“ Location: Crete „
We stayed at the Mitsis Serita Beach Hotel in Hersonissos in Crete for 7 days at the end of April/beginning of May 2013. This was our first trip to Crete and the hotel is located approximately 23km from Heraklion Airport and 180km from Chania Airport (these are the only 2 airports on the islands to my knowledge).
In advance, I'll warn you that this is a REALLY long review, so grab some matchsticks to keep your eyes open!
From the moment we pulled into the car park at 10.30pm in our hired car (which took about 30 minutes from Heraklion Airport), we were in awe of how lovely the resort looked in the dark.
A friendly greeting at in the luxurious reception followed and we were checked in within minutes. We were quite pleased that we didn't have to wait ages for the reception staff to take our passports and photocopy them as happens in many European hotels; we just had to enter our nationality and passport number on the registration form which was short and very easy to complete as well as showing the booking confirmation. Hubby and I were both given our all inclusive tags on our wrists which were bright green with the hotel name written across them.
We were slightly disappointed to receive only one room key between us but decided not to let it be an issue.
We were delighted with our room when we walked in with our luggage (very kindly brought to the room by a porter on a trolley) and found some sandwiches waiting for us in the fridge which were very welcome! On entering the room you need to put your room key against a little panel as it had a magnetic activation for all the electrics and you need to leave the key there whilst in the room to keep your lights on!
We thought our room was very pretty on arrival, one might think it strange to call a room pretty but the décor was understated with pale blue walls and a lovely bedspread which had a light blue print on it which matched the headboards. We had booked a double room but it was actually two single beds pushed together with separate bedding and one large double bedspread to make it appear like a double bed. A bedside table on either side of the bed made it handy to keep things like mobile phones, glasses of water, etc, overnight and on each side of the bed were light switches to control the main room lighting as well as the pleasant looking bedside lights. One thing to mention here is that, unlike many hotels we've previously stayed in, there was ample lighting in the room.
The room had a large window with blinds on the outside which could be locked from the inside, these blinds were very efficient at keeping the light out (remember the sun comes out very early in Crete at this time of year, it starts to get very warm as early as 6am) and more importantly keeping the sun and light out helps keep the room cool without the need for the air-conditioning to be switched on.
The room had a chaise lounge as well which could actually be used as a 3rd bed if there were 3 people staying in the room. The beds were comfortable and the bedding was of very good quality and felt amazingly soft against the skin.
There was a large wardrobe with amply space to hang your clothes on the numerous hangers provided; I imagine it would be no problem to hang up clothes for a 1-4 week stay! There were also lots of shelves and a couple of drawers in the wardrobe to stores items of clothing which don't need to be hung up and shoes as well. The wardrobe also contained a safe which you need to pay for to use, but we tend not to bother with hotel safes as we generally keep our valuables with us at all times on holiday.
It was a nice touch as well that there were 2 pairs of hotel slippers awaiting us in the wardrobe when we were unpacking and these came in very useful during our stay as the marble floor really was too cold to walk around on barefoot! The air-conditioning was very effective, albeit somewhat noisy but as I mentioned the marble floors kept the room cool so we didn't have much need for the a/c during our stay.
There was also a dressing table with a fairly large mirror which had amply storage space below for even more of your clothing or other items. This table also housed the TV which was an old fashioned CRT. We didn't even switch on the TV till our 3rd day at the hotel as we just didn't even think of it, I just wanted to check what channels were available - there were a handful of local channels, no satellite channels at all and a BBC News channel in English so we were able to keep up to date with the outside world when necessary.
Within this dressing table was also a fridge with an ice compartment. As we had called to say we were arriving late evening, the hotel had kindly arranged for 4 rounds of sandwiches to be left in the fridge although there was no water, which we thought very odd. This did become an issue during the week as we had to keep remembering to buy bottled water from the on site shop which is open from 08:00 to 22:00 every day.
I must point out here that we stayed in what is referred to as a bungalow suite which is less than a minute's walk from the main hotel which is only 3 storeys high. The hotel has 276 rooms most of which can accommodate a minimum of 3 people.
The bathroom was a not very large but sufficient for your needs, a clean toilet and sink and bathtub with a very decent power shower. There were some lovely toiletries provided, a couple of good quality bottles of shower gel and a couple of bottles of shampoo with two each of various sizes of towels as well as a towel for use as a floor mat (thank God)!
I thank God for the floor mat as there was no guard for preventing water going everywhere when you have a shower and every single day we had a bit of a nightmare drying up the sink counter and floor after having a shower as water was just going everywhere! We spent quite some time mopping up wet surfaces and having to put towels out on the balcony to dry.
