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The Challenge: To find the ultimate beach destination Who: ebookers Beach Reporters, Nicola and Darren What: 3 weeks, 10 destinations When: Summer 2012


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AN EL HOT TH I S

St. Regis

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

inclined.

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.

THE BEACH

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 water’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.

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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 it’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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Thistle

Brighton, England


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

magnificent location.

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

morning snooze.

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.

THE BEACH

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

Brighton beach.

enjoying themselves out there swimming.

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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 it’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.

THE BEACH

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 Lacroma’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

a

premium.

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

facilities.

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,

hotel, therefore.

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

with children.

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

THE BEACH

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.

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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.

shows. Bravo.

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 – 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

and terrace.

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

railway line.

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 BEACH

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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

complex entrance.

weekends as the beach is located in a

Space is plentiful – 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

didn’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

other facilities.

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

contemporary.

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

a

THE BEACH

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.


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THE BEACH

St George’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 ₏4 and ₏3 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

available locally.

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

factor.

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

highlights here.

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

atmosphere.

those that wish to venture out there is

We found Sandos San Blas to be one of the best all-inclusive resorts we’ve experienced in terms of quality and range of food available at meal times.

enough close by via a taxi, hire car or the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus to Las Americas.


THE BEACH The hotel beach is quite small and is

a

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

‘dangerous’.

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 – a little soulless like the resort itself.

a

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. It’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

Sharm.

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

variable.

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 BEACH

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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

sharks, turtles.

Egypt or not well travelled.

have stairs that deposit you directly at

are happy to experience some time completely surrounded by inquisitive



Beach Report 2012