The Challenge: To find the ultimate beach destination Who: ebookers Beach Reporters, Nicola and Darren What: 3 weeks, 10 destinations When: Summer 2012
K CLDIC K BOO
AN EL HOT TH I S
United Arab Emirates
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THE HOTEL The hotel is situated on Saadiyat Island, which is to the North of Abu Dhabi city itself and to the West of the recently created Ferrari World and only about 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi Airport. Saadiyat Island is clearly an up-and-coming beach destination for Abu Dhabi by the look of the development going on around the Hotel. St Regis: Saadiyat Island has secured a prime location but this island is very much a work in progress and currently
and even packing your bags for you
had thick cushions to sink into. The
when it’s time to leave.
staff were quick to hand out thick
The hotel room was beautiful. The hotel only opened on Boxing Day 2011 and the room is immaculate and comfortably furnished to a fault.
there is not a great deal to do there outside of the hotel resort. We’ll be interested to
The bathroom has an egg-shaped free
see how things develop in the future. We hope it retains its natural feel.
standing bath with sea views and if
The hotel is situated right on the beach. And what a beach. Miles of fine sand stretch out behind the hotel and its adjourning golf course. This beach is special, and not least because this beach is visited by Hawksbill Turtles during the spring at dusk to spend the evening to dig their nests and several months later tiny turtles stream from the sand to return to the sea. The hotel chain prides themselves on having a dedicated butler for each floor in the hotel and after greeting you at reception our butler was more than happy to show us our room and to offer to unpack for us and to bring us a cup of tea as we relaxed into our surroundings. The butler service also includes shoe shines, drawing baths
you would like some more privacy then
pool towels too. These were the most comfortable and quality loungers on the whole trip. The adult pool also contained sunken loungers, a Jacuzzi , a pool bar and cabanas spotted around the poolside. We couldn’t ask for more!
just adjust the electric blinds…..or ask
We ate one evening meal and one
the butler to do it for you if you are so
breakfast in the hotel, and although
the food was good and there is a large
If there was not enough inside to tempt you, the hotel has a family pool and separate adult outside swimming pool. The adult pool had plenty of sun loungers around the carefully planned and laid out swimming pool and each
range of food to choose from, you can’t help but think that the food is not quite at the standard of the rest of the hotel’s facilities. The hotel has a buffet restaurant and also a steak-house style restaurant.
The beach has loungers and cabanas
on the beach for very long. Go to the
hotel. We were only staying one night
The beach is beautiful. It stretches as
available for use and there is a life
beach very early in the morning or very
but we found the romance factor of
far as the eye can see and consists of
guard on duty throughout the day. The
late in the afternoon.
the hotel to be high.
fine (almost hand sieved) white sand
lifeguards are also there to protect the
which welcomes you into the warm
turtles arriving and departing from the
Arabian Sea. We found the temperature
beach and to mark and guard their nests.
of the sea to be in the low 30s and it felt like stepping into a warm bath. We suspected that the butler had prepared it prior to our arrival. The beach has a few stones littered around the waterâ€™s edge but after that the stones disappear to leave a soft sandy sea bed and crystal waters reign here.
The beach is faultless but it also a little desolate. There was no sign of any water sports or much to do at the beach.
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
The hotel, pool areas and beach are simply beautiful and the bedrooms are stunning. Everything is thought out carefully at the hotel and you feel very welcome,
Being there in late July, the
easily relaxed and that nothing is too
temperatures got as high as 48 degrees
much trouble at the hotel. The service
Celsius. It was also Ramadan which
is attentive but yet discreet and there
meant that itâ€™s a little too difficult to be
is a lovely luxurious feel about the
Go to the beach very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.
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THE HOTEL The hotel is located in a perfect location. The front of the hotel is directly on the sea front and the rear of hotel is steps away from The Laines and from the best of Brighton’s shopping and entertainment. The Pier, Brighton Centre, Royal Pavilions and Brighton’s theatres are only minutes from the hotel. The hotel has an unspectacular exterior, something that perhaps is a disadvantage against its competition but the hotel has a few surprises up its sleeve. Firstly it is built above a handy four floor underground car park and secondly the hotel contains a large open quad style atrium inside which gives the hotel a light and
and the bathroom is functional but the
the beach and this again serves to
welcoming feel. The interior décor is modern and sophisticated.
king size bed was comfortable and very
underline the strength of this hotel: its
welcome at the end of the day after a
We had a sea view room; and what a view! Yes, there is a little noise on a Saturday night from people heading home along the sea front but it is worth it to wake up and see the long beach and Brighton Pier right in front of your bedroom window.
day outside in the plethora of activities that Brighton offers.
