My first trip in Sri Lanka was to the beautiful sea-side town of Galle.
My number one mistake on this trip: staying at the all-inclusive resort, Riu, about 15 minutes outside the town rather than staying at one of the insanely cute and rustic, albeit smaller, hotels inside the city center.
Riu is a newer hotel that just opened in 2016. The pictures online are gorgeous and both my friend and I wanted to check it out for ourselves.
The hotel itself looks exactly as depicted on the webiste. It’s expansive, beautiful, and modern. The location is great and it’s right on the beach. But other than that, I have nothing good to say about this resort.
From the moment we arrived, the entire hotel was crowded with busload after busload of some kind of conference or tour group. Driving up to the reception took forever (because of the line of buses ahead of us) and the entire hotel was packed for the rest of our stay with easily hundreds of people in matching neon colored t-shirts.
It was immediately apparent whom this hotel is trying to target, and whom it caters to – large groups. Therefore, couples or solo travelers looking for a relaxing, calm setting… stay away.
On top of the fact that every inch of the hotel was crowded with people at almost all hours, I have my own reasons for personally never wanting to stay here again.
After about only 15 minutes of being at the hotel, I had the worst experience with a member of the staff that I have ever had in any hotel OR hostel, ever.
Once we checked in and were shown to our rooms, my friend and I decided to change and go down to check out the hotel and walk along the beach. We’d been traveling for most of the day in the car and we both just really needed to freshen up first.
Apparently, this was a big mistake. I had just taken off everything but my underwear when a member of the hotel’s staff opened my door (which was closed) and just came into my room.
I was beyond shocked. I couldn’t move. This had never happened to me before, I didn’t know what to do. As he walked in he said something about the minibar. I didn’t fully understand what he was saying – partly due to shock and partly due to his poor English.
Thank freakin God that the way the room was set-up I – in nothing but my underwear – could not be seen by this random guy who had just walked through the door.
I was too in shock at first to do anything but ask him to leave. I was polite (for some reason that escapes me now) but firm. I told him that he needed to get out of my room right now.
The only thing I can possibly think to explain the fact that I didn’t immediately scream my head off was that I desperately wanted this to just be a simple mistake. I wanted to give him the chance to excuse himself, to come up with some story (oh, I thought I heard you say come in or Oh I didn’t think anyone was in here) and then just leave. I desperately wanted this to not be one of those TRULY AWFUL experiences women have while on their own.
He didn’t leave.
Instead, he insisted in broken English that he needed to fill the minibar (or something to do with the minibar, which I assumed to mean he wanted to fill it). He remained in my room.
All he had to do was take a couple more steps forward and I would literally have been practically naked in front of a total and complete stranger in an empty hotel room.
I could not believe that he was still in my room, and then I started to panic. If he didn’t want to leave there was literally nothing I could do to forcibly make him.
I finally started yelling at him to leave.
I had to angrily yell at him for what felt like forever, but was probably only about 2-3 minutes (still 2-3 minutes longer than I should have had to) before he finally left my room.
He kept insisting on doing what he came in there to do. I still can’t believe that guy’s nerve. Months later, I’m still in shock that that even happened to me.
Once the guy was finally out of my room, I immediately got back into my clothes and called the front desk. I told them what had happened and how angry I was. They weren’t very apologetic and they did nothing to compensate me for the ordeal I had just been through.
Honestly though, I didn’t push it. I practically didn’t care. In that moment I was just so exponentially ecstatic that what had just happened was over. I was so happy to be in my clothes again and I was so happy that that guy was no longer in my room.
And I think that’s what many men don’t understand about sexual harassment and sexual assault and encounters such as that. They constantly questions “Why didn’t she report it immediately to the police or “insert authority figure here”?” They never stop to question the MULTITUDE of reasons someone might have for not reporting something in the “right” amount of time (whatever that bullshit is). And while there are many reasons, just being grateful that the entire ordeal is over with is definitely one of them.
When it was clear to me that the hotel really didn’t care about what had just happened, I made one final request. I told the front desk guy that under NO circumstances was ANY member of the staff allowed to go into my room. I didn’t want my room cleaned. I didn’t want any kind of turn-down service. I didn’t want new towels the next day. And I especially did not want the mini-bar refilled.
For the rest of my stay no one from the staff came into my room, but the fact that it happened and the lack of any effort on the part of the hotel’s reception to do something to make up for what had happened made me absolutely certain that I would never stay here again.
Although Riu is an otherwise objectively nice hotel, I do not recommend it whatsoever, especially for women travelling alone.
What are your thoughts? Has something like that ever happened to you or someone you know? How did you handle it?