Published: 16:26, 03 October 2019
| Updated: 16:26, 03 October 2019
A couple’s belated honeymoon has turned into the military operation from hell with armed guards stationed outside their hotel and tourists told they couldn’t leave the complex.
Debora and Paul Merryfield were relaxing on a £4,000 break in Mexico when Thomas Cook collapsed.
The pair, from Penenden Heath, were staying at the Akumal Bay resort in Cancun.
Mrs Merryfield said: “From the morning everyone found out about Thomas Cook, it was hell. The hotel demanded money to let people leave, there was a riot. It was awful, coaches weren’t being let in and people were just sitting around trying to go home.
“They closed two large gates on the driveway so no one could leave and no coaches could pick up for the return flights, this went on for two-to-three days.
“Armed officers were there as well, it was scary.”
The couple say the hotel demanded people tell staff where they are going every time they left.
They also faced the nightmare of Mr Merryfield’s passport being stolen from their room and having to go to the British embassy to collect emergency travel documents.Today they are set to endure a nine-hour flight home, with 600 crammed on board an old plane and no foodon board.
The mum-of-two explained how the hotel also turned off the wifi for three days ‘to stop people from telling others back home about what was happening.’
Their teenage children remained at home with their grandparents.
She added: “My son was in tears he was so worried we wouldn’t be coming home. It is like some military operation.”
Thomas Cook collapsed after debts mounted and a planned rescue package fell through. The Civil Aviation Authority launched the UK’s largest peacetime repatriation operation, “Operation Matterhorn”, to bring more than 150,000 people back to Britain.
The Merryfields are due to fly home tomorrow (Thursday) but will be landing at Manchester instead of Gatwick.
The area manager for Instore said: “We have been told it is a really old plane with ashtrays in the arm rest. They have moved all of the seats forward to fit everyone in.
“We have been informed we will have nothing onboard but water for a nine-and-a-half-hour flight.”
“We then have a seven-to-eight hour coach journey to get to Gatwick.”
The couple had also ordered products from Duty Free through the travel agent, but will no longer be able to collect them.
They had also booked two holidays with Thomas Cook next year, and now face the process of claiming for a refund when they get home.
Akumal Bay were contacted for comment.
More by this authorJess Sharp