/ Travel & Leisure

Misleading holidays aren’t what they’re packed up to be

An old bed outside a building

I’ve been to a fair few town halls in my time as a reporter, but not so many palaces. So if I booked a holiday promising me a party in a palace, I’d be annoyed if I ended up in a municipal building.

This is exactly what happened to some travellers who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the description of an arts tour to Vienna.

The brochure and email descriptions of the tour, run by Travel for the Arts, promised entry to the ‘dazzling Vienna Summer Palace Ball’, with seating in a private ‘loge’ in the ballroom.

In fact, the event took place in a building known as the Rathaus, a municipal building home to Vienna city council and mayor. The loge was not private to people on the tour, but had to be shared with another group.

So last week the ASA upheld two complaints about the tour on the basis that the event was not in a palace, and the seats were not private.

I’d like to think that the days of travellers being misled by inaccurate descriptions in brochures are over. I would hope that companies have learned from the bad publicity caused by being overly optimistic about how long it takes to walk to the beach, or neglecting to mention that a hotel is next to a building site.

But it seems that consumers are still being misled by some familiar sounding inaccuracies in holiday descriptions.

A long way from reality

For instance, in December the ASA upheld a complaint against EasyJet Holidays’ description of the Marinem Diana hotel in Turkey, on five grounds:

  • The EasyJet Holidays website had stated the hotel was 14km from the heart of the Kemer resort, when in fact it was 21km away.
  • The website claimed that the hotel had tennis, billiards, jacuzzi and fitness facilities, when it didn’t have any of them.
  • The room furnishings did not match the description and photos on the site.
  • The site inaccurately claimed rooms had a minibar, because the minibars stocked only bottled water, not alcoholic drinks.
  • And finally, the website showed a photo of a restaurant that had not been available during the holiday.

Altogether, that’s one very misleading description for a holidaymaker who was surely entitled to feel they didn’t get what they paid for.

Personally I’ve been lucky with my holidays. Although I did have one budget trip to a Greek island that promised a room near the coast, but didn’t mention that it was at the end of the runway of a coastal airport.

Have you ever felt duped by the description of your holiday failing to live up to reality? Or do you think travel companies are generally accurate and honest these days?

Alison Wilson says:
18 March 2013

I once went on a holiday with Thomson this was about 30 years ago and as Thomson had overbooked, they put us into a hotel that had been closed for about 30 years and had opened it up and cleaned it 2 weeks before we arrived, it was horrendous I only stayed there for one night but the gentle man who moved into my room died with legionnaires disease and a lot of people had the bug and had to go to hospital, There was no door on the room only a curtain it was absolutely infested with c**k roaches, bare wires on the wall and a wire with a lightbulb was our only light,
Then 15 years ago under duress from my family I booked another holiday with Thomson for an all inclusive and paid nearly a thousand pound per person and yet again i was totally disgusted with the quality of the food the cleanliness, the staff, and to make matters worse most of the people who had booked this holiday had paid between £400 and £500 so I have never used Thomson again and I never will.

Stephen Price says:
18 March 2013

I booked my £4196 walking holiday to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays. As instructed by Ramblers staff and the literature, I packed my size 12 boots [nearly filling the case] brought as instructed & my £50 for transport for the walks. I quote from the brochure ‘ Expect three hours’ walking on several days, with a maximum of approximately five hours’ walking on any one day’
But the UK ‘Leader’ never organised or even mentioned a walk, he just sat back read his book and enjoyed his free holiday that I had paid for! At the end of a mornings visit he just went to his room and we were left to organize the afternoon. In fact that is all he did, he certainly never contributed anything!

H. Horsnell says:
18 March 2013

In 2010 my husband and I went to China on a Wendy Wu Tour. The information booklet did not state that almost all public toilets were ‘squat’ type, even in the resteraunts, which for older westerners is not easy. All the hotel beds mattresses were extremely hard. There was no western food to choose from. There was supposed to be a choice, but it was only from the traditional chinese food. Every day started very early, sometimes 5.30am with our breakfast in a bag to eat on route, or to meet up for our coach at 7am. It was more like a boot camp, with early starts, hours in a coach, 5 internal flights and lots of walking, some on very rough ground and steep terrain and millions of steps. Health&Safety didnt seem to feature, the coaches had no seatbelts, the tour guides(who did speak good English) carried on with commentaries while everyone on the coach fell asleep through shear exhaustion. I will never go to China again.

We once booked through Travel Republic flights and accommodation to an all inclusive hotel in Olu Deniz, Turkey. We thought it was a package holiday but noticed we received two invoices. The hotel was atrocious – both room and food were well below advertised standard and we moved out to a different hotel. Travel Republic did not accept responsibility but left us to deal directly with Turkey which proved equally disastrous. We lost out big time but wrote it off to experience. Never again will we book with Travel Republic.

I booked a 10-day package with Inghams Lakes & Mountains last May/June. Two couples flying from two different UK airports to Verona, and then staying in an apartment “just behind” the main hotel. We chose this apartment as the brochure said it had two bathrooms and other essential facilities.

When we got to the UK airports, we discovered 3 of the 4 passengers were not listed on the airline’s manifest. Inghams had clearly not transferred all the relevant passenger data correctly to the airline. We needed to involve senior management from the airline and Inghams to get our boarding passes onto the aircraft. When we got to Verona and complained to the local reps they were very supportive and promised to contact HO in the UK to ensure all was OK for the return trip. But it wasn’t – and this none of the 4 passengers were on the manifest, and it needed more high level management intervention.

When we finally got to the apartment we discovered it wasn’t “just behind the hotel” but over 300m away across the other side of the village. It was early in the tourist season (late May), and we were clearly the first guests of the season. There was only one bathroom (not two) which became a bottleneck when we went on day trips that required an early start. There was no hot water as the boiler was broken, the fridge wasn’t working (the fuse had blown in the fusebox), there was no microwave, and several easy chairs were missing. The hotel responded well when these faults were pointed out and solved things within 48 hours, and the local Inghams reps were very good.

The brochure also forgot to mention that the apartment was situated right next door to the village church, whose bells pealed every hour of the day and night, with an extra long peals at 7am and 7pm.

