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Red Sea Holiday Village “first choice” for Sickness, holidaymakers tell Watchdog


Tour operator First Choice has had to refund the cost of holidays to the Holiday Village Red Sea and pay compensation, after holidaymakers fell ill at the hotel the “Horror Village”.

Simpson Millar’s head of travel Nick Harris appeared on the first episode of the new series of consumer show Watchdog – and said that in the last five years Simpson Millar had received “hundreds” of complaints about holidaymakers falling ill while staying at the Holiday Village Red Sea.

Holiday Hotel Illness Experience

“I would estimate that we have spoken to more than three to four hundred people who have contacted us in relation to this particular resort,” he told Watchdog.

More than 70 guests staying at the hotel complained to Watchdog following an outbreak of sickness in July.

First Choice said that the outbreak was unusual and out of 3,000 guests, only 40 were affected by symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea.

Nick Harris and his travel claims team at Simpson Millar always advise holidaymakers to take video footage and photos to support claims of illness or accidents abroad.

Once Watchdog’s own reporters had been dispatched undercover to the Holiday Village Red Sea, secret filming revealed a horror story of human faeces been fished out the main swimming pool – which was then re-opened 20 minutes later after disinfecting.

They also found no hot water in taps in public lavatories at the hotel – and raw chicken and undercooked kofte being served to guests in the dining rooms.

Gregor Cope and his wife and two children spent £4,000 on a two-week break to the Holiday Village Red Sea and Mr Cope said that the stomach pains experienced were “unbearable” and diarrhoea “constant”.

“There were a lot of people severely unwell,“ said Mr Cope. “It effectively wiped out a week for both of us. We went to the Red Sea for snorkelling and scuba diving. We couldn’t go far away from a toilet, unfortunately, so it ruined the holiday.”

Watchdog said that, because the Holiday Village Red Sea was an all inclusive package, the families affected had never left the hotel before becoming ill.

Holiday Illness Suitcase

First Choice markets the hotel as the “ultimate family experience”, but one little girl wrote in the guest book, “we liked the pool, but we didn’t like the poo in the pool.”

Stories of holidaymakers unable to control their bowel movements and also vomiting in the pool emerged during the report – and Watchdog’s undercover reporters at the Holiday Village Red Sea witnessed the main swimming pool being disinfected heavily with chemicals after it was suddenly closed. Pool staff re-opened it just 20 minutes after removing human faeces.

Professor Lisa Ackerley – an environmental health expert – also appeared in the report and said that protecting holidaymakers from food poisoning and stomach illness was simply a matter of cooking food properly and checking pool water.

She added that 20 minutes was not sufficient time for chemicals to disperse through the water – and high concentrations of cleaning agents like chlorine might actually cause chemical burns to bathers, who at the Red Sea complex included children.

Simpson Millar has previously represented holidaymakers who fell ill at First Choice Holiday Villages – and last year won £17,500 for a family of three struck down with salmonella at the Holiday Village Turkey.

Since the July outbreak of sickness and diarrhoea at the Holiday Village Red Sea, First Choice has introduced an expert to monitor pool water – plus more quality control staff and more training for catering staff.

Nick Harris of Simpson Millar advises all holidaymakers to take images and video footage of any lapses in hygiene if they become ill on holidays abroad.

Although First Choice took the precaution of addressing the illness on its Facebook page in July, the First Choice rep at the Holiday Village Red Sea was seen denying there were any health problems at the hotel – and blamed outbreaks of illness on changes in the body caused by hot weather; changes which were apparently made worse when holidaymakers dived into a contaminated pool to cool off, as the Watchdog programme found.

The episode featuring Simpson Millar’s Nick Harris is now available on iPlayer – and Nick also recently advised Channel 4’s SuperScrimpers on the rights of holidaymakers when package holidays do not live up to the brochure description.

Simpson Millar offers free initial advice on making a claim for holiday illness compensation, so if you have been ill on holiday within the last three years, complete the online enquiry form or call Simpson Millar’s Freephone number for an assessment of your claim.

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Dated: 13/09/2012