~TALKING OF THE BALCONY~
Our balcony (if you can call it that) wasn't exactly private, there are no walls either side and there were two chairs, a table and an ashtray in this "balcony" area outside the room. Now some people might not like the idea of not having privacy on the balcony but we thought it was quite pleasant and it actually encourages you to get into conversation with your neighbours, as we did and we became friendly with the neighbours on both sides, an English couple to our right and a Polish couple to our left.
It was nice for me or hubby to sit outside the room whilst waiting to pop out for a meal or go to the swimming pools, as one of us would invariably be ready before the other. We had a nice view of the well kept gardens and pool from the balcony and we were far enough away from the main hotel building so as not to hear the evening entertainment (music) if we chose to return to our room early (which, erm, we didn't actually do during our stay).
We found the chambermaids to be very efficient during our stay. They were always ready with a smile and very happy when we greeted them with "Kali Mera" (Good Morning) when we passed them outside and gave us beaming smiles and jolly responses.
I noted on our first full day when we left the "Do not Disturb" sign on the door when we went out as the room was tidy and we had only arrived late the night before so no cleaning or emptying of bins required that they cleaned the room anyway. On the third day they also took no notice of the "Do not Disturb" sign, so we didn't bother using it again, we realised they wanted to clean the room and do the beds regardless of the sign. One morning, after breakfast I wanted to have a nap and half an hour later a chambermaid came barging in and said "Why you no put "do not disturb" sign. I sighed and told her that they had completely ignored it when I used it so I hadn't bothered. I thought this was quite funny and she just quietly popped in and changed our towels. They were very efficient at replacing towels (which was necessary as we had to do a lot of mopping up after every shower) and the shower gel and shampoos.
One of the other things that made our stay so wonderful was the superb service received from the bar staff. I have to make a special mention to the delightful Niki who runs the pool bar, she is an absolute diamond and is on her feet from 9am to 6pm every day and is always smiling and cheerful. There is a Marina who works the inside bar in the evenings (what a superstar) and the lovely bubbly Crisi who runs the bar during the day is a sweetheart. There's another Marina who looks after the outside bar area during the days and she was fabulous too. All of these ladies were amazing with their customer service skills, always ready with a smile and happy to have a conversation with you. They ALL remembered our names AND our drinks and even when the bar was busy in the day or the evening, they seemed to deliver superhero-like super speedy skills so that people weren't waiting long. The best bar staff we've ever encountered!
They have a large selection of local spirits available and they are not at all mean with the shot sizes, in fact, we had to request smaller sizes as their spirit measures were just a bit too strong for us! The staff were happy to make up cocktails with the available drinks too. There was also a selection of lagers on top as well as tea and coffee and a cappuccino machine.
There was a chap who waited on the tables outside the bar in the evenings on the patio but I didn't find him as efficient as the others. He was friendly enough but we (and others) found him to take absolutely ages to return with your drink (think 30 minutes or more) so we soon realised it was easier to go get it ourselves from the bar as did many others. One evening a couple we were sitting with ordered their drinks from him and I went to the bar twice for myself and someone else in the time it took him to return with the drinks!
In the bar area was also a flat screen TV (not overly large so as to be intrusive) but this came in handy as the semi finals were on and we watched both Dortmund and Bayern Munich win to go through to the finals here at Wembley.
One thing which was a bit of let down was that near the bar/entertainment area were a set of ladies and gents toilets which although looked very nicely maintained, I found that they ladies toilets had an awful smell the whole week and no matter that the window was always open and I saw staff regularly mopping and cleaning in there, this awful smell just would no go away.
The pool bar is run by the wonderful Niki and this bar serves only beer and wine in the way of alcohol and soft drinks along with tea and coffee. There is also always a selection of snacks available for those who don't want to go into the restaurant - i.e. when sun bathing or swimming, it's not really appropriate to wear your swimming trunks or bikini and enter the restaurant dripping wet so the pool bar was very handy for those who didn't want to waste time getting changed for lunch. The sort of items on offer daily were hot dogs, cheeses, ham, soft bread rolls, pastries, ice cream, pop corn, etc. We spent a lot of time at this bar just relaxing and talking with Niki and other guests we got to know during our week there.
