“We made three huge payments and paid $4,397,” Gretchen Soldat and her husband said. “Then, the whole trip went down the tubes.”

DALLAS, Texas — Two months in a Spanish beach paradise is all a Dallas couple wanted, but now they’re out big bucks thanks to pandemic travel restrictions and a Vrbo host who won’t refund or reschedule the trip they never took. 

Gretchen Soldat and her husband retired in 2016. Pictures they’ve taken since then show that their newfound passion is traveling around the world. 

The pair has visited places like Ecuador, Rome, Venice, Greece, and the Galapagos Islands. They’ve worked hard all their life, and Soldat said they’ve earned a little time to themselves. 

“Traveling was a big part of our retirement,” Soldat said. “We try to find the cheapest places, and before this, Vrbo has been pretty useful.” 

Vrbo is short for Vacation Rentals by Owner. Its site serves as a kind of middleman for vacation property owners who can list their homes directly, which avoids going through a management company.

Unlike Airbnb, only entire homes are listed on Vrbo, so you don’t have to share your booking with the host or any other guest. 

Soldat and her husband loved the website and were Vrbo hosts themselves at one point. 

But their perspective changed when they decided to book a two-month trip to the Cabopino Beach area on the southern coast of Spain in February 2020, just as COVID-19 started to take hold of the world. 

“It’s been trouble-free until now; we’ve used them for 10 years,” said Soldat. 

The rental that Soldat and her husband booked is breathtaking, without question.  

And Soldat wants anyone reading this to know one thing: she’s not an idiot. 

She and her husband were well aware that COVID-19 could impact travel, especially overseas. So, they didn’t book their stay (which was scheduled from Jan. 4, 2021, to March 4, 2021) without consulting with the host, a woman named Ann Jung. 

In communication between Jung and Soldat, Soldat queried what would happen if she and her husband couldn’t travel to Spain due to COVID-19. 

“Then I will be happy to give you a credit of the full amount you have paid (you will be able to use yourself, sell it on or give to friends/family) and you will be able to use it towards any booking in any of my 7 properties within the next 2 years.”

Having confidence that their payment wouldn’t be wasted and that COVID-19 would be under control in two years, Soldat and her husband went ahead and booked their stay.  

Spain would later close its border in March of 2020. To this day, U.S. citizens can’t enter Spain unless they meet precise requirements or have already obtained special permission from their government. 

“Because we were guaranteed a credit voucher, we felt it was safe to take this trip,” said Soldat.  

Soldat and her husband made three payments that totaled $4,397. 

But when the booking date rolled around