As you may know by now, I really enjoy my holidays abroad, especially to nice sunny places, with lots to see and do. We usually take two holidays a year, one in the summer and one in the winter. Because you are a bit restricted to warm places in Europe in our winter we have stuck to going to the Canaries as the weather is nice all year round. So in September 2004 we started to look around for out up coming break. We stumbled on an allocated on arrival holiday going in late November to Lanzarote, on the First Choice website. It was described as 3 star All Inclusive. Having a look through the brochure we knew that it would be going to one of a handful of hotels, all looking nice, so we decided to book there and then after Jay had rang his boss to make sure he could get the time off from work. At £742 altogether for two weeks, not including insurance, this offer was too good to pass on. Yes thats right, this holiday cost us £371 each, for two weeks, All Inclusive, flights and transfers. Bargain! On arrival at Arrecife airport, we quickly found a First Choice rep, who told is that we would be staying at the Los Zocos hotel in Costa Teguise, and she said that it was a great complex, so we were not worried at all. We also soon discovered that the couple who we had been having good chat with on the plane were also staying at the Los Zocos. Costa Teguise is situated on the east coast of Lanzarote, and is quite central so all attractions are not too far away. As far as resorts go it is not very busy, so you dont get the hustle and bustle, but there is enough to do to keep you occupied. The Los Zocos Resort ============== After a short transfer we arrived at the Los Zocos, and checked in fairly quickly, even though a lot of people off our flight were checking in at the same time. The hotel is All Inclusive and Self Catering, so all All Inclusive guests are taken into a room to have their photo taken for the All Inclusive card. This card is your ticket to food and drink, so make sure that you carry it with you at all times. We were then given our room key and told which way to go. The rooms are in three different buildings, two of which are arc shaped around the pools, and the other in L shaped. We were in block two. Each block has three floors, but no lifts. Most hotels are not very built up as they feel that it spoils the landscape. Not having a lift is not a problem, as the maximum you have to walk up in two flights of stairs, but it was a bit hard to lug to rather heavy suitcases up and down, good job we only had to do it once. There are rooms on the ground floor, which would be suitable for disabled people. Every room in the hotel is a self catering room, even if you are All Inclusive. I found this to be very useful. Our room, in block two, was massive. There was a full kitchen, which included an oven not just a hob, fridge, toaster, kettle, crockery, cutlery, and lots of other cooking utensils. Being AI you wouldnt necessarily need all of these, but its great having a fridge so that you can have a cool drink in the middle of the night. There was also a lounge area, bathroom, and a massive bedroom, containing twin beds, two bedside tables, dressing table and wardrobe. We also had a huge balcony, with access from both the lounge area and bedroom. We had westerly views, so we could watch the sun set over the mountains. The room was very clean and the maids came daily. There are two restaurants in the hotel and a snack/pool bar. There is the El Mirador, which is inside the hotel complex and the Boulevard which is also open to the general public. Both breakfast and dinner are served in the El Mirador and Lunch and Dinner are served in the Boulevard. If you want to eat Dinner in the Boulevard then you have to book your table at reception as space for eating is limited, I would recommend the Boulevard for dinner as the food seemed to be fresher than in the main hotel restaurant and it is more suitable to adults only. The food in the hotel was delicious, with lots of variety on offer, including lots of Chinese dishes, thanks to the Chinese chef. I wasnt very keen on Chinese food before, but he won me round. Dont worry though if you dont like Chinese food, there is a lot more to choose from. Breakfast and lunch were also very nice, so you will not go hungry. The snack/pool bar however left a lot to be desired, with buffet style snacks including burgers, hot dogs and chips, being cooked in the morning and left out all day. If you are lucky you can get something quite fresh if you are there when they bring it out. I would definitely recommend going for lunch in the Boulevard which was served between 12.30 and 2.30 pm. The only disappointment with the food was that packed lunches were not available. We like to go out and about and explore places, and when you have already paid for All Inclusive you do feel a bit cheated, but we were sneaky and took some stuff back to our room at breakfast, and I made us some sandwiches to take out with us. The entertainment in the hotel is great for kids, but not so good for