On returning home we complained to Inghams HO, but got the brush off from their so-called Customer Relations manager. Eventually she offered £100 compensation in the form of a voucher against a future Inghams holiday. We definitely won’t be taking up this offer, and nor will any of our friends and family.

teddywinkles says:
18 March 2013

Booked a de luxe balcony cabin on Island Escape (I think it did a runner from the normal cruise ships)
Food poor. Leather (well faux) had 9 rilps in it. Ship was a bit of a rust bucket (ex ferry boat) cheap but maybe not that cheerful for value.
On saying that some people enjoyed, as there wasn’t all the dressing up that is expected on most decent cruises. The ports of call were good though

Gareth Brown says:
19 March 2013

What A Joke!! Read email trail… Awful company to deal with – check out all the complaints about this company – i will never use them again!

This was still not the holiday we paid for or what was advertised in the brochure.
We will no look to take this further along with other couples who were at the resort at the same time.

Gareth & Scott

—–Original Message—–
From: [email address removed]
Sent: 01 February 2013 17:37
To: Gareth Brown
Subject: 4861196 – 21/11/2012 – MR.S.RANDLES

Without Prejudice

Please Quote: W12/13/4861196/JM

Dear Mr Randles,

Thank you for your letter following the response you received from me. I’ve reviewed your earlier correspondence and re-examined the circumstances surrounding your complaint. My reply to you was written with a genuine desire to answer your questions carefully and honestly.

Thomson always gives careful consideration to every letter received and we are always prepared to consider again if our customers are not satisfied with the response given. I genuinely feel my investigation and response to all the points you’ve raised in your original correspondence to you is fair and acknowledges the matters you were unhappy with.

With regards to the points you raised about health and safety concerns in your room, as there is no further evidence to back these points up I used our Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires to see how the hotel was performing in terms of room standards and as it was meeting its targets I couldn’t offer any compensation. Furthermore, it is difficult for anyone in resort at the time to give an accurate account of the complaint without paperwork to refer to.

Furthermore, I understand that you were disappointed with the role played by your Holiday Advisor and particularly that there were no forms filled out when you made your complaints. The service provided by our Holiday Advisors at the Jaz Mirabel Beach was meeting its target for the time that you travelled therefore I will not be offering compensation for this aspect of your holiday. Although paperwork wasn’t filled out noting your complaints, that is not to say that I would definitely offer compensation had a Customer Service Form been filled out to log your complaints based on the fact that the hotel was scoring well based on out Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires.

Our Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires are based on how our customers rate each aspect of the hotel. They score each aspect with a percentage and the hotel will have a target to hit based on it’s T rating, which is, in Jaz Mirabel Beach’s case, 5T.

With regards to your complaint about the amount of a la carte vouchers I double checked with your travel agents to see that you were made aware that only one a la carte voucher was being offered. They have stated that your booking was a Powersearch booking therefore all information, including the errata which stated you would be given only one a la carte voucher rather than three as stated in the brochure would’ve been contained in this paperwork. I understand that you may have not been told this directly by your travel agent but as the information is available it is not something I will be offering compensation for.

I understand and agree with your comments about a holiday being a relaxing time in a hassle free environment however the fact remains that we are unable to control the behaviour of locals outside the hotel. Many people do complain about this aspect of a holiday to Egypt but unfortunately it is out with our control.

Again, I completely understand why you were so upset following the incident with the airport security which was compounded by the strike which delayed your departure. Whilst it would be good to have a Thomson representative at the airport at all times to look after customers it is not always the case that one will be there. The representatives who work in our resorts have designated airport days as understandably the majority of their work is carried out at the hotels. Because of this there are not always representatives present at the airport. Although from reading your correspondence I can see why it is important to have a representative at the airport so I will make sure your comments regarding this are passed onto our Holiday Experience Team so it can consider them when implementing improvements in our holidays.

As a company we decided to include the Jaz Mirabel Beach in our Platinum range. However, to become part of our Platinum range more than 90% of our customers must score the accommodation at over 90% therefore both the 5T rating applied to the hotel and the fact that it is in our Platinum range is due to customer feedback.

With regards to your comments about the condition of the toilets, I am not disputing these it is just I have no evidence other than our Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires to place this complaint against. As stated in my previous response the hotel was scoring well in this area at the time you travelled so I will not be offering compensation for this.

Thomson cares a great deal for their customers and work towards meeting all their needs and I’m sorry if you feel that this is not the case. I know that this is not the outcome you were hoping for and if you’re still not happy with my outcome then it’s at your discretion if you wish to pursue this matter further.

I know lots of companies say they’re grateful for your feedback, but we genuinely mean it. Where we can, we’ll act on your comments to make sure our holidays are the best they can possibly be.

Yours sincerely,
[name removed]
Customer Support Advisor
After Travel Customer Support

From: [email address removed]
Sent: 01 February 2013 12:34
To: Gareth Brown
Subject: RE: Reference no: 0456/73020


I’m just going over your complaint as we speak. You will have a response by the end of today.

Kind Regards

[name removed]
Customer Support Advisor
After Travel Customer Support
[email address removed]
From: Gareth Brown [email address removed]
Sent: 01 February 2013 12:30
To: [name removed]
Subject: RE: Reference no: 0456/73020

? still awaiting response.

Can you please advise.

Gareth & Scott

From: Gareth Brown
Sent: 25 January 2013 12:02
To: [name removed]
Cc: [email address removed]
Subject: RE: Reference no: 0456/73020


Please find attached some of the photo’s as discussed.
I would also be grateful if you would address all the points in red below

Please note I have more pictures on my camera at home that I will get, but I am away working atm and the other couples who are also complaining are sending me some more pics as well.

Gareth & Scott
From: [email address removed]
Sent: 11 January 2013 13:21
To: Gareth Brown
Subject: RE: Reference no: 0456/73020

Dear Scott & Gareth,

You mention in your correspondence that you have pictures relating to your complaint. Would it be possible for you to email them to this address.


[name removed]
Customer Support Advisor
After Travel Customer Support
[email address removed]
From: Gareth Brown [email address removed]
Sent: 09 January 2013 18:25
To: [name removed]
Subject: RE: Reference no: 0456/73020
Importance: High

Please note our responses in red

We are extremely disappointed with your reply, and as we have other witnesses and know other people who have also complained. We will now speak to them and seek advice, and will not rule out speaking with ATOL ,rip off Brittan, The Ferret, and the local/National press about our experiences. As I know 3 other couple who also complained at the same time as us this should be interesting.

