The Only Thing the Incompetent Butler Could Do Was to Make Cocktails

29th October 2020 by admin

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Villa Frangipani, Barbados

Mrs Keppel-Palmer booked a luxury holiday in Barbados over the Millennium. Exsus Travel were her travel agents and Westmoreland Villas were the owners of the villa she rented. She paid £88,000 to stay at the Frangipani Villa for 33 nights. The villa was described as offering ‘guests the ultimate in luxury style and comfort’. It included a private swimming pool with its own separate gazebo overlooking an ornamental pond; two guest houses each with their own bathroom and shower; a fully equipped kitchen; a covered terrace; and staff quarters and laundry etc etc.

“Guests at the Frangipani Custom House can be assured of accommodation and relaxation of the very finest quality.”


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Unfortunately the reality did not correspond with the description. The lights in the master bedroom were inadequate; the only mirror was too low to be useable; there was no power point in the bathroom; and wind and rain came through the louvred windows. The second master bedroom was susceptible to flooding; the TV did not work and the window could not be opened to take advantage of the sea view. The drawing room was dark and unwelcoming ‘like a dentist’s waiting room’. The kitchen was dark and cramped and exposed to wind and rain. The butler was said to be incompetent, except for his ability to make cocktails, and the cook was lazy and ignored instructions as to what to cook. On Sundays and for three or four days over the New Year period no staff were on duty at all.

The judge largely accepted her complaints and awarded her £25,000 in damages. This included £22,000 for breach of contract and only a ‘modest’ sum of £3,000 for loss of enjoyment because the Keppel-Palmers were wealthy people which enabled them to take regular holidays.

It was held that Westmoreland Villas were liable but Exsus Travel, being only agents were not liable.

It was also held that the Package Travel Regulations 1992 did not apply because only one travel service had been supplied. The complimentary limousine from the airport to the villa did not count. [This is the case of Keppel-Palmer v Exsus Travel and Royal Westmoreland Villas [2003] EWHC 3529]

[Last revised 28 October 2020]


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