to get to the window, but it had everything I needed (comfortable double bed, wardrobe, TV, fast wi-fi, ceiling fan) for my short stay of two nights.


The apartment itself is small, but has everything needed. Breakfast is included (make it yourself) and Andre had a nice selection of coffee, teas, and light breakfast options as well as unlimited access to the kitchen and refrigerator. The single bathroom (for two guest rooms) is also small, but the shower is large with plenty of hot water and shampoo, towels, soaps, even sunscreen were provided. If you plan on going to the beach, pack your own towel as Andre does not want her towels leaving the apartment.

In all, for $30 per night (including Airbnb fees), the room was a very good value and I would recommend staying with Andre if looking for an inexpensive option in the heart of Malaga.

CombatCritic Gives Andre’s “Cozy B&B” 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Are Better! 






Title: Andre’s “Cozy B&B” (Airbnb)

Key Words: Airbnb, cozy, B&B, room, apartment, Malaga, Andalucia, Spain, downtown, old town, old, town, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

Marsana Wellness in Rincón, Puerto Rico Is Neither A Beachhouse Nor A Spa


“Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa” is neither a spa nor a beach house, it is a large house with four guest rooms a couple blocks from a beach with hardly any sand and with an empty hot tub.

When we arrived after having informed the owner of our exact arrival time, his daughter Marina met us at the gate and asked “can I help you”, not in a friendly manner but as if we did not belong in the neighborhood. Once I told her we were guests, she was very friendly and escorted us to our room. We did not see her again for the next 7 days although it would have been nice to get some local information.

The room was nice, medium in size with a queen size bed, pull out futon-type sofa, a small fridge, wardrobe, TV with cable, and an air conditioning unit. Our room faced the back yard and had a large terrace with a table, two chairs, and a hammock and where we spent a majority of our time. The small bathroom was functional with a large tile shower, toilet and vanity.

Marina’s brother Yuri was around more than she was, doing odd jobs around the house and although friendly enough, never stopped to talk. The house is a work in progress and has a large terrace taking up 2/3 of the roof where there are tables, chairs, and the empty hot tub. The stars at night were fantastic as Rincón is a fairly small town far away from the bright city lights.

There are plenty of restaurants in the area, including Das Alpen Café, a German and Italian restaurant in the center of Rincón with small portions and large prices, El Tapatio, a good, inexpensive Mexican restaurant just north of the house on PR-115 going toward Aguada, and several bakeries, the best being Panaderia Eileen just a block south on 115 where you can get wonderful pastries ($1 each), cheap sandwiches ($2.00-$3.75), and assorted drinks and beer. The bakeries in Puerto Rico have a little bit of everything, including a hot table with carne guisada (beef stew – $2), ribs, chicken, rice, beans, and other local foods. They are a great place to pick up a quick lunch or take some food home for dinner and many have tables where you can eat your toasted sandwich or carne guisada.

Being winter, the winds blew from the East most of the three weeks we were in Puerto Rico, making for poor snorkeling and challenging swimming. The seas around Rincón were rough most of the week we were there, so we found a very nice beach about 10 miles north in Aguadilla called Crash Boat Beach. Crash Boat is clean, has nice sand, a shallow, sandy bottom, and because it faces southwest it avoids the swells and large waves from the north, making for clear water and good snorkeling. There is a bar in the parking lot with cheap beer (Medalla – $1.50) and drinks (piña colada – $4), and there are a few food vendors adjacent in the lot with grilled chicken, pizza, frappes and other snacks. There is not a reef in the area and few rocks, but the visibility was 40-50 feet and there were occasional visits by small schools of fish and a few large Jacks from time to time.

The only snorkeling beach in Rincón at this time of year was Balneario Rincón, a small beach just north of town of Route 430 with a reef that can be accessed from the small sandy beach on the north end past the boat ramp. Steps Beach, named after the set of concrete steps precariously perched on the reef, is reportedly the best snorkeling beach in the area and is quite beautiful, but the water was inaccessible during our stay due to the rough seas and lack of a sandy bottom, only reef. We saw Sandy Beach and Pools Beach, a mile or two north of Steps, but although quite pretty, neither were good for anything but sunbathing because they face north and water was rough.

The description of the property on AirBnB was deceiving because there are no spa services available, no meals or breakfast as advertised, and parking is a challenge with just two spaces available (unsecured) for at least four rooms. The “Jacuzzi” was empty and there are no doctors on staff. The highlight of the week were their four dogs who kept us company and were the sweetest they could be. If you do not like or are afraid of dogs, this is not the place for you. There is an outdoor kitchen for guests to use with few plates, utensils, or pots/pans, so cooking would prove challenging if so inclined. But at $45 a night the room was a decent value, but nothing special. I saw that they raised their rates to $60 since we booked and believe you can find better value elsewhere in the area, possibly on the ocean or with a sea view.

