Thomson's adults-only hotel promise ruled misleading

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Thomson Holidays: rapped over ads for adult-only breaks
Thomson Holidays: rapped over ads for adult-only breaks

Thomson Holidays, the TUI-owned tour operator, has been rapped by the ad watchdog after a customer complained that children were staying at a hotel sold as part of the brand's adults-only packages.

A branded travel brochure, and the Thomson Holidays website, stating "Exclusively for adults", received a complaint from one consumer that it was misleading after she stayed at the advertised "adults-only hotel" in the Ermones Atlantica Grand Medierraneo Resort, Corfu, and found children staying there.

The brochure had read: "Thomson's Exclusively for Adults range offers you the chance to find total tranquillity in a resort free from the bustle of families and young people.

"This carefully selected range of resorts offers you the chance to enjoy a relaxed and independent break with your partner or a group of close friends. Thomson and the resort owners guarantee not knowingly to sell to anyone under the age of 16."

Thomson said that it was disappointed to hear about the complaint regarding its advertising of the resort, and is currently reviewing its advertising for the specific property in its brochures and online material, which is handled in-house.

It said its additional A-Z holiday guide, which the website ad referenced, stated that it could not guarantee that there would not be any children at the hotel. It said it was impossible to completely control the presence of children at the hotel and believed it was unreasonable to expect there would never be a child at the hotel.

The operator said it had taken steps with the hotelier to ensure that the "no children" rule was enforced at the hotel.

A Thomson spokesperson said: "We would like to reassure customers that this is a very rare occurrence and emphasise that we do include specific clauses within our contracts with hoteliers and fully advise them of the adults-only requirements, to ensure customers receive the experience that we advertise."

Despite Thomson's explanation that the hotelier in question had felt obliged to book in families due to a warning from their local authority, and the reassurance that this had now been resolved, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned the claims from appearing again in their current form.

The ASA considered that "Exclusively for Adults" and "An adults-only hotel" were absolute claims that were contradicted by the information in the A-Z guide. Because Thomson had not substantiated the claim, and because the information in the A-Z guide contradicted it, it concluded that the claims were misleading.

Follow Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith on Twitter @loullamae_es

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