Holidaymakers launch legal action after Cape Verde sickness bugs

More than 500 TUI holidaymakers launch legal action after being struck down with sickness bugs during stays at seven hotels in Cape Verde over summer

  • Complainants include newlyweds and man who fell unconscious on flight home
  • Tourists reported being served raw meat, fly-covered food and smelling ‘sulphur’
  • More than 500 Britons launch legal action against TUI after ‘nightmare’ holidays  in the Sal area of Cape Verde

More than 500 British holidaymakers have launched legal action after being struck down with gastric illnesses while staying at a luxury TUI hotels in Cape Verde over the summer.

Holidaymakers, including a newlywed couple on a honeymoon ‘from hell’, a man who was so ill he fell unconscious on the flight home and a couple who have still not recovered following their holiday nearly two months later, told of how they were served raw food and stayed in squalid conditions.

The tourists reported being served ‘bloody chicken’ and food covered in flies, as well as a ‘strong sulphur smell’ in a hotel, causing some to cut their ‘dream’ holidays short.

Staying at seven hotels in Cape Verde, off the west coast of Africa, more than 530 holidaymakers who travelled there between May and October have instructed specialist lawyers to investigate after their dream trip turned into a ‘holiday from hell’.

Among those were newlyweds Chris France, 32, and Amy Jacklin, 29, who said they  were looking forward to their ‘dream come true’ honeymoon in Cape Verde but it soon turned into a ‘holiday from hell’.

Amy Jacklin and Chris France opted for Cape Verde to spend their first vacation together as a married couple. But the couple said that their ‘holiday of a lifetime’ soon turned into a honeymoon ‘from hell’

Newlyweds Chris France, 32, and Amy Jacklin, 29, both became ill during their stay at the Riu Cabo Verde in August 

Amy Franklin, 29, was put on a drip in hospital after being struck down with a gastric illness while on her holiday in Cape Verde

The five-star Riu Cabo Verde (pictured) where Chris and Amy honeymooned

During their stay they said they noticed ‘grubby’ conditions and that ‘food appeared to be re-served more than once’ with flies and animals everywhere, including cats in the restaurant.

‘I really wish we had never booked the holiday’: Couple from Devon reveal ‘total ‘nightmare’ at five-star Cape Verde hotel including raw food and fly-infested salads 

Nichola Morley, 52, her partner Darren Cartwright, 57, from Devon who travelled to the Riu Palace in May for a two-week break to celebrate Mr Cartwright’s recovery from cancer.

But just one day into their holiday, Nichola began to suffer from stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea, and the following day Darren began to experience similar symptoms and even started to hallucinate.

Nichola Morley, 52, and Darren Cartwright, 57, (pictured) are among those launching legal action after being struck down with gastric illness while holidaying in Cape Verde

After several days of not eating the pair went to hospital where they were both put on a drip. On arriving back in the UK Ms Morley was placed on a course of antibiotics by her GP and spent three weeks recovering.

Recalling the conditions at the hotel, she said: ‘The salad was covered in flies.

‘I grabbed a bit of bread and small piece of turkey, but when I cut it open it was pink and raw inside.

‘This was only a few days after I had complained about bloody chicken and I couldn’t believe it was still happening. It’s no wonder people were ill.

‘I really wish we had never booked the holiday, it turned into a total nightmare. All we can hope for now is some answers; it’s the least we deserve.’

The pair were just two days into their three-week stay at the five-star Riu Cabo Verde on August 9, when Amy began to suffer from stomach pains, vomiting and diarrehoea.

Her symptoms continued to get worse and she was eventually taken to hospital, where she was put on a drip after being dehydrated and was discharged later that day.

About two weeks into the holiday, her partner Chris then became ill with the same symptoms, and visited a medical professional at the hotel who prescribed the couple with medication.

Amy said: ‘Chris and I had such a fantastic wedding and to complete it with a honeymoon in Cape Verde was meant to be our dream come true.

‘Our holiday of a lifetime turned in to the holiday from hell after just two days. I’ve never felt so ill and instead of enjoying our honeymoon, I was in hospital with Chris at my bedside.

‘As I started to improve, Chris then started to be sick. Our honeymoon was ruined and turned into a three-week nightmare we’ll always remember now for all the wrong reasons.

‘We had our doubts when the food appeared to be re-served more than once and flies and animals were everywhere, with cats in the restaurant.

‘The grubby linen and chipped, dirty plates were also not what you would expect from a five star hotel. To make matters worse, we spoke to the reps but we felt our concerns weren’t really dealt with.

‘We know others were ill at the hotel when we were and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear there were more. It’s not something you expect and I think the least we can ask is an explanation of what happened.’

Another tourist who fell ill after holidaying in Cape Verde over the summer was Richard Marshall, 46, from Finden in Derbyshire, who travelled to Riu Funana for a week’s holiday.

Two days before he was due to fly home, on September 3, he was struck down were severe gastric symptoms including stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Despite still being ill he managed to get on his flight but fell unconscious and woke to find himself surrounded by paramedics in what he described as a ‘frightening experience’.

Richard said that the food at the hotel ‘looked undercooked’ with the chicken appearing to be ‘raw’ on some occasions.

He said: ‘The flies were everywhere and there didn’t seem to be too much concern in keeping the food areas as clean as you would expect.

‘This year’s holiday is one I’ll always remember for all the wrong reasons. I have never felt so ill and to wake up on the plane surrounded by paramedics and then taken to hospital was a frightening experience.’ 

Meanwhile, another holidaymaker has told how she is still too sick to return to work nearly two months after falling ill at a Cape Verde hotel.

