Skiing in Formigal
February 2009 saw us taking a skiing trip to Formigal in Spain with Thompsons, part of the TUI Group, booked through Baldwins Travel in Tonbridge. We chose the four-star Meliã hotel over our usual two or three star accommodation as we thought it would be worth paying the extra. How wrong we were!
The problem was that the resort management - Aramón - had arranged for a large number of teenagers to stay at the hotel as part of an international skiing competition. Aramón were working closely with Thompsons/Crystal and Neilsons. In fact one of their employees was the Neilson rep. He shared accommodation with the Crystal rep and was on the transfer coach. "I'm not sure what your hotel is going to be like this week" one of them said, "as the ski teams are staying up there".
On our arrival the staff were obviously stressed and the hotel noisy - but it was quite late and we managed to get a meal and some sleep. After the following day skiing we returned to the hotel to find the place was like a mad-house. There were pitched battles in the corridors, doors slamming incessantly, barricades being made from airmchairs. We complained to the reception staff at the hotel, but thier response was "yes this is all very stressful for the staff, but there is nothing we can do about it so it is your hard luck".
For four days of our holiday we were deprived of the rest and relaxation we had paid extra for. Instead of living in a four star hotel we were staying in a badly run youth hostel.
We complained to the represenatives in the resort - who initially talked about getting us complaint forms and moving us to alternative accommodation. Neither of these things happened. On our return we wrote to Thompsons via Baldwins, our travel agent. Thompsons' response was to deny all responsibility and offer us a derisory £50 voucher against a further holiday! Baldwins said "Let us know if we can be of further assistance."
I wrote back to TUI Group, rejecting their offer and It is quite clear that Aramón had caused the problem, that Meliã and Thompson's knew it was going to be a problem and yet did nothing about it. This was therefore negligence. It would have been simple for them to have suggested a change of accommodation to one of the other hotels in the resort. We only booked a couple of weeks before travelling and several hotels were available. Once we were in the resort none of these companies cared that we were having a miserable, sleepless time.
Thompson replied to say that the representative of Aramón (Alastair) had nothing to do with their company. Funny then, that his name and mobile phone number were on the Thompson/Crystal notice board in the resort. Each time we raised an issue with their representative (Chris) it was the Aramón representative who returned the call. In fact the Chris appeared to defer to Alastair on just about every matter. It turns out that this was Cris's first appointment as a resort rep, and Thomson had no-one more senior or competent in the resort.
Thompson increased their compensation offer to £200 in vouchers. After Baldwins had the sense to point out to them that this was pointless as it was very unlikely at that level of compensation we would ever travel with Thompson's again they converted this offer to cash. We are still think it's ridiculous: We paid nearly £2000 for the holiday, half of which was ruined by their negligence.
Our recommendation is that if you want to holiday with a company who will take your satisfaction seriously then avoid Thompsons, Crystal or any memeber of the TUI Group. Formigal might be a nice enough ski resort but it is run by a company which cannot take a second's thought for the consequences of their actions. The Meliã hotel chain clearly places profit over service.