Possible legal advice needed please ! !

    Hi Everyone..... I'm possible in need of some legal advice. Last year I booked an all inclusive holiday for my family of 5. The reviews of the hotel (since the season began in May) are appalling, ranging from complaints about under cooked food being served, the restaurant generally being a dump,porn videos being made in the hotel and on the beach, air conditioning never working, scams involving the hotel charging for "lost" towels - you pay or they won't give you back your passports..... generally pretty off putting stuff. The hotel concerned is The Royal Park in Elenite, Bulgaria.
    I wrote to First Choice who basically fobbed me off and gave their reassurance the problems either didn't exist or had been dealt with and told me I'm going to have a wonderful holiday. Then last week the same hotel appeared on GMTV, national newspapers - all confirming my initial concerns were all alaive and kicking and that over 70 guests had been hit by (as First Choice claimed) an airborne virus - many claimed it was poor food preparation, someone videoed a chicken being cut on a plate and blood oozing from it..... All in all the reports were frightening.
    I'm due to travel 2 weeks today and I've emailed First Choice again raising my now grave concerns. I've stated that as it's so close to departure date it's too late to find alternate accomodation (not that they have offered me the option) and it looks as though we've no choice but to bite the bullet on this one and hope for the best........ I'm now aware that First Choice appear to have pulled this hotel completely from their website - it's completely disappeared...... which has given me even more concerns...
    So, my question to my esteemed HUKDers, is do I have any grounds to demand a full refund or am I now committed to having to travel ???

    Many thanks (in anticipation) of anyones advice...........



    Films being made IN the hotel???

    Booking now! Thanks!

    But seriously, I believe you are entitled to pull out as obviously you have booked under the pretence the hotel is up to a certain standard, which its obviously not...

    not too sure where to go from here, but I would ask First Choice myself what they intend to do

    After reading some of the reviews here you are right to be concerned.…tml

    All I can suggest is you kick up a fuss.

    Threaten to phone Watchdog, also Which magazine, also the newspapers, TV news etc.

    Sounds like staying at that hotel could be dangerous to your health, and also dangerous if you dont pay for their "towel scam".

    More here…rss

    Sounds awful, what a predicament.

    Please let us know what happens with this, it's appalling that First Choice are treating you this way, too.

    I wouldn't know where to start, could the Citizens Advice help? Or can your insurance company help in any way?

    do you have a free legal advice with your bank account/insurance - ring them up and they give you free legal advice - if needs to go further they initially tell you what to do and if the claim/issue is escalated they get their solicitors to deal with it - all free - no waiting for an appointment

    or get in touch with your local newspaper to see if they want a story - as they will contact first choice to get their comment

    good luck

    At this stage you cannot change if First Choice don't offer, it will be classed as a change of mind and you will be liable, you should have researched BEFORE booking........although this sounds harsh you have entered into a contract and unless it fails in any way from the description you cannot make a claim. Make as much fuss as possible and if they still don' t change you will have to see what it is really like (it may have improved) and insist on a move at the resort, with the rep (you may be charged for this).
    On your return you can then make a claim if it is as bad as you think.

    P.S. not everything you read in the papers (and on the internet) is 100% true !!!! I once booked a really wild 18-30 holiday for my son, checked all the reviews, sounded revolting, he was unhappy as it had been "cleaned up" and was too quiet!!

    Keep us informed.....

    booked to go there when it first opened! dont you recall all the publicity? people camping in the lobby as the rooms werent finished? it was in al the papers...we were due to travel the week after all that and FC assured me the place would be fine as 'a group of top managers were due to go out' lol
    among reports the rooms were flooding-water was being brushed from the roof int the pool and there were dead birds in it! food was inedible-nanana...anyway i went to see FC in the local hyper and told them we werent going-and they wanted to charge me extra to change it-due to an error on their part we managed to change it(I hadnt signed the booking form!) anyway im sure you can change it-we went to the asarlik beach turkey and it was lovely(HB not the royal asarlik) and a similar price. I wouldnt go to Bulgaria after seeing the standard presented by FC...

    the skynews link someone makes a comment at the bottom people travelling before a certain date can change hotels? have a look?

    and no excess??
    but if you are not happy on arrival just complain-fill in the forms-and tell them you will leave and sue them on return (take a lot of pics if you can or a video)
    There is a solicitor working on cases from the hotel i just read about it im sure...but if they wont transfer you and it is really bad i would have money ready to pay for alternative accomodation?

