Holiday turns to nightmare

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]

A dream holiday turned into a nightmare for a family from Northern Ireland who was staying at the Plaza Real aparthotel at Sítio dos Castelos in the beach resort of Praia da Rocha, Portimão, late July.

Their locked room was broken into and five passports, credit cards, driving licences, flight boarding cards and €1,800 spending money were stolen from a safe that was ripped off the wall.

Following the robbery, the hotel took the family to the local British Consulate so that they could contact their family in Northern Ireland by telephone and arrange for emergency finances to be sent to them.

But matters went from bad to worse, according to the family, when the hotel management’s initial sympathy turned sour and the family was allegedly asked to vacate the hotel because their complaints were upsetting other guests.

Within three days of the crime, Stuart McBride, his partner Julie Brown and family and friends, aged 18, 16 and 15, were allegedly told to pack their bags and leave.

Julie Brown told the Algarve Resident: “We had been to the Algarve before on holiday and we expected it to be as enjoyable as it had been in the past.”

She added: “Everything was going well, the hotel was fulfilling our expectations and was at first helpful and sympathetic when the robbery occurred.”

However, Brown said it all went wrong when the manager seemed to lose her patience about their queries regarding the safe insurance in operation at the hotel. “She was resentful because we had told other guests about the break-in,” she stated.

Julie alleged that the family was being treated almost like “criminals” by the hotel staff and it was made obvious to them that the general manager did not want them there.

She claimed that the management called the police to persuade them to leave because they were “upsetting” the other guests.

The PSP police confirmed to the Algarve Resident that they were called to the hotel because the family was creating “great turmoil by knocking on other people’s doors to tell them about the robbery and advise them to choose another hotel”.

However, when contacted the Plaza Real refused to make a public statement about the situation, stating the matter was now in the hands of the authorities.

After the ordeal, the family then transferred to a hotel in Albufeira for the last three days of their holiday.

“We lost more money because we had to find a new hotel and pay for transfer fees. Basically, we were left to our own devices,” Julie said.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy said that in these types of situations, the embassies, consulates and commissions can normally assist British citizens in their effort to contact home. However, as a general rule, temporary finances are not provided by the entity. It is also recommended the victims of loss to inform the British entities about the theft of legal documents as soon as possible.

The family has since returned to Northern Ireland and are now seeking explanations regarding the theft and the hotel’s treatment.