“ Address: Sarigerme / Turkey „
When choosing the destination for our annual family summer holiday, our priority is to find somewhere that allows us to relax and enjoy spending quality time together as a family, preferably with guaranteed sunshine thrown in. My children like swimming pools, beaches, mini discos and the chance to make new friends. We like lying in the sun with our holiday reading and the chance to relax with a drink in the evenings. We had also decided to try all-inclusive for this year's holiday in the hope that it would encourage our children to try new foods and reduce the frustration of going out for meals for them to only eat the limited range of foods that they eat at home. On paper (or, more accurately, on computer screen) the First Choice Holiday Villages seemed to tick all those boxes and, as we'd never been to Turkey before, we opted to try the Holiday Village Turkey which is situated just outside the small village of Sarigerme, on the coast where the Mediterranean meets the Aegean sea.
* First Impressions *
On arrival at Dalaman airport, we were shown to a comfortable, air-conditioned coach by the Thomson / First Choice reps for the short transfer to our Holiday Village. One of the selling points for us was the short transfer time and the promise that we would be the first drop off - I'm not a big fan of sitting on the coach for hours while everyone else is dropped off, and the fact that it was only a 25 minute transfer to our destination was definitely a bonus. Plus, it was relatively late in the evening after a four hour flight from Luton, so we were all keen to get to our hotel and start our holiday. The hotel reception was spacious, air-conditioned and immaculately clean. The check-in process was very simple - they checked our details, took our passports off for scanning (to be collected later in the week) and clipped on our all-inclusive wristbands. Our luggage was taken to our room by the helpful porters and we paused for a quick drink at the comfortable bar in Reception before heading to our room. Overall, my first impressions were very positive - it seemed like a relaxed, friendly environment where the staff were helpful and efficient, and the guests were enjoyed their holiday. The only minor downside was that there wasn't any food provided for us on arrival - the buffet restaurant had stopped serving by the point and there was nowhere else to eat. We'd had a big lunch at the airport, plus snacks on route, so were not starving, but it would have been nice to have been offered 'something'.
* Our Room *
The room we booked was one of the Kids Den rooms and this was ideal for us. In our section of the room was a very large bed (super king size I think), a reasonable size TV, a dressing table, fridge, case stand and a couple of large wardrobes. There was also a safe with key code locking inside the wardrobe, which gave us peace of mind when leaving our valuables (cash and electronic devices) in the room. The room was spotlessly clean and had towels arranged on the bed, surrounded with flower petals as a welcoming touch. There was also air-conditioning - very welcome in the hot Turkish climate - which meant that we were able to cool down enough to get a good night's sleep. The bed was very comfortable and the pillows were very fluffy - possibly too fluffy if my husband is to be believed.
On the far side of the room were a pair of sliding doors which, when opened, revealed the 'Kids Den' with a bunk bed, large bean bag, desk and small TV. My children were absolutely delighted with their room and there was a chorus of 'wow, this is awesome'. Beyond the Kids Den was a good-sized balcony with table, two chairs and a drying rack for the wet swimwear. Ideally, I would have preferred the balcony to be attached to our room rather than the children's room for safety reasons, but they were very good about not going out there without an adult present so it did not present any issues. The children slept very well in the bunk beds (six year old on top, three year old at the bottom) and they enjoyed the large amount of play space that they had between the bunks and the furniture. It was ideal for them and I would definitely choose that type of room layout in future.