Please note we also have pictures to back up our cases.

If you would like to respond to our comments below I would be grateful.

Scott & Gareth

—–Original Message—–
From: [email address removed]
Sent: 09 January 2013 17:31
To: Gareth Brown
Subject: 4861196 – 21/11/2012 – MR.S.RANDLES

Without Prejudice

Please Quote: W12/13/4861196/JM

Dear Mr Randles,

Thank you for contacting us with feedback from your holiday to Egypt.

Taking time away is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable time. I’m sorry to read that on this occasion this was not the case because you were unhappy with various aspects of your holiday. I understand how frustrating and disappointing it can be when something doesn’t go to plan.

I’m sorry to hear about your disappointment regarding your flight experiences. As you are aware, Thomson no longer offers in-flight entertainment on short and mid-haul flights. (At no point were we made aware of this) This decision was based on the results of research over the past few years and discussions with many focus groups. The feedback we gathered showed that more and more customers are taking their own entertainment devices on board these days and therefore the need for in-flight entertainment is on the decrease. The majority of our customers said they wouldn’t miss the in-flight entertainment if it was switched off. With this in mind, we didn’t proactively advise our customers of these changes. The same reasoning has been applies also to why we no longer offer in flight meals on flights to Egypt. (At no point were we made aware of this)

Furthermore, I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed with the beach at Jaz Mirabel Beach. As you mention, we do advertise it in our brochure as a sandy beach so I’m sorry if this aspect of the holiday didn’t meet your expectations.(??? there we a lot of things that did not match up to your brochure!)

Moreover, I can also see that you had some problems with your room, particularly with the broken fridge, as well as a lack of running water on some occasions . (Major health and safety concerns including sockets hanging off walls, air-conditioning not working properly lights taped up and thats just our room! Others complained of similar problems. lights blew in our room twice and we were without running water for a number of hours I believe on our third day.. And the fridge didn’t work. Also unsafe Iron supplied with wires hanging out and The shower was not very good and water flooded the sink unit when ever used.
When problems such as these occur, we advise that our customers report them to their Holiday Advisor so that a Customer Service Form can be filled out noting the problems and so that your Holiday Advisor can use their working relationship with the hotel to address the problems. (We tried! Fell on deaf ears no forms offered just tried to arrange appointment with hotel manager which never happened for us but did after we left)

I can also see from your email that you were unhappy with only being allocated one a la carte voucher for the duration of your stay at the hotel. Whilst I understand that according to the brochure you were entitled to 3 vouchers per stay, there is an errata loaded on the booking to state that this is no longer the case and that only one a la carte voucher will be given to each customer. The agent would’ve made you aware of this at the point of booking. (At no point were we made aware of this??? in fact I made a point of complaining at having only 3 due to the fact they had messed up our original booking and where we were meant to go had no restriction) – feel free to check with your branch. So absolutely disappointed at this response – have you not read my original complaint below?

From reading your email I also understand that you were unhappy with the entertainment on offer at the hotel. The entertainment at this hotel, as in many others in Egypt, is low key and this is stated in the brochure. However, I do understand that entertainment is a matter of personal taste so I’m sorry that it didn’t meet your expectations in this instance. (there was no real entertainment and no disco bar as stated in your brochure?)

I’m sorry to hear that you were hassled by locals trying to sell things whilst in the resort. Whilst I understand that this impacts upon your enjoyment of the holiday, unfortunately we can’t control the actions of the locals in the resort. Furthermore, I’m also sorry to hear that you were made to feel uncomfortable in the hotel shop. I understand that in certain situations you can feel pressurised to purchase things, unfortunately I can only offer apology for the fact that you felt pressurised to make a purchase. (it was supposed to be a hassle free environment!)

I also understand from reading your email that there were some problems with your airport experience for your return flight. (Some!! – Have you read below??)Whilst we will always make our customers aware of any impending strikes when possible, unfortunately, if they occur at short notice then this is not always possible. (This was a disgrace and was not short notice apparently! Plus getting robbed and not having a Thompson rep to even speak with??)

I was also concerned to hear about your experiences with the security staff at the airport. Whilst I understand this must’ve been an extremely traumatic way to end your holiday, we don’t employ the security staff at the hotel thus we have no control over how they work. (You should have someone there to look after your clients?)

Whilst I understand that you don’t agree with the 5T rating afforded to the Jaz Mirabel Beach, this rating is allocated based on our customer feedback so this is not a rating that we decide on as a company.(not the way we were sold it! We were told one of your platinum resorts)

I can also see that you were unhappy with the cleanliness of the toilets( I fell in sewage ! and everywhere apart from main lobby was like that?) and some other communal areas of the hotel, the service offered by the reception staff as well as the food quality and variety on offer at the hotel.

Just to let you know, when investigating customers’ complaints we check the ratings of the hotel you stayed at by looking at the scores from our Customer Satisfaction Questionnaires. These questionnaires are completed at the end of our customers’ holidays – you may have filled one out yourself (yes stating how bad it was). This is so we can see how well they’re performing. We use this information when considering compensation. I can see from the time that you travelled that the hotel did meet the high standards we’d like with regards to all the points raised above. (Really and where does it state that??)Therefore, bearing this in mind I will not be offering you compensation on the comments you’ve made. I’m sorry if this wasn’t the outcome you were looking for. However, I will make sure your comments will be made available to our Holiday Experience Team so that improvements can be made where deemed necessary.( we spoke with your rep at the resort and complained to management along with other couples – maybe you should get in touch with them first before you make a judgement on what I have complained about)

For future reference, we do state in our Terms and Conditions in the back of our brochures that if you have a complaint about your arrangements whilst away you must immediately notify the supplier of the service in question locally. This is to give us the opportunity to resolve any issues or answer any questions you may have at the time and avoid this disrupting your time away. Our staff are empowered to deal with situations at the time and offer solutions to any issues which may occur. (we did and the hotel manager cancelled 3 times and your rep when we tried to go home early due to our experience were told to try easy jet as they were cheaper??? – great customer service!)

Finally, I would like to thank you for taking the time to write to us. I do hope that despite your experience on this occasion you will not be deterred from considering Thomson when making future travel plans.

