Waking Up Covered in Bug Bites Was Not My Idea of a Five Star Resort Vacation

Posted on Posted in My Thoughts and Musings, Puerto Rico
The view from my room was gorgeous, the view of me covered in bug bites not so much

I had a normal Saturday at the hotel and never left the resort property. My morning started off with breakfast followed by time on the beach, lunch at the pool bar, time in my room relaxing reading a book on the comfy chair and then a spa massage before dinner at the restaurant. I happily packed my suitcase after dinner to prepare for my flight back to San Juan in the morning and went to bed early as I was exhausted from the sunny, relaxing and hectic day of lounging, spa and eating.

I woke up to my alarm and got out of bed as I had done the day before.  When I approached the bathroom mirror to put my contact lenses in, I seemed a bit reddish.  While the lighting in the bathroom was awful, I could see red spots all over me.  I quickly exchanged my glasses for my contact lenses to get a better look and I looked horrible covered in spots.  As I started to inspect my body, I stopped counting at 50 bug bites – mostly concentrated on my arms, shoulders, neck and legs with a few stray bits on my face. Basically parts of my body not covered by my pajamas were now covered in bug bites. What the hell!?  I had become a bug buffet overnight and now I was in a panic.

Bug Bites – In Search of an Answer

I threw the bed covers over and pulled at the corners of the sheets to look under with my flashlight.  I was investigating to see if I could find the almost invisible evidence of a feast – a feast of me.  I then scoured the room looking for and listening to the sounds, excluding the ocean waves crashing in the background, hoping to hear something flying to explain my spots. Nothing.

I called the front desk to report that I went to bed last night without bug bites save a mosquito or two at dinner on my ankles and woke up covered in what?  Bed bugs was my first thought.  The staff member said “we’ve had other bedbug reports but found nothing, I will let the GM (General Manager) know immediately”.

I’ve traveled to almost 50 countries, taken malaria meds, slept under mosquito nets and in tents and have stayed in a few icky places in my travels but have never encountered this situation.  I once had a mosquito fly into my Venice room from the canal below when I kept the window open.  The large room made it impossible to kill it so I slept with a sheet over my head all night listening to the mosquito dive bombing me until I fell asleep, but this?  Over 50 bites was crazy and if I thought about it too long, it was gross and horribly itchy.

I took a shower to get ready to leave which only made the bites worse – now I was itchy and didn’t have any hydrocortisone with me this trip.  I had the bug crème I used in Africa with me that I had applied while on property to keep bugs at bay but nothing to combat the aftermath.  Not knowing what to do about bedbug bites, I was googling up a storm (not recommended if pictures of people, bites and bugs gross you out) – I put my pajamas in a plastic bag and packed in the front of my suitcase.  The bites were welt like and clustered at my elbows while other spots were in a pattern.  And they itched like crazy.

Covered in Bug Bites – Talking to the GM

I went to the front desk and one look at me, you could surmise I was the lady who called about the “bedbug bites” despite trying to hide them with my cardigan (yes, a cardigan on a tropical island is quite out of place).  The GM met me at my breakfast table and talked to me for over ten minutes.  She said that they take reports of bed bugs quite seriously and would call the exterminator for an immediate inspection.  The room would be isolated and hotel staff would be present during the inspection.  The room would not be assigned to another guest until cleared. She doubted it was bed bugs and said I was probably bitten by other bugs, maybe noseeums which are sand fleas (in my room? seriously?).  I told her that I spent a good amount of time on the chair in the room reading during the day, could they be there?   I asked if the hotel sold bug cream or something soothing and she said it didn’t, but she found five packets of hydrocortisone cream to use (not enough to cover my body of bites).

Bedbugs Covered in Bug Bites Cortisone
Five star resort and this was the offer to assist with the itching from the bug bites

We exchanged business cards and she said she would email me later in the afternoon so I could have peace of mind on my family cruise (note NO PEACE OF MIND because bugs were feasting on me while I slept, the thought makes me itch now and every time I’ve gone to sleep since leaving the resort I feel like something is crawling on me everywhere). I checked out of the resort trying not to scratch my arms, legs, neck, etc. to no avail. Despite the 80 degree, sunny day, I kept my cardigan on to hide my arms and neck from others as I looked and felt gross and ugly.

Finding More Bug Bites Daily on the Cruise

When I arrived on the cruise, thankfully they had a self-service laundry so I immediately put my pajamas in the dryer on hot as the internet instructed to kill bed bugs.  During the cruise, my bites got worse and more seemed to show up each day which continued to freak me out (and was consistent with my research).  I was now using Benadryl at night to sleep, Claritin in the day and applying hydrocortisone.  I visited the ship’s medical department for the hydrocortisone and to get triage from the nurse who said I wasn’t contagious so I waited until I arrived home to see my doctor.

