Hundreds of British tourists arrive for Thomson holiday at luxury hotel only to find building site

Exclusive: Holidaymakers endure scenes reminiscent of 1970s film Carry On Abroad

Simon Calder
Saturday 06 May 2017 17:38
Thomson caught selling holidays to unfinished hotel

“We arrived at 9.15 in the morning, to be turned away by the hotel manager,” said June Frier, a nurse from Hastings. She was speaking to The Independent outside the building site in Cala Egos where the AluaSoul Mallorca Resort is taking shape.

This week is the beginning of summer in the travel industry, with tour operators launching their peak-season offerings. But in scenes reminiscent of the 1970s film Carry On Abroad, hundreds of Thomson package holidaymakers who were expecting to be the first people to enjoy a newly refurbished luxury resort have been moved to other properties.

Sarah Brignell, a decorator from Sevenoaks, told The Independent: “There was no one at the airport to tell us, no one on the coach to tell us. We arrived, they took our bags off, then somebody came out and shooed us straight back into the coach again.

“They said: ‘We don’t know what we’re going to do with you yet’. Nobody was sure where we were going to go.”

The upmarket resort, which has been developed from two existing properties, was due to open on 1 May. Thomson tells customers: “The all-new AluaSoul Mallorca Resort promises five pools, a trio of restaurants and a spa – along with a beachfront location.”

“Inside, just-unwrapped rooms will look the part, with rainfall showers and flatscreen TVs. And superior suites will go all out – think iPod docking stations, fragrance bundles and coffee machines.”

When The Independent visited, dozens of workmen were at work on the property, while in ground-floor rooms beds and mattresses were upended and in their original packaging. It is now expected to open on 10 May, though Thomson is selling holidays there only from 18 May.

Ms Frier said Britain’s biggest holiday company had blamed “health and safety” when she arrived on Monday morning for a holiday that had cost her £600.

“Thomson told us it had failed a health and safety report on the morning we arrived. But it was a building site.”

But The Independent has learned that Thomson was made aware of problems before the first guests arrived. A spokesperson for the AluaSoul hotel group said: “We alerted the tour operator the night before the arrival – which was the soonest we could given the circumstances.”

Security guards are stationed at entrances to the AluaSoul while work continues. But the unfinished hotel has become a local curiosity among both residents of Cala Egos and holidaymakers who were due to be staying there this week.

Outside the hotel grounds, Ms Frier said: “We were so disappointed, we actually asked, ‘Could we fly home, we could try and salvage something and go somewhere else?’ And they said if we wanted to do that we’d have to pay our own fares, we wouldn’t be entitled to any compensation or refund of our holiday.

“At that stage we were nearly in tears. We just wanted to go back home. We had been travelling for 16, 17 hours.

“I’m an NHS nurse. This is my first holiday in a long time. And Thomson have absolutely ruined it.”

Eventually some alternatives were found, though of a lower standard than the AluaSoul had promised.

“We’d booked fantastic rooms with a change of pillows if you wanted. Where we are is very uncomfortable. We didn’t have any hot water for the first two days. The food is questionable. It’s just not what we paid for,” said Ms Brignell.

“I would never, ever book Thomson again.”

The Independent asked for an interview with a Thomson representative on the island, but the company declined and instead issued a statement:

“We are sorry the opening of the AluaSoul Majorca has been delayed until 10 May 2017. We will be contacting all customers affected directly to offer a suitable alternative free of charge and will prioritise those due to travel first.

“We appreciate this is disappointing so we’re closely monitoring the situation while our hotel partner completes the work to the standards that we and our customers expect.

“We have currently placed all customers in suitable alternative accommodation and have offered guests a gesture of goodwill due to the unexpected disruption. Our dedicated resort teams are currently on hand to assist customers with any questions or concerns that they may have.”

The spokesperson for AluaSoul said: “We are deeply sorry for what happened and we are working to speed up the process while guaranteeing the utmost quality standards. We also look forward to work closely with the tour operator to compensate all affected travellers, in compliance with the regulation on how to tackle these unfortunate situations.”

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