Yours sincerely,
[name removed]
Customer Support Advisor
After Travel Customer Support

—–Original Message—–
From: Gareth Brown
Sent: 09 January 2013 11:50
To: [email address removed]
Subject: FW: Reference no: 0456/73020

Second copy of letter Originally sent 10th December 2012

Scott Randles & Gareth Brown
[address removed]

Reference no: 0456/73020

Where do I start….

Let’s say
I am highly disappointed in the care and attention given to our holiday requirements let alone the fact we were intimidated at the resort ignored when we complained and then literally robbed At the airport by security staff!!

So what I will do is start at the beginning.

We decided to book our holiday through Thomson’s to ensure that we had a holiday that was stress free and organised with everything we wanted. Unfortunately this was not the case.

We went into the Manchester Thomson’s shop and ŵere sold a great holiday apparently to the Grand Azure resort 5 TTTTT Platinum. We upgraded to have a Junior Suite with sea views and payed to choose our seats on the flights etc..

When we returned home I was excited so logged on to he Internet to have a look at where we were going to find that the booking confirmation we had stated we were going to the Tropicana Azure Club???? A 3* resort not something we had booked!! I called the shop immediately and spoke with the manager and she checked said she would look into and try and sort. We Waited for an hour then decided to go back into the shop. When we got there we were told they were sorry and that the wrong hotel had been selected and they were trying to sort ASAP.. Apparently problems had occurred with our consultant using the live system for the bookings instead of the booking system..??

It took until the following day that they finally booked us into the Jaz Mirabel Beach which is not what we wanted but they assured it was a great resort even though we had already explained our disappointment at not having the grand azure with water park and Al La Carte restaurants. To which we were told we would receive 3 vouchers each for this as stated in the brochure. We were not offered any other options and as we were going shortly we had no choice but to accept as we were told that everywhere was full etc.. (turned out to be untrue as most resorts only 30% full apparently)

So we got excited and ready for the holiday.

When we arrived at our resort we were happy when we walked in to the lobby .. Pretty nice thought ok, they have sent us somewhere nice. 5* ttttt platinum.. More like 3 star were to find! The checking staff were rude and un helpful and remained this way for the rest of the holiday .. Absolutely shocking customer service.

When we asked about the restaurant vouchers we were told this was not the case and that the brochure was wrong???? Only one each!! By Thomson rep … Not impressed!!

Our room was ok although I had major health and safety concerns including sockets hanging off walls, air-conditioning not working properly lights taped up and thats just our room! Others complained of similar problems. lights blew in our room twice and we were without running water for a number of hours I believe on our third day.. And the fridge didn’t work. The shower was not very good and water flooded the sink unit when ever used.

Also i want to mention getting locked on our balcony for two hours on the first night has ŵe were not aware that the French doors locked behind us and could not be opened and we were on the 3rd floor!

When we did manage to get someones attention they told staff and still took another 30mins for someone to come and help us. Our room was fairly clean and bedding and towels were cleaned although we were often awoken (even when we had the do not disturb sign on the door) I cannot fault our room boy as he was probably the friendliest and most helpful there. I would also like to point out I waited over two hours on two occasions for irons which had wires hanging out of the plugs! Not sure what Thomson would of done should one of us have been electrocuted??

So has you can guess we are pretty disappointed at this point but try to make the best of things as there is nothing we can do. we complained that fell on deaf ears… So we make some friends with other couples who compare the horror stories and tell us where to avoid and what we should try and get out to see. Also to tip people to get looked after better??we have paid to stay in a platinum all inclusive already and now we have to pay again?? But they are right you get treated better if you tip, but everyone expects it the room boy the waiters the bar staff and even the coach driver and man unloading the bags!! And they are not shy about putting you on the spot.

I must at this point also state that the food was far from 5* with uncooked chicken that made me Ill, un refrigerated prawns just left on the side along with stale cakes and bread. We lived on salad, fruit and pasta bar due to this and found that for and all inclusive resort it was regimented with little variety and mainly rude staff (unless you tipped them!)

It was suppose to be a 5* buffet meals but were more like a prison canteen with broken plates, dirty cutlery and unwashed glasses (which we have pictures of). The kitchen I caught a glimpse of when queuing to get some pasta and from what I could see looked unkept and dirty with stained walls and floors. When exactly did you award this 5* or ttttt platinum ?

The hotel was full of salesman who still bothered us even with the do not bother bags… And the beach was not sandy as stated in the brochure but gravel and coral. The pier was closed and unsafe for the hotel and we got charged 200 LE to use the neighbouring pier when we were not aware and were threatened coming off. This meant that although we wanted to use the beach we didn’t has areas were cordoned off and the pier was unsafe (we have pictures) with salesmen and beggars on the beach along with hostile locals who would hassle for money forcing people to pay for taking pictures of camels and sending crying children over etc (we witnessed this first hand And saw people ripped off and upset) .. This is not the amazing holiday we were sold!

The hotel shops were intimidating mostly with only a few friendly shop keepers. We made the mistake of going in to have a look around a few and this resulted in one crying telling us bad his business was and so we paid £60 for a horse we really didn’t want then we had them all over us like a swarm shouting abuse and demanding we buy from them with a particular guy who owned a perfume shop who was extremely big and threatening. This left us shaken up and we avoided the area like the plague from then on. As the outside area were worse than this apparently we were trapped in the resort, and for a resort who says they have a no hassle shop area .. They lie.

The entertainment was poor with maybe a few singers singing golden oldies and nothing to do from sunset until they came on at 9 or 10 pm finishing at 11.30 pm On the reception balcony. The disco didn’t exist unless you mean the little nightclub in the resort that overcharged for drinks and didn’t open until after the all inclusive ended resulting in only a few people going (3 on saturday) ..

We did not book this to go on a drinking party holiday but we did state we ŵere a gay couple who wanted somewhere warm with a bit of nightlife and some fun. We wanted the canaries at first but were sold this holiday as better. IT WAS NOT!!

Then I went to use the toilets by the hotel restaurants and slipped on a wet floor of urine and faeces !! Absolutely shocked and disgusted I went back to my room where I had to throw away my trainers shorts and t shirt as they were covered in sewage… I have witnesses to this and this was the final straw for us. All of the public toilets to be honest except to the one in the main reception were in disgusting conditions.

