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May 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Resortís Off-Putting Documents

from the May, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

One of the unique aspects of Turneffe Island Resort is also of its worst. I understand the need for rules, regulations and limitations, but unlike any other place I've stayed, the resort's pre-trip orientation and policy forms supposedly had to be agreed to, signed and faxed back to its rep in Houston even prior to confirming our reservations. One of the policies read, "No alcohol is allowed to be brought to the island. All alcohol must be bought and consumed on island." The catch is, although meals and beverages are all inclusive, alcoholic beverages are not, and they're pricey.

Another sheet required answers to questions that included, "Any prescription medication currently being taken?" and,"As a SCUBA diver have you ever suffered from" conditions that included asthma and diabetes. I understand their concern for their guests, who are going to be 35 miles offshore from Belize City, but my reaction to all this was WTF, mind your own business! I wondered whether the resort could guarantee the sort of privacy regarding personal medical information that is required in the U.S. I wondered whether the resort would line up our bags for inspection upon arrival, or whether the housekeeping staff would snoop through my baggage in the room during my stay. I'm a privacy advocate, in case you couldn't tell, and the whole thing made my blood boil.

Now for the good news. First, Caradonna, the travel agency I used, had already confirmed my reservations. Second, having been cleared for diving by my physician at my last annual visit, I assumed I could take responsibility for my own health, revealing as much or as little as I thought prudent, without giving those items a second thought. And third, not wanting to be dishonest to save a few bucks at the bar, I let the resort's agent in Houston know that I wasn't comfortable with the "only purchase alcohol here" policy. She emailed to say that as long as I didn't bring containers to the pool area, I could BMOB. End of mini-drama.

Throughout my stay, I was discreet about any use of booze not purchased at the bar. Having seen episodes of the TV docu-drama Locked Up Abroad, I didn't want any local legal hassles. Even now I'm not going to admit to anything or advocate any illegal conduct, but you can come to your own conclusions. There was no inspection of baggage, and I never felt anyone at the resort went into my closed suitcases while I was away from the room. Calculating the per-drink cost of a single liter of Crown Royal at $12 a shot -- but bought duty-free in the U.S. on the way down for $25 -- I'm making a big deal out of this because if you decide to go to this resort, you could learn from my first-hand observation, which could save you more than $350 in bar tabs and tips alone.

-- S.P.

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