THE Department of Tourism (DOT) in Central Visayas has issued a stern warning and a fine of P10,000 on Plantation Bay Resort and Spa over the response of its former resident shareholder to the online post of a mother who had complained about the treatment she and her son with special needs received at the resort.
In a letter dated Dec. 30, 2020 addressed to Plantation Bay general manager Cherry Allego, DOT 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano said they are tasked to implement the penalties imposed by the Office of Tourism Standards and Regulation, and as approved by the Office of Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation against the respondent, which is the resort.
Plantation Bay, in a statement to SunStar Cebu, said they will continue to improve and work together with the DOT.
“We will continue to cooperate with the DOT in improving our services as part of the tourism industry,” the resort said in response to the DOT warning and fine.
The tourism agency’s findings pointed out that “there was no gross and evident bad faith exhibited by respondent and their staff since the Noise Policy had been communicated to the guest prior to reservation and (in the) confirmation form, and reiterated in reminders inside the respondent’s property. The respondent’s staff did not act in a disrespectful manner towards the guest and the guest made no complaints at the time of the stay regarding the manner of the staff towards her.”
However, the office found that “there was bad faith when Mr. (Manny) Gonzalez responded to the guest’s review in TripAdvisor.com in a disrespectful manner, addressing TripAdvisor readers instead of the guest, alleging that the guest is lying, the child is misdiagnosed, the parent is neglectful, and ascribing detrimental acts to her and the family,” the letter read.
Plantation Bay’s former resident shareholder Manny Gonzalez resigned over the public outcry after his scathing replies to a TripAdvisor review of Mai Pages regarding the actions of the resort’s lifeguards against her son with special needs.
The tourism office found the respondent liable for commission of acts detrimental to the tourism industry, in relation to Section 13.2.1(1) of DOT MC No. 2018-03 or the Progressive Accreditation System, punishable with a stern warning and a fine of P10,000.
This is apart from the foregoing recommendation on the respondent’s administrative liability to the ongoing investigation of the Department of Justice of possible criminal and civil liabilities on the part of the officers of the respondent.
“This letter serves as your first warning as a clear violation of the Department’s Memorandum Circular against acts or omissions deemed detrimental to the tourism industry and that repeated offenses which are similar in nature shall warrant penalties with increasing gravity in the future,” Tamano warned.
Earlier, the Mactan-based luxury resort announced an initial series of enhancements designed to improve the handling, attention and leisure experience for guests with special needs.
It said it has started conducting further learning sessions for both management and staff, including inclusivity training for handling people with disabilities as one of its improvements.
It has also modified its booking and reservations procedures, which now include a more focused interface allowing guests to provide advance notice should any members of their group have special needs.
The resort also announced that it is remodeling one of its freshwater swimming pools, which will be exempt from the resort’s general “low noise level policy” during scheduled times.
It is also dedicating a 1,000-square-meter Children’s Play Area for more energetic children. The play area includes wall-climbing, a children’s boot camp, play golf and an electric go-kart circuit.