The hotel know how special this view is as the room contains two comfortable
Breakfast was comprehensive: and the
leather chairs for you to sit back and enjoy the view and the hotel helpfully have left
omelettes made to order very good.
binoculars on the window sill to encourage you to sit back and soak in the view.
The breakfast is served in the restaurant
The room itself is comfortable and a good size. The decorations are unremarkable
at the front of the hotel that overlooks
The hotel also has a small gym and indoor pool downstairs. Everyone should like this hotel – couples with or without children, groups and single travellers.
also found on the pier and deckchairs
We saw a handful of stag and hen
Brighton has many attractions to
Brighton beach is very long: running for
are available for the leisurely Sunday
nights in Brighton during our weekend
enhance the romance: long walks
many miles and therefore finding space is
but the groups were very much part
along the beach, theatre, comedy, art,
of the chilled and free atmosphere of
boutique shopping and quirky intimate
Brighton rather than distracting from it
pubs, restaurants and clubs are littered
by drunken loud antics. Brighton was
throughout the town.
not really an issue. Brighton beach consists of large stones and the beach opposite our hotel offered deck chairs, a small funfair (including carousel) and a selection of small shops selling original art and souvenirs and outside cafes. Delightful.
A new addition to the beach is the Brighton Wheel. It looks impressive positioned close to the pier and next to the Sea Life centre we are sure that this will prove a popular draw and adds to the variety of things you can do at
The water is bracing, but we did see people
enjoying themselves out there swimming.
There is a promenade and cycling lane that
Brighton has a relaxed, eclectic,
stretches along the length of the beach.
cosmopolitan vibe about it. Everyone
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
can be whatever they want in Brighton The Pier is worth a visit if for no other
and be totally accepted there. Couples
reason than itâ€™s a great opportunity to
on romantic weekends away are not a
people watch. The pier has a funfair
new experience for Brighton!
at its end but cafĂŠs and eateries are
buzzing; people were clearly enjoying the sunlight and making the most of the weekend. When you are in Brighton you feel you are in the middle of a large but intimate party.
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Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik, Croatia
which springs into life intermittently. The other excellent point of this hotel is its buffet breakfast. They have everything!! The Omelettes and eggs cooked to order, pancakes and warm apricot croissants are a highlight. This is one of the best breakfasts we have had anywhere in the World.
THE HOTEL The hotel is situated on a peninsula with three other hotels approximately fifteen minutes outside of the historic and picturesque old town of Dubrovnik. The sea views from the rear of the hotel are spectacular, rolling mountains, beautiful blue sea and several islands dot the horizon. The hotel itself is ultra-modern in style. Chrome, glass and wide open spaces prevail. The hotel is about two years old, and it still has the ‘new out of the box’ feel to it. The rooms are modern too – the bathroom is particularly good with walk in showers, night lights and modern facilities. Where this hotel excels is with its two pools. The main outside pool is a long rectangle with exceptional clear and crisp water. The sun loungers are plentiful, comfortable and it’s easy to find one free at all times of the day. The outside pool is also positioned to take full advantage of the outstanding natural view. There is an inside pool and spa to enjoy too. Both pools are no more than 1.35m deep so they make it perfect for a lazy walk around and for children to enjoy. Be warned though, the inside pool is a little cool, but refreshing especially compared to the outside pool which is in the sun all day. Each pool also has a Jacuzzi section
We had lunch at the hotel pool bar however and this was a disappointment. The Lacroma burger was good, but the cocktails were poorly (in presentation and taste) and the greek salad was from a jar.
drop offs once in the water. The water
the food and the service generally
in the eves and stone crevices of
The beaches are a short ten minute
itself, although clean can also be a little
speaking, are functional.
