In 2004 I visited the Dominican Republic, a popular Caribbean destination for Canadians attempting to escape the winter cold, wet and grey. Dani and I took advantage of her spring break and Millennium Scholarship (probably not what they were meant for) and spent a week sitting on the beach, eating buffets and playing scrabble.
It was pretty fun.
My food paranoia was focused on ice cubes, foods held at the wrong temperature and fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t think I ate anything that wasn’t fried and stuck to beer all week. Dani wasn’t nearly as ridiculous as I was (she rarely is) and she tried lots of stuff.
The week was a success; not only did we get some Vitamin D, neither of us had any foodborne illness symptoms.
Not quite what recent Canadians visiting Cuba have reported, according to Global News.
Unsanitary washrooms, unsafe food handling practices, unrelenting stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea: these are some of the complaints being reported about popular Canadian vacations destinations in Cuba promoted and operated by Sunwing Vacations of Toronto.
“It’s very severe, and I am struggling a week later,” said Amanda Klein of Medicine Hat, Alta., who recently returned from Cuba and says she is still experiencing stomach problems.
Klein, 26, spent a week with her boyfriend and two other Canadian couples at the Memories Paraiso Azul Beach Hotel in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba between Jan. 5 and 12.
But within days of the Canadians’ arrival, Klein says five of the six guests were violently ill with vomiting and diarrhea.
Klein says the group stopped eating at the all-inclusive resort–which they booked through Sunwing Vacations–after witnessing troubling food-handling practices.
“Numerous staff put their hands in food, licked their hands and put their hands in the food we were supposed to eat,” she said.
Klein is among a growing number of Sunwing customers who contacted Global News to complain about becoming ill at the Memories Paraiso Azul resort. Many have posted their accounts of poor conditions and illnesses on Facebook and on GlobalNews.ca.
But, Sunwing says it’s is not aware of a significant problem at the resort in Cuba.
“To date the hotel management team at Memories Paraiso Azul has advised us that they have not been made aware of any such cases,” said Jacqueline Grossman, senior director of marketing for Sunwing Vacations.
Grossman says the health and wellbeing of its customers is the company’s “primary concern.”
She acknowledged, however, that travelers have reported illnesses to Sunwing.
“In the past week our customer service department has received information from 10 clients complaining of gastro-illness during their stay at this resort over the last month,” Grossman said.
Sunwing travellers say they got sick at other resorts in Cuba in the last month, too.