Bott and Co recovered £2,625 in compensation from Saga Holidays for Alison McCulloch after she was struck down with an illness during her stay in Costa Rica.
On the 21st April 2016, Alison was looking forward to an all-inclusive two-week trip to Costa Rica booked by Saga Holidays. The package included flights from Heathrow to Costa Rica, transfers from the airport to the hotel and transfers between the hotels.
During the two-week trip, Alison was travelling with a group of solo travellers. The group had planned to go to three different hotels around the country. The hotels were Hotel Villa Tournon, The Villa Lapas Hotel and The Tilajari Resort Hotel.
Alison fell ill whilst at the second hotel, The Villa Lapas Hotel, only five days into the holiday.
“We moved onto the second hotel, which was in a rural area. We had gone out for a trip to a park and there were a couple of ladies who had felt unwell that day. I came back to my room that night after having dinner in the hotel and my stomach didn’t feel right.”
I woke up through the night and I thought I was going to die.
Alison felt extremely unwell and had symptoms of severe diarrhoea, stomach cramps and nausea. “I felt that bad, the next day I had to get a doctor to come to my room. I felt completely wiped out.”
“There were 21 people on the trip, all solo travellers and there was the tour guide and bus driver, but that was it, no other representatives.”
That day Alison was not fit to go out on the trip so she was left alone with the doctor in her room which made her feel very uncomfortable.
“When the doctor came he didn’t speak much English, I couldn’t speak Spanish, but the thing which annoyed me most was that there was no chaperone with him. I thought it was really poor. No reps, no hotel staff, no one.
“I have background in nursing so fortunately I knew what he was doing. He put a cannula into my vein and gave me a bag of fluids.”
I’ll always remember how he took the picture off the wall and put my bag of fluids onto the nail that was holding up the picture.
The doctor stayed in the room the whole time and then gave Alison some tablets to take after she had all the fluids.
“If we weren’t leaving for another hotel the next day I probably would have stayed an extra night, but I didn’t want to be left on my own.”
Travelling to the next hotel
The next day Alison was fit to travel. Luckily there was a toilet on the bus to use, if needed.
“Everyone bar two people on the trip were affected by an illness. We were stopping at a pharmacy every day for someone to get treatment. Our tour guide and bus driver got sick as well but they just carried on. I don’t know how they did it.”
Alison recalls the food that was provided in all the hotels was not up to a usual standard.
“Everywhere we ate was open, which meant insects and animals were free to roam around. Food wasn’t covered and it was lukewarm. Rather than Saga giving us bottled water we had to fill our own bottles from a central source.
“I’ve been to places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Mexico and never become ill before.”
Returning home and claiming holiday illness compensation
Alison felt extremely let down by Saga Holidays. “It was an expensive trip and it was the first time I had done this holiday on my own. The fact that nobody else was there except the bus driver and the tour guide is awful.
“I contacted Saga and they sent me a voucher for my next holiday with them, but I just sent it back to them. Why would I want to go away with them again?”
Upon arriving home, it wasn’t until a few weeks after that a friend of Alison told her that she could claim for compensation when ill abroad as it was advertised on the radio.
Alison had never heard the advert because she lives in Northern Ireland. She decided to search ‘holiday illness compensation’ online and found Bott and Co.
“I thought the service was very good, I was very pleased. I thought if I could get a few hundred pounds, I’d be lucky.
“I have already recommended your company to a lady that I met on the holiday who was even worse than I was. I can’t thank you enough.