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Yorkshire couple’s holiday ruined by 4-star hotel that looked like ‘abandoned building from the 70s’

A Yorkshire couple say their holiday was ruined when they arrived to find the state of their four-star hotel was “shabby”. The couple were on a trip to Bulgaria and claim to have seen dangerous paving and live wires.

Hull couple Chris Sunman and his partner Nicky had booked a holiday to the country in May and were looking forward to their stay in the upmarket Fenix Hotel in Sunny Beach, reports Hull Live.

However, the couple from Wawne, say when they arrived they were left “horrified” by the state of the hotel which they claim looked nothing like the images in the brochures.

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They said that it was so bad that it was like “an abandoned building from the 1970s”. They made a complaint on the second day of their holiday as they feared that some of the issues may have been 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.”

He added: “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.

Issues spotted at the Fenix Hotel, Sunny Beach, included plastic cups used to cover light fittings and 'bodged' cementing around the pool
Issues spotted at the Fenix Hotel, Sunny Beach, included plastic cups used to cover light fittings and ‘bodged’ cementing around the pool
(Image: Submitted/Chris Sunman)

“Outside and in the communal areas, which were equally run down, 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.

“We were mortified at the state of the hotel. 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.”

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.
  • Other light posts with plastic cups to cover the light bulb fitting around the pool bar.
  • “Dangerous” uneven paving on two separate sets of steps.
  • Bodged cementing around the poolside, much of which was already breaking away.
  • Unkempt footpaths and grass areas.
  • Rusty railings on the balconies.
  • Sheets of glass not secured to the balcony correctly.
  • Dirty, old balcony furniture.
  • Stained carpets in the majority of communal areas.
  • A large sheet of steel with exposed edges on the poolside, presumably a drain cover of some kind.

In the couple’s room, he claims that there were:

  • Rusty shower doors.
  • Broken tiles.
  • Skirtings coming away from the walls.
  • Hinges coming away on the door to the mini-bar cupboard.
  • Rusty balcony railings.
  • Glass panels on the rusty balcony not properly secured.

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.

Issues spotted at the Fenix Hotel, Sunny Beach, included plastic cups used to cover light fittings and 'bodged' cementing around the pool
Issues spotted at the Fenix Hotel, Sunny Beach, included plastic cups used to cover light fittings and ‘bodged’ cementing around the pool
(Image: Submitted/Chris Sunman)

“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.

“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 form any responsibility at the first sign of a problem.”

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.”

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