“ Hotel in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. „
After weeks of constant earache from my girlfriend and endless 'discussions' involving me telling her I categorically did not want to go on holiday this year - I eventually submitted. What a girl wants, she gets! I agreed to a last minute holiday in the sun. After scouting the internet for last minute deals we stumbled across a reasonably priced 4-star hotel in Fuerteventura, courtesy of FirstChoice. It had an overwhelming amount of positive reviews so we thought, after much debate, we would book a week away! My girlfriend, being somewhat of the obsessive type, checked review sites daily to see what people had been saying about the hotel. Sadly, the most recent reviews weren't great. Tales of cockroaches, broken air-conditioning units and unfriendly staff introduced an air of reluctance regarding our week away in the sun. Sadder still, the tales were true!
When my girlfriend and I go away, we usually travel with her parents. So, although we have been on 3 previous holidays together, this was our first alone! The thought was quite daunting. They say that first holiday together is what makes or breaks a relationship! Can you deal with her/him for an entire week, alone, constantly? As this was our first true holiday 'together', I really hoped the hotel would prove those harsh critics wrong and deliver us a wonderful, unforgettable experience. It was unforgettable - but for the completely wrong reasons.
~~~ Initial Impressions ~~~
If there was ever a wrong way to start a holiday, this would have been the perfect example. Arriving at Suite Hotel Atlantis, on-time and without delay, we were greeted by the front-end staff who gave us a quick 5 minute talk about the hotel. Where to find things, what time breakfast and dinner was - the usual 'need-to-knows' when arriving at your hotel. We were also given a map of the resort, although it is not a large resort, it is somewhat spacious and the map does help in finding your way around. The lady marked on the map where our room was and we set off on our way. Arguably the furthest room away from the reception area, we arrived, carted our luggage up a steep flight of stairs, only to find that the room had not been cleaned. The bed was a mess and there were cigarette butts in the ashtray. We were pretty displeased; but being a typical British couple we made little fuss - asking if we could move to a room that had been cleaned. Carting our luggage all the way back to the reception area, the staff offered little apology. Quite horrendous behaviour for a four star hotel.
Furthermore, we were given a replacement room and told it was situated in a much better area of the resort. Which would have been true - if we were 12 year old children. The area we were given was directly adjacent to the children and toddlers pool. Accompanying this prime location, was the fantastic sounds of crying and banging children - pretty much throughout the entire day (particularly early mornings) - which made mornings a delight. I hope by now you have recognised the sarcastic tone for which I write. Arriving at this replacement room, we found it to be - similarly to the previous room - of an unsatisfactory standard. In the room was a cot (yes, a babies cot) which had obviously been used by the previous residents (I guess this because of the strong aroma which could be smelt nearby). Continually, trying to understand the air-conditioning remote was like solving a Rubik's cube. We had to call a member of the maintenance staff down to sort it out for us because we could not get it to work. To add to this delightful start to our holiday, the sofa in the suite (which can also be used as a bed) seemed to be the subject of severe cleanliness-deprivation; providing the room with a strong sweat-like smell. Fab.
The quality of the room was also pretty poor considering it is a 4-star hotel. The decor was old and displeasing to look at, there was mold on one of the walls which the air-conditioning unit was situated, the air-conditioning unit itself leaked (which would explain the mold) and the neighbouring walls were far too thin (which would explain our ability to hear the children banging), all-in-all it was in need of a splash of paint and a few visits to IKEA. A pretty poor start to the holiday I might say!
~~~ Restaurants, Food and Drink ~~~
After this pretty abysmal start to our holiday, we made our way to the 'Restaurant Gaudi' were the evening meals were served. There are three restaurants situated on the premise of the resort - Gaudi, Rambutan and Eldorado Rock Cafe. Gaudi is the main restaurant - serving all three meals a day. Rambutan serves breakfast only but provides a 'Pool Snack Bar' service for lunchtime and throughout the majority of the day. Both Rambutan and Eldorado offered a booking service - whereby you can book prior to eat at the restaurant for an evening meal. This service was offered on Tuesdays and Fridays only. Upon entering the restaurant we were greeted by a chauffeur-type employee, who ushered us to the adults-only area of the restaurant. Now, when I read 'adults-only', I think 'adults-only'. So the fact that there were children sitting in this area is pretty hard to explain. The restaurant staff made little, if any attempt to move children away from the adults-only area, which begs the question, why have an adults-only area at all?
