BENAHAVIS is not the sort of place on the Costa del Sol that you would go to for sea, sand and well, anything else beginning with S. Apart from sunshine maybe...and shopping...spas, swimming and maybe I should start again.
Benahavis is set back a few miles from the glittering decadence of the coastal resorts on the Costa del Sol. Up a winding mountain road past numerous urbanizacións centred around the unfeasibly green grass on the lush golf courses - not normally my idea of heaven. But we were only looking for somewhere comfortable to have a quiet(ish) night after stepping off a plane in the late afternoon. A stopover, but a nice one.
And so we found ourselves at the GRAN HOTEL BENAHAVIS.
The hotel is a fairly modern affair that styles itself as a spa resort. I'm not sure about that, and to tell you the truth I don't really care. I was looking for somewhere comfortable to stay with the added bonus of it being on the doorstep of the little village of Benahavis - the self-styled 'dining room of the costa del sol'. In fact there are around 30 restaurants in this tiny little place and many are highly rated. So we were sorted for grub then.
The hotel is built in 'cortijo' style (Andalucian farmhouse) with many of the rooms overlooking a central patio, some the swimming pool, and others looking out to the surrounding countryside.
The reception area is indeed grand with antique furniture, fountains and ridiculously large chandeliers but it still retains a rustic, farmhouse feel...granted not a Cumbrian sheep farm rusticalness, more a Don Juan de Hidalgo type of deal.
We marched right up to the desk and were immediately greeted by the friendly receptionist who, on accepting our pre-booked voucher, quickly scanned our passports and pressed a card key into my eager hands. Honestly, I think this was the quickest check-in I'd ever experienced, especially in a hotel of this size.
The hotel has 95 rooms consisting of standard, superior, suites and a couple specially adapted for disabled guests (although the hotel is generally wheelchair friendly).
Our room was on the ground floor at the back of the hotel with a 'view' to the mountains.
We had chosen the superior room because it guaranteed a balcony or terrace whereas standard rooms only had 'Juliette' balconies. The superior rooms are a little larger than the standard rooms, in fact at 559 ft² they're almost double the size of the standard rooms. The furniture and furnishings whilst not to my taste, being a mock antique style, were top quality and all in good condition. The bedside cabinets, table, desk, dresser and fridge cabinet were all topped by slabs of green marble - so heavy it was almost impossible to move the table!
There was masses of storage space with a large built-in wardrobe (which also housed the safe and the ironing facilities, as well as extra pillows etc.) Loads more drawer space in the dresser and three each in the bedside cabinets. It almost made me wish I'd brought more clothes! We had twin beds which were firm and reasonably comfortable but a little on the narrow side. The pillows were the standard Spanish type - long and thin and pretty useless. Another little annoyance was the lack of coffee making facilities.
The room came equipped with what would normally be a decent sized Lcd TV but due to the size of the room you needed binoculars to watch from the bed...it was fine if you were sitting in the fairly comfortable chairs though. Plenty of channels but only the usual news ones in English. The air conditioning was excellent and soon had the room chillier than a brass monkey's unmentionables. As for the balcony, well it was a terrace really. It was fairly large with table and chairs and surrounded by roses.
The bathroom was fairly large and roomy, completely tiled in marble and very clean. The room was equipped with the usual facilities including bidet and bath tub. The tub was large, but the base was damaged in some way and was kind of lumpy. I only used the shower (which was powerful enough although the screen could have been bigger) and it was quite disconcerting standing on the uneven surface. The toiletries were of a good standard although one teeny weeny bar of soap is never enough. There was also a hair dryer and the towels were huge and fluffy.
The hotel has two large pools, two children pools and an outdoor Jacuzzi - none of which did I dip my toe into. There's also a spa and wellness centre which again I can offer no opinion on except that glancing through the price list nothing came cheap. In the immediate area there are tennis courts, football pitches, children's parks and riverside walks.
The hotel also does a nifty trade in functions and weddings.
Parking is free and plentiful although there is underground parking for a charge.
FOOD AND DRINK
The hotel has a few different eating options from fine dining to pool-side snacks, none of which we tried because, as already stated, the options in Benahavis village are second to none. We chose to dine in the village and it was excellent. We did have breakfast which was a hot and cold buffet and I could find no fault with what was on offer or the quality. The dining room wasn't too busy but we decided to have breakfast on the patio and it was very relaxing.
After breakfast, all that remained was to have a leisurely stroll back to the room, a quick pack, a refreshing shower then a very simple check out which consisted of handing in the key card and saying our goodbyes. We weren't even asked if we'd had anything from the mini-bar.
