Holidaymakers Blast Hotel Standards As Winter Breaks End In Illness

Four-Star Tenerife Hotel Hit By Reports Of Hundreds Of Guests Struck Down By Serious Sickness Outbreak

22.03.2010

Travel law experts have demanded an investigation by tour operators after angry holidaymakers contacted them seeking legal assistance when their winter sunshine breaks in Tenerife ended in a mass sickness outbreak – amid reports of hundreds of guests being affected. 

Furious guests have reported ambulances taking victims of the gastric illness outbreak to hospital from the front door of the four-star Barceló Santiago hotel on the Spanish holiday island.

And with internet holiday review sites also being flooded with negative reviews of the 400-room hotel, specialist travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are now urging bosses at the resort and UK tour operators sending customers there to resolve the situation immediately as reports suggest as many as 300 people may have been affected

Among those guests rueing a holiday ruined by illness in the hotel in Puerto de Santiago is Tony Gensler, from Cheltenham, who booked with Thomson Holidays.  His two-week break with wife Annette was left in tatters when they were both struck down with gastric illness during their stay and had to fly home a week early on March 9th.

Mrs Gensler, 62, was so ill that she needed medical treatment from the doctor in the resort, while husband Tony, 59, consulted his GP once the couple had arranged to fly home just one week into their planned fortnight’s stay at the Barceló Santiago.

Both said they were still suffering from symptoms of the illness they contracted while staying at the hotel, including diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss, and said they had heard reports of a number of other guests being affected by the same problems.

“We’ve been to this hotel before but we noticed this time that the standards had really deteriorated. The food at the hotel restaurant was like school dinners and we could smell sewage in our room, which the hotel staff came to investigate but the problem persisted,” said Mr Gensler.

“You don’t expect to go on holiday for two weeks and come back after just seven days but it was unbelievable. We’re still suffering from ongoing symptoms now and the whole holiday was ruined. If you want to clear your stomach and lose weight through illness, I would highly recommend this hotel.”

Other guests have also contacted Irwin Mitchell’s travel law team after their breaks were ruined as well, including Worcester couple Richard Smart and Tracy Bennett, who booked their holiday with Thomas Cook.  The couple first noticed something might be wrong at their chosen holiday hotel when they spotted two ambulances outside the front door when they arrived last week.

Richard was among those to fall ill while at the hotel and also needed treatment from the resort’s doctor after suffering from illness and painful stomach cramps. He too has continued to be ill since the couple flew home at the end of their week’s stay and has had to see his GP since they returned on Friday.

And the couple said that on the day Richard was struck down by sickness, they saw another ambulance at the hotel taking poorly guests to hospital, with other tourists reporting that hundreds of people had been affected.

He said: “It’s shocking that our holiday was ruined like this. We were supposed to be having a week’s break to recharge our batteries and we’ve come home feeling poorly and wishing we hadn’t gone.

“You don’t expect to turn up at your hotel and see ambulances parked outside and it just went from bad to worse after that. We were told that lots of other guests had also been affected and none of those people will be able to have their holiday again. Everyone’s holiday has been ruined and we’re really angry about that.”

Clive Garner, Head of Irwin Mitchell’s travel law team, said: “You only have to listen to the people who have been calling us and read the review websites to know that something has gone badly wrong here.

“This hotel’s managers and the tour operators with customers staying there now and more due to travel there in the coming weeks have a duty to find out what exactly is going on and get it sorted out. They must know that there’s a problem. Why haven’t they got to grips with it before now?”

Garner added: “We’re not talking about one or two people or a minor problem here. Clearly, a very large number of people have fallen very ill in a very short space of time, with some requiring treatment in hospital. That’s appalling and action is needed immediately.  We call on the hotel's management and those tour operators who have sent guests there to carry out urgent investigations and ensure this hotel is safe for people to travel to.  If there is any risk that it is unsafe, future guests should be fully warned of the risks and given the opportunity to travel to another hotel.

“But for those people whose holidays have already ended in tears and frustration, they have a right to fair compensation. Sadly, in outbreaks of illness like this, many of those affected go on to develop long-term illness, sometimes resulting in significant financial losses and expenses.  Even those guests who suffer only short term illness may still be eligible to recover substantial compensation.

“In line with many similar past cases that we have dealt with, we expect the number of guests who instruct us to pursue claims will continue to rise steeply during the next few days."