Holiday from hell Britons stage sit-in at luxury resort after 'rowdy' locals on super-cheap deals use the pool as a toilet, urinate on sun loungers and 'steal food'
- 160 tourists at ClubHotel Riu Merengue have complained about the problems
- They say five-star hotel in the Dominican Republic was 'invaded' by locals
- They ate all the food in the buffet and defecated in pool so it was closed
- Tony Walton, 48, from Doncaster, says his £12,000 holiday is a 'disaster'
- 'Useless' holiday firm Thomson says it is 'investigating his complaint'
- Mr Walton says he and other guests were offered just £30 compensation
By Rosie Taylor for the Daily Mail and Harriet Arkell
Published: | Updated:
British holidaymakers staged a sit-in at a luxury Caribbean resort after an ‘invasion’ of locals who used the pool as a toilet and ate all the food in the buffet.
More than 160 guests held a near two-day protest after hundreds of ‘drunk and rowdy’ islanders caused chaos at the five-star ClubHotel Riu Merengue in the Dominican Republic.
Tony Walton, 48, says his £12,000 family holiday with Thomson was ruined by Dominicans who arrived on a cheap all-inclusive deal.
Angry British holidaymakers congregated in the hotel's reception, demanding action by their tour rep
Bare: Tony Walton took this picture of the empty buffet at the hotel where he was on an all-inclusive break
The sales manager from Doncaster said: ‘They destroyed everything, ate everything. They were washing themselves down fully in the shower by the pool. And there was no food – they took it all.’
He added: ‘I have nothing against Dominicans, these people were not at all representative – they were drunk and rowdy.’
He said the pool had to be closed after it was used as a lavatory, and said locals even urinated on sun loungers while people lay on them.
Staff who were told about the disruption allegedly told the family to take excursions at their own expense to get away from the hotel.
Mr Walton was then told to pay £1,800 if he wanted to move his wife, two children and four other family members to another hotel nearby.
Five days into the two-week break near the north coast city of Puerto Plata, Mr Walton was so angry that he organised a sit-in with other guests at the resort’s Thomson desk.
Eventually around 100 British tourists were moved to another hotel nearby - but claimed it had fewer facilities
Up to 100 people, including his group, were finally moved to a less swish hotel – but were offered just £30 compensation, he said.
Mr Walton, who is due to fly home on Sunday, says he has gathered complaints from 176 guests and will continue the fight once he returns.
A review on the website Trip Advisor yesterday described similar problems at the hotel.
Natalie Steer, who stayed there for a week from June 30, told how she had queued for food for almost 30 minutes before finding it had ran out – because locals had stacked plates ‘with every choice on the buffet’.
‘The pool was nice before the locals arrived,’ she added.
Thomson said it is investigating the complaints. Riu Hotels added: ‘The culture in the Dominican Republic is very different.’
Mr Walton said: 'The hotel in itself was fine. But then there was an influx of lots of local people who deteriorated the atmosphere. They had come on a very cheap package holiday that is all inclusive for locals.
‘They destroyed everything, ate everything. They were s****** and p****** in the pool and on the beach. They were washing themselves down fully in the shower by the pool. '
He added: ‘People were peeing on the sun loungers with people on them. These people had no respect for anything. They peed up against y sun lounger while I was lying on it.'
The pool at the ClubHotel Riu Merengue was closed after busloads of locals arrived and used it as a lavatory
Escape: Mr Walton and his family were moved but he said: 'My holiday and my wife's birthday were ruined.'
Mr Walton, who is spending the second week of his holiday organising complaints from 176 people in the hotel, said: 'Most of the other guests became ill with stomach upsets, including myself.
‘When we approached Thomson to complain they tried to send people on excursions to get out of the hotel at people’s cost - it was as if they wanted to make money out of people’s misery.
‘After three days, my brother-in-law and I tried to approach Thompson to change hotels. The lady said: "No, you can’t move". I said "I’m staying here until we go."
‘They wanted to charge me £1,800 to move my family to an acceptable hotel of the same standard.
'It has ruined our holiday and my wife's birthday. I paid a lot of money and I have wasted it. Thomson have been absolutely useless'.
- Holidaymaker Tony Walton, 48, from Doncaster
‘I said: "I’m not going to pay for another hotel.” The holiday already was approaching £12,000 for the eight of us.
'I sat at the Thomson desk all day and watched people come with complaints at the rate of about 15 an hour.
‘I told the young lady who was trying to man the desk to call her boss. I’d been sat there from 9am to 3.30pm at this point.
