If you are spending your hard-earned money on a well-deserved break, what do you do if your holiday is ruined by building work?
I live here in Mallorca and I have seen the very slow progress of the building works next to the popular Rocamarina Hotel in Cala d’Or in Mallorca this May and even more surprised to see the hotel open and accepting holiday bookings.
I have written this article as a guide to ensure you get value for money when booking a package holiday abroad, in regard to encountering building work at or beside your hotel.
Find out how to check if the hotel you have booked is still being refurbished at the time you are going on holiday.
And if you miss all the warning signs, find out what to do if your holiday is ruined by building work.
Also consider subscribing to my Youtube channel Mallorca Under the Sun to find out all the latest holiday news, travel guides and tips to help with your Mallorca holiday.
Disclaimer: I am not a travel agent, however, I’ve been working in the travel industry for 20+ years. I’ve collated the following information and I have listened to customers who are currently on holiday in Mallorca who have experienced problems with building works.
It is entirely your responsibility as holidaymakers to double-check any details of your holiday directly with your tour operator.
Table of Contents
1. Check your hotel isn’t being refurbished when you go on holiday
As important as the facilities and location of the hotel are, do some research and check your hotel isn’t being refurbished when you go on holiday and that your holiday won’t be ruined by building work.
This is particularly important if you are travelling right at the beginning of season-opening which in Europe is often 1 May, although many hotels will open before the Easter weekend in April.
Double-check that the hotel isn’t undergoing considerable refurbishments with the tour operator or travel agent you are booking with.
Also check there are no building works going on right next to the hotel too.
If you are booking direct, then you may need to do some research.
As you can see from the video playing on this page, you can see that a major tour operator didn’t appear to disclose the works going on next to the Rocamarina Marina Hotel at the time of booking.
If you know there are building works going on at a hotel, the standard response I have found has been, “We don’t know when they will be finished,” which is fair enough for a hotel to say.
If the works are extensive, then it can be impossible to give a firm finish date.
Whatever information you are given, do make the following checks.
2. Check the hotel reviews at the beginning of the season to see if there is mention of building work
As many hotels do not open until 1 May in most European holiday destinations, you will not see the usual flurry of reviews until later on in the season.
If you are staying later on in the season, check these reviews here and those on Trip Advisor too to see what guests are saying and if they have been disturbed by building works taking place.
Read the reviews at the end of the previous season to see if there is any indication of building work.
Sometimes you will see some facilities will be closed and comments will be made about their up-and-coming refurbishment.
3. Check the local Facebook groups in your destination and ask there.
These Facebook groups are often run by locals who know the destination well.
For example, if you are travelling to Mallorca, you will know the Mallorca Under the Sun Facebook group provides insider information about the island.
In the case of the RocaMarina hotel in Cala d’Or, it was noted in February that these refurbishments were taking place.
An update to these was made in May and you can see the video playing on this page.
If you hear a rumour that the hotel you are staying in is undergoing refurbishments, check with locals on these groups.
While it may be impossible to give a finish date on works in progress, tour operators should tell you if there are building works being carried out at the hotel or close by for the duration of your stay.
As I discovered when I tried to make a “test booking” at the Rocamarina Hotel in Mallorca, I couldn’t see anything to indicate that these extensive building works were taking place.
ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents, now referred to as the Travel Association) advises that if the travel company knows about the works, then “your travel company must notify you without delay, and offer you the opportunity to transfer to alternative accommodation or cancel your break.”
Above all, read the description text of the hotel in detail, especially the small print and any terms and conditions to check there is no indication of work taking place at the hotel.
4. Should the tour operator advise you if there are building works at the hotel?
Yes, they should advise any customers that there are building works at a hotel where they are selling holidays, onsite, or nearby.
They also need to advise the degree to which these works will disrupt the enjoyment of your holiday.
According to ABTA, the tour operators should “grade” the building works and advise their customers accordingly on what the anticipated works will be like and if they are, allow them to change hotels.
In the case of the Rocamarina, I have heard a customer on the Cala d’Or Facebook group who is staying at the hotel say,
“They’ve graded it as a grade 1 which is minimal impact. Whoever did this should’ve had their hearing tested.”
Another customer currently staying at the hotel commented,
“Anybody thinking of booking the Rocamarina, I wouldn’t bother. The building work & noise is horrendous today. The road outside is a health & safety job. 2 cement mixers & a big wagon. Yesterday they worked until 6:30 pm.”
On another tour operator’s website, I did find mention of the building works as follows: “Please Note: A new private beach bar and pool is being constructed opposite the south wing of the Hotel Rocamarina. Whilst we don’t anticipate that this work will have a significant impact on your holiday, we just wanted to let you know that the works will be visible from the south wing, and you may experience some mild noise disturbance. Work may take place intermittently, however, the hours of work are anticipated to be between 08:00 and 17:00, Monday to Friday.”
As you can see, the tour operators can sometimes get it wrong.
