Holidaymakers Struck Down With Illness In Jamaica
A group of holidaymakers struck down with gastric illness whilst holidaying in Jamaica are to take legal action against tour operators Airtours and Direct Holidays* amid complaints about the hotels ‘appalling’ hygiene standards.
The 10 tourists have instructed travel litigation experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell after disastrous holidays at the Starfish Trelawney Hotel in Jamaica earlier this year where they fell ill with serious gastric problems.
Solicitor Amandeep Dhillon said complaints included concerns about the state of the swimming pool, described by guests as filthy, toilets that overflowed with faeces, and food that was served undercooked.
The group action follows a similar claim in 2006 against the same hotel.
Mr Dhillon said: “This is not the first time there have been complaints about this hotel – we took action against tour operators in similar circumstances in 2006. It’s disappointing to see standards do not seem to have improved at all.
“In our experience, it is likely that our clients were not the only people affected by the terrible conditions at this hotel and we may only be seeing the tip of the iceberg.”
Among the tourists was auxiliary district nurse Amanda Ellis, who had saved hard to take her family away – she had hoped for a relaxing break for herself, her husband Brian, both 40, and their daughter Elizabeth, aged 13.
She also treated her eldest daughter and son-in-law, Gemma and Kevin Embleton, 22 and 24, and their three-year-old son Connor, from Tidworth, Wiltshire, to the trip.
But after just days at the resort, Mr Ellis and Mr Embleton both fell ill with serious gastric problems.
Mrs Ellis, from North Shields, who works in doctors’ surgeries around the North East, said she is in no doubt what caused the problems: “Our stay was an absolute disaster from start to finish. As a nurse I’m well aware of what are acceptable levels of hygiene and at no point did I see anything approaching that while in Jamaica.
“The food was poor and undercooked – and at one point we saw the chef emerge from the kitchen, pick food out the service trays with her bare hands and start to eat it in front of everybody. If they behave like that in the public view, you dread to think what goes on behind the scenes.
“The toilets throughout the resort were constantly overflowing with faeces, and the smell would come through to the dining room. As Brian and Kevin’s conditions worsened, they couldn’t use public toilets so we were confined to the rooms. My husband’s symptoms were so bad that he is still suffering and still seeking treatment – three months on.
“The problems didn’t end there – it constantly looked as though someone had vomited in the pool, which is horrible when you have a three-year-old with you who just wants to swim all the time. It was appalling.”
She said the behaviour of hotel staff just added insult to injury: “The staff were obnoxious and it felt like you were putting them out every time you asked for something. Even without the illnesses we were suffering, so many basic elements of the holiday were just not right. It was the worst holiday I’ve ever been on.”
Mr Dhillon continued: “It is the responsibility of the tour operator to ensure that health and safety standards are guaranteed so that holidaymakers are not put at risk and we urge Thomas Cook to take immediate action at this resort to ensure similar outbreaks do not occur in the future. Meanwhile we also invite Thomas Cook to enter into early and constructive negotiations with us to enable the fair and prompt compensation of our clients. If this cannot be achieved, formal legal proceedings are inevitable. We hope that this can be avoided.”
* Both trading names of Thomas Cook