* Resort Facilities *
The focal point of the Holiday Village is the massive lagoon style swimming pool. This was surrounded by sunbeds and had a bridge across the narrowest point, two tall towers which acted as fountains / sprinklers above the pool and a beach style shallow end to allow younger children to enjoy the pool with confidence. The majority of the pool was 1.4M deep, but there was enough space at the shallow end for my children to enjoy themselves. There are also several other pools - a slide pool with three big waterslides, a more adult-type pool with two Jacuzzis, a small circular baby pool and a larger Kids Pool near the Kids Club with sprinklers and a small snake slide. Apparently there are also several small pools near the suites, but we didn't find these. In addition to the pools, there are tennis courts, football pitches, volleyball courts, an high ropes climbing course, a ten pin bowling alley, pool tables and a range of kids clubs and activities for all ages. There is also direct access to the beach with sunbeds and umbrellas provided by the hotel. Overall, we were very impressed by the facilities on offer. The children absolutely loved playing in the pools and we spent an average of six hours a day pool-side. My six year old son had a great time racing his Dad up the pirate ship style rigging on the high ropes, and also tried out aeroball (a mix of trampolining and basketball) with the Kids Club. The children both attended a few sessions at the Kids Clubs and these were well run and felt safe. There was a good range of activities on offer ranging from indoor craft-based activities to party-style sessions via the opportunity to try out sports such as canoeing.
There were a couple of little niggles. Firstly, you had to literally get up at the crack of dawn to get a sunbed on the front row by the pool - even when we went out at 8am to put our towels down, there were no free sunbeds (and, putting our towels out early really isn't our style - plus this was pretty much an 'English' resort so we can't even do that very English thing of blaming the Germans this time). To be fair though, there were plenty of sunbeds (and they were comfortable ones with cushions) and, even going down mid-morning, there were always some available - they just were not necessarily in the best position for keeping an eye on the children. The other issue was that some parents didn't put swim nappies on their children and then they pooed in the pools - the big lagoon pool was closed twice for 4-5 hours for cleaning for this reason.
* Food and Drink *
Buffets: In my opinion, when you go for the convenience of all-inclusive, then it is normal that you have to sacrifice something in terms of quality. The food at the Holiday Village was fine - some things were delicious, some things were average and some things were probably better avoided! Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all served buffet style - breakfast and dinner were in the main restaurant in the air-conditioned main area of the hotel, lunch was served in the snack bar by the pool. At all meals, there was a wide range of foods available, catering for every different taste. Breakfast was relatively good in my opinion - there were lots of different breads, rolls and pastries to choose from, a good variety of continental style meats and cheese, fresh fruit, pancakes, omelettes prepared while you waited and a few hot food options as well. Tea, coffee and juice was all available from self-service machines. Lunch was a bit more average - there tended to be fish (with heads and needing deboning), some kind of stew/chilli type dish with rice, chips, hot dogs, jacket potatoes, a pasta dish, chicken burgers/nuggets and salads. It was fine but there wasn't a huge amount of variety day to day - they changed the meat dish and the pasta, but everything was the same every day. Dinner had a bit more variety - they tried to do theme nights so there was an Italian night, a Turkish night and a Far East night when we were there. Again, the quality of the food varied but generally it was reasonable quality. The biggest downside with the food was that it was very generic - there were Turkish options but you had to hunt them out - so it felt like you could have been anywhere. Also, the children tended to just eat sausage/nuggets and chips as that is what they like - I'd have preferred them to be a bit more adventurous! There is
Other Food Options: They also had four al a carte restaurants - Turkish, Asian, Italian and Barbecue - you had to book these through the computer screens at Reception in advance and choose your food at the time of booking. We enjoyed our meals in both the Turkish and BBQ restaurants as it was a bit more relaxed than the slightly manic experience of a buffet restaurant with my children. On top of this, you could get toasties cooked to order in the Chill Out Bar at lunchtimes and there were Turkish pancakes (freshly made while you watched) in the Pancake House. Ice-cream was only included in the all-inclusive for two hours in the afternoon - this was tasty with a range of flavours.
Drinks were relatively good in my opinion - the beer tasted like it had been watered down but it was drinkable (and we were not 'paying' for it so could easily just get another one), the wine wasn't too bad and there was a good range of soft drinks and cocktails available. There were also large fridges full of bottled water so it was very easy to keep yourself hydrated and the fridges in your rooms stocked up. Branded drinks (with the exception of soft drinks) were not part of the all-inclusive package but that wasn't an issue for us. There were a few bars - a 'adult' one by the pool with evening entertainment, a chill out bar with sofas and mood lighting by the beach and a big lobby bar in the main building. You could also take plastic cups into the amphitheatre / poolside or, pop to the bar when the children were asleep and take the drinks back to your rooms to enjoy there.
