What can say but fantastic ! - rated 4* but I would give it 5*s.
First of all I should point out that this hotel is essentialy one in the same hotel as the Iberostar Creta Panorama - they share all the same facilities including the dining room, pools,kids clubs, entertainment etc., so any review you find for the Panorama applies to the Creta Mare also. Although there\'s a separate hotel reception for the Creta Mare, this is not used, and both hotels use the Creta Panorama reception for checking in etc. The only difference between the two hotels, I believe, is that you can only book the garden bugalows through the Creta Mare, and the main Panorama hotel block and the sea front bungalows through the Creta Panorama.
We booked flights and hotel separately because it is much cheaper if you ...
have kids, as the hotel makes little or no charge for them.Read More
When we arrived we were allocated (as we booked the Creta Mare) a garden bungalow. These are very pleasant appartments, comprising a front room with two single beds (that double as settees in the day), a smart bathroom and a small connecting room with a sink, fridge and cooker (no idea why you would need a cooker but they were in all the bungalows!)leading to a small back bedroom. There was plenty of room, and plenty of storage. Each has a terrace - these varied as to size and whether they got the sun though.
However, although these bungalows were perfectly lovely, and all had a very nice garden outlook, I was a bit disappointed not to have a sea view; so I asked the reception (as nicely as posssible !) whether we could change our rooms. She told us she would speak to the Manager and to come back the next day - which we did. We were delighted to be shown a sea front bungalow that was just perfect, even though strictly speaking it belonged to the Panorma part of the complex. We were not even charged extra for this cheeky upgrade - it certainly pays to ask sometimes !!
One of the outstanding features of this hotel was its gardens, which were absolutely beautiful - almost like being in a caribbean resort. We were watching humming birds feeding, when we were sitting on the terrace at breakfast each morning - which was amazing. The place was beatifully landscaped with pretty terraces and paths everywhere. If surroundings are important to you then this is the place to come !
The hotel has numerous swimming pools (5 I think)There is one very large pool which has a swim up bar and music, catering for the younger market I guess, but then there were several smaller quieter pools dotted around. We liked the small one at the Rethymnon side of the complex - very quiet with a lovely eye level view across the bay, as you swam. There was also a great kids splash pool outside the kids club - ideal if you wanted to sunbathe and let little ones splash about safely in shallow water.
There were three or four private coves, almost lagoons, belonging to the hotel - all fairly small but somehow they never seemed crowded. The coves had artificially made sea barriers that made them very safe to swim in (or use inflatables). The sea was clear turquiose, the beaches were small and sandy-shingle. You were supposed to pay for the sunbeds at the beach, but there was never anyone enforcing this when we were there mid October (near the end of the season). There was also a small harbour from which you could hire jet skis, boats and take banana boat rides (extra cost).There was also a bigger public shale/sand beach with easy access from the hotel on the far (Rethymnon) side of the complex and it makes for a pleasant 5 min. walk - there is a (rather green slimey)river going into the sea where a flotilla of ducks hang out- the kids enjoyed taking them bread and feeding them.
During our stay we were also very impressed how accessable everything was to wheelchair users (though able bodied ourselves) - you could easily get around the complex in a wheelchair - even to the beach.
The food was excellent- self service buffet with lots of choices and good quality. The lunch time food was just as good. Surprising for an all inclusive ! The drinks....well a drinkers paradise really.... beer (not watered down) and red and white wine (very drinkable - and I am quite fussy) ON TAP !!!! Cocktails and mocktails to die for, great coffee and cold drinks..icecream that the kids lived off ! You certainly should give this place a miss if you are on a diet !!! You get one free meal at the a la carte restaurant during your stay, but the general standard of the main canteen plus our picky kids meant that we didn\'t bother trying it.
There were lots of different places to \'hang out\' during the day so it never got monotonous, nor did we really feel the need to go out side the hotel much. However, if you did want to get out and about, then the hotel was right by the main road that runs the length of the North coast of the island, with a bus stop outside the hotel, and buses every half hour up and down.
The nearest big town is Rethymnon which is about 15 minutes away, but there is also a frequent Noddy train that runs to the nearby little fishing village of Panormo (about a mile and a half perhaps). One thing you notice sailing past the hotel each day along the coast, is a replica galleon \'pirate\' ship that leaves from Rethymnon\'s old port (18 euros per adult and 10 euros for a half day trip)They do various length trips depending on the season - they were only running a half day in Mid October that visits the nearby sea caves (nothing special)and Panormo - however a real must if you have young children !
There are a few gift shops 5 minutes walk from the hotel also (including pharmacy).
The kids clubs at the hotel were good, with three different age groups - the staff were lovely (they all spoke good english). The animation team were equally enthusiastic and also spoke english well, so we never missed out on anything. They tried to involve everyone in doing their \'club dance\' 2 or 3 times a day which was quite fun (to watch at least) - the kids loved it ! There was a mini disco every night, followed by a short awards presentation (mainly for the various kids activities), then bingo(sometimes only one or two lines if short on time)and finally a show and then disco.
The rooms and hotel areas were clean and well maintained. the hotel staff were pleasant friendly and again most spoke good english.
Well what about the downsides ? Well very few really ...and certainly not anything that would stop me booking this hotel again. If you want to pick a few faults then I\'d highlight the following;
There were a few ferral cats that hung about the food areas (sorry I\'m not a big cat fan at the best of times) - obviously a general Greek, rather specifcally hotel problem - but not helped by the fact that some tourists were encouraging them by feeding them !
And, although we didn\'t particulary find this a problem, the hotel is about 80%-90% German dominated - and yes they do leave their towels on the sun loungers (even though there are signs saying not to!)!
Finally some of the facilities (pool side bars and a few activities) had ceased, as the season was coming to a close, but this did not materially affect our enjoyment, there was still plenty to do and enjoy.
I would thoroughly recommend this hotel for families, mature couples (ie not clubbers), keen gardeners and bird lovers, and wheelchair users.
I would NOT recommended this hotel if you were alcholic, on a diet, dislike Germans, hate cats or birds, want to party all night and sleep all day.
Just my opinion.
Tour Operator: Booked Independently