Over 70 Travellers Take Legal Action After Another Outbreak At Spanish Holiday Hotel

Illness at Beach Club Hotel, Torremolinos

20.03.2009

More than 70 holidaymakers are to take legal action after becoming the latest in a long line of British travellers to suffer from serious illness during stays at a Spanish hotel which was at the centre of a record-breaking £2.5m compensation settlement last year.

Travel law experts from national firm Irwin Mitchell are again acting for a group of guests who suffered from a range of illnesses during their stay at the Beach Club Hotel in Torremolinos, Spain last year.

Victims of the most recent outbreak of illness, some of whom are still suffering from health problems several months after returning to the UK, have spoken of their anger at learning that the hotel had been hit by widespread illness before.

The outbreak is the latest setback to hit the three-star Costa del Sol hotel, which was also affected by serious illness among guests between 2000 and 2002. This led to nearly 1,000 British travellers, represented by Irwin Mitchell, successfully taking legal action against travel operators including Thomsons and JMC in a record breaking compensation claim.

Since that outbreak, which led to a £2.5m total settlement, Irwin Mitchell is aware of regular reports of illness amongst guests at the hotel. The law firm currently also act in claims including those for a number of travellers who fell ill at the hotel in October 2004, as well as for families who were hit by illness in 2007.

In the latest outbreak, Stephen Gregory, 37, and his 38-year-old wife Karen, from Poole in Dorset, travelled to the Beach Club with their sons Jamie, nine, and seven-year-old Taylor, but within just a few days of their arrival began to fall ill.

Mr Gregory, whose family travelled in May last year with Thomsons, said: “We arrived on Saturday evening and by Tuesday, Jamie became violently ill. The next day Taylor and then my wife and I began to suffer. We were unable to do anything, all suffering from sickness, diarrhoea and stomach pains. My wife and I continued to experience symptoms even after we arrived back in the UK.

"I was shocked, angry and annoyed to discover that the Beach Club Hotel has experienced problems before. It is a disgrace that my family’s health was put at risk in such a way."

Elizabeth Sainsbury, 42, and Simon Knight, 44, from Wincanton in Somerset, also stayed at the hotel in April last year with their eight-year-old daughter Lauren.

Miss Sainsbury said: “Right from the start of the holiday, we noticed that some of the other guests looked unwell. I was taken ill first and, within a short time, Simon started to suffer as well.

"The tour representative did not seem to be bothered about what was going on and when we reported our illness to her, she just dismissed as being a winter bug."

Other members of the group now taking legal action described a range of concerns about standards at the hotel including issues with food in the hotel restaurant being left uncovered for long periods of time as well as some food being served to guests undercooked and incidents of fresh food simply being added to food already in the serving trays.

Clive Garner, head of travel law at Irwin Mitchell, said: "The Beach Club has a disturbing history of illness outbreaks. It is a matter of real concern that after hundreds of past guests have suffered serious illness including Salmonella and Norovirus as a result of staying at this hotel, a large number of more recent guests are reporting similar illnesses.

"As yet it is unclear whether lessons have been learnt from the previous outbreaks of illness. It is obviously too late for those people who travelled there last year, but I call on any tour operators sending holidaymakers to the Beach Club this year to carry out the most thorough pre-season checks and to carefully monitor conditions throughout the holiday season to make sure that no-one else falls victim to illness while staying at the Beach Club."

He continued: “Hotel Managers and Tour Operators have a duty to their customers to ensure basic health and hygiene standards are met. If problems arise which threaten the safety of actual or potential guests, they should be informed as soon as possible by their tour operator so that they can make alternative holiday arrangements if they want to."

"In the current climate, people’s holidays will be even more important to them. Falling ill during a much-needed break is simply not acceptable. It is also well known to tour operators and others in the industry that there is a significant risk that illness contracted abroad can lead to long term and often permanent health problems. The need to provide safe and sanitary hotels is overwhelmingly clear"

Last year’s settlement package, negotiated by Irwin Mitchell, exceeded £2.5m and was the largest award for a group action by UK holidaymakers following an outbreak of illness in mainland Spain.

The settlement was paid by Thomson Holiday (TUI) and JMC (Thomas Cook) to 790 holidaymakers, after the claims of around 200 further guests against a number of other British Tour operators had previously been successfully concluded.