This is a warning to all tourists who plan to book a stay at the Gardenia Country Inn, Tomohon, Indonesia.
I made a booking at Gardenia for a 3-week stay ahead of my visit to Manado on a planned 2-month stay in May-Jul 2012 to shoot underwater photographs of Manado’s famed reef walls, muck dive sites, and of the Tangkoko nature reserve.
Gardenia asked me to pay a USD600 deposit, equal to 50% of the total room bill to secure the room! Ordinarily, I would not have agreed as that is a very heavy commitment to pay upfront but because I was informed it was the high season, I obliged and handed over USD500.
As it turned out, I was able to take the photographs of the nature reserve without needing to stay at this highland resort. As such, I gave them more than two weeks’ notice to cancel my booking through the manager of the dive resort in Manado where I was staying. I was assured by this manager that it was not a problem to get a refund because even he thought it was a very reasonable request, given the ample notice.
I left it as that but still did not get my refund from Gardenia even until the day I was supposed to depart for Singapore. That was when I realized that they had no intention to refund me any of the deposit I made! This really made me upset as I would not ordinarily have placed the deposit, especially one so large. Most establishments world-wide would at most charge a night's bill for a no-show, and usually only if fewer than a couple of days’ notice is given.
Despite several attempts to contact them by e-mail, all I got from them was one e-mail saying that they could postpone my booking by a few months. But I told them it would make no difference as I was going to be drafted into the army by then. I argued that perhaps a 50% deposit might not be that bad if one planned to stay just a couple of nights but not for someone planning to stay for 2 weeks or more. I did not hear from them from then.
Whats more ridiculous was that they didn't even allow my parents to stay there in my place when they travelled to Manado & Tomohon in July, despite the USD500 deposit that has been paid.
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