When I think about this holiday and recall the awful event that happened during my stay, I can't help but feel a deep sadness. It was towards the end of the first week of our holiday when, one evening, I was sitting in the outside area where the tables and chairs were placed around the stage area for evening entertainment, when I realised that people were congregating around the entrance to the hotel, and reception area. I remarked that it felt like a fight was going on or some sort of trouble. With that my teenaged son disappeared to have a look at this fight. I followed to get him back and out of harm's way. A crowd had gathered and it was apparent that something ominous had happened or was happening, due to the strange silence. We heard that the police were coming but didn't know why.
A little later we were told that a man had jumped from his hotel room balcony, taking his two young children with him. We didn't know who, if any had survived it seemed as if hotel staff were trying to keep this 'hushed up'. We later found that the man was in a critical condition and so was the daughter. The young boy had died.
This sense of shock spread through the hotel; everyone speaking in whispers, wondering how a father could do this. Attempted suicide is one thing but why involve his children? Of course many holiday makers had spoken to the family and felt dreadful. Should they have realised something was on the brink of happening? Could something have been said? We befriended a family where the father had witnessed the event and tried to calm the hysterical mother of these poor children.
It was the most horrible thing to happen but seemed to bring closeness to fellow guests who must have subconsciously decided to be kinder to other holiday makers. I don't suppose we will forget that awful evening and the strange surreal feel of the following day, but enough said of sadness. It wasn't the fault of the hotel or the lovely location.
This hotel was then exclusive to British travellers through First Choice Holidays. There were other nationalities staying here. Our group consisted of me, husband and our two teenaged children.
The transfer was lengthy being between one and a half hours plus from Heraklion airport' I don't mind this as on the way to the hotel it provides a good view of a new country. As it was daytime we had a good view of Crete and realised it's a large island.
It was a usual check in. Not too lengthy just a few details gone over and all inclusive bands put around wrists.
Staff were efficient. Reception was well manned.
We had booked two rooms which both slept two to three guests. On entering the rooms we were pleased and surprised at the spaciousness. These were the biggest hotel rooms we had ever had. Although basic in decoration this large amount of space added a comfortable feel. Bedspreads were attractive.
Each room consisted of two large single beds, fairly comfortable and a further sofa bed placed at a distance away from the other beds. This too was quite comfortable.
Storage space was adequate, though I never feel there's enough but better than at many hotels. And as the room was so large it didn't seem too bad.
There was television, radio, and bedside lamps.
The bathroom was adequate and had a few toiletries and hairdryer was supplied.
The rooms had stone tiled floors throughout.
The sea view from the balcony was fantastic .One thing I want from my holiday is to see plenty of sea.
Sheets were changed every few days and towels just about daily.The rooms were kept clean.
Air Conditioning which for me is a must, worked well.
The usual facilities were available, table tennis, a few video games, internet facilities, darts etc. But nothing exceptional.
Well this was one of the things that attracted me to this hotel-the wonderful pool which was like a mini waterpark. Flumes, slides and a lazy river, (flumes etc were supervised). The lazy river was too lazy and didn't move. You could swim around it or float on a lilo or rubber ring. There were steps around here making access easy. There was another small pool area where games took place such as water polo and water volleyball. The pools were cold.
The children's pool had lots of slides and fun activities.
My children had great fun in the pools but they don't seem to have the flume and large slide anymore.
The team of four entertainers were First Choice employees.They worked very hard but weren't the greatest. I thought two of them were very good dancers but the singing wasn't the best nor was the entertainment as a whole.
There was further staff running a kids club.
Evening entertainment was poor, mainly consisting of inane game shows where one or two (always the same!) guest were itching to get on stage and dress up or do silly walk etc. There were a few quizzes where the questions went along these lines:
1. How old is Mark?
2. Which entertainer likes chicken curry?
3. How long has Gareth worked for First Choice?
Well, nice as they were, I didn't really care. Shame because I love a general knowledge quiz.
We enjoyed sitting around this area thought and chatting to other guests. It wasn't easy to find a table as there were large groups of guests who reserved ridiculously large amounts of chairs and table space. There were complaints about this to the staff but as they seemed to befriend these large groups nothing was done. Sometimes we went out.
The restaurant looked authentically Greek having lots of stone features. Food was buffet style, serve yourself. It was usual to find your own table and then a waiter would appear to take your drinks order and return with them shortly. These waiters were great fun.
There was an outside area where, if seating was available the view was amazing of the sea, in the evening turning inky black. One could hear the waves crashing upon the beach.
The food was okay and mainly Greek style. There were a few English dishes but cooked in a Greek style-oil and herbs. I didn't mind the food but did get a little fed up with aubergines, by the end of the holiday.
Drinks were good. We didn't go thirsty!
There was an indoor bar and a poolside bar, also various places where you could fill a plastic glass from dispensers.
The very long beach is made up of tiny black pebbles. The sea is usually rough which delights my daughter. I would strongly advise pool shoes. On entering the sea it will dip suddenly. When the sea is rough it isn't the best beach for non-swimmers or young children. However a little further up the sea is calmer but this is near to the water sports area. We did enjoy our dips in the sea.