Dubrovnik. The ancient architecture,
walk down the hill and not well sign
choppy at times.
posted or easily reached if you have mobility issues. There are three or so small, beaches dotted around the wooded peninsula. Since the beaches
There are no romantic touches in the
There are sun loungers and sun beds to
room. There is however a pillow menu
hire and the Lacromaâ€™s sister hotel has
which we welcomed.
beach side facilities available too.
The old town of Dubrovnik is very
are small space tends to be at a
The hotel although modern and spa-like
whether viewed from the hills above
in appearance, feels hermetically sealed.
or from the sand stoned streets within
For us it is lacking something in the
the walled old town. At dusk hundreds
romance stakes. It is welcoming, but
of swifts and swallows gather in the
where the pools and breakfast excel,
skies above Dubrovnik before roosting
Beaches here are relatively hard, matching the surrounding landscape, with large pebble beaches and sharp
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
romantic, quite breathtakingly beautiful
general buzz of people coming and going and the birds chirping and swooping above and through the narrow alleyways of the city give a magical feel to dusk in Dubrovnik.
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Vik Hotel Bandama Golf Gran Canaria, Spain
is an assortment of pools, including
Public areas are very clean and airy.
a children’s pool, and a pool with an
The complex is aesthetically pleasing,
artificial sand beach. Sun loungers and
as it is modelled around a Canarian
umbrellas are plentiful and the hotel
village. Consequently, blocks are all
operates a policy whereby reservation
different and lend an authentic feel
of loungers is not permitted before
to the hotel. The complex is large, but
10 am. We did see some guests
well sign-posted and based around a
disregarding this rule, but it generally
central plaza where the entertainment
seems to be enforced and finding a sun
takes place. The hotel has 5 conference
lounger was always easy at any time of
day. Staff are professional, friendly and speak good English and German. Room
THE HOTEL The hotel is easy to find - with the twin spires of the main building clearly visible at most times. The hotel reception area is amazing. It looks like a 19th century church inside with its high vaulted marble ceilings and lavish interior. It is the most impressive reception we have ever seen and is a sight to behold in its own right. This gives a glimpse into both the level of detail and also loving care that has gone into creating this hotel.
service is available for a 5 Euro standard charge and offers a wide range of drinks and standard snacks such as breakfasts, sandwiches, pasta, meat and fish. There is a small well-stocked mini bar in the room.
Activities – plenty for both adults and children including an animation programme, mini-club, and rotating schedule of activities. The payment system in the hotel and its bars and restaurants is very easy with only a swipe of your room charging your account. There is no
Rooms are spacious and feature en-suite
need to carry cash anywhere in the
facilities with bath, twin sinks, toilet,
bidet and separate power shower
The hotel has a varied selection of bars, snack bars, a pub and restaurants on site.
cubicle. Complementary toiletries add a
The hotel also has a Thalassotherapy Centre onsite.
luxurious touch and are from the hotel’s thalasso range. Décor is modern and
The hotel provides excellent value for money; even more so considering the quality
warm. Separate walk in wardrobe room
of the hotel, spacious, clean and comfortable rooms, excellent standard of pools,
with ample storage space, hanging rack
gardens and food. Wine and drinks are reasonably priced – cocktails around 6 euros
and shoe drawers. Robes in room, and
and a good bottle of white wine in a hotel restaurant is around 15 Euros.
fixed salon size hairdryer in bathroom.
As mentioned, the gardens are lush, mature and beautifully landscaped, lending an
Rooms feature a lounge area and beds
authentic village air to the complex. It feels lived-in but fresh and modern. There
are, disappointingly, twin.
Maspalomas beach is popular but we
and it has something substantial to
The sweets station for old and young
Lopesan Villa Del Conde has a man-
didn’t find it overly populated and
offer couples as well as those travelling
alike is an example of the hotel thinking
made beach inside its walls close to
there was ample space available as
of every angle.
the second of two large pools. Outside
the beach is quite broad and has good
of the complex has two small beaches
quality clean sand. Sun loungers and
The hotel’s village-style architecture
We loved it. Dining at the hotel’s
to the right hand side at Meloneras.
umbrellas are available for hire.
really works and creates an individual
restaurants in the cobbled square
and welcoming vibe around the hotel.
