“ 4 star hotel and spa in Santa Margherita di Pula, Sardinia, Italy. „
Situated close to a beautiful private beach at Santa Margherita di Pula, the 4 star Hotel Flamingo is a 2 storey white building, with other blocks of buildings with standard bedrooms and the Il Nidi suites near by. It takes about 45 minutes from Cagliari airport which is in the south of Sardinia and there are small local buses running past the hotel to go into Pula, and from there you can catch a bus into Cagliari. A taxi costs about 20Euro to Pula.
The hotel is situated down a narrow Eucalyptus tree lined road, opposite a camp site, apart from a couple of homes there is only a church at the junction with the main road. The camp site had a small supermarket and café which proved popular with many guests for drinks and in the evening for watching football on the television!
Reception and Lounge
The reception of the hotel area was large and airy and the four staff on duty quickly checked everyone in and handed over keys, whilst other staff escorted everyone to their rooms, using golf buggies for people in the annex buildings. There are no lifts and the curved staircase in the main building means disabled people have to stay in the ground floor rooms in the annexes. The rooms in the main building are Superior rooms, some face the sea and pool and others look towards the mountains.
The Reception area opens onto the large lounge area which has several doors leading outside and plenty of comfortable sofas and chairs. In the centre of the area is a glass feature with a bronze flamingo inside and you can look down to the indoor pool in the spa. There is also a small shop which opens during the morning and late afternoon selling mostly souvenirs and beach toys and postcards. A small library area was popular with guests who needed more books. Doors off the far end of the lounge area lead to the main dining room and nearby is the small bar, which has 3 service areas, one being outside in a covered area by the pool, where there is waiter service for the tables set outside too. Hidden behind a huge pillar are the only public toilets in the hotel, one door leads to male, female and a disabled toilet. Considering there are 118 rooms, I did find it surprising that there were only 2 ladies toilets, especially as a lot of the rooms were away from the main building and pool area.
The dining room has different sized tables and you are allocated a table on the first evening for the entire week. Although it is a large area it is divided into sections with archways making it seem more private. Wine and water not consumed will be kept refrigerated for the next day and is ready on the table when you arrive. The first two courses are ordered and the dessert is on a buffet table. Breakfast is served in the Il lantern restaurant which is partly open so you get fresh air but unfortunately also the wasps which were in abundance! There are also tables set near the pool and a few in part of the dining room, but mostly it is set ready for dinner. Lunch is served in the Il Lantern too, but they did have to use part of the dining room towards the end of our week as the wasps were so bad people were being stung and plates of food were covered in wasps! Lunch there was a choice of two starters usually pasta, with plenty of bread, a fish and meat main dish, with vegetables and fruit or a dessert.
The menu for dinner consists of typical Sardinian food. Although usually there was a roast like pork or Turkey, Beef Wellington etc the other choices were more typical of Sardinian food like Rabbit, fish or delicious Roast Monkfish in saffron sauce. The starters were often types of Pasta or risotto and always one or two soups. With the main dish there was a choice of vegetables or a salad, every night the potatoes were served in a different way, one night we had pear potatoes which intrigued me, but in actual fact it was mashed potato shaped like a pear and bread crumbed and fried, with a tiny piece of spaghetti for the stalk. It was lovely to have different vegetables like a little dish of mushrooms, grilled tomatoes or spinach with garlic aroma, a pleasant change from UK hotels who give you carrot and broccoli etc. All the food was cooked nicely and well presented. The desserts weren't quite as good and the choice was often reduced as dishes were finished and not refilled. There was always fruit salad and fresh fruit and usually a huge fruit flan.
Breakfast was served in the Lantern restaurant and outside with tea, coffee and fruit juices set out on a table to help yourself and the rest of the buffet in part of the main dining room. There was always fruit salad, yogurt, breads, scrambled and boiled eggs and cold meats and cheeses. There was also a selection of jams, cereals and croissants, pastries or Madeira cake. We did learn by observation that you could order a cappuccino at breakfast time or an espresso at no extra charge instead of the coffee from the large container, and at lunch time you could get a bowl of salad or ice cream if you ordered it, but no one tells you this!
On the whole the food was very good and we were impressed by the neat way food was served considering how many people were being served at one time. The waiters were a bit erratic at times, plates could be waiting to be collected for a long time as could the chitty with our order on after the MD had taken it. But other times the MD would direct a waiter to serve us or another table when he noticed we were still waiting. I felt a bit more training would have helped, but perhaps they were getting tired after a busy summer and were winding down! On our first night it was a Buffet using roast suckling pig and chicken that we had seen being barbecued outside, but it was rather chaotic with queues of people and no plates, or plates would arrive and no jacket potatoes to go with the meat. Fortunately the buffet after that was only at lunch time and for dessert. We sampled delicious Sardinian wine at around 14Euro a bottle and water was about 3Euro a litre bottle.
If you stayed in the Il Nidi suites you could eat in another restaurant, called the Wild Duck away from the main hotel but this had closed for end of season whilst we were there. Other guests could pay extra to eat there if they booked.
