More bad memories for Sunwing travellers to Cuba
By Sean O’Shea
Consumer Reporter Global News
TORONTO – It’s been a fortnight since Helen Kiyko and her family
returned from Cuba but the group hasn’t put the trip behind them.
“We’re all still sick after two weeks,” said her adult daughter, Deanna
in the living room of their home in west Toronto.
In early January, the family took a one-week vacation to the Memories
Flamenco Beach Resort in Cayo Coco. Within a few days, the family says
Helen, Deanna and her one-year-old daughter Larissa became ill.
“She had a lot of diarrhea, a loss of appetite,” Deanna said of her
daughter, who has been to doctors and the Hospital for Sick Children in
Toronto. More tests are booked for the toddler but so far, there’s been
no diagnosis. She said the illness has been reported to the Toronto
public health department.
This is just one of the latest accounts of illness at resorts in Cuba
managed under the Memories umbrella. Memories is run by Blue Diamond
Resorts, part of the Sunwing Group, as reported on the company’s website.
While other tour operators offer access to Memories Resorts properties
as part of all-inclusive travel packages, Global News has received
dozens of complaints from dissatisfied customers who purchased their
Cuba trips directly from Sunwing.
Sickness, unsanitary conditions and unsafe food handling procedures are
dominant themes of complaints and are echoed by Kiyko.
“I saw food recycled from morning to night, raw chicken and cooked
chicken handled with the same spatula,” she said.
The Kiykos say their decision to travel with Sunwing to the Memories
resort was based largely on photographs, company marketing materials and
online reviews on sites like TripAdvisor.
“What we read on TripAdvisor was not real; what we saw there was
horrendous,” said Kiyko, who says the 4.5 star rating given to the
resort by Sunwing isn’t accurate, in her opinion.
Other travellers who contacted Global News agree.
“Like others have stated, the 4.5 rating for this resort is not at all
accurate,” said North Bay resident David Chamberlain, who spent a week
at another Memories resort, the Grand Memories in Varadero last November.
Negative reports are causing some Sunwing customers to call the company
asking to be booked into a different resort.
“That set us off, we were completely scared,” said Navin Persaud of
Ajax, who said he has no desire to stay at a Memories property because
of mounting complaints. He paid $3675 for two adults and two children
for a vacation at the Memories Holguin Beach Resort.
Persaud and his wife contacted their travel agent, RedTag, which
eventually said Sunwing would waive the $100 per person charge for
switching to another hotel. RedTag confirmed to Global News that it is
intervening in the case.
“The health and safety of our clients is extremely important to us,”
said Rachel Goldrick, corporate communications manager for Sunwing
“Furthermore we have been working diligently to address any concerns
raised by customers with forthcoming travel plans to the resort, and
resolving each issue on a case-by-case basis,” she said.
Meantime, Deanna Kiyko says she’s worried about her daughter, who was
pale and lethargic after returning home.
The family say they want to warn other travellers about the importance
of checking out resorts adequately prior to booking.
While the many of those who have responded to our previous Sunwing
stories has been from people who did not enjoy their experience, there
have been travellers who commented on Globalnews.ca who felt like the
tour operator has been getting a bad rap.
Source: More bad memories for Sunwing travellers to Cuba | Globalnews.ca