A disabled mum claims she almost died due to her Thomas Cook “holiday from hell” which left her needing knee surgery after being forced to climb eight flights of stairs.
Valerie Smith, 50, booked a £2,000 package holiday to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary to husband Brian, but instead was forced to endure a nightmare.
The mother-of-three suffers from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and spinal problems, so requested a room on the ground floor of the four-star hotel in Cuba.
But on arrival, she was met with a key for the fourth floor and told no other rooms were available, leaving her to hobble up the eight flights daily as there was no lift.
Just three days into the holiday Valerie slipped and badly damaged her right knee, leaving her needing surgery, but Thomas Cook have since only paid out under £400 in compensation.
Valerie, from Luton, Beds., said: “I was going up the stairs and I slipped as it had been raining the night before and there was nothing for me to grab on to.
“My leg went one way and I went the other way and I screamed out in pain, which I had to endure for days.
“I just wanted to come back home, I was in so much pain, and it was the worst experience of my life.
“I had to basically stay in the hotel, I couldn’t enjoy anything, I just had to sit there with my leg up and hobble back and fourth to the pharmacy.
“I have been to hell and back. This was supposed to be a relaxing and luxury holiday but it was nothing short than a holiday from hell.”
Valerie claims she sat down with a Thomas Cook travel agent while booking her dream holiday, making sure to explain her disabilities and the need for a ground floor room.
Hospital supervisor Valerie and her surveyor husband Brian flew out to Sol Cayo Coco in Cuba from Manchester on October 7 for their two week stay.
The pair had never been on holiday alone before, and didn’t go on a honeymoon, so had been looking forward to the trip.
Valerie added: “My husband decided to treat me to a holiday I would never forget, and I certainly would never be forgetting this.”
After her fall Valerie claims she went back to hotel staff to complain and was moved to a room suitable for those with disabilities.
When she returned home she went to see her local GP who then referred her to an orthopedic doctor.
Valerie said: “I went to see my doctor the day after flying home and he was mortified to see how my knee looked.
“After I had the surgery I ended up with sepsis and was in hospital for a total of nine days where I could have died.
“I could cry now about what Thomas Cook have done to me. I feel insulted and they have robbed me.
“I want them to pay for what they have done to me.”
Valerie had torn the cartilage in her right knee and had to have an arthroscopy, which is a type of keyhole surgery, at Luton and Dunstable Hospital on March 4.
She claims she may have to have a knee replacement in the future and she wants a full refund or a new holiday to make up for her anniversary one which was ruined.
The arbitrator’s decision meant travel agent Thomas Cook had to offer the pair just £395.50 in compensation.
“I haven’t accepted the cheque they gave me, they have just closed the book on me now,” Valerie added.
She also said the hotel was “falling apart” with a dead bat hanging from an extractor vent, birds in the restaurant and not enough food to go around between guests.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of our customers.
“We are always concerned to hear of any injuries reported while on holiday, as well as any disappointment about quality and service.
“We are in discussions with Mr and Mrs Smith’s solicitors on their claims.
“Where appropriate, we will of course work with our hotel partner to make sure all of our customers experience the high standards that they rightly expect from a Thomas Cook holiday.”