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British holiday family furious after being told 'only German children can use resort playground and toilets'


By Andy Dolan Last updated at 8:26 PM on 30th July 2008



article-1039822-021E024700000578-507_233x423.jpg Angry: Mike Barber says his holiday was ruined after his daughter was barred from a German-only playground


When Mike and Amanda Barber realised their holiday hotel was dominated by Germans, they no doubt expected some competition for the sunbeds.


But little did they realise how much more they would have to contend with.


Not only the sunbeds, but also the play area, swings and even the toilets were out of bounds for non-Germans.


The Barbers claimed yesterday the £2,600 sunshine holiday with their three children was ruined because the hotel was geared up to catering for the Continental holidaymakers.


The couple yesterday accused German-owned tour operator Thomas Cook of 'pure discrimination' and claimed that hotel reps told their daughter: 'Only German children can play on the swings.'


The Barbers, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, said all British families were locked out of the main children's club at the Greek holiday island resort of Meltemi Village in Crete.


While German youngsters enjoyed a sheltered playground, air-conditioned indoor area, and had their own toilets in a gated compound, British children were entertained in a hot, wooden hut with no gate.


Mr Barber, a decorator, said: 'The kids couldn't even use the same toilets – they had to walk a few hundred metres from their shed.


'I was stunned when our seven-year-old daughter came back in tears saying she had been told she wasn't allowed to use the swings because they were only for the Germans. How do you explain that to a kid her age?


'I wasn't surprised to find you had to be at the pool by 7am to bag a sun lounger, but this was something else. We were treated like second-class citizens.'


The couple said even the pool buoyancy aids were reserved for German children. They were told to buy their own in the town.



Resort Meltemi Village in Crete where British families were told that playground facilities were only for German children

Mr and Mrs Barber, a 43-year-old business manager, took their three children, aged 14, 12 and seven, and Mr Barber's grandson, 11,


on the all-inclusive two-week holiday.

But with nothing for the youngsters to do, they ended up spending an extra £1,000 on day trips and other activities.


Mr Barber, 52, said the family had chosen the resort because it offered plenty of activities for the children, including football, a stage school and family entertainment.


Halfway into the fortnight, they begged to be moved to another resort – but were told it would cost them more than £300.


Thomas Cook describes the four star hotel as the 'perfect choice for anyone looking for a fun-filled family holiday in Crete'.


The Barbers wrote to Thomas Cook to complain on their return, but the firm replied with a letter defending the 'segregation' as fair because there were more Germans at the resort.



The resort's playroom which has barred British children

It refused to accept the couple's claim for compensation or a replacement holiday but has now sent what it describes as a goodwill gesture of £350 'by way of an apology for any inconvenience caused'.


Mr Barber said: 'Nothing could make up for that holiday. It was the worst of our lives. What upset us most is that Thomas Cook thought there was nothing wrong banning all British kids from the best facilities. That is pure discrimination.'


A Thomas Cook spokesman said the hotel is used by a number of international tour operators. He said the couple's 'feedback' had been investigated and responses given to the points raised by them.


The case comes a few weeks after a judge awarded a holidaymaker £750 compensation from tour operator Thomson after agreeing that the firm's brochure had misled him by failing to make clear that the hotel on the Greek island of Kos catered for a mainly German clientele.

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