An English lady would appear around the pool area a few times a day to drum up custom for water sports. She was friendly, informative but not pushy. The variety of water sports was good.
I have read some reviews on Ierepetra and am surprised with the negative ones. But then I do research before going and usually get about what I expect. The location of this hotel though was better than expected. We loved it! A ten minute or so walk either along the beach or a path, and then a well paved are (avoid the mopeds though) and one arrives at Ierepetra itself, '''once a small fishing village'''. A perfect distance for an after dinner walk. Or a place to spend an hour or two
On the sea front are a few welcoming restaurants and bars mostly Cretan in style and atmosphere. One or two are quite modern. We enjoyed a meal or two along here. And there are a few gift shops where that really re eager for you custom. In fact I felt guilty if I didn't buy anything as these shops seemed a bit jaded to me; as if custom was sorely needed.
On walking along narrow street at the side of the shops and restaurants it seemed very surprising to come across the small but busy town of Ierepetra with its many shops, pharmacies, banks, shoes shops, lingerie and clothes shops, all very stylish and not there for the tourist. Noisy with cars honking horns, mopeds and motorbikes in abundance, and very smart locals. The local people in many of these Mediterranean towns are very smart, I find.
On returning from here to the hotel we passed a church very brightly lit and saw a wedding party leaving. Very festive.
As to going farther afield I would advise hiring a car. It's a long way to get to places. We went by bus to Aghios Nicholaos once and had a great day but then found the buses stopped at about six o'clock or so, to return to Ierepetra. We waited about an hour and a half for a taxi. I believe this taxi only took us out of pity, as I hailed it with my daughter, both looking forlorn. The drivers didn't want to go as far as Irepetra.
Apart from the tragic event happening here we still had a good holiday. The hotel was three or three star plus, depending on who is rating. I would say three star is about right. There were things that could have been improved but there were good points such as the large rooms, the wonderful views and Ierepetra itself. I would love to return to Crete.
Petra mare hotel is set right on the sea front in the southern town of irapetra on the island of crete.
The south side of the island can get particuarly strong gusts of wind during the peak season coming in from the sea, although it can be quite welcome as the temperature reached upto 36degrees when we visited.
The hotel is family orientated, although is equaly enjoyable for just couples.
We lucked out and got a superb sea view room, which im guessing is intended for 4 people, as it was very spacious.
The balcony was large enough for a table and four chairs, although some other balconys were hardly big enough for one person standing upright. I think as we had a good room it immediately set the tone for the rest of our holiday.
The food was lovely, much better than many other all inclusived that i have stayed in, especially the greek salad bar which was simply outstanding.
There is plenty of choice to have something different pretty much every night, even if like more your not that adventurous with your food. There is also alot of food that you could give the kids if they arent that keen on greek food, such as burgers, chips, pizza, ice cream, although some adults spent all week eating nothing but chips and complaining that there wasnt enough choice, kind of says it all really....
Food is available all day, as out of breakfast/lunch/dinner tiems there is a snack bar open.
Drink is available all day, and is all in unless you want cocktails from the eveing cocktail bar.
At night we had a stroll beyond the pool area where we found a small bar that early on has a kids disco, but after 9pm is for the adults until whenever everyone has gone to bed. This is far enough away from the hotel to not disturb those wanting to sleep.
Beer is self serve, so take a couple of plastic pint pots.
The staff/locals werent as friendly as some other greek resorts, but this is a real greek harbour town which hasnt been inundated with tourists, so you can understand that whilst they are pleasant enough, that they arent bending over backards to accomodate the package holiday crowd. After all, it would be a shame to turn this place into Benidorm....
Large pool area with a slide for the kids and big kids, plus there is beach activities such as boats, jets skis etc.
We had a walk down to the town most days, as it has a few nice cafe bars along the seafront to chill out at.
There are daily boat trips out to a desert island, which is the most southern point in europe. The boat took around an hour, and once you get there it is around 5 degrees hotter than what it is on Crete, and is large enough to go exploring on your own, or have a beer on the beach (there is a cafe at the boat port, plus a small bar on the beach over the other side of the island).
We followerd the path over the sand dunes to the beach on the other side of this island, and the water was crystal clear.
Petra mare is a great hotel in a relatively unspoilt part of Greece, so if you venture out of the hotel at night you can see how the greek people unwind after a hot day, with a cold drink in a realxing taverna.
My overall impression of this hotel can be summed up in one word - CHEAP. It seemed like everything was designed to be as cheap as possible - from the pathetic plastic cups, to the nasty drinks and the tacky "entertainment".
The hotel itself is OK - a bit shabby and in need of redecoration. Our room was spacious, with a lovely sea view, but the bathroom was a bit grubby. It was cleaned every day however, and towels and sheets changed regularly. Hotel staff were pleasant and hard working - but although the floors in the communal areas were being continually mopped, I don't think the strip of carpet along the corridor was vacuumed once in 2 weeks.
