A British family claim their luxury Cuba break turned into a ‘holiday from hell’ with a GREEN swimming pool , ‘poo-stained’ toilets and ‘crumbling’ paths.
Gayle Evans and her loved ones were looking forward to their four-star all-inclusive stay at the Brisas del Caribe in the Atlantic resort of Varadero.
With the hotel overlooking a beautiful beach, it appeared to be the perfect place for Gayle, from Stourport, Worcestershire, to celebrate her 50th birthday.
But when the family arrived at the resort for their £10k holiday – their first ever one abroad together – they were reportedly shocked at what they discovered.
They claim they found the hotel in a "state of decay" with litter "everywhere" and the swimming pool a murky green colour, Birmingham Live reports.
There were also exposed electrical elements in their room, while a supposedly ‘clean’ towel had a dirty brown mark across it, they allege.
“I just burst into tears. It was awful,” said Gayle, recalling her arrival at the hotel.
"I could not believe how bad it was."
The family had booked through the holiday company, The Holiday Place.
In response to their catalogue of complaints, the firm offered them a £100 voucher each off any future break with them as a "goodwill gesture".
A spokesperson said they take all comments and feedback "seriously" and fully investigate each case, but cannot discuss individual cases due to data protection.
Gayle, her husband Steve, daughters Ayla, 19, and Gabby, 12, and son Jaz, 23, and his girlfriend Laura, 23, had been dazzled by online photos of the hotel.
After booking their trip, they spent weeks dreaming about it.
But when they finally arrived at the resort, exhausted after a long journey, they say they were disappointed with what they found.
Gayle said: "We wanted a really special time away together. My children are growing up and I knew it was probably the last chance to be away as a family.
"We spent weeks dreaming about it, of lying on the gorgeous beach and paddling in the sea, splashing in the pools, sipping cocktails in the piano bar."
The trip had cost more than £10,000.
"We thought it was going to be wonderful," the mum said.
But she claimed: "The hotel was in a state of decay – it looked like it was not really open. It was not high season but there was nothing to say things would be closed.
"In our room there were exposed electrics; one of the ‘clean’ towels had a dirty brown mark across it.
"There was litter everywhere, the pools had green scum on the surface and there was broken furniture and beach beds.
"None of the bars served cocktails, and the piano bar and other parts of the complex were closed the whole time we were there."
Most of the family also allegedly had upset stomachs during the holiday.
"My youngest daughter was very ill on the flight home," Gayle said.
The family submitted a number of complaints to their tour rep on the first day of their break and asked to be moved to another hotel.
However, they claim they were advised that there was nowhere of "better quality" than the one they had arrived at.
Gayle, who provides teaching support at a Stourport primary school, said: “We felt £10,000 was more than enough to pay to expect a decent standard.
"Even allowing for different standards in poorer countries, this was not what we paid for.”
She added: "It is a beautiful resort and if our hotel had been what we were expecting it would have been a really memorable week.
"But we were counting down the days to come home. My husband Steve felt he’d let me down and felt really guilty – it really affected all of us."
Fortunately, the weather was glorious during the family’s stay. Gayle said the beach was stunning and they all enjoyed spending time in Havana.
She added: "I’m not knocking Cuba at all – we loved spending a couple of days in Havana before going to this hotel, and the beach was everything we wanted.
"But the hotel was the stuff of nightmares."
The hotel has an average rating of 3.5/5 on TripAdvisor .
What are your rights? Top tips from Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis
If the hotel is not what you expected, you’ve no protection by law in most cases and travel insurance almost certainly won’t cover you.
However, if you booked it as part of a package, the tour operator is obliged to describe the hotel accurately under the Package Travel Regulations. If it doesn’t, you’re entitled to compensation.
If it wasn’t a package, you could complain to the hotel or travel agent. It may do something if it agrees with you or if it simply wants to keep you sweet – particularly given how sensitive hotels are to bad reviews.
Outline exactly what the issues were. Your complaint is also likely to be stronger if you do it as soon as the problems arise. Taking photos as evidence will also be helpful.
And if the firm you booked with is an ABTA member, any accommodation provided must meet certain basic standards. So you could ask ABTA to step in if you get nowhere, though there’s no guarantee of success.
For help, see the Money Saving Expert blogs How to Complain and Consumer Rights
It is described as ‘very good’, with the most recent review praising the ‘great management team, amazingly welcome people and beautiful beaches’.
However, three others, in succession, claim it is "very disappointing", a wedding party says "service has gone to hell!" and another review deems it "disgusting".
In a statement to Birmingham Live, a spokesperson for The Holiday Place said: "We have traced the booking you refer to and must advise you that we take all comments and feedback received seriously and fully investigate each case.
"Due to GDPR (data protection) we cannot discuss this case with you however and we have been in contact with the client to handle the matter directly."
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