by Jason DeWitt
Cindi and Mike Avila brought back a terrible souvenir from their trip to the Bahamas: bedbug bites.
“When you check into a hotel, the Atlantis hotel that is really a five-star hotel, that comes with expectations, one of which is [that] the sheets are going to be clean and you’re not going to be eaten alive by bedbugs.”
But getting eaten alive is exactly what happened. Cindi Avila woke up covered in bedbug bites. In a video captured on a cellphone, she says:
“I really have never been in such pain in my life. I mean, these things are just swelling up all over my body.”
In the same video, the Avilas tracked down the source of Cindi’s bites by turning over their hotel mattress. Underneath was a swarming mass of black bedbugs, tiny parasites that feed on human blood. Cindi tells CBS Miami:
“It was like something out of a horror movie. We saw hundreds of bugs running around, and also their excrement all over the bed skirt.”
The horrified couple was assigned a new room, and Atlantis Resort reports they immediately took the couple’s old room out of service.
But Cindi was still covered in painful bites, and because bedbugs are known to hide in clothing and other objects, the Avilas had to throw away their luggage along with all the clothes they had brought with them.
Even prescription medication didn’t help with the discomfort. She adds:
“I want to basically crawl out of my skin, die, or go the hospital.”
Cindi’s reaction was so severe that she says her doctor called it the worst bedbug attack he had ever seen. The couple’s lawyer, who claims to have handled many other hotel bedbug cases, says the same.
The Avilas are now suing the resort. Cindi complains that the Atlantis staff wasn’t concerned with how she felt. While the resort offered to pay her medical bills, the Avilas say it isn’t sufficient.
The hotel, however, disagrees. In an official statement, Atlantis Paradise Island Resort says that the resort addressed the problem and compensated the couple for their stay.
The resort adds that Cindi Avila turned down an offer to pay her medical bills:
“When Ms. Avila reported a concern about bedbugs in her room, 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.”
Atlantis Resort suggests that the lawsuit is a shakedown, saying the attempts to settle things have been frustrated by the Avilas and their attorneys:
“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 is dedicated to treating all guests fairly and handling claims professionally. We have engaged with Ms. Avila directly and then her multiple prior attorneys continually over the year since this incident took place in an effort to resolve this matter. We regret that she has decided to take this course of action in a further effort to extract a large financial reward.”
Winkleman, the couple’s attorney, claims the resort has offered no settlement beyond reimbursement for Cindi’s medical bills.
He also implies the hotel might be concealing information about a bedbug problem in other rooms, pointing to online reviews of Atlantis Resort that mention bedbugs.
She also hopes to prevent others from going through the same thing. She recollects her experience with CBS Miami:
“A living hell. The worst days I’ve ever had—more pain than you could imagine.”
Cindi Avila says the lawsuit is intended to make Atlantis respond to the pain she experienced.