Thomson Holidays child-free advert 'misleading', rules ASA


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The Independent Online

A Thomson Holidays ad that promised a child-free resort has been ruled misleading after the company said it could not guarantee the claim.

The promotion for the Atlantica Grand Mediterraneo Resort and Spa in Ermones, Corfu, claimed it was part of Thomson's "Exclusively for Adults" range, offering "total tranquillity in a resort free from the bustle of families and young people".

The ad continued: "This carefully selected range of resorts offers you the chance to enjoy a relaxed and independent break with your partner or a group of close friends. Thomson and the resort owners guarantee not knowingly to sell to anyone under the age of 16. See Adult Properties in the A-Z Guide for more information."

But one person complained that the ad was misleading after she stayed at the hotel and found children were booked in.

Thomson agreed that children were staying at the resort during the complainant's holiday, but said it was "unreasonable" to expect that this would never happen because it could not prevent people booking children in as adults.

The hotelier in the complainant's case had told Thomson that they were obliged to take bookings from a few families with children after they received a warning from their local authority following a complaint.

However, it would not be obliged to take local bookings from families with children in the future.

Upholding the complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) noted that Thomson could not guarantee that children would never be present in the hotel.

It said: "We considered that to be able to book a hotel where customers could avoid children also staying there was an important consideration. We considered that "Exclusively for Adults" and "An adults-only hotel" were absolute claims which were contradicted by the information in the A-Z guide.

"Because Thomson had not substantiated the claim, and because the information in the A-Z guide contradicted it, we concluded that the claims were misleading."

It ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form.

A Thomson spokeswoman said: "Thomson was disappointed to hear about the complaint regarding the advertising of the Atlantica Grand Mediterraneo Resort in Corfu.

"We are currently reviewing our advertising of this specific property in our brochures and online. Thomson has also taken steps with the hotelier to ensure that the 'no children' rule is enforced at the hotel.

"We would like to reassure customers that this is a very rare occurrence and emphasise that we do include specific clauses within our contracts with hoteliers and fully advise them of the adults-only requirements to ensure customers receive the experience that we advertise."