A County Durham couple has hit out at their 'holiday from hell' at a five-star resort in Cape Verde after they were struck down by a 'debilitating' virus during their stay.

Anthony Hoban and his wife Lesley jetted off on a ten-day break to Cape Verde's Riu Funana hotel, situated off the coast of West Africa, on September 7.

But on September 12 they both claim to have started suffering from stomach pains, sickness and diarrhoea.

Now, a few months on from the experience, which the pair have described as "the worst holiday ever", they have opened up about their experiences after joining more than 530 British holidaymakers who have instructed lawyers to investigate after also being struck down with gastric illnesses during their holiday.

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As with others who stayed at the hotel, Anthony, 66, and Lesley, 61, reported what looked like undercooked food, that they believed was being recycled for other meals and the flies that appeared to be everywhere.

Anthony, from Consett, said: "This is not what you expect from what we thought was going to be a luxury break and both of us were so ill, it ruined a holiday we had so much been looking forward to.

"We asked the rep in the hotel for help and they just told us to stay hydrated and it seemed they didn’t really care much about what was happening.

"The flies seemed to be everywhere, with no real attempt to do anything about it and after a few days, we started to notice the food becoming a bit too repetitive and what had been out for lunch appeared to have been just recycled for dinner.

The Northern Echo: A bird snacking on the buffet table at the hotel. Picture: IRWIN MITCHELLA bird snacking on the buffet table at the hotel. Picture: IRWIN MITCHELL (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

"There were also birds pecking at the food on the tables in the buffet.

"The pool was filthy and a square building to the side of it reeked of sewage and left you feeling constantly nauseous. No one should expect this when they go away and the least we deserve is answers as to how this was allowed to happen and people fall ill with nothing being done."

Anthony also claims that the bathroom in the couple's hotel room contained cracked tiles and the towels supplied were "threadbare and contained holes".

He added: "This was meant to be a luxury break abroad but is without doubt the worst holiday we have ever been on."

Upon returning to the UK, Anthony and Lesley joined hundreds of holidaymakers who have instructed specialist international serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate.

The Northern Echo: Leslie and Anthony Hoban. Picture: IRWIN MITCHELLLeslie and Anthony Hoban. Picture: IRWIN MITCHELL (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Irwin Mitchell said that everyone who contacted them to investigate had been on holidays booked through tour operator TUI, staying across seven hotels in the Sal area of Cape Verde. The hotels were: Riu Palace Santa Maria, Riu Cabo Verde, Riu Palace Boavista, Riu Funana, TUI Blue Cabo Verde, the Sol Dunas and the Melia Dunas.

Many holidaymakers have questioned why they were allowed to stay at their hotels when it was reported that others had already fallen ill.

Irwin Mitchell claims that in some cases, symptoms were so severe that many were forced to visit the local hospital in Cape Verde and had to cancel excursions.

Jatinder Paul, leading the team of specialist international serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell supporting those affected, said: "That so many should have been affected at these hotels, in the same region under the same tour operator, has left the people we are representing with a lot of questions over what happened to them this summer and we’re determined to help them find the answers.

A spokesperson for TUI said: "We are sorry to hear about these experiences in Cape Verde, however as this is now a legal matter it would be inappropriate to comment.

"We'd like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of our hotels in respect to health and safety, including hygiene."

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