adults. There is a mini disco, and a show in the Aguamarina bar, bingo and a quiz in the pool bar. We spent most nights in the Boulevard, the staff are a lot better and much better drinks, including a waiter service. There is a big screen with sky TV, and every Tuesday we had a duet playing the piano and singing, they were really good, but virtually the same show on the second week. We did on one occasion go to the pool bar for the bingo and the quiz, I even won at bingo, but the quiz was rubbish. There is also an Animation Team (entertainment team) who run a kids club, and this is fantastic for kids during the day and at night, providing you children with lots to do. As we dont have any kids yet, I cannot really comment on this, but they all looked as if they were having lots of fun. There is even swimming lessons available, so your kids will be able to use the pools. Drinks in the pool bar are self service in the day, but you have to ask for them at night, this where you really need your All Inclusive card. Youre only allowed one drink per person per visit to the bar, and your cards are scanned to control this. Drinks are also self service in the restaurant areas. Being All Inclusive you can drink all that you want, but be warned, the bar shuts at 11 pm. The pools, well what can I say. There are two pools and they were both freezing, heated my arse!!! We got in on day one, and had to get out because our feet had gone numb. We did venture in again, but only lasted for five seconds. They were very clean though. We did sunbathe quite a lot around pool two, as it was a lot quieter than pool one. It was November/December so we couldnt really complain too much. If you do go to this hotel on a Self Catering basis, then there is a Netto Store just outside the hotel where you will be able to stock up on all of your food and drink. Other stuff to do in Lanzarote =================== Even though we go to All Inclusive hotels, we dont like to be tied to the hotel for a whole fortnight, if youre going to stay in one place you may as well stay at home. So heres a list of stuff to do while you are in Lanzarote, and Costa Teguise. Costa Teguise beach is only a five minute walk away from the hotel, and is glorious, with plenty of room and clear water. Costa Teguise itself is only a short stroll away, with plenty of shops, bars and restaurants. We often had a walk into town, to have a look round and to have a change of scenery. If you want a night out, after the hotel bars have closed, but you dont want to go to far away, go to Cactus Jacks, which is just behind the Los Zocos. We went in at midnight and happy hour was just starting, where you can get 4 pints for 5 euros. Then they have Karaoke until about 3 in the morning. I even won a bottle of so called Champagne after singing in the Karaoke. If you like to venture out of the hotel, Lanzarote is a great place to go to, with loads of things to see, and Costa Teguise is a good base. We hired a car for a weekend, and explored the whole island. First of all we went to Timanfaya National Park (Fire Mountain) to see the volcanoes. Timanfaya National Park is situated in the south of Lanzarote, and you can either go by yourself if you hire a car, or there are many organised excursions. The park was created between 1730 and 1736 when more than 100 volcanoes, covering more than 50 square kilometres, erupted and devastated this part of the island. It will cost you 8euros per person to enter the park, but you get a lot for your money. For your money, you get a coach tour around all of the craters, and you get to see how hot it is just a few meters under your feet when cold water is poured down a hole and seconds later it comes back up as steam, because the temperature a few meters below the ground can reach between 400°C and 600°C. Be prepared as this will make you jump. There is also a restaurant, the El Diablo, which serves food cooked using geothermal heat (A cast-iron grill placed over a large hole in the ground). Also if you wish, you can take a camel ride around the park. After visiting Timanfaya National Park, we took at detour to El Golfo, this is a semi-circular Volcanic Crater filled with Sea water that has filtered through the black sand that separates the lagoon from the sea. The Lagoon is green in colour caused but the algae living in the water, against the black sand beach and strange looking rock formations make it is quite a spectacular site. Our next stop was to the north of the Island. Here we visited Jameos Del Agua, which is part of the Atlantida volcanic cave system formed by the eruptions of the Corona volcano about three to four thousand years ago. Here there is a natural Concert Hall with wonderful acoustics, subterranean lagoon containing tiny blind albino crabs, a restaurant and a museum. The cost to get into Jameos Del Agua was 8Euros each. Then on to Cueva del les Verdes, the Green Caves, just up the road, these are also part of the same cave system as Jameos Del Agua. This cave system is over 6 km long with an additional 1.6 km under the sea