A family who booked a dream all-inclusive holiday to Egypt were devastated when they arrived to find the hotel had not even been built.
Mark Mould booked the £3,465 trip through travel company loveholidays and was eagerly awaiting a two-week break with family and friends.
But when the group of five landed, they discovered that the all-inclusive Crystal Beach Aqua Park and Hotel never even existed.
To add insult to injury, the group were then taken to the hotel next door which was in the process of being demolished.
When they complained they were moved again but the third hotel demanded £8,000 from the upset group.
Industrial electrician Mark, 33, said: ‘It was a rollercoaster of disaster, tears and sickness.
‘I think we all felt wholeheartedly that we had been sold an expensive dream and been served a crumbling nightmare.’
It was fraud on a grand scale from a large company, who clearly has no morals.
‘As you can appreciate, it was a frustrating time and potentially they could have left us stranded on three occasions due the lack of care and diligence shown to their customers.’
Mark and his wife Sarah were joined on holiday by friend Natalie Barnes and her two children Kyziah and Ty.
They chose Crystal Beach Aqua Park and Hotel, which was supposed to be a 5* resort in Hurghada, Egypt.
Mark, from Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, said that Natalie had used loveholidays before and had been happy with the experience.
He added: ‘We mutually chose the hotel as it appealed to all of us for access to the beach and the water parks they were advertising.
‘It was the first summer holiday that Natalie had been able to give her children due to work commitments.
‘We were all very excited and looking forward to the holiday, especially the kids.’
The group landed on August 7 2019 and a shuttle bus drove them to a hotel called the Paradise Golden 5.
Mark said when they were met staff clearly did not know what to do with them.
He added: ‘The deputy manager repeatedly looked over at us, shook his head and made phone calls.
‘We were eventually beckoned over and given bands with “Paradise” on which again raised alarm bells as we knew that wasn’t the name of the hotel we’d booked.’
They later found out that Paradise Golden 5 was due to be demolished.
Mark added there was broken furniture, dirty floors, walls and ceilings that were half-pulled down and the swimming pools were green and dirty.
He said the group were not given enough beds and their rooms had ‘ripped sheets, poo-stained floors and bathrooms that flooded if you tried to shower.’
He continued: ‘The bar was abysmal with ceiling tiles falling down, the sofas ripped and tattered curtains torn and falling from the walls.
‘The food was sub-standard, they constantly ran out of alcohol or just didn’t have it, and the lifeguards couldn’t swim or had left because they hadn’t been paid and were replaced by gardeners.
‘There was no air con, the internal areas were in a derelict state and many of the services were not available due to the hotel being “closed down”.’
Mark complained to loveholidays and discovered the truth that their Crystal Beach Aqua Park and Hotel did not exist.
A neighbouring hotel, called Al Mas Palace Hotel & Beach Resort, had been closed down in 2017 with a view to being renovated.
But while it was listed on the company’s website, it was still a building site.
After complaining about Paradise, loveholidays moved the group to Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay.
But the saga was not over as the hotel demanded a £8,000 deposit from the group.
Mark said the company did not pay, as promised, and they were forced to hand over the money ‘or have been essentially left stranded on the streets.’
He said that despite paying for all-inclusive, the group had to fork out for food and drink for the rest of the trip.
And when it came to leaving, the shuttle bus went to the wrong destination and they were forced to pay for a taxi in order to catch their flight.
Thankfully, the Kempinski Hotel Soma Bay released their holding fee of £8,000 and after weeks of complaints, loveholidays refunded the group £4,942.84.
Mark said: ‘The entire holiday had us experiencing a mixture of emotions ranging from disbelief and disappointment to anger and panic.
‘None of this should ever have happened. We will never use loveholidays again and I would never recommend anyone else to either.’
‘Please do not use this company yourself, they are a disgrace. Mishaps happen, but this was a very dangerous hotel to be sent to.’
A spokesperson for loveholidays apologised to Mark and the group, added: ‘We have undertaken a thorough investigation internally and with the hotel supplier concerned.
‘Unfortunately, we were let down in this instance by the hotel supplier which insisted that the original hotel would be ready to accept guests which was clearly not the case.
‘We recognise that alternative accommodation was not resolved as quickly as it should have been for these guests and acknowledge that a number of errors occurred which resulted in further issues for Mr Mould and his party.’
They added that they had reached a settlement with the group and acknowledged that the experience ‘fell short’ of the ‘high standards’ they set for themselves.
The hotel has since been taken down from loveholidays’ website but can still be booked through various other holiday providers online.