A family from Manchester have told of how they spent a year saving £4,000 for a perfect holiday which turned out to be a living nightmare, forcing them to return home five days earlier than planned. They were let down by travel retailer ‘On the Beach’ who laughed in their faces when the family said they would be taking the matter further.
Shiyun Huang, 29, travelled to the Gelina Village and Aqua Park Hotel in Corfu, Greece, with her partner, Christopher, 33, their baby, Christopher Jr, ten year old daughter, Kailah and their friend with her two children.
The resort, described as a ‘lovely, relaxing, all-inclusive 4-star hotel perfect for the whole family’ was anything but. The family were shocked to arrive at the resort to a strong smell of sewage from a nearby tip, swarms of ants in their bedroom, rat traps around every corner, undercooked food and unclean sheets in the baby’s cot.
They have now instructed Bott and Co Solicitors to act on their behalf in bringing a mis-sold holiday claim against Atol protected online travel retailer ‘On the Beach’ on the grounds that they were given a false impression of the resort at the time of booking.
Shiyun said: “I am disappointed that such a well-known company would allow us to holiday in such squalid conditions, especially with a ten month old baby. They sold us a £4,000, 4-star holiday which resembled that of not even a 1-star.”
Arriving To A Room Infested With Ants
The two families arrived at the Gelina Village Hotel on 31 August 2018. Having originally booked two studio bedrooms, they were put in a two bedroom suite. To their horror, the room was crawling with ants.
Describing what they saw, Shiyun said: “The ants were everywhere, crawling around the baby’s cot and in our bed. When we went to check how many were in the cot, we noticed the sheets were filthy with excrement stains.
We complained to reception, who offered us another room that only had two single beds; this wasn’t suitable but they said they were fully booked so we had no choice but to sleep in the infested suite. At this point, my friend and her two children were taken out of the complex, two miles down the road to a villa. She begged to return to be with us but they wouldn’t let her.
It was 4am and my baby boy was crying. I went to make him a bottle of milk but the kettle provided was so dirty and full of lime scale. It was completely unacceptable and from that moment, all I wanted to do was go home.”
The hotel manager tried to get rid of the ants by brushing them away and using vinegar soaked cloth but this disturbed the nest, causing hundreds more to come into the bedroom.
“He then got a piece of tissue with jam on and placed it on the windowsill in an attempt to attract the ants outside. This took well over an hour and our baby was unsettled and we were exhausted. At 5am we asked him to leave.”
Waking Up To The Smell Of Sewage And Rats!
The following morning, the two families were reunited and after complaining again, were offered new rooms which were very small in size and not resembling what they had booked online.
“We decided to take a walk around the complex and it was not long before we noticed an overpowering smell which lingered everywhere.
As we walked around, there were rat traps everywhere and live rats scurrying around. The ant problem went beyond the accommodation as there were ants around the dining areas and pool. It was unsafe for my baby to crawl or any of the children to play. To our horror, right next to the entertainment area was a rubbish tip where there were animal carcasses and piles of rubbish everywhere.
Raw Food Leads To Sickness And Diarrhoea
At dinner time, they were serving raw food including meat and fruit such as melon had gone off. Each morning and evening I had to make the baby’s bottles in the dining area using water from the coffee machine which meant they went cold during the night.
My partner started to suffer from sickness and diarrhoea and he was so violently sick that his blood vessels in his eye burst! My friend and our children also suffered from upset stomachs. When we reported the undercooked and inedible food, the restaurant manager just looked at us and went back to her office.
There was meant to be entertainment provided every night but this wasn’t the case and when my eight year old daughter asked for a hot chocolate, the sugar pot was full of ants. When we raised this with a member of staff, my daughter was told not to tell anyone.”
Understaffed And Zero Customer Service
The hotel was lacking in basic amenities. The family were provided with one toilet roll between three and one towel each and had to ask for more. They had to make their own beds and floors were left dirty as the cleaners never showed up.
“It didn’t feel like we were on holiday and we certainly weren’t enjoying ourselves. When we asked for a cocktail, we were told they had insufficient staff to do this. The pool bar at the waterpark was never open and the waterpark itself was only open on certain days. At the time of booking, it said the waterpark would be open every day.
We had to report the shower in our room as the big glass panel was falling off and it was unsafe to use.
Another issue was stray dogs. The hotel was aware of them roaming around and they were known to be vicious. With so many children at the hotel, we expected them to do something to make sure the dogs weren’t able to enter the premises but they didn’t care. There was dog faeces everywhere which was never cleaned up.”
Couldn’t Get Home Quick Enough
The family were at their wits’ end and decided that they wanted to return home to the UK early. They researched flights and managed to fly home on day six of their 10 days holiday.
“We tried really hard to make the most of the holiday but it was actually impossible. Our children kept saying they wanted to go home, which they’ve never said on holiday before. They were so disappointed and it was very upsetting as a parent to see them so sad on holiday when they were meant to be having the time of their lives.”
The company responsible laughed in their faces
The group made a compliant whilst still in Greece but nothing came from it and when they got home they wrote to On the Beach listing all the problems.
“We got a response saying it was nothing to do with them as they are only the booking agent, despite all the evidence I have. I spoke to Citizens Advice Bureau, sent a letter before court to On the Beach but they didn’t take me seriously. They laughed in my face when I said I’d see them in court, and even tried to intimidate me by saying it would cost me a lot of money and that I would be unlikely to win.
Family Turns To A Law Firm For Support
Citizens Advice Bureau gave me a list of solicitors who deal with these types of matters. I researched all the ones listed online and chose Bott and Co after reading about their expertise in mis-sold holiday and consumer claims.”
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co said: “This group were let down by On the Beach and were led to believe that this hotel would resemble that of a 4-star establishment but this was not the case when they arrived and the resort looked nothing like the photographs online. They suffered a great deal of stress and upset, including becoming unwell. There were not the adequate amenities in place for a baby and there were many safety risks on site for both adults and children.
Under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 2018 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015, this online travel retailer had a responsibility to make sure this family were not sold a holiday which in reality didn’t depict what they saw at the time of booking. They were forced to pay extra to leave early and we’re going to do everything we can to get them compensation.”