Travel & Holidays > Stories

I paid for a holiday that never existed...and it ruined my friend's hen trip

Matt Clark
Jan 30, 2018

Welcome to the club at Tropicana…the hotel where Phillipa Marino's dreams most certainly did NOT come true.

Phillipa travelled to the apartments in Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote, for a friend’s three-night hen trip but when she tried to check in was told her booking did not exist.

She paid her own room on the first night – then spent two more nights sleeping on the sofa in her friends’ hotel room.


Megaphone silhouette


Phillipa's friend Vicky called Holiday Gems – the company she had booked the holiday through months earlier – the morning after they arrived.

"Staff at the hotel did their best but during the following three nights and days, calls to Holiday Gems were useless," says Phillipa.

"A young man told Vicky my booking was 'live' on their screen but didn't send a screen shot to my email address or call me to confirm or even contact Tropicana.

Alarm, distress and suffering

"So having paid about £163 in all and sleeping on a sofa and having been a source of stress and inconvenience to Vicky and her chief bridesmaid, I'm thinking of claiming £500 in the small claims court for alarm, distress and suffering."

Phillipa, of Melbourne, near Derby, has shown us an Atol Certificate that appears to confirm the holiday booking.

But it’s difficult to square that with the lack of a booking on the hotel’s own system.

Did the hotel actually get paid after Vicky made the booking?

And could Holiday Gems have done more to put the situation right?

Left in the lurch

Holiday Gems actually has form for leaving customers in the lurch, as you've told us in the past.. 

And for offering only vouchers rather than money back when things go wrong. Not a good practice. 

It boasts on its website: "We specialise in cheap holidays, so you can find your perfect escape with Holiday Gems."

It would have been nice if Phillipa had found a hotel room – let alone her perfect escape.

We’ve contacted Holiday Gems, based in Stockport, Cheshire, and are waiting for their response.

Did you have a holiday disaster when you were expecting fun and sunshine? Let us know. We're here to help.