Sheffield couple’s dream wedding ruined by sickness

James Sullivan and Collette Sullivan
James Sullivan and Collette Sullivan

A YOUNG couple are taking legal action after their dream Cuban wedding was ruined when the groom and their two young children fell ill with gastric symptoms.

Collette and James Sullivan, from Sheffield, travelled to the Playa Pesquero hotel in July with children Cole, four, and Ava, one, to marry at the Cuban resort in Holguin.

But their celebrations were ruined when James and the two children fell ill with diarrhoea, abdominal pain and loss of appetite.

When they got home, their GP confirmed Ava had contracted salmonella.

The Sullivan family have now instructed travel law experts at Irwin Mitchell to pursue a case against tour operator First Choice after learning the firm successfully represented holidaymakers who were ill at the hotel in both 2008 and 2009.

Illness first struck James, 26, on the wedding day when he began feeling sick and suffering an upset stomach.

Although the family put the symptoms down to pre-wedding nerves, his illness got worse in the four remaining days of the holiday with the two children also falling seriously unwell.

On their return to the UK, tests confirmed Ava was suffering salmonella.

Collette, aged 30, said: “This was supposed to be the most perfect day of our life but the illness completely ruined our celebrations. It was heartbreaking to see my daughter so ill and to find out she had contracted salmonella is terrifying.”

The family expected the four-star Playa Pesquero to be a dream resort after seeing it listed as a ‘premier’ hotel on the First Choice website - but say the hotel had poor food hygiene standards and birds and stray cats roaming the outdoor restaurant.

“The food was sometimes undercooked, we saw some food uncovered so flies were buzzing around, and we suspected they were re-using food between meals - which became pretty obvious when they served up peas and sprouts for breakfast one morning.”

Jatinder Paul, a travel law solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said: “Instead of enjoying the first few days of married life, the Sullivans had to deal with the hugely stressful situation of caring for their very poorly family. We will expect First Choice to work with us to ensure all the family receive full and fair compensation.”

A First Choice spokeswoman said: “We are sorry to hear the family did not enjoy their holiday. The Playa Pesquero Hotel remains a popular choice for our customers.”