There was a large pool and one for children outside the dining and bar area with showers and a gate onto the beach, a reasonable amount of sun beds which were free and some umbrellas, but we preferred to sit on the beach under bamboo shelters on comfy deck chairs. There were two rows of sun beds with a small sun shade for your head which gave at a cost, they could be paid for daily or a block payment of 60Euro which included sun beds for a week, beach towels changed daily and two entrances to the spa. There was another pool away from the hotel near the Wild Duck restaurant, it was very quiet there whilst we were staying. There was a selection of water sports available at extra cost and we enjoyed watching the kite surfers and windsurfers, especially when there was a good wind, but you did need some experience as the wind could be challenging. There was a lifeguard/pool attendant who was very quick to act the one day when an umbrella blew from the pool area over a high fence and onto the beach, fortunately no one was injured, but the wind from the land was very sudden and very strong and he immediately rescued the umbrella and raised the red flag for no swimming in the sea. The beach was lovely soft sand and very clean, but there was a drop down into the sea and some pebbles before you could get out to swim. There also was quite a strong current at times and you could feel the drag on your legs as you walked along.
There was a Gym across from the main hotel, a reasonable size with lots of new equipment, I looked inside but didn't participate.
Had we been earlier in the year we could have taken part in aerobics in the pool and beach volley ball etc but the team had finished just as we arrived. (Whew! Wasn't I lucky!)
Our bedroom was a good size Superior room with a view of the sea and pool. The balcony had a small table and two comfortable wicker chairs. There were two single beds with a shelf/headboard which proved useful for a glass of water for during the night. There were two wardrobes either side of the bed with 2 drawers and a shelf, with a safe inside the one- at no extra charge! There was a blanket if needed although we found the sheet warm enough and used it as an extra pillow, but full marks to the staff we were given extra pillows the next day. There was a long table with a large mirror in a turquoise painted frame on the wall above, the TV and a lamp were on the table and a spindly metal chair tucked under it, also a cupboard containing the mini bar. But only one wicker chair inside the room. The bathroom looked a little old fashioned in green tiles reminding me of hospital corridors when I was small! It had two levels with the wash basin on the lower level and toilet, bidet and a bath one step up! There were plenty of nice toiletries, the white towels which were thin dried efficiently and linen hand towels were OK. The hair drier was in the bathroom and was alright but not high powered. The floor was tiled and the walls painted cream except for a pretty floral mural on the wall above the bed. Cream bedcovers and curtains and pearly light shades on the lights above the beds and on the wall kept the room light. The sheets were changed every couple of days and the towels were changed daily. There was air conditioning but we had a problem with ours and it dripped onto the floor! Eventually after being given towels to catch the water on the first night and asking at Reception a few times over the next 4 days we got it fixed, but it was a bit annoying.
I didn't see any of the other bedrooms so can't comment on them, but we did walk one evening down past the blocks of standard rooms and found it was a bit "smelly" as if the sewage went into the stream. I was glad we were in the main hotel. I did hear some people complaining that there was a smell in their rooms.
Whilst we were staying there was a wedding and two conference groups in. The wedding was after we had left but guests arrived the previous evening and were rather noisy, two guesses where they came from and it wasn't Italy! The conference group ate in the smaller restaurant on the evening we were there and had meetings in one of the many conference rooms that were on the lower level of the hotel, and the other group of young people had most meetings and their meal in the other restaurant which was then closed to ordinary hotel visitors.
I love to be pampered but hadn't decided to go and book anything until towards the end of the week. The Spa was down a slope from the entrance or reached down stairs from inside the hotel. There was a pool which I saw a couple swimming in and lots of small rooms for treatments. I booked in for a special offer which I thought looking at the Italian list that it was reflexology which fitted in with the time slot that was available the next day, I had wanted a massage but it took too long. When I arrived the following morning I was escorted by a lovely young man to a small room subtly lit with candles and he spoke in Italian and signed that I was to remove my clothes, put on a miniscule black pair of paper pants and lie on the couch, covering myself with the towels! All this for reflexology! He came back later and gave me a very good massage that really helped the pain I suffer in my neck and shoulders. I never did get the reflexology! The prices were similar to Spa's in this country.
Having stayed in the north of the island we knew that there was a relaxed feeling to service and having read other reviews we were open minded and relaxed about things but having said that occasionally I wanted things to happen - like sorting the dripping water which made the floor dangerous. The food was really good most of the time, sometimes the lunch choice was a bit depleted, but if you waited more food would be brought through from the kitchens.
But the beach was beautiful and it was just the right place for a relaxing holiday which was what we wanted and my massage in the Spa was top class. The staff were friendly and very patient as we tried to order in Italian, getting better each day!
A good base if you want to hire a car and drive to other beaches and to see the ancient sites but equally good if you want to just relax and not leave the complex. I would have loved to have sampled the other restaurant but would need to go earlier n the year.
PS. Only bronze Flamingos in the hotel but we did see lots of flamingos on the way to the hotel close to the road.