When I left school I went to work for a holiday Tour Operator. We sold villa and apartment holidays and then merged with another company to offer hotels and long haul holidays too. I worked in several departments gradually working my way to the Passenger Relations department which is a posh way of saying 'Complaints'.
Some of the stories we heard made us laugh, some were people just trying to get some money back but every now and again we had a letter which made us genuinely feel so very, very sorry for the holidaymakers.
Most holiday companies don't offer holidays to Greece in the Winter, the weather is too unpredictable and the properties not really suitable for winter weather. Our Greek season used to start mid-April when it was warmer but the holidays then were much cheaper as a lot of tavernas and shops in the resorts didn't really open until after Easter. So anyway. We had this family who went out to one of the Greek Islands at the beginning of the season. The representative out there asked the maids to go to the villa and open all the windows and doors while she prepared it for the visitors as it hadn't been used since October and was a bit stuffy and cold.
The family arrived and were shown into the villa. They were happy with it, although one of the bedrooms still seemed a bit 'stale'. The rep said she would ask the maid to completely clean that room again the next day and again leave the windows open to air it in the sunshine. It was only a small single room being used by their young son, it should soon be fresh again.
But when the rep returned the next day, the parents weren't happy. If anything, the room seemed worse and although the rep tried to keep a professional face, she admitted that there was a strange smell in the room. Extra air fresheners were left in there to try and mask the odour.
The following day the family were really upset, the son was now refusing to sleep in the room and although the rest of the villa was warm and fresh, that one particular room was getting worse. The maid was sent back to thoroughly spring clean the room, top to bottom. Which was when the cause of the smell was revealed. Those of a delicate disposition or ever planning to go to Spetsai early in the season should look away now.
When the maid stripped the bed - she discovered .... a decomposing tree rat trapped in between the sheets at the bottom of the bed. Can you imagine????? Obviously as the little boy only had little legs, he had not discovered what was lurking down there. The maid rang the rep who kept the family well away while the 'visitor' was disposed of. It must have crept in when the maid went in to make up the beds before their arrival and left the windows open to air the villa. The tree rat found a nice snug bed to settle down to go to sleep in, got trapped, died and .......caused a very nasty smell! The family assumed that the fact that the smell disappeared after that day was due to the thorough cleaning that the maid did, but we knew better.
Which is why - the very first thing I do whenever I go on holiday is to strip the bed down completely - even if it is a 4* hotel - just in case! And having read my story, I wonder if you will too?