A mum-of-five who booked a £4,000 "dream holiday" for her disabled daughter has revealed her horror as the trip turned into the ‘trip from hell’.
Michelle Peel booked a week at the four-star Swandor Topkapi Palace in Antalya, Turkey, as a treat for her eight-year-old daughter Evie-Anne, who is about to undergo life-changing spinal surgery.
The family of nine booked the resort through Thomas Cook expecting an on-site water park, ten bars, and a kids club, but arrived to find the hotel far from finished.
Michelle told Birmingham Live there were no functioning toilets for more than 12 hours and they were plagued with constant loud drilling from building work.
She said: "We were travelling because our severely disabled daughter is due to have a very dangerous, life-threatening spinal surgery in June, and she may never be able to fly again if she survives the surgery.
"It will be a very, very long recovery process, so we decided to have one last holiday in Turkey to make memories and spend quality time with her."
The family, from Meriden, chose that particular resort due to its vast range of facilities – including a games room, water slides, and massage facilities.
Michelle said she spoke with Thomas Cook and the hotel before the trip in May to confirm they would have an adapted room for Evie-Anne and that the hotel was fully accessible.
The family said they were also repeatedly reassured by the travel agent that no building work would be going on at the hotel during their stay.
She said: "The day before we travelled we spoke to Thomas Cook about our concerns, as friends staying in the Kremlin Palace next door told us the hotel was not finished and still a building site.
"My daughter has severe respiratory issues and cannot be around building work, dust, and paint – I explained all this to Thomas Cook and was promised the hotel was completely finished."
The family received a letter from Thomas Cook on the day they flew informing them the hotel was under new management, and that there would be no wave pool and funfair.
But when they arrived at the hotel at 3.30am next day, Michelle said much more was missing.
Michelle, whose family booked three rooms, said: "Other families left with the keys to their rooms – but would quickly arrive back with different reasons why the rooms were no good.
"Some were too small with not enough beds, others were filthy, and one even had a family sleeping in the room already, and the receptionist could not understand a word anyone was saying.
"Eventually we were given our keys – our dad’s room was filthy and unclean.
"It smelt so bad – you could smell cigarettes in there and the bed wasn’t made properly.
"We then went to the room that was ours, and it was only one large double bed inside. We were a family of four, we were two beds short."
Michelle was told the specially-adapted room she had booked for her daughter hadn’t been built yet, and the hotel was unable to offer her an accessible alternative.
She said: "The room we took had a double bed and bunk bed.
"We had to put our disabled daughter in the double bed in between us, and the wheelchair only went in the doorway. It couldn’t be pushed anywhere else in the room."
A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook said Michelle was advised the room may not be big enough for four people when she booked, and she was recommended to book the next largest room.
Michelle also said that there were no functioning toilets when they arrived – and they were told to go to the hotel next door to use the bathroom.
They were fixed at 2pm the next day, but Michelle said the toilets were constantly "flooded, disgusting, or unusable".
She also said her family was kept awake by loud building works, and most of the entertainment promised didn’t exist until the sixth day of their trip.
She said: "There was no electric and no working toilets in our room, so we rang reception.
"He couldn’t understand us at all, but we could understand: ‘No power, toilets at Kremlin Palace’.
"The next day we went straight to reception, and we realised the Topkapi hotel was literally a building site!
"As we walked around the complex the devastation hit us.
"The water park was closed and building work was being done all around it anyway, the amphitheatre was not finished and a building site.
"We were told there were shops and games rooms and bowling, and we couldn’t find anything of the sort – the beach area was a complete building site, as were all the other buildings around the complex.
"It was very noisy – there were tractors, drilling, the floors were covered in broken concrete, cement, sand, and burst pipes were flooding everywhere.
"I was more concerned there were no signs up anywhere, no wet paint signs, no wet floor signs and we were literally walking through two-inch flooded areas.
"Everywhere within the complex was a building site and guests had to walk through it all to go anywhere."
Michelle also said groups of Russian tourists had loud parties outside her room until 4am most nights – and she witnessed a violent fist-fight by the pool.
She said: "Groups of Russians continued to pool party at 4am every night right outside our room, which was located next to the smaller quiet pool.
"On the sixth evening England was playing football and they put the game on in the small bar by the pool.
"It was very rowdy and when the game finished fighting broke out, glasses were being smashed everywhere and we were so scared, it was very violent.
"Everyone ran out but I couldn’t get to the wheelchair fast enough so we had to run carrying our daughter."
But Michelle said that despite flagging all their problems to Thomas Cook immediately, holiday reps could not relocate the family to a new hotel.
She said: "On the second day, a Thomas Cook rep arrived but there was a big queue as all the other families were crying and shouting, demanding to be moved.
"The rep had no awareness of the building work – he said it was his first time on site and he hadn’t had chance to look around yet.
"I was sobbing.
"I explained that our daughter was severely disabled – she’s registered blind, fully tube fed, fully wheelchair dependant, with very low muscle tone.
"She’s non-verbal, she has epilepsy, dystonia, reflux, and scoliosis.
"She’s on long-term morphine and lots of medication and she couldn’t be somewhere like this.
"They explained they had to look online for other hotels and they would talk to their manger who would get quotes and get back to us, but it wouldn’t be today, or tomorrow, most likely we could be moved on Thursday, which would mean half our holiday gone."
The Thomas Cook website notes: "Topkapi Palace is undergoing an extensive refurbishment in winter 2018/19, because of this all listed features and facilities are subject to change."
A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: "We are sorry that we didn’t make Ms Peel aware that an area of the Swandor Topkapi Palace Hotel would be closed while the refurbishment of the property was completed.
"We always want our customers to have the best possible time on holiday and are disappointed that her trip was not as expected."
Source: Read Full Article