beneath the towering spires of reception
Since the beach is situated at the
Service is excellent although sometimes
was both intimate and relaxed. There is
southern tip of Gran Canaria and in
it could be more attentive. Close
romance in the air as you walk through
To the left, however, and only about
the Atlantic ocean some care has to
proximity to the best beaches Gran
the superb mature gardens at night
five minutes away is the famous
be taken but the water is clean, a little
Canaria offers, whilst still feeling that
whilst the flowers send their gentle scent
Maspalomas beach and sand dunes.
on the fresh side but not cold and the
you are in a tranquil environment, is a
into the night air. Bars have luxurious soft
This beach is several miles long and
beach shelves away relatively gently.
class act that Lopesan Villa Del Conde
furnishings that welcome you whilst you
pulls off with aplomb.
enjoy a cocktail (or two) before retiring
These beaches are sandy but small and are quite quiet.
starts near the Maspalomas lighthouse and merges into Playa Ingles. Before reaching Playa Ingles, there are large imposing sand dunes packed up at the back of the beach which invite exploration and offer seclusion and quietness away from the shoreline.
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
to your comfortable room. It’s only a
We found the hotel to be superb. From
The restaurants deliver high quality
its breath-taking reception area, lush
food and drink in a buffet style
tropical gardens, clean and gently
(although à la carte dining is also
heated free-form pools, comfortable,
available on site). The quality of the
A great deal of thought has gone into
quiet rooms to the immaculately kept
buffet is the best we have experienced
creating this hotel eight years ago and it
public areas, this hotel oozes quality
on this trip or any other. Top marks.
shame that the rooms seem to be based around twin beds.
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Holiday Hydros Costa del Sol, Spain
THE HOTEL The hotel is located atop a hill in the Holiday World complex consisting of 3 sister hotels which are all-inclusive venues. It is a spa-based satellite catering primarily for couples. It is a 10 minute walk to the gated complex entrance, but a small open-top shuttle bus operates between the hotels and the entrance from 10:00 â€“ 18:00 each day. From there, the beach is a 5-minute stroll away.
A unique feature of the hotel is the
The outside pool area is a modern, open
Malaguenan art which is displayed
terrace with Balinese loungers, a bar
throughout all public areas. There
and large freshwater swimming pool
is a dedicated lounge area with
comfortable sofas and armchairs for quiet reading from the hotel library and an honesty bar. The restaurant area commands an imposing sea view. Breakfast is a comprehensive affair with
The hotel is approximately 20 minutes transfer from Malaga Airport and is
freshly-squeezed orange juice and an
sandwiched between the main coastal Avenida del Sol road and the coastal
extensive continental spread. Cooked
items are made to order at
Couples would like this hotel, and it appeals to those with children as there are plenty of child-friendly activities on the complex site. Rooms are furnished in a modern, eclectic boutique style, with separate lounge, bathroom and bedroom. Every room has its own balcony and Jacuzzi. Bathrooms feature his and hers sinks, separate rainfall shower, bath and bidet.
additional cost. The evening Mar Y Tierra a la carte food was imaginative in print but unremarkable on the plate.
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
The nearest beach Carvajal, part of a
There were plenty of secluded spots on
stretch of beach that runs for several
the beach as it was sparsely populated
miles, is a 5 minute walk from the
mid-week. This may not be the case at
weekends as the beach is located in a
Space is plentiful â€“ the beach is very long and there are lots of available
highly populated area and the day we were there it was quite windy.
hotel tariff in low season. The quirky and individual dĂŠcor of the hotel adds to the romantic and sophisticated vibe. We loved the art installation and lit glass staircases, and can see this would appeal to those seeking an adult experience. The
loungers and umbrellas for hire at
The beach and location is not particularly
Balinese sun beds allow couples to
around 9 euros per day for 2 beds.
romantic in itself, but the hotel provides
sunbathe together, but it is a
Although pleasantly sandy, the beach
a calm oasis in a bustling and built-
shame that this thought
is not clean and is unfortunately
up area. The spa provides a welcome
didnâ€™t transfer to our
littered with cigarette ends. There
opportunity for rest and relaxation and
bedrooms, as we felt
are pedaloes for hire, and ample
is highly romantic, especially during the
that twin beds did not
cafes/beach restaurants along the
candlelit night sessions.
fit into the couple-
beachfront. Water quality is average.
orientated theme of the Spa packages may be included in the
The hotel has been created to provide a spa-like boutique atmosphere, and it generally achieves this. Improvements to the evening dining experience and addition of double beds would enhance the romance factor.
