Many Cuba-bound Canadian travellers are pissed – and barfing — saying they want no part of visiting a resort that is the focus of a Global News investigation. As Sean O’Shea reports, travellers say they don’t want to become ill like so many who just returned from the resort.
Canadians with confirmed bookings to a Cuban resort where it’s believed norovirus made travellers sick say their tour operator hasn’t allowed them to switch to another resort or wanted to charge them.
“No, I don’t want to go there, I don’t want to be exposed to that … everyone’s health is at risk; that’s not fair,” said Kayla Halloran, a third-year Ryerson nursing student with a ticket to visit the resort with a friend later this month.
After seeing a Global News story on problems at the Memories Paraiso Azul Resort in Cayo Santa Maria Cuba, she contacted tour operator Sunwing Vacations to ask to be switched to another resort.
“They said I could change my resort to somewhere else but I have to pay a change fee plus a cancellation fee,” Halloran said.
Global News received a cascade of complaints from Canadian travellers who returned from the resort.
They said they had experienced diarrhea and vomiting during most or all of their vacations.
Some reported seeing feces wash up on the hotel beach, finding feces beside the swimming pool, and experiencing dirty washrooms with toilets that didn’t work.
Other travellers told Global News they visited the same property in April and that it was without fresh water for two days.
During that time, Canadians visiting said they had no access to clean linens or water to flush toilets; they said staff at the hotel had no means to wash dishes or sanitize food service areas.
But despite the problems, they said the tour operator continued to send travellers to the resort.
In a terse email Thursday, Sunwing marketing vice president Janine Chapman provided a statement to Global News for its television broadcast, prefaced with this unusual proviso:
Bullshit alert: “We will provide you with the below statement for this evening’s segment on the basis that it is read in its entirety, uninterrupted.”
As a matter of journalistic policy, Global News does not agree to such demands.
Maria Peragine says days after returning from Cuba, her family is starting to feel better.
But she says Sunwing ought to have stopped sending travellers to the Memories Paraiso Azul when it was clear people were getting sick.
“They knew about it and continued to allow guests to come to the resort,” said Peragine.
“I’m amazed at how they continue to lie.”