I really liked this hotel. It was quiet, peaceful and relaxing and I imagine I could spend a very pleasant week there. It's close enough to the hustle and bustle (Marbella is just 7Km distant) of the coast, and only a few Km from the motorway if day trips are your plan. The hotel had a nice friendly atmosphere and and the room was very comfortable and well equipped. The surroundings are lovely and the village of Benahavis is literally on the doorstep (although access to the main part of the village is fairly steep) and you could eat in a different restaurant every night for a month.
We booked through expedia and paid £57.50 B&B - this seemed like good value to me.
It was pure chance that we stayed at the Paradis Park Hotel in Pineda De Mar. Whilst looking for a cheap and cheerful last minute deal to get some sun I spotted a package to the Calella Palace Hotel through Teletext holidays online. After a bit of research the decision was made to book it, however, the dates we wanted weren't available. We were offered an allocation on arrival for the same price, or for an extra £45 each we could have an alternative named hotel of the same rating.
Being unadventurous I opted for the latter and was given the choice of the Alexis Hotel (I had previously read reviews all of which were bad) and the Paradis Park Hotel.
I accepted the Paradis Park (as recommended by Sun4U Limtied, the tour operator) and after it had all been booked up we discovered that the Paradis Park was a 3 star, whereas the Calella Palace was a 4 star! Not a good start Sun4U Limited.
I believe that this is 'mis-selling' under the Trade Description Act?? So, this holiday was already £90 over the stated price on the internet. Once baggage, transfers and all other supplements and taxes had been added on our holiday was almost £300 over the stated price on the internet! Personally, I think that this is disgraceful and all tour operators should be forced to state the total cost prior to calling and booking.
Suddenly our 'cheap' getaway was not looking so cheap. Once again, another thumbs down for Sun4U Limited.We had two days prior to our departure, so since we had no idea what the Paradis Park was we thought that we had better do a bit of research.
What a mistake............. Almost every review said it was awful with poor food, a fly problem and rude staff who were arrogant towards the Brits.We flew out to Girona Airport on Wednesday 17 September 2008. Upon arrival at Girona airport we collected our bags and headed for our transfer.
The Sun4U Limited rep pointed out the Resort Hopper bus. Once the bus had loaded the rep got on, said have a good holiday and then got off the bus. Why did they not come with us to the hotel? Where was the tourist information? Another thumbs down for Sun4U Limited!
Upon arrival at the Paradis Park Hotel, approx 45 mins by bus (I'm unsure of the distance in Km) we were ushered off the bus and in to reception. There were no reps for the 'introductory talk' or to give information on how to contact them if we had any issues or problems. I thought this was poor since although I can get by in Spanish I am by no means fluent and the personnel at the Paradis Park had 'selective' English, as we were to find out later on.........
Our room was (supposedly refurbished) and round the side of the main hotel in an apartment block. As the receptionist gave us directions our hearts sank since all the reviews we read had stated how poor the apartments were. We found the room and went in.
The room was of a decent size (plenty big enough for four) and appeared to be clean. There was a fridge (not really required since we were all inclusive), a small hob (again, not really required but we couldn't use it anyway since the 'on' switch was in a locked cupboard and the key was an additional cost), 2 single beds, a sofa bed, table and chairs, TV, fan (definitely required since there was no air conditioning and temperatures were dropping! - I would not have been able to stick it in the height of summer!!) and large double wardrobe.
On first glance the bathroom appeared clean and tidy with no leaks, smells etc. All in all it did not appear as bad as the reviews had said, although there was no balcony, which was a bit of a pity.
As the week went on we started to notice more and more issues...........
The beds were no more than camp beds, very poor quality and given that mine had two broken slats it made it even more fragile. Being a light sleeper and a bit of a mover made the situation ten times worse. I thought the bed was going to collapse underneath me!!
The mattress was very hard and un-sprung. A camping roll mat would have probably been better!
The water never seemed to get hot. At best it was luke warm and this seemed to be the case whatever the time of day. Maybe this is a hotel Health & Safety feature to avoid the guests scalding themselves if they accidentally turned the cold tap off first in the shower?
The hot tap on the bidet did not work, and I hate washing my feet in cold water! The bidet was also like a low sink - it did not have the upward sprinkler system which I thought was the feature of all bidets? Surely this would render it useless?
The walls and ceilings were thin and you could hear EVERYTHING that other guest were doing.
The general state of the room was very poor. We were told it had recently been refurbished?? The fixtures were poor, the tiles in the bathroom had not been fully grouted, there were holes in the walls, there were (large) dirty marks on the walls and stains on the ceiling.
