After hours (and hours) of deliberation, contemplating locations, flight combinations and resorts. Calculating every last penny to get the very best deal for our hard-earned cash. Planning a holiday can be stressful business, there are seemingly infinite choices to consider and now we have a child’s wants and needs thrown into the pot, along with the bumped up prices to pay for not taking her out of school during holidays (we don’t want to be told off/fined/sent to prison). Myself and my husband are both self-employed so taking time off together has to be planned with precision too. It’s a minefield. Truly.
There’s also the practical stuff like sorting transfers, carparking and a cat sitter.
After a lot of trawling, I did it, I found the perfect holiday, one week staying at the Labranda Hotel Bahia de Lobos in Fuerteventura, staying All Inclusive in Corallejo. I booked flights directly with Ryanair and Trip Advisor told me that Low Cost Holidays were cheapest deal on the chosen hotel. Perfect. Holiday booked.
We flew out on the budget airline last Sunday, feeling pretty smug during the 4 1/2 hour flight that when we reached our destination we had a super-duper hotel lined up and it was definitely going to be worth every penny that we’d spent.
Upon arrival at the hotel I happily chatted to the receptionist, telling him all about how our taxi driver had got lost en route and laughing because it was okay now as we had finally arrived. He took my accommodation voucher and announced that we had no booking with the hotel. I honestly thought he was still having a joke with me. Unfortunately not, he called his assistant who told us in no uncertain terms that our holiday company had gone bust and consequently they had not been paid for our hotel room so the reservation was cancelled and our room sold to someone else. We stood in shock, totally gob-smacked but half waiting for the punchline, but he then proceeded to berate us for not listening to the news or reading a paper as this is how everyone else found out. I do read the paper, watch the news and spend an unhealthy amount of time on twitter so why didn’t I know a bloody thing about this and why wasn’t I personally informed, surely we can’t be expected to just find this kind of information out for ourselves, even just the suggestion sounds ludicrous now I’m home!!!
The staff were quite rude about it to be honest, at which point I broke down and they gave my daughter a lollipop. A stiff gin for the parents might have been a more appropriate gesture. They agreed that we could stay overnight for an additional charge, it felt as though they were doing us a massive favour, we were told to come back at 9am to find out if we could stay for the rest of the week. So after a cold meal, a drink in the bar and a number of anxious calls, texts and tweets to the UK we settled down into our temporary room for a total of three hours sleep between us.
On the first proper day of our holiday while we should have been heading off to the pool and checking out the hotel entertainment for the day, we were loitering around in reception awaiting our fate. The morning reception staff were just as unsympathetic to our predicament as the previous evenings, repeatedly said they didn’t believe that we couldn’t have not known. Eventually the manager told us we could pay and stay for three further nights but then we would have to move, or we could straight away go to a sister hotel the Labranda Aloe Club, a less snazzy hotel a bit further out-of-town but they still had wine on tap. I had a quick look online for alternatives and the cheapest all-inclusive I could find was £2k for us for a week, so we opted the crap hotel and jumped in a taxi.
To be fair it was only partial crap, the pool was nice but the staff couldn’t be bothered, the food was cold, I had a hot dog one day and I’m sure it was delivered straight from the jar to the bun with no heating part in between but it was the perfect accompaniment to my stone cold rock hard chips and the evening entertainment made me want to run off and throw myself on the nearest cactus. We also had some money taken from our room on the second day, it was our own fault for leaving it out I guess and in the grand scheme of things I didn’t want any more holiday dramatics.
But it wasn’t all bad, Corallejo is beautiful and because the hotel we ended up in was rubbish forced to explore this stunning resort.
We have in the past been guilty of going to an All Inclusive hotel and not leaving til it’s time to fly home. But during this holiday we visited local beaches, ate out every night, had some really fantastic food in amazing locations and met some genuinely lovely local people that we would otherwise have missed.
The other upside of having the holiday you hadn’t planned is that we had literally zero post-holiday blues. We were the happiest family skipping down the plane steps at East Midlands on Sunday at midnight!!
We are still waiting to hear from our bank Nationwide as to whether we will get a refund for the initial accommodation we booked with the now defunct Low Cost Holidays. We did have holiday insurance but apparently there was a cut off date before which we could have claimed, the date unfortunately was before our holiday had started so we were unaware that we should/could claim. I naively assumed that because we had paid for our accommodation and the money had been taken from us that the hotel had been paid. It was a painful lesson to learn and next time I won’t be flippant in assuming that just because you’ve spent good money doesn’t necessarily translate that everything will be fine. In fact next time I think we’ll go to Cornwall.