After Vacation, Still Covered in Bug Bites

My doctor, who isn’t versed in “tropical bugs” that the GM said bit me, said that based on the patterns it was consistent with bed bugs (pattern of three –breakfast, lunch, dinner they call it).  The bites were now over a week old and still quite visible and still itchy.  She said that they were too small to be mosquitos and having been a mosquito buffet my whole life, I knew this was different immediately. She said I’d need to wait it out and continue with my treatment as is.  It’s now three weeks since I woke up at the resort to my new spotted complexion.

The hotel GM emailed me the exterminator report later that day, before sailing, saying “no evidence of bed bugs”. So now what? My doctor thinks that my bites were consistent with bed bugs.  On follow up with my doctor’s assessment, the GM replied that no guest before or after me in that room has reported bug bites.   To me, I’m evidence to the contrary of the exterminator report. I’m trying to wrap my head around this and am stumped – was I a bed bug buffet?  I look like I was. Or did another bug type feast on me? Anyone know a logical answer here? What would you do if you were covered in 50 bug bites on your arms, legs, neck, shoulders and face?

Have you ever awoken to find out you were a bug buffet – covered in bug bites? What did you do?

Note: Sorry if I made you itch reading this, on telling friends without photos they have all started scratching. Photos below are a few shots of my spots.

bedbugs luxury hotel covered in bug bites
inside of my arm – the clusters were around my elbows
bedbug luxury hotel covered in bug bites legs
my leg when i arrived on the cruise – clusters of (bed) bug bites on my legs
bedbugs luxury hotel covered in bug bites
a few bug bites on my shoulder


6 thoughts on “Waking Up Covered in Bug Bites Was Not My Idea of a Five Star Resort Vacation

  1. I know exactly what bed bugs are like, having just recently suffered through them. Your bites don’t look like mine, but we all react differently. Mine looked more like welts, and I did have the typical 3 in a row pattern. I went to 3 doctors, and NONE OF THEM recognized them as bed bug bites. I was put through allergy testing (to the tune of approx. $900.00) and bought a new mattress, because the allergist thought I was allergic (mildly) to my 10-year old tempurpedic bed, which contains latex. The dermatologist I saw hardly listened to what I was telling her, was completely disinterested in seeing the photos I had taken of my bites (which clearly showed the 3 in a row pattern). I will say this to you — typically, bed bugs feast on the upper body only (as it was in my case). They satisfy themselves on your upper torso, head, neck, shoulders before the need to go any further south. I found the bug (2 of them) crawling on the floor one day — I found NO EVIDENCE whatsoever of them under my mattress, in the corners, etc. They had nested behind my upholstered headboard. I went through costly ($1,400.00) heat extermination process, bought mattress, boxspring, pillow encasements, and have done a lot of praying since March. I found Benedryl liquid somewhat soothing as well as cold compresses. I believe I got them via crowded city buses, but you can never know. I had been at a NYC hotel 6 weeks prior to outbreak, but after discussing with them their prevention procedures, felt they weren’t the source. Who knows. Good luck to you.

    1. Thanks – everyone does react differently as you say. I’m sorry to hear of your experience -what an ordeal no one should have to endure. As for the doctors, they should have listened to you. You are correct, they aren’t always in the mattress but in the upholstery, hence my query into the room furniture at the hotel. I hope life is back to normal for you and you’ve changed all those doctors!

  2. WOW. I can’t imagine what I’d do in your position. I can only assume the GM is inclined to take the defensive tact here and deny bedbugs but if your GP thinks so, then that’s certainly enough information to proceed with a complaint further. If the exterminator is a professional, surely they can search or advise what other bugs could be in the area and cause such a reaction.

    And yes, I am currently scratching after reading your post!

  3. Fleas? In my experience flea bites cluster together, but you would have been able to see them in the bed if they were there—I think. But, I think bed bugs are likely. My mother had a bunch of bites. They only ever found one bug—and it wasn’t in her bed. I was once attacked by what they called sand flies in New Zealand, but it was in the day time and outside. Sorry you had this experience. I hope you still had fun on your cruise.

  4. Sounds like bed bugs to me, although in my case the bites looked like welts, as Rebecca mentioned. My arms were covered pretty well. It happened at our “condotel” – hotel condo – in Hawaii a few years ago. I went to the Housekeeping Department and the woman there recognized them right away. She arranged for a plastic mattress cover as an interim fix. There was an area on the side of the mattress where they clustered. Unfortunately, a stray bug or two can be carried from place to place with no regard for star ratings. There was a new mattress on the bed the next time I went to Hawaii.

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