On Thursday we spoke to the Thompson rep about going home early as we were not enjoying and he said we would have to pay £150 ish each. And to try EasyJet as they were cheaper. We would of done this but the Internet was down at the hotel for 4 days so we resided to the fact we had a few more days to endure that we would just stay by the pool and get a few early nights.

Anyway with me giving you a step by step of my holiday which has already taken too much of my wasted time on this holiday we tried to address the issues with customer relations girl who arranged a meeting with us and other customers at the resort to discuss the issues with the resort manager and guess what .. He cancelled 3 times and now we are home and so didn’t get to see him.

The service we received from Thomson’s and your resort is far from what we booked and I am utterly disappointed as this was our first holiday as a couple and our first this year! It was ruined by our experience with Thomson and the resort and country we were advised to visit.

Then to top everything off we were persecuted in the airport by staff ripping us and other customers off and robbing us. When we arrived at the airport we were met with huge queues and delays due to a strike??? Why were we not informed before arrival?

Anyway after queuing at customs/security I was pulled from the queue and asked who I was traveling with.. I answered my friend and then I was asked where my girlfriend/wife was and why she wasn’t with me. I said I was here on holiday at which point he asked if I had any presents for him? I didn’t understand and then two of his colleagues who were with him were whispering he asked what was in my bags and pockets. He asked Did i have egyptian money? at which point he removed 4000LE + from my wallet and gave me back with just my English left. I was shocked, scared and when I stood there he just said you want to go to jail to which I answered no and he said go now….

We moved quickly to the checkin desk and found huge queues here as ŵell due to the strikes and stood waiting for what seemed like an eternity due to the amount of people. At this point I knew I wasn’t the only person this had happened to as people were discussing it. I was that shock up we were quiet waiting to be seen. Finally bags checked in for the plane we proceed to international departures where we again meet security and people are being scanned again??? Soon realise somewhere else people are being fleeced … Scott’s loses his packet of cigarettes and lighter and I am tucked up for £30 in my wallet. Some people are arguing with management and then being taken to offices and having bags searched so I just kept quiet and kept moving to get to plane..

To be honest this was the most frightening experience of my life with everything going on in Egypt at the moment I just wanted to get home and simply cannot understand how you can send people like ourselves to places like this under false pretence with no warning of what could happen here and no advise, in fact still selling trips to Cairo from our resort when the embassy is advising us not to go anywhere near… It disappointing that a reputable firm can allow it customers to be put in these positions and blatantly over sell and Mis inform customers on your platinum resorts and what to expect. I therefore request that you address the above issues and respond to my complaints within he next 28 days.

We did not get the holiday we were sold, we were sent to a place that did not meet our needs or requirements, we were robbed and intimidated and had no one to turn too from your company who to be honest really did not seem bothered once we were dropped at the resort. Ideally I would like the last two weeks back… which is obviously impossible but I also believe that I will be disappointed by your response if any! Therefore I am going to wait 28 days to hear from you at which point I will post his letter on trip advisor, on the Internet and will forward to the local and national papers to let them know about our experience on one of your platinum holidays.

Please note I believe we are not the only people who will be writing to you and can provide you with independent witnesses who were at the resort.

Also no entertainment or inflight meals??


Gareth Brown & Scott Randles

Sent from my iPad

We don’t normally take package holidays but because this was supposed to be the holiday of a lifetime. It was my 60th birthday holiday and we wanted to fly business class to relatively unknown Bonaire and Curacao to spend our days in world class snorkelling areas. After doing some research we booked through Bonaire Fun Travel. I know the name makes it sound like a 18-30s type holiday company but it certainly wasn’t and they worked very hard to get us everything on our wish list.

The first problem came with KLM who say they’d no knowledge of our request for veggie food on this very long flight (lies as I’d seen the confirmation) then when we arrived on Curacao we had to sit on the pavement for an hour to wait for the hire car which they said wasn’t ordered (again I’d seen confirmation). We eventually reached the Avila hotel and it was great as expected.

Five days later we flew to Bonaire and were met with massive disappointment when we arrived at the Divi Flamingo hotel there. We’d booked so called deluxe rooms in this hotel owned by Divi Resorts, a large American owned company. The resort was just grotty with a smoke filled amusement arcade purporting to be a casino and a bar that closed dead on 11pm. Our room was grubby with greasy and dirty marks on appliances, hairs on the floors and in the bath, the ‘coffee making facilities’ consisted of polystyrene cups (one cracked!) and a dirty filter coffee machine; the pool and grounds were very grubby and the dining area was dirty. There was a decent sized breakfast buffet but the quality was poor, the salt and pepper pots and drink thermoses all dirty. As veggies we don’t want to have to pick up squares of rubberized cheese with a fork that’s been left in a grease filled jug, previously having been used for continental meats. Yes, as the manager suggested we could have had any of the veggie items cooked at the food station but it was the same griddle used for bacon and sausages so that was a no-no.

After we’d complained and sent photos by email to Bonaire Fun Travel they’d contacted the hotel and the hotel manager promised us housekeeping would go in and sort out the room. However the external and dining areas would still be the same so that would be rather pointless. The GM’s excuse about the dirty grounds was “this is the oldest hotel on Bonaire you know” yey they can still try to justify approx $200 per night.

We’d paid a lot of money for this special holiday so were very disappointed. However I must give due credit to the tour company, they did everything possible to put it right whilst we were there. However by then we’d found alternative accommodation after spending a full day searching for something a bit cleaner.

Without quibble Bonaire Fun Travel refunded the week’s accommodation but we’ve never had any recompense for the inconvenience and discomfort, out of pocket expenses or mental distress. I have considered claiming but am struggling to know how to reasonably calculate percuniary loss etc so haven’t done anything about it as yet.

After all that the snorkelling was great though 🙂

Stephen Price says:
19 March 2013

Hello, you should have phoned Holiday Legal Which? and they dictated a letter[ or the legal help line on your home insurance] as you are fully covered by the PTR 1992. I have had a lot of trouble with Ramblers holidays and have had to quote this. They always pay up as they are in breach of contract.
Write saying…….
my contract for the purchase of this holiday is covered by The Package Travel Regulations 1992.

