By Karen Ruiz For Dailymail.com
A Florida woman’s vacation at the famous Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas turned into a nightmare after she awoke one morning to find herself covered in more than 100 bed bug bites.
Cindi Avila said she and her husband Michael Avila had been enjoying their two-night stay in the popular resort on the sunny island, until she found hundreds of bed bugs crawling under her hotel bed.
The Miami woman was left with swollen and itchy skin and endured weeks of the ‘worst pain’ she has ever experienced after her stay.
Avila is now suing the hotel for $15,000 in damages.
Cindi Avila had stayed in the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, which left her covered in more than 100 painful, bed bug bites
The couple had been staying in the Atlantis Paradise Island Hotel for two nights before she awoke to find herself bitten
On the day she was scheduled to leave the Atlantis Royal Towers Hotel, Avila woke up to see what she had initially thought was a mosquito bite on her forehead, but after she killed another insect, which secreted blood, she realized she had been bitten by bed bugs.
‘I immediately called the hotel and they sent me to a nurse,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘It was a humiliating experience as I had to strip down naked and have calamine lotion rubbed all over my body.’
The Miami woman said she urged the hotel staff to go to her room to check out the bugs, but she was told they would take a look after she checked out that day.
The Miami woman said she initially believed she had been bitten by a mosquito, until she discovered the bugs in her bed
Cindi and her husband looked under her mattress to find hundreds of bugs crawling around the bed
Cindi was left with red, swollen bites from her head down to her knees
The woman said the severity of the bites progressed when she returned home from her vacation and became more inflamed
‘I told them “no, you have to come see this now” and the front desk manager refused because he was the only one checking in guests that day,’ she said.
As a former television reporter, she decided to conduct her own investigation with her husband and went back to check her room for more bugs.
Although her husband slept on the same bed, only Cindi had been affected.
After the couple flipped over the mattress, the two were shocked to see hundreds of bed bugs crawling around the bed.
‘It was like a scene out of a horror movie,’ she said.
The blood-sucking insects are not usually seen during the day and are known to scatter once they are exposed to light, but Cindi said she still managed to capture the bugs on video because there were so many.
‘There was bright light in the room and I was still able to get all the bugs on video along with their excrement and that’s what blew me away,’ she said.
Cindi discovered hundreds of bugs underneath the bed skirt
After going to an urgent care facility, Cindi said she was prescribed medication, but it did little to help her discomfort
Cindi, pictured with her husband Michael, had stayed in the room which was paid for by a casino voucher
‘The fact that there was excrement meant it hadn’t been cleaned in a while, and it was on the bed skirt of easy, washable linen.’
When she found the bugs, Cindi called a housekeeper into the room who was mortified when she saw the all the insects.
The housekeeping supervisor and a security staff member arrived at the room, but no one from the hotel management.
The staff wrote up a report on the incident and told her they would investigate after she checked out of the room, but she insisted the hotel shut down the entire floor, which is carpeted, to prevent it from spreading.
When Cindi complained to the front desk manager a second time, she said she was shocked to be met by his ‘laid back’ attitude and was told an exterminator would take care of the situation.
The mother-of-two, said she was lucky to not have brought her children along who could have been exposed to the bugs
The couple had been staying in the room which had already been paid for by a casino compensation voucher, but the hotel still gave them a bill for incidentals, which included the resort restaurant and spa that totaled up to $700.
Eventually, the hotel agreed to compensate the couple for the bill.
When Cindi and Michael arrived home, she had told family members about the incident, who advised them to stay in a hotel.
The couple threw out their suitcases and most of their clothing and bought new clothes to wear when they got back home.
A few days after she returned from her vacation, she noticed the bumps on her skin became more inflamed and she went to an urgent care facility.
Cindi was treated, but said at first her medication provided no relief.
‘I bathed in cider, lemon, and oatmeal baths, and used ice packs,’ she said.
‘It was miserable, I had no relief and I couldn’t sleep for days.’
When Cindi visited a dermatologist, the doctor told her he had never seen a bed bug case as bad as hers in his career and lost count after 100 bites.
Although she was given steroids and creams, Cindi said the pain and itching lasted about three to four weeks, and a year later, she still has some scars.
Weeks after her ordeal, she was confused to see no one from the hotel had followed up about her situation and she decided to contact them again.
A woman from the resort’s public relations team told her to keep them updated with her condition.
According to Cindi, she continued to send videos of her skin, but the woman stopped communicating, soon after.
After contacting the legal department who offered to only pay for her medical expenses, Cindi’s brother, an attorney, wrote a letter to the hotel to bring her claims to court.
Cindi said she never received a personal statement from Atlantis, but the hotel issued one to a local news source instead.
Cindi and her husband pictured on vacation at the luxury Bahamian resort
Atlantis Paradise Resort said in a statement that there had not been any previous reports of bed bugs in the Avilas’ room
CBS Miami were issued a statement which said: ‘Atlantis, Paradise Island has the utmost concern and respect for every guest experience. Included in our protocol are very strict standards of hotel hygiene and cleanliness.
‘In the unusual event we are made aware of a concern, we respond immediately to the situation and take the appropriate steps to re-mediate the problem as we did with Ms. Avila.
‘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. The resort offered to reimburse Ms. Avila for any medical bills resulting from her experience, which she declined.
‘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.
‘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.’
Cindi’s lawyer, Michael Winkleman issued a statement saying: ‘Atlantis did make a nominal settlement offer but it was insulting in relation to the harm done to Cindi.
‘We look forward to a jury of her peers, here in the United States, ultimately resolving the issue of what is a fair money award for what happened to Cindi due to the hotel’s gross negligence.’
The Atlantis Paradise Island is a renowned Bahamian resort with six different hotel accomodations.
The Royal Towers is a five-star hotel and contains the world’s most expensive suite, according to Forbes.