* Entertainment *
There was a full programme of entertainment provided by the First Choice reps. This ranged from family activities during the day such as archery, raft-building and pool-side quizzes to shows at night. We didn't get to experience any of the main evening shows as the children ended up exhausted by 9.30 after all that swimming, but they absolutely loved the i5Live nightly entertainment aimed at young children. This was held in the outdoor amphitheatre and involved dancing, games and a lot of interaction. The entertainment team were funny and kept everyone entertained, even the adults.
* Cost *
Holiday prices vary so much that it is hard to give an accurate cost. A week in August next year would be around £879 per person, including flights from a London area airport - for a family of four that is over £3,000 (although there are free kids places still available which would bring the cost down slightly). Out of school holidays it is obviously much cheaper - a week at the end of September this year would be £419 per person which is very good value for all-inclusive.
* Final Thoughts *
Overall, this was a holiday which the whole family really enjoyed. The children are desperate to go back - they loved the pools, made new friends, enjoyed the Kids Club and entertainment and generally had a brilliant time. For me, personally, I'm happy as long as the children are happy - I'm not sure I'd go back there again because we've been there now and I like to try new places, but I would definitely consider another holiday village in the future. There were a few negatives - the beach wasn't great as it was stony at the sea entry level, and you couldn't build sandcastles due to the turtle protection issues (hard to explain to a three year old) and there wasn't much to do outside the Holiday Village itself other than one row of shops and a few bars/restaurants in Sarigerme. I also felt that you could have been 'anywhere hot with palm trees' - there was no real sense in the hotel complex that you were in Turkey, and I'm guessing that is the same in the other Holiday Villages as well. But, those negatives were outweighed by the fact that we all had a fabulous holiday and came back feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. The official rating for this Holiday Village is four stars and I'd probably agree with that - the resort itself, the facilities and the Kids Clubs are definitely worthy of that, although I'd say that the food was more of a three-star standard.
I like to travel, and when my travel agent told me about a deal to go to Turkey for a reasonable price, it was hard to resist. The hotel is situated in the small town of Sarigerme near the Dalaman airport not far from the popular tourist town: Olu Deniz.
My mum was looking to go away and when I told her that this hotel looked amazing and that it wouldn't break the bank she was all for it.
The hotel itself is just lovely, there are two halves. I think the main reason it is split into two halves is because it is so big, there are 15 pools altogether and there is a private beach located at the back of the hotel. Now, the flight there was not too bad as it only took about 4 and a half hours (which I slept through mostly) But the airport was very friendly and although you have to pay a tenner for a visa it's not too bad cost wise.
The resort is one of First choice's main attractions, they have multiple holiday villages located around the globe and are very popular worldwide. This resort inparticular harbours just over 140,000 visitors per calendar year. I think one of the main things that really impressed me about this hotel is that it is located literally in the middle of no where, there is just a lone beach, a small village about ten miles away and a huge resort nearly a mile in length.
When I got there I was welcomed with tea and biscuits, with a long wait for check-in this was much needed. After some small confusion with the room I was able to retreat to my jacuzzi room with it's own balcony at 4 in the morning. I loved the room, it was clean with a beautiful swan made from towels on my bed and rose petals, it was just the perfect welcome. In the morning the first thing I heard as an early riser was the smell of roses and tropical birds chirping ever so sweet music to my ears!
The 35 degree heat was certainly inviting with staff arriving to my room within minutes to cater for my breakfast tea needs. The food you ask? Well that is a whole other story, beautiful swan fruits ans pancakes made in the sun. Live shows where they carve fruits into all sorts of shapes for you, for free! (Oh the benefits of an all inclusive holiday) Prices start at at £450 per person available at most travel agents and online.
I don't think there was any disadvantages of this resort, nearly every person had a huge smile on their face and the nature was unreal. There was all sorts of birds and lizards around the resort. There were beautiful trees and tropical fish in the mediteranean sea.
A definitely perfect holiday, I will be returning evidently.
