A grandmother-of-seven was violently sick after taking a dip in a five-star hotel’s green swimming pool during a luxury two-week break to Cuba.
Sue Brewer spent part of her £3,000 luxury trip to Cuba tied to a drip in hospital for eight hours after swimming in the ‘horrendous’ water while holidaying with her family.
A few days after being in the water, which she described as ‘really dirty and a greenish colour’, the 61-year-old was lying in a hospital bed, tied to a drip after suffering chronic diarrhoea.
While she was in hospital, the pool at the Grande Memories hotel in Varadero was closed to guests after the water turned even greener, owing to a lack of chlorine, claims Mrs Brewer.
The pool remained closed for the rest of the fortnight.
Sue and her husband Keith, from Ebbw Vale, South Wales, said food hygiene at the Caribbean resort was shocking and that urinals were blocked.
A Facebook group with more than 140 members contains similar complaints to the one made by Mrs Brewer.
Mrs Brewer complained to travel firm TUI, who are said to be investigating the complaints from July last year.
The retired customer assistant said: ‘I was really upset. It was absolutely horrendous.
‘It cost us nearly £3,000 to go and we feel that TUI mis-sold us this holiday. I wouldn’t have even given it one-star, let alone five.
‘I feel so let down. We’ve been ripped off completely. They’ve had us.’
Sue and Keith, 63, were joined by their daughter-in-law’s family on the two week break expecting a ‘stunning’ holiday – although they soon felt their break was mis-sold to them.
Sue said: ‘On the pictures the hotel looked absolutely stunning but I reckon they must have been taken when the hotel just opened because it looked nothing like that.
‘The facilities that were advertised were not on offer. The lazy river was completely dried up and a number of the restaurants just weren’t there.
‘The food was inedible anyway and the restaurants were so dirty. Food was undercooked and covered in flies.
‘The area around the tables was dirty too and whenever someone new came to sit down, the cleaner would just wipe the mess from the people before on to the floor with a dirty rag. They didn’t even have the correct cleaning products.’
On Sunday, two days after arriving, she joined one her friends for a drink at the swim-up bar but soon realised she was wading through green scum.
Mrs Brewer said: ‘I got into the water and knew something wasn’t right. I was waist-deep and it looked really dirty and was a greenish colour.
‘I’d noticed since we arrived that there were people who stayed in the pool all day, heavily drinking, and my first thought was that they weren’t leaving to urinate.
‘When I reported it, the rep said they had ran out of chlorine and there wasn’t any on the whole island. They closed off the pool then, took all the chairs in and no-one could go in it for the rest of our holiday.’
The family then spent time at a nearby beach after the pool closure and reluctantly returned to the hotel for their all-inclusive meals.
However the disappointment did not stop there, as just three or four of the advertised restaurants at the hotel were open.
The following day, Mrs Brewer was suffering from a bout of diarrhoea, made worse by her stoma which she said needed changing ‘all the time’.
She was rushed to hospital to be treated for severe dehydration and placed on an antibiotic drip to battle the infection she had contracted.
She said: ‘I had to go and see the onsite doctor and eventually, on the Thursday, they called me an ambulance to take me to hospital. There I was hooked up on an antibiotic drip for a full day.
‘I was so ill. The antibiotics cost us 300 pesos out of our money which has since been paid back by our insurance.’
Since returning home at the end of July last year, Sue and Keith have been battling with TUI to get a refund for their holiday.
Mrs Brewer said she contacted TUI nine days after the holiday but were told last week there case had been closed.
Following protests from other disappointed holidaymakers, the travel firm has agreed to reopen the case pending further investigation, Mrs Brewer said.
Sue said: ‘When I went into our local TUI store, one of the employees there actually turned around to me and said ‘we do get a lot of complaints but this is the worst I’ve ever seen.
‘When we booked we were lead to believe this was a fab hotel and everything was perfect but that couldn’t be further from the truth.’
At least 143 members on a private Facebook group have listed their complaints against the tour operator, with many claiming they also suffered from a bout of illness.
One member wrote: ‘In 50 years of travelling I’ve never encountered anything like this.’
Another member claims she was even interviewed for BBC One’s Rip Off Britain about the difference between what she was promised in the brochure and the reality she faced.
After being contacted about Mrs Brewer and Keith’s case, TUI said they are investigating the complaints.
A spokesperson from TUI UK said: ‘We’re really sorry to hear about Mr and Mrs Brewer’s experience and will be in direct contact with them to further review the matter.
‘We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all accommodations we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene.’