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Melia De Mar Mallorca, Spain
THE HOTEL The outside of the hotel and the surrounding area is not very impressive but once inside, you realise you have arrived at a chic, modern and serene hotel. As you walk through the hotel to the mature gardens, plunge pool and private beach and cove at the rear of the property you realise that this is something quite special.
although the separate shower cubicle
and come with fruit, cava and a fifteen
is a little tight for space. The beds are
minute expert head massage each.
supersized and heavenly. Each room as a balcony with a sun lounger chairs and table. Rooms are designed for romance.
Food and drink at the hotel is expensive. Breakfast is extensive and luxurious. We ate at the a la carte pool bar one night
Every room at this adult-only hotel has sea views although some have views
We liked the nightly turndown service.
and the buffet dinner the second. We
obscured by mature trees. The hotel was built in the mid 60s and, architecturally,
Apart from the chocolates left by
found the a la carte to be much better
it has stood the test of time. The interior of the hotel and the rooms have been
your bed, I really liked the towel
value and quality.
renovated and new modern fixtures are introduced each year to keep the hotel
replenishment at night as this meant
each morning you awoke to a full set of
Check-in is smooth and professional with complimentary iced tea and cold towels
clean towels to start the day.
upon arrival -a class touch. The reception staff are extremely helpful and are a credit
The adult only nature of the hotel
to the hotel. The pool staff, by contrast, let the rest of the hotel staff down by failing
created a quiet air of relaxation
to live up to their high standards of customer service and attentiveness.
throughout the hotel gardens and
The rooms are cool - modern technology wedded with classic Mallorcan artistic flair and understated elegance. This theme is carried through into the bathroom
sun beds and loungers. Balinese beds are available to hire from the hotel spa
We found the beach to be quiet,
their way to make your stay as relaxing
The hotel has a private small sandy
sophisticated and romantic, which is
and enjoyable as possible.
cove with clear water teeming with
completely in keeping with the hotel.
beautiful fish. The beach is also partially
shaded by pine trees which add to the intimate atmosphere. There are several public beaches close by, but we found swimming in the cove to be intimate and sufficient. More adventurous swimmers can leave the cove and venture into deeper water.
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
The bedrooms are plush and stylish. We loved the chic vibe of the hotel and
The hotel has a stylish Mallorcan air
have already looked into returning
about it. It is in an enviable location,
ourselves next year. If poolside
with access to a private cove within
service and the quality of the
steps of lavish Balinese beds set
buffet food was improved, this
elegantly in mature gardens. This hotel
place would be close to perfect.
oozes charm and adult sophistication. Staff, with few exceptions, go out of
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Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay, Malta
THE HOTEL The hotel is situated at the mouth of St George’s Bay which is on the North of the Island not far from Valletta and the main entertainment centre at St Julian’s Bay. The hotel is five minutes walk from St George’s Beach. The hotel reception and lobby area is beautifully decorated and commands a stunning view of St George’s Bay. Check in was very easy and quick and we were met by happy and welcoming staff.
We loved having the space of the
beach towels for your use around the
suite and a separate bedroom. It
pools, and you are invited to use these
felt luxurious. An executive lounge
for the beach too if you wish.
is available on the fourth floor for a continental style breakfast, drinks throughout the day and an evening happy hour from 6pm – 7pm which includes complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks and light snacks. This
We were upgraded to a suite on the Executive level: which is the top two floors of
was very popular and good value when
the hotel (4th and 5th). The room had a separate lounge and bathroom to the main
considering the extra cost of a suite.
bedroom and two private balconies. The only area we could be critical was that the decoration was a little tired and in need of a lick of paint. Although the welcome more than made up for it, a bit more care and attention to detail would make all the difference.
The hotel has two pools which are connected by a waterfall and surrounded by gardens. The pools are warm and inviting and deep. There are plenty of available sun lounges and no rush to reserve these first thing in the morning – another pleasant aspect of our stay. The hotel provides sumptuous
There are a choice of restaurants and bars on the hotel complex if you do not wish to venture the ten or fifteen minutes walk into St George’s or St Julian’s.