The variety of the food available was excellent - though (and I speak on my girlfriends behalf aswell) not to the most of British tastes. Snails, rabbits and octopus are all delicacies which I do not consider delicacies at all. A lot of the nights my girlfriend and I would eat soup or paté simply because the food was so extravagant. I understand the phrase 'When in Rome' might apply here, but I simply could not stomach eating a rabbit or the tentacles of an octopus. There were nights were there was food that we could eat, and I'd even go to the lengths of saying we enjoyed it, but for the majority of the holiday, as mentioned, we ate paté on bread or soup. There was a young Somalian chef who made a mean steak, which was for me, the highlight of the food on display. Being all-inclusive felt like a waste considering we largely ate bread rolls, but the peace of mind that accompanies an all-inclusive board basis goes to some lengths as to compensate the poor food on display!
My girlfriend and I booked the Restaurant Rambutan for the Saturday night, were they had a BBQ going! This was a nice addition to the holiday and provided some variety. Upon arrival at the restaurant we were greeted with champagne and a waiter who guided us to our table - very nice. The food was good, considerably better than the food served at Gaudi, and for one night we had full bellies to go to bed on. I would definitely recommend booking one of these evening meals.
The drinks the hotel had to offer were pretty standard. All-inclusive allows for an unlimited amount of refills on soft drinks, beer, wine and a limited number of cocktails at the hotels choosing. I think, from what I can recall, there were 8 cocktails included in the all-inclusive board basis. They even had a cocktail named after the hotel, which I have to say was pretty nice. The bar staff were friendly for the most part, but we did encounter a few who looked horrified that we had 'dared' to ask them for a drink! The staff did seem to put huge amounts of alcohol in the drinks - we asked on a number of occasions for a little bit of a vodka in one of the non-alcoholic cocktails, and they poured more than half a glass of vodka (no exaggeration), smiling at you as they were doing it! I think possibly because of our youth they thought we wanted to get drunk, but there is a dividing line between getting drunk and having your stomach pumped! They also served daiquiri's, which for those of you who don't know, is an ice based drink similar to a slush puppy. However, they only served these at the reception bar, which meant you had to trundle your way to reception and back again just to get the drink you wanted, which was a little annoying!
~~~ The Resort, Pools and Activities ~~~
Suite Hotel Atlantis is a lot different to other hotels I have stayed in. Typically, your average hotel consists of a large reception area and many adjacent corridors and floors where the rooms are situated. Atlantis has its rooms dispersed over the entire resort, kind of like mini villas. The rooms are outside and consists of a maximum of two floors. Dependent on where you room is situated can be quite advantageous - you can open the front door in the morning at already be at the pool. None of this trundling down corridors and out of the reception area to get to the pool. Similarly to the food, the hotel has a large variety of pools - having 7 in total! There are pool bars located near to all of the pools, so getting a drink during the mid-day heat is no problem! Also, due to number of pools and small amount of rooms (totaling around the 300 mark I recall) there is never any problem getting a sunbed. On previous holidays, my girlfriend or I would have to wake up at an incredibly early hour just to ensure we could get a few sunbeds next to one another. At Suite Hotel Atlantis, there is no such problem. We woke up between 9 and 10 o'clock each day and never had any problem getting sunbeds.
Of the 7 pools, only one of them is an adults-only pool. The lifeguards and other passing members of staff would often have to tell parents with children to relocate to another pool - due to the fact that 'adults-only' is poorly displayed. There is only one (tiny) sign that tells users that the pool is adults-only, so one cannot blame parents for taking their children in! The lifeguards were pretty strict and had a no-tolerance approach to children using the adults pool. Some parents would complain when asked to leave because their rooms would be right outside the pool, but they had no leg to stand on - it's not like there was a lack of choice or anything!
A large amount of the sunbeds, were in a word, rubbish! The newer sunbeds (probably 80% total) all had the fabric stretched across them too tight, which made for an annoying ordeal when lying down. The sunbed would often dislodge from the rung you had put them in when you sat down, which made in difficult when trying to lay flat! Only the older sunbeds which had been worn-in allowed you to lay flat and choose which rung you wanted the head support in! Being a keen reader, it also made reading books difficult!
