|A couple have told of their heartbreak after their dream honeymoon became a holiday from hell when the groom was rushed to hospital with dysentery.|
Francis and Beverley Mayes planned an idyllic two-week break in the Dominican Republic - but saw their dream turn into a nightmare.
Mr Mayes, 49, was struck by a bout of salmonella and amoebic dysentery so severe the couple were forced to stay an extra week in the country while he was stuck in a hospital bed.
And after finding out they were not the first people to fall seriously ill at their five-star hotel they have launched a legal battle against the agents behind the trip demanding compensation.
Mr Mayes, of Wherry Road, Norwich, said: “I got chronic stomach pains, I was going to the toilet every 15 minutes, it was a nightmare. I was in so much pain I couldn't think straight.”
After exchanging their vows in Las Vegas last year, Mr and Mrs Mayes decided they needed a romantic honeymoon together.
They settled on a five-star package put together by First Choice and flew out to the Caribbean country in May.
But 10 days into the planned fortnight at the Gran Bahia Hotel, Mr Mayes was suddenly taken ill, and after 48 hours of pain was forced to travel five hours by taxi to the nearest hospital bed, where he spent more than a week.
The couple eventually returned home six days after their scheduled flight, and even today Mr Mayes is still suffering from weight loss and constant lethargy since the trip.
During his stay he had nothing to eat but food prepared by the hotel.
Mr Mayes, a builder, said: “It was a five-star hotel and you think you're going to get well treated.
“Because you are only eating they're food and drinking they're drink you think you're going to be all right - but I saw members of staff not washing their hands in the toilets and things like that.
“What annoyed me most is that it can all be put down to food hygiene and it had all happened before - but they didn't do anything about it.”
After meeting four other couples in the hospital who had been struck with similar illnesses they agreed to band together and take action.
Now they are demanding compensation for the trauma they went through.
Mrs Mayes, 43, added: “It was terrible - it started of as what looked like a 24-hour bug but he just got worse and worse.
“I was very worried about him, and we were in a foreign country and no one spoke English
“As far as the hotel were concerned, we were checking out soon anyway, they didn't care.
“What was worse is that they weren't warning people - it was alright because my husband is a strong 40-something, but I dread to think what would happen if it was a young child or someone elderly.
“I think someone should take some responsibility.”
Clare Comiskey, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, is representing the group of nine angry tourists, who between them are battling major travel firms First Choice, Thomsons and Portland Holidays Direct.
She said: “We see cases of holidaymakers made seriously ill time and time again at the same resorts, year on year, with no positive action taken by tour operators to rectify this.
“Basic hygiene standards are the bare minimum that travellers should be able to expect of their accommodation.
“It is simply unacceptable for the hotel and tour operator to refuse to take responsibility. If a negotiated settlement is not reached in this case, formal legal proceedings against the offending firms are inevitable.
“We hope that this will not be necessary”
A First Choice spokeswoman said: “At First Choice, the health and safety of our customers is our primary focus. We closely monitor all the hotels to which we operate to ensure that the strictest health, safety, hygiene and comfort levels our customers expect are maintained.
“We are genuinely concerned to hear of any illnesses reported in our properties, however as Mr Mayes has sought legal representation, we are unable to comment further on this particular case so as to ensure that our comments do not unduly interfere or influence any future legal proceedings.”
Last year two parents were left fuming after being offered a mere £52 in compensation after their 22-month-old daughter was hospitalised and put on a drip for food poisoning during a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Amanda Bryant, 28, and husband Carl, 34, of Felthorpe, also fell ill on the trip, but were outraged that the compensation they were offered by Travel Republic did not even scrape the £500 they spent on medical bills for daughter Molly.
Are you demanding compensation for a shoddy service? Call Evening News reporter Rob Garratt on 01603 772439 or email firstname.lastname@example.org