FAIL: Good Intentions Gone Horribly Awry At Jamaican Hotel

Filed Under: Hotels

This might be one of the biggest hotel customer service fails I’ve ever seen. A UK couple received a full refund of the cost of their stay at a hotel in Jamaica after hotel staff got just a little bit too… enthusiastic (?) in trying to make something special.

As reported by, a couple had made a tradition of honoring their late son’s birthday by taking a trip every year over that period. I think that’s a nice way to commemorate someone’s life.

This is where things get weird.

The friends they were traveling with asked the hotel for a cake and some balloons to put in the couple’s room. Okay, call me traditional, but am I the only who finds it a bit odd to ask for a cake and balloons to commemorate someone who has passed? To each their own, I guess, but it seems a bit strange to me.

Well, the hotel went above and beyond. Really, really above and beyond…

The hotel decided to put what was supposed to look like a body on the bed. It had a long-sleeved top, pants, shoes, and gloves, and was stuffed with towels. They made it look like the “body” was clutching a beer can, and like tears were running down “his” face.

Then next to the “body” they wrote “we miss you Alex” in flower petals.

The booking had been arranged through TUI UK, and they apologized and said they’re following up with the hotel and believe it was a misunderstanding.

Okay, here’s the thing. On one hand I’m in disbelief that a hotel thought this was a smart decision. Like, they really put a ton of effort into this, clearly, and did no one think “maybe this won’t be received the way we intend?”

At the same time, I know in other cultures stuff like this would be considered appropriate. I’m not sure if Jamaica is one of those cultures or what, but…

Just wow…

  1. That looks so creepy! I get what they wanted to do but at first sight it doesn’t look like something good. It gets better for me though after looking at it for a while.

  2. More often than not I agree with your posts and opinions but this one is on the family. They were doing something just awkward to begin with and should of accepted whatever happened. The fact that they accepted the refund makes me feel like they were just itching for free stays / discounts. Their situation sucks but don’t make that someone elses problem.

  3. I agree the finished product is a bit odd looking, and I wonder if the hotel staff were being sincere or mocking these people? I don’t know. But please don’t ever say that something parents do to honor their dead child is “a bit strange.” My 21 year old son died suddenly this year. I have learned grieving parents cope in all sorts of ways, and what seems “strange” to you might be the only way these parents can get through that day. Please be more considerate of these parents.

  4. This is crazy, but I would say that the family was kind of asking for it. I mean, who in the world asks for balloons and cake to celebrate someone’s death?

  5. I’m sorry, but this is SO BAD that I had to laugh because OMG. Oh. My. GOD.

    This is one of those times where I’m super happy to be alone because I am certainly going to hell for laughing. Holy c**p.


  6. Let’s not overlook the fact that it was the friends that ordered the cake and balloons. They may have asked for the body as well.

    Also, just had a look at Wikipedia for Jamaican funeral tradition. There is a tradition known as Nine Nights that is an extended wake that is celebrated as a party these days.

  7. I must admit, I laughed out loud when I saw this! I’m mid-forties, so naturally I’ve experienced the death of grandparents / uncles / aunts / cousins / friends / lovers, etc. But death comes to us all and those who take offence to it are pathetic.
    As for “Grieving Mom”, sorry but you gotta get over it as I and so many others have to. If you can’t laugh at the absurdity of this article then you’ll never laugh at anything. Lighten up!

  8. When I first saw this I immediately thought of those old James Bond movies set in Jamaica and the Voodoo stuff. I totally get where the Jamaican staff was going with this. Once you get over the initial shock, it’s kinda hilarious. After all, a birthday party is not a funeral – shouldn’t it be fun? I have more than a few dead relatives and friends and I can’t think of a single one of them who wouldn’t find this totally amusing.

  9. I agree with the people who suggested the parents (and friend) should have known better.
    Attitude to death varies widely across the globe, and even in the UK, a balloon and cake celebration (in a hotel room) of someone’s death is highly unusual.
    Add to that language and communication difficulties (I am assuming the friend may have asked someone at guest services, who then involved housekeeping and f&b, who may have then relayed it to actual employees) and you get what they got.

  10. Maybe they thought “miss you” meant the person just couldn’t join them on the holiday.. not that they had passed away. so it would have been a fun picture to share with the missing party…

  11. To everyone ribbing on the parents for celebrating their son’s death, they’re not. They’re celebrating his life, and choosing to remember him in a light way.

  12. That is way too much. Totally creepy. I don’t know what’s worse the body or the “We miss you,” in blood. Anybody saying this is not creepy is on something heavy.

  13. Reminds me of the day of the dead tradition in Mexico. Maybe they have similar rituals in Jamaica. Or the whole story is a hoax.

  14. I’m sitting in the lounge of a gorgeous boutique hotel in Hakodate (La Jolie Motomachi), having burned some purchased LifeMiles (through an OMAAT promo – credit where credit is due), and I’m laughing out loud, literally, which in Japan garners odd looks. Regardless of the origin of this story, the intent of the parents or the gravitas of the story, it’s bloody hilarious! For a nation with generally a great sense of humour, the Brits can take themselves awfully seriously these days. Perhaps it’s Brexit and the fact they’re about to be a influential as Tonga, Australia or Mozambique, other largely irrelevant island nations. Great laugh Lucky, cheers!

  15. I’m sympathetic to the hotel on this one. If I were the hotel guest, I might have had a conversation with the manager about how I did not like it, but I would not have gone to social media with this or demanded a refund. After all, I think the hotel’s intentions were positive, and I would give some leeway for cultural misunderstanding considering this was a different country with potentially different approaches to death and memory. If anything, I think I would have laughed about it. I’ve travelled enough to know that death rituals can be highly variable in the world: I almost showed up to a Chinese wake in Singapore in a full suit and tie until a Singaporean friend laughed at me and informed me that it was casual dress and I’d look totally out of place wearing a suit.

  16. It would be great to hear the Jamaican perspective on this as this happened in Jamaica and was done presumably by Jamaican staff. After all, there are stories of strippers performing at wakes in Taiwan and China, because it is seen as important to attract a lot of people to these events. The world is a pretty varied place.

  17. Not knowing exactly what the instructions were from the friends that ordered the balloons and cake, I don’t think anyone could really blame the hotel staff for the execution. Many cultures and religions view death as a reason to celebrate, believing the loved one is alive in spirit, and in a better place. If this wasn’t the couple’s intent, what was the point of the balloons and cake?

  18. Going by USA Today’s harrowing report on Jamaican resorts, this is one of the least bad experiences a guest could have…

  19. I’ve always thought that wishing a deceased person Happy Birthday is odd, and totally thoughtless. How can a deceased person have a birthday celebration, happy or otherwise? Cake, balloons and rose-petal messages were definitely OTT, but apparently was seen as a green light to go way, way further!

  20. I saw this on a website that doesn’t get many commenters so I had to come.

    First, I think balloons and cake is a WEIRD request.

    Second, when someone is in grief, I would say less is more.

    FLOWERS could be appreciated, but then hey, they too could cause allergies and or be the wrong kind. Thus also causing great offense. So also a NO GO ZONE!!!!

  21. Seems like the staff thought that dressing a Michael Jackson figure (from his black period) in a confederate soldier’s uniform would be the best way to honor Alex. There’s just no gratitude from hotel guests these days, is there?

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