Whilst this was meant to be a cheap holiday, it actually turned out to be quite expensive. We were not expecting the Ritz but this Hotel ( a 3 star) was £90 more than the Calella Palace (a 4 star) so we thought that we would get something half decent.
A continental and cooked breakfast was served everyday. The cooked breakfast was utter crap! The sausages were frankfurters (this did not really bother me since I adore them). The bacon was streaky and consisted mainly of fat. This would not have been so bad if it was crispy but it was like soft and floppy and the eggs were only poached. I can, however, say that the beans on toast was superb!
Lunch was usually adequate consisted of what was not eaten the night before. Dinner was hit or miss. Some nights it was utter crap and I would not give it to my dog. A prime example of this was a chicken portion that was raw and still bloody. The next day battered chicken pieces were served for lunch (!).
On the other hand, there were some really good dinners - the veal was fantastic! The squid was very good as was the battered fish and the meaty pasta.
Whilst we never went hungry sometimes it was utter crap - thank god for chips and 'soggy' pasta with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese (which were served for every meal except for breakfast).
All inclusive guests had the option of snacks during the morning and afternoon. There was no variety here and consisted of the same things being sliced cheese, tinned ham, rolls, chips, frankfurters, hamburgers (and yes these were like luncheon meat patties and absolutely awful!!) and leftovers from lunch or dinner.
Other than tomatoes and other cold foods (olives etc) there was a distinct lack of traditional Spanish food, which was a real shame. We like to have a dining experience when we go abroad and look to eat local produce which we would not usually eat. This was not possible and, after wandering around Pineda and Calella, it appeared that this would not happen outside of the hotel, however, there were plenty of English and Italian restaurants. This was definitely not an eating experience.
The restaurant could only be described as a school canteen, probably due to the buffet style meals. The staff were miserable, po-faced and couldn't care as long as you went in, ate and got out as quickly as possible.
All inclusive guests should have a bottle of wine and a water at lunch and dinner. Not once did we get a bottle of wine, we had a glass poured out. Some meal times we did not even get that. We never did work out how the restaurant operated. Some guests appeared to get almost get table service with bottles (more than one) of wine and water and the ability to reserve their table, whereas others (like us) did not even get a drink.
The all inclusive bar was open from 10.00 am to 12.00 pm. We had read reviews about drinks being watered down and drinks poured in to the same glass but we saw no evidence of this.
The drinks, although cheap and local versions, were very headstrong and the spirit measures were very large with there more spirit than mixer. The local beer, Estrelle Damm, was very nice and in plentiful supply.
The only gripe is the small glasses of beer which meant more trips to the bar was required which, although a pain, was no hardship and we never got refused a drink or told that we had too much.
The staff were arrogant, rude and unwelcoming. We could not even get the bar staff to crack a smile let alone have a bit of banter with.
They also appeared to have selective hearing and were very unhelpful. A situation which sticks out is that of a unique tourist attraction to the area. We asked a barman how far a walk it was to the aqua duct and which way it was and he said he had never heard of it!
Staff did appear to be nicer to other Europeans and there was a definite pecking order which applied to the dining room, the bars, the reception in fact all throughout the hotel, as follows;
1) Spanish guests
2) European guests who are not all inclusive
3) European guests who are all inclusive
4) English guest who are not all inclusive
5) English guest who are all inclusive
Being the latter, we found we were right at the bottom of the heap.
The children entertainment staff appeared very enthusiastic and patient as well as always willing to do something to keep the kids amused. We can't confirm this since we have no first hand experience and only made observations.
Most of the guests appeared to be German and French with a handful of English.
The hotel consisted of families and people in the 40 years + bracket. This is definitely not a club 18 - 30, or similar, resort full of young singles out to get lashed and club to the early hours, which suits us fine.
In previous holidays I have found Germans to be greedy, rude, arrogant and loud (and intimidating regardless of age) when in big groups. Unfortunately this was the case on this holiday, and I would really like to be proved wrong at some point in the near future.
In the canteen (sorry...... restaurant) we were forever 'bullied' out of the way by older German guests, same applied at the bar, walking around the hotel, by the pool - in fact everywhere!
There was a definite divide and it was evident that the Brits only spoke to the Brits, the Germans only spoke to the Germans and the French only spoke to the French.
On our second from last night three bus loads of German school/college kids arrived for a school excursion. The majority of these were placed in the apartment block, and all of a sudden the resort turned in to the dreaded club 18, sorry 16 - 18 and very noisy. I was glad that we only had to endure it for 2 nights and genuinely feel sorry for those guests who had to endure it for the duration of their holiday.
