Watton family’s ‘nightmare’ holiday ends in legal action

A family whose holiday of a lifetime turned into a nightmare when their hotel failed to meet expectations has taken legal action against tour operator First Choice.

A family whose holiday of a lifetime turned into a 'nightmare' when their hotel failed to meet expectations has taken legal action against tour operator First Choice.

Caroline and Paul Webster spent �1,700 on a week-long all-inclusive trip to the four-star Royal Park Hotel in Bulgaria three years ago.

On arrival however they were dismayed to see wires hanging from the walls in the bathroom, birds nesting on their balcony, overflowing toilets, and a layer of dirt across their entire room.

Since then the family, along with almost 300 others across the country, have been fighting for a refund from the holiday company.

Mrs Webster, 36, assistant manager of a discount store, who lives with her husband and son Luke, 11, in Walnut Grove, Watton, said: 'I thought it was going to be lovely from the way it looked in the brochure but when you got up close you could see it wasn't finished.

'It was awful; you had a shower and you still felt dirty. I was sobbing. I thought it was going to be the holiday of a lifetime but it turned out to be a nightmare.'

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The couple became aware of problems when they saw another couple on television speaking of the state of the hotel. After speaking with First Choice, were instead offered a week's self-catering stay in Majorca the following week but declined as Mrs Webster could not get time off work and had spent more money than the replacement was worth.

Mr Webster, 44, a self-employed roof tiler, added: 'They said as far as they were concerned there was nothing wrong with the hotel. 'They said we didn't have to go but we wouldn't have got our money back so we thought we would take them at their word and make the best of it. We thought maybe the couple on TV were just making a fuss. Now I want my money back because I'm just so disgusted. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.'

On arriving back in the UK the couple sent a letter and email to First Choice and then contacted Birmingham-based law firm Irwin Mitchell which they knew was representing others in a similar situation.

The firm is now taking legal action on behalf of 276 clients against the travel company after it denied responsibility for the outbreak of illness, suffered by guests, including the Webster's son Luke, during holidays at the Royal Park Hotel between June and October 2008.

First Choice said it was in negotiations with the law firm and added: 'First Choice would like to take this opportunity to assure all its customers that we closely audit all the hotels to which we operate to ensure that health, safety, hygiene and comfort levels are maintained.

'The company monitors all the properties to which it operates. As part of this continual review, we can confirm that the Royal Park Hotel no longer features in the First Choice programme.'

Head of the travel law team at Irwin Mitchell, Clive Garner said: 'Tour operators have a responsibility to ensure that the hotels they send their customers to are of a reasonable standard, and that they comply with health and safety regulations, which are in place to protect their guests. The failures that occurred at this hotel were very serious indeed and should not be tolerated.'