- Cebu’s Plantation Bay Resort and Spa has attracted a lot of negative feedback after a mother of a special needs child wrote a review on Trip Advisor.
- According to Mai Pages, she felt discriminated after lifeguards told her to stop her son from making squealing sounds.
- The resort’s manager and resident shareholder later responded to her review, which further angered netizens for their lack of compassion and understanding to the mother and her son.
A resort in Cebu, Philippines is currently in hot water following how they responded to a Trip Advisor review posted by a mother of a child with special needs. Mai Pages, who has a 6-year-old son with autism, shared how she felt during their stay at the place.
In her review, she said Plantation Bay Resort and Spa is “not an ideal place for a child with special needs.”
Apparently, Mai’s son Fin made squealing sounds in his excitement while in the water. At first, the mother thought it was okay but a lifeguard told them to stop. “As a mother, your initial action would be directed to your child. So I told him not to squeal because it wasn’t allowed,” wrote Mai. “Quite frankly it was a difficult moment.”
Another lifeguard eventually approached them when Mai was unsuccessful at stopping Fin from squealing. She informed the lifeguard about her son’s condition but was told that while he understands her, she really should stop her child from making noises.
“Every time Fin jumps into the water he’d be so happy that he’d laugh and squeal again,” Mai shared. “I tried hushing him and at one point tried to cover his mouth. But then I realized this is so wrong? This isn’t right at all!
In an interview with GMA News, Mai further explained:
“It’s not right [to] stop him from doing what makes him happy… It was a happy kind of reaction from a happy child with disability.”
Mai and Fin ended up checking out of the resort earlier than scheduled because of what happened.
Meanwhile, Efren Belarmino, the resort’s general manager, responded to Mai’s Trip Advisor review, accusing her of “most likely deliberately lying” since “uncontrolled shouting is not a symptom of autism.”
“Google ‘Autism’ and verify this for yourself. Therefore this parent is most likely deliberately lying, or has been given an incorrect diagnosis of autism, when what the child more likely has is a lack of discipline due to simple parental neglect.”
Belarmino’s reply has since been deleted.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, resort shareholder Manny Gonzales also posted his thoughts using Belarmino’s account.
His lengthy reply read:
“Plantation Bay is very clear on our website as well as on social media about its strict policies regarding noise-making by anyone. Our first reason for this is safety. There are almost 3 hectares of lagoons and swimming pools in the resort, ten times more water area than most resorts in Mactan. It is essential that our staff be able to hear cries of distress even from far away. Moreover, it is essential that our staff not become so used to hearing screaming that they ignore a real cry for help. And once one child starts screaming, others tend to follow in imitation. Therefore, since our opening, for the safety of all guests, we have imposed stricter rules on noise-making than other resorts. As a result of our policy, no child in Plantation Bay has ever come to serious harm, much less drowned. NO OTHER RESORT in Mactan can claim this safety record. Children have died in all other major resorts on the island, as indeed they do in most resorts around the world, even those with tiny wading pools. 0 deaths in 25 years is a good safety record, one we aim to keep.
“Secondly, most people come to a resort to relax. You cannot relax if people around you are constantly screaming. Every customer should be respected, not just one parent and one child. Most of our guests fully understand and agree with this idea: it is not a resort for noise-makers, regardless of their reason. To demand that all the customers just shut up while one child screams his head off? That’s not our idea of fairness.
“Third, if she were truly concerned for her child’s welfare, a person who doesn’t want, or is unable, to control her child, should have read and noted our policies before choosing Plantation Bay. These policies are in our website, in our confirmation letter, and in social media. Therefore this parent is trying to blame the resort for her own failure to look after her child’s interests. While we are sorry that we are not the right resort for this parent and child, we hope that in the future other parents who want their children to scream constantly and bother other guests, will do their homework and choose another resort, one which doesn’t care about the 99% of guests who want to relax in peace and quiet.
“Finally, in the age of Covid-19, everyone should remember that screaming, even loud talking, spreads a higher viral load a much farther distance than ordinary talking. With loud shouting, viruses scatter in a radius of 10 meters or more, not 1 meter as in normal speech. For public health, it would benefit society that everyone learn to speak in a soft voice in all circumstances except real emergencies.
Gonzales’ remarks didn’t sit well with many netizens who eventually took it to social media to bash the resort’s harsh treatment to Mai and Fin.
Gonzales eventually issued an apology for his “poor handling of a guest complaint,” admitting he was “wrong to question the mother’s motives.”
However, he still stressed that their policy on “keeping noise level down” is somethig they “try to apply… even-handedly.”
“As a result of that policy, in almost 25 years we never had a child die here,” Gonzales continued. “A mother’s pride is important but more important are the lives of the children who come here.”
As expected, the resort attracted more negative reactions because of the half-hearted apology.
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