Food Poisoning Abroad
A couple whose dream honeymoon was ruined by an outbreak of salmonella and amoebic dysentery that left the groom and three others hospitalised, have joined a group of angry tourists taking legal action against their tour operators.
Francis Mayes (49) and new wife Beverly (43) are amongst nine holidaymakers demanding compensation from major travel firms First Choice, Thomsons and Portland Holidays Direct, following disastrous May holidays to the five star Gran Bahia Hotel in Cayacoa Samana, Dominican Republic. The group have now instructed travel law specialists Irwin Mitchell to take action against the firms, who, despite the hotel’s poor hygiene record, gave no prior warnings to guests.
Ten days into the Mayes' stay at the hotel, Mr Mayes began to suffer crippling stomach pains and was admitted to hospital. He had contracted both salmonella and amoebic dysentery. His condition continues to cause him severe weight loss and constant lethargy since his return to the UK two months ago.
Another of the group Keith Butcher (51) is taking action against Portland Holidays Direct following a two week break to the hotel with wife Julie (47). Less than a week after arriving he fell ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps and needed hospital treatment.
On meeting with his tour rep and hotel manager following his ordeal, Mr Butcher was horrified to hear his condition blamed on "overeating" or an illness "brought with him", despite evidence of substandard conditions.
Mr Butcher, describes openly poor hygiene standards: "I saw staff clean the toilets and not bother washing their hands before touching the same surfaces as the chefs.
"Despite the hot weather, food was left uncovered. We saw freshly cooked food just heaped on top of the old food, and people had to eat with filthy cutlery.
"I find it shocking that a travel firm would send its customers to a hotel that clearly has so little regard for their health and well being. I am shortly being made redundant, and this was the last holiday that my wife and I will have for a long time. We are extremely upset that it should turn out to be such a letdown."
Clare Comiskey from Irwin Mitchell is representing the group and advises other holidaymakers not to tolerate tour operators allowing their health to be put at risk:
"We see cases of holidaymakers made seriously ill time and time again at the same resorts, year on year, with no positive action taken by tour operators to rectify this. Basic hygiene standards are the bare minimum that travellers should be able to expect of their accommodation. That Mr Butcher's condition was put down to 'overeating' is shocking.
"It is simply unacceptable for the hotel and tour operator to refuse to take responsibility, and instead attempt to pass on the blame to Mr Butcher. If a negotiated settlement is not reached in this case, formal legal proceedings against the offending firms are inevitable. We hope that this will not be necessary."