'Welcome to Hell,' said the departing holidaymakers.
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The Independent Travel
It did not bode well. As we arrived at San Andres airport, toilet rolls were thrown to us by departing holidaymakers shouting: "Grab these, you'll need them. Welcome to the island of Hell." Alcoholic drinks had been prepared for us - then left in the open, near where builders were using pneumatic drills, electric saws and other equipment. The liquid in each cup was thick with dust.

The most noticeable thing about the hotel was the smell. Raw sewage, we quickly discovered, was being pumped into a swamp yards from the open- plan restaurant and adjacent to the kitchens where food was prepared. Toilet paper, soiled with human excrement, was emptied into large, open dustbins and then deposited at the rear of the hotel, directly beneath bedrooms and next to kitchens and restaurants. Off-putting at dinner-time - but then so was the food. It was basically unfit for human consumption. Food was undercooked and reheated. Blood ran from the pork and chicken that appeared on our plates. Large tureens were kept warm by a tiny nightlight. Flies, fresh from the sewage-contaminated swamp, were swarming on the plates.

The bedrooms were dirty, smelly and damp. There was no hot water and no air conditioning. Live electric wires hung from the walls and bed bugs lay in wait in the bed-linen, which was soiled. We shared our bedrooms with scorpions, rats, cockroaches, crabs, and other insects.

In one instance, a maid was observed wiping around the inside of a toilet bowl and then using the same cloth to wipe the inside of drinking glasses.

Excursions were taken in dangerous conditions. Unseaworthy boats were overloaded and capsized. Life jackets were handed out with no instruction and in many instances there were not enough for the number of people in the boat. Some took in water and the holidaymakers were forced to bail them out, leaving most of us traumatised. Two children were trapped beneath a capsized boat and nearly drowned.

Inevitably there was sickness. People became ill within 48 hours of arrival on San Andres. Some were on drips in bedrooms. Others needed hospital treatment and many more were flown home. A doctor and nurse were constantly on call in the hotel. The pilots of flights back to Britain had to radio ahead to have ambulances on standby.

Finally, a few miscellaneous highlights. The hotel's private beach was littered with hundreds of hypodermic needles from local drug users - drugs could be openly purchased for a few pence directly outside the hotel. Locals carried machetes which were used in a threatening manner. The swimming pools were dirty. Music played very loud all day and night. And lastly, there were not enough reps in the resort.