Hamilton Island hotel tells stranded couple to 'pay up or get out' as cyclone hits

Sam Hussey

Holiday-makers on Hamilton Island were threatened with being kicked out into the teeth of Cyclone Debbie if they did not pay extra accommodation fees after flights home were cancelled.

Melbourne couple Rachael Aracic and partner Tyson Griffiths were told they had to pay for an extra night or “seek alternative accommodation” as the cyclone took hold of the island on Tuesday morning.

They were due to fly out on Tuesday before the category four cyclone saw all incoming and outgoing flights suspended.

Joined by two other couples, one of which was travelling with a toddler, Ms Aracic informed the luxury beach resort that they were unable to pay the nightly fee of $400.

With conditions worsening, Ms Aracic told 7 News Online that the manger of the hotel gave them the option them to “pay up or get out”.

Rachael Aracic and partner Tyson Griffiths were due to fly out of Hamilton Island on Tuesday morning. Source: Supplied
The group were left stranded when the hotel told them they had to

“I told her that we were not going to go outside,” Ms Aracic said.

“She then laughed at me and said it was not their problem.

“I asked her how could money be more important than our lives, all they care about is making a dime.”

Ms Aracic claimed that the hotel also downplayed the severity of the storm on Monday and instead of advising them to seek higher ground, they were given a cyclone kit that consisted of a torch, batteries and safety pins to keep the curtains of their waterfront bungalow together.

“We were advised to stay in a bungalow that was not cyclone proof,” the 23-year-old added.

“We decided it wasn’t safe, it wasn’t stable, we had to get out.”

The group decided they were safer sleeping on the floor of an evacuation centre than spending their final night in the beach side bungalow. Source: Supplied

Late on Monday night, the group learned of an evacuation centre and sought refuge there, only to later learn that one of the bungalows was reportedly struck by a falling tree that night.

“Trees were falling down, branches snapping, road was covered in debris, you couldn’t see the road,” Ms Aracic added.

Seven News Online contacted the resort for comment but is yet to hear back.