Thanks for reading,
I have never been on an all inclusive holiday before. I have only ever been self catered and so wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this holiday. My husband had actually previously visited this resort when it first opened and it came highly recommended by him and his family. We went here for a week just recently and I wanted to share my experience with you and it was a very enjoyable one.
Location and background
Holiday Village is owned and run by first choice and is set in the small town or Sarigerme, Dalaman. Flying into Dalaman airport you will take a short 20 minute drive into the resort of Sarigerme which is host to a small amount of shops, bars and restaurants and its own beach. Personally I would say the village of sarigerme left a lot to be desired and a whole trip to the 'village' took around 40 minutes and this was visiting every shop in the parade. The people of Sarigerme however were very friendly and welcoming and unlike in other countries tradesmen did not bother you for their business they were just pleased to see you in their shops. The Village is about a 30 minute walk from the hotel but a short 5 minute cab trip which cost 10 Turkish liras (loosely exchanged about £4.00). Apart from that there wasn't much more to do unless you went much further out.
On first inspection the hotel looked fantastic. More of a hotel it is a complex with apartment buildings on it, Lots of apartment buildings.
The complex has 18 swimming pools all lifeguarded) both large and small including slide pools and indoor pool and 1 adult pool. There are thousands upon thousands of sun beds all around them and we never had any problem at all getting a sun bed around any pool. There are sun beds both in shaded and non shaded areas which is fantastic for the children. There are 3 children's paddling pools which are a lot shallower than the other pools. This was great for my daughter who is only 20 months and we were able to sit on the side and sun bathe whilst she was only 2 foot away in very shallow water, having the time of her life.
Located within walking distance from anywhere there were bars where you could get all sorts of drinks. The only beer they supplied was efes, a local larger and all inclusive drinks included spirits, all soft drinks including coca cola and fruit juices and cocktails which changed daily. I was very impressed with the range of drinks they had as I expected to only be able to get very basic drinks such as a vodka and coke but was very pleased when I was able to have a cocktail or a brandy and coke. All coke was branded coca cola and sprite etc and bottles of water were supplied in their thousands in fridges where you could just take as many as you need.
These bars turned into snack bars in the day where from 10.30 until 4.20 you were able to grab something light to eat without having to visit the restaurant.
The complex is actually home to two hotels. They intertwine into one and work as one but they are called the palace side and the tropical side. For each side there is a main pool, a kids club, a restaurant, a host of shops and an evening entertainment stage. Regardless of what side you stayed on you were able to visit any part of the complex and eat in either of the restaurants. The point of having two sides of the hotel is unclear to me as everyone mingled I can only presume it is for organisation purposes for the hotel staff.
The rooms of the hotel were very basic and in need of some renewals in parts. The furniture looked old and dated and it wasn't as homely as some hotels I have visited. For the standard of the facilities the rooms do let it down somewhat but for the time spent in the rooms they served their purpose and for that we were grateful. All standard rooms sleep at least 4 and come with a bath and shower, a balcony, a mini fridge for you own use, a television, a hairdryer and most importantly air conditioning. Upgraded rooms come with a kids den or a Jacuzzi bath.
The hotel complex has its own beach which is accessible only through the hotel. It is not the best beach I have been to for white sand and blue waters but it was so peaceful there and within walking distance from our room. There are sun beds and parasols out on the beach for you to use we took advantage of these peaceful times when our daughter was in the crèche.
On site entertainment.
I have never been to a holiday camp which is so well organised. There was so much entertainment going on that there was nobody left bored. Every night there was an array of shows in the ampi theatres and in the bars there was other entertainment including bingo and quizzes. Some of the shows we saw on our week there included Cinderella, abba the tribute, rock and rumble amongst others. These were all really well presented and although the entertainers were not the best singers they were fantastic entertainment and my daughter certainly enjoyed every minute of it. There were always spaces in the theatres to sit and drinks and food were available to take into them.
During the day around the pool there was loads going on. There were daily quizzes, competitions for kids, water polo, water aerobics and loads loads more. The entertainment team was so friendly and, all comical there were people round the pool laughing all day! It felt like one big family.
