Dominican Republic Illness Outbreak
Travel law experts at Irwin Mitchell have repeated calls for a review of hygiene standards at the Bahia Principe Hotel in San Juan, Dominican Republic, after more British tourists were struck down by illness.
Lawyers at the firm have been contacted by holidaymakers who stayed at the hotel as recently as June 2010.
Clive Garner, head of the travel law team said: “Since 1997 we have been instructed by more than 1,300 tourists whose holidays at this hotel were ruined by illness. More than £4 million has been paid out in compensation so far, and we expect a similar sum to be paid to victims whose claims are still ongoing.
“We are appalled that we are still receiving reports from guests of an apparent disregard for important aspects of food safety and basic food hygiene procedures at this hotel. Many of the complaints we have received are almost identical to the complaints made by dozens of our clients who have suffered illness at the hotel in the past 14 years.
“We keep hearing of undercooked food, dirty communal areas and wildlife allowed to roam free around dining areas. Immediate action must be taken to ensure that no other guests are put at risk.
“Many of our clients have suffered serious illnesses following stays at this hotel. We think it is time for tour operators to take steps to ensure that standards at this hotel are brought up to an acceptable level so that all guests can enjoy a safe and happy holiday. If this cannot be done, guests should be sent to alternative accommodation.”
Jean Gechie and her cousin Agnes Freestone stayed at the hotel in June. Within days they had both fallen ill and Jean described conditions as “atrocious”.
She said: “Everywhere just seemed filthy, especially the dining room where we saw birds and other wildlife just roaming around. Often the food didn’t look properly prepared – we were served undercooked burgers and chicken, and the salads and sweets weren’t chilled. I was shocked on one occasion to see a waiter laying cutlery on the restaurant tables in the morning. I saw him drop the box of cutlery on the dirty floor, pick it up and continue setting it out on the tables.
“It is unbelievable that Thomas Cook is putting its own profit before customers’ health and continues to advertise this resort as a luxury getaway when it is anything but. This hotel is advertised as 4 star, but I certainly wouldn’t agree with that!”
Mr Garner said: “With the current level of complaints we expect that many other guests will instruct us to pursue claims for damages on their behalf. Hotel management and tour operators must now take all reasonable action to ensure the hotel is safe for their guests.”