A New Zealand family accused of being “the dirtiest guests of all time” by their accommodation hosts have won an apology from Cook Islands Tourism.
Bridie Henderson, her husband and their two sons, aged 4 and 5, paid $4000 for their week’s stay in what was advertised as a child-friendly property in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.
But after they left, Henderson was “shocked” and “upset” to receive an email from the property owners, Robert and Susanna Wigmore which read: “Kia Orana Bridie and family, you have won the Award for the Dirtiest Guests of All Times in Kaireva Beach House.”
It went on to list a number several alleged issues, including an “accumulation of rubbish,” a “pestilential kitchen sink” and “stained sheets ready to throw”.
“This Award is implemented with your neglect for the general use of the house and the lack of respect for your hosts. Just two examples of this point are the way we found the children’s toys and the new marks on the floor,” the email said.
“The Award comes with a prize of -$280 for the extra cleaning plus -$500 for the repairs of the wood. Total is -$780 that you should transfer into the bank account detailed in the invoice.
“We kindly remind you that a Rental Holiday is not a hotel. Rules are to leave the house clean and tidy.”
Mrs Henderson forwarded the email to the Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, which agreed the hosts’ response was “unbecoming of Cook Islands hosts and not reflective of the professionalism of the majority of our tourism industry”.
A spokesperson emailed the family: “I apologise that you were treated in an unprofessional manner while here on Raro, but I do hope that you come back to visit us again.”
Following an approach from the tourism board, the Wigmores agreed to drop the $780 charge but refused to write and apologise for the email.
Susanna Wigmore told the Cook Islands News. “I was being ironic. It was a way for me to communicate my disappointment.”
In her one-star TripAdvisor review of the property, Bridie Henderson defended the family’s lack of cleaning saying they “had never been told that the tariff did not include cleaning”.
“Although we did our best to tidy up, we had an early flight, and there was no vacuum or cleaning products that I saw,” she said.
The Tourism Board argued issues such as property damage should be raised with guests in a more professional manner.
The accommodation’s TripAdvisor-outlined house rules include ” NO walking on SHOES inside the house”, the hosts outlining “Scratches and hits damages on noble wooden floor and walls would be deduced from the Refundable Damage Deposit.”
Bridie Henderson’s review describes Rarotonga it as an “amazing place”, but suggests the hosts “may wish to take a break from hospitality, or not let to families with kids at the very least”.
Kaireva Beach House has a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor and is an Air New Zealand Cook Islands Tourism Award winner for the Best Private Holiday Rental.