Travel operator: Thomson
With the odd exception, the staff are miserable and make no effort to hide the fact that they do not want to be there! We realised that their English on the whole is not great, which we totally understand, but there is no excuse for not saying hello in their own language or even smiling occasionally! The only ones that will give you a smile or say hello are the ground staff and the entertainment staff as they are walking around.
Either a man versus women, talent contest or the staff putting on a show dancing and miming to music. Not my cup of tea, but they are very good at it and clearly give their all.
On approaching the hotel, we were struck by how dreary it all looked from the outside. It looks like a sandcastle. From inside the complex, it looks like a sandcastle surrounding the pools and a few immaculately kept lawns with a few flowers added to bring some much needed colour.
Room was spacious. The maids kept the rooms very clean. As it is a new hotel, the room was brand, spanking new, but I wonder how much time, money and effort will be spent in keeping it to this standard as it begins to get run-down â€“ only time will tell.
There are two buffet restaurants and the menu never really changes in both (unless you consider beef stew changing to pork stew as a change). The one near the pool area closes at 5:30 and is not particularly good as it is really a snack bar serving hot dogs, salad and hamburgers of a fairly low standard. The other is more like a restaurant with nice decor.
Beware though, we have been on quite a few all-inclusive holidays with buffet restaurants (from 2 to 5 star) but we have NEVER experienced anything like the free-for-all that goes on here! The food is always topped up if the tray runs low and is kept hot so there really is no need for the hysteria (I am not using that word lightly, you would swear that some people think they won’t get fed again the way they barge in!).
The hotels planners have put some thought into the layout, as they have different sections to spread people out. It is not the hotels fault but because of this, you get people queuing from opposite directions which cause chaos. Then people dive into the gaps like seagulls. It really is chaos with filthy looks abound!
There is an Asian, a Cape Verde and an African restaurant. These are really just the same as the other buffet restaurants but, if you can get in, at least offer a different setting (although still buffet style). If you want a change of food, only the Asian will offer that (sushi etc.)
All the bars are pretty good. The pool bar always has loud music blaring, which seeps into the one restaurant area. The bar in the main reception area is lively. The bar in the centre of the complex is always very busy. There is also another one to the side of the stage which also gets busy. It can be a fight to the death to get served with people pushing in left, right and centre.
The nightclub is pretty much what you would expect probably.
The alcoholic cocktails listed on the menus will only contain alcohol if you specifically ask for it. There are 4 or 5 on the menu. You can also get Tequila (yummy) if you ask but you may have some fun explaining that you want salt and lemon (there's no lime) with some of the staff (a few of them know what to do).
There are various stations around where you can help yourself to beer, wine, soft drinks and hot drinks. These prove very handy so a definite plus there. As with the food though, people do not like to wait for their drinks. I put a cup onto the tray for my coffee and all seemed well, but when I proceeded to put a second cup under my wife told me I was getting daggers from the 3 people in the queue behind me. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to get a cup for my wife at the same time but that’s how impatient these people are.
Bottled water is only available from reception in large bottles (usually warm).
The Jacuzzi room is a plus point for the hotel. It is usually quite quiet here, as most people stay around the pool or go to the beach. As it is housed in the same building as other things you have to pay for (i.e. gym, massage room and sauna), maybe people do not realise that you can stay in this room free. It is mostly in the shade, although there is enough room for a few loungers at the front in the sun.
We cannot comment on the activities as the thought of running around in 28-38 degree heat did not appeal so we did not try them. Same applies to the gym.
There are 4 pools (excluding the adults only and children’s play area), although I would argue that it is really one big one with a thin walkway separating them. They are all together, surrounded by tightly-packed sun loungers.
As we hated the pool area, we stayed away, but there did seem to be just enough loungers to cater for the masses. I have to laugh when I see the photos on the website as the pool area is absolutely empty - it looks very different when the masses are packed in! Also, good luck getting in the whirlpool. Loud music is played in this area so all-in-all it is not the place to go to relax.
Travelled on the 19th May for a much needed rest, flight time was reasonable with a 0900 gate departure, flight left on time which was a bonus, flight itself was what I expected, too long for a tired aircraft of 11 years wear and tear, sat in row 13 with the rational that the couple in row 12 with the extra legroom wouldn’t recline their seats, I was right unfortunately the row behind us had a family with their hands full, 1 lad of about 3 and a lap baby, it was like travelling for 6 hours with an out of control chimpanzee sitting behind you.