The main restaurant is open from 07:00 - 10:00 for "American" breakfast and from 10:00 - 10:30 for continental breakfast. American breakfast consisted of bread, cheeses hams, boiled eggs, Greek style baked beans, frankfurters, scrambled eggs, bacon, crepes, various cakes and salads. Saying this, there was only bacon available on one morning when we went, other mornings we were told there was no bacon available that day, yet one morning, as we left the restaurant at about 08:30 the chef came out and started cooking bacon and omelettes. I was quite peeved that the scrambled eggs were cold on both occasions that I tried them and the sliced bread available for making toast was hard and seemed stale (every day)! The other breads which you can slice yourself were always fresh and always fully stocked.
There was a tea and coffee machine and also a juice machine which also had cold still water. The fruit juices were the worst I've ever tasted anywhere so we didn't touch them again after the first morning, watered down is in understatement, we tried all of them and they were awful. They regularly ran out of glasses for the drinks and on some days we saw people hanging around for 5-10 minutes before clean glasses were brought out. We found this a real issue and were not impressed nor were most of the other guests who had already left their food on the table and returned to cold food!
For lunch and dinner there was always soup available which was handy as I didn't enjoy most of the food on offer at lunch or dinner, lots of fish available which kept hubby happy and pasta and spaghetti (which was often cold). I kept myself full by having soup and cheese, cold hams and bread mostly and the desserts, although plentiful did not cater for diabetics. I tried to stick to having fruit although I did indulge a few times in the delicious sweet treats that were available.
My biggest gripe about lunch and dinner was that there were never any glasses available to help yourself to water, you have to wait for a waiter/waitress to come over and take your drinks order and several times we had to ask 2 or 3 times for water. We then ended up grabbing coffee cups and filling them with water from the drinks machine or bringing our own drinks in from the bar. On our last evening meal we were told there was no ice available for the still water although when we went to the bar later they were fully stocked with ice which made me wonder why they didn't go and get some ice from the bar (the restaurant wasn't even busy when we were told there was no ice).
The restaurant manager was always there near the door to greet people with a smile and I noticed that there was no anti-bacterial soap available when entering the restaurant like they have in Spanish hotels. But I would also mention here that in the week that we were there we did not hear or anyone getting ill and we did meet and get chatting to many of the other guests all week. We found it amazing that the restaurant manager was there at every meal from first thing in the morning till last thing at night when the restaurant closed. Lunch is from 12:30 - 14:30 and dinner is from 18:30 to 21:30. The staff really do work hard and long hours at the Mitsis Serita.
Aside from the main restaurant and the availability of snacks at the pool bar, there's also the Tavern, a poolside restaurant, which you need to book lunch or dinner at from the reception. We didn't visit this as the people who'd eaten there mostly said it was just an extension of what was available in the main restaurant on a smaller scale with the addition of freshly cooked pizzas available which didn't interest us.
Please note if staying at this hotel that you are expected to dress for meals, e.g. men are expected to wear trousers for dinner rather than shorts.
There was a multi-lingual animation team of 4 or 5 people who started at 10:00 and worked till midnight every day that we were there. We were quite shocked by this as they only seem to have a couple of hours off during lunch time and then from 17:00 - 19:00, during these breaks they are supposed to have their meals and organise the entertainment for the next session.
The kids entertainment seemed quite fun and the kids loved it, there were probably about 30 kids from toddler to early teens during our stay and all of them bar none were exceptionally well behaved and seemed to be having the time of their lives. There were dance sessions, children's discos and little competitions to keep them amused with prizes for all. Adult entertainment during the day included Boules, water polo, dance sessions, aerobics and beach volleyball which everyone seemed to enjoy.
I have to say that the evening entertainment was really not to my taste. One evening they had a "Mr Serita Beach" competition where the animation team got guys from different countries to represent their countries and do things like a dance, collect items of clothing from female members of the audience, like bras, (good grief!!!) and "Miss Serita Beach" with similar activities, I got quite a shock when I walked in to use the communal toilets and saw countless men from young to elderly sitting there with just their underwear on, it was enough to put my off my food and drink!
On one evening the animation team were told to put together a comedy act and it was the most painful show I've even had to sit through! No disrespect to the entertainers, they were only advised each morning what sort of show they had to put together in the evening and bless them, comedy was not their forte, they had begged everyone sitting outside on the patio (where we spent most evenings so as to avoid the entertainment) to come inside and support them, we didn't last more than 10 minutes before we escaped back outside again. I was so embarrassed when one of the team asked me the next day what I had thought of their show that I just smiled and said "It was fine!"
