Laura Valente, a compliance analyst, 26, from Glasgow was holidaying with her partner Paul Breen, an offshore operations technician, 28, at TUI Sensimar Meltemi Blu in Santorini, in June 2019 when disaster struck.
The holiday provider also demonstrated questionable health and safety practices, which resulted in Laura suffering two falls and fracturing her left ankle.
Laura is still unable to drive ten weeks after the holiday due to her injury. Due to TUI failing to take any reasonable care to ensure the hotel grounds were safe, their holiday was effectively ruined, and they turned to us to help recover compensation and ensure some degree of justice.
Bott and Co is seeking compensation for Laura as a result of her accident abroad, and for the couple together under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992, for the loss of their enjoyment and diminution in value of their holiday.
Serious Injury On The First Night Thanks To TUI
On 13th June, their first night at TUI Sensimar Meltemi Blu, which is advertised on TUI’s website as a 5 Star property, Laura and Paul were making their way to dinner when Laura fell over on her ankle due to an uneven concrete step. There were no signs or warnings to show that the step was there, and uneven; nor any lighting nor tape or lines to encourage holidaymakers to be cautious.
I left the hospital with my left foot and lower leg in a medical boot, hobbling on crutches and with a prescription in my hand.
Laura explains feeling “searing agony” which made her cry, and her left ankle completely swelled up. She was helped up by her partner and the Hotel’s manager, Sotiris, then taken to Santorini Hospital. Laura was given an accident form to fill in, but it was Meltemi-branded, rather than TUI, which raised warning signs for Laura.
At the hospital, Laura’s left leg was placed into a medical brace, she was prescribed strong painkillers, and given crutches to walk on for the rest of her holiday. Not only this, but she was also given Clexane injections to administer into her stomach to prevent deep vein thrombosis, which later proved very traumatic.
When the doctor examined the severity of her injury, Laura recalls: “The doctor tried to touch my foot and ankle, but it was agony, and he told me I needed to get it X-rayed. That’s when I was informed that I had fractured my ankle. I left the hospital with my left foot and lower leg in a medical boot, hobbling on crutches and with a prescription in my hand.”
Before her dream trip had even properly begun, all hopes of island exploring, yoga classes and swimming were completely dashed.
Other Guests At The Hotel Had Fallen Too
The morning after their doomed first night, Laura and Paul were exhausted due to their late night at the hospital. When they finally ventured out, Laura waited in reception while
Paul went in search of a pharmacy to purchase Laura’s prescription. During this time, many guests approached Laura, asking what was wrong, as her leg was raised up on a sofa in a medical boot.
Laura says, “Not one of them was surprised when I told them I fell over the step. I was told by many people that they too had fallen due to numerous trip hazards all over the hotel. One couple even remarked that where I had fallen was an accident waiting to happen. Why didn’t TUI act responsibly, why didn’t they care about guests’ safety?”
Injection Made Laura Pass Out Due To Stress
Later that day, when it came to injecting herself in the stomach as instructed by the hospital, Laura felt very dizzy and sick, and fainted onto the bed after the injection due to the severe stress that she felt. Unfortunately, this was just the start of her mounting upset during the holiday.
I can’t stress enough the emotional distress I felt every night, crying with the pain and inability to enjoy the holiday I had been so looking forward to, through no fault of my own
Laura had brought her gym kit with her to Santorini, excited at the thought of workout classes and yoga sessions in the hotel, and walking tours around the island. She says, “I had been really looking forward to getting up early and completing the 4-5 hour walk from Fira to Oia. We enjoy hill walking but this was yet another thing struck off our bucket list.”
One day, Laura and Paul hired a car in an attempt to explore further afield, but this proved disappointing too, as there was no suitable parking space where Laura could get out of the vehicle. This meant they couldn’t both fully enjoy a sunset wine tasting experience at a winery that they had pre-booked at a cost of €60. The car rental cost another €60, which unfortunately was just more money down the drain. Laura says, “Eventually, I just got so stressed and upset that I burst into tears with the whole experience, and we returned to the hotel, meaning I wasn’t able to experience any of Santorini.”