1. As such you are in breach of Regulation 14; as a significant proportion of the service was not provided.
2. In breach of Regulation 15; as the company is liable for the poor performance of the obligation under the contract. As a result I have a claim for ~

Loss of value
Loss of enjoyment
Out of pocket expenses

Let me know how you get on. Stephen

Hi Sue,

That doesn’t sound like what you want from a special holiday! Problems on holiday can be particularly grueling as you just want to relax (I remember one occasion I had an allergic reaction from bedclothes in a hotel in Budapest that brought me out in hives – that was one holiday I’d rather forget).

It’s good to hear that your travel company has been good about refunding the money, but if you want to make a claim for unsatisfactory hotel accommodation to the hotel you could give our template letter a try – http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/action/letter-to-claim-for-unsatisfactory-hotel-accommodation/.

The Supply of Goods and Services Act says that consumers who enter into a contract for goods or services must be able to expect these to be supplied with reasonable care and skill. What constitutes reasonable is often tricky to pinpoint – but if, as you say, you’d booked deluxe rooms in the hotel and have photographic evidence that it was far from deluxe, that should be enough to show the accommodation is not reasonable.

Let us know how it goes!

Two Jet2 Holidays we were not happy with the rooms allocated. In Spain the room over looked a railway line and a busy road, hence noise levels were high. At home I live in a quiet road with little traffic. In Lanzarote we had a room near the swimming and very loud pop music from the bar. I prefer classical music and not loud music late into the night.

As soon as we arrived without unpacking we went to the reception and pointed out that the room was not suitable. The receptionist explained that there was no alternative, however, we said we will wait in reception until you find us a better room. He explained it would be two hours before his manager arrived to authorise a room change. Then he suddenly managed to find us a really nice room with asea view. This performance was the same on both holidays.

Sue says:
20 March 2013

A few years ago, when my father was alive, he – along with my husband – were desperately wanting to see the Panama Canal, in particular the Galliard Cut. Consequently booked a cruise with Cunard … BIGGEST MISTAKE OF OUR LIVES!!! We were sat at the entrance to the canal for around 6 hours – rumor had it that the fees had not been paid in time – and consequently it was dark by the time we went through. When complaining, Cunard’s attitude was – well, the brochure said you would cruise along the canal, and you did cruise along the canal so tough! I am advising everyone I know NOT TO USE CUNARD!!!!!

I once booked a 4* hotel in Paphos , Cyprus with Thomas Cook. This was a deal for ANY 4* hotel.
On arrival in Paphos we were escorted to coaches and divided between 2 coaches. We were then informed we were not staying in Paphos but we were going to a hotel in Limassol … Some 50kms away.
One lady sat down on the tarmac and wept…. She was meeting with her son and family who had flown in from Dubai and were staying at her allocated hotel in Paphos. On e lady was staying in Paphos to meet friends who couldn’t drive, another had come for eye treatment in Paphos. All complaints were to no avail so we were taken to Limassol… A port/ city with over 3 miles of hotels along the busy road by the sea. We found we were to stay in a 2 * Russian owned hotel directly on this busy road with the swimming pool behind the hedge. It was appalling… The food was dreadful, we were pushed around at breakfast, and ALL of us complained to the Reps from Thomas Cook. They told us we should have cancelled if we didn’t want to be there…. We didn’t know this till the morning of our flights( no info of course about the 2* hotel). I could not change our booking to another date as I had a boarding cattery business and had a relief manager booked in.
The Thomas Cook Reps were VERY rude and uncooperative… A different one came each day. I have never encountered such dreadful ,ignorant and surly load of reps. They just couldn’t care less and were obviously used to doing this.

They had patently OVERBOOKED, and just shoved us anywhere they could .

Some people moved to a more expensive hotel at their own expense… At their own risk… No money would be paid towards this by Thomas Cook they were told.

After a long ordeal with many agencies and needless to say our lawyer, they finally gave us £500 towards another holiday ( to be booked with them of course).
By this time we were so weary of it all we just accepted.

As far as we could see we were just numbers to be put in beds….. People’s reasons and feelings just did not matter.

So I have never travelled with Thomas Cook since, nor have my family, friends and customers.

Also if you travel on their airlines, esp on a longer journey eg to Cyprus….. You cannot get any rest because of the continual interruption of the stewards hard selling anything and everything they can, and announcing it very loudly . Never again!!

Ian says:
20 March 2013

Just over two years ago we booked to go to a hotel in Los Gigantes in Teneriffe.

We had booked a superior garden view room but after checking in we were led ‘downstairs’ to a room underneath the dining room floor, opening the patio door was like opening a door and finding yourself in an underground carpark with a couple of sun loungers paced in a parking bay. We complained and were told the hotel was full!

This was a holiday from hell and the above issue is only part of the problems we had, We are currently part of a group action suing the company. As this is still ongoing I have not named the other problems or the company or hotel.

Having read all of the above posts I am wondering whether to bother to renew passport!

Snowywhite says:
25 March 2013

Not every holiday is a disaster. We went as four adults to Florida in April 2012 and were UPGRADED to a much bigger and better villa than the one we’d booked and because part of our party were disabled every was VERY helpful and extras were added in.

Cosmos were great.

This must rank as the worst Hotel any of us have ever stayed in. Olympic Holidays have insisted that is the standard in Turkey for a four star Hotel and have refused us any compensation. We have been refused our requests for information under the Data Protection Act, and we have lodged complaints with the Information Commissioner and the Advertising Standards Agency. This is a copy of the letter we sent to Olympic Holidays which totally disregarded. I recommend looking up the Hotel on Trip Adviser as well, it is amazing that it is still open.


We booked this holiday via Voyager Travel Direct – Travel Consultant: [name removed]. However, the above hotel was not our first choice, this was: The Crystal Hotel, but we discovered after making the booking there were no lifts. Lifts were paramount as 2 members of our Party (of 7) had severe walking difficulties and could not use stairs without encountering pain. In fact 1 member of our party has had 2 total knee replacements, and the other is waiting for a knee replacement. On discovering this we contacted our travel consultant, who advised us we needed to find another hotel in Turkey; however this was proving to be difficult as we couldn’t find a hotel that suited all the members of our party, as the ages ranged from 12 – 71 years. Either there were no lifts, too many steps, on a hill, in close proximity to loud night clubs etc. We went back to our travel consultant and asked if we could change our booking to somewhere in Greece, she contacted Olympic Holidays and the answer was “NO”, and we had to make up our mind and book somewhere by 2pm the following day or we would encounter a Cancellation Fee, We did contemplate cancellation until we found out this would be 75% of the total holiday cost which was £4,169.32

We felt we were being pressurized to book an alternative hotel or we would lose our money, and with our travel consultant’s assistance we booked the “Sun Club Hotel” as it had the lifts we needed and was suitable for families and “guaranteed to fulfill our holiday expectation” Due to the lift situation, our travel consultant assured us that there were the essential lifts. The web site for the Hotel also confirmed this.