5. What are the options before you travel if there is building work at your hotel?
If the tour operator knows about the building works taking place (and sometimes they will not), then they should gauge how bad the work will be and offer you the opportunity to change or cancel your booking.
And while they have “graded” the severity of the building work, they may not get this right.
So if noise is a big factor then in this case, it may be worth booking another hotel.
If you have already booked, then you may want to look at changing your hotel booking.
Bear in mind that you will probably be expected to pay more if you change your hotel if the new hotel booked is an upgrade.
6. What to do if you arrive and find your hotel is next to a building site
Ask the hotel reception to have your room changed to another quieter area of the hotel at no extra cost.
This should help improve your stay, but this will also depend on how extensive these building works are.
See what the noise is like if you are sitting beside the swimming pool. Are the noise and dust affecting your stay?
Just be aware that I have heard many cases when guests have been asked to pay more to move rooms or hotels, which should not happen if these works were not made known to the holidaymaker before travelling.
If this isn’t resolved and you are travelling with a tour operator on a package holiday, speak to the holiday rep.
7. Getting help from a holiday rep – Building works at the hotel
However angry you feel, please do not take this out on your holiday rep.
Don’t forget they have been placed on the firing line to deal with customer complaints and they had nothing to do with selling this holiday.
But they are there to help and they will do their very best.
Just also bear in mind that they can only do what the management team allows.
I worked for a travel company for over 15 years and I know that there can be several layers of seniority in many of these businesses meaning that a quick decision to move a customer maybe isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.
Just know the rep will do the best they can to help you, but they may well be bound with layers of red tape.
So if the noise and dust are too bad throughout the hotel, then ask to be moved to another hotel entirely free of charge if you believe you have been misled before travelling and have not been accurately informed about these building works.
Above all though, put in a complaint. Don’t put up with it and do not wait to complain until when you return home.
8. What to do if your holiday is ruined by building work – UK holidaymakers
In the unlikely event that your holiday is ruined by building work and you are travelling from the UK, then look at what ABTA advise.
They stand up for the rights of holidaymakers.
They advise ensuring taking photos and videos of the works and the building work that has ruined your holiday.
Then document how your travel company or hotel has dealt with the complaint.
On your return, put in a claim taking into account out-of-pocket expenses, any extra costs that you had to pay, as well as lost days through stress (and failure of the travel company to deliver what you paid for).
If you are travelling from the UK, check the ABTA advice here for more information.
Just to note, if the company you booked with isn’t a principal holiday provider (such as TUI or Jet2 or an affiliated travel agent), you may not get anything more than an apology.
So you may find a great cheap deal with an online holiday company, but they may just be reselling packages from non-ABTA-affiliated businesses.
So check the holiday company you booked with is a member of ABTA here, before putting in a claim.
So while TUI and JET2 are ABTA members, I just want to point out that Loveholidays and OnTheBeach are NOT.
Loveholidays do say they are not responsible for works outside the hotel but have offered in resort advice to “we will do our best to resolve the issue and ensure you have an enjoyable holiday.” This does not guarantee action. Read more here.
You will then find that, as I’ve been reading online that the holiday company may only offer as little as a couple of hundred Euros in compensation or a voucher towards a future booking.
This “compensation” could equate to 10% of the cost of the holiday.
It may well be likely that more than 10% of a holiday would’ve been affected by noise and dust if these works were taking place on-site.
My advice is to report any failure on their part to ABTA.
Either way, keep note of your experience, gather evidence, keep a record of out-of-pocket expenses and receipts and try putting forward a claim.
If you are sending any documents in the post, make copies and send them by registered mail.
Holiday companies have been fined in the past for not being upfront by failing to disclose building works taking place and ABTA could help you to claim (but this does come at a cost).
Also, check out what the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has to say here.
9. What to do if your holiday has been ruined by building works – other holidaymakers
Check who you booked with and where that holiday company/tour operator is based.
If they are based in the UK then see point 8 above.
If not and the travel company is based in Europe or the USA then you may have to talk to a lawyer and put together a claim privately for being missold a holiday.
Also take a look at your insurance policy which may offer something in the form of compensation too.
10. Finally, how to avoid staying in a hotel with building works nearby
Really do your research before investing vast sums of money into your holiday.
Don’t forget tour operators and travel companies are businesses, and if the hotels are open for business, then they will want to sell these holidays.
Do not leave it up to these businesses to do your research for you.
If possible and you are travelling from the UK, book your holiday with a travel business with ABTA membership to give you this safety net if your holiday gets ruined by something like building works and you were not fairly treated.
But it’s not just about building works at your hotel that you need to be aware of if you book a hotel in Mallorca.
Don’t forget to check the alcohol limits on all-inclusive hotels which you can read about here, and also the tourist tax charge which everyone will need to pay when checking into hotel accommodation which you must read about here.
Finally, let me know if any of these issues in this article have affected you, and also, if you have any positive or negative holiday experiences regarding this. I would love to know.