Tour Operator Finally Accepts Responsibility For Bulgarian Holiday Illness

Holidaymakers Taken Ill At Riu Miramar Hotel

28.02.2011

A group of more than 100 British tourists are celebrating after a tour operator accepted their responsibility to pay compensation for the gastric illness they suffered at a Bulgarian hotel in 2006.

The holidaymakers all fell ill following stays at the Riu Miramar Hotel in Obzor. A number of the group are still suffering symptoms even now.

Lawyers from Irwin Mitchell, the firm representing the holidaymakers, said the decision meant justice at last for the victims.

A number of the holidaymakers raised concerns to the tour operator’s reps at the hotel but say their complaints fell on deaf ears.

Some hotel guests were moved from the hotel when it flooded due to heavy rain, only to be moved back in while furniture was still drying outside and a smell of sewage had swept through the premises. Holidaymakers also described how the swimming pools were yet to be refilled and the water supply was cut off, meaning guests could not flush toilets or wash their hands.

The manager of the hotel told some guests that their illness was down to ‘too much sun and sea’, while other tourists were told by the tour operator that their illness was due to a winter flu bug, despite having travelled in the height of summer.

Lisa Vel, 39, from South Ockenden, Essex travelled to the Riu Miramar with her family, where both her sons, Jordan, 12 and Louis, 7, fell ill. She said: "Things at the Riu Miramar were not great even before the flood. The restaurant wasn’t clean, there were flies buzzing around the food which was left uncovered and the food was served lukewarm and didn’t look fresh. We had paid extra to go to a nice four star resort and it was such a disappointment.

"Though we were moved to another hotel after the flood, to start with we were treated as unwelcome guests by staff, who didn’t seem to be expecting us. They even refused to give us rooms. To make matters worse it wasn’t really child friendly, so when we were told that everything at the Riu Miramar was back to normal we agreed go back and that’s when things got really bad!.

"When we got back to the Riu Miramar there were still frogs jumping around on the floor in reception. There was a strong smell of sewage and the hotel really did not look ready to receive guests. There was furniture lying around reception drying out, the swimming pools were empty and there was no water.

"Needless to say we are delighted that Thomson has admitted liability, but I wish they had done this year ago and taken our complaints more seriously at the time of the holiday. Both my little boys were poorly and my oldest son will have to live with his symptoms for the rest of his life and this holiday is one he will remember for all the wrong reasons."

Thomson, a subsidiary of TUI UK Ltd, denied responsibility for the outbreak for almost five years. However last Friday, just hours before the trial was due to start, the travel company accepted that they should compensate the victims.

A Judge has today entered judgment for the victims and approved final negotiated settlements for 13 children.

A number of victims are now waiting for their compensation settlements to be agreed or determined by the court. Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are urging the tour operator to work with them to agree the amounts quickly so that the holidaymakers can put the ordeal behind them.

Commenting on today's Judgment, Irwin Mitchell's head of travel law Clive Garner said: "What our clients experienced at the Riu Miramar hotel in 2006 was simply unacceptable. Many of those who became ill have gone on to suffer years of pain and torment all of which could have been avoided had Thomson, and the management of the hotel, acted reasonably and put their clients safety first.

"It is shameful that the appalling conditions in which so many people fell ill were allowed to manifest and that Thomson then denied responsibility for so many years, instead looking to put every hurdle they could in the way of their own clients getting the justice that they deserve.

"And it is disappointing that these victims have had to practically take their battle for justice to the court steps before Thomson dropped their charade and accepted fault."