Booking with FirstChoice, there is always a 'Welcome Meeting' the following day after your arrival. These welcome meetings compose of a travel rep talking you through the resort, where the best places to go are and what the best things are to do! The range of activities offered by FirstChoice was overwhelming and it took us a good half-an-hour to read through the brochure and decide what we wanted to do. There was a Waterpark, a Catamaran day out, a Submarine, Quad bikes/Buggies to hire - the list goes on. We opted for a day at the Waterpark and a 'Restaurant Night'. The Restaurant Night was absolutely fantastic value. For Euro18 you got a three course meal and 4 drinks - each - at a restaurant called La Playita next to the harbour in Correlajo! Expecting nothing wonderful (at a price of Euro18 you can see why) we were completely gobsmacked how nice the food was and the variety that was on offer! The Waterpark, on-the-other-hand, was a complete disaster!
Baku Waterpark is the only Waterpark, I am led to believe, on the island of Fuerteventura. After witnessing the heights of Siam Park in Tenerife two years earlier, I knew this could never compare. How right I was. Baku Waterpark is an absolute rip-off. A waste of a day. Extortionately priced with a plethora of dreadful rides. Exactly what you don't want when visiting a Waterpark. Our travel rep told us it was a must day out, although I wish he had been more honest because it was absolutely awful. Before I start my rant, I have to say the weather was not great the day we went and did add to the disappointment. However, regardless of the weather, this Waterpark is disgraceful. Having a total of eight slides, a lazy river, children's area and wave pool, the prospects looked good. Charging us Euro25 for the day, we thought we were set for the day! Wrong. Firstly, we were told we had to rent a locker, which required a Euro5 deposit and Euro4 charge. Then, when we wanted to go on the two 'best' (I use the term loosely) rides, we were told we could not go on without rubber rings. We went to the place the rubber rings were given out, only to be told it was another Euro5 and Euro4 charge - per ring. We went ahead with renting the rings - only to find that the Waterpark had rent-free rings that could be used for no charge. I was absolutely fuming!
Continually, accompanying the feel that I had just been mugged was a nice bump to the head. The slide which required a rubber ring was extremely dangerous. My ring got upturned (banging my head) when going down the slide and it shooted over the edge. Also, for the time that I was actually in my ring, I was getting dangerously close to the edge of the slide! Quite appalling. Also, the floor around the lazy river was littered with cigarette butts and pieces of cement which had dislodged itself from the floor. A shocking state of affairs. You'd think they could afford to employ a maintenance team with all the money they are practically stealing from your back pocket. A disappointment. Categorically avoid.
~~~ Nightlife and Entertainment ~~~
The plaza is located just outside the main restaurant, Gaudi. Here, there is a large bar, plenty of seating, a theater with play reenactments for the children, often a holiday stall and the Eldorado Rock Cafe - which at night transforms into an adults only bar! By the way of entertainment, there isn't much. Apart from the theater for the children, there is little entertainment, which at times can be rather boring as an adult. Usually on holiday we are subjected to some sort of live music or band and often a man with exotic birds - here, there is nothing. There is however, a man who will draw your caricature for a Euro10 fee, but other than that the entertainment is pretty non-existent. The adults-only bar is a welcome addition, especially if you want to avoid the noisy hustle and bustle of the plaza floor. We found ourselves sitting up there (its on a balcony) most nights.
The main port of Corralejo is a 15 minute walk away. There is a stretch of beach which takes you directly to the main strip, which is a delight to walk when the sun has set. In Corralejo, you will find all the standard holiday-type shops; offering all your heart desires, from souvenirs to fake Raybans. There is a plethora of restaurants, ranging from steakhouses to tapas bars. The streets are clean and the sea-air fresh - it is a lovely relaxing place to go when you've had enough of the hotel plaza.
