Travel & Holidays > Stories

Teenage girl dancers forced to sleep on floor after Virgin bungles New York hotel booking

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
May 9, 2016


A group of teenage-girl dancers were left stranded late at night in New York because Virgin Holidays cancelled their hotel booking months before – without telling them.

The girls from the West Midlands arrived at the Big Apple’s Roosevelt Hotel at nine O’clock at night, after an exhausting journey, only to be told, “We've no booking for any of you!”

In the end, the group of 28 – 16 of them girls aged 13 to 17 – had to plead with hotel staff to let them bed down in a conference room and a corridor where they had to avoid cockroaches and broken glass.

The group - pictured sleeping on the hotel floor at the top - recorded a video of their ordeal:

And took pictures highlighting the shocking conditions: 

undefined

The girls were forced to sleep on a floor - where they saw cockroaches 

undefined

undefined

Eventually they were moved to a conference room with temporary beds..

undefined

Teachers, parents and the girls, all from the Strourbridge Dance Academy, spent the entire first night of their four-day, £850-per-head trip unable to sleep and constantly on the phone to Virgin.

Academy head, Beverley Rabone racked up a £200 mobile bill calling Virgin’s emergency number in the UK throughout the night.

Her daughter, Katie Hadley-Scott, a teacher at the academy, told us: “It was a total nightmare.

“None of us got any sleep and we were already exhausted after travelling by coach from Birmingham to Heathrow and then the long flight to New York.

“One of the parents who has health issues anyway passed out and collapsed at one point.”

 

Dance festival ruined

The group of dancers were in the city to take part in a festival of dance at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. 

“The hotel were marvellous, it must be said,” Katie told us.  

“They did their best and even gave us a free breakfast.  

“But we were wiped out the next day and we all missed our trip to the Empire State building and in the evening we were booked to see Aladdin at the theatre, but we all fell asleep during that!”

The hotel explained that when Virgin had contacted them about the booking months before, they had been told the hotel didn’t have enough room for the girls. 

So Virgin officially cancelled the booking – without ever telling the group who had picked up their tickets and hotel vouchers just days before travelling.

In the end, the hotel agreed to accommodate the group and turn away other guests as they arrived and move them to a sister hotel.

“We had to stay together and they very kindly agreed to do that,” said Katie. 

“But by then it was 10.30 am the next day – the whole night was spent with the hotel blaming Virgin and Virgin blaming the hotel.”

 

Arriving home

The academy complained to Virgin as soon as they returned home, saying that part of their break had been ruined, they had suffered stress and were out of pocket and wanted some money refunded.

Virgin finally offered £100 compensation each and to pay Beverley’s huge phone bill.

But Katie says the party think this is far too little.

“Basically, we had a terrible time on that first night and the next day was ruined and so was the following evening as we were all so tired and stressed.”

Katie has now brought the academy’s complaint to A Spokesman Said in the hope of winning a fair settlement from Virgin.

“We’ve done everything properly and by the book,” Katie said. 

“We’ve followed their long complaints procedure, but they are really just not listening.

“Quite honestly we’ve reached the end of the road and have told them we’re now willing to take legal action.”

You can support the dancer's case by sharing their story on Twitter and Facebook using the buttons at the top.

Or, to make a complaint about a holiday company, post on A Spoksesman Said - we're in your corner. 

LOYALTY DOESN'T PAY

A Spokesman Said offers price comparison in energy, insurance and broadband that could save you hundreds.