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Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

Chicago
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Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

I'm trying to plan a two night trip with my wife and (at the time) 11 month son in June. Close to home options are Keylime Cove north of Chicago, Grizzly Jacks at Starved Rock Illinois and Caribbean Cove in Indy. All are roughly the same distance and similarly priced.

My concern comes from the "reviews" of this place. Out of 226, 128 reviews are "terrible" but the vast vast majority are one hit wonders complaining about everything from bloody sheets and cockroaches to it being freezing cold and burning hot.

Is this place really that much of a dump? Should we avoid it totally? Anyone have any recent experience with it, or any of the others mentioned? I've been to Indy many many times but have always stayed with friends and have never had a reason to visit or go near this hotel, but have seen it in passing.

Thanks for any help!

Bloomington, Indiana
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1. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

Don't have any first hand experience & hope someone who does chimes in (although I wouldn't expect the feedback to be much different than the reviews, after all they are representative of the overall opinion of the place).

That said, a few additional comments:

1. My wife, daughter & some friends of my daughter stayed there ~10 years ago, when it was a Holiday Inn, and had no major problems/complaints.

2. The fact that it is no longer a Holiday Inn, doesn't bode well (at least in my opinion).

3. I did a rather quick review of a few pages of reviews and here's my take:

a) There are clearly some people who were disappointed/disgruntled with their experience; enough they felt it was worth firing off a "1 dot" rant review to TA.

b) There are a fair number of reviews that are more measured (essentially "it's bad (or not good/great), but not that bad").

c) There's a smattering that think it is good. In some respects, you need to be as skeptical about these as you are the rants (more on this later).

d) As a (mostly) side note, there appear to be a rather large number of helpful votes for the bad reviews; many from one-post wonders and for reviews that aren't that old. I saw reviews with 3, 4, 5 (and more?) helpful votes.

As a comparison I've been on TA over 7 years, have ~20 reviews, and have accumulated a total of something like 30 helpful votes (maximum for any review ~10, hardly any with more than 1 or 2 helpful votes, and most have 0 helpful votes); here you've got reviews by members that have been around for months, have a single review and have multiple helpful votes.

My gut tells me that many of the helpful votes are being cast by the other people who left the other negative reviews. Thus, I probably discount the whole helpful vote count aspect.

e) It is worth noting that there are a smattering of reviews from members with more track history (reviews and/or forum posting) and, as I suspect with you too, these have more credibility with me. It's worth noting that my informal survey leads me to think that these reviews tend to be more measured. That is, more of the "yeah there are problems, but it's not as bad as others are saying" type of reviews. It looked to me like these tended to be more 2, 3 & 4 dots than either 1 or 5 dots.

f) One thing I often do when looking at review is to throw out the "rave" and "rant" reviews and concentrate on those in the middle. It's worth noting here you'll be throwing away a *lot* more 1 dot reviews than 5 dot reviews (as a general starting point). I don't think this fact should be totally ignored, but on the other hand if these are all from one-post wonders . . . you may be throwing out more reviews with lower credibility.

I suggest you examine the 2, 3 & 4 dot reviews paying particular attention to the things they liked and/or complained about. After doing this you might then go back and look at the 1 dot reviews and see how well they "jive" with those that had a more measured attitude towards the place. If you find the same negatives in both groups, then it's probably true and more a matter of degrees/personal dissatisfaction level then an actual credibility issue (on the part of the rants).

Also, when examining the 1 dots on this pass pay a bit of attention to see how many seem to have a chip on their shoulder. My experience is that *very* often when someone has a bad experience (whether it should be considered the hotel's fault or not) they will fire off a rant review on TA. Two prime examples of this are when the hotel refused to replace a tire flattened by a pothole, they ranted about the hotel (I happened to stay at the hotel a few weeks later, guess what: a) the pothole was on a public road, not the hotel property, and b) you'd pretty much have to *aim* or be blind in order to hit the pothole; it could have been easily avoided and in no way was the hotel's responsibility/fault. The other was when someone almost missed a wedding because the valet parking took 20 minutes to get them their car. This was a major city (that I used to live in) where giving yourself only 20 minutes of slack to make it to something that important was inappropriate. (Again, a case where I had good, first hand knowledge that the basis or the rant was not reasonable.)

The takeaway from this last point is that (in my opinion) a negative review - particularly a rant type - by someone who had an unreasonable complaint/chip on their shoulder should be totally discounted.

Bottom Line: I think it's clear that this place has problems or at least is far from deserving "5 dots" on the TA satisfaction scale. That said, my instinct tells me that it's probably not as bad as many of the rant "1 dot" reviews say it is, but (and it's a big but) I don't think the 1 dot reviews are totally without merit and my gut tells me that the place is going down not up. I'll add that if I were to do further analysis of the reviews (as described above), my opinion might shift one way or the other, but I doubt it.

That's my $.02, hope it helps,

hlo

Edited: 5:36 pm, April 24, 2014
Indianapolis
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2. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

I work 3 blocks from Carribean Cove and personally I wouldn't drive from the Chicago area to stay there. I have no personal experience inside the property itself and the surrounding area isn't the worst but, it's just not the most attractive area for a mini vacation.

Chicago
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3. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

A New Orleans fan and you work nearish to 86th and Ditch. I'm betting you've had plenty of lunches at Gumbo A Go Go. Being from NOLA it's a must for me every time I'm in Indy. I'm craving a datwich just thinking about it!

Chicago Suburbs
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4. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

The Dells is about as far from Chicago as Indy.

You could also try Timber Ridge in Lake Geneva.

Chicago
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5. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

The Dells are about 4 hours from me, Indy is 2. Remember Chicago (and it's surrounding areas) covers a huge area.

Chicago Suburbs
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6. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

If you are two hours from Indy and 4 hours from the Dells, you don't live in Chicago. You might want to correct your profile.

Canton, Ohio
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for Ohio, Garden City Beach, Surfside Beach
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7. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

SamRothstein, What travel time would you accept for this event? (I am guessing from your posts that 2 hours is acceptable but 4 hours is not? Is a 2 hour drive your limit?) Perhaps having your travel time requirements and a more accurate location where you live would assist in helping find a nice location.

FWIW, If you are looking for a water park, Holiday World and Splashin Safari is by far the best water park I have ever visited. They also have a lot to offer for toddlers, but I am not sure an 11 month old would be able to enjoy it. Also, I would guess it is another 2 to 3 hours past Indi coming from your direction. http://www.holidayworld.com/

Chicago
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8. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

You're right, I'm in a burb 30 minutes south of downtown. Sorry for the deception!

Holiday world would be great, and it's definitely on the list for later down the road, but taking that long of a drive with a little one isn't appealing so we're trying to keep it around 2 hours.

Indianapolis...
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9. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

The last time we went there was around 3 years ago. It pretty much was a dump. In fact, we stopped going because of it. It use to be our annual mid-winter break for a weekend. With that being said - the place did close down for a while and re-opened (can't remember how long ago that was). I can only imagine that they were taking care of needed repairs. I would consider it risky at best. Before I booked, I would want to tour the facility. If the other places you mention have better reviews, I would go there. Watch groupon, too. Some deals often pop up for Wisconsin (south of the Dells) and the Chicago area.

Chicago
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10. Re: Caribbean Cove - as bad as the reviews say?

Thanks for that Dean. Definitely been checking out groupon, travelzoo, and living social as well. I'm now thinking of just getting a room at a normal hotel with a nice pool and visiting my friends in Indy. Back to the drawing board with the wife!