£2,500 Compensation from TUI for Salmonella on Holiday

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A Holiday Illness Case Study – Client Situation

We helped a woman claim compensation after poor hygiene standards at a Cape Verde hotel led to her contracting Salmonella on holiday.

Our client booked an all-inclusive stay at the 5-star Melia Dunas Hotel in Sal, Cape Verde, through TUI. When booking their holiday the hotel ticked all of the boxes for her and her partner, particularly as it had only been open for several months and boasted facilities such as air conditioned restaurants, swimming pools, bars, entertainment and excursions for hotel guests.

However, they ran into a few minor problems upon arriving. For example, the double bed in their room was broken and despite reporting it to the hotel reception, nobody came to mend it. As a result, our client’s partner had to fix it himself.

Similarly, the extractor fan in the bathroom didn’t work, and the lock on their bathroom door was broken and had to be repaired. In addition, some of the public toilets at the hotel didn’t work.

Since they’d booked a stay at a brand new 5-star rated all-inclusive resort, this was slightly worrying to our client. During the first week of her stay, she started hearing that a number of hotel guests were suffering from sickness and diarrhoea.

She therefore tried to take precautions, but still ended up getting sick. She woke up one day with symptoms including:

  • Excruciating stomach cramps
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Violent sickness

Her sickness was so bad that she couldn’t even eat small amounts of bland food without experiencing diarrhoea. She reported her symptoms to the holiday tour operator rep, but was told there was a local bug going around.

Our client was still ill on the last day of her holiday, and worried about how she would cope with her symptoms on the flight home. As it transpired, she needed to go to the toilet several times during the flight, which she found distressing, embarrassing and upsetting.

After returning to the UK, she contacted her GP, who requested a stool sample, which tested positive for Salmonella. She wasn’t given any medication and was instead advised to continue drinking water to help flush out her system.

She did manage to return to work the following week, but had still not fully recovered from her Salmonella symptoms. In fact, she had lost weight as a result of her illness, and could still only eat small portions of dry, bland foods.

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How We Helped

She got in touch with our Holiday Claims Solicitors for free legal advice about claiming compensation for Salmonella on holiday, as she believed that TUI had failed in their duty to keep her safe. Associate Solicitor James Blower reviewed the details of her holiday illness and agreed to represent her on a No Win, No Fee basis.

James and his team arranged for an independent medical assessment of our client’s condition and took a statement outlining her client’s concerns about the poor hygiene standards at the Melia Dunas Hotel in Sal. For example, the buffet area, in particular, had several problems, including:

  • Served chicken was pink in the middle, meaning it was undercooked
  • Pre-cooked foods being left out open to the elements in the buffet restaurant
  • Buffet food being served lukewarm rather than piping hot
  • Hotter food being placed on top of much colder food
  • A shortage of food utensils, meaning guests used the same serving tongs on different foods, creating a cross-contamination risk
  • Food temperature probes not being used to test if hotter foods such as meats were cooked properly
  • Guests cutting loaves of bread with bare hands, rather than covering it with a tea towel
  • Not all catering staff wore hats, and none wore hairnets or gloves

The swimming pool area also had a host of issues, such as:

  • Cracked tiles in and around the pool area
  • Dirty plates and leftover foods from the night before would still be by the sunbeds in the morning, suggesting they weren’t cleaned with any antibacterial agent, soap or water after closing

Other issues at the Melia Dunas Hotel included:

  • Hand sanitiser only being made available to guests following reports of hotel guests getting sick
  • Hotel guests declining offers from staff to have their hands sprayed, thereby creating a potential health hazard
  • A gardener watering plants with a hose apparently coming from the sewer drains below the pathways. Guests would have to walk over wet pathways to get back to their rooms, with remnants of sewage water on the bottom of their shoes

Crucially, our client never ate or drank anything off the hotel complex, and all the meals they consumed were prepared in the hotel’s kitchens. Furthermore, she never swam in any other hotel pool and didn’t go in the sea. As a result, our client was certain that her Salmonella infection was the result of poor hygiene conditions within the hotel.

James approached TUI on our client’s behalf, and in presenting the case argued that hygiene standards were well below what would have been expected from a modern 5-star rated hotel.

The Outcome

Following negotiations with TUI, our client was awarded £2,500 in compensation. This was more than two-thirds of the total cost of her holiday in Cape Verde, which was deemed enough to compensate her for the period of her holiday that was ruined by contracting Salmonella and the loss of enjoyment of her holiday.

Our client said she would be happy to return to Cape Verde, as she has enjoyed holidays on the island before, but insists she will never stay at the Melia Dunas Hotel again.

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