Deborah Alderton, 46, and her husband Richard, 47, from Harrogate, married on 6th November and had been excited for their £3,000 honeymoon at TUI property Bavaro Princess in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. However, their excitement was short-lived, as TUI let them down before they had even said “I do”, cancelling their stay due to ongoing construction work at the hotel. Stressed and upset, the couple scrambled to get another honeymoon booked, but there was limited choice and prices had risen dramatically.
They eventually settled on Royalton Punta Cana Resort, at a huge extra cost of £400, which a TUI representative promised would guarantee a romantic honeymoon experience. The Aldertons upgraded and paid extra for the “Hideaway” package, but were left immensely disappointed to find that their room was facing a toilet block and restaurant bins, which resulted in lots of unwelcome noise.
Despite TUI emphasising the “romantic” aspect of the hotel, Deborah and Richard witnessed inebriated hotel guests dancing around the pools to booming music while raucous foam parties took place. The couple believe that they were mis-sold an experience during what was supposed to be a wonderful time in their lives.
Deborah became ill on holiday with a serious chest infection and suspected borderline pneumonia, which further marred the Caribbean escape, and she feels passionately about TUI fully realising the substandard care patients receive from clinics near to TUI resorts.
After being in contact with dismissive TUI staff, Deborah and Richard have instructed Bott and Co to recover compensation under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 for the diminution in value of their holiday and the loss of enjoyment.
Original honeymoon cancelled
Before Deborah and Richard had even married, TUI contacted them to say that their 11 day trip to Bavaro Princess, Punta Cana was cancelled due to ongoing construction work. The email was very matter of fact, distinctly unapologetic and providing no reassurance to the couple. This was just four months before the now Aldertons were to marry, so they were left feeling extremely downhearted.
We were all exhausted after a nine hour flight, and we had to wait so long to catch our bus transfer. When I saw the bullet holes I felt frightened
Originally, Deborah phoned the TUI branch where they had booked their Dominican Republic escape, only to speak to a rude lady who gave them no sympathy. After this, they spoke with a gentleman who broke the news that the choice of available hotels was now limited and prices had taken a steep hike.
Not only this, but they’d already booked the airport hotel for the night before their flight, as well as airport parking, so they needed to find a hotel that had their desired dates available. Left with just three properties to choose from, two of which didn’t have a Honeymoon Suite available, which they had explicitly stated they would like, the couple had no option but to book the Royalton Punta Cana Resort.
“Are you ready to party?”
Deborah and Richard landed in the Dominican Republic and had to wait for 90 minutes before they were directed to their TUI coach transfer. Sparking worry for Deborah, the coach next to them was full of bullet holes. She says, “We were all exhausted after a nine hour flight, and we had to wait so long to catch our bus transfer. When I saw the bullet holes I felt frightened.
“My husband and I were desperate to start our romantic honeymoon, but the TUI representative just repeatedly said, ‘Are you ready to party?’ It was sadly an omen of things to come.”
Unable to find hotel reservation
Four hours after landing in the Dominican Republic, the Aldertons were finally at the hotel. While other guests were welcomed with a drink, hotel staff couldn’t locate Deborah and Richard’s booking on their system. With everyone else able to check in apart from them, the newly-wedded couple felt disheartened and had to wait an extra hour until Reception had found their reservation.
Deborah says, “We just felt lost. I even went directly to the separate Hideaway Reception myself, but they just seemed confused.”
Checked in at last but the room was far from romantic
When the couple were escorted to their Honeymoon Suite, the sight made Deborah immediately burst into tears. Their long-hoped for romantic escape was quickly becoming the very opposite, especially as their balcony overlooking a toilet block and restaurant bins, which meant bottles smashing constantly would disturb their peace. This is where Deborah thinks they were mis-sold – on the hotel’s website, honeymoon “extras” such as a banner on the door were advertised, but in reality, no surprises were waiting for them, and the location of their room couldn’t have been further from romantic.