~SWIMMING POOLS & OTHER FACILITIES~
The swimming pools and surrounding areas, like the rest of the hotel, were beautifully maintained and even though you had the usual behaviour of a handful of people putting their towels on deckchairs to reserve them for the day, this was not an issue as there were ample deckchairs available around the pools. Two fairly large swimming pools were available as well as one by a large water slide and some children's pools with children's slides. Everything was just so well organised and everyone seemed so happy and relaxed there.
We met lots of wonderful people during our stay - some Brits of course (although a fairly small percentage compared to other nationalities), some lovely Germans, Dutch, French, Polish, and many Russians who didn't speak much English but were really friendly. It's amazing how much conversation you can have without speaking the same language using body language, eye contact, gestures and smiles!
I have to point out how well behaved ALL of the children were the whole time we were there. No tantrums, no bored kids begging their parents to go do something else. Everyone from babies to the oldest guest was happy, relaxed and content.
The beach is right outside the hotel and within a few seconds you can splash around in the sea (or swim in it if you're brave enough) or relax quietly in the free deckchairs - the beach volleyball was fun for my husband who played a few times with other guests arrange by the animation team as well as water polo in the hotel pools which was fun for adults and children together.
At the front of the hotel is a pretty large car park as well as 2 floodlit tennis courts. The hotel also offers table tennis, pedal boats and canoes free of charge. Windsurfing is also available on production of a valid certificate.
There's a hairdressers on site which we didn't use but met a couple of ladies who did use it and said they were very happy with the service and the price. A change machine is available if you want to break larger notes (handy for getting changes to give tips to staff which we felt very inclined to do) and a couple of PCs are available for internet use, which was reasonably priced at 1 Euro for 30 minutes. Free wifi is available in the reception and bar areas. There were also a handful of arcade games and children's rides near the shop and internet area.
There's also a shop on site selling everything from sweets, cigarettes (at the same price as anywhere else on the island), clothing, footwear, toiletries, souvenirs, soft drinks, snacks, etc. A large bottle of water is 70 cents which is very handy and cheap considering no water is provided in the rooms.
The cleaners are hard at work from early morning cleaning the pool area, bar area, etc, and they all seemed happy in their work and always greeted us with a smile and cheerful "Kali Mera". They seem to start around 06:00 and finish by about 08:00 by which time people are surfacing for breakfast and some to even sun-bathe and swim that early.
The main hotel is disabled friendly although I imagine some of the slopes wouldn't be too easy for a wheelchair to move around to, say, get to the pool. Car hire can be arranged near reception as well as currency exchange if required. There seems to be one iron available across the whole hotel and when hubby borrowed it he was asked to return it within one hour in case anyone else needed it, he returned it after 3 hours but it wasn't an issue as no one else seemed to need one!
As I said, these were small niggles, on the whole, I would definitely recommend this beautifully maintained resort which can really boast exceptional customer service and a huge thank you to the wonderful staff who really made us feel welcome the whole time we were there.
~PRICES AND CONTACT DETAILS~
Unfortunately as we booked through an external company with flights and accommodation together we can only tell you how much we were told the hotel was for the week. Our return flights were about £400 together (including checked luggage) and the hotel itself was just over £200, that's TOGETHER! That's about £100 each for 7 nights accommodation in a 5* resort and all meals and drinks included. I'm fairly sure you won't get it at that price, I imagine it was so cheap due to just having reopened the week before went after being closed for winter.
We had checked Trip Advisor reviews before going and the hotel website. Having read many positive reviews and the negative ones seeming somewhat petty; we found the photos on the site were a very accurate representation of what the hotel and facilities actually look like.
Hotel website: http://www.mitsishotels.com/Hotels/serit​a-beach-hotel/welcome_195.htm
Mitsis is a chain of hotels founded in 1976 and there are 3 in Crete, Laguna Resort and Spa, Rinela Beach Resort and Spa and Serita Beach Hotel. There's 1 in Corfu, 5 in Kos and 6 in Rhodes.
Mitsis Serita Beach's address is Chersonisos, Greece, 70014, telephone number is 0030 28970 24542 and email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mitsis Serita Beach, we'll definitely be returning to your wonderful resort! Our first visit to Crete (hopefully of many) was made extremely memorable and wonderful due to this fabulous hotel. The facilities, customer service, rooms, etc, get a high 5 out of 5 from me, although the 2 out of 5 I'd give for the restaurant brings the overall rating down to 4 out of 5. We did ask the many people we'd met during the week what they thought of the hotel and the restaurant and everyone agreed that the hotel itself was worth of its 5* rating but the restaurant definitely wasn't.