Our arrival at Rabil airport was trouble free, we had to walk from the aircraft to the arrivals door and I mean door, one in one out, it was also very windy indeed, straight through passport control, I did find out that a few travellers who had pre booked their visas found out that somehow it hadn’t registered, apparently this happens occasionally and Thomson staff were aware and dealt with it adequately, found a seat to await our cases, for those who coming through later seating was limited, cases came through quickly as airport handles only one flight at a time.
Met by Thomson staff and ushered to the awaiting coaches with no problems at all, now for the trip to our hotel, I know what it says in the brochure but I do understand the reasons why it is not as stated therefore to complain about the length of the transfer in my opinion is unwarranted, with a normal road between the airport and hotel it would be as stated but the new road is only half built and impossible to travel along the cobbled single track at anything more that 25kph therefore slow first half quick second half, no worries, we filled in our registration cards for the hotel on route which saved time on arrival for the check in, check in itself was quick with the only problem being the lady who put our AI bands on placed the wrong coloured ones on our wrists, this was sorted out by me and was only a minor irritation.
Hotel complex itself was well laid out well, plenty of room between blocks and indeed the sun loungers, swimming pool very spacious and never crowded, always spare sun loungers during the day, we were booked into the adult only area, this area had its own pool and adjacent bar but it did seem that loungers were limited and I can see issues arising if you don’t get there early, despite the request that loungers should not be reserved by placing towels on the it was evident that this goes on, if there were enough lounges for everyone booked into this section then no problems but there isn’t, free Wi-Fi was available in this area all you had to do was obtain the log on code, although useful I would have liked to have been able to receive this free wifi outside the adults area, but can understand why as the log on codes will end up being given to guests that hadn’t paid for the service in their upgrade.
One complaint from a disgruntled guest was that they could not receive Wi-Fi for four days and wanted some sort of recompense, what a dork anyone with a modicum of common sense realised that the main communications cable in Sal Harbour was severed resulting in loss of all communication services for approx four days, big deal.
Other complaints revolved around the food and services, yes there were language issues all you have to do is be patient, the food had a varied RANGE, range being the operative word therefore the range may have been repetitive but there was plenty to choose from, over 14 days I ate what I wanted to and never had any issues, moving on to FLYS, do not worry, there are no more flys around than in England, they do congregate near food areas as these areas have less of a breeze to keep them moving, as for other bugs we had no need to use any sprays of any sorts in fact very few bugs indeed, in the food areas all the fresh food is housed within cooled service stations with pull down lids if flys get in there its only because some doughnut doesnt pull the lid down, drinks are plentiful, draught lager and all the usual soft drink, no irn-bru for those from Scotland Im afraid, Spirits are all bottled in Spain under licence for the RIU chain so no main brands but still good, the themed restaurants were OK, although the African had not opened yet, the gourmet restaurant for those who had upgraded had limited space and difficult to book.
Excursions were available but seemed expensive, we did book and will recommend the quad bike tours from scuba carribe located on the beach â€“ what a laugh and you get to take these onto the dunes near Santa Monica beach, 48 Euros for 1 hour and 99 Euros for 2 hours, this price is per quad not per pax â€“ do it.
We met some wonderful people especially Teresa and Paul from Essex, we had some great laughs some at other people expense, the 4 of us went on the quad tour which was led by a local guide, good times.
The beach is probably one of the best if not the best I have ever been to, not crowded at all, I would like to see this place after it has been developed, sun loungers with thatched parasols are available on this beautiful beach, there is a flag system to let guest know when its safe to swim, Red, no swimming at all the on call life guards will not enter the sea as it is deemed too dangerous, Yellow flag mean you may swim but be vigilant you may encounter a lively surf and I mean LIVELY, Green mean its safe to swim for all, during our stay there were some days with the Red flag flying all day but mostly Yellow flags, no Green at all, I did go swimming and really enjoyed it once you get beyond the breakers.
Entertainment, well its all been said before so no need to expand much, they try very hard but unlike other RIUs there is no catchment for acts.
To summarise, if you are used to the RIU brand then you know what you will get, if you are used to 5* waiter service then you will be sadly disappointed.
We were very satisfied with this complex and thanks to Teresa and Paul for making our stay enjoyable.
Anybody wishing any further information please PM me.
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