I must also state that German kids appear to be as rude as the older generation and appear out of control and un-ruly. The teachers do not appear to give a shit and actually join in with them getting drunk especially in the lobby area of the apartment block we were in.
The Pool Side
The pool side area was fantastic at night but fly ridden during the day, exactly as other reviews had confirmed. Whilst walking around Pineda and Calella flies appear to be a problem throughout and not just in the hotel.
I found a good game was to see how many flies you could kill in a day and then try to beat that the following day.
The pool was cold, but who wants a heated pool in 26 degrees plus?
The entertainment was actually quite good. During the day there was a programme of activities from pool side games, football, tennis, archery, cross bow shooting, boules, gun shooting etc.
During the evening there was a disco every night, a Spanish night, karoke, music quiz etc. The children entertainers appeared to keep the kids amused all day, everyday.
The surrounding area
Pineda De Mar town is quaint town with a few shops and not much else.
There are a few tourist 'tat' shops for those must have souvenirs. Market day is Friday, and after a brief trip I must say that this was crap. Unless you want cheap 'big' knickers or socks of inferior quality, or leather belts or fake bags then don't bother going.
There is no haggling (I find this makes markets a bit more interesting) or negotiations.
The Montengro National Park backs on to the town of Pineda De Mar. This appears to be popular with hardcore mountain bikers and after a walk up the hill (seemed like a mountain to me!) to Mont Palou it is easy to see why.
We did enquire about a bike tour to the Park but they were fully booked - although the guide did suggest that we do an easy route due to the technical nature of the trails.
A walk to the castle is recommended as it gives superb views over the whole of Pineda De Mar.
There is an aquaduct about 20 minute walk from the hotel. We went expecting some impressive structure and was quite disappointed when we found it. It is worth a look though and the scenery to the aquaduct is fantastic.
The beach is 10 minute walk from the hotel through a popular dog walking area and down a 'rough' street. Whilst it is not as bad as some of the reviews state you do need to beware of, and keep an eye for the dog crap.
The beach itself is really nice with golden sands and plenty of things to do - although most of these were closed when we were there.
A walk along the promenade leads to the town of Calella which is about a half an hour walk. Calella is a bit more lively than Pineda De Mar and there are even more 'tat' shops (as well as designer shops - United Colours of Benetton, La Coste etc) which are worth a look for holiday purchases.
We did not sample Calella by night so cannot comment on how lively it is. Market day is Saturday and consists of exactly the same stalls as in Pineda De Mar.
Whilst this was meant to be a cheap and cheerful jolly it turned out quite expensive. We had never gone all inclusive before and was expecting a little bit more for the money than we actually got.
Overall the hotel is adequate, the food was adequate, the staff are crap and the surrounding area was lovely.
It was a good place to kick back and relax (I am now a suduko master and my partner got through loads of books!) and see a bit of the countryside.
I would not go back to the Paradis Park Hotel nor would I recommend it since I believe that there are other 3 star hotels in the same area that are better.
I doubt I would go back to Spain since the hotel staff has an inherent dislike for Brits and everything seemed to be a chore for them. This was seconded by another couple who we got talking to at Gerona Airport on the way home.
It appears that Turkey or Eqypt is the place to go and the Espana bubble has now burst.
I would never book a holiday through Sun4U Limited. Whilst the travel, transfers etc went smoothly we had no direct access to a rep, nor did we get any information on the area or Hotel rules from a rep on arrival. We were given a number for emergency use only (I called this since the hotel reception took my passport on the first night and did not state when I could have it back). I have yet to receive my mobile bill so am unsure how much my 5 minute conversation actually cost me.
