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Holiday Illness Complaint

Multiple holidaymakers report illness at the Hotel Riu Touareg in Cape Verde

13th October 2017

We've been contacted by holidaymakers who suffered the symptoms of a severe gastric illness at the Hotel Riu Touareg in Cape Verde, and several reviewers have taken to TripAdvisor to report on a potential problem with hygiene concerns and gastric illness over the last few weeks.

We explore the potential problems facing guests at the Riu Touareg, including what you can do if you've been affected.

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The Riu Touareg in Boa Vista

Situated in the popular Boa Vista region of Cape Verde, the Hotel Riu Touareg is offered on an all-inclusive basis by TUI-owned tour operators First Choice and Thomson.

In September of last year, we covered a potential problem with illness at the Riu Touareg on Holiday Hotel Watch and we have also been instructed by clients who were diagnosed with Salmonella and Shigella to claim compensation. If you've been affected by illness at the Riu Touareg, get in touch with a member of our travel law team to find out what your rights are.

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Holidaymaker seeks legal advice

We recently received an enquiry from a holidaymaker who stayed at the Riu Touareg in September. She advised us that just before returning home from the Cape Verde hotel, she began to suffer symptoms of stomach pains and diarrhoea, followed by excessive sweating and stomach cramps.

She advised us that there were a lot of flies around the food at the hotel restaurants and explained that she was aware of other guests who were also sick at the Riu Touareg.

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Reviewers comment on problems with hygiene and illness

The Hotel Riu Touareg is rated quite favourably on TripAdvisor, where the Cape Verde hotel has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 from over 8,000 reviews and has also received TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence and Travellers' Choice 2016 Winner (All-Inclusive) awards. Despite receiving so many accolades, the following reviews represent just some of those where guests have commented that they suffered a gastric illness during their stay:

In their review of her stay at the Riu Touareg this October titled "Beautiful beach and weather... but food hygiene disaster", 'hannahkr13' says that "the pools [had] parts [that were] closed off every so often", which she assumes was due to "hygiene issues". She also highlights that there was a "bad sewage smell".

She goes on to say that she and her "partner got sick, and [they] weren't the only ones", commenting that "the food hygiene in this place is absolutely disgraceful" and "needs special attention".

'hannahkr13' explains that there were "flies absolutely everywhere, all over the food which mostly wasn't properly covered up" and there were cats "jumping up on the chairs", which she says that they would only do if people "keep feeding them", which "from a hygiene point of view [is] not ideal".

Commenting on the buffets, she says that "it's an absolute food hygiene nightmare" and although the hotel "sometimes give out hand [sanitizer] at the door, […] this was not consistent and very few people actually used it properly".

She found that "there was a lot of food recycling going on", stating that "turkey steaks" would be "cut up into strips" and served the next day. She also says that the "plates and cups etc weren't always clean" and she "saw [members of the] bar staff rinse cocktail shakers etc out with tap water".

Cambridge holidaymaker 'Papatorito' wrote a review of her stay in September titled "Not the usual Riu standard", in which he says that "during [their] stay there was an outbreak of diarrhoea and sickness that [affected] many of the guests" including him and his wife.

He says that "the use of hand [sanitizer] gel at the entrance [of food serving areas] was only introduced at this hotel when the illness problems got worse".

'Tina M' from Southampton also wrote a review of her stay in September that was simply titled "Awful". In her review, she says that "flies are a constant in the food areas" and they too suffered from "the 'bug'".

She says that they "were initially told it was a virus, but this changed to a bacterial diagnosis", going on to say that "the symptoms were horrendous and severe, [diarrhoea and vomiting] at its worst extreme, stomach cramps and weakness".

'Tina M' says that she "needed antibiotics to resolve" her condition, "not just diet, hydration and rest", which was quite costly while abroad. She says that there was a delay in receiving treatment due to "the amount of people needing to see the [doctor]" and "some [guests] needing drips".

