Alison Pounder from Leeds wanted what many Britons with an average income want: A nice, affordable vacation at the beach. She chose Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.
Her flight was fine. So was the transfer to “Sunny Beach”, a resort located to the north of Burgas. Its actual name is Slanchev Briag.
Her mistake was that she booked Hotel Korona. “Benefiting from a picturesque location only 101 m from the beach”, it says on booking.com, “Hotel Korona in Sunny Beach resort provides daily maid service and excellent facilities.”
But what Mrs. Pounder encountered when she got there was pretty much the opposite of excellent. Had she had the time to do more research, she might have seen the hotel’s score: 5.4 out of 10. By now, booking.com has dropped Hotel Korona. “This property isn’t taking reservations on our site right now”, it says.
This is not really a surprise, since the photos Alision Pounder took show two horrific, dirty hotel rooms with cracks in the walls, rather ugly stains all over the mattresses, bed covers and towels, broken tiles and broken furniture.
The British tourist and her family were not sent to a hotel, but to a “shithole”. This is how members of a social media group accurately labelled that place.
“People in the U.K.: Do not come to ‘Korona’ in Sunny Beach”, Mrs. Pounder said. For two days, she had been trying to “get out of filthy rooms not fit for humans.”
She is not the only one who made that experience. “Avoid it”, an Italian tourist commented, who was sent to Hotel Korona last summer. A Bulgarian vacationer was disappointed too. He said the service was “horrible”, and the staff “absolutely incompetent”.
Alison Pounder flew in with her 74-year-old mother and two grandchildren. It isn’t her first time at the Bulgarian Black Sea cost, meaning she likes the country and its beaches. She has stayed at nice hotels. But this time, sleeping under a bridge might be more hygienic than in what Hotel Korona calls hotel rooms.
Mrs. Pounder mainly blames her tour operator. “They should be ashamed. Disgusting!”
So, how will she and her family spend the rest of her vacation? Probably in that same “shithole”. Because of her complaints, the hotel “deep-cleaned” one of her rooms. The problem is that it looked just as bad afterwards. The hairs other visitors had left were still there. The same applied to the stains.
This British tourist is not the only one who goes through this kind of terrible experience. Below standard hotel rooms can be found in many places. On the other hand, the big tour operators make sure the hotels they use are good, by checking them on site, or by building and purchasing their own hotels.
There are excellent hotels at the Black Sea coast, and most tourists are happy. But this case demonstrates that the authorities could do more to avoid disappointments of this kind. The latter do not make Bulgaria look too good, as a tourist destination.