Dozens of holidaymakers are suing Thomson Holidays after allegedly contracting salmonella at an all-inclusive four-star hotel – amid claims TripAdvisor are removing negative reviews.
The allegations, some dating back to 2011, include tourists even claiming to have been hospitalised for days with ‘severe bleeding’ after staying at one of the brand’s most popular hotels, the Pegasos Royal in Antalya, Turkey.
Mother-of-two Stacey Alker claims she developed long-term internal damage after contracting food poisoning while splashing £5,000 on 10 days at the resort with her family in July this year.
Meanwhile Mary and Paul Tweed claim they have been visited by Public Health England to be told they were infected with salmonella after their ‘holiday from hell’, also in July.
Mother-of-two Stacey Alker, centre, pictured with daughter Kasey, left, and mother Jaqueline, right, claims she developed long-term internal damage after contracting food poisoning while on holiday at the Pegasos Royal Hotel in Turkey
Mary and Paul Tweed, pictured with son Ryan, are also among dozens of customers to sue Thomson Holidays, aka TUI, after claiming they contracted salmonella
Ms Alker, pictured on holiday with her family, said she spent £5,000 on the trip but she and her relatives were ‘left unable to eat’ after being struck down with ‘diarrhoea and sickness’
Tourists have also claimed bad TripAdvisor reviews have been taken down about the hotel, pictured
The couple, who say they were so ill they ‘thought they were going to die’, claim they witnessed out of date and uncooked food as well as cats and flies in the food court.
A spokesperson for solicitors Irwin Mitchell confirmed they are representing more than 40 new cases since June this year against Thomson, now rebranded as TUI, involving the hotel.
Many of those affected claim they have not heard back from the holiday group or failed to have a satisfactory response to their complaints and a group has been launched on Facebook specifically dedicated to the alleged outbreak.
Holidaymakers’ reviews on TripAdvisor that date back six years include claims guests were ‘dropping like flies’ after alleged poor food hygiene left them unable to enjoy their holidays due to salmonella.
However numerous hotel guests claim their negative TripAdvisor reviews have since been removed and some claim to have had their accounts disabled.
The Pegasos Royal Hotel was awarded Travellers’ Choice 2017 and Certificate of Excellence 2017 awards by TripAdvisor this year.
TripAdvisor admitted that some reviews of the hotel had been removed though it would be because they did not meet the guidelines, which include a ban on hearsay or other people’s opinions.
Sarah and Daniel Sutton, pictured with son Lewis, 12, said her husband and son were both diagnosed with salmonella after returning to the UK from a trip to the Pegasos Royal
Ms Alker, pictured left with daughter Kasey and right, says she has suffered with stomach pains for three months and had to go to hospital for three days
Mr and Mrs Tweed, pictured, said the food court was ‘unclean’, produce was ‘out of date’ and there were ‘flies everywhere’
Ms Alker, 41, claims the salmonella she contracted in Turkey developed into diverticulitis – small bulges on the large intestine – that has left her with crippling stomach problems.
Ms Alker, from Manchester, said: ‘Our first impression was that the resort was beautiful – we couldn’t fault it.
‘But a few days in, we began to notice stuff on the floor and cats around the food.
‘I became ill one particular day along with my sister’s partner and I just felt awful.
‘I didn’t get to the bathroom fast enough and had an accident. It was just horrendous.
‘Then after that, my sister, mum and niece all started with diarrhoea and sickness. My sister couldn’t eat for two days. Nobody could.
‘I saw a doctor when we returned and I was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia due to the bacteria in the hotel.
‘You could never find the holiday rep to complain to. She was never there.’
Mr and Mrs Sutton, pictured, said they have complained to Thomson but so far the firm has ‘done nothing’
Several bad reviews have been left about the hotel on TripAdvisor, pictured, amid claims some are being taken down
Others said the air conditioning did not work in their rooms and one review said a tourist was ‘on a drip for two days’ after contracting gastroenteritis
Now, after suffering with severe stomach problems for more than three months, Ms Alker has to undergo an endoscopy to help find the cause of her daily diarrhoea and decide on future treatment if it is confirmed to be diverticulitis.
She said: ‘Becoming this ill is not exactly what you expect. I paid £5,174 for a holiday – you want to enjoy it and try new foods.
‘We saved up for two years to go away. It’s made me scared of going on holiday in the future now.
‘We filed an official complaint with Thomson and still have had no reply. It’s been about three months.
‘Doctors in the UK confirmed I had bronchial pneumonia when I got back, but I think when I was there, I’d contracted salmonella first.
‘By the time I got home, the diarrhoea was subsiding, but I still had an upset tummy. By September 10, I was rushed to hospital as I was bleeding from my back passage.
‘I was then diagnosed with diverticulitis and stayed in hospital for three days on a drip, being pumped with powerful antibiotics.
‘There are few reviews mentioning salmonella on TripAdvisor. They take them down. I put one on there that’s gone and somebody else wrote one that isn’t there anymore.’
Mr and Mrs Tweed, who stayed at the Pegasos Royal from June 24 to July 8, complained the couple and their son, Ryan, allegedly fell ill there.
Mrs Tweed, 49, said: ‘I thought I was going to die and Thomson don’t want to know.
‘We put a complaint in while we were there and my husband put in a complaint when we came back to the UK but we just received a bog-standard reply.
‘There was uncovered food that it wasn’t kept at the right temperature, eggs were out-of-date or uncooked, flies were landing in the uncovered food and cats were left to run around the food court.
‘It was generally very unclean. Plates were still dirty and toddlers were pooing in the pool.
‘Half way through the holiday, our stomachs started feeling off. I became sick and had severe diarrhoea. I couldn’t eat or drink anything.