The couple immediately requested a room change, but the staff member said that wasn’t possible until the next night. He said that he would be in touch, but that didn’t transpire. The next day, eager to swap rooms, Deborah had to contact hotel staff herself, which is when they were told, due to availability, they couldn’t be moved to another Honeymoon Suite within The Hideaway until their penultimate night.
Deborah says, “It was such a shame. I waited a long time to meet my husband and our honeymoon was ruined. The hotel really emphasised the honeymoon element of their property, and we thought it would be well worth the extra £400, especially as TUI had cancelled our original trip. It turns out that it was wasted money.”
Let down with the room change
Sad to move from The Hideaway, Deborah and her husband moved to a room in “The Diamond Club”. They were told that their new room was a Presidential Suite, but they couldn’t see any differences between this and a standard room, plus there was barely a sea view.
The next day, Deborah began to feel unwell with a chest infection. After seeking medical advice from a doctor within the hotel grounds, she was charged $170 for the service but was unable to be treated due to the severity of the infection.
The doctor sent Deborah to a recommended private clinic by taxi, but she felt increasingly unsafe. Arriving at 8am, she was perturbed to find that the clinic was surrounded by high security fencing, with an armed guard at the gate. She was diagnosed very quickly but the clinic withheld from treating Deborah without a guarantee of payment from her insurance company.
Five hours later, she was told that she was likely suffering with borderline pneumonia. Feeling very unwell and also uncomfortable with the whole setup at the clinic, Deborah wasn’t even offered water, and she wished to return to the hotel.
However the clinic staff were then very abrupt with Deborah, and made her wait for over two hours before giving her a prescription. Although the Aldertons realise that the medical care wasn’t TUI’s fault, they strongly believe that the tour operator should be aware of the substandard treatment that they were subjected to.
“Romantic” Caribbean escape full of drunk holidaymakers and foam parties
Throughout the entire holiday, Deborah failed to see anything that could be deemed as “romantic”. Keen to escape from the main pool, they went to the designated “Hideaway” pool area but found frustratingly, it was just as bad. Drunken guests were everywhere, with loud music booming out of speakers and foam parties taking place. Deborah feels that they were completely mis-sold a honeymoon: “It was definitely more of an 18-30 party style hotel, we have no idea why they advertised it as romantic.”
What’s more, Deborah and Richard noticed that if hotel staff were tipped generously, the service was exemplary. However, if they didn’t money available at times, the standards of hospitality dropped noticeably: “If you tipped the staff, you were fine. It was a shame really.”
TUI staff are less than helpful
Dejected and angry, Deborah and Richard returned home with heavy hearts. They made several attempts to complain directly with TUI, but none had a satisfactory outcome. Deborah recalls receiving a very general email from TUI, hinting that the tour operator wasn’t too concerned about rectifying their mistakes. In fact, after trying to pursue a claim through TUI themselves, Deborah says that the holiday provider encouraged her to follow a more legal avenue, hence the couple providing instructions to Bott and Co.
Deborah is devastated: “We feel completely betrayed by TUI, this was meant to be our dream holiday to start our happily ever after. You don’t expect to have to fight for your honeymoon. We had originally paid £3,000, then paid an extra £400. It’s an awful lot of money to us.”
Deborah is relieved to finally be able to put her trust in a company that will fight their corner: “We’re extremely happy with the service from Bott and Co so far, we’ve been kept up to date and things seem really promising.”
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co says, “It’s a great shame that Deborah and Richard had a honeymoon experience that was endured more than it was enjoyed. They are wondering “what if” about the honeymoon they could have had, which TUI cancelled without a moment’s thought.
We are exploring the possibility that TUI breached their contract with the Aldertons in not giving them a hotel that was of a similar standard or superior to their original hotel, especially as Deborah and her husband has to pay an extra £400 for the holiday.
We are acting on their behalf to secure compensation for them under The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 for the diminution in the value of their holiday and the loss of enjoyment.