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Holiday Illness Complaint

Melia Cayo Santa Maria guests reports issues with hygiene and illness

17th August 2017


Holidaymakers who recently stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba have reported that they experienced questionable hygiene standards, with some guests saying that they suffered the symptoms of a gastric illness.

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The Melia Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba

Advertised by TUI-owned tour operator First Choice, the Melia Cayo Santa Maria is situated in a desirable beachfront location in Cuba. The resort features a choice of restaurants, however, recent guests have commented on hygiene issues at the Cuban hotel.


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Reviewers comment on hygiene issues and holiday illness

Although recent reviews for the Melia Cayo Santa Maria on TripAdvisor have been mixed, historically the hotel appears to have been reviewed quite favourably. At the time of writing, the hotel has an average score of 4 out of 5 from over 4,000 reviews, but comments from recent guests have highlighted potential problems.



Liverpool holidaymaker 'pool17' stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria this August, and in his review titled "STILL HAVE STOMACH BUG", he says that at the time of writing his review he has "just returned from this hotel (9.08.17), and still [has] the stomach bug".

He explains that he "got sick on the second day there", adding that his wife got sick "on the third day" of their "honeymoon", and "everyone [they] spoke to had the same thing". He says they "had to go to the medical" centre where his "wife [received] an injection and [they] were given some rehydration sachets".

'pool17' believes that "the main problem is the eating areas", stating that "none of the food is covered", there are flies everywhere and "birds in the snack bar area".

As a result of his condition, he says that they "could not go on any excursions and had to cancel one night time trip on account of running to the toilet every 20 minutes". He comments that they "spoke to a family that had been there the week before with no issues", however, on "the second week everyone from this family [was] ill".


Another TripAdvisor reviewer who stayed at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria in August wrote a review titled "Stomach Bug! Filthy". In their review they say that "everyone had this stomach bug", including themselves, their partner and "other English travellers [that they] met".

They say that although a "Cuban doctor […] put it down to 'dehydration'", since returning home they've "both been given antibiotics". They comment that "the eating facilities are dirty" and there are "flies and birds everywhere", as well as a lack of "separate prongs for different dishes e.g. Chicken, fish etc".


TripAdvisor user 'motorbikes' wrote a review of their stay at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria in June titled "Shame About The Food Hygiene". They start their review by saying that "this hotel and Cayo Santa Maria as a destination is being removed by Thomson Travel next year due to the hotel being deemed as 'sub-standard'".

They continue their review, saying that they "often ate at the snack bar for breakfast due to the poor food hygiene and the swarms of [flies] in the main buffet", before stating that "the food hygiene in the hotel was absolutely appalling".

'motorbikes' explains that the "food was not covered, which meant that [flies] were always landing on the food" and "raw meat was displayed along the counter before it was cooked". He comments that "this means that the meat could have been sat on the counter for hours", suggesting that "in this time, it [may have been] exposed to [heat] created by the cooking station directly next to the display". They add that flies were "always on the meat".

They comment that "everyone [they] spoke to suffered from sickness and diarrhoea" and "five people that [they] knew of needed to attend the local clinic for a saline drip and a course of antibiotics".

'motorbikes' also says that they "had occasional ants and one cockroach in [their first] floor room".


'999twiggy' from Redford wrote a review of their stay in May titled "would never recommend this hotel" in which they say that they "changed rooms 3 times due to cockroaches in and around the bed".

They say that the "flies covered the food" and "nothing was done to try and stop them", adding that "[none] of the food was covered and if you kept your hands still you were attacked by the flies".

'999twiggy' comments that one "waitress dropped ice cubes on the floor and picked them up and placed them back in the ice bucket". They say that they "complained about the food not being covered" but didn't receive a satisfactory reply.

They say that "4 out of the 6 [of their group] were ill in bed with sickness and [diarrhoea]", with the other 2 guests from the group who were not ill staying at "the other hotel".


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Wildlife and food poisoning

While it's expected that there will be an increase in the wildlife you encounter at a holiday destination with a warmer climate, you shouldn't have to accept them in the dining areas. Flies and birds are known to be capable of spreading disease, and if they interact with your food, whether directly or indirectly, you could find that you contract a holiday ruining bout of food poisoning.

Birds and holiday sickness

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Inadequately stored meat could make you sick

Equally as important as ensuring that meat is safely cooked and served at an appropriate temperature, is ensuring that it is stored safely before being cooked. Most meat needs to be kept refrigerated to ensure that harmful bacteria and parasites aren't able to breed, meaning that meat stored at room temperature or above could make you sick.

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Claim 'no win no fee' compensation

If you suffer from diarrhoea and other symptoms of food poisoning while on an all-inclusive package holiday, then under The Package Travel Regulations 1992, you could be entitled to claim compensation from your tour operator.

Our travel law specialist can provide you with a free no-obligation consultation, during which we can advise you if we can represent you on a 'no win no fee' basis.



Claire Rabbetts - Holiday Accident and Illness Claims Specialist

Contact us about your holiday illness claim

To find out more about claiming compensation for illness at the Melia Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba; speak to Claire Rabbetts by calling us on 0808 145 1353 or complete our enquiry form and we will call you back.



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