European Holiday Reviews

European Holiday Reviews

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Fuerteventura 19th – 26th June 2013...

As we’d read on previous reviews, there were quite long queues at check-in and not enough staff to cope, but we were prepared for this. This is something that could easily be rectified with 2 extra members of staff on reception for busy periods so I’m not sure why they don’t just do it and get better reviews! (Tip: as previous reviewers have suggested it may be a better idea to fork out for a taxi, although your room won’t be ready any earlier). I guess we waited about 30 minutes to be seen and then we were told the room wasn’t ready (which we assumed it wouldn’t be as it was only 1pm) and given 2 complimentary vouchers for drinks at the bar, which was welcome (either wine or orange juice). By 2pm our room was ready  – ours was room 1316. I was a bit worried as I’d read that Block 1 was quite noisy but we found our room nice and quiet (as long as you keep the windows closed at night). I had emailed in advance asking for a quiet room upstairs and this is exactly what we got (Tip: email them with any special requests before you go).

There are lifts, which are a godsend, although they are a bit bumpy. They do make life a lot easier when you’re on the 3rd floor.

The room was an adequate size, nice and clean and well decorated. We were glad of the aircon, especially at night. If you leave the windows open you may get mozzie bites – I’ve never been bitten in the Canary Islands before, and I’ve been to Lanzarote, Tenerife as well as Gran Canaria, but got several nasty bites here. The mini-bar was really useful as was the lovely big area outside the toilet for getting ready, tons of space for toiletries.

We had an ocean view, and could see the harbour, which was nice. The balcony was small but ok for the two of us and the chairs comfortable. It could have done with a table but it was simple enough to take the small table from the room out there, so not an issue. The balcony also has foot rests and a pull-out clothes dryer. It didn’t get much in the way of sunshine, which may bother some people or may suit others better (personal preference).

The beds were quite large and comfy and there was a large flatscreen tv as well as tea/coffee cups and a kettle….but bizarrely no teaspoons! (No tea or coffee either).

The wardrobe was large and the wardrobe doors were mirrors. 8 clothes hangers in each side was ok for us, but some people may find that’s not enough. 3 drawers for clothes was, again, ok for us as we travel light, but may not be enough for other people (especially for a 2-week stay).

Restaurant opening times were:

7.30am – 10.30am for breakfast.

1pm – 3.30pm for lunch (for those all-inclusive).

7pm – 10pm for dinner.

If you are half board you can swap evening meal for lunch as long as you do so by 8pm the night before. We didn’t bother so I can’t comment on the lunchtime service.

We were half-board and to begin with very confused about eating arrangements. It turns out that when you go to the restaurant for the evening meal (gents must wear long trousers as previous reviews state), you must take a slip of paper which is allocated on arrival (you don’t get a wrist band for half board). At the door the restaurant manager will issue you with a ticket on which your drinks orders will be written by the waiting staff and you sign it (you pay for all drinks after your meal, even water). As we’ve never done anything other than self-catering it was also confusing about what to do, but we eventually figured it out. Extra cutlery on a trolley somewhere obvious (not hidden away) would be useful as you have to rely on place-settings at tables for knives and forks. Also, do check your plate / bowl /cutlery as they are not always as clean as you’d expect, especially the backs of plates.

It’s a large restaurant with a vast variety of food, so it can feel overwhelming at times and despite nice tables with proper tablecloths can feel a bit like a school dinner hall. Food was generally good and plentiful and there was probably something for everyone, although on occasion things were a let down (bones in fish, gristle on bacon, cold vegetables and the Canarian sauce went from delicious one night to inedible the next). Food has basic labels but a small green ‘v’ to indicate suitable for vegetarians would be really helpful. There are no labels on the dessert counter where the cakes and pastries are so it’s pot luck. (I wouldn’t have had coffee cake if I’d known). The cheese counter was a real let-down with only 2 varieties on offer most evenings (one of which was a smokey cheese which is an acquired taste). Staff are quick to take empty plates and glasses away so if you haven’t quite finished then be on your guard! Also, the restaurant felt very hot at times, so wear lightweight clothes if possible. I’m not sure why they can’t put aircon or fans in there for diners comfort. It can also be really noisy, and on occasion it was almost impossible to hear yourself speak (I’m not a fan of having to shout to my companion in order to have a conversation, especially at breakfast).

