Couple plan to sue over Cuba trip 'nightmare'
10 June 2009
By Andrew Robinson
IT sounded like a dream holiday – two weeks in the Cuban sunshine and
the beautiful surroundings of a plush five-star hotel.
But for one Yorkshire couple it turned into a nightmare when they were
forced to spend a sleepless night sheltering in the hotel room bathroom
as a terrifying hurricane took the building apart.
When it appeared things could not get worse, they went down with
suspected food poisoning.
Kyle McGrory and Amie Harvey's holiday got off to a bad start when their
flight to Cuba had to turn back because of a fault.
After sitting on the runway for four hours in chilly conditions,
passengers had to get off and spend the night in a hotel.
That was just the beginning of the disastrous £2,000 trip.
Arriving in Cuba a day late, the Leeds couple hardly had time to put on
their flip-flops before the next piece of bad news: Hurricane Ike was
heading their way and would hit the hotel at about 3pm the following day.
"It was a category four hurricane which passed right over our hotel,"
recalled Mr McGrory.
"It smashed the windows and blew the roofs off. The apartment block in
front of ours had its roof ripped off. The hotel lobby was badly damaged
and the restaurants were closed."
"We had to sit in the bathroom, on the floor, all night. It was scary,
terrifying, more so for Amie. The roof of our hotel was bouncing up and
"I was shocked by the amount of damage. It was scary."
The hurricane caused widespread disruption, with roads blocked and water
Mr McGrory said: "The running water and air-conditioning no longer
worked. The toilets were disgusting. The restaurants were closed and the
buffet was using reheated old food from the previous day.
"We were left from Sunday till Thursday with little food and no running
water. We had to haggle for bottled water.
"There were birds getting at the food and landing on the bread. Food was
being eaten by birds and cats.
"The food seemed old and reheated – there never seemed to be any new
"The hotel is advertised as a perfect location for couples or families
looking for a relaxing luxury holiday in the Caribbean. That is
certainly why we went but not the kind of holiday we got."
Later the couple began experiencing stomach cramps and they still get
sick if they eat rich or spicy food.
They were flown home a week early but had to put up with a three-hour
delay before take off.
"The holiday was an absolute nightmare," said Mr McGrory, a quantity
surveyor. "The holiday reps were slow to react; it was a joke."
The couple, both 22 and from Far Headingley, Leeds, are now planning to
sue travel firm Thomas Cook, claiming their gastric problems were caused
by food at the Playa Pesquero hotel.
They were offered £700 compensation but turned it down.
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors claim other holidaymakers have been struck
down by illness at Playa Pesquero more than a year after problems were
The firm's travel law team is pursuing legal action on behalf of 10 UK
travellers who have stayed at the hotel.
Mark Watts from Irwin Mitchell said: "It is shocking that for two years
in a row there have been reports of illness at this hotel and
distressing to see that holidaymakers who travelled to Playa Pesquero
for a relaxing break had their holidays completely ruined by illness as
a result of unsatisfactory food, health and hygiene procedures."
A Thomas Cook spokesman said: "We take all reports of illness very
seriously so we were extremely concerned to hear that a very small
number of guests that visited the Playa Pesquero became unwell whilst
they were on holiday last year and we hope that they have now recovered.
As a priority we are undertaking a full inquiry."
Couple plan to sue over Cuba trip 'nightmare' – Yorkshire Post (10 June