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£2,750 damages after gastric illness ruins Cuban wedding holiday

A retail manager from Kent who became ill while holidaying in the Caribbean has been awarded £2,750 compensation.

In March 2014 the 53-year-old was staying with his partner and other friends at the Playa Pesquero Hotel in Holguin, Cuba. Booked through Thomas Cook, the holiday was meant to be a celebration of another couple's wedding.

"This was our first holiday in Cuba," our client said. "We had really been looking forward to it."

Holiday illness causing food poisoning claims for compensation

Damage Done: the holiday-wedding celebration that he, his partner and their friends looked forward to had been ruined

Client felt ill on boat trip

5 days into the holiday, the party took a Thomas Cook boat excursion to Paradise Island. Having eaten breakfast prior to departure, our client began to suffer from a headache and abdominal cramping.

Choosing not to eat during the trip, he returned to the hotel that evening and soon began to experience severe and frequent diarrhoea, with associated abdominal discomfort.

His symptoms continued throughout the evening and into the night, during which time he tried to remain hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

"By the following morning our client's symptoms had receded slightly, although they would continue to be aggravated whenever he attempted to eat," Simpson Millar's Paul Stevens said. "He stuck to small helpings of very bland food, and also felt extremely lethargic."

The big celebration was wrecked

By the end of his holiday our client was still suffering episodes of diarrhoea, having difficulty in eating and with a marked reduction in energy. And although on arriving home in Dartford he did not feel the need to consult his own GP, returning to normal health within a few days, the damage was done: the dual Caribbean holiday-wedding celebration that he, his partner and their friends had so looked forward to had been ruined.

Poor hygiene standards at an all-inclusive hotel

Paul Stevens said the hotel's standards of hygiene were questionable. "The buffet restaurant served food that had been left exposed for long periods of time. It was often served unacceptably lukewarm, and there was no evidence of the food's temperature being monitored."

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Medical Report statement:

"It was a breakdown in the food and general hygiene processes that caused the claimant's illness."

"Birds pecked at exposed food"

"Our client also noticed that some foods were re-presented in different meals at later times," Paul continued. "Water was served in large stainless-steel jugs rather than sealed bottles, cats wandered through the hotel grounds and many birds could be seen flying around the buffet area and pecking at the food."

Paul noted the all-inclusive nature of the holiday package. "Our client took all his meals within the hotel complex before he became ill," he said. "The fact that a significant number of other guests experienced similar symptoms – including our client's own partner, who was supposed to be also celebrating her birthday – must be cause for suspicion."

No efforts to improve cleanliness

Our client said the percentage of people who were ill was quite alarming. "Almost everyone we spoke to were either unwell or knew someone who was. But there didn't seem to be any efforts made to improve hygiene standards, and tour operators continued to take on new holidaymakers.

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Prescribed Antibiotics:

"We were told the illness was airborne and had been brought [to the hotel] by some Canadians, but I discovered that the hotel doctor was prescribing antibiotics, so he obviously didn't think it was a virus."

A subsequent medical report stated: "On the balance of probabilities, the poor hygiene standards within the hotel were responsible for the spread of the infection through the occupants. It was a breakdown in the food and general hygiene processes that caused the claimant's illness."

Praise for Simpson Millar

Following an out-of-court compensation award of £2,750, our client said of Simpson Millar's service: "Excellent all round. Very thorough...[we were] kept in touch."

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