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Family has to make eight-hour round-trip after being turned away from Cornwall hotel

A family were asked if they were “having a great day” by Booking.com after the platform lost their reservation at a Cornwall hotel, forcing them to make an eight-hour round trip with no overnight stay.

When the online travel agent was alerted to the error, it offered Ian Tomlinson a replacement stay at a “similar” hotel in Uxbridge, a suburb of northwest London, near Slough.

The email from the company said they hoped Tomlinson was having a great day.

“Uxbridge was 250 miles away and not a place anyone would choose to have a holiday,” he told The Guardian. “I had two very tired, upset children who were looking forward to all the resort’s attractions including a FlowRider wave machine for surfing, and my wife was in tears. We were not having a great day.”

The Tomlinson family were turned away when they arrived at the five-star Retallack Resort in Cornwall where they had reserved their summer holiday for four, booking six months in advance.

Having driven four hours to reach the hotel, paid for petrol and pre-booked tickets to the Eden Project for their trip, on arrival they were told that there was no record of their booking.

There was no chance of being squeezed in, the family were told; and Booking.com could not be contacted by phone. The Tomlinsons had no choice but to return home.

“Fortunately, we had not yet paid for the hotel but we are out of pocket for petrol and for pre-paid tickets to the Eden Project,” Tomlinson said. “Plus, we lost the holiday we’d spent all year looking forward to.”

Aria Resorts, which owns Retallack, says it was Booking.com’s error: “Unfortunately, it seems the booking was not confirmed correctly through Booking.com into our reservation system. We have had no further contact from Booking.com regarding this guest’s concerns.”

The lakeside resort near Newquay has lakeside lodges, a spa, Aqua Park and Cornwall’s only “FlowRider” surf machine.

Booking.com eventually covered the cost of Tomlinson’s journey and Eden Project tickets, paying the family £700 in compensation – but declined to explain how the error came about.

“Our primary aim is to enable smooth and enjoyable travel experiences for our customers, which unfortunately did not happen on this occasion,” said a spokesperson for the website.

“We have reached out to this customer to offer a full refund as well as a gesture of goodwill.

In exceptional circumstances where a property is unable to accommodate a guest we always seek to rectify that immediately and will be working with this partner to ensure all future guests have a good experience.”

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