I’d say that we made a good choice with the Aparthotel Columbus in Tenerife, had we chosen it ourselves, but we didn’t. We went on an allocation-on-arrival holiday which meant that we would end up in one of 3 complexes specified in the brochure, but that the final choice would be up to us. I’m not sure how nice the other 2 were, but we were certainly happy with this one. The Columbus is on a busy road which leads straight down to the beach, in the popular (and for “popular” read “packed”) resort of Playa de las Americas. Within 5 minutes walk of the hotel were numerous supermarkets, souvenir shops, bars and restaurants, not to mention 2 beaches. There were parks and playgrounds near by too, along with a local school and sports stadium. We arrived tea-time-ish and were immediately impressed. Gleaming marble floors and sparkling chandeliers are not what you’d normally expect from this type of place. We checked in quickly with the nice and friendly (and multi-lingual) staff and were soon in our apartment. The complex includes two buildings of rooms and apartments, with a couple of lifts in each. We were on the 4th floor of a 6 floor block, and the view was incredible – beach to the left, volcanoes to the right, with wonderful palm-tree lined streets below. Accommodation wise you can be in a simple room, a studio, a bungalow (specially adapted for disabled guest, of which there were quite a few) or a one-bedroom apartment. We had the latter of these which has a twin bedroom, a living room with a kitchen at one side, bathroom with shower, bath, loo and bidet. We have a bidet in our greenhouse at home – don’t ask – but apart from that I’d never seen one outside that program ITV showed a few years back on posh families, one of who’s children talked about “Mummy needing the bidet for ladies’ things”. Nice. The apartment would have been snug for a family of
4, but was almost spacious for the two of us. The balcony in particular was lovely and easily passed the cartwheel test (meaning I can do gym on it without falling off / kicking my foot through the sliding glass doors). There was a lot of storage space inside with wardrobes and cupboards and a desk unit. Anyway, back to the apartment. There were 2 sofa beds in the living room, plus an arm chair. The kitchen had a breakfast bar with stools and a counter, plus fridge, toaster, kettle, 2 hob rings and enough crockery and cutlery for 4 people (the maximum occupancy). There was a TV but you had to pay for it - € 1 per hour. We had it on a few times and found they had 4 Spanish Channels, RTL, Pro 7, SAT 1, Eurosport (English and German), BBC 1, CNN, The Movie Channel and the Cartoon Network. The quality was good and we watched Wer Wird Millionaire? and Dawson’s Creek (both in German) and a bit of the Queen Mother’s death coverage because it was literally the only thing on every channel at that time. There was a telephone for inter-hotel calls although if you want to call home you need to set it up with reception. We had wake up calls twice – for a trip with an early-morning start, and for our flight home - and these were always dot on time. The facilities within the complex are good. There’s a 24 hour reception offering money changing facilities, and a supermarket open about 18 hours a day with fresh bread and fruit and vegetables, plus boring groceries and small souvenirs. These were all reasonably priced, so for breakfast we rarely ventured any further afield. Downstairs in the main block they have a large lounge area with plenty of seats. Outside there are two swimming pools with surrounding sun terraces. There are also 2 raised sunbathing areas, one of which (on the 6th floor of block 2) also has 2 pay-per-use jacuzzis. There are free sunloungers and umbrellas on each terrace, and although we saw people reserving them
at 8am as we went for breakfast (a good hour before you were allowed in the pools) there were always plenty left when we wanted them. The sun terrace near the smaller rectangular pool is much more sheltered than the others, so this is the place to go when the wind picks up. Aside from swimming you can keep fit in their everso small gym (you have to pay – about €5 a session) or with volleyball, basketball, football or aerobics. I did the latter once as it was free and the weather was cloudy. I can now count well backwards in Spanish as well as forwards (uno, dos, tres, quatro, y cambio, quatro, tres, dos, uno) which is always useful. The instructor was good but unreliable: the time changed each day and reception never knew when she would appear. I was the youngest person in the session which was quite fun, as was being the only hotel guest who could do the splits. For children there’s a mini-club in high season, and a playground open all year round. One of the pools has a kids section, and if you’re bringing babies, cots are available. There’s table tennis and darts and a games room full of arcadey type machines. They offer a “full entertainment program” which seemed to involve a lot of Bingo and dancing, and the odd bit of rifle shooting. Oh and a hypnotist. Needless to say, we did not stay in most nights. As self-catering guests we could have bought meal tickets and joined those taking the half board option in the restaurant. We didn’t do this, but a quick nosy at the lower-ground floor dining area confirmed that breakfast and dinner are both reasonably sized international buffets. The hotel also boasts a Chinese restaurant, a Cuban restaurant, a Pizzeria, a snack bar, a British pub, a British restaurant, a nightclub, a disco and various pool bars. They all seemed pretty reasonably priced, and 10/10 for the garlic bread served up by the British girl at Gaudi’s grill. Each guest receives a