and is the longest Volcanic Tunnel in the World, although only about 2 km are open to the public. The cave measures more than 15 meters wide and 15 m high, the lowest part of the cave is used occasionally as a concert hall. You care given a guided tour around these caves, and you will be in a large group. The information the tour guide gave us was very interesting, and he repeated everything in Spanish, English and French. The cost of the Cueva del les Verdes was also 8 Euros each. We then visited Mirador del Rio, a viewing point at the north of the island, where you can see magnificent views of the island of La Gracios. There is a restaurant here and a tourist centre. The cost to get into the tourist centre was 4Euros, including a free drink in the restaurant. We also visited some of the other resorts on the island. Playa Blanca, in the very south, which has the most beautiful beaches and fantastic views of Fuerteventura. Puerto Del Carmen, this resort is more lively that Costa Teguise, and a lot bigger, and Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote. There is a good selection of shops here, and a nice front, but the back streets are a bit run down. We reached both Puerto Del Carmen and Arrecife by public transport which you can get on just out side the hotel. Conclusion ======= We had a fantastic time at the Los Zocos resort, the only downside being the weather. We did have some rain, but you cant do anything about that, and it was November, much better than being at home. I would definitely recommend this hotel to everyone, it is suitable for singles, couples, and families. The hotel is great for people just wanting to relax, and a great base for people who want to explore. Thanks for reading. Gayna x
The Flora aparthotel is situated right at the top of a very steep hill (nicknamed Cardiac Hill), in Puerto Del Carmen. At first sight it looked cheery and clean which was all we wanted. After all, we did get an excellent deal for halfboard accomodation for 7 days. Three hundred and twenty pounds looked great value. We were checked in and directed to an appartment which was on the ground floor, facing the children's play area. This wasn't ideal for two adults but didn'tintend to spend much time in the room so we didn't complain. An inspection of the bedroom revealed a couple of dead cockroaches in the bottom of the wardrobe. We took it that these had been sprayed and accepted the fact that it is usual to find the odd insect visitor in a hot climate. The beds were clean but the linen was clearly old and had a few rust marks on it. Then we inspected the kitchen area and decided that we could not use it. The toaster was greasy and full of crumbs, the cutlery, crockery and cookers itself were greasy. in the cupboard we found a frying pan with fat in the bottom of it. However, as we did not intend to use the facilities we didn't complain about them. We simply assumed that all appartments were of this standard! We went out and bought coffee and milk and two mugs rather than using the ones provided. The first night came and we were so tired from travelling that we slept until lunchtime the next day. I went into the bedroom to find a huge cockroach on the door. My sister laughed at my sheer horror and used the cockroach spray that was under the sink. Ten minutes later she went into the bedroom and i heard he screaming. The room was full of the horrible creatures. I pushed my things back into my bag (I had not unpacked properly) and retreated to the verandha. We were given another room which was spotlessly clean and over looked the pool area. A member of staff helped us to move and the management did their best to calm us down and keep us quiet. They offered a free lunch in compensation which we thought was disgraceful. my sister had booked the holiday and she was asked to sign a waiver before we were given vouchers for lunch and declare that she would make no further complaint. The next day we noticed that they had moved someone else into the same room! The food in this hotel was good for the first two days but once hey had more guests it was cold and it ran out before everyone was served. one night in particular they dished up roast beef, brussell sprouts, paella,mussels and curried hake. There was no way of making a meal from that. Apparently the pottoes had run out but we did have potatoes served up with carrots and peas for breakfast. Evening entertainment was provided here but it was pure relief on the night that the entertainment team were off. The two guys organising things seemed to be good children's entertainers but they brought the same level of entertainment into the adult bar at night. The younger of the duo behaved like a very exhuberant teenager and on one night in particular had to be told not to chase children round and round the swimming pool threatening to throw them in at 11pm at night. Good points? Yes, there were a few. The staff were friendly and helpful and the outside areas were kept spotlessly clean. It seems that The Flora has a number of old, sub standard appartments that they allocate to those they think won't complain. We booked independantly and discovered that everyone else in that particular row had also booked without going through a tour operator. Those is the bright, new, clean appartments were First Choice, Cosmos and several other Dutch and German Tour operator's customers. Not recommended. Don't bother to stay here. There are lots of other much nicer places to stay in Puerto Del carmen. We loved the Island of Lanzarote and had some great days out but we really were glad to get home!