‘By that time there were 160 complaining guests there. The [Thomson area] manager came and promised to look into it.
‘The hotel was expecting another 1,700 locals the next day so something had to be done.
‘We said we would cause a sit-in at the evening entertainment and welcome meetings. Even people who only had one or two days left of their holiday wanted to move.'
Mr Walton said eventually up to 100 people, including his group, were moved to another hotel nearby with fewer facilities, but says he was offered just £30 compensation.
How it looks in the brochure: ClubHotel Riu Merengue looks an idyllic place for a relaxing break
He said: ‘They said the amount we can now claim is smaller because we accepted to move – but we weren’t told this at any point.
‘It has ruined our holiday and my wife’s birthday.
‘I paid a lot of money and I have wasted it. Thomson have been absolutely useless and Riu [the hotel chain] even worse.'
He says when he returns home he will take legal advice and added: 'The fight is not over.'
A spokesman for Thomson told MailOnline: 'Thomson is sorry to hear that Mr Walton was disappointed with his stay at the Riu Merengue in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
'We are aware that some customers expressed a disappointment with the levels of service during high occupancy and, as a gesture of goodwill, have moved them to a hotel nearby, including Mr Walton’s party.
The hotel has 1,007 rooms, three swimming pools, watersports, a hairdresser and a poolside restaurant
'We are not aware of any reported cases of illness and the majority of customers at the hotel have opted to stay and continue their holiday.
'Thomson takes customer satisfaction very seriously and is currently working with the hotelier to fully investigate Mr Walton’s complaint.'
A spokesman for Riu Hotels told MailOnline: 'During the summer months, we do have local clients in our hotels in Puerto Plata, especially at weekends.
'The culture in the Dominican Republic is very different and it is very important to us that all clients enjoy their holidays in our hotels.
'We are working closely with the hotel and tour operators to investigate the complaints and solve any issues in the best possible way. '
A Trip Advisor review of the same hotel posted yesterday upheld Mr Walton's complaint about the hotel.
Reviewer Natalie Steer, who stayed there from June 30 - July 7, wrote: The food times was a big problem as we was queuing for around 25 minutes sometimes, then getting pushed about and food running out due to locals stacking plates up with every choice on the buffet.'
'The pool was nice before the locals arrived and then we heard one of the locals urinating at the side of the pool and then to top it off someone pooed in the pool which meant the pool was closed for 24 hours.'
She added: 'We booked trips as was advised by our rep to get out of the hotel during busy periods. Which isn't right as we had paid for the all inclusive so why should we be kicked out and made to feel unwelcome?'
Thomson was criticised earlier this summer after two blind friends were told they could not go on holiday to Majorca together because they would not be able to see the inflight safety demonstration.
Lauren Wigglesworth, 27, and Stephen Sherwood, 24, were looking forward to their break at the the luxury C'an Picafort resort in May, a holiday they had booked five months before.
But just a fortnight before they were due to fly, and after having bought all their holiday clothes and Euros, Miss Wigglesworth, from Manchester, was told by Thomson that they would need to take a carer with them.
A 'TROPICAL RETREAT'? THAT'S WHAT THE BROCHURE SAYS...
Reading Thomson's description of ClubHotel Riu Merengue in the Dominican Republic, it's no wonder thousands flock there every year.
The Thomson website says: 'With a beachfront setting, exotic gardens and a collection of authentic Caribbean shops, the Riu Merengue proves its worth as a tropical retreat.
'Riu Merengue has gotten the tropical setting down to a fine art – it’s backed by hills and fronted by a thick ribbon of sand. What's more, the grounds are filled with palm-dotted gardens.
'Set back from the beach is a massive swimming pool criss-crossed by a bridge and bordered by thatched parasols. Keep walking and you’ll come to two more huge pools, plus a separate one for children.
The Thomson brochure says the hotel is 'a tropical retreat' with 'a beachfront setting and exotic gardens'
'As for dining, the two main restaurants have buffet set-ups. Expect American-style spreads in the mornings, with eggs and omelettes cooked any way you want. And for lunch and dinner, there’s a pan-global offering. You can go down the à la carte route, too, with Italian cuisine and grilled favourites.
'Caribbean Street is well worth a look, too. This little road is shared with the neighbouring hotel Riu Bachata, and it’s lined with rainbow-coloured shops selling everything from chunky jewellery to sun cream.'
A look at TripAdvisor.co.uk, however, tells a rather different story. One review is entitled 'Overcrowded and not what we expected', while another is more directly entitled 'Do not come here! Five star? Pushing 3 star at least!'