A FAMILY’S dream holiday to Hollywood turned into a nightmare when they arrived at the ‘luxury’ villa – to find it was an unfinished building site.
The Russell-Illingworth family were excited to spend seven days living like celebs at a six-bed Los Angeles villa overlooking Hollywood Hills.
They forked out £2,450 for a week at the villa after seeing the online advert featuring photos of a barbecue entertainment area and huge pool.
But when the group of six arrived after a long flight, they found the home was a half-finished “bombsite”, with an outdoor area covered in rubble, tools and dirt.
There was glass on the floor, exposed pipes, trenches and sand bags littered around the outside of the property, with tarpaulin sheets spread around the villa.
The furious family from Grassington, Yorkshire, were forced to rent a second six-bed villa at a cost of £3,500, which Mike had to pay for on his credit card.
They were eventually refunded.
Mum-of-three Becky said: “Staying in Los Angeles is something we have always dreamed of doing.
“Mark went in the villa first to check it out. But when he came back to the car he said ‘love we’re not staying here, it’s not suitable’.m So I went in afterwards. I walked out to the back and just thought oh my god.
“I could not believe what I was seeing. It was a bombsite and I was just so shocked. I was angry and very upset.”
Mark added: “The stairways were covered in metal and there were bits of glass everywhere.
“The pool was full but it was a horrible green colour and had glass in it. It was like I was standing in a building yard.”
Furniture store owner, Becky and Mark booked the £2,450 a week villa in July 2019 through booking.com.
It was listed on the website as a ‘Holiday Hills gem’ with five bedrooms, a BBQ area, outdoor pool and a huge garden area located just 1.5 miles from Universal Studios.
The couple had planned the seven-day trip to Hollywood as part of a bigger two week adventure with their their son, Jenson, five, two daughters Mica, 18, Lois, 20 and her boyfriend, Yulan, also 20.
The stay in LA followed a seven-day ski trip in Montreal, where Lois is studying at university for a year.
The party of six turned up at the Californian villa in their rental car with a boot full of shopping at 5pm on January 9.
Mike said: “I went in first just to check it out and Becky stayed in the car with the kids. The inside looked alright, it was a bit untidy but it was what it said it’d be on the website.
“Then I went outside and walked to the upper garden area where the pool and BBQ area was.
“The whole top deck was just a mess. There were trenches in the soil, groundsheets everywhere and tools just laid around.”
Mike said he phoned booking.com looking for answers and was then given a number for who he believes are the owners of the property.
The pair apparently manage dozens of other properties and while Mike said he did speak to someone on the phone about the state of the villa, he’s unsure who it was.
A man offered a 30 per cent and later a 40 percent discount for the stay, but he argued for a full refund – which has since been paid to the family.
Mike and Becky began a frantic online search on their smartphones for alternative accommodation and came across a place available the same night a 15-minute drive away, but it came at a cost of £3,500, which Mike had to pay for on his credit card.
He has since learned the villa was in the middle of a refurbishment and is upset no one contacted him to say the work would not be finished in time.
Mike said: “When I was on the phone to the owner I told them it wasn’t safe and demanded a refund. It just was not safe.
“It was everything we worked towards for a long time and when we got there we couldn’t wait to enjoy spending some time in the pool. But the outside area was non-existent.
“The response from the owners was appalling. I only ever spoke to them on the phone once. A lot of the time we spoke to booking.com. We have had no apology or anything.”
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