voucher booklet on arrival including 10% off once at each of these places. If you are incredibly lazy, you can ring several of the restaurants and they’d bring you a take away direct to your door. Finally, there’s a luggage room if you have to check out ages before you leave, a hairdressers and laundrette and toilets, and interestingly enough showers, scattered all over the complex. The hotel claims to have a public relations manager – Vicki – but she wasn’t around at all the week we were there. In her absence you can book trips and hire cars from the reception staff, but they don’t really know much about it. There was a wide mix of British, German, Dutch and Russian guests but I must say the majority were not aesthetically pleasing. Is there a rule that all the pale, fat, ugly, smelly people have to come here out of season? Maybe they think they’ll be safe here after fleeing Muffin’s Room 101, but I’m exposing them now. They’re here and there’s lots of them, so come and get ‘em. Still made the rest of us look good…. ;-) The hotel was kept spotless by a dedicated team of cleaners. We had our rooms cleaned and beds made daily, and towels changed frequently. Check out time is 12pm and check in anytime after 2pm, but most tour groups seemed to be leaving early morning. The Columbus is only available in the UK through the Thomson group. They don’t seem to have a website (the hotel, not the company) so your best bet for more info is their Summer Sun or Winter Sun brochure. We paid about £300 each for a week here including flights and supplements, although you can pay double that in peak season. You can go independently but it’s quite a bit more expensive. Address and other contact details are at the bottom. It was a really nice place to stay, and should I spend my 3 months in summer in a hotel like this, I’ll be most happy. It was certainl
y the nicest place we’ve ever stayed when on a package deal, and had excellent facilities since it was an Aparthotel and not just an apartment block. Aparthotel Columbus Avda Penetracion Playa de las Americas Tenerife Tel : (from within the resort) 79 32 50 Fax : (ditto) 79 45 24 BTW I would throughly recommend this place. The only reason I've said I would probably not stay there again is because I rarely return to the same place, prefering instead to try new resorts / hotels.
A perk which comes with my job is a two week RCI Timeshare to anywhere featured in the RCI brochure. All I have to pay for is the flight, even the insurance comes free. We have been going to Tenerife for the last two years in March, so because we knew the weather has always been good we chose Tenerife again, but for just one week, the other week can be taken later on, hopefully. I sent an email to RCI and all they had available was Callao Garden in Callao Salvaje, Salvaje being pronounced Salvaki. It is 15 minutes away in the car from Las Americas, but to the North/West side. We wasn't keen at first, as we thought it may be too far out, but after little thought we went ahead thinking it was free and beggars can't be choosers. The confirmation arrived and on the 8th of March we set off to our destination. We hired a hire from the airport and it only took us about 25 minutes to get to our apartment. It was 12.20am when we got there saturday morning but we found it ok. As soon as we found the signpost to Callo Salvaje, there was another pointing to Callao Garden, it was just down the hill. We noticed there wasn't a car park and we had to find a car parking space on the roadside near to the apartment block. I find it annoying that such a big complex as this one hasn't even got a car park. It's a good job other people arrived by taxi or coach or there wouldn't have been enough room to park all cars. Finally we parked the car and headed for the reception, the apartments had a big green sign all lit up saying Callao Garden so you can't exactly miss it as you are coming down the hill.There were just a few steps leading upto the reception area and i went in to the foyer to check in. First impression was this is nice. The floors were the usual shiny marble tiles, it had a pool table to the left and some toilets, then there was a little bar area with a few chairs, and further round were a few white
settees set in a ranch style setting. There were pebbles and gravel on the floor surrounding them to give a cowboy feeling. There was also a little mini market which just sold the essentials. Behind the reception was a massive and I mean massive, stone walrus, "could I check" in I said to it, then a man appeared from behind the counter and said "is it Belinda". How clever the walrus talks I thought. Actually I found out the man came from Sussex, but could speak fluent Spanish, Italian and Russian and of course english, even though he thought Lancashire was near London!!!. Behind the reception were wooden station wagons where they kept your room key and any post that arrived for you. I thought it was rather unusual. I asked him if it was a Five Star Complex as I had read on somebodies website that it was, he said it was 3 keys. I'd told everybody at work it was a Five Star. He gave us our room key which was 2205, he said there were no lifts which was a bit awkward as we had a suitcase each, my husband had brought his bike and we also had hand luggage. We clambered the steps and got to the second floor which seemed more like the third floor by the time I had got to the room, I'm not very good with steps. We finally reached our room which was second from the end and opened the door with baited breath. The first room we came to was the bedroom which I thought was a bit odd, usually it's the second room in the other apartments we have stayed in. There was a window in the bedroom with shutters but it was so high up nobody could see in, it was a bit too high up for me to open, so we kept it shut all week which made the room look a bit dark. BEDROOM There were two normal sized single beds which were already pushed together. There was a wooden built in wardrobe which had a few coat hangers already attatched to the rail. They were the sort which you could only pull part of the hanger off the r
