Jamie Valeri
Jamie Valeri wrote on TripAdvisor that she and her husband were drugged while staying at the 5-star Iberostar Paraiso Maya hotel in Mexico in 2015 Facebook/JamieValeri

Seven years ago, TripAdvisor repeatedly deleted a post written by Kristie Love in which she described how she was sexually assaulted while staying at the five-star Iberostar Paraiso Maya hotel in Mexico.

Five years later, another woman's post about being drugged while staying at the same hotel in Mexico's popular tourist destination Cancun, was taken down.

Jamie Valeri spoke to IBTimes UK about her "horrific" experience in Mexico and how TripAdvisor's policy has put countless travellers in danger.

"We went to Mexico for our 13th wedding anniversary. We booked the trip very last minute through Apple Vacations. As soon as I found what hotel we were staying, I looked it up. But I never saw anything bad," she said.

After having only a few drinks at the Paraiso Maya pool bar, Valeri said that she and her husband, Rick, blacked out for five hours. "I recall my body on a cold tile floor, viciously vomiting, [drifting] in and out of consciousness." When they woke up, their room key was missing and Rick's hand had been broken.

Valeri instantly felt that she had been sexually assaulted.

When they reported the assault to hotel management, the Valeris were told to take cash to a medical centre. They were not offered any assistance in reporting the incident to the police.

Like Love, Valeri felt compelled to share their experience and warn other travellers.

"We have no memory of how we got to our room, who was with us, why we lost consciousness," she wrote in a TripAdvisor post on 27 January 2015.

"I write this not to scare you but as a warning, this just happened to us days ago. It was horrific and hard to mentally process, this should not happen to anyone. We did not feel safe calling the Mexico Police and the hotel and Apple [Amstar] ignored any accusations of being drugged," the post ended.

TripAdvisor removed Valeri's post twice, labelling it "hearsay."

"I will always wonder: If TripAdvisor put their users' safety before their bottom line, would my life be different?" Valeri said.

She was shocked to discover that she was not the only person to have been drugged while on holiday in Mexico.

More than 100 people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in October that they had blacked out after having a few drinks at all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Counterfeit alcohol is believed to be the cause of people becoming violently ill and blacking out.

Mexican authorities seized 10,000 gallons of alcohol from a company using "poor manufacturing practices" and raided 31 resorts, restaurants and nightclubs in Cancun, including the Iberostar Paraiso Maya. The alcohol at the hotel bar was expired, unlabeled and kept in unsanitary conditions, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A spokesperson for Iberostar told the newspaper that the company adheres to strict regulatory standards and said they "only purchase sealed bottles (of alcohol) that satisfy all standards required by the designated regulatory authorities".

Abbey Conner
Abbey Conner drowned in the pool of the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar hotel in January 2017 after having several drinks at the hotel bar. Her family claim that she was drugged. Facebook/RememberingAbbeyConner

Earlier this year, 20-year-old Wisconsin student Abbey Conner drowned in the pool of Paraiso del Mar after having a few drinks with her brother. Mexican police say the cause of Conner's death was "accidental drowning" but her family insist that she was drugged.

Following Conner's death, Wisconsin senators called on the US State Department to investigate the deaths and injuries of American tourists at Mexican resorts. Valeri said websites such as TripAdvisor must also play a part in warning tourists about crimes that have taken place.

"If TripAdvisor allowed my story to stay up, I wonder if Abbey Conner's family would have made a different decision?" Valeri said. "Maybe they would have stayed elsewhere and maybe she would still be alive."

A spokesperson for IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts told IBTimes UK that the company has "zero tolerance for any type of illegal or inappropriate conduct at any of our properties."

She said that the complaint brought by the Valeris was "thoroughly investigated at the time."

"We did not find anything to corroborate the guests' allegations. Indeed, our records indicate that the guests were repeatedly offered assistance at the time and declined those offers," the spokesperson said.

Iberostar Paraiso del Mar
More than 100 tourists say they blacked out after having only a few drinks at all-inclusive resorts in Riviera Maya, Mexico. In August, Mexican authorities seized "expired and unlabeled" alcohol from the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar hotel bar. Facebook/IberostarHotels

A spokesperson for TripAdvisor told IBTimes UK that Valeri's post had not been "removed" but had been barred from being posted "because it contained hearsay".

"The post violated our current review guidelines," the spokesperson said. In its review guidelines, TripAdvisor describes hearsay as "rumours or quotations from other sources or the reported opinions and experiences of others."

When asked about why Love's post was removed seven years ago, the spokesperson said: "At the time of Kristie's original forum post – more than seven years ago – we had a policy whereby we judged content to be in breach of our guidelines if it did not adhere to family-friendly, G-rated language." The post has recently been republished.

"Several years ago, we changed that policy to allow more descriptive reviews on the site about first-hand accounts of serious incidents like rape or assault. We recognised then that our previous guidelines went too far in preventing information like this from being shared," the spokesperson added.