St Georgeâ€™s beach is small. It is approximately 100m of fine corse stone. The water is clear and there is a sectioned off part for swimmers separate from the motor boats and yachts. The beach is only five minutes from the hotel but the small nature of the beach means that it is very busy and space is at a premium. Sun loungers and umbrellas are available for daily hire at â‚Ź4 and â‚Ź3 respectively. Our advice is get there early if you want a space!
There are pedalo to hire and water
water and waterfalls) are not overly
What detracts from the romance of the
sports available. Boat trips are also
large, giving an intimate feel to them.
resort is the hordes of visiting student
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
There are plenty of bars and restaurants within easy reach for a romantic meal
The beach does not score highly for
or cocktail. The views around the
romance factor. It is too small, thus too
hotel also add to the romance
crowded. The hotel however is popular
with both couples travelling with and without children. The staff at the hotel are very welcoming and help you to immediately relax and enjoy your time there. The pools at the hotel are geared more for couples than families (deep
Valletta is well worth a day trip to immerse oneself in the historical walled city. It has many romantic views and a wealth of military history.
teenagers from the local language schools during the summer months.
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Sandos San Blas Resort Tenerife, Spain
THE HOTEL The hotel is close to Tenerife South Airport and is nondescript by its exterior. We are sure that this is because it is situated in a nature reserve. It does however mean that the hotel is quite bland to look at and the hotel is large and spreads out towards the sea from the reception area. The combination of this means that it is easy to become lost navigating around the hotel because most of the corridors and exteriors look the same. We liked the rooms. We thought that the rooms have modern clean lines, have interesting features such as glass walled en-suite bathrooms (with wooden sliding doors for those that wish more privacy) and are extremely comfortably furnished. The beds, although twins, offer a very sound night sleep. There are eight swimming pools which cascade down from the reception area along the length of the hotel. They are modern in design and are well kept. Sun loungers are plentiful but have metal frames and have seen better days.
We found the hotel staff to be most
The size and design of the place is too
helpful and provide an excellent service.
big to create and intimate romantic
The staff, the very good food and the
atmosphere. The hotel is designed
standard of the rooms that are provided
in such a way as every corridor is a
in this all-inclusive resort are the clear
thoroughfare therefore noise from
passing guests is to be expected.
The hotel has an adult-only swimming
In summary, if you have children and
pools and two adult-only seating areas
are happy that the hotel does not have
in the restaurants. This is not strictly
its own beach then this is a very good
enforced but it is welcome for couples
option for a family holiday. There is
seeking a quiet relaxed and romantic
no need to leave the resort but for
those that wish to venture out there is
We found Sandos San Blas to be one of the best all-inclusive resorts weâ€™ve experienced in terms of quality and range of food available at meal times.
enough close by via a taxi, hire car or the hotelâ€™s complimentary shuttle bus to Las Americas.
THE BEACH The hotel beach is quite small and is
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
Tenerife is a family destination. The
made of volcanic stones. Swimming is
beaches are mostly volcanic and hotel
not allowed on the beach because of
pools are normally a better option. This
strong currents and there is a warning
is certainly the case with Sandos San
sign and red flags flying at the beach
Blas. Siam Water Park and Las Americas
to warn people that this beach is
are close by and offer variation from the
hotel for families.
There is a small artificial sun bathing
This hotel excels in the quality of
area but it’s very small and very sparse.
its rooms and the standard of its all
The hotel beach has no appeal.
inclusive offering. It’s located close to the airport, in some regards too close as
from time to time you can smell aviation
denser planting of local plants to reduce
fuel in the air. The noise however from
the sparse feeling of the hotel.
planes landing and the airport generally is surprisingly little. The hotel reception area has matured palm trees and a waterfall and the cascading pools within the hotel add interest and are aesthetically pleasing. More features such as these are needed however to aid the romance factor for the hotel. We believe the hotel would be improved with the addition of
The adult only pools and seating area in the restaurant aid the romance factor at this hotel. There are guided walks through the nature reserve and an a la carte restaurant on sight which we are sure would aid the romantic aspect of this hotel. The lack of a useable beach also hurts the romance scoring for this hotel.
