A romantic getaway to the Dominican Republic turned into a nightmare for a British couple as they were ravaged by bed bugs and suffered severe rashes and blisters.
Jessica Mann, from Manchester, and then-boyfriend, Aaron Rigby, had arrived at the Sirenis Cocotal Beach Resort in Punta Cana in May 2011. They booked the trip through U.K. tour operator Thomas Cook, the Daily Mail reported.
Only a few days into their vacation, the couple reportedly broke out in painful rashes and blisters caused by bed bugs. Mann, 24, who already suffered from a type of eczema called Pompholyx, said the bites made her symptoms even worse.
She was forced to take a month off work as an aircraft coordinator to recover from the severe blistering she suffered during the trip.
“I had never been on a long-haul holiday before and the trip was meant to be a special break for both of us,” Mann said. “Instead, it was a very frightening experience and I just wanted to go home.
“When you go on holiday you just never expect in a million years to suffer these issues.
“It was supposed to be a memorable break but looking back now, I just wish we'd never gone.”
Rigby, 34, received medication from a doctor at the resort. The couple sought medical treatment when they returned home and were prescribed painkillers, steroids and creams for the blisters and rashes.
Mann and Rigby then took legal action. They hired attorneys from Irwin Mitchell, which secured a five-figure payout from Thomas Cook despite the firm denying liability, the Daily Mail reported.
A Thomas Cook spokesperson said that the tour operator takes health and hygiene issues very seriously.
“We were sorry to hear about Ms Mann and Mr Rigby’s experience while on holiday at the Sirenis Cocotal in the Dominican Republic in 2011,” the spokesperson said. “Thomas Cook closely audits all the properties to which it operates to ensure that only the highest health and hygiene standards are maintained.
“We can confirm that the Sirenis Cocotal no longer features in our holiday programme [sic].
“It is never our intention to disappoint our customers. We are happy to say this matter has now been resolved to Ms Mann and Mr Rigby’s satisfaction, and that we have reached an agreement with their legal representatives.”
Mann and Rigby requested to keep the settlement amount confidential. Mann said she just hopes to put the past behind her.
“It was not just the rash that spoiled the holiday, there were lots of other things wrong with the hotel,” she said. “There were lots of insects in our hotel room and the fridge and lights in our first hotel room were not working properly.
“When Aaron and I complained to both the Thomas Cook representative and the staff at the hotel they did not seem to take our complaints very seriously and at times it felt like I was spending more time complaining than I was enjoying the holiday.”
Clare Pearson, from Irwin Mitchell, said these types of cases are not uncommon.
“This is a terrible situation in which our clients have developed extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing conditions during what was meant to be a relaxing holiday,” Pearson said. “Sadly such cases are not uncommon and while nothing can be done to reverse the problems Jessica and Aaron have faced.
“We hope that the settlements will go some way towards helping them to take steps to put these issues behind them."
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