There have been fresh reports of holidaymakers becoming unwell at the TUI-advertised Grand Memories Varadero in Cuba. We look into potential causes of food poisoning on holiday and how to find out if you’re entitled to compensation

The Grand Memories Varadero

Advertised by TUI on an all-inclusive basis, the Grand Memories Varadero in Cuba features a range of facilities, including a choice of 7 restaurants, a beachfront setting and an adults-only section.

Unfortunately, several holidaymakers have reported suffering the symptoms of a stomach illness during their stay, echoing comments made by reviewers last year, which we reported on in September.

Reports of food poisoning and illness

The Grand Memories Varadero has an average rating of 3.5 out of 5 on user review website TripAdvisor, but the following reviewers have written less than favourable reviews after getting sick during their stay in January:

In his review titled “Don’t drink the water“, ‘Dave P’ says that “the restaurant staff servicing this hotel are not providing clean drinking water“, explaining that “they bring the water in water bottles and pour your water, however, the water made [him and his] wife […] both sick with [diarrhoea]“.

He explains that he “asked for two bottles of water to take back to [their] room“, but “the caps on both bottles were broken“, stating that this indicates that “they are refilling the bottles with water that is not healthy enough to drink“.

He goes on to explain that the water being served “smells like old well water” and advises future guests not to “drink the water” or “get ice in [their] drinks“.

‘travellingbcat’ wrote a review titled “Terrible- worse resort I have ever been to” in which they say that their holiday party “went 6/8 days with no hot water“, adding that “the staff knew this when they put [their] family in this building (16 people)“.

They say that the “food was undercooked and cold” and the “bathrooms around the resort were locked at times“, explaining that “when [their] family had food poisoning from the food at the resort, they were not able to use a bathroom when needed“.

‘travellingbcat’ goes on to explain that “14/16 people were sick from the food” and “there [were] not many locks on the bathrooms doors“, adding that “you were lucky to have toilet paper“. They also say that “one of the kids puked in bed and went without any sheets for 3 nights” and there were “dead bugs in one of the beds“.

‘Arline V’ wrote a review of her stay at the Grand Memories Varadero titled “Certainly NOT the rating you have it at! ( visited Jan 2-9 2018) Tired Resort ..but VERY WELL KEPT and CLEAN“. In her review, she says that the food was “never hot, not even when you watched them cook right in front of you“. She implies that when travelling to Cuba she “always expects “Montezuma’s Revenge” for a couple of days, but not for 7 days and still running“.

Hotel Director General responds to reviewer

In response to ‘Arline V’s review, the Director General at the Grand Memories Varadero had the following to say:

We want to apologize you for not fulfill [sic] your expectations concerning the issues you had during your stay. You will feel happy to know we have carried out the rigth [sic] changes.

What is Montezuma’s Revenge?

Montezuma (also spelt as Moctezuma) II was a ruler of Tenochtitlan in Mexico and reigned when Europeans began to invade. The term Montezuma’s Revenge references this ruler, implying that the long deceased tlatoani is taking his revenge upon those invading his land, by causing them to suffer travellers’ diarrhoea.

What is Montezuma's Revenge?

Although Montezuma’s Revenge is intended to reference those who’ve suffered a stomach illness at a Mexican resort, it’s often used by travellers around the world who’ve been unfortunate to pick up a stomach bug.

What causes stomach illness on holiday?

There is a wide range of causes of gastric illness in a foreign country. It’s possible to get sick from poor hygiene conditions and drinking tap water that isn’t potable (safe to drink), however, we find that food poisoning is a common cause of holiday illness.

Food poisoning can occur when produce is served undercooked or when it is left out at unsafe temperatures, it can also occur if cross-contamination is allowed to occur. When food poisoning is the cause of a holiday illness claim, it’s usually the case that more could have been done to prevent guests from getting unwell.

If you suffer the symptoms of a gastric illness on a package holiday, we recommend informing your holiday rep and a member of staff at your hotel, as well as receiving advice and treatment from a medical professional. If it’s found that you’ve contracted an illness that could have been prevented, then you might be entitled to claim compensation under The Package Travel Regulations 1992.

Find out if you’re entitled to compensation

A member of our travel law team can assess your case during a free no-obligation consultation, advising you of the options available to you. If you choose to instruct us, we can represent you on a ‘no win no fee‘ basis.

Chandni Odedra - Litigation Executive, Travel Law

Get in touch

If you want to find out more about claiming for illness at the Grand Memories Varadero in Cuba; contact Chandni Odedra by completing our enquiry form, call us on 0808 145 1353 or visit On Holiday Claims.