    Once money has been exchanged and you have accepted the terms and conditions for the sale, a contract has been established. Whilst in the first 14days from the time of booked you may be able to 'get out' of the contract once a period of time has elapsed as I suspect in this case then the chances of getting this changed or your money back are slim.

    First Choice are currently not obliged to offer you an alternative at this stage, because you have not been directly aggrieved by any of the problems at the hotel. Circumstances where it would be reasonable for you to request an alternative would be occasions were an incident like vomiting bugs were ongoing.

    There are a number of steps you must take to safeguard yourself, and often these steps may result in them offering you an alternative before you travel in fear of litigation. My advice you be as follows:

    1. You need to write to First Choice you are extremely concerned about ongoing issues at this hotel, carefully listing all of the issues raised, and make reference to specific reviews or claims. Outline to the them that you have booked this holiday with them in good faith, trusting that the information provided within the brochure provides an accurate account of the hotel, facilities, and services. Print off a copy of there brochure and make direct reference to items which have been charged as extras locally which are not mentioned in the brochure. Outlining clearly circumstances you will not tolerate- air con not functioning, unexpected extra charges, undercooked food, and unhygienic conditions. In your closing paragraph outline that you do not expect to encounter any significant issues during your time at this hotel, and expect a relaxing and stress free holiday as outlined in their advertising documentation.

    2. Bring a copy of the brochure with you on holiday, make sure you go to the welcome meeting, raise any initial concerns promptly, and make sure you are aware when the rep is in the hotel.

    3. Make sure all complaints are raised at the resort with the rep, if the problems are not resolved call First Choice head office in the UK or demand to speak with the resort manager. Fill in a customer complaints form and make sure you retain a copy.

    4. On the food issue, Bulgaria is now part of the EU and governed by strict EU food law. The key thing to remember is don’t eat something that you wouldn’t eat at home, if it looks undercooked avoid it, stay away from washed salads etc. If you have concerns about the food, call the rep, tell him or her that you think the food is undercooked and that you have to eat out, eat out and keep your receipts. – fill in another complaint form. Ask the rep to refer your complaint to the National Vetinary Medical Service (the Bulgarian Food Standards Agency). On return to the UK contact your local EHO and ask them to pass the information on to their counterparts in Bulgaria on your behalf.

    5. Pay for all of the extras, what you don’t want to do cause trouble at the hotel, your contract is with First Choice, and theirs is in return with the hotel. Pay for the extras and request receipts, the likes of lost towels etc are your responsibility as you have a duty to look after the property provided for you. Report all excess charging to the rep onsite.

    6. Enjoy your holiday as much as possible, if the hotel is unbearable and the complaints are mounting up demand that your rep moves you to another hotel or transits you back to the UK. If you need to abandon your holiday make sure you have significant grounds to do so. If the rep refuses to move you, you can choice to move yourself and try to claim the money back (this is successful in some circumstances, make sure you don’t go OTT though and book yourself into the Ritz).

    7. On return to the UK right a letter to First Choice, outlining clearly all of the concerns clearly state that you had written to them prior to traveling highlighting the concerns raised by previous travelers submit all of receipts and extras you incurred and demand a settlement offer to cover your out of pocket expenses and inconvenience.

    8. If they make you an acceptable offer – run of the mill is to refund your reasonable extras and offer you discount on next years booking if you want to accept it, accept it. If you don’t think that this is enough you can pursue for % or all of your holiday costs back.

    The key thing is to be prepared, don’t let anything minor trouble you, just outline any issues to the rep, pay any extras demanded, fill in complaints forms galore, and attempt to claim them when you come back.
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