ail, then you hung your clothes up and attatch it back to the hanger. There wasn't loads of room but I suppose it was ample for the two of us for a week. There was also a set of four drawers inside the wardrobe and in one side there was a safe to keep money etc. You had to pay a deposit at the reception if you wanted to use it, we didn't ask how much. Near the window was a small dressing table with mirror and two very small drawers, there were also two bedside cabinets. Above the beds at either side were lamps which were on the wall, you could switch the lamps off or the main light without getting out of bed, yipee. We had bolster pillows which I found irritating, I do prefer two small pillows and had to fold the bolster pillow in half as they were really for a double bed, it was a bit uncomfortable. We had those lovely fleecy itchy blankets on plus a sheet. The eiderdowns were yellow and flowery, so were the curtains. Not a bad room really, nothing special but clean. BATHROOM The bathroom was the next room down the corridor, it was a funny long shape and you had to squeeze past the sink which stuck out like a sore thumb to get to the loo.The sink was surrounded by marble which was nice enough, but they had made it so big that you had to be like Kate Moss to get past it.It had a large mirror round it with spotlights which were great for looking at your zits. The maids had been kind enough to leave a small tablet of soap, still in it's wrapper of course. Then was the bidet or bottle cooler, or foot wash, does anybody really use it to it's full advantage? Even on that was a tablet of soap, very kind I thought. Next to the bidet was the loo, it had a funny shaped tank which looked rather space aged. They had even left us three toilet rolls, just in case my husband had to something nasty in the toilet, you wouldn't get me doing that lol. There was just enough space for the bath, it was a full size bath in
white porcelain to match the other furniture in the bathroom. It was clean but had a tiny black scratch mark in the bottom. Guess what, there was another bar of soap, I tried sneaking some in my bag as they usually think you have used them and give you more next time. Oh no not this time though, I had to get them out of my bag after the second day. There was a shower over the bath which was quite powerful, it wasn't a power shower but was still very good, better than mine at home, wonder if that will fit in my bag. Better not they might notice it. Also a shower curtain to hide behind to do your physcho act. I nearly forgot there was also a hairdryer which was a 1000 speed, it was ok but didn't have a nozzle for blow drying. I don't think there were enough towels really, the apartment was meant for four people but they only give us two bath towels, two hand towels and one bath mat. They did swap them two or three times though in the week. LOUNGE/KITCHEN This was a big area, the kitchen was open plan which went into the lounge area. The kitchen units were very nice, they were dark oak, there were plenty of units and cupboard space, but not a lot of utensils in them. There was a small fridge with icebox, a toaster, an electric fullsize oven with hob and extractor and kitchen sink. There wasn't even an electric kettle, but they did have an electric juice extractor. There was also an iron and an ironing board. There were just the basic cutlery items and a crappy bottle/tin opener, not even a pair of scissors.There were four small glasses, four large glasses, a few plates, teaplates and cups. I was a bit disappointed with the pans and equipment, not that we needed to cook anything, but because it was a timeshare complex, I expected better. I always thought that timeshare complexes were just that extra bit nicer. In the kitchen area was a shiny polished wood table with four chairs, here you could have y
our breakfast if the weather was rubbish outside on the balcony. LOUNGE There was a bed/settee and an extra chair, a coffee table, a portable size TV, the only programmes were Eurosport and CNN, all the rest were in Spanish, we couldn't even find a remote control for it. There were several pine units, one which was glass, I don't know why they put these items in, as they never put ornaments in them, so they just sit there lloking all bare. There were a few pictures on the wall to brighten up the place. Even though the lounge area was quite spacious it lacked something, it looked quite sparse. The floors were all tiled, which are nice and cool in the hot weather. We didn't have air conditioning, or so we thought, we never felt the need for it, the weather was a bit disappointing this time. BALCONY This was quite big, not the largest we've ever had but ample enough to lie down on the floor and drag the cushions off the settee to make into a sun longer, sshh don't tell the maids. We had four white chairs along with a white square plastic table. They had a clothes airer which stretched out across the corner of the balcony and you had three lines. If you felt energetic you could always sweep and mop the floor as there was a mop and bucket and bruch and shovel. We declined and left it upto the very spanish maid, who kept saying "Soliel" for some reason. maybe she meant that I needed some sun seeing as though I'm whiter than a milk bottle. AMMENITIES There were four swiiming pools, which we never used. We are both very shy of being around loads of thin people showing off their tanned bodies, especially me. So we only went round the pool area one night when it was about 5pm and nearly everybody had gone in. There were quite a lot of sun loungers and still people kept their towels on them, we did see in our inventory leaflet that if staff came across that, they