~~~ Summary ~~~
Its awfully sad reminiscing back, that our first holiday 'together' was somewhat ruined by the hotel. From the moment we arrived we felt inundated with setbacks and flaws, and wherever we went in the hotel we could find something that wasn't quite right. My girlfriend found it acceptable to point out to me the state of the wall I had been sitting next too in the restaurant, on the last day. It had been hand-painted with a typical 'Fuertaventuran' landscape. What the painting was hiding however, was the condition of the wall. The wall was covered with remnants of food that had been splashed from peoples plates. Quite disgusting I must say. This, for me, summed up the entire hotel. From a distance it looks beautiful, with 7 large elegant pools, a beautiful reception area and friendly staff. But when you take a closer look, you actually find that it is not as once seemed. The kids pools are overcrowded, the sunbeds aren't quite fitted right and there is mold on the walls of your suite. This hotel can never be a 4-star hotel, surely? Well, in the reception area of the hotel, you will find the walls plastered with certificates praising the hotel. 5.1 / 6 from Tripadvisor. 4.5 / 5. 4 / 5 star. Perhaps we were just the subject to a series of events which forced our hand in concluding this hotel is overrated. Regardless, my opinion stands - an average hotel and an average experience.
My Mother in Law celebrated her 60th birthday this year and instead of a party or a big celebration, she very generously decided to take the family on holiday. There are eight of us in total ranging from 10 to 60 so there were many needs that would need to be satisfied. After a mammoth search and much discussion the Hotel Suite Atlantis in Corralejo, Fuerteventura (Canary Island) was booked and we travelled there for our weeks all inclusive stay on the 28th March 2012.
~*~ Location ~*~
After a four hour flight from Bristol we flew into Fuerteventura airport which is the only airport on the Island. The transfer was only forty minutes which is ideal I think and the route to the hotel is absolutely stunning - on one side you have the beautiful turquoise ocean the entire way and on the other there is the dramatic landscape of this once volcanic island with bits of Island civilisation dotted in-between.
Situated in the resort of Corralejo, the hotel is a twenty minute walk away from the main town centre and harbour, or a taxi ride which will cost about a euro. There isn't masses to do in the town but there are plenty of bars, restaurants and tat shops where you can purchase the traditional holiday souvenirs but it is certainly pretty and well worth a browse. In the other direction there is a shopping centre with many touristy shops and which also hosts a craft market on a Sunday and nearby this there is a water park which also takes about twenty minutes to walk to (we went here for a day and the family loved it but I entered reluctantly like a dog going to the vets as I don't like getting my hair wet!). The hotel has its own private beach across the road from the entrance and it is accessed via your room card but it isn't particularly nice but the hotel has a courtesy bus to the main beach (Oliva) which is nothing short of stunning with turquoise sea and white sand and so definitely a must.
~*~ Accommodation ~*~
Checking in was a simple process, but it did seem to take a long time and a lengthy queue quickly forms when many people are being dropped here at the same time. We were allocated our rooms and given wristbands which allow you to have all inclusive benefits. You cannot have access to your rooms until 3pm which is fair enough but something to bear in mind if you have an early arrival flight. We arrived at 3.30pm and still had to wait another hour for our rooms to be ready but this gave us a good opportunity to have a look around the extensive grounds in which this hotel sits. Check out is strictly at 12pm at which point your all inclusive band gets cut off and you have to pay for everything and it isn't cheap - we left at 11am but if you have an evening flight this would not be a good end to your holiday and it is something that I haven't come across before despite being on many all inclusive holidays, you usually get to keep your band until you physically leave. In a four star hotel I would expect a bell boy to take our cases to the room after check-in, but this service is not offered at all at the Suite Atlantis; you just get given a map and sent on your way!
As previously stated, this complex is big. The accommodation is only two storeys and spread over a large area. We had requested second storey rooms before leaving the UK and I am glad that we did as no privacy whatsoever is offered to the ground floor apartments and I wouldn't really like to hang my smalls out on the balcony for everyone to see and touch! Within our group we had two junior suites and a family room - we occupied the family room and we were absolutely delighted with it. We chose this hotel mainly because they could accommodate us - my eldest son is 13 and it was difficult trying to find a family room that would allow him to be in with us - essentially we booked 3 adults and a child into the room which is exactly what we needed.
