A UK travel company has refunded a couple for their holiday after staff at a Jamaican resort left an effigy of their dead son in their room as a misguided tribute.
Each year, Faye and Andrew Stephens mark the birthday of their son Alex, a promising 22-year-old Norwich City footballer, who died in 2014 after falling from a balcony while holidaying in Spain.
Alex’s godmother, Karen Baker, who was on holiday with the couple in Montego Bay, had asked staff at the five-star Royalton Resort to surprise them with balloons and cake in their bedroom to mark the commemoration.
Instead, staff created a macabre effigy of Alex by stuffing the couple’s clothes with towels and arranging it on the bed. The figure had tears on its face and a can of lager in its hand and was placed next to petals spelling out ‘We miss you Alex’.
“When I walked into the bedroom, all I can describe is a dummy body on the bed,” Karen Baker told the BBC.
“I was absolutely horrified – as you can imagine I was sweating and shaking. We just didn’t want our friends to see it.
“I have truly never seen anything like it. I still look at the photographs now and can’t believe somebody thought to do that.”
Baker removed the effigy before Alex’s parents could see it.
A spokesperson for the travel company TUI offered its apologies in a statement to the family and said the company had refunded the group £1,300 per person.
A TUI UK spokesperson said: “We offer our sincere apologies to the Baker party for their holiday experience in Jamaica. We’re following up with the hotel and believe it was a misunderstanding with no intention to cause upset.
“We would like to thank the Bakers for making us aware. We are in direct contact with the group to apologise and offer a gesture of goodwill.”
Alex Stephens was looking to carve a career as a professional football, but died after a fall from a fourth-floor balcony in Barcelona when he was visiting for a music festival.