Kids club was available for children of all ages. They went in age groups and unfortunately I cannot comment on the kids clubs for the older children as my child went to the twinkle stars which was aimed at children 0-36 months. This was actually a crèche which had to be booked in advance. When we got there we went and booked her in for a few sessions and luckily we got her booked in but sessions go quickly as they only allow 3 children per supervisor. The prices for this were reasonable as we paid £7 for a two hour session. My daughter went every day and the facilities inside the crèche were amazing. My daughter got given lots of goodies for being part of the crèche including a t shirt and hat, a drinks bottle, some puzzles and every day she came home with something she had made. The staff in the crèche were so friendly and she loved them. I really felt comfortable leaving her with them especially when she was so happy to be going there.
There is an onsite entertainment room which had a bowling alley and internet cafe in it. The bowling alley was pricy considering it was such a small one as we paid 20 Turkish liras for 10 frames which for two of us took about 20 minutes.
The whole complex and its entertainment was very geared up towards young children and families. All shows were child friendly and the hustle and bustle of the bars at night would not suit a couple looking for a quiet holiday. There are lots of children running around and playing games which for a young family is lovely but does not suit everyone.
On the beach water sports were available such as paragliding and banana boats. These looked fun and fairly reasonable but I thought I would give it a miss as I am not a great fan of the sea.
Other on site facilities
The health Spa - here you can have a Turkish bath and massage. Prices ranged from 50 Turkish liras to 500 Turkish liras. We considered visiting the spa on our anniversary which was celebrated on holiday but when we went to check out the prices we were hounded by the man who ran the spa. He was Turkish gentleman who wouldn't take no for an answer. We simply asked him if he could wait until we could get a time when daisy was in the crèche and he couldn't seem to understand why we didn't was our massages NOW. We spent the rest of the holiday avoiding the spa and this man.
Children's park - For times when they are bored on the water they had a park with the normal swings and slides etc which were all really well kept. Daisy loved this as it made a change from the everyday swimming and there were shaded areas for her to sit out of the sun.
Wedding Gazebo - Whilst we were there, there was a wedding happening. They had their hen party there so everyone knew she was getting married and went to cheer her on as she walked up to the wedding gazebo. I'm not sure this would have been my preference of wedding ceremony but the wedding looked beautiful. Unfortunately I cannot comment on price but this facility is avaliable.
Sports and recreation areas - these included 5 a side pitches, basketball courts, climbing poles and more which I am sure I have forgotten to mention. None of the above we had chance to use so again I am afraid I can't comment much on them but they were available.
Free wi fi in the reception areas of the hotel - bonus!!
I have never met people so dedicated to their jobs. The whole thing was such a large operation with thousands of staff who were all equally friendly and helpful. The staff came in two groups.
First Choice Staff - Staff who ran things like the entertainment, all young English and English Speaking staff. We got to know the young girls who ran the crèche who as I said before were very dedicated to their jobs and friendly. Every member of first choice staff that we passed greeted us and I guess they get told to do this as I don't think I came across anyone who didn't say hello to us or make a fuss of daisy. They were so helpful and polite and there was always someone on hand to help with any troubles and booking things like excursions. There was someone to meet and greet us on every part of our journey to the complex and on the way back.
The entertainment staff put a lot of hard work and effort into their work and came up with some great shows. During the day there were quizzes going on all day hosted by these people and it certainly broke up the day of sun bathing.
Hotel staff - Staff who ran things like the restaurant and the reception, housekeeping and chefs. All local Turkish people who spoke English the best they knew how to. They were so hard working and dedicated it made me feel sorry for them when I was sitting there having a nice time. We seriously didn't want for anything on the holiday and if there was anything we ever needed they were so happy to help. On one occasion my daughter wanted a banana which on this day wasn't on the menu. We only had to mention the banana and suddenly she had 10 bananas to last her all week to take back to the hotel.
The bar staff were overcome with people wanting drinks. They worked quickly and efficiently and I didn't ever wait more than 5 minutes for a drink. The chefs worked in sweltering heats.