We arrived at the hotel and checked in, we asked for directions to the lift, however, imagine our surprise to be told “we don’t have a lift” We were very distressed when we were directed to a long metal staircase down from street level to the grounds with the stairs having stainless steel bannisters with large glass panels. On one side, the bannister was very loose with one panel having a very large crack and another panel missing completely. As there is a large drop on both sides of the stairs this is a major safety hazard.

It turned out that the lack of lifts was only the start of our problems. After we struggled downstairs from reception and then upstairs to our rooms carrying our own suitcases, it become very apparent before we even entered our respective rooms we were not in a 4 star hotel as advertised.

• ROOM 226 (Mr & Mrs G)

1. A hole on the outside of the room door, clearly someone had punched the door in anger.
2. Very cheap laminate flooring which was lifting and top layers missing.
3. Old shabby furniture – Sharp edges on dressing table which has large chunks missing from front, and top stained. Also dressing table stool was dented, dirty and stained.
4. Shower leaking and had clearly been doing so for some time, as plaster on the wall in the bedroom backing the shower had blown and was flaking off due to the damp.
5. Shower cubical rusty, copious amount of mastic around the shower (inside and outside), shower fittings corroded, shower head was badly filled with mastic around the edges. Rust stains on floor of shower cubical.
6. Telephone cord was taped to the telephone wire and did not work for the whole week, and therefore could not be used in case of emergency
7. The refrigerator was dirty and had a bad smell
8. The air conditioning in the room did not work to its full capacity.
9. TV Remote control was held together with sellotape.
10. The lock in the safe would not work, and after several attempts by maintenance to repair it, they decided to replace the safe. They delivered the safe and thought it would be OK to leave it loose on the self in the wardrobe; this was until Mr G complained.

• ROOM 229 (Mr & Mrs M)

1. Very cheap laminate flooring which was lifting and top layers missing.
2. Old shabby furniture – Dressing table which had large sections of laminate top missing exposing the chipboard underneath. Also dressing table stool was dented, dirty and stained, and most disturbing had been repaired using sharp staples which were exposed and sticking out.
3. Shower cubical very rusty, copious amount of mastic around the shower (inside and outside), shower fittings corroded, shower head filled with mastic around the edges.
4. Telephone cord was taped to the telephone wire.
5. The refrigerator was dirty and had a bad smell
6. The cover was missing on the mains distribution panel for the room.
7. The light switch on the headboard was hanging loose exposing live cable. It also did not work also the light bulb had been unscrewed because it would not turn off.
8. The bathroom was also extremely dark due to the extremely low wattage bulbs in there.
9. The air conditioning in the room did not work. We had four visits by maintenance saying it was okay. This was extremely annoying as at night we were bathed in sweat. Reception refused several times to provide a fan when we requested one. We eventually had to threaten the General Manager by asking to speak to the Area Manager before he agreed to come to the room; even then he tried to say it was fine. It was only when we stood in front of him dripping with sweat he agreed to provide a fan, which came in less than five minutes.

• ROOM 112 – FAMILY ROOM: (Mrs S plus 2)

1. Very cheap laminate flooring which was lifting and top layers missing.
2. Old shabby furniture – Dressing table which had large sections of laminate top missing exposing the chipboard underneath. Also dressing table stool was dented, dirty and stained.
3. Shower cubical rusty, mastic around the shower (inside and outside), shower fittings corroded, Rust stains on floor of shower cubical.
4. Telephone was in the room, but had no cord attached and therefore could not be used in case of emergency
5. The refrigerator was dirty and had a bad smell.
6. Glass shade on wall light broken which left jagged edges.
7. Patio door had a large crack on the outer pane of glass.
8. Non usable balcony, due to dirty brick-wall being the only view.
9. When we complained about this room on first checking in, they showed us another “large family room” but it had to replace Rooms 112 & 226 at an extra cost!! This was rejected as
There was only a dirty corroded, rusted shower for 5 people and was not an option.


There was a long steep uneven concrete staircase up to the restaurant, there was a lift from street level down to the grounds, but judging by the weeds growing up around it and the fact that it appears to be used for storage; it is obvious it has not worked for some considerable time. There was another set of steps that took you from the restaurant terrace to the “so called al a’carte” restaurant. There was an RSJ steel which was visible with concrete on top crumbling, and part of the banister was unsupported due to the concrete crumbling away, also electrical cable hanging loose. At the bottom of the stairs there was a large lump of marble that had broken away from the bottom step and left loose with jagged edges. At the entrance to the hotel there are 2 large holes which were partially covered by loose steel plates.

None of our rooms could open the balcony door at night due to the open-air nightclubs, being across the road from the hotel, all of which played deafening music until 4:30 in the morning. We were about 100 yards away and it still kept us awake even with the door shut.

The supply of water was very erratic and either the hot water or the cold or both would invariably stop in the middle of a shower.

The towels were not replaced, even if you put them on the floor or in the shower tray, the cleaners would pick them up from the floor and just hang them back up on the hook again. This was despite the fact that due to the heat and air-conditioning not working were having several showers a day. We ended up with the same towels for 3 days.

All our rooms only had 1 very thin pillow, and when we all asked for extra pillows, this was refused by reception on the grounds that the hotel was full and they never had any spares. We saw a young cleaner and begged her to get some for us; the storeroom had plenty of spare pillows.

The room cleaner never replaced the toilet rolls and we had to go to reception several times to ask for some as we had run out. We were given one toilet roll each time we had to ask. – None of our party had ever experienced this, even in 3rd world countries we have visited.
In the corridors, outside all our rooms, the carpets were just sections laid on the floor with large gaps between them. One member of the party accidentally tripped on one and a huge cloud of dust came up. It appears that the carpets are never cleaned at all. – This goes with the floor clearing in the rooms; our rooms were not swept or dusted for the whole week.

