Claim against First Choice
Over Twenty members of a wedding party from Berkshire and Somerset are considering taking legal action against a holiday company after the bride and groom’s dream wedding in the Caribbean was ruined by illness and a catalogue of errors.
Thirty-year-old Simone Hibberd and her husband Samuel, 32, say their wedding last month in the Dominican Republic at the hotel Gran Bahia Principe Punta Cana was ruined by a lack of organisation by tour operator First Choice and then by a severe stomach illness which affected them and most of their guests on their big day.
The couple were initially told that they had to legally be in the Dominican Republic for a minimum of 5 working days before the wedding could take place. Upon arriving and meeting the wedding planners, the couple were told that there was no such legal requirement and that the planners had in fact booked their wedding ceremony to take place on the 5th December 2008, three days before the rest of the couple’s family and friends were due to arrive in the country.
The couple had to marry without their guests but, due to a cancellation at the hotel, they were then able to arrange a second ceremony for their friends and family to attend. However, that ceremony was then ruined when Simone and the couple’s guests started to fall ill with symptoms of severe diarrhoea, stomach cramps and sickness adding to the wedding parties’ woes.
Simone Hibberd said: "I was so ill on my rescheduled wedding day that I vomited outside the restaurant, where we were eating, three times and almost fainted. It completely ruined what was supposed to be the best day of my life. Not only had we been made to go a week earlier to the Dominican Republic for no reason, First Choice had also failed to forward our intended wedding ceremony dates to the hotel."
Mrs Hibberd continued that "We had no choice but to get married without our family and friends on the date proposed by the hotel, as otherwise we would not have been able to get married. Following a cancellation at the Hotel we were able to have a ceremony for friends and family but it did not feel the same as we were already married."
"The resort itself was in bad condition, the pool was dirty, restaurants were closed for steam cleaning and there were flies buzzing around the food constantly. I believe they just could not keep up with the demand of all their guests and any hygiene standards for food quality went out the window."
Mrs Hibberd concludes, "The whole holiday, from start to finish was just one big catalogue of errors which just should not have happened, especially on someone’s wedding day."
Vishal Mahay, of the International Travel Litigation Department at Irwin Mitchell said: “What should have been an absolutely fantastic holiday, culminated in a wedding that was completely ruined. Any newly married couple should have fond memories of their wedding day; unfortunately Mr and Mrs Hibberd are not fortunate enough to have these as it was ruined through disorganisation and illness.
"This is not the first time we have had complaints about the lack of stringent health and hygiene measures in place at this hotel. As well as acting for Mr and Mrs Hibberd and their family and friends, we are also currently acting on behalf of over 40 Claimants who suffered illness at the same hotel following stays there in 2007.”