A WOMAN from Bromsgrove has called the tour operator that sent her and her family on the holiday from hell "liars and cheats".
In summer 2009, Vicky Hatfield, 37, took what she thought would be a relaxing break at the Holiday Village resort in Sarigerme, Turkey with her partner and daughter. Her dream holiday became a nightmare when an outbreak of gastric illness hit both her and nearly 600 other holidaymakers staying at the resort.
"My partner became so ill that he spent the last two days in the hotel room being violently sick. He couldn’t even keep fluids in, which was very worrying considering the heat we were in," said Vicky.
She explained that food was left uncovered and looked like it had been out for days and the pools were closed several times because there was excrement found in them.
"The maids idea of cleaning the room was picking up the used unclean towels off the floor and folding them back up. Cleanliness was not high on the agenda and more often than not I had to remove dirty cups and glasses out of the room."
Other guests complained of food being undercooked, reheated and reserved at later meals and public toilets being frequently dirty and without hot water.
Now, nearly five years later, Vicky has only just received compensation for the terrible ordeal she had to face.
"I'm fuming it took so long. First Choice ignored all of my letters and it was only by chance when I saw on the local news many months later that lawyers Irwin Mitchell had taken on the case for people and I contacted them to see if we could be added."
Irwin Mitchell secured a £1.7m settlement from First Choice for all the people who took legal action. They have now received damages of up to £25,000 each, the level depending on factors such as the severity and duration of any illness they suffered and the amount of any financial losses and expenses they incurred.
"It has made me worried about ever going on an all-inclusive holiday and I would never use First Choice again. I always tell people to avoid them too, they are liars, cheats and mis-sell to customers," added Vicky.
Hundreds of holidaymakers within the same group as Vicky suffered gastric illness with more than 100 men, women and children suffering from infections including Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter and E-Coli.
A number of guests required hospital treatment in the resort due to the severity of their symptoms and some of the holidaymakers who became ill are still suffering symptoms even now.
Suki Chhokar, a partner in Irwin Mitchell's travel litigation team, said: "Holidaymakers have a right to expect that all reasonable steps will be taken to protect their health abroad in hotels or on cruise ships. Our clients in this case have proven that failure to do so will not be tolerated.”
A spokesman for First Choice said the company does not comment on settlements.