The restaurant was OK - food mainly good, but a bit repetetive after 2 weeks. We were also slightly put off after seeing a huge (dead) cockroach on the floor one morning. The outside part of the restaurant attracts several local stray cats - unfortunately at least 2 of them are heavily pregnant, so in a few weeks time, the place will be swarming with them. Although there's little you can (humanely) do to deter them - and I am a cat lover generally - I don't really want grubby strays rubbing against my legs when I eat.
There was a decent choice of food in the restaurant (lamb, chicken, fish, pasta) and a good variety of salad, vegetables and some delicious desserts. The wine was OK - not brilliant. Be warned - the only place you can get a decent soft drink is in the restaurant - and even that is sweetened orange or grapefruit juice. Elsewhere in the hotel the only non alcoholic drinks you can get are nasty local fizzy drinks or water.
The snack bar was rubbish, unless you like cheap pizza and chips. A major criticism is of the plastic cups used throughout the hotel (only exceptions are the restaurant and the bar) - these cups are so flimsy that they practically melt if you use them for hot drinks and fold in on themselves. A word of advice - take some PG Tips - the tea is awful. As is the milk - UHT. Again, cheap and nasty.
Speaking of which, the First Choice "entertainers" were a joke. A motley collection of people who were clearly only there because they hadn't made it onto Big Brother this year, (and because they're desperate for their Equity cards) they were arrogant, aloof and had sadly limited social skills. They also made it very clear they didn't like children, despite running the kids disco. It would have been far better for kids club reps (the creche reps were fantastic by the way) to do this, as they seemed to relate to kids far better. As it was, there's a Barbie wannabe, a poor man's Lily Savage, a fat bird who makes Jade Goody look talented and an obnoxious fat bloke who's so far up his own backside, he needs oxygen. All in all, not a good advert for First Choice.
And another word of warning - don't be conned into buying an "Express Check In" for your return journey (7.50 euros each) - a complete waste of money. You turn up, queue, and watch people who haven't paid go through the "Express" channel in front of you basically.
During our stay there were 3 fights among the guests, and if you want a decent sunbed by the (good) kids pool, you need to be a very early riser. So - all in all, no I won't be going back.
Hotel Petra Mare is an exclisive hotel to First Choice for the U.K. It is situated in the small and quiet resort if Ierapetra, and is an All Inclusive holtel.
The hotel itself is situated on the beachfront, has 3 floors, and all rooms have either a seaview or an uninterupted mountain view. You are greeted at the front entrance by a beautiful cascading waterfall, followed by beautiful landscaped gardens. The hotel reception is spacious, open 24 hours, and consists of a vast lounge area, and white marble floors. The hotel boasts, 3 bars, 1 resturant, 1 snack bar, shop, kids clubs, and 2 main swimming pools with waterslides, and 1 large childrens pool with play area.
The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, with kingsize bed and 2 single beds. The bathroom was marble throughout, and was luxurious. The balconies are spacious, and have 2 chairs and a table, we had a sea view, and that meant nothing but the sea, as this hotels swimming pools are to the side of the hotel.
The food was good, alot of people moaned, saying it was the same every night - chips, in fact the food was typical of greek home cooking ( iknow this as i am half greek), and most people were to scared to try anything different, so opted for chips every day! There was also a section for children in the evenings, with foods such as chicken nuggets and fish fingers. The snack bar had buffet foods, such as rolls, fruit, hot foods, and selected times for icecreams.
Drinks are also included, and their ider of a vodke and lemonade is 4 shots of vodka, and a dash of lemonade! Even though alcohol was generous in measures, and most people were merry by 8pm, there was never any trouble, as this is a hotel focused on families, no couples are allowed, and the atnosphere is family based.
The entertainment was ok, a bit cheesy for my liking, but we didn't stay up much, as we are more of a day family. The kids clubs were fantastic, and sometimes the kids were gone 2 times a day, giving us a well earned rest! The swimmimg pools are fantastic. There is a normal swimming pool large in size, with a child pool. Then there is the lazy river, which was huge, and in the middle of this was the waterslides. The kids pool is large, shallow, and fun, with play equipment and is a fantastic large area for the kids. My kids only came back for suncream and drinks, they were gone all day!
The beach is superb, considering we went in august it was always empty, which i thought was amazing, and the water is so clean, but it is rocky, so i advsie you to wear jellies when swimming. The town itself is not a resort, there are a couple of souvenir shops, a few bars and shops. There were regular boat trips to chrissie island, which could be viewed from the hotel. if you are a beach lover i advise you to take this trip, and the beached on this island have been quoted as being in the top ten beaches list of the whole world, and you need to pinch yourself when you are there, as it does seem like you are on a tropical beach.
The staff in the hotel are polite and efficient, and the whole hotel was so clean, as soon as you have put your cup down, the cleaners have taken it, the fllors were spotless.
All in all this hotel is a fantastic place for families. We all cried when coming home, we are sure we won't go anywhere else again, because we know we would be comparing everthig to this hotel. If you do look in first choices brochure and you see the pictures, they truly don't do the hotel any justice.