On our second evening we went down at 8pm and it was very busy, so much so that when we’d got our food it took a full 5 minutes before we located a clean table. The staff work very hard but were obviously rushed off their feet, which meant by the time we were finally seated our food was stone cold. (Tip: when you notice it’s busy, locate your table first, leave 1 member of your party to hold the table and go up for food in shifts). I’m guessing most family-orientated places are the same, but be prepared for children running around screaming and putting their fingers in the chocolate fountain, ice cream etc. (Not entirely the fault of the hotel but an issue of poor parenting by certain families).

Breakfast was a more casual affair, no ticket for drinks needed (free), and again there was more than enough choice. The bread rolls were excellent and there was a selection of cereals as well as hot food (although hash browns instead of chips at breakfast would’ve been a better option in my opinion). No need for long trousers at breakfast, however, again it did seem very confusing and it did take several days before we finally sussed it out. Some may find this exciting, but others may find this a little stressful. Queues are an issue at times and it can take an age to fill your plate. Several times I gave up and had something else instead.

Although the bed was comfy I suffer back pain and went down to reception the first morning to ask for a softer mattress (and a teaspoon for tea/coffee).

We also paid 20 euros deposit for the beach towels, which you get back when you return them as long as you keep the receipt (don’t lose it!) This is useful as you don’t need to pack towels and you do get your deposit back.

The cleaner came in and put lovely squishy mattress toppers on both beds – sorted! I have to say this made the beds the most comfortable I’ve ever slept on during any holiday. However, when I asked about a spoon for my tea/coffee she indicated she couldn’t provide me with one. When I came back through reception I asked again (different staff member) and he handed me 4 small plastic stirring sticks! He said it was all he’d got. At least I could now stir my coffee – I just didn’t have an easy way of getting the sugar into the cup. I swiped one from the restaurant at breakfast the following morning but I have no idea why they don’t provide them in the rooms. (Tip: take a teaspoon!)

Wifi was really expensive at 25 euros for the week and you can only use one device at a time, which was a bit annoying when you have 2 or more people wanting to use the net at once. It also kept cutting out on some days and at times was painfully slow, which really isn’t good enough when you’ve paid so much money for it. Unfortunately, as my partner and I are both self-employed we both need access to emails throughout the day, so had to suffer it. (Tip: There’s plenty of nearby bars and restaurants which offer wifi for free if you simply buy a drink if you only need occasional internet access).

The beach at the back of the complex has quite a few stones (you may want to wear flip-flops of jelly shoes when paddling), but if you stand at the beach looking towards the ocean and walk 10-15 minutes to the right, past the fish restaurant and past the small shopping centre, you’ll come across a really lovely beach with soft sand. This is definitely worth the walk, and just past the shopping centre are some rocks where chipmunks / ground squirrels live (be warned, it can smell rather foul there at times!). You may even spot a few lizards in the morning. Camel rides are behind the fish restaurant (white building before the shopping centre).

As previously commented on, the pools are very cold, however once you get over the initial shock it’s actually quite nice in there. There are also daily activities such as water polo for those with a bit more energy. I have to add that maintenance of the pools could be better – several of the small tiles are missing and some areas appear grubby. Also, despite the signs saying it’s forbidden to reserve sunbeds, it happens all the time. At one point I counted 12 people in the pool and well over 100 sunbeds with towels on them (all in the shade).

The hotel animation team worked their socks off to please all of the families and the theatre shows were obviously well rehearsed. Unfortunately, it’s a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it. I’ve never been a fan of Butlins-type entertainment so it wasn’t my cup of tea at all (although the theatre was always packed and it was clearly very popular). Several people left the theatre one night (‘The Best Of’ show) during the sketch featuring two grown men running around in nappies pretending to be babies, and another sketch where a man pretended to have no arms in order to trick another man into helping him to pee, although others found it hilarious. I guess it’s simply a matter of taste. Also, it can get incredibly hot in there (presumably a ploy to encourage you to buy drinks, however, people were actually leaving due to the temperature in there).

Next door is a shopping centre with several really nice shops and restaurants, and if you cross the road from the reception and turn either left or right you’ll find plenty more shops and restaurants within easy walking distance (I can recommend the Trafalgar restaurant, Wild West Restaurant, Piero’s Bar, Lin’s Café, The Goose and Firkin or the Fado Rock restaurant).

For the final 2 days of our stay the mechanism on the gate leading to the beach nearest to our room was broken and you couldn’t use your key to get out (although you could get back in). This meant you either had to stand there waiting for someone to return to the complex and let you out or a walk around the pools and sunloungers to locate the next nearest gate. It was still broken when we left…

Would I go back? In a word, no! Too many issues and the unexpected mozzies really were the last straw.

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