UK families in new legal battle over holiday in Dominican Republic
Families are among claimants demanding £300,000 compensation from a travel firm after their trip to a luxury resort became a holiday from hell. Tourists across the country are suing travel company TUI UK Ltd over ruined holidays to the San Juan in the Dominican Republic.
Two families from the North – Julia and Robert Brown of Consett, County Durham, and Billy and Noline Johnston of Washington, Tyne and Wear – are among the 44 claimants.
Led by Mrs Johnston, the claimants have filed a writ at London’s High Court, laying bare in detail the horrendous hygiene standards they claim to have found at the Bahia Principe Hotel during the summer of 2007, when they and hundreds more were struck down by an outbreak of chronic gastroenteritis.
As well as telling of “a general smell of sewage, urine and vomit” near the hotel, the 17-page writ claims:
:: Vomit was found in the dirty restaurant
:: Food – which they say was served undercooked and lukewarm – was left uncovered and birds picked at leftovers.
:: Rats, dogs, insects, mice and birds were seen in and around the hotel.
:: Cockroaches and ants were found in bedrooms and bathrooms, many of which had damp and mould.
:: Toilets back-flushed, overflowed and flooded sewage into the bathrooms.
:: Faeces were spotted in the pool “on various occasions”. They were scraped out, but the pool was not closed or decontaminated afterwards.
Mrs Johnston, 43, her husband Billy, 39, a depot manager, and their daughter Caitlin, nine, spent two weeks at the Bahia Principe in August 2007, having shelled out around £3,500.
Mrs Johnston, a legal secretary, said: “It was supposed to be a holiday of a lifetime . . . I guess it was, but for all the wrong reasons.
“People were dropping like flies and there were hardly any around the pool - they were all ill in their rooms.
We all fell ill soon after arriving, and the irony is, the hotel was meant to be an upgrade for us.
“Even on the way home we were ill and spent most of the flight in the toilet.
“I called our GP as soon as we got off the plane in Manchester and got us all appointments and Billy was diagnosed with Cryptosporidium, a parasite found in contaminated water.
“We just want the travel firm to pay up because we had a ruined holiday which has put us off going on a long-haul holiday ever again.”
It’s not the first time holidaymakers represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell have raised a legal bid in connection with the hotel.
The alleged bacteria outbreak in 2007 involved more than 1,000 people, more than 500 of whom pursued legal action against Thomas Cook and its subsidiary My Travel. These claims were settled for around £3.5m. Other claims are ongoing.
Around 400 are also taking action against First Choice.
A spokeswoman for TUI UK Ltd, which encompasses Thomsons who the claimants took package tours with, said: “We are concerned to learn of any alleged illness in any of our properties. As this new case is currently subject to a legal process, it would be inappropriate of us to comment any further at this time.
“We closely monitor all hotels with a view to ensuring the strictest health and hygiene standards are maintained.
“Bahia Principe San Juan in the Dominican Republic is and continues to be a very popular resort. We are very confident that guests due to travel there in the future will have a wonderful holiday, experiencing the excellent levels of quality and standards they expect from a property."
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