CombatCritic Gives Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!


PostScript: AirBnB asks guests to review the properties where they stay as well as providing feedback to the host. This is the feedback I provided to Dr. Michael Morales, our host, who was not on the property during the week we stayed at “Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa”:

“We enjoyed our stay, especially your sweet, wonderful dogs. We were pleased overall with the accommodations, but felt your description was misleading. As a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, honesty and integrity are very important to me and I do not like being misled. My decision to stay at your “beachhouse and spa” was partially influenced by your description:

“mountain-beach views” 

– I could barely see the water from the roof, not a beach in sight 

“organic natural macrobiotic and vegan cuisine” 

– Yuri and Marina may be eating it, but we were never told about it

“wholistic therapies, treatments, classes” 

– Where, when? Why were we not informed of these options and who was leading them? 

“natural foods catering, meals available” 

– Again, we were not informed of this option 

“concierge services, natural beauty care treatments” 

– If you call the 5 minutes Marina spent with us the evening we arrived “concierge services”, that is misleading 

“2 naturapathic doctors on site” 

– Are Yuri and Marina naturopathic doctors? 

“acupuncturists, herbalist, nutritionist, physical therapist ,massage therapist, cooking classes and surfboards available” 

– Available where? 

“we have installed our outdoor Jacuzzi” 

– True, but it was empty the entire time we were there and by the rust on the metal, it looks like it probably does not work 

My recommendation is to be more honest in your description or actually provide the options you say you have. My 6 Out of 10 rating is very generous and strictly based on the value of what we got for what we paid ($45 a night for a basic room) and I did not deduct for the deceiving description. 

Again, we were not displeased with our stay, only the misleading description. 

As a travel critic I have the duty to report honestly and accurately to my readers and followers and would be doing them a disservice if I omitted the facts I described above. Because this review will be published  on AirBnB and my blog, http://www.CombatCritic.com, I would be remiss if I were not completely honest. I hope you understand. 

Finally, I think you should consider reducing your rate to the $50 per night range as your new $60 rate is probably more than the room is worth. 

Thanks for having us!”

Key Words: Marsana, wellness, beachhouse, spa, AirBnB, hotel, room, beach, Rincón, Aguada, PR, 115, Puerto Rico, puerto, rico, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value 

Punta Santiago Apartment: Spacious, Friendly, And A Bit Noisy Dog Lover’s Delight


Punta Santiago Apartment: Spacious, Friendly, And A Bit Noisy Dog Lover’s Delight


First of all, Bonnie, Tony, and the boys and girls are a delight, wonderful human beings and dogies (all 10) who made our stay in Punta Santiago comfortable and caring … THANK YOU ALL!


Found on AirBnB at $75 a night, the apartment was the most expensive of the three we reserved during our 3-week stay, but it is an entire private one-bedroom/one-bath apartment with a kitchen/dining room, living room, and a HUGE terrace just a few blocks from the beach.


Furnishings are basic and somewhat dated, but in working order with the exception of the stove which we were unable to use. There are AC units in the bedroom and living room and were sufficient in providing cool sleeping conditions. The apartment gets plenty of air from trade winds, so the AC really is not necessary much of the time. There is an older color TV with cable in the living room (be sure to ask Tony how to get rid of the “blue” screen) and the wireless internet worked well the entire week we were there.


There is a market down the street with most everything you need at reasonable prices and several small restaurants (see Taco Rico review) and bars just across the street, so food is abundant. Playa Naguabo (ten minute drive North) has several seaside restaurants including Waterfront Cantina and an outdoor cafe with three food stalls that serves fresh fish to hundreds at a time arriving on busses.

The towns of Humacao and Fajardo are close by, so restaurants are abundant and the islands of Vieques and Culebra are a little over an hour away by ferry from Fajardo. The Humacao Nature Reserve is less than a 10-minute drive, offering trails, a secluded beach, wildlife, and mangrove swamps.

The primary drawback as other guests have mentioned is the noise at night from the bar across the street, blaring music at decibles in the hundreds as well as the occasional vehicles with custom stereo blaring music at all hours of the day and night running up and down PR-3 adjacent to the house. Bring earplugs and/or a white noise machine as we did and unless you are a very light sleeper, you should not have any problems.

If you love dogs, the sea, friendly people, and life in a relatively quiet fishing village, you will love the time you stay with Bonnie and Tony in Punta Santiago.

CombatCritic Gives Bonnie and Tony’s Punta Santiago Apartment 7 Out of 1o Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!

Key Words: Bonnie, Tony, Antonio, Punta Santiago, AirBnB, punta, santiago, Humacao, Puerto Rico, puerto rico, travel, value, CombatCritic, TravelValue, apartment, room, hotel

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