Black women report frightening experiences with an Airbnb host as a warning to others

After one woman came forward about a dangerous situation at a Tulum Airbnb, comments revealed other renters had the same or even worse experiences—so how can you protect yourself?

Tulum, Mexico might have been one of the most popular vacation spots to escape to in the past two years. With pandemic protocols not as strict as in the States, parties were never-ending in this tropical locale—but not everyone had great experiences there. After a post about a vacation gone wrong went viral in recent weeks, multiple Black women have come forward about their disturbing experiences at an Airbnb in Tulum. Several alleged they were robbed, while some suspect the property’s hosts may even be involved in sex trafficking. 

Young Black woman, Mexico
Photo: Getty Images

At the top of July, Amber Jackson of St. Petersburg, Florida took to social media to share her story about a trip with friends to a Tulum Airbnb in which the group quickly felt their safety was in jeopardy. Although she intended to bring awareness to the dangers women can encounter while traveling and specifically share warnings to other travelers who might book the same Airbnb, similar allegations soon surfaced. After the story circulated on Instagram, the comments section revealed other Black women who claimed to actually have experienced theft and even sexual misconduct at that very same Airbnb. 

Jackson’s initial post detailed how she was traveling in a group of nine women who were booked to share an Airbnb in Tulum listed under the hostname “Bibiana.” When the group arrived, they noticed what appeared to be blood on the gate—their first sign that something was amiss. They were assured by the property’s concierge that the red they saw was just a splash of paint, but were not convinced. Nevertheless, they moved forward with their stay, next noticing that the keypads to their rooms were not set up properly, making it extremely easy for anyone to enter. They took the time to reconfigure the pads themselves and again opted to move forward with their stay as planned.

After a couple of days in Tulum, the group returned to the home after a day out and encountered a man outside of the home claiming to be security for the property. The catch? They had never seen security on any of the other days during their stay, and security was not listed in their paperwork for the rental, either. Concerned, they reportedly tried to contact the host and concierge about this new development and were not able to reach anyone who worked for the property until the next morning. This was strange since the property owners and concierge had been prompt with responses every day prior to this “security” arrival, who had also asked them for their codes to the home, which the women would not reveal. 

Frightened enough by the incident to reportedly sleep with knives as a means of self-protection, the group then decided to check out early and share their story on social media. As the story started making its rounds, more revelations appeared. Three more women came forward in the comments section of popular news and entertainment page The Neighborhood Talk, purporting even worse experiences at the same Airbnb. 

“No word of a lie!” one user commented. “Me and my girls were there three weeks ago staying in a room listed by Bibiana, and we were robbed for our money, and items and my sister woke up to [the so-called security guard] touching her feet GOD KNOWS WHAT HE WAS TRYNA DO!”

“Omg the same thing happened to me and my friends!!! And it is the same Airbnb Host,” another user claimed.

Yet another user alerted prospective renters to “Please be aware that I was also staying with this host on Airbnb and I reached out to her after seeing this to express concern and cancel my reservation—she has changed her name to Patricia and her profile photo!”

As for Jackson, she claimed that Airbnb only offered her a $67 refund for the $3671.65 stay and that her review about her experience at the property was deleted from the vacation rental company’s website. As of this posting, Airbnb has yet to make a public statement about these claims; theGrio has reached out for comment and will update this article if and when we receive a response. 

Nevertheless, situations like this can be scary and may even deter even adventurous travelers from wanting to try vacation rentals again. We urge you to please be careful where you travel and stay, and be prepared to exit the premises at the first appearance of any funny business. Below are some tips you should put to use when using any rental or home-sharing company platform.

Check reviews on multiple platforms

Usually, if an Airbnb host is an avid renter, they use more than one home-sharing platform to rent out their property. A good rule of thumb is to check out the rental on multiple platforms and look at reviews everywhere you can. Search the world wide web!

Use the review filter

When looking up rentals on any site, it would be in your best interest to head to the reviews section. Once there, you can search keywords to help you make substantial decisions on booking with a particular host and at a specific rental. Look up words like “safe”, “dirty”, “sketchy”, and “area” to get a more thorough idea.

Look up hosts on social media and multiple websites

We have way too much access to people on the web, so use that to your advantage. Do as much research as you can on multiple platforms about your host. Search comments, hashtags, and even reverse-image search their profile—check out their friends if you must! Stay alert for anything alarming that may make you want to opt out of a reservation.

Research the area

There are times you come across a superb-looking rental and but things seem too good to be true. The price is low, the hosts are super nice and responsive and there may even be good house favors involved. Scenarios like these can be a result of a not-so-good rental location. There could have been a robbery or criminal investigations in the area and it left a bad rep for the neighborhood. The renters then try to make it up for it in other ways. Stay woke!

Use Airbnb Support

If renting with Airbnb, their support is available for questions and help 24/7—don’t rent with a platform that doesn’t provide this. Even though you have your host’s contact, if there is ever an issue, alert Airbnb support immediately and keep chat records. 

Noel Cymone Walker

Noel Cymone Walker is an NYC-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Recording Academy/The Grammys, The Fader, Billboard, OkayPlayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.

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