Most of the enthusiatic reviews of this hotel (mainly from other travel web sites) come from family groups with small children, looking for the children to be fed and diverted. But what if you do not fall into this group? I booked this hotel for my family of four (two adult and two girls in their twenties) over Christmas, as a way of escaping from the punishment of Xmas in the UK. I had read previous reviews, and had some idea of what I was letting myself in for. I had hoped that by going at the most expensive time, that price alone would select the guests, but clearly that was not the case. The hotel is basic. Whilst the two roomed apartment we stayed in was spacious, it was spartan. Even in December, we had to use the supplied insecticides to eliminate six legged friends. The decoration of the appartment was a minimal white paint job, with pine furnishings. The room was well worn, and looked in need of a repaint. Everything worked eventually. It took a day before the television would function and the sink in the bathroom would empty, but these matters were attended to. Hot water ran out about 6.30 in the evening. I think it is cheeky these days to put a slot-machine television in a hotel, and charging up to 1 Euro per hour to watch television is an insult to guests (It is 3Euros if you buy a whole day in advance.) Similarly it is cheeky to charge for a key to fit the room safe (20 Euros for a week). Other communal parts of the hotel are excessively worn, and it is probably a reflection on the nature of the guests that all the tables in the disco bar are covered in grafitti as were the toilets in reception. No attemtps were made to discourage or cure the problem. As has been stated in many reviews, the food is plentiful, and there is a big choice. However, it is plain food to British tastes, and often was not hot. There was a microwave to warm up food if that bothered you, but clearly it did not bother the majority of the guests. Vegetarians would be well catered f or. Coffee comes out of machine, and was never good, and barely acceptable. Tea is self brewed, and the milk was not too bad. The big attraction of the all inclusive is the bars. and it is possible to consume alcohol continuously for twelve hours per day minimum (usually more than this). Most of the drink is 'local' brands. Now, this can have different meanings, but by and large meant that it was a bit rough. Choice was limited, and it took a lot of experimenting to find out what was good. Some of the bar staff are African, and their command of English suprisingly poor. The Captain's bar was supposed to be child-free after 2100, but rarely was. Unsupervised children roam the hotel at night, but surpringly few of them seem to come to any harm. Entertainment is enthusiatic but naff in the extreme. It is probably aimed at families that don't get out much. Admittedly the children do extremely well, but a different approach is needed for an adult audience. Bingo is popular, and quite big prizes were won (not by us). Considering it was Xmas, there was little evidence in the hotel. There was even maid service on Xmas day. There was no xmas lunch, but there was a superb gala dinner, which showed that the catering staff could do it if they tried. Clearly the mainstream catering is budget-limited, and maybe if the prices were put up and catering improved, that might alter the ethos of the hotel. At the moment the ethos is one of chips. Talking of chips, there are day-long bar snacks. This means burgers and chips. I was amazed at the Brits' abilities to shift so many of these alongside three square meals a day. No wonder the nutrition of the country is where it is. We ate out of the hotel a couple of times, and the meals out, especially fish, were good value and excellent. If you have small children, a tatoo, a shaved head and a football shirt, then this is the place for you.