Richard Marshall, 46, from Finden in Derbyshire, said he fell unconscious on the flight home after falling ill at Riu Funana in Cape Verde. He described food at the hotel looking ‘undercooked’ with the chicken appearing to be ‘raw’ on occasion

Mr Marshall stayed at the Riu Funana hotel in Cape Verde (pictured)

Karen Edwards, 58, and her partner David Watkinson, 55, from Pwllheli, north Wales, say they are still recovering after falling ill while on holiday at the five-star TUI Blue Cabo Verde hotel in Cape Verde in October.

Couple tell of ‘disappointing’ holiday after being struck down by gastric illness

Hannah Smith, 28, and Oliver Dean, 27, travelled to the Hotel Riu Palace Santa Maria for a week’s holiday in August.

Ms Smith, a school teacher, said: ‘The holiday was such a disappointment. Our symptoms were so bad that we had no choice but to see the doctor in resort and I continued to feel ill for weeks afterwards

‘It only really hit Oliver hard at the end of the holiday and, by that point, neither of us was in a fit state to help the other. The flight home was unbelievably difficult and Oliver was so ill, he had to take more time off work when we got back.

‘I now wish we’d never booked the holiday.’

Hannah Smith and her partner Oliver Dean (pictured), from Wolverhampton

Karen Edwards, 58, and her partner David Watkinson, 55, from Pwllheli, north Wales, stayed at the TUI Blue Cabo Verde on October 2 but had to cut their holiday short and even paid for an earlier return flight home after falling ill with severe stomach camps.

The couple said they had voiced concerns over food at the hotel, and branded the standards ‘completely unacceptable’ with flies and cats everywhere.

Karen said that one one occasion, having cut into a lasagne, she found the mince to be pink and uncooked. 

Despite receiving medical attention at the hotel, their symptoms persisted and they ‘felt there was no choice but to leave as soon as possible.’

Having returned to the UK on October 9, Karen, a shop owner, has been unable to return to work as she has still ‘not fully recovered’. 

Meanwhile, Dave was diagnosed with Campylobacter, an infectious disease which can be transmitted to humans from animals, after the holiday.

She said: ‘Dave and I have still not fully recovered from what we suffered at that terrible hotel, and I think someone needs to explain exactly how the situation that left us so ill was allowed to develop.

‘We still cannot believe that this is billed as a five-star TUI hotel.’

Another complainant is Lesley Breed, 53, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, who travelled to the Melia Dunas Resort with her husband Grant, 53, and her son Finn, 15 in July.

The family ‘all fell ill’ during their stay, with Lesley adding: ‘I’m not surprised when I recall the undercooked meat at the restaurant and the poor hygiene.

‘I remember phoning housekeeping twice for basic essentials such as toilet paper and water, but still had to end up going to reception myself.

‘If they can’t get the basics right, it’s no wonder the hotel is in the state it is.

‘Something needs to be done so no others have to go through what we did.’

Lesley Breed said the meat was ‘undercooked’ during her stay at the Melia Dunas Resort in Cape Verde (pictured)

Another tourist, Elizabeth Sutton, 46, from Spalding in Lincolnshire, was also admitted to hospital during her stay at the Riu Palace, with symptoms so severe that doctors were concerned she was having a stroke.

Elizbaeth, a beauty therapist, travelled to Cape Verde with her mother Patricia Reid in September for a much anticipated first holiday away since the pandemic.

After two days, she began to suffer headaches, breathing difficulties and her eyes became sore and red.

These symptoms were so severe that Elizabeth was admitted to hospital over concerns that she was having a stroke. She was treated and discharged with medication.

But then she started experiencing gastric symptoms, including severe sickness and diarrhoea and was re-admitted to hospital where she was placed on a drip. Following multiple injections and more medication, Elizabeth was again discharged.

The tourists, who booked their holiday through tour operated TUI, reported being served raw chicken and food covered in flies, as well as a strong sulphur smell at the Hotel Riu Palace Santa Maria in Cape Verde (pictured)

Her symptoms have continued following her return to the UK and she was forced to take time off work. She is still under the care of her GP and awaiting the results of further tests.

She said: ‘This was supposed to be a wonderful holiday for me and mum, our first holiday together since the Covid Pandemic, and we booked a stay at a five star hotel expecting a bit of luxury and pampering. Instead the trip turned into the holiday from hell.

‘The smell of sulphur in the room was overpowering. It was so bad that mum paid for us to move to a new hotel, but by that stage I was already ill. The food at the hotel also appeared to be left for long periods of time uncovered, allowing exposure to flies and there were cats and birds in and around the hotel.

‘I’ve never experienced anything like it and when I went into hospital for the second time, I was really scared.

Cape Verde is just off the west coast of Africa and is roughly a six-hour flight from the UK. Its year-round promise of sunshine makes it popular with holidaymakers

‘We feel that the hotel, food and facilities were a complete let down and since returning I’ve heard from more than 130 people on Facebook, some of whom were there prior to us, who say that they had similar experiences.

‘I’m angry that I’m still living with the symptoms, but I also feel lucky to have got home in one piece. I feel we all deserve some answers over what happened, especially as it sounds like others fell ill before we stayed there. It’s the least we deserve after what turned into an expensive medical nightmare.’

Jatinder Paul, a senior associate solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said the law firm was ‘supporting more than 500 people, including more than 200 people who stayed at the Rui Palace Santa Maria alone, who at best had their holiday ruined and at worst had their health seriously affected following stays in the Sal area of Cape Verde’.

Mr Paul, who specialises in international personal injury cases, continued: ‘That so many should have been affected at these hotels, in the same region under the same tour operator, has left the people we are representing with a lot of questions over what happened to them this summer and we’re determined to help them find the answers.’

TUI has been contacted for a comment. 

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