Travel & Holidays > Guides

When you find your hotel’s a building site – what are your rights?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 27, 2016

It’s almost a clichéd complaint – the unsuspecting holiday maker arrives at their stunning holiday hotel … only to find it’s a building site.

It’s possibly one of the worst holiday nightmares, and it’s one we receive a lot of complaints about.

One of the latest was from pensioner Ernest Cook.

Ernest headed off with his wife to Portugal for a week’s stay in what looked like the smart Albufeira Jardim Hotel on the Costa de Algarve.

What the couple from South Wales found was a site in chaos as major alteration works were underway; the pool, pictured below, was a concrete crater. You can read about the couple’s experiences here.


But what do people like Ernest and his wife have in the way of rights when something like this happens?

Actually, you have plenty of rights.

So long as your holiday company is registered with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), they can’t just shrug when you complain. In fact, under the consumer credit act, they can’t even if they’re not members.

ABTA rules, which bind all their members, specifically cover this situation.

They state that travellers must be told about any building work and its extent if it’s reasonable to suppose it will interfere with their stay.

If the work is worse than stated, the company must offer an alternative hotel.

Top Tip: This would also apply if the hotel was very dirty or the food clearly not up to standard. 


Ask to be moved

So, the first thing to do is ask to be moved.

The travel company may have alternative accommodation nearby, so get onto your rep, explain your case and see what they can do.

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Get organised

If the rep has mysteriously done a vanishing act or doesn't want to know, then your next step is to get organised. 

And that means collecting evidence.

Taking photos and videos to prove the extent of the problem (videos help with capturing the noise disturbance), is essential.

Take inspiration from this clip disgruntled holiday-maker Carl Miller took at the Gran Canaria hotel he booked through Thomson:


In addition, it’s a good idea to make notes of everything that isn’t up to scratch. 

Top Tip: Also take the names of the people working at the hotel in positions of authority who you make your complaints clear to.

Keep a note of dates and incidents. The more detail the better. 

Collect the names and addresses of other guests who are in the same position and are complaining.


How to make a claim when you're home

On your return, if the problem was not addressed to your satisfaction during your stay, then it’s time to swing into action again. 

Write to the travel company and attach all your evidence (don’t forget to keep the originals). 

Be reasonable about what you expect to receive in compensation. 

But, if you weren’t told of any building works and the place was a construction site, no satisfactory alternative was found, and your holiday was ruined, then you shouldn’t be fobbed off with an inadequate offer.

Break down how much you’re out of pocket.

If you paid for a room with a sea view and you were looking at cranes, you didn’t receive what you paid for. 

If you couldn’t eat in the restaurant because it was closed, and had to eat elsewhere and had to pay for it, that’s an out-of-pocket expense.

Then there’s the loss of your enjoyment – basically your holiday was ruined and that’s where compensation comes in.

If you can’t get satisfaction and it was a package holiday, you can then move on to taking it up with ABTA.  

And, don’t forget, that if you paid by credit card then your card supplier also has liability for your holiday under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. The credit card company is ‘jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by the company.’

Get in touch with them early if things go wrong.


Enlist the help of a consumer champion

But if all this process is too slow, we suggest bringing your case to A Spokesman Said and letting us highlight it. 

The golden rule is, just as Ernest and his wife did, to document your disaster.

That way you can make your case clearly to make sure you get satisfaction.


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