Part of the Sol Hotel Chain, this hotel is best pictured with plane in the background and you would just about get its number, it is close to the beach and across the way from the airport. Transfer time is 10 minutes from the airport, and it is situated at the furthest end of Puerto del Carmen. The hotel is a right little suntrap, just on the beach and approximately 250meters from the Commercial centre of Matagorda and approximately 750meters from the commercial centre at Playa de Los Pocillos. If you are looking for decadent luxurious surroundings then this is not the place for you, if you are looking for an affordable break with basic clean self catering apartments, balconies many without a view, outstanding communal facilities, friendly staff, easy access to Puerto del Carmen, good car-parking, tennis courts, games room, three swimming pools, including that rare commodity, the heated one for the winter, entertainment every night and a selection of buffet and al a carte restaurants to chose from, then this hotel could be for you. THE ROOM One bedroom apartment with twin beds in bedroom, plenty of wardrobe space, bsafety deposit box (chargeable) - table, balcony, shower-room with toilet and sink, plenty of towels and toiletries supplied, convertible sofa in the loung for third bed. Telephone -owing to having encountered a number of problems from a theft (not at the hotel), and having a homesick child with me, we made quite regular use of the telephone, and was charged less then £8 for the privelege, which for a hotel, making a number of international calls I found quite reasonable. Catering facilities were basic - 2 electric rings, sink area and very effective fridge - saucepans, crockery and cutlery supplied. There was no kettle or toaster, although I found out when I got home that you can apparently rent these as well. TV's can also be rented for an additional charge. Maid service was 5 days/week (not Wednesdays or Saturdays), and linen was changed twice weekly. The room was clean, if basic, my only real gripe being that there was no air conditioning and lighting could have been better. EATING For a small supplement back in the UK (c£9.60 per person per day - ½ price for children 12 and under), you can book half board in this hotel with Thomsons, or else you can pay as you go in the hotel. BUFFET BREAKFAST (served 8am to 10am) A sumptious feast if ever I saw one - 850ptas for adults, 425 ptas for children (c£3.27 & £1.64) you could east as much as you like from: * Bacon * Scrambled, Boiled, Fried Eggs & Omelettes * Sausages * Frankfurters * Ham and various other cold meats * Chips * Baked Beans * Tomatoes * Pancakes & Syrup * Cereals * Cakes * Croissants and other pastries * Various Fruit Juices * Bread Rolls with a selection of jams * DIY Toast * Coffee, tea, Chocolate of and don't forget the salad - (although I still haven't worked out why they were serving salad for breakfast) Bit better value than most hotel breakfasts in the UK don't you think? If you were hungry during the day, there was a pool bar serving snacks such as hotdogs, toasted sandwiches, chicken etc - although if you pitched breakfast correctly, food didn't really enter into the vocabulary. A LA CARTE Didn't try this, but traditional international fayre with maincourses starting around £3 per person - open from 10am to 11pm daily BUFFET EVENING (served 6.00pm to 9.30pm) This provided a different theme every evening, including: * Canarian * Mexican * International * Chinese and in addition, provided a variety of pastas, salad, cold meats, omelletes, chips, a joint of meat, and various kiddies things for the fussier kids (and adults) Cost 1800 Ptas for adults - 900 for children (£6.92 & £3.46 respecti vely), tabel service drinks were extra. In addition to the superb food, the hotel had three swimming pools, one (very deep - shallow end 1.62mts - deep 2.62mts) which was heated during winter, and 2 other pools, both shallower and specially adapted for the disabled - but I am afraid rather cold. There was 24 hour reception services, all staff spoke English, a large car parking area, full on daily entertainment from a team of multi-lingual entertainers, 3 bars which between opened until 1am, table tennis, pool, a kiddies games area which included air hockey, a supermarket selling a wide selection of food, cheap alcohol and cigarettes, daily english papers and a selection of books (open 8am to 7pm daily) - but if you are a late arrival water can be purchased from the bar - or take some with you. Safety deposit Boxes can be rented for 1400ptas/week (1000ptas refundable deposit), and TV's can apparently also be rented. The write up on this hotel in the Gazateer wasn't brilliant - but because of the price (£460 for a week for 3 people) and the fact that we knew it had a heated swimming pool, we decided to give it a go, and believe me we weren't disappointed. For the really fit and energetic amongst us, I guess it is 3/4 hours walking distance from Puerto del Carmen, but when you can get a taxi for a mere 500ptas (less then £2), then really is hardly seems worth it. Taxi fare from the airport - c1,400 ptas. WHO GOES THERE? Well you can book on-line and travel independently (not necessarily the cheapest way) - Thomsons are there this winter (01/02) as are JUST, Direct Holidays, Airtours and JMC. If you are looking for a cheap break, then I really can recommend this hotel, why not give it a try. The hotel does also double up as a conference centre, although we didn't see much sign of business people, although it was just before Christmas and may be different at other times of the year. HOTEL WEB-SITE http://www.solmelia.com/cgi-bin/solmelia/dirdinamic/hotelhtml?13517