Kuoni has been warned to ensure that hotels featured in brochures are portrayed accurately as the advertising watchdog branded the description of a property in Thailand as misleading.
A hotel advertised as being a “secluded haven” turned out to be overlooked by other properties and a construction site.
The Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint against the operator from a customer who challenged whether the claim “secluded haven” was misleading.
A Kuoni brochure seen in April advertising the Shore Hotel in Phuket stated: “Offering the ultimate in relaxation, this beautiful boutuqie [sic] resort is a secluded haven”.
Alongside the text were four images of the rooms in the property overlooking the sea.
In its ruling published today, the ASA said it considered that consumers would understand the term ”secluded haven” to mean that the hotel was isolated and was not overlooked or situated near other buildings.
“We noted from images of the resort featured in the brochure that it was located on a hillside, surrounded by vegetation, and did not appear to show any other properties nearby. We considered that this contributed to the overall impression that the resort was in a secluded area,” the ASA said.
“We understood that construction work was taking place at a neighbouring resort which was visible to guests staying at the Shore at the time of the complainant’s holiday.
“While we acknowledged that the building works were temporary, we noted that the hotel was located next to other resorts, and shared facilities with a neighbouring hotel.
“We also noted that photographs provided by the complainant showed that the neighbouring property overlooked the pool and the complainant’s hotel room.
“We therefore concluded that the ad’s description of the Shore Hotel as a “secluded haven” was misleading.
“The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Kuoni Travel to ensure that their properties are accurately described in their marketing communications.”
Kuoni told the ASA that it had not been informed of the building work that had taken place at the neighbouring property.
Once this advice was received the company took steps to investigate and relocate the complainant in a room located away from the site.
While there was no heavy machinery in use, Kuoni accepted that it may have been unsightly due to being incomplete.
While terms such as “secluded” were used, Kuoni explained that it did not promote the resort as being wholly isolated.
The ad clearly referenced shared use of facilities, suggesting that there was a close proximity to the neighbouring resort.
The operator also explained that the brochure description of the neighbouring sister resort was on the opposite page to that of the Shore.
Kuoni Travel stated that it would not usually use brochures to communicate building work notifications as it would not be practical to do so. Also, it would be difficult to provide accurate advice on such activity within a printed medium as it could only offer a fair representation at that particular point in time.
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