Regina family's dream vacation in Cuba turns to 'nightmare'

Regina family's dream vacation in Cuba turns to 'nightmare'

Members of a Regina family say their dream vacation in Cuba "turned into a nightmare".

Kelly Morrison, her husband Steve, and their two children, stayed at the Memories Resort in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba from Jan. 26 to Feb. 2.

"Everything was great for the first few days," Kelly Morrison said in a news release. "That all changed, however, last Saturday."

On the morning of Jan. 30, Morrison opened their hotel room safe and found her wedding rings and money were nowhere to be found. She said about $170 Cdn and 130 Cuban convertible pesos (worth slightly less than $200 Cdn.) was missing.

When Morrison reported it as a theft to the hotel staff, they were told to fill out a report. That's when Morrison said she was interviewed by the resort's staff.

"Rather than an interview, it became an interrogation," she said. "It was clear they didn't believe our story. They thought we made up the whole thing."

Morrison said security staff at the resort then went to their hotel room to search the family's belongings. The missing items were not found.

According to Morrison, they were then told by the resort staff to leave everything in their rooms, including their passports. The family was moved to another part of the resort.​

After a few hours of waiting, Morrison said the resort told the family they could move back to their room and get their belongings, but only if they withdrew their statement alleging a theft from their safe.

"Obviously, they were only interested in keeping this incident quiet, rather than helping us," Morrison said. "They refused to believe anyone else was in our room. They even threatened to kick us out of the hotel if we 'made a scene' and told other guests about what happened."

When Morrison reached the Canadian embassy in Varadero, Cuba, they were told it would be best to retract their statement.

After the less-than-relaxing winter getaway, Morrison said it's not the missing money that bothers her the most.

"I'm more upset about the loss of my three rings, including my wedding and engagement bands," she said. "But worst of all, by far, is the way we were treated. 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."

On their next family vacation, Morrison said the family will also be leaving their valuable belongings at home.

CBC contacted the resort for comment, and the company said it will be issuing a statement later today.

Resort and Sunwing Vacations respond

Sunwing Vacations, which Morrison travelled with, replied to CBC in an email. It said a destination representative assisted Morrison from the time it was reported, to the time of her departure.

"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," the email reads.

A spokesperson with Blue Diamond Resorts also emailed CBC, saying there is a protocol to be followed every time a customer reports a theft. This includes "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," the email reads. "But the matter was turned over to the local authorities, with whom we've fully cooperated."

Correction : An earlier version of this story said 130 Cuban pesos (approximately $7 Cdn.) was missing. CBC was told Kelly Morrison was using the Cuban peso. In fact it was the Cuban convertible peso, which would convert to slightly less than $200 Cdn. (Feb 05, 2016 8:25 PM)