Couple sue over sickness at hotel

TWO pensioners from South Yorkshire who endured a 'holiday from hell' are suing their travel firm for failing to warn them guests at their hotel had been hit by a vomiting bug.

Tuesday, 11th September 2007, 1:24 pm
Updated Friday, 14th September 2007, 12:16 pm

Sylvia and Peter France were struck down with sickness and diarrhoea after they caught the illness at their hotel in the Scottish Highlands.

The couple, from Old Garden Drive, Clifton, Rotherham, booked the five day trip to the Duke of Gordon Hotel in the Spey Valley with another couple.

But 48 hours after they arrived they both caught the highly contagious Norovirus and took to their beds - leaving the trip, at Christmas last year, in ruins.

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Gran-of-three Sylvia, aged 71, said: “I was taken violently ill and so was my husband. I have never felt so ill in my life. Then we found out it had happened before and the hotel was supposed to have been cleaned. It really was the holiday from hell.”

Sylvia said the couple were contacted by tour operator Cairngorm Travel the day before they were due to leave for Scotland and told the trip was delayed for 24 hours because of bad weather. But they were not told about the virus.

The Frances are among 20 pensioners who are suing Cairngorm Travel. They claim they should have been informed of the virus prior to departure and given the opportunity to make alternative arrangements.

Mrs France said: “We were very upset. We always go away at Christmas and the hotel looked absolutely superb. They should have been up front with us and we want to make a stand.”

Jenny Brooks from Irwin Mitchell solicitors, who is handling the case, said: “It is appalling the pensioners were not informed of this virus.

“It was the tour operator’s duty to give full information and they should have been given the option to pull out of their holiday before they left home.” David Southcott, tours manager from Cairngorm Travel, said the company didn’t accept the allegations and believed the second bout of the virus was brought into the hotel by one of the guests.

He said: “The hotel was shut for three days and every room was cleaned from top to bottom following the first outbreak. We did everything required of us by Environmental Health.”

He added there had been “gross negligence” on the part of some customers who failed to follow instructions issued on arrival warning them not to enter public areas for 48 hours should they become ill. He said: “One chap had been sick before he went into dinner but still went into the restaurant and sat at a table of eight people.

“This was the height of stupidity on his part.”

He added: “This is an example of the blame culture we live in. We are terribly sorry for anyone who contracted the Norovirus while staying at the hotel but we cannot accept liability for people becoming infected by an airborne virus.”