The people I was most impressed with was the maintenance staff. There were hundreds of people working to keep the place tidy. Always someone collecting the glasses and cups and an empty glass never sat there for more than 2 minutes. There was always someone cutting the grass or pruning the hedges, cleaning the sun beds or washing the floors. There was an attendant to every toilet and every toilet was absolutely immaculate, even those around the pools. There was always trivial things like toilet paper which seems to go missing in every public toilet I enter and I was so impressed with their attitude which was certainly a happy one. Happy to be there and happy to help, happy to be cleaning up someone else's mess!
Every day we had new towels and every day our room was cleaned from bottom to top. They even did things like fold up our clothes and put our shoes neatly in a row. They made our daughters bed and put all her cuddly toys in a row at the end of her cot and put our tooth brushes back in their holders. They really were thorough and it was really nice to come back to a tidy apartment when you had left it in a mess. We started tidying up ourselves as we learnt what perfectionists they were as we felt bad that they felt they needed to tidy our things away. It was nice though.
The food I was not all that impressed with. It was an all inclusive holiday which meant that the restaurants were buffet style. There was a lot of choice and although most days they did some of the same things they did do specials every day. 5 meals a day was available
Breakfast - a range of fruits, yoghurts and cereals, cooked breakfast (only including Turkish style sausages, scrambled eggs and omelettes, boiled eggs, pan cakes, tomatoes with mozzarella cheese), a range of croissants and pastries, breads and cheeses. When I say a range of I mean an extensive range. The fruit selection was wonderful and there was so much of it. The breads and cheeses were so so fancy it left me wanting something simple.
Snack bar menu (Available at the pool bars) - Chips, Burgers, Hot Dogs, pizza, pasta, salad
Lunch - Hot food and cold salads, varied daily, chips every day, fresh cooked meats and soups, breads and desserts.
Dinner - Huge Selection of dishes including fishes, meats, potatoes, salads, rice, omelettes, fruit, desserts.
Midnight snack - breads and cheeses, fruits, chips, nuggets, various bits and pieces.
I know I can hear you saying why were you not impressed with this? But I think it is because may be it is a personally preference thing and I am fussy. Everything was with something and nothing was plain, you couldn't just have a piece of chicken it came with some weird sauce, they served weird things like calves liver salad and things that just aren't me. At breakfast I was disappointed that I could not just have a bit of bacon and a friend egg and because of this I ended up eating pancakes for breakfast, chips for lunch and chips for dinner.
Having said all that there was so much work that went into the food and the preparation of it must have been massive. There was so much fruit and salad all freshly prepared and desserts came in their thousands! I was pleased to get home to English food though.
Just think this would be a good time to mention that allergies are catered for such as nut and gluten as there are signs up in the restaurant that explains this. If you require assistance speak to the chef - that's what the sign says anyway!
As part of the all inclusive deal you got a visit to each of the a la carte restaurants. We only managed to visit the Turkish restaurant as we only had a week there but this was a lovely meal. In a lovely setting. We did have to book this early in the week though as seats got booked up pretty quickly.
The value for money
We actually got a late deal on this holiday and paid a mere £640 for two adults and an infant (all inclusive) this was hugely cheap and as far as we could tell people had paid much more than this and we just got lucky! At this price I just cannot see how the company could make any money. The amount of staff and the service we received were worth much more than this. And we probably ate and drank this amount alone, that's without the flights. In this respect if you can get a good deal you are extremely lucky as this is an absolute bargain!! I would have definitely paid more like £1300 for the holiday we had and would expect to pay this in the future.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a family holiday. If you are looking for something for the kids this is the place to go. They will love it. As far as the food goes, you will find something you like, it is impossible not to. With 18 swimming pools you would be mad not to take your cossie. We didn't spend a penny apart from on the fake tiffany ring I brought and the £30 it cost for the visas to get in the country at the Turkish airport.
Value for money was superb. We had a wonderful family holiday which we more than enjoyed. We will definitely be returning in the future!!