The Southampton holidaymaker goes on to say that she "was told by [a member of the hotel] staff that 50% of the hotel had the bug" and she "was told by TUI that sanitizers would be increased", stating that she "noticed this happening several days later".

In her review of her stay in September titled "Beautiful Beaches, Beautiful People but ruined by vast spreading sickness", 'gingerbreadmum2017' says that "disappointingly, the whole holiday felt exhausting due to illness".

She explains that "just two days in [she] was suffering from seriously painful stomach cramps and [she is] still getting them now". She says that since being home for "eleven days" her "husband also came down with" similar symptoms.

She comments that they "spent the rest of the holiday near the toilets feeling ill", and when they "reported it to [their] Rep", they "discovered that it was […] spreading", and "other guests had [been put on] I.V's [and had] injections and medication prescribed".

'gingerbreadmum2017' states that she believes that "the hygiene of the main pool and swim up bar area was incredibly poor", noting that there were "tiles missing, blackened grout and a thick film of grime sitting on the surface of the pool". She also says that "the food was not covered to protect it from the flies", before stating that she was "not informed about the illness and no steps were taking to warn others, so it kept spreading".

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Hotel responds to reviewer

The Online Reputation Manager of the Hotel Riu Touareg has responded to 'hannahkr13's review, and although it could be seen that some of their comments contradict what other reviewers have reported, below is an excerpt of their response on TripAdvisor:

"In the last two weeks, there has been an increase of cases of intestinal disease from an apparent virus in the destination. Some of our guests have been affected, as well as the locals outside the hotels. It is a process that lasts between 24 and 48 hours and is followed by discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea. Despite it being very annoying, it is not severe and all those affected recover with diet, hydration and rest.

As a result of the first reports from customers, safety and hygiene protocols have been strengthened, not only in kitchens and dining rooms, but in all the hotel areas. Thanks to this procedure, the situation is controlled and the appearance of new cases has been in clear remission.

Due to the incidence in the area, we recommend our guests to strictly follow all hygiene recommendations, especially hand washing frequently, and that whenever they leave the hotels, take only bottled drinks and meals that come from trusted providers."

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Flies, feral cats and the spread of disease

Although it's expected that there will be more wildlife and insects in a country with a warmer climate than you would expect in the UK, when it comes to insects such as flies, deterrents should be in place to prevent them from landing on food.

Flies and stomach illness on holiday

Flies have a natural attraction to faecal matter, and if they transfer faecal matter that has stuck to their legs to your meal, you could soon find yourself suffering a nasty holiday illness. Your hotel should take steps to address these issues, whether by installing fly traps or zappers in food serving areas or by ensuring that buffet dishes are kept closed or covered when not in use.

Feral cats present a similar concern, as unlike domesticated cats which are often well looked after by their owners, feral cats are known to carry diseases. Their presence around food serving areas at a hotel can subsequently be concerning, particularly if the cats are able to access uncovered buffet dishes.

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How to address hygiene and food safety concerns on holiday

While it's difficult to find out if everything that should be done to prevent the spread of illness at an all-inclusive hotel before you book, if you have a hygiene concern while you're at a resort, it's advisable to take pictures and to make your holiday rep and a member of the hotel staff aware of the issue.

This is particularly important if you have concerns over the maintenance of a hotel pool or any areas where food is being served, whether you're worried about the level of cleanliness or if you feel that food is being stored, cooked or served in a way that could lead to food poisoning.

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Get legal advice on your holiday illness

If you've suffered symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, a fever, and other symptoms that are commonly associated with Gastroenteritis, then you might be entitled to claim compensation from your tour operator under The Package Travel Regulations 1992.

By speaking to a member of our travel law team, we can provide you with a free assessment, advising you how to proceed with your complaint. If you're eligible, we can help you to make a 'no win no fee' compensation claim against your tour operator.

Andrew Tarling - Holiday Compensation Claims Manager

Contact us for free no-obligation holiday illness claims advice

To find out more about claiming compensation; contact Andrew Tarling by filling in our enquiry form and we will call you back, or call us directly on 0808 145 1353.

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