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Atlantis, The Palm Dubai, UAE
THE HOTEL The Atlantis: The Palm is an iconic hotel. The hotel is located at the end of the Palm with long views over the Arabian Sea at the front of the hotel and several pools and long manmade white sand beaches at the back. The whole hotel has a very clear and strong underwater theme and you can find this in the imposing glass water spout sculpture in the reception area and throughout the hotel and its rooms.
Breakfast offering at the hotel includes
scarcity of alcohol was noticeable and
distinct food counters offering Sushi,
impacted on our enjoyment.
Indian, Chinese, Thai, North American and European food.
The highlight for us for the hotel was the service. It is superb. The staff were
We loved the aquarium at the Atlantis.
friendly, attentive and there was a very
It is mesmerising to watch the 60,000
firm commitment to providing a five
fish, rays and sharks interact within
star service. All reasonable requests
the eleven million litre aquarium.
were met with a smile and promptly.
The hotel itself is a very large destination in its own right. It contains everything
Unfortunately we did not have time
An example of this was when we
to make sure that you could never want to leave the hotel. The hotel has scores of
for the waterpark but this looks like it
arrived the electronic door keys didn’t
shopping, restaurants, bars, pools and attractions including an aquarium, nightclub,
would be a lot of fun.
work – no problem the bellhop let us
waterpark and even a completely separate dolphin encounter area.
We had a room overlooking the Royal
The hotel has over 1,500 rooms and this is most evident at breakfast when there are
Pool at the Atlantis Hotel. We found
two restaurants to choose from. Finding a quiet place for breakfast in the restaurant
the room to be of high quality. The
is a challenge but if you join the masses for the most important meal of the day
bathroom had separate WC and
you won’t be disappointed as breakfast is a microcosm of Dubai itself. Dubai is the
refreshing separate rainfall shower.
junction where the world seems to have come together, it really is a world village.
Water was provided daily but the
in, ordered us replacement keys, oh and a cable for the internet, oh and brought us ice for the water in the room too without us asking for any….. you get the idea, at the Atlantis service is first class.
THE BEACH The beach on the inner Palm is immaculate. The beach itself is made up of fine, white sand. The sand is so fine that it looks like it has been hand sieved and each night it is manicured in a similar way to a snow piste so that each day they are in pristine condition. The water is aqua blue and very clear, and very warm. The water temperature was in the low 30s and felt like a warm bath. The beach had several rows of sun loungers and parasols available for people to use but we found the beach deserted. There were more life guards at the beach than guests at the hotel using it. We thought that was because the air temperature was as high as 48 degrees Celsius and humidity was up towards 90%. Consider when you travel as we were there during Ramadan so drinking
(even water) in public is prohibited. The only distraction with the beach is that the water is quite shallow and since you are on the Palm you know that the beach is man-made. The beach for me is over engineered, too perfect and too controlled â€“ a little soulless like the resort itself.
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
We enjoyed skiing together in Dubai. This is fun and somewhere to cool down away from the relentless heat outside. There are some lovely opulent hotels and restaurants to enjoy in Dubai to enhance the romance factor, but we did not find Dubai to be a particularly romantic destination. To be in a desert city during the extreme heat of late July and during Ramadan made Dubai quite a hard environment. Itâ€™s also
worth remembering that public signs
The romance in Dubai is found in
of affection are unlawful in Dubai,
the luxury of the hotels, the designer
so the atmosphere is not conducive
shopping and the expensive
to what we consider romantic. There
sophisticated restaurants, but this is
are plenty of man made options for
a place for high rollers. Dubai is not a
adventure, though we understand that
place to attempt on a budget and is of
the sky diving over the Palm does not
course, a highly manufactured location
operate in the summer months, which
with little romantic atmosphere.
is a shame. We also like to spend time outdoors, and found we did very little of this in Dubai. It is not a place to go for a romantic walk, especially during the hotter months. We spent a lot of time indoors, but inevitably, this means that so do other people and seclusion is not an option unless you remain in the hotel room. This impacted on our romantic rating.
All would need to have plenty of money to do it justice.
