Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d have frozen to death
The Adcocks and the Barbours booked a seven-night, half-board, skiing holiday at the Hotel Villa Daniela in Sauze D’Oulx, Italy, from Sunday to Sunday.
The brochure described the hotel as having a warm and friendly atmosphere with twin-bedded centrally heated rooms and hot and cold running water. Breakfast would be served at the hotel and main meals would be taken at the Hotel Palace across the square.
The reality turned out to be somewhat different. The judge in the Court of Appeal summed it up this way:
“ … hotel was said to be dirty; that the hot water supply was inadequate (to say the least), at times non-existent; that the cold water supply was not always available; that the central heating did not work properly and was only available for part of the holiday; that the rooms were in consequence cold; that blankets on the bedding were inadequate; that the beds themselves were uncomfortable; and that there was no warm and friendly atmosphere in the place; indeed, there were no public rooms in which such an atmosphere could develop.”
- There was one evening when the cold water went off completely and this was on an occasion when Mrs Barbour chose to wash her hair and was unable to finish doing so.
- The hot water was off, for all practical purposes, for four days out of seven.
- There were four days when the skiers in the party were unable to dry their clothes.
- In Mrs Barbour’s room there was a pane of glass 8 inches square missing from the window.
- Lance Adcock and Tony Barbour shared a room and there was one blanket on each of their beds. They found two more but they were removed and Lance slept in his trousers and jumper.
- Most of the time the cistern of the lavatory in the bathroom overflowed and the floor was wet. There were no locks on the other lavatory doors until Tuesday or Wednesday.
- Mrs Barbour said there was only one blanket on her bed and two spare blankets which she used on Sunday night, but those were removed on Monday.
- The beds in Mr Adcock’s room were of the old army type with stretched steel springs and with army horsehair mattresses thin and well-worn.
- Contrary to the information given in the literature breakfast was not available at the hotel where they were sleeping; the party had to go for breakfast some 50 yards, to the Palace Hotel.
- The lighting was poor. Mr Adcock said that his bedside light was so weak, some 15 to 20 watts, that he was unable to read with it.
- Mrs Barbour said the dirt was just appalling. The room was dirty on arrival. There were pieces of refuse on the floor. There was an apple core, hair roller and a packet on the floor. The surfaces were all dusty.
- Lance said: “It was the worst ski-ing holiday I’ve ever had. Everyone sat around in the evenings discussing the complaints. Everyone was miserable.”
For this ordeal the Court of Appeal awarded £500 in damages – slightly more than the cost of the holiday.
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[This is the case of Adcock v Blue Sky Holidays Ltd heard in the Court of Appeal on 13 May 1980. The quotation at the beginning is courtesy of Mark Twain.]
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