On the ground floor leading to our rooms the stairwell was used to pile up the dirty laundry in huge orange sacks, on the other side of the staircase there was general rubbish stored, and going up the stairs leading up to the 2nd floor of the accommodation block there was a corrugated plastic roof which had plants growing through a crack in the plastic on the inside of the building.
There was a flight of stairs leading up to another floor, which was used as a dumping ground for broken furniture and assorted rubbish, and most disturbingly there were assorted cleaning fluids which were stored in what appeared to be “old large juice bottles”. These could be mistaken for soft drinks by children, and in fact there was a drink similar in colour available in reception and the restaurant, which was free for children to help themselves.

The Olympic website states that there is 24-hour room service and laundry service, in fact, there is neither.

The website also states there were a Spa, Turkish bath, Sauna, Jacuzzi and a Gym.
There was none of these things as the spa area was closed and appeared to be used as a storeroom. There were a few rusty weight-training machines in the open under the stairs leading to reception. They were not bolted down and there were weights just strewn around.

The food – The restaurant could only be described as appalling. Cold food was not kept cold Hot food was not kept heated once brought out. We attempted to eat on 2 days, but what was on offer was indescribable. The breakfast “Chef” was little short of disgusting, he wore a T- shirt that was covered in fat and stains and his trousers were absolutely filthy. This was not a one off; he was dressed like this for the whole 7 nights we were there.
The “executive chef” however wore immaculate whites but did not appear to do anything. The state of the breakfast chef and the food did not appear to bother him at all. We never saw him speak to any of the guests the whole time that we were there. We were not surprised as we used to see the kitchen staff sitting in the street at the side of the Hotel preparing the vegetables. From what we could see from outside the kitchen was filthy as well.
The food was so bad that despite being all inclusive we had to eat out every day we were there and incurred large costs that we had not budgeted for.

There was no snack bar as advertised but there was a small room by the pool. There would be a chafing dish of overcooked chips/ couscous left in the room all afternoon and that was all.
A snack bar implies somewhere where one can go and order from a menu or at least where there is a selection of food.

It took 2 days before we were visited by the Olympic Rep, We phoned constantly, even our travel consultant at Voyager Travel in the UK could not get someone to speak to her. The Olympic Rep and the Emergency Contact number in Turkey just kept saying we need to wait. We were desperate to move hotels, as the hotel was not suitable.

On Wednesday 25th at 5pm we finally had a visit from the local Rep – Peter, he advised us he had 2 hotels for us to look at. Mrs Garlick and Mrs M went to view the hotels. Neither of the hotels was suitable. The L’Ambiance Resort, was just as filthy as the Sun Club, and was too far out. The 2nd Hotel, Royal Panacea, although appeared to be very nice, had too many concrete steps up and down to all the rooms, and again was too far out.
Therefore, we were left with no choice but to remain at the Sun Club, but to take further action when we returned home.

We had already lost two days of enjoyment, due to the stress and upset. We decided to make the most of the next 5 days; we were forced to eat out every night to guarantee a decent meal.We were harassed every day by the manager of the al a’carte” restaurant, asking us when we were going to eat there, and why we had not eaten there. The reason was simple, the state of the kitchen!!

When we left our accommodation block at 04.30am to return home it was very dark, there were no outside lights in the complex and we had to struggle again up and down stairs with our suitcases, in total darkness which was extremely difficult and potentially dangerous.


• The Hotel was totally mis-sold to us, as we had made it abundantly clear that 2 members of the party had extreme walking difficulties.

• We were told it had lifts and it was a quality 4 star hotel.

• We lost the first 2 days of our holiday because we were unable to make contact with any of your representatives and you refused to speak to our contact at Voyager Travel. This caused severe stress and upset.

• This holiday was booked for Mrs S as a birthday treat by Mr & Mrs G.
• Also Mr M was recovering from 2 operations for Cancer.

Our holiday was totally ruined.

We are therefore claiming a total refund of the holiday, plus compensation for loss of enjoyment and stress. Lost Holiday Days from Work we will not get back.
Telephone calls to UK and locally in Turkey.
Having to eat out every evening as the A.I food was disgusting.

We feel very strongly about this and if we do not receive a satisfactory response within 10 Calendar days we will institute proceedings in the small claims court with the assistance of Which Legal Services. We will also be lodging a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority. (A.S.A)

A.S.A clearly states that all amenities should be as advertised.

• If illustrations and photographs are used, they must be up-to-date and accurate.
• The brochure should also make every effort not to omit any significant drawbacks about the location of accommodation.

We have taken Photographs to corroborate our complaint.

Angry of Tunbridge Wells says:
6 April 2013

And the Information Commissioner’s Office, as Olympic has refused to give me any of the information that I have requested. Having said that the ASA and the ICO both wortk at a very slow pace.

Liza says:
24 May 2013

I had booked an all inclusive holiday with Travelrepublic, only to find out we’re were on a b&b basis even though the paperwork said otherwise. After three days of emails and phonecalls and paying for our own meals, the issue was resolved. We were there for 3 days, payed out of pocket expenses and it ruined our holiday. It has nearly been a year. I was never told to keep receipts for our meals and drink, but was asked for them on my return. I kept the phone cards used to make calls and copies of emails. They said they have not heard from the middleman(the company they booked with in Dubai) and as I have no receipts they are able to offer me £200. They asked what my out of pocket expenses were which I told them. I was with my elderly mother, young son and autistic older brother. It ruined our holiday, they were in the wrong, but surely I must be entitled to more than that for their mistake? They emailed me yesterday and I am not sue how to respond.

Thank you
Sent from my iPhone

I have absolutely no connection to Inghams (an early comment on this page) but have found them to be great for Austrian ‘lakes & mountains’ holidays, even when booked via a last-minute-type website.

I booked online with the last-minute site over a weekend. Flying from Manchester to Innsbruck, hotel nearby in Igls. The booking went through but on Monday I had a call from Inghams to say no places were left.

To cut a long story short, I flew very early, but from Birmingham, I got an upgrade to a brand new stylish room with balcony and distant mountain view, a bit of compensation £30 for extra petrol costs) and, when the price dropped by about £40 a few days later (still from Birmingham), they gave me back the difference.

Inghams transfers and (well, shall we say ‘more experienced’) reps and hotel descriptions are always excellent, too, we’ve found. I def have no connection to Inghams and I am usually pretty difficult to please, so fair play to them!