NG OUR RATI HHH HHH HH
Jolie Ville Golf & Resort, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
THE HOTEL Jolie Ville Golf & Resort Hotel is situated about ten minutes from Sharm Airport and Naama Bay. It seems to be the only Golf resort in Sharm El Sheikh and it has a reputation locally as being one of the better hotels in the area. (interesting note: it is next door to Mubarak’s private villa).
reference to this). We ordered a late
options eating outside of the hotels in
breakfast in our room and although it
There are large linked swimming pools
dive centre) and were willing to push
The hotel has a grand lobby and reception area. We found the hotel was quite quiet
in the grounds of the hotel, including
potentially inappropriate packages.
in terms of the number of guests staying there but in any event the hotel has a
a lazy river. The pools however seem
relaxed feel. There are a few restaurants and bars dotted around the reception area
to be simply made from concrete and
that give quite an intimate feel but the décor is perhaps dated (circa early 90s). The
covered with a plastic liner. The pools
hotel’s website boasts 12 restaurants but we only noted 4, one of which was closed
themselves are fine in terms of clean
for most of the week.
Taxis in Sharm are interesting! The price,
water and temperature and there were
condition and quality of driver is highly
lots of sun loungers available around
Unfortunately the grandness of the reception area does not flow through to the rooms or the outside pool. The rooms are spacious but basic. Some facilities such as mini-bar and safe are in the room but there were no luxurious touches such as robes, slippers or soft furnishings. We had twin double beds which we found to be far too hard. We asked for a softer mattress and apparently the hotel is used to such requests because the staff treated it as something very routine and quickly inserted a duvet on top of
arrived promptly it vaguely resembled the description in the menu and came with apologies for the lack of orange juice and other promised items.
the pools and ample pool facilities for children such as mushroom shaped fountains and a couple of water slides. In my opinion the attraction of the hotel and indeed the resort is not the hotels themselves or their pools. It is the Red Sea.
the mattress to soften things slightly. The air conditioning is necessary (nearly
The food at the hotel was good. There
40 degrees outside) but we found it to be very noisy and this and the hard beds
was plenty of selection and service, if
didn’t facilitate a restful night.
anything, was over keen but this may
The room was clean and we found the staff helpful but sometimes ineffective. For example the concierge could not recommend a Egyptian / Lebanese / Middle Eastern restaurant locally and the Lebanese restaurant at the hotel was only open (randomly) on a Sunday and Thursday each week (the hotel website makes no
be because there was sometimes more staff in attendance than hotel guests. We didn’t find the value of the food and drink to be particularly good but we found that there are limited eating
The hotel has a dive centre attached to it but we found to be pricey (I arranged a day’s diving locally with a PADI centre for half the price quoted by the hotel
We didn’t like the smoking in the public areas.
the reef wall where you are immediately
colourful tropical fish then grab your
However, many of the facilities in
There is not a beach at the hotel per
met by shoales of tropical fish. This is a
mask and snorkel and jump in.
Sharm are dated and basic. The tourist
se. The hotel has access to a coral reef
snorkelling heaven but be prepared for
which is accessed by means of four
the shock of looking down and seeing
jetties. The hotel has built a wooden,
the reef wall drop 20-30 metres beneath
treasure island themed bar and sun
you. Once you are past this shock many
terraces which you descend through to
hours can be spent happily exploring
reach each of the Jetties.
the reef and its inhabitants.
THE ROMANCE FACTOR
Spending time together snorkelling on the reef is very romantic and the sunsets on the Red Sea and the Sinai
trap that is Naama Bay consists of cheap souvenir stores and pushy cafĂŠ salesmen. We felt unsafe in Naama Bay at night despite being accompanied.
peninsula are beautiful. This is a
Finding a reasonable place to eat,
naturally attractive area of the world
arranging transportation and generally
The Red Sea was a balmy 29 Degrees
If you want to lie on a sandy beach
with its blue, clean waters teamed with
leaving the hotel can be quite an ordeal
Celsius and extremely clear. The hotel
and sun bathe this is probably not the
wildlife: the chance of seeing dolphins,
for those that are not well versed in
reef is superb. Each of the four jetties
best destination for you however if you
Egypt or not well travelled.
have stairs that deposit you directly at
are happy to experience some time completely surrounded by inquisitive