would have the right to take the towels off, nobody did. The four pools were split into two together at one end of the complex and the other two at the other end. They weren't massive, but ample enough for a quick dip. There was also a tennis court, an indoor squash court and bowls. There was also mini golf, which looked plain and boring, I think crazy golf looks better with it jazzed up a bit. It was just all green felt and nothing else. GARDEN AREA Nothing special, the complex seemed to sprawl out for miles, apparently they were extending the complex with another swimming pool. This was eventually going to become a Five Star complex, the website advertiser was a bit premature, they hadn't nowhere finished it yet. There were no colourful flowers or anything eyecatching about, infact I thought the whole ground looked barren and dull. There were two restaurants in the grounds, one called Bar Lanzarote and the other Bar Fuertaventura, we didn't use them. When the bar eventually opened in the reception area we order Cafe Con Leches from there, we could take them outside and sit on the dusty iron chairs and tables. Even the coke machine and football game outside was dusty. The whole resort if you looked carefully needed a good overhaul. There were steps everywhere, if you were disabled you could just about manage in a wheelchair but only if you were on the bottom floor. LOCATION Was a bit disappointing, a woman at work said it was very exclusive, I'm sure she must have meant somewhere else, Torviscas was much nicer. Down the road were a few more hotels, there was a great supermarket where the spanish lad kept you entertained by immitating everybodies accents. There were a few shops, a beauty shop, an electric shop , a bank and some bars and restaurants. Most of the bars were the tacky English, everybody likes Karaoke and football type bars. Everybody seemed to know each other in tho
se bars, they must be their local haunts. There was a good pharmacy and doctor in the area, but overall i thought we were a bit isolated. We could see the sea but there wasn't a beach or even a promenade. We hired a car and set off to explore everyday. OVERALL SUMMARY Bad location, apartment clean and tidy and spacious, but it felt like a ghost town with no atmosphere. There was entertainment on in one of the bars but most nighs it got cancelled, so we never went. Wouldn't go to Callao Salvaje again, but if the apartments moved to a different area then we would go in them again, it was just the town itself. Apparently the apartments were timeshare but if you wanted to pay to stay in one, I read it on the net that it would cost £110 a night, I nearly choked with the cost, £110 a week is more like it.
You probably haven't. Paradores is a very particular chain of hotels owned and run by the Spanish State. These hotels have different ratings, but all have something in common, they are all located in particularly beautiful spots all over Spain and are of an extremely high quality. Paradores were started by king Alfonso XIII at the beginning of the XX century. He was initially interested in having good hotels near some of the best hunting grounds in Spain. The network was expanded by General Franco as part of the effort to encourage tourism to parts of Spain considered of public interest. This means that many of the hotels are located in national parks and other protected areas where construction of private hotels is not allowed. Other of the attractions of Paradores is that they are meant to promote the local culture. In most of them waiters wear traditional outfits and the menus provide a rich selection of traditional local dishes and wines. I have stayed in paradores in Javea and Teruel. I have also eaten in the Parador del Teide. In every occasion, the service was exquisite, the food fabulous, the location extremely beutiful and the prices more than reasonable. I would like to visit as many as I can in the near future. There are more than 50, so I guess I will have to prioritise, but it is certainly an option that I would recommend to anyone willing to explore options other than the ususal resorts. Expect to pay about £80 a night, although there are many offers and prices vary considerably. Expect a majority of Spanish guests with many other nationalities, specially in the summer. Some of the hotels are very busy all year round so book early if you want to avoid disappointment. If you want to find out more check out www.paradores.es
The hotels in Spain are, for the majority of four star and below, are very disappointing. I myself have been to Spain four times and have numeous friends that have likewise. Together, we have formed an opinion: Hotels in Spain are out to make a fast buck. One incident has occurred when one of my frinds found cockroaches under the beds, and demanded to be moved to a better hotel, and the holiday rep dumbed down the argument by saying that he had never seen cockroaches in the hotel, ever. This goes for the kitchens too, with myself and others refusing to eat because of the hygene factor. The wars themselves had not been cleaned, let alone the kitchen, we guessed. The plates had marks, deep with encrusted with dirt and even my two-year old refused to eat. The swimming pools are even less attractive - bad markings on the sides and 8 feet of water depth at the deep end had lead to severe disruptrences on some of our holidays. Recently, there has been a UK report into this matter, and found that 8 out of 10 hotels failed to meet basic UK swimming pool guidelines. Thankfully for my sake, my family and I have recieved full refunds for our distubances, but even if it is only to France, will always go 5 star because the quality, food and hygene is top notch. IJC