A Yorkshire couple celebrating their 2nd year together had their Red Sea holiday dreams dashed when both fell ill from hotel food poisoning.
When illness struck in February 2015 the couple, a police officer, 43, and a 35-year-old court office worker, were staying at the all-inclusive Jungle Aqua Park in Hurghada, Egypt.
Both suffered varying symptoms of gastric illness, including severe diarrhoea, stomach cramps, chills, headaches, dehydration, nausea and fatigue.
"They were particularly looking forward to snorkelling in Egypt – it was one of the reasons they booked the holiday," commented Simpson Millar LLP's Amanda Dunford.
"It was also their anniversary and they would be there for St Valentine's Day, so they were anticipating some quality time together."
"But it was not the holiday they expected, with the excursions they booked ruined as they had to stay close to a toilet at all times. What should have been a romantic getaway was wrecked."
Later medical examinations determined that our clients had contracted gastrointestinal infections caused by contaminated food and water and because of unhygienic hotel conditions. "We understand other guests also complained of illness while at the hotel," Amanda noted.
Our clients stated that all the eating areas at the hotel were buffet restaurants. "Most of the hot food was cold due to the length of time it has been left out uncovered. Flies were just landing on top of it, especially on the fruit."
When the couple sat down to a meal the cutlery was usually already laid out. "But it often looked as though it hadn't been cleaned and was generally dirty," our clients said. "We spent time looking for clean knives and forks so we could eat our food. They just didn't seem to clean anything properly at the hotel.
"We found the hotel's food quality was poor, quite repetitive and very bland. We also noticed hot food being put on top of cold food, too."
Within a few days of their arrival they both became unwell, starting with very bad stomach pains and cramps.
"We couldn't eat much that day. We went to the desert as we had booked a trip, but the diarrhoea made this extremely difficult. We couldn't enjoy it. This continued back at the hotel and we struggled to sleep.
"We wanted to make this holiday special for our anniversary, but we constantly felt the need to go to the toilet. One of us even had an accident in a wetsuit."
"We didn't feel like we had had a holiday. The flight home was horrendous, and we had to keep going to the toilet through-out the flight as we both still had diarrhoea and uncomfortable gas."
The office worker remained unwell on arriving at home. "I had no energy, no appetite and still needed the toilet urgently. It must have been 10 days after coming home that I felt normal again. I've never experienced anything like it."
The police officer's diarrhoea also continued after the holiday. "Luckily I had another 4 days off work before having to return," he said. "Even then I had to take a further 4 days off sick. I just couldn't have gone in.
"I went to my GP and had a stool sample taken but it came back negative. But I was still unwell."
Once his appetite and energy returned, he went back to work. "But I was still suffering with cramps and loose stools. It was around 3 weeks before I was back to normal and I felt human again."
Both were happy with their respective settlements of £2,600 and £2,150 against TUI UK which, despite compelling evidence on behalf of our clients, continued to deny liability.
Amanda Dunford observed a telling footnote to the couple's story. "It's worth noting that, in the welcome meeting on arrival at the Jungle Aqua Park, our clients were advised by the hotel rep to drink green tea as they will 'probably get a bad belly during their stay'.
"If this did not prevent the symptoms, the representative said, they should visit the pharmacy for medication."
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