A holidaymaker has launched legal action against a travel firm after a bout of food poisoning left him with IBS so bad that he needed the toilet ‘up to 10 times an hour’.
James Houlder and his girlfriend, Vicki Hood, had saved up for months for the sunshine break at the Sonesta Beach Resort in Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh.
But within just hours of arriving at the First Choice resort, which is described as five-star on its website, the couple say they became violently ill with sickness and diarrhoea and barely able to leave their room.
James, 30, who works for a publishing company, has since developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a digestive complaint which he admits can leave him in crippling pain and needing the toilet up to 10 times an hour.
Vicki, 22, claims she too has been plagued by sickness including a kidney infection.
The couple, who live just outside Norwich, had booked the break last summer and envisaged 10 days catching rays on the beach and scuba diving in the famous Red Sea.
But instead James said: “On the first night we got there in time for the end of dinner and that’s where it all started to go wrong. The next morning, after breakfast, we started to become violently ill. We had to take it in turns to use the bathroom.
“When we finally felt better a few days later we decided to eat at one of the resort’s a la carte restaurants. We thought it would be safer than the buffet but it just made us ill all over again.
“We were both so ill we were crying. It was dreadful, the worst holiday ever.
“The rooms were dated and dirty and the staff were rude.
“It was like a holiday coming home.”
James claims they asked to get earlier return flights but were knocked back unless they could stump up hundreds of pounds.
After investing around £1,500 already in the all-inclusive deal, he says they were forced to sit it out in the blistering heat.
And once at home James told how the health problems continued with IBS still causing him to take time off or away from work nine months on.
He said: “It’s sporadic, it’s not something that happens all the time, but equally it can come on without warning. One minute I’m fine and the next I can be in agony.
“The other day I had to stop twice on the way to work to go to the toilet and it’s only a 20-minute drive.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve been going between seven and 10 times an hour and trying to hide it. It’s awful and embarrassing.”
James says he was offered a £50 ‘goodwill voucher’ but no apology from First Choice and has now instructed law firm Slater and Gordon to launch a civil case against the travel company, part of the TUI Group.
A specialist Travel Lawyer from Slater and Gordon, representing Mr Houlder, said: “Mr Houlder and his partner paid a substantial amount of money to go on what they thought would be a relaxing getaway.
“Instead the holiday was ruined by entirely unacceptable hygiene standards which have left both of them still suffering the effects several months after returning home.”
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