Couple storm out of five-star £2.7k Tui resort after 'Benidorm' experience

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A couple's dream of a £2,700 luxury beach holiday turned into a nightmare when they were greeted by the stench of sewage in their room and an almost hour-long journey to escape the relentless techno music from the pool bar.

Clive Murray, 65, and his wife Rosie, 52, from Cheshire, had been looking forward to a "relaxing holiday" at the five-star Hotel Riu Touareg on Boa Vista, Cape Verde, booked through Tui amidst the stress of moving house.

However, their expectations were dashed as they compared the experience to the raucous scenes of Benidorm or Kavos, shocked by the condition of their double room which was plagued with a sewage smell.

Former British Army airborne engineer Clive, who served for 26 years, was left to improvise repairs to the bathroom's shower head using a rubber band and constantly fix a toilet flush that kept breaking off the wall. After two weeks of putting up with "the noise" from the hotel's pool bar, the couple decided enough was enough and arranged an Airbnb stay in Sal Rei, sacrificing the last five nights they had paid for, as he recounted to PA Real Life.

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Clive and Rosie claimed they shelled out over £3,000 in expenses. Despite voicing their concerns to Tui's on-site team, the couple has yet to hear back about any potential refund or compensation. Now settled back at home, Clive has resolved to avoid future bookings with Tui.

He said: "We wanted a relaxing three weeks away because, with the house move and everything, the whole year has been really stressful. We just wanted to relax... if only.

"Almost every day, we would walk 50 minutes up the beach so we could get away. So we'd make our sandwiches in the morning at breakfast remember this is an all-inclusive and go sit on the beach as far away from the hotel as possible, so we didn't have to listen to this constant noise.

"And you could still hear it. I know some people will call me an old grouch, but there was a lot of older people there and yet the hotel had adopted a Benidorm or Kavos model with really loud techno music."

Despite the setbacks, the couple did find some positives, commending the delectable cuisine and the courteous hotel staff. The retired duo had booked their getaway in early April following the sale of their Cheshire residence and a temporary stay in an Airbnb while awaiting the completion of their new home purchase.

"There's little point us just sitting in an Airbnb at £400 a week in the lake district," Clive explained. "So I said to Rosie, let's go on holiday."

Clive and Rosie, who had previously holidayed in Cape Verde in 2019, intended to book the same hotel for their return trip but couldn't remember its exact name. Clive "made a mistake" and booked the Hotel Riu Touareg instead of the Hotel Riu Karamboa.

The hotel they accidentally booked is located about 15 miles away on Boa Vista's south coast and cost them £2,700.

At first, it seemed like a lucky mistake. The five-star all-inclusive hotel, which boasts three saltwater swimming pools, a hot tub, and a Turkish bath, promises an "unforgettable experience" on their website and vows to make guests' stay "as relaxing as possible".

"It looks five-star on the surface," Clive commented. However, their excitement quickly turned into disappointment when they arrived at the hotel, which has over 1,100 rooms, and immediately noticed some issues.

Their luxury room, a good five-minute walk from the lobby, greeted them with a nasty smell of sewage. "Immediately I thought, there's a bit of a smell of sewage in the room, perhaps it's not been used for a long time because it's so far away," Clive recalled.

When Clive stepped out onto the balcony, he was met with disappointment: "So we opened the door and walked out on the balcony and literally, the white plastic furniture, I've seen better in skips."

After their six-hour flight, the couple were looking forward to a refreshing shower, only to discover a broken shower head, which Clive managed to temporarily fix with an elastic band.

The situation took a turn for the worse when he tried to flush the loo and the button came off in his hand, exposing the source of the foul smell, he said. "We were on the top floor and of course smells rise," he remarked.

Clive figured out that the stink was coming from the hole in the wall, due to the bathrooms being stacked vertically. He concluded with dissatisfaction about the construction, saying, "Ultimately, it was just poorly designed. This shouldn't be advertised as a five star."

Being handy with DIY, Clive managed to rig up a temporary fix by "messing about" with the cistern hidden in the wall. The couple brought their grievances to the attention of Tui reps, who promised to escalate the matter, but Clive and Rosie assert that nothing was done to resolve their issues.

When Clive later raised the problems with the reception desk, they appeared to be oblivious to any prior complaints.

Yet, the condition of their room wasn't the main concern for Clive and Rosie, as they had planned to spend most of their time soaking up the sun outside. However, their hopes for a peaceful break were shattered by the hotel bar's pounding techno beats and raucous bingo announcements.

"It kicked off around 12 o'clock," Clive recalled, feeling that the hotel was trying to replicate an Ibiza-like vibe.

"Some people like that sort of holiday and that's great for them, I'm not judging," he said. "But I went there for a quiet, peaceful, five-star holiday, I didn't go to replicate Benidorm or Ibiza."

In an attempt to escape the constant noise, the couple took daily walks on the beach and explored the nearby "desert". Their stay was further spoiled when Rosie found a stash of clothes in a drawer, which Clive suspected belonged to a previous guest who had switched rooms due to the same smell problem.

After two weeks at the hotel, the disgruntled pair decided to relocate to an Airbnb in Sal Rei, the island's capital, for the remainder of their stay, incurring an additional cost of £200. "I said, right that's it, we're not staying any longer, I've had enough of this," Clive announced.

"I went down to reception with all our bags and said I want to check out. The Tui rep came over and asked, 'Why are you checking out? ' And I explained the whole situation.

"I said, I just can't stand it any longer, I would rather pay for an Airbnb and stay in Sal Rei. I can't tolerate the smell any longer, every time I flush the toilet, the thing falls off. She apologised, saying, 'Oh, I'm so sorry', but apologies don't really help, do they?. They just weren't interested."

Despite experiencing this unexpected hotel hiccup, the couple managed to have a "lovely time" for the rest of their Sal Rei vacation. Since their return to the UK, they've moved into their new property in Maryport, Cumbria which they are presently fixer-uppering.

As far as future travels are concerned, Clive is firmly discarding the idea of using Tui again. "It's not happening," he declared unwaveringly. "Never again."

There has been an attempt to get comments from both TUI UK and RIU Hotels and Resorts.

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