Tourism & Cruises

Guests at Sandals resorts paid ‘deceptive charges’ billed as local government taxes, lawsuit says

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Sandals guests say the company charged them a local government tax and then pocketed the money.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Sandals guests say the company charged them a local government tax and then pocketed the money.

Travelers at resorts run by the Jamaican-based vacation company Sandals say they were charged a local government tax during their vacations that Sandals pocketed for itself.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami Tuesday on behalf of all current and former Sandals guests, a family from New Jersey alleges Sandals scammed them during their stays at resorts in the Caribbean in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Their lawyer, Miami-based Michael Winkleman, said the company has been pocketing instead of remitting the taxes for years, and is asking a judge to award former and current guests more than $5 million.

“These deceptive charges are used to generate extra profit at the expense of Plaintiff and others similarly situated, who are deceived into believing the fees are legitimate charges directly related to Sandals’ taxes to the government,” the lawsuit says.

In a statement, Sandals Resorts International called the allegations in the lawsuit false.

“Not only do we conduct our business with pricing transparency but we meet all of our tax obligations in each of the islands where we call home,” the company said.

A Detroit Free Press investigation last year found that Sandals covered up crimes of sexual assault at its Jamaican properties. Two young women from Michigan who say they were assaulted at Sandals resorts sued the company in federal court in Miami in May 2017. That case is still pending.

Taylor Dolven covers the tourism industry at the Miami Herald, where she aims to tell stories about the people who work in tourism and the people who enjoy it. Previously, she worked at Vice News in Brooklyn, NY, where she won a Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of NY for a national investigation of police shootings.

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