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TV squad hits holidays from hell and warns of accident risks

The British appetite for exotic foreign holidays is as ravenous as ever. Now a new BBC1 television series is highlighting some of the more worrying aspects of travelling abroad in search of the summer sun.

Called 'Holiday Hit Squad', the first programme, shown on Wednesday evening, ran a number of cases past the viewer where the reality has failed to live up to the extravagant promises of the holiday brochures and websites.

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The show highlighted hotels whose dubious charms are enthusiastically, if unrealistically pitched at British holidaymakers. Among them was the Hotel Aldeia, at Albufeira on the Algarve in Portugal.

The presentation of the facts behind the hype made uncomfortable viewing for the Aldeia's proprietor, let alone the UK agents and operators tasked with selling its accommodation to unsuspecting British holidaymakers.

Among the problems identified by the programme was a seemingly ever-present risk of accidents, which might easily be visited on a guest during the course of 1 night at the 3-star Aldeia.

To help illustrate the threats, the co-host, Joe Crowley, called upon the skills of independent observer Lisa Attley, described as a "health and safety bloodhound".

Conducting a forensic examination of Joe's 5th floor room, Lisa stood on a balcony which, she pronounced, "failed on every count". It took her no time at all to spot a wooden safety rail that was about to part company with the wall, leaving virtually no protection for anyone who might casually lean on the rail for a better view.

The rail was also too low, featuring a gap between its slats easily wide enough to admit an unwary child, while safety was compromised still further by a lower rail which could be mistaken for a step, thus rendering the balustrade even more dangerous.

"This is absolutely shocking," Lisa said. "It's not a balcony, it's a climbing frame. If I were an enforcement officer in the UK, I'd be taking action."

The room's interior was no better. Lisa found a frayed, dog-eared carpet corner which could easily cause a toddler to trip – and not just fall anywhere, but straight onto a harshly-angled metal table with a broken glass edging.

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Joe then met Norman, a fellow guest, who treated the viewer to a worrying tour of his own room. Norman pointed out the bare lightbulb, and falling from the wall a power socket alive with blue sparks. Along with the various exposed electrical wires sprouting from the ceiling rose, all posed grave risks of electrocution or fire.

If the shoddy electrics had done their worst and the place had burst into flames, however, guests could take little comfort from the hotel's emergency arrangements. Lisa and Joe worked out from a door diagram that to escape a fire, they'd need to negotiate 11 rooms and 4 flights of stairs. And when the pair actually tried walking the labyrinthine escape route – considered an invaluable early exercise in any hotel – it was somehow inevitable that they would become lost.

Joe summed up the Aldeia in 1 crisp phrase which every would-be guest might want to remember: "It's an accident waiting to happen."

Sadly, the Aldeia is only 1 of many hotels which pose serious risks for their paying, trusting customers.

"In summer 2012, 13 British holidaymakers fell from hotel balconies abroad, 3 of them dying from their injuries," observed Nick Harris, an expert in international holiday law with Simpson Millar LLP.

"If you're travelling abroad this summer, you should take great care in your choice of hotel, and bear in mind that illness and accidents, if they're clearly the fault of the hotelier, are covered by the Package Travel Regulations 1992."


Dated: 08/02/2013

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