Family left 'utterly horrified' with resort's attempt to pay birthday tribute for couple's late son
Alex's godmother Karen Baker wanted to surprise his parents by decorating their room with balloons and cake as they planned to celebrate the deceased's boy's birthday
A couple was left "horrified" after hotel staff created an effigy of their dead son in a misguided attempt to pay tribute to them.
Karen Baker wanted to decorate a room at a Jamaican resort for her friends Faye and Andrew Stephens, whose son Alex died in 2014, so she arranged workers at the resort for the job. But to her horror, she was met by the sight of a body made out of clothes lying on the hotel bed, which left her "sweating and shaking". In response, TUI UK compensated the family with a full refund for the "misunderstanding", BBC reports.
Ever since Alex's untimely death at the age of 22 in 2014, the Stephens, from Willesden, Northwest London, have made a tradition of celebrating their late son's birthday every year. Baker, who is Alex's godmother and hails from Hertfordshire, also accompanied the couple on the trip. She secretly tipped two members of staff at the Royalton Jamaica Resort to dress the couple's bedroom with balloons and a cake.
The culturally different staff instead created an effigy made of clothes, drew tears on its face, and placed a can of lager beer in his hands. They even adorned the dummy with petals and spelled out a message beside it, reading "We miss you, Alex".
Baker said she was "utterly horrified" after being the first one to discover the effigy. She immediately removed the dummy so that her friends would not have to witness it.
"When I walked into the bedroom, all I can describe is a dummy body on the bed," she said. "Staff had gone through my friend's wardrobe and stuffed the clothes with towels to make it look like a body on the bed. They even put tears down the face and a can of lager in his hand. I was absolutely horrified — as you can imagine I was sweating and shaking."
She added: "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."
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." The family had raised the issue on BBC Three Counties' JVS show, after which they received a full refund of £1,300 ($1,655) per person for the five-star holiday.