‘My husband went down to reception to see the manager and he made my husband get straight in a taxi to pick up some medicine for the diarrhoea.
Ms Alker, 41, pictured with a doctor’s letter about her illness, said she had filed an official complaint with Thomson but has not received a reply in three months
Claims of food poisoning have been made since 2011 and tourists have urged the four-star rating of the hotel to be reviewed
‘The medication seemed to stop the symptoms for me. A couple of days later though and I was still feeling rough.
‘I was only eating plain food and drinking water.’
On their return, Mrs Tweed’s symptoms continued and she visited the doctors with a stool sample.
Three days later, the couple say they had a knock on their door in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, from Public Health England who informed her she had a confirmed case of salmonella.
Mrs Tweed said: ‘We flew back on July 8 and I was better on the plane but then I started going to the toilet four, five, six times a day.
‘On return from our holiday from hell I was still experiencing the same symptoms so I went to the doctors on the Tuesday and told her what had happened.
‘She said we shouldn’t have taken anything to stop the symptoms because it kept the bug in our stomachs. By taking the medicine to stop the sickness and diarrhoea, you keep the bug inside you.
‘Public Health England gave me a card and told me to make sure the doctors note it down on my medical records.
‘Thomson did reply to our complaint but it was with a bog-standard reply. They weren’t bothered.
‘The staff at the hotel are very quick to make you better and clear it up, then when you get home you become ill again.
‘The holiday cost us £2,800 for myself, husband and son. My 13-year-old son also became ill and was really poorly.
‘We were glad to come home. I still feel ill.’
Mr Tweed, 47, has set up a Facebook group for those who claim to have been affected by salmonella at the hotel, which has more than 30 members.
He claims most of the group posted TripAdvisor reviews but many were either deleted or declined.
Some of the titles have referred to the hotel as a’hellhole’ and warned people to stay away
Others have warned of the ‘serious food health risks’ amid the claims of food poisoning
One reviewer said his wife became ‘bedridden and collapsed three times’ while the ‘on-site doctor was not interested’
His own TripAdvisor account has allegedly been disabled twice for writing negative reviews on the hotel.
Mr Tweed said: ‘This hotel just won two TripAdvisor awards how the hell did that happen?
‘Most of the Facebook group posted reviews on TripAdvisor and none got published so you can make your own conclusions on that.’
Accounts manager Sarah Sutton stayed at the Pegasos Royal from July 1-11 with her husband Daniel and son Lewis, 12.
Mrs Sutton, from Stoke-on-Trent, claims her husband and son both contracted salmonella, and believes it was caused either from the foods that she didn’t eat, the pool or from the slides her son played on.
The 39-year-old said: ‘About half way through our holiday we had a late night out.
‘When we woke up in the morning, my son was feeling really unwell and nauseous.
‘We’d been out late the night before until around 12am so I thought it might be that but he was in bed that day until 3pm complaining of a high temperature. Then my husband fell ill as well.
‘They were both ill for the duration of the holiday.
Some people praised the hotel for its services for children and pools but still complained about flies and the food
Others said staff were kind but still had complaints of food poisoning and ‘unripe’ food
‘When we got back we went to see a doctor straight away and they were diagnosed with salmonella.
‘The only thing I could think caused it was going on the slides quite a bit when I didn’t, or eating burgers that I didn’t eat.
‘We told the rep and she was pretty calm but a lot of people fell ill. She was blasé about it and I think they were hiding an actual problem.
‘After we complained, they put up a sign warning holidaymakers that there had been some reported cases of gastroenteritis.
‘People are paying all that money to go out there and Thomson have done nothing.
‘With the way they treat customers, I’m surprised they even have a company.
‘My husband was forced to take three weeks off work when we got back and he wasn’t getting paid for it.
‘This has caused a massive financial burden for us. We’re still trying to pay for that.
‘We’ve had nothing back from Thomson as of yet.’
A spokesperson from Irwin Mitchell said: ‘Sadly, through our work we have seen numerous cases against this hotel where guests have fallen ill suffering from gastric illness problems.
‘The seriousness of these kinds of issues should never be underestimated and we are determined to help our clients, not only secure justice, but also answers regarding what caused various holidaymakers to fall ill.
Mrs Tweed, pictured, said they spent £2,800 on the holiday and Thomson replied to their complaint but were ‘not bothered’
‘We have already begun our own investigation into the hotel and are keen to determine what is causing the illnesses suffered by our clients.
‘As part of our work and to assist with our investigations, we would be keen to hear from anyone else who may also have been affected by illness whilst staying at the Pegasos Royal Hotel, Turkey.’
A spokesperson from TUI said: ‘We’re sorry to hear about these customers’ experience during their holidays earlier this year.
‘As we understand this is now subject to legal proceedings we are unable to comment further at this time.
‘We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of the hotels we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.’
A spokesperson from TripAdvisor said: ‘We can confirm that a handful of reviews dating back to 2015 were removed from the Pegasos Royal page.
‘However, no review was removed due to the mention of salmonella. Our guidelines state that a review cannot contain hearsay or refer to someone else’s opinion and it must relate to a first-hand experience.
‘The reviews which were removed did not meet these guidelines.’
‘In regards to awards that this hotel has received, we have an algorithm for the Travellers’ Choice awards that takes into account the quality and quantity of reviews and opinions over a 12-month period to determine winners.
‘To qualify for the Certificate of Excellence, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. The Pegasos Royal met the criteria for both these awards.’
‘In terms of disabling reviewer accounts. No accounts were disabled due to the mention of salmonella.
‘There are a number of reasons why we might disable an account, one being when a person attempts to create multiple accounts.
‘Our terms only allow one account per person so naturally if we identify an attempt to create additional accounts it would result in them being disabled.’
However Mr Tweed claims he only created a second account after his first one was disabled.