Royal Park Hotel illness outbreak, Bulgaria
More than 300 holidaymakers are to take legal action after falling ill during their summer break at a Bulgarian hotel last year the fourth time in five years that illness has hit guests at the hotel.
Travel experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell are acting for the group, whose holidays were all ruined by serious gastric illness while staying at the all-inclusive four-star Royal Park Hotel in the Bulgarian resort of Bourgas last summer, which some tourists have described as a "hell hole".
The holidaymakers are now taking legal action against the travel company they booked with, First Choice Holidays and Flights Limited, which is still offering holidays to the hotel on its website despite the problems in four of the past five years.
Irwin Mitchell has previously been instructed to act for around 100 holidaymakers who became ill with gastric illness at the Royal Park while on holiday there in 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Nadine and Alan Orpwood and their six children, from Swanley in Kent, were just one of the families that travelled to the Royal Park last summer with First Choice. But when they were all struck down by severe symptoms caused by the un-cleanliness of the four-star hotel, they were told by the tour company that they would have to pay to see a doctor, despite other guests also being ill.
Nadine, 33, said: "The whole family suffered severe symptoms of gastric illness, including diarrhoea, abdominal pains, high temperature and vomiting. I was surprised to discover that with so many people ill, First Choice did not provide a free doctor. I was told by the travel representative that it would cost £50 for each of my children to see a doctor and that no other help was available.
"This hotel was meant to be a four-star resort but in my opinion it does not deserve this status. It was distressing to note that so many people were complaining yet, as far as I could see, neither the hotel staff nor the tour operator did anything to help."
The family say they also saw that food on the buffet was not kept covered, often resulting in flies landing on it, and they felt that the food areas were especially unclean. They also saw new food being placed on top of old food and suspected that some food was being served up on more than one occasion.
Simon Inglut, 30, from Newbury in Berkshire, also holidayed at the hotel in July 2008 with his family, and they too suffered from severe gastric illness a few days into their holiday.
Mr Inglut described the hotel as a hell hole due to poor hygiene conditions both in the restaurant and public areas of the hotel, which were not helped by frequent power cuts.
He said: This was the worst holiday that my family and I have ever been on. I would never go to the Royal Park Hotel again.
"I am very disappointed with First Choice as they were really unhelpful. There were so many people suffering with the same illness and First Choice failed to provide any answers".
Suki Chhokar, partner of the Travel Litigation Department at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors said: "Many of the enquires we have received from people who have stayed at the Royal Park Hotel refer to similar quality complaints about poor health and hygiene standards. Legal action has been taken against this tour operator in the past, but it would appear that lessons at this hotel have not been learnt. Tour operators need to realise that it is unacceptable to send holiday makers to sub standard resorts which potentially endanger their health."