Travel: Your Holiday Disaster: Trapped, and the hotel manager swore blind it could not happen. By Peggy Speirs

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The Independent Travel
For me, holidaying alone in sundrenched Majorca, it was a kind of nightmare. Temperatures were zooming in Palma that July three years ago when I stepped out onto my balcony at the Pallas Atanea hotel. I closed the balcony door behind me and after 10 minutes was so hot that it was time to retreat to my air conditioned room.

But I couldn't. The door had locked behind. A latch on the room side of the door had dropped down. It was a few minutes before I realised I was trapped. Nobody was about, all the other balconies on that side of the hotel were empty. No sound came from any of the rooms. My room was at the back of the building, far away from the main entrance. And it was siesta time.

Meanwhile the balcony was becoming hotter and hotter, and I felt trapped and helpless. In desperation I began to call for help, but I was crying to the air.

I toyed with the idea of dropping something over the balcony to the street below. An ashtray perhaps, or if things got really desperate a chair. But what if I hit a passerby? Would my holiday insurance cover it?

I couldn't ring Thomson's to find out, even though they had pledged to be on the other end of the telephone. I couldn't ring anyone - the phone was on the other side of the double glazing.

I kept shouting for help, waving my arms and leaning as far over the balcony as seemed safe. I told myself not to panic. If the worst came to the worst the chambermaid would find me next morning. Or had I left the 'Do not disturb' notice outside my door? What happens in a big hotel if a guest is mislaid? How long does a 'Do not disturb' notice hang there ... a day, a week perhaps? Would the room's next incumbent arrive to find my sizzled remains?

Hours seemed to pass and the balcony was like an oven. But eventually my cries reached a girl on the footpath far below. She stopped and stared at this odd woman with arms waving. She must have thought I was slightly barmy, or a victim of sunstroke. She shrugged and walked on. I was almost in tears.

But a few minutes later she sauntered back. I shouted louder, but again she passed by. Then minutes later she returned with another woman and I was able to signal the message that I was locked out of my room. I do not speak Spanish so could not tell them my room number, so had to use fingers to count it out. It worked. The second woman nodded and disappeared round the block to the front of the hotel. A few minutes later a porter came to free me.

I never did get to thank the two girls who noticed my plight. The porter who rescued me thought it rather funny and assured me that it had happened before. The hotel manager was smoothly sympathetic and apologetic but could not see how it had happened since (he claimed) all balcony doors had been adjusted against just such an eventuality. He later sent a basket of fruit to my room.

The Thomson's rep promised to warn other visitors of the danger but I felt this would not be her top priority. As for me, I vowed never again to close the door of a hotel balcony behind me. Even Juliet would have been fazed by such a tale of woe and the lack of a passing Romeo.

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