Before children we went abroad every year – a couple of times a year but when LP and Little Man came along we decided to wait a while before taking them abroad, when they’d be old enough to appreciate it and when we could all enjoy it as much as possible.
So last year we started looking at holidays for this summer. Our criteria was anywhere sunny, close to a beach and around £4k for our family of four. We wanted all inclusive and the main part was that we wanted the children to have their own sleeping area, somewhere we could close the door on in the evening and have some time to themselves. I’ve mentioned before how sharing hotel rooms is never a good thing for us and so for two weeks in the sun this aspect was a necessity.
In January Thomas Cook had a sale on and a hotel we’d looked at before and not been able to afford was suddenly closer to our budget. The DB Seabank Resort and Spa in Malta looked perfect. It had kids clubs, an indoor soft play area, a lovely kids pool with slides and most importantly family rooms with a sliding partition so we could put the children to bed and then relax by ourselves in our room or on the balcony/terrace.
So we booked our holiday, paying the deposit partly in cash and partly in Thomas Cook gift vouchers. We then had the next three months to save up the balance – about £3800. In that time we found out that through Dave’s work he could get a 5% discount on Thomas Cook vouchers, so instead of paying for the holiday in cash we bought vouchers, saving ourselves just short of £200 and thought nothing more of it.
The kids have spent the last months talking about their first time on a plane and asking what Malta will be like. We’ve spent time talking to them about how all inclusive works, about the pool, the beach and showing them photos of the resort. They couldn’t be more excited.
Then a few days ago I had an email telling me our holiday was coming up and asking me to pick seats on the plane. I responded immediately, looking at a layout of the plane, picking seats that would be good for the children and getting so excited – less than a month to go!
Then today I had an email telling me that due to a hotel closure our hotel had been transferred to the DB San Antonio Resort and Spa, also in Malta. But this hotel didn’t have the little soft play, or a nice children’s pool – just a new pirate ship pool that looked uninspiring, a beach that looked dirty and family rooms that didn’t have that space to put the children to bed first, just a lounge and bedroom in one and not the space we needed for two weeks away. It wouldn’t have been a hotel we chose and so I was unhappy to say the least.
So I rang Thomas Cook and after half an hour on hold was told that I had to ring the store, as I booked in store – although to me Thomas Cook is Thomas Cook, they should all be able to help regardless of where it was booked.
So I rang the store and after the phone ringing for ages I spoke to someone who said they’d try and find out more about why the hotel had changed – as I said on DB Seabank’s social media they are very much open with no signs of imminent closure. She also confirmed, what I knew from looking online, that there were no other Thomas Cook holidays available for our dates unless we wanted to go to Turkey – which, in the present climate, we don’t.
So I waited an hour for a call back and then rang to chase the call, being told I’d get a call back by Monday. However, they actually rang me ten minutes later, telling me that the DB Seabank was definitely closing and that I could either have the change of hotel or I could have a refund – however the refund would be in vouchers as we’d paid in vouchers.
I pointed out we only bought the vouchers as we booked a Thomas Cook holiday and if we’d booked with any other company we would have paid cash – and would have paid cash with Thomas Cook had we known that this would happen. I also said that vouchers wouldn’t help as we would never be booking with Thomas Cook in the future as we had lost all faith in them. This means that if we cancel our holiday we’ll have £4k in Thomas Cook vouchers that we won’t be able to use and will need to find another £4k to pay for another holiday – or not go on holiday this year.
But, the plot thickens as I didn’t really believe that the DB Seabank was closing, as they are a really popular and well liked resort with really good reviews. So I rang them and they confirmed that no, they are not closing and are in fact fully booked for the the summer.
So, Thomas Cook, why have you lied so much? We have now been moved to a new hotel that isn’t what we want or need and isn’t a patch on the DB Seabank. We were told it was closing, yet it isn’t. So this leaves me unsure of why we can’t have the holiday we paid for?
We have been pouring over travel books, reading day trip websites and planning our first family holiday abroad since it was booked. The children are so excited, telling everyone they’re going to Malta and as it stands we may not even be going on holiday – and we will end up one incredibly disappointed family.
We are set to end up with £4k of vouchers we cannot use, no holiday and someone else enjoying the holiday that we had booked through no fault of our own, in a resort that Thomas Cook insists is closing.
I have resigned myself now to not having a holiday. I want our first family holiday abroad to be an amazing one, something we all remember, not in a resort I didn’t choose and in a hotel room that we’re not happy with. But I know the children deserve a holiday and so I would like to know what Thomas Cook are going to do about this. Hopefully I’ll get some answers soon.