There is a walk in wardrobe in all of the apartments with plentiful shelving space but there are only a few hangers so you may need to bring extra if required. The safe is located in the wardrobe and it can be utilised for a 30 euro deposit plus 2.5 euros cost per day. As well as the massive wardrobe there are also bedside tables for every occupant with drawers, a dressing table and a large chest of drawers. Our boys had a pull out sofa bed in the lounge area which was surprisingly comfortable compared to our twin beds which were not so great - they were hard and creaky and I do not think that I had a decent nights sleep for the whole week which is very disappointing, if I didn't wake up aching, I was woken up by my husband noisily moving! Just off the lounge (which also contains a frideg and TV with limited channels) there is a small balcony but it is overlooked by the next door suite, as they all seemed to be - a dividing screen would have been nice. We had a separate bedroom with its own huge balcony which was a real treat and somewhere relaxing to sit (and dry the swimwear from the day on the provided airer) however the views are not great - there is an abandoned building site directly opposite which seems to dominate the whole area and does not make for pretty balcony photo shots! The bathroom was amazing. Double sinks, separate shower unit as well as a shower over the bath, spacious bath, plenty of good pressured hot water, lots of clean fluffy towels and a basket of free stuff that is well worth pinching! There was maid service everyday and the sheets were changed twice during our stay, and she made our son's holiday by arranging his cuddly (well travelled) monkey into a different jaunty position each day! The entire room was spotlessly clean and well maintained with attention to detail, apart from the beds, a pretty good start.
The main pull to this hotel for us had to be the pools. It is advertised that there are seven but we could only find five. The main pool in the centre is where all of the activities take place but it really is not that big considering the size of the hotel, it is well heated but soon becomes overcrowded. There are lots of sunbeds in this area, but as the hotel filled up (we were there for the start of the Easter holidays) the beds were quickly taken and if you hadn't put a towel out on the way to breakfast, chances are you're not going to be sitting here! I don't like doing this at all but when in Rome... There is a bigger pool a short distance away but when we were there it was not heated and the swim-up bar that we were looking forward to was closed. A relax pool for adults only is located near to the plaza, this is also heated and offers serenity to those not wishing to participate in activities of get splashed by children however in total contrast the toddler pool is exclusively for parents and very young children which I think is a lovely idea. It is located near the mini club and the children's play area and from what I could work out, rooms are allocated to you depending on your requirements. Another busy pool area is on the far side of the complex quite far away from anything but it is ideal if your room is over there as it is quite some distance from anything.
There are tennis courts available for use, but even if you have your own racquets you have to pay to hire the court so we gave it a miss. A small shop is in the complex which sells clothes, accessories, souvenirs, postcards etc. The prices were reasonable but there is a better selection in the town. Above the reception there is a relaxation area where children are not allowed, there are card tables and it makes a welcome retreat in the evenings if you want a bit of peace and quiet. Wi-Fi is is available at an extra charge, but after speaking to some other clients, I believe it is a sporadic service but not one I have personal experience of as the laptop stays at home - internet computers are set up in reception for use for a small charge. There is a spa and fitness centre but the facilities all have to be paid for and it is very expensive in my opinion. Bike hire is just outside of reception if you want to explore further afield - mountain bike hire for the day would set you back 8 euros for a day. Also just outside there is a supermarket which is very handy if you need to top up on holiday essentials and the prices are competitive with those in the town. Towel hire for the pool requires a deposit of 20 euros per towel so I would recommend that you take your own.
~*~ Food and Drink ~*~
The main restaurant in the Atlantis is the Gaudi restaurant which is situated in the plaza in the centre of the complex. Breakfast was outstanding with a massive choice of cold meats and cheeses, breads, fruit both fresh and dried, cereal, toast, pastries, freshly cooked eggs (in every form) and pancakes and also the ingredients to compose your own fried breakfast - all prepared to a high standard and delicious. Breakfast is served from 7-10.30am but we found that between 9 and 10am a queue formed even though inside there were empty tables, but they were just not being cleared quickly enough. Emilio seems to be in charge in here and he is grumpy and miserable - he behaves as though you are getting in his way by wanting breakfast and he is quick to point out that you can go to Rambutan for breakfast also, but the choice here is not as large. A lesson in customer service is needed for Emilio I think. You can also eat outside here but there are far too many tame birds for my liking eager to nibble at your plate whilst you are right there - it is exactly the same at Rambutan.
