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‘Out of a horror movie’: Woman claims she got hundreds of bedbug bites at Bahamas’ Atlantis

Miami woman suffered more than 100 bed bug bites at Atlantis in the Bahamas

A Miami woman, Cindi Avila, is suing Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas after she was bitten more than 100 times by bed bugs during a hotel stay in January 2016. She alleges hotel staff dismissed her concern after showing them her bites and
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A Miami woman, Cindi Avila, is suing Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas after she was bitten more than 100 times by bed bugs during a hotel stay in January 2016. She alleges hotel staff dismissed her concern after showing them her bites and

Unbeknownst to her, Cindi Avila’s stay at in the luxury Royal Towers of the Bahamas’ Atlantis, Paradise Island resort came with a special added feature: hundreds of crawling, biting bedbugs that lived in her bed.

A Miami woman, Cindi Avila, is suing Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas after she was bitten more than 100 times by bed bugs during a hotel stay in January 2016. She alleges hotel staff dismissed her concern after showing them her bites and

On the last night of the Pinecrest public relations expert’s two-night stay, in January 2016, the bugs swarmed Avila, covering her in hundreds of painful, swollen bites from her forehead to her thighs, she claims.

Paradise? Lost.

The bites and the hotel’s subsequent reaction to Avila’s calls for help are now the subject of a lawsuit filed last week in Florida state civil court that claims the iconic resort was negligent in adopting hygienic practices when cleaning Avila’s room. Avila is seeking damages in excess of $15,000 from Plantation-based Atlantis.

It was like something out of a horror movie.

Cindi Avila, plaintiff in lawsuit against Atlantis, Paradise Island

“It was like something out of a horror movie,” she said in an interview. “I pulled up the mattress and I was shocked at what I saw.”

In a video Avila took the day of the bites, dozens of tiny black bugs are seen crawling on the bed skirt. Spots of black excrement that appeared to have dried are also visible on the skirt.

“Oh there’s big ones here,” Avila’s husband, Mike, is heard saying. “Holy crap,” Avila says multiple times and she walks around the room and outside to videotape the number on the door: room 5-552 in the Royal Towers.

Avila said she was sent to a nurse after alerting the hotel, who applied calamine lotion to the bites. The hotel promised to exterminate the room after Avila checked out later that day, she said, but not before. So the former TV reporter decided to start recording what was happening. She pulled in a housekeeper to see the bugs for herself.

“She screamed when she saw it,” Avila said. Ultimately a manager and security officer who were also called into the room filed a report and promised to clean the room after Avila left, she said. The hotel didn’t charge Avila for her stay.

The resort immediately took the room out of service, brought in the property’s professional pest company to eradicate the problem and provided compensation for her stay.

Atlantis statement

Atlantis said in a statement that after Avila reported the bedbugs, “the resort immediately took the room out of service, brought in the property’s professional pest company to eradicate the problem and provided compensation for her stay. The property had no prior complaints regarding Ms. Avila’s room and has had no reports of bedbugs in the room in the more than one year since her stay.”

When she returned home, Avila said she spent two to three weeks in pain from the bites as she tried to treat them with numerous antihistamines, steroids, over-the-counter allergy medications, foams and prescription creams. Doctors told her they had never seen a bedbug case as severe as hers, she said.

“In the days that followed, I have never experienced more pain,” Avila said. “I didn’t sleep for five days. I literally wanted to die.”

The pain subsided after three weeks but Avila is still scared of traveling, she said, and now inspects each room before staying in it and routinely asks hotel staff to change her linens.

I didn’t sleep for five days. I literally wanted to die.

Cindi Avila, plaintiff in lawsuit against Atlantis, Paradise Island

But Atlantis said in a statement that Avila is simply trying to swindle the hotel for more money.

“The resort offered to reimburse Ms. Avila for any medical bills resulting from her experience, which she declined,” Atlantis said. “Since that time, Ms. Avila has repeatedly, and through three different attorneys, attempted to extract a large financial settlement from the resort and threatened intimidation in the media if her financial demands were not met.”

Avila’s attorney, Michael Winkleman of Miami-based firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, said he’s litigated between half a dozen and a dozen bedbug cases.

“I have never seen anyone remotely as severe as Cindi’s case,” Winkleman said. “Equally shocking is that the hygiene levels at a hotel of this caliber would be so deplorable.”

Ms. Avila has repeatedly, and through three different attorneys, attempted to extract a large financial settlement from the resort and threatened intimidation in the media if her financial demands were not met.

Atlantis statement

Atlantis maintains that the hotel exercises “very strict standards of hotel hygiene and cleanliness.”

But other travelers have previously alleged on several travel sites, including TripAdvisor and Yelp, that they’ve suffered itchy bites they believed to be from bedbugs while staying at Atlantis.

One Canadian couple claimed on TripAdvisor that they were bitten by bedbugs in 2012 while staying at Atlantis’ The Reef, another building in the hotel complex, and later found they had bedbugs in their luggage and bed at home following the trip.

Another traveler, identified only as Robert N., posted on TripAdvisor about a February 2015 trip to Atlantis that left him with bites on his arms “in clusters.” Once home, doctors told him the bites were bedbugs, the traveler posted.

Travelers have previously alleged on several travel sites, including TripAdvisor and Yelp, that they’ve suffered itchy bites they believed to be bedbugs while staying at Atlantis.

“The hotel has not even responded to our complaints. They don't care!!!” he wrote. “This place is disgusting poor service ant ridiculous prices and very unsanitary.”

Atlantis’ management team replied about a month after Robert’s the post went up: “We want to deliver nothing but the best experience possible for our guests, and will share your feedback with our Housekeeping team to continue improving the guest experience.”

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