Tui customer furious after she's left with infected arms from bed bugs on £3k luxury holiday – and then IGNORED by tour operator

Elaine Wishart had to take time off work as a result of the bites, but still hasn’t had any compensation from the operator.

She stayed at the Hotel Riu Toureg in Boa Vista in Cape Verde with her husband in November 2017 and complained to the company at the time.

Elaine said she paid over £2,800 for the five-star all-inclusive holiday, but over a year later, she has still to receive any money back.

Elaine told Sun Online Travel: “Everything else was fine with the hotel – it was just the bed bugs.

“My husband had been ill with a bad back and we just wanted to have a break. We don’t normally book package holidays, we normally book our own, but this seemed like an easy option.”

She said that she was lying down on the bed when she took two pillows from the sofa in the room to lean on.

Elaine said: “I think that the bed bugs came from this sofa.

“I was sleeping with my arms up behind my head when I woke up in the middle of the night to a strange sensation in my arms.

“I thought ‘Oh my god, what is that?’ I’d had a massage on the first day and I thought it was an allergic reaction to the oil they had used at first.

“But in the morning, I realised I had been bitten by bed bugs. The bites really hurt, they were really painful.

“I had to keep my arms raised, I couldn’t put them down by my side. They made me feel really ill.”

Elaine says that she went straight to reception to complain but that she wasn’t taken seriously when she did.

She said that a Tui rep told her that someone had brought her an envelope with 20 bed bugs two weeks before.

But because Elaine didn’t have a photo of the bugs, she said she felt she wasn’t listened to.

She said: “There were so many bites that my arms got infected. They were getting tighter and tighter, and in the end, I had to go and see a medic in the hotel.

“There were two people waiting to see the medic from the same hotel as me, with similar looking bites.

“I was given a really horrible injection into my thumb and antibiotics, and daily steroid tablets.”

Elaine said it was hard to enjoy the rest of the holiday as she was advised not to sit in the sun or drink alcohol. She also couldn’t use the spa, pool, or go on excursions.

Dressing up at night for dinner was difficult because she was so conscious of the bites, which really affected her mood.

Elaine looked into booking an earlier flight home but couldn’t get one.

She said: “I felt so disgusting and like everyone was looking at me.”

Later on in the holiday, Elaine said that she met a German woman who had also had bed bugs in her room.

The woman took a photo of the bed bugs and was moved to a plush suite by the hotel, but as Elaine didn’t have any proof, aside from her bites, she felt she wasn’t listened to.

She was moved to another room by the hotel, which was identical with the same view, and said that she found this stressful as she felt like she was in the same room.

Elaine said: “The hotel said that they had fumigated the rooms, but they wouldn’t admit it was bed bugs.

“I had to sleep with the light on at night and my husband had trouble sleeping too.

“The hotel also wouldn’t pay my medical bills – they offered me a massage voucher, which I couldn’t use due to the bites.”

When Elaine returned to the UK, she said that her bites flared up again and she had to get an emergency appointment at the doctors.

She said: “I had to take another week off work as a result and I felt very depressed about it all.

“I still get worried now when I go away that there will be bed bugs there.”

Elaine contacted Tui about the problem when she returned home, but was told it would take four weeks for them to reply to her email.

When they did reply, the company told Elaine that they had no record of her reporting the problem at the hotel.

She had taken a picture of the Tui rep’s report and sent it back to them.

Elaine said: “The legal team said that it would take six months to look into it.

“I gave them some leeway but then contacted them when I didn’t hear back after six months. It was up to me to chase them. I was told that it was a Riu hotel I stayed at and that the Riu wasn’t accepting responsibility.

“I was told by the woman I spoke to at Tui that she would speak to someone more senior about it and I still haven’t heard anything.”

Elaine added: “I got bitten to death in one of their rooms and it got infected.

“Tui have a duty of care to their customers. They’ve never admitted to that part of it or given me compensation.”

A spokesperson for Tui UK told Sun Online Travel: "We’re sorry to learn of Ms Wishart’s experience on her holiday in Cape Verde.

"We are currently investigating her claim and will continue to be in direct contact with her to discuss it further.

"We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of the hotels we feature in respect of health and safety, including hygiene."

Anyone worried about bed bugs in their own hotel room can use the five-step SLEEP method to check for signs.

It includes looking under furniture and checking your mattress.

And if you don't want to bring the bugs home with you, make sure you lift them up from the ground when you get into the room.

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