Finding themselves confined to the hotel grounds for the rest of the holiday, Laura expressed her upset towards a TUI rep, who continually tried to trivialise her injury.
Laura says, “It added further upset having the rep tell me that I would have my boot off in a few days and I’d ‘be back on my feet in no time.’ That wasn’t what we’d been told by medical professionals, and I feel like she was trying to minimise the situation to take the negative attention away from TUI.
“Every single night, Paul went to the bar to get ice to place onto my ankle. One day I did this by the poolside, and I could see that she was shocked at the bruising and swelling of my ankle. Nevertheless, she continued to ask whether I could walk yet.
“I can’t stress enough the emotional distress I felt every night, crying with the pain and inability to enjoy the holiday I had been so looking forward to, through no fault of my own.”
Lifted In And Out Of Jacuzzi
All attempts at having a nice time on holiday were thwarted following Laura’s fall. Even when she got into the couple’s own terrace Jacuzzi, she had to be lifted in and out by Paul, and held up while she was in there as there weren’t any hand rails. Laura says, “Even around the main pool, there was not a single handrail for me to use to get in and out.”
This made her sympathise even more with disabled holidaymakers at the resort, due to the huge lack of accessibility. Laura felt increasingly uncomfortable and reliant as the holiday went on: “There wasn’t even a handrail in our bathroom shower. This meant that Paul had to hold me up in the shower so I wouldn’t fall. I felt completely dependent on him.”
What is hugely worrying is the fact that no signs or warnings were put up about the uneven step that Laura fell down until the day before she went home. Laura requested that the
TUI staff at Sensimar Meltemi Blu source a wheelchair from her, but unbelievably, they said that they couldn’t find one across the whole island of Santorini, hindering Laura’s mobility even more.
The day before my flight home I had phoned the TUI helpline to arrange special assistance in advance at the airport and on the flight itself, and they asked if I had reported my accident as it wasn’t recorded anywhere.
Contradicting TUI’s claim that it was impossible to provide a wheelchair, when Laura and Paul arrived at Santorini Airport for their homebound flight, they saw “a huge stash of wheelchairs sitting in a cupboard.” Laura also believes that their hotel could have asked one of the other many TUI properties on Santorini for a wheelchair.
Mis-sold Resort: Hotel Was A Loud And Disruptive Construction Site
As if struggling in pain while on a paradise escape wasn’t enough, Laura and Paul also had to endure the fact that their holiday had been mis-sold to them as a result of the extensive building works on the TUI property – the hotel wasn’t even fully built.
Yet again, TUI had neglected their duty to fulfil requirements; despite the fact that Laura had been explicitly told that they would be informed if building work was still being carried out, Laura received no communication of the ongoing works whatsoever. One morning, they were awoken by construction work at 7am, and the hotel guests were subjected to ongoing noise and disruption throughout the grounds.
There was a constant film of dust that had to be “hoovered out” of the couple’s own whirlpool bath, and the terrace was full of sand and dust every day. She states that they were lied to about the hotel being finished.
On a daily basis we are approached by people wishing to make a complaint against holiday providers such as TUI, and in Laura and Paul’s case, their questionable health and safety practices, resulted in a serious accident.
The level of service from waiting staff was distinctly sub-par too; the hotel food was never hot, just lukewarm, and whenever Laura or Paul tried to order drinks, staff said that they weren’t responsible for their table, which meant they had a join a queue of people waiting to order drinks. Again, Laura was left wondering how the hotel could state that it was 5*.
Alarmingly, life buoys and fire extinguishers were a second thought, and were only put up during Laura’s stay.
