Hudgell Solicitors is investigating the circumstances of a sickness and diarrhoea outbreak at hotels on the African islands of Cape Verde, having been contacted by more than a dozen people who were taken badly ill on holiday.
Solicitor Paul McClorry, a specialist in handling claims relating to holiday illnesses, says enquiries have been taken from guests of the Clubhotel Rui Karamboa, Hotel Rui Touareg and the Sol Dunas Beach Resort, with the majority having travelled with tour operator Thomson.
Many who holidayed in late September and into October have taken to detailing their illnesses and making allegations over hygiene and food standards at the hotels, as well as large amounts of flies, on the review website Trip Advisor.
And whilst it comes as the media spotlight has recently fallen on the holiday claims sector, Mr McClorry says there is genuine reason for concern in this case.
“What cannot be disputed in this case is the fact that there have clearly been a great number of people taken seriously ill whilst staying at these hotels. They have suffered from violent sickness and many have remained ill for some time after returning home,” he said.
“Some of the people who have contacted us were worried about doing so given the recent coverage of making such claims, but there certainly appears the need here for a proper investigation into how and why this serious sickness bug spread so rapidly.
“If it is established that poor hygiene standards played its part in these illnesses then it is only right that the hotelier and tour operator be held accountable. We’re told by people who have turned to us that new guests were still arriving, without any notice of the wide-spread illness, when they were there.”
Bride suffered ‘agonising stomach cramps’ and sickness and spent honeymoon in hotel room
Newly married Michelle and Dave Smith, of Holywell, Wales, had waited almost four months for their £2,000 week-long dream honeymoon having married in the summer, but within 48 hours of arriving at the Hotel Touareg, Michelle, 48, says she was confined to the bathroom of their hotel room.
She says she was ‘doubled over in pain’ with repeated stomach cramps overnight, before suffering from constant diarrhoea and sickness which left her unable to move out of sight of the bathroom.
“It was certainly no honeymoon and was a complete disaster, a nightmare,” she said.
“We’d chosen this hotel for our honeymoon as we’d stayed there four years ago and it was the perfect holiday, ideal for a couple as it is so quiet, unspoilt beaches and we also took the option of paying more for an adult only break.
“Two days into the holiday though it was over for me. It started with stomach cramps which were so bad I can only compare the pain to giving birth. They were so bad and so high, pretty much under my rib cage, and I was struggling to breathe. It was so bad I was bringing up my knees and crumpled up in agony.
“Then the sickness and diarrhoea started and that was constant. We had a sink which was in a separate room from the toilet and I basically spent my time rushing between the two. You couldn’t go out as you’d have to always be near a toilet. It was that bad.”
Michelle, a self-employed life coach, insisted her husband not spend time with her in the room in a bid to prevent him falling ill, but with the illness ‘rife’ across the hotel, he was struck down too.
“Dave somehow managed to get through most of the week ok, but then as so many people were ill on the airplane on the way home, he was sick as well,” Michelle added.
“I had to have two weeks off work, which had a big impact on me as it is my own business, and Dave works in air traffic control, so he had to take a number of days off also, as it’s not the kind of job where you can be nipping off to the toilet every five minutes.
“It ruined our holiday and has been a big disruption to our lives since we have been back. I am still catching up on my work and appointments now.”
People were ‘desperate to come home from holiday’ to UK
Another couple, of Hull, East Yorkshire, were marking their 30th wedding anniversary at the Clubhotel Karamboa with a 10-day break which had cost in the region of £2,500, but they were also struck down by the illness within two days of arriving.
“It was ridiculous. My wife was ill within two days. Everybody was ill and it was all people were talking about. People were discussing bowel movements sat around the pool because that is all your holiday was,” said the man, 54.
“What we couldn’t understand why more wasn’t being done. Some people paid 60 Euros to see a doctor, but he seemed to have no idea what to do.
“They started to take action eventually and introduced hand gels which staff were making peo
ple use before entering the restaurants, but there was no policing of it outside at the beach bar area. There were also some senior managers and health bosses brought in, but they seemed to do too little, too late.
“We couldn’t believe that they were still accepting new guests either. The hotel foyer was full of people flaked out and very poorly and they were welcoming new people into an epidemic. It didn’t seem right.
“People were just desperate for the holiday to end and to get back on the plane home, but that was like an ambulance.
“When we got home we were a bit reluctant to contact solicitors given all that has been written about holiday claims, and we have neve done it before, but our anniversary break was completely ruined and it seemed clear that standards were not what they should be.
“Serious questions have to be asked.”