A couple from Hull have been left angry and upset by the ‘depressing’ state of their four-star hotel during a trip to Bulgaria.
They described the hotel as being like ‘an abandoned building from the 1970s’, claiming to have spotted live cables at a child’s height and dangerous paving.
Chris Sunman and his partner Nicky booked a holiday to the eastern European country in May and were looking forward to their stay in the upmarket Fenix Hotel at the Sunny Beach resort on the Black Sea coast. They booked through TUI, but the break was offered by Balkan Holidays.
However, upon arrival, they were ‘mortified’ by the state of the hotel, which they claim looked nothing like the images in the brochures.
Chris said: ‘The room was totally rundown with shabby furniture, skirting boards coming away from the wall, chips and stains on the coffee table and furniture. The shower enclosure was rusty and old with cracked and broken tiles.
An image of the hotel from the company’s website. Chris said: ‘This was absolutely not the four-star experience we had expected. To say we were upset is an understatement’
The couple complained of exposed live wires on light fittings hanging from walls at a child’s height and unkempt garden areas
Chris said there was bodged cementing around the poolside, much of which was already breaking away, and plastic cups covering the poolside light fittings
‘Outside and in the communal areas, which were equally rundown, we identified safety issues with light fittings taped up, with plastic cups covering the poolside light fittings. There was a disgusting pool shower area, broken and uneven paving around the pool area, exposed live wires on light fittings hanging from walls at a child’s height and unkempt garden areas.’
He added: ‘This was absolutely not the four-star experience we had expected. To say we were upset is an understatement.
‘This experience ruined the whole holiday, it was a depressing place to be and we couldn’t wait to get home. We had booked half board, but based on the condition of the hotel there was no way on earth we were going to eat the food there, so we spent as much time as we could away from the hotel.’
The couple, from Wawne, near Hull, made a complaint on the second day of their holiday, not only because they felt that the hotel looked shabby, but also because they feared that some of the issues might be potentially dangerous.
Chris said: ‘When booking we asked for a four-star hotel and was offered the Fenix Hotel, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria. We were shown images on screen in the store where we booked and paid for the holiday there and then. On arrival at the hotel we were horrified by the exterior appearance. It looked nothing like the images we were shown on screen, it looked more like an abandoned building from the 1970’s.’
Chris listed a number of issues that he claims to have noticed at the hotel, which included: external light fittings hanging off walls with exposed wires, poolside lamp posts with taped up fittings, and ‘dangerous’ uneven paving on two separate sets of steps.
A run-down outdoors area at the hotel. The couple were ‘mortified’ by the state of the hotel, which they claim looked nothing like the images in the brochures
An image from the hotel website. The couple, from Wawne, near Hull, made a complaint on the second day of their holiday
He also listed: bodged cementing around the poolside, much of which was already breaking away, unkempt footpaths and grass areas, rusty railings on the balconies, and sheets of glass not secured to the balcony correctly, as well as stained carpets in most of communal areas and a large sheet of steel with exposed edges on the poolside.
The couple have since been left frustrated by their attempts to complain about the state of the hotel.
Chris said: ‘I was astonished by the response from Balkan Holidays, saying none of the issues we raised were safety concerns and that their own findings confirmed that the hotel was to four-star standards.
‘We booked with TUI, face to face at a TUI store and paid TUI for a package holiday. We did this on the assumption that using a reputable company we could rest assured we would get what we asked for.
‘We complained to TUI customer service on the first morning of our holiday, sending photographic evidence of the condition of the hotel. They responded saying they would “look into our complaint” and to please bear with them. The following day they offered to move us to another hotel, but explained there would be extra costs, at our expense.
‘When we asked for confirmation of the costs and an explanation why it would be at our expense they didn’t respond. Instead they said the hotel was not a TUI hotel, therefore any problems had to be taken up directly with the hotel owners, Balkan Holidays.’
He added: ‘We were left exhausted, angry, frustrated and upset by the whole experience. We have drawn a black with both TUI and Balkan Holidays, neither of which are accepting any responsibility or wrongdoing and left us with no option but to report the case to ABTA.
‘I would understand to some extent if we had booked a two-star budget hotel, but we booked a four-star hotel with TUI and paid TUI for a four-star package holiday. TUI have completely exonerated themselves from any responsibility at the first sign of a problem.’
Chris listed a number of issues that he claims to have noticed at the hotel, including a large sheet of steel with exposed edges on the poolside and rusty railings on the balconies
A spokeswoman for TUI said the company had no say in the hotel’s rating and acted only as a booking agent.
She said: ‘This hotel isn’t a TUI hotel and is a Balkans Holiday property. The holiday wasn’t booked as part of a TUI package holiday, or a TUI third-party package holiday – we were just the booking agent for the trip and not the holiday operator.
‘The four-star rating in question is Balkan Holiday’s rating, not ours, and we do not sell the hotel on our website.’
ABTA confirmed it had received a referral from Chris, but said it could not go into detail.
A spokesperson said: ‘It is not appropriate for us to comment on individual cases, Mr Sunman has lodged a dispute with us and we responded accordingly on the August 30, via our portal. Mr Sunman can log in to his case and view our response in detail and we hope that the matter will be resolved amicably with our member.’
Balkan Holidays said it was aware of the complaint, but said it would deal directly with Chris to address the issues.
A spokeswoman said: ‘We take all customer complaints seriously and are committed to ensuring the highest standards of safety and service for our guests. We are already in direct contact with Chris Sunman regarding his concerns and are actively working to resolve the issue.
‘While we cannot discuss the specifics of an individual customer’s experience publicly, please rest assured that we are taking all necessary steps to investigate the matter thoroughly. We believe that the most constructive way forward is to resolve this issue directly with our valued customer.’
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.