UK Tourists Win Compensations from TUI over Bulgarian VacationViews on BG | March 4, 2011, Friday // 17:24| views
Cheap getaway: Bulgaria has become an increasingly popular holiday destination in recent years. Photo/caption by The Daily Mail
From The Daily Mail
Original Title: 138 Tourists who fell ill at Bulgarian resort win compensation from Thomson and First Choice after five-year court battle
More than 130 tourists who were taken seriously ill while on holiday at a hotel in Bulgaria have won a compensation battle with holiday goliath TUI.
The company, which trades in the UK as Thomson and First Choice, dramatically offered the 138 holidaymakers a settlement at the eleventh hour after a five-year battle over their 'holidays from hell'.
Guests at the four-star Riu Miramar hotel in Obzor, Bulgaria, had to wade through mud and silt to get to reception, faced poor food hygiene, and reported seeing frogs hopping around.
TUI UK admitted liability last Friday, shortly before a two-week trial was due to begin at Birmingham County Court yesterday.
The holidaymakers had said that they became ill due to 'appalling' conditions at the hotel in July 2006 after heavy rains flooded the ground floor.
Many were left unable to wash or flush their toilets after the flood, which cut off the hotel's water supply and electricity for extended periods of time.
Those who fell ill said they voiced concerns about safety to TUI reps, but their complaints were ignored.
The guests said that their symptoms, which included stomach cramps, sickness and diarrhoea and lethargy were dismissed by a hotel manager as the result of 'too much sand and sea'.
Some of the holidaymakers, including some children, say they are still suffering from symptoms of their illnesses today.
Levels of compensation for all those affected have yet to be agreed, but judge David Worster passed an interim order for ?300,000 in costs to be paid.
Lisa Vel, 39, from South Ockenden, Essex travelled to the Riu Miramar with her family, where both her sons, Jordan, 12 and Louis, 7, fell ill.
Though Ms Vel was moved to another hotel after the flood, she agreed to return to Riu Miramar after being told that it was safe to do so.
However, upon her return she found that there were still a number of problems with the hotel.
She said: 'When we got back to the Riu Miramar there were still frogs jumping around on the floor in reception. There was a strong smell of sewage, furniture lying around reception drying out, the swimming pools were empty and there was no water.'
'We are delighted that Thomson has now admitted liability, but I wish they had done this years ago and taken our complaints more seriously at the time of the holiday.
'Both my little boys were poorly and my oldest son will have to live with his symptoms for the rest of his life and this holiday is one he will remember for all the wrong reasons.
Karen Dyson, 46, a sales manager from Droylesden, Manchester, travelled to the resort in 2006 with her husband Graham, 47, and 17-year-old son Karl.
She said: 'It was a holiday from hell, we were really looking forward to it and the lack of organisation was disgraceful.
'People were on the door warning us not to go on. But the hotel kept telling us nothing was wrong, and then I fell ill with a really bad stomach.
'I couldn't be too far away from a toilet and couldn't go on any excursions, it ruined the holiday. The brochure looked fantastic but it was far from the reality.'
Irwin Mitchell's head of travel law Clive Garner said: 'What our clients experienced at the Riu Miramar hotel in 2006 was simply unacceptable.
'Many of those who became ill have gone on to suffer years of pain and torment, all of which could have been avoided had Thomson, and the management of the hotel, acted reasonably and put their clients safety first.
'It is shameful that the appalling conditions in which so many people fell ill were allowed to manifest and that Thomson then denied responsibility for so many years, instead looking to put every hurdle they could in the way of their own clients getting the justice that they deserve.
'And it is disappointing that these victims have had to practically take their battle for justice to the court steps before Thomson dropped their charade and accepted fault.'
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