A Second Fall Made The Holiday More Greek Tragedy Than Greek Island Paradise
On Saturday 15th June, the hotel’s spa facility belatedly opened, so Laura and Paul thought they would try it out. The lift was broken, so they tried to get to use another lift, but when they went down to the spa level, the entrance was locked. Paul went in search of help accessing the spa, but was told that the only entrance available was via stairs, which were very narrow and cumbersome, especially for somebody with reduced movement.
When they finally arrived at the spa, the worst happened again –Laura fell for a second time as a result of polish on the floor, this time with her crutches too, causing yet more pain.
Paul and the spa ladies helped her up, and despite the fact that this time there were three witnesses, suspiciously, Laura wasn’t given an incident report to fill in this time. Further adding to the unfortunate second fall was the £184.05 bill they were lumped with after the treatments. Questioning TUI’s competence, Laura says, “As I was sitting in the hotel reception the day before with crutches and my leg raised on the couch in a medical boot, why was I sold spa treatments when the staff knew there was no disabled access?”
With Laura’s movement so compromised, it took her ten minutes to walk from the restaurant as she had to continually stop for rests along the way, whereas it would take an able-bodied person just two minutes.
TUI Reps Hadn’t Recorded Laura’s Accident
Despite Laura filling in a form detailing her first fall at TUI Sensimar Meltemi Blu, when Laura phoned TUI’s helpline to arrange special assistance for her journey home, the reps were oblivious to the whole thing. Laura says, “The day before my flight home I had phoned the TUI helpline to arrange special assistance in advance at the airport and on the flight itself, and they asked if I had reported my accident as it wasn’t recorded anywhere. It was insulting. I also had to pay €50 to obtain a ‘Fit to Fly’ document, which also cost us the last afternoon of our holiday.”
“Any extra help I received, I had to initiate it myself. My journey home was horrendous. Despite being on the front row, I couldn’t stretch my leg out. By the time I got home, my foot was ginormous.”
Still In Pain To This Day
Despite Laura’s accident at the hands of TUI occurring over two months ago, she is still suffering the consequences today. Laura and Paul each have their own property, but since returning from Santorini, Laura has had to stay at Paul’s flat as it is located just across the road from where she works and she is in too much pain to walk very far. She has been afraid to go out alone in case she falls again on her weak ankle.
Another lasting effect is that Laura is still not able to drive as she was advised at her weekly physio for her ankle that she shouldn’t drive unless she felt comfortable carrying out an emergency stop, for safety reasons. However, Laura still doesn’t feel she has regained enough strength for this, so she is being rightly cautious. Her mum has had to pre-prepare meals for her as she cannot be on her feet too long.
Laura is very upset with the length of time her pain has been ongoing, as it has affected her entire lifestyle: “I am a keen runner and gym-goer but am currently unable to do his. It will be a long time before I can run gain, and I was hoping to complete the Glasgow 10K in September, like we did last year. There is also money going out the door paying my gym membership that I can’t use. I also have to consistently take strong painkillers, and have been told by physiotherapists the swelling and discomfort in my ankle will last another year.”
After Laura’s traumatic time, TUI offered Laura an insulting £300 in vouchers to spend on a future trip with them, but Laura is understandably adamant that she will never travel with the holiday provider again.
David Bott, Senior Partner at Bott and Co says, “This young couple had wanted to visit Santorini for years, and when they eventually got there, things went from bad to worse. On a daily basis we are approached by people wishing to make a complaint against holiday providers such as TUI, and in Laura and Paul’s case, their questionable health and safety practices, resulted in a serious accident.
“Not only did they neglect to demonstrate adequate health and safety practises, they also withheld the crucial information that the supposedly 5* property was effectively still a construction site. We’re working to secure remuneration for the couple, both for Laura’s injury and for fact that they were mis-sold a holiday at the hands of TUI.”
Bott and Co is seeking compensation from TUI for her loss of enjoyment and diminution in the value of her holiday under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992. We are also working on another claim for her injury and the residual symptoms that she is still suffering from.