Brace yourselves. Winter is coming. If you’re not looking forward to a long season of ice and sleet and snow and white walkers you may want to shoot an entry for Hotel Iguanazul’s “Costa Rica Dream Job” video contest. If you win you’ll get to spend 3 months at the Iguanazul Resort in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica! Here’s how the sponsor describes the contest:
Always wanted to work in the tropics? Here’s your chance! Are you a dynamic self-motivated and experienced blogger with knowledge/experience of the hospitality industry and a thirst for eco-adventure? Upload a video showing why you should win this opportunity. You could win 3 months working as a Social Media Marketer at Hotel Iguanazul just south of Tamarindo, Costa Rica communicating what this tropical paradise has to offer.
Three months in paradise sounds pretty sweet! Of course, there are a few strings attached to this “oppertunity.” If you look through the contest rules you’ll discover that the “prize’ really is a job….a job that doesn’t actually pay you anything. Here’s what you’ll receive if you win the resort’s contest:
- The opportunity to serve, for three months as a blogger for the Hotel Iguanazul in Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica and Eco Tourism in the area and a 3 month trip for one to Santa Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.
- Round-trip economy air transportation from major airport nearest winner’s residence in the United States (up to a total of $1,500 including all taxes and fees) to Liberia, Costa Rica.
- Round trip ground transportation from the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica to Hotel Iguanazul up to a total of $250
- Hotel accommodations and three meals per day for ninety days at the Hotel Iguanazul.
During you’re stay you’ll be earning your keep by writing three blog posts a week during your 12 week stay. $13,750 for 36 blog posts probably sounds pretty enticing. It just so happens that I’m writing a blog post right now and I can tell you, it ain’t exactly the toughest job in the world. But if you actually think about the prize that the sponsor is offering, you’ll realize that the winner is going to get a pretty raw deal.
The rules state that the total ARV of these prizes is $13,750. $250 of that is for ground transportation to and from the resort and $1,500 is for a round trip plane ticket. That leaves $12,000. But that money doesn’t go to you. That’s the cost of a 3 month stay (plus 3 squares a day) at the Hotel Iguanazul.
So the sponsor expects the “winner” to basically live on zero dollar a day for three months. Sure, you’ll be at a fancy resort but you’ll essentially be a prisoner there. If you want to buy some sunscreen or a souvenir or a Milky Way from the vending machine you’re S.O.L unless you brought some cash with you. The cost of your stay probably includes tons of activities but what happens when you get sick of snorkeling and lobster and you just want to get some pizza and watch a movie? Anyone who wins this contest will have to go three months without earning an income of any kind. What are you supposed to tell you cell phone, credit card or student loan companies? They’re not going to stop sending you bills just because you took a break from life to go blog in South America for the winter. And hey, let’s not forget about the IRS. Even though you’re not going to earn a single dollar during your trip, and even though the hotel isn’t actually going to spend $12,000 (they lose nothing by putting you up in an empty hotel room) you better believe that you’re going to have to pay taxes on the prize the sponsor has valued at $13,750.
But now that I think about it, 3 months without pay isn’t even the worst thing about this prize. The worst thing is that you’re essentially going to be all alone during your stay. Unless you have a friend that’s willing to visit you, you’re going to be living in a hotel room all by yourself. Three, free meals a day at a resort sounds pretty amazing….until you imagine yourself eating those meals alone at a table for one in the same restaurant day after day after day. Maybe you’ll meet some cool tourists once in a while but retirees and couples on their honeymoon probably won’t want to spend their vacations hanging out with the hotel’s official blogger. I suppose maybe you could become buddies with some of the people that work at the resort. But I just checked and it looks like most of the staff is from Costa Rica. I’m sure they’re all nice people but let’s be honest, few people on the staff will want to fraternize with someone who is technically a guest.
I googled the Iguanazul and the resort was once featured on the Travel Channel show “Hotel Impossible.” I’ve never seen that show before but I guess a travel expert goes to failing hotels and points out problems and berates the owners. You can see some clips of the Iguanazul episode here. Maybe the host was exaggerating a bit but it sounds like the place kind of sucks and the owner just doesn’t care about his business anymore. The show made the hotel look really bad (there were millions of termites, everything was moldy and dirty and coconuts were left hanging in trees that could fall and kill somebody) and that episode has become of of the top google results for the term “Hotel Iguanazul.” So maybe this video contest is the manager’s half-hearted attempt to fix their google problem He probably figures that if he can generate a ton of blog posts about the resort during the busy season, they might bury the Travel Channel clips.
So this whole deal sounds weird and shady and I recommend that you skip this contest. But if you love adventure and dining alone and if you don’t have any debts or personal obligations tying you down, maybe you should go ahead and submit an entry. If you win, be sure to watch out for falling coconuts! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hotel-Iguanazul/392216608078