Lunch and dinner are along the same sort of lines. A plentiful selection of hot and cold food, different every day - my fussy 10 year old never had a problem finding something to eat and it is mostly clearly labelled although the labels are high up and he couldn't always see them - he consequently ended up eating rabbit and squid which he wouldn't have touched if he had known what it was but he quite enjoyed it! Once a week during your stay you can make a reservation at the Rambutan Asian restaurant and the El Molino Spanish restaurant. We went to both of them and the Asian was better than the Spanish in my opinion (probably because we got told off and ordered back to our seats when we went to get our food and the chef was bringing it over, but how were we to know?!). In both restaurants there is a buffet but a chef will also cook your desired dish freshly in front of you which is a treat and delicious. You do however have to be careful that you don't end up ordering anything that is not All Inclusive as it is not particularly clear. The deep fried Chinese ice cream is a definite must for your taste buds if not for your heart!
For snacks during the day Rambutan is open for cakes and pastries outside of meal times and there is also a sandwich bar Subway style where they make up a sandwich to your liking from a selection of ingredients. Basically you can eat from 7am - 10.30pm nonstop if you wanted to and it is all rather delicious.
Hot drinks, water, and various juices are self service at breakfast and at lunch and dinner - three colours of wine, Sangria and lager also becomes available on a self service tap which again, I think is great and is doesn't taste too bad at all. In the bars you help yourself to soft drinks and carbonated drinks so the children can be absolutely self sufficient but they are only high enough for older children. There is an extensive selection of alcoholic drinks on an all inclusive basis - probably the biggest selection that I have come across so it is easy to try something new every time - I plumped for Malibu and Pineapple juice most days, a holiday in a glass (well, plastic cup!)
~*~ Entertainment ~*~
The daytime activities kick off at 10.30am with the Good Morning song by the main pool when the animation team come at you from all directions waving about their specific prop for their activities and there is something for everyone, young and old - yoga, water aerobics, French boules, water polo, volleyball, darts, bingo....the list goes on and on. There are separate activities for older children in the same area or there is a kids club on the other side of the complex - occasionally we saw the little ones walking about on treasure hunts or adventure trails and they looked to be having a whale of a time. Wild horses couldn't drag me off my sun bed to participate in organised activities as it is just not my thing but the rest of our group did several things a day and enjoyed it all, so in conclusion, you can do as little or as much as you like.
The animation team comes out again in the evenings in full force - firstly they hold a disco for the younger ones from about 8.00 then at 9.30 they hand out the certificates for the winning participants of the day's activities. After that at about 10pm the main entertainment commences - on several nights the animation team put on a show (Mama Mia, blues Brothers, Grease...) which is exceptionally well choreographed and they dance their hearts out - they clearly are confident and showy people but if I could dance like a demon, entertain enthusiastically for 14 hours a day, speak seven languages simultaneously and look amazing whilst doing all of the above - I would love myself too! A couple of nights a week the entertainment is provided by different acts, and to be honest, whilst a lot of it was quite clever (tumbling, acrobatics, singing, magic...) it got quite repetitive and wasn't really good enough to get through to the second round of Britain's Got Talent. The evening entertainment is put on in the theatre in the Plaza but seats are quickly taken - we only learned on our last night that there is upstairs seating where it is a bit warmer.
I cannot discuss entertainment without mentioning the Waka Waka. Three times a day (after the morning, afternoon and evening entertainment) the animation group assembles and does a dance to Shakiras "it's time for Africa" world cup song. This song is stuck in my head and will be for quite some time! It goes on for about three minutes but is gets everyone up and joining in whether it is around the pool or in the plaza and it really is a feel good dance executed enthusiastically by all participants and it is therefore theme of our holiday!
~*~ Happy Holidays? ~*~
I must say a resounding yes! A couple of little niggles - hard bed, grumpy staff for which half a star is lost for each - but overall each and every one of us had an excellent time and there was something for everyone. The complex was in a perfect location for us with a short transfer and not too far from the town and amenities. It was clean, there was plenty to do, the choice of food and drink was excellent and the entertainment was enjoyable. Price wise, it cost roughly £500pp for the week including flights and transfers but I am confident that I got the money back for all of us with my consumption of honey rum and Baileys! The week went far too quickly for all of us and if I could be right back there now, I would be which is a huge thumbs up from me as we never go back to the same place twice. Thanks Suite Atlantis - you lived up to our expectations!