How a dream holiday became a nightmare for Beckenham couple
PUBLISHED: 09:44 03 January 2013
Playing cards on their first evening at a last-minute hotel booking in Spain, Ann and Charles Fish were living the dream of most retired couples.
But just a few minutes into their game, Ann was stricken by a sudden illness which seemingly came from nowhere.
Little did the pair know, having arrived at the Beach Club Hotel in Torremolinos on April 12, 2008, that they would both fall violently ill for the entirety of their break, with Charles hospitalised by severe bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.
The recipient of a kidney transplant almost 20 years ago, Charles’s health is a constant worry for the Beckenham couple, who described the conditions at the hotel as “putrid”.
A fortnight ago, they and 67 other British tourists who also booked trips to the resort between September 2007 and August 2008 received a combined payout of £205,000 from Thomson and the Globespan Group.
Though they would not reveal the exact amount received, Charles described it as “disgusting”.
He said: “For what we went through, it was a pittance. I was ill for well over a month, it really knocked me for six.
“I can’t be sure what caused it, but I worked in the food business for 44 years and the food there was very poor quality. I’m sure some stuff was reused day after day, it’s so easy to pick up bacteria that way.”
Enjoying a drink on the hotel’s terrace, Ann attempted to overcome her early feelings of nausea, but it wasn’t long before Charles had to help her to their room where he continued to look after her.
She said: “We were just playing cards and all of a sudden I felt really hot and couldn’t cool down. As I stood up my legs gave way and the next minute I was sick, then passed out. There was no warning – it just hit me.”
Charles was struck by the illness as quickly as his wife, but it hit him a lot harder, leaving him laid up in a nearby hospital for six days.
Ann said: “He was terrible. I was scared because to have any transplant is a gift and he was putting it in jeopardy.
“Sometimes he was delirious, so I had to speak to the doctors for him and couldn’t leave the hospital. I was sleeping on a sofa and only had the clothes I was wearing, which I was hand washing each night.”
Before starting their holiday, the couple had been unaware that the hotel had a bad reputation, though Ann’s sister had read “horror stories” online.
She said: “She looked up the hotel on the net and found some dreadful things on there about people getting the bug and being really ill.
“I wish she had told me before, but she said she didn’t want to spoil it.”
Charles’s time in hospital – when he struggled to keep medication down – meant the couple missed their flight home.
He remained bedridden for weeks after landing in the UK and was left physically weak.
But despite the illness, Charles maintains he was “lucky” in one way.
“I will have been married for 44 years next year,” he said. “I’m very lucky to have her. She really did look after me out there and when we got back.” Charles and Ann are regular travellers and have since returned to their usual holiday destinations in the Caribbean.
Their experience hasn’t deterred them from travel, though it’s safe to say they won’t be heading back to Torremolinos any time soon.
The Beach Club Hotel has now been taken over by the Marconfort hotel and apartment chain, which was not involved in the legal action. Thomson has removed it from the firm’s brochures.
A Thomson spokesman refused to comment.