Family fall ill on 5-star Turkey holiday with baby in hospital on drip

A mother of three has said a £3,700 trip to Turkey left her family “traumatised” and her children “never want to go on holiday again” after suspected food poisoning left them all bedbound and her baby on an IV drip in hospital. Holly Parkin, 27, went to Turkey with her partner, Matthew Morris, 25, and their children Kaidan, four, and Mireya-Grace, one, and Holly’s child from another relationship, eight-year-old Amelia.

Their all-inclusive eight-day holiday, which cost a total of £3,777.21, took a turn for the worse after Holly said her partner and her children fell ill with suspected food poisoning on their second full day at the five-star Granada Luxury Belek Hotel. Holly said the whole family except herself were then left bedbound by diarrhoea and vomiting for around five days – leaving Amelia and Kaidan, who both have autism, struggling to come to terms with the worry of seeing their relatives in such a “heartbreaking” situation.

Returning to the UK a day earlier than planned, Holly said her partner started to recover but her children were unwell for another 15 days and had to be taken to hospital via an ambulance – where her youngest was put on an IV drip. Holly said she spoke to several other families who were at the hotel at the same time as her and who also reported they were feeling unwell and she said she was invited to a WhatsApp group chat called “Granada Sickness” – where other guests have been sharing their experiences about getting ill at the resort.

Comments and posts seen by PA Real Life on Facebook showed other holidaymakers complaining of experiencing the same symptoms while staying at the same hotel. The trip was booked through Loveholidays, which said it was “very sorry” to the family for their experience, and it has contacted Holly to request medical documentation to support her claim for compensation.

Holly said she cannot provide medical documentation because although doctors told her the condition was likely food poisoning, blood and stool tests taken by the children were inconclusive so they could not provide documentation to confirm this. “It was horrible and heartbreaking, they were crying and, even now, they are sort of traumatised from the experience in the sense they never want to go on holiday again,” Holly told PA Real Life.

“It was something that we have saved up money for and it was like a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.”

Holly booked the eight-day holiday in May 2023 through Loveholidays, a website she had never used before, but she said the process went “well”. "We were so excited, my eldest daughter had already been on holiday with other family but Kaidan had never been on an aeroplane so he was really excited,” she said.

“Mireya-Grace was only a baby at the time so it was going to be her first experience. It was our first full family holiday together.”

Holly said the hotel initially seemed “great” and the staff prepared some food for the family when they first arrived as the dining was coming to a close for the night. “We sat down, had some food, they got us some drinks and then after, we checked in and everything seemed great that night,” she said.

“The whole next day was great and we got to experience the pool, the entertainment in the evening.”

But the next morning, marking their second full day at the hotel, Holly said her partner and three children were suddenly “bedbound”. “It was diarrhoea, it was vomiting, it was a lot,” she said.

“I felt a bit queasy but I did not really get ill myself, it mainly affected my partner and my three kids.” She also said her two older children, who have autism, “do not handle being sick very well” and they were getting “worried”.

“It was really upsetting, it was stressful,” Holly said. “It was all over the beds, I had to keep changing the beds myself,” she said, adding her children were “quite delirious”.

Her eldest daughter Amelia assumed they had picked up a travel bug, telling her family they should isolate in their room so as not to pass it on to other guests. Holly said similar food was served each day in a buffet, saying her family members ate some of the food prior to falling ill.

“They had some of the cakes, the desserts, chips, mashed potatoes, pastas, things like that,” she said. “We did not touch any of the salads and we did not eat any of the other meat, it was only chicken.”

After her family became sick, Holly said she refused to eat from the hotel and ordered pizza in from a Domino’s in the area. “(My family) were not eating at all, the only thing I could do was go to the shop and get them drinks and bottled water as they didn’t want to drink from the hotel,” she said.

Holly said she spoke to other families at the hotel who also reported they were feeling unwell. “I ended up speaking to four other families who were also ill and also stayed in their rooms thinking it might just be them,” she said.

“They had the same sort of vomiting and diarrhoea.” Holly said a “lot” of the other guests tried to speak with the concierge but workers at the hotel’s front desk said they did not understand how they could help.

“They offered to give us an extra night for free but we were like, ‘we are all leaving’,” she said. “They gave us an email address for the manager… when I emailed, it just came back saying the email was invalid.”

She added that she was invited to a WhatsApp group chat called “Granada Sickness” where other affected tourists had been sharing their experiences of becoming unwell. The family’s holiday was due to last for eight days but Holly said they managed to fly back one day earlier at an additional cost of £351 after “just wanting to come home”.

Returning to the UK, Holly said she booked a GP appointment where she was given some sample bottles to test her children’s stool. However Holly said after her baby, Mireya-Grace, started to develop a rash which was not disappearing, she phoned for an ambulance and her children were taken to the Queen’s Hospital in Romford, where her youngest child was put on an IV drip to replenish her fluids.

“The ambulance came straight out and they were taken straight to hospital, my youngest, the baby, was put on to a drip to hydrate her and they did some blood tests,” she said.

“I was trying to find solid evidence of what was causing it. At the end of it, all we got was that it was food poisoning.”

Holly said her children’s blood and stool tests were “inconclusive” and her doctor put the family’s illness down to food poisoning. “They said that with everything going around, they were going to put it down as food poisoning because I wanted answers but they couldn’t get anything conclusive as to what it was,” she said.

She said she contacted Loveholidays “straightaway” after the trip, with the company telling her it would need confirmation as to what the illness was before looking further into the matter. “They said they would contact the hotel and get the hotel’s reply back and they said they wouldn’t be able to look into it unless we had the medical reports to find out what it was – and we didn’t get them,” she said.

Holly said she has also contacted the hotel directly but had not heard anything from them. “From being so happy and so excited, counting down the days, to then being there and just wanting to come home – you shouldn’t feel like that when you go on holiday,” she said.

A Loveholidays spokesperson said: “We are very sorry to hear of Ms Parkin and her family’s experience at their hotel. As we were not made aware of their concerns while they were on holiday, we were unable to investigate or provide them with support during their stay.

“As soon as we were made aware of Ms Parkin’s complaint on her arrival home, we immediately raised an investigation with the hotel and requested documentation from Ms Parkin to support her claim for compensation. This was not supplied and, as a result, Ms Parkin’s claim was later closed. We have been back in touch with Ms Parkin to request the required documentation and will remain in touch with her throughout this process.”

Granada Luxury Belek Hotel contested whether symptoms experienced by guests were derived from food poisoning, suggesting instead they could have a number of other causes including changed eating habits, sunstroke, over-consumption, swallowing chlorinated pool water and responses to a change in weather.

A spokesperson for the hotel said: “Our hotel is one of the first hotels in Turkey to receive a safe tourism certificate. All our food and beverage units and pools are systematically inspected by state-accredited organisations. The results of these inspection reports are available and are shared transparently with all tour operators upon request.”