A DAD-OF-TWO has told how a “Fawlty Towers” holiday experience left his whole family bedbound with holiday sickness and diarrhoea.
Paul Hawkins said he saved for two years for the dream holiday only to have a catalogue of disasters ruin the family break.
As well as suffering sickness, a dirty room and undercooked food in their hotel, he said the final straw was when management removed their bedding for cleaning leaving them with no duvets or sheets, only pillows and dressing gowns for three nights.
Despite complaining repeatedly online and in person to his rep and hotel staff about the state of the resort, he says Thomson eventually responded by offering him a $50 (£40) voucher to spend in the hotel – 20 minutes before he was due to fly home.
He claims Thomson airline staff later branded him a troublemaker at the airport before escorting him onto the plane home.
The 37-year-old blasted: “I wouldn’t wish that holiday on my worst enemy. It was a complete disaster from start to finish. Things went from bad to worse and just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse something else happened. It’s the closest thing to Fawlty Towers.
“The staff there appeared to be clueless and there was no real customer service as nothing seemed to get changed. Thomson couldn’t even be bothered to help, it was disgusting. I have been on bad holidays before and usually there is something good you can recall but I can honestly say there was nothing good about this experience at all.”
Paul – who owns a car garage and works six days a week – booked the £4,000, 10 day holiday to Dominican Republic with wife Katrina, 36, and daughters Maisie, 4, and Nieve, 8, and was looking forward to the break.
But he says things started going wrong half an hour before landing when cold water started streaming onto his youngest daughter from the light socket on the plane above her head.
He added: “I complained but I was just told to sit down. All I wanted was a towel. So in the end I strapped her under my seatbelt in my lap. When we landed her seat was soaking.”
After checking in to the Sirenis Punta Cana Casino and Aquagames resort in January this year, the family went to the buffet and were shocked by the poor quality of the food.
Paul says there was raw and under cooked food in the trays and the chef was handling cooked and raw food and was only wearing one glove.
He added: “The food was horrible so in the end we opted for the only thing that looked ok which was ham and bread.”
The following morning he said they had their first real look at the room which he said was filthy.
He added: “It was disgusting – we had to give it a good clean, there was engrained dirt everywhere. We used three packs of wet wipes to clean dirt off the walls and units and the wipes were dark brown afterwards.”
They then went to breakfast but ended up giving the food a wide berth after seeing piles of fat and undercooked scrambled eggs.
They decided to go to the pool to cheer themselves up but it was a complete let down as he says the children’s pool smelt and was dirty and he complained to reception to get it cleaned.
Later that night they complained and decided to try an a la carte restaurant hoping for an improvement but after ordering and waiting an hour and half for one starter they gave up and went to the buffet instead.
The following day their eldest daughter was walking to reception when a loose nail went through her flip flop into her foot.
They then spent three hours in a medical centre before Paul decided to try to fly home but was told it would cost them £1,700 per person.
Paul from Bury, Lancs. added: “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was just money they were after. They offered us another hotel but that would have cost us £2,300. We were all sick to the back teeth of the place and wanted to go home as we didn’t know what else was coming.”
He didn’t have to wait long as they were offered vouchers to try another restaurant for dinner. But after two hours of waiting they had only been served lukewarm starters of chicken wings so they ate and left in disgust rather than wait for mains.
The following morning the entire family came down with severe sickness and diarrhoea leaving them confined to their beds.
He said: “My wife came down with it first first and then as myself and my daughters went downstairs they rushed to the nearest toilet and were sick. But the toilets had blocked up and sewage was over the floor. It was horrible.”
He then asked the hotel to change their bedding hoping to get rid of some germs not knowing that it would be a three night wait to get replacements.
He said: “It was beyond a joke. Despite being ill I had to keep going downstairs and complaining about our sickness and having no bedding. There was just a mattress protector and we were using bathrobes to keep warm at night. But they didn’t understand and just kept giving me pillows instead. I had 10 at one point. I complained to the rep and emailed him but got no response.”
They all went to the medical centre where his daughter was treated and was told they had food poisoning but staff refused to give them a print out of the medical notes.
He added: “I think they must know the hotel and didn’t want to give us any paperwork as other guests had also been saying they were ill at the hotel.”
He says to top things off while waiting to leave he says the rep offered him a $50 dollar voucher as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ to spend in the hotel.
“I was so angry. It was adding insult to injury”
After everything they had been through he expected a hassle free trip home but he says instead airline staff singled them out as a troublemakers.
He added: “They said we had been threatening and abusive to staff and so we had to wait for everyone else to board. Then they kept our passports. It was humiliating and we were all still sick.”
His youngest daughter Maisie spent the next two weeks recovering and he says he had to take time off work.
Now after months of having no satisfactory response from Thomson he is taking legal action over his ruined holiday.
Last night Nicholas Lukacs travel lawyer of Holiday claims specialist Simpson Millar – who is handling his claim – said they had noticed a large increase in sickness among guests visiting Dominican Republic.
He said: “This has been an awful experience for the Hawkins family but unfortunately it is not an isolated case on the island. We have dealt with dozens of similar cases. Tourists should expect the highest standards of hygiene and care when travelling abroad and tour operators need to do much more to protect customers under their care.”
A spokesperson for Thomson said: “We’re sorry to hear of Mr and Mrs Hawkins’ holiday experience and would like to thank them for bringing this to our attention.
“We’re currently investigating the complaint and will be in touch with the customers directly.
“We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of the hotels we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.”
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