Travelled with First Choice on our 6th visit to Tunisia, but our first to Marco Polo hotel. Was really diappointed that after travelling all day and arriving at 10pm at night with a husband and two teenage boys that there was absolutely nothing to eat and nowhere in the hotel to eat, not even bread, cold meat or snacks laid on - not good enough for a Riu hotel especially as in other hotels snacks were waiting on the guests arriving from our plane !! The rooms were lovely, the boys were in a HUGE room overlooking the sea whilst we were overlooking the pool. The rooms were kept immaculate by the maid. We've learnt from experience to look after the pool boy so therefore we had no problem with sunbeds whatsover. Breakfast was fine, with lots of choice, not that the boys saw much of this but when they surfaced often they had to wait on food due to timings of the restaurants. We spent money buying crisps and biscuits to keep the boys from going hungry as , also, after dinner at 8:30 there is no more food / snacks available.. Dont buy from the hotel shop as they're really expensive, a ten minute walk takes you to a variety of shops and a supermarket where the prices really are as cheap as chips ! Didn't have a problem with finding a table each morning and found the staff courteous and polite. At the meeting with the rep, Mark, we were introduced to the hotel manager and to the assistant manager which was a nice touch. The managers are VERY visible and high profile at all times.We lunched at the Italian Restaurant which was set up for a snack lunch which was fine. Disappointed however that Riu had taken the decision to close the Italian as an a la carte restaurant which we heard was due to cost - still this was advertised and was a selling point so eating at night was limited to either the main restaurant or to the Asian which was sometimes Tunisian or sometimes Chinese depending on the managers mood !! The Asian was nice though, more relaxed atmosphere and the Chinese food was good. The main restaurant was MAYHEM !!! Had to be allocated a sitting, either 6:30 or 8:30 and we opted for 2nd sitting. Given a specific table which was yours for the duration, but this didnt always happen and on more than one occasion we discovered a different family sitting at our table. The 2nd sitting was mayhem, people arguing over tables and at one point there was an actual fisty cuff fight ( which we missed thank goodness!),long queues for food which was good but have had better in other Riu's. We also had a waiter who we nicknamed 'grumpy' as he was sullen and rarely smiled which was the one and only exception among all the staff. One night we went for an early dinner as we were heading out on a trip and the first sitting was practically empty !! I discovered on our departure day that the manager was reopening the Italian the next night but not as an a la carte but as an overspill for the main dining hall. The hotel was full to capacity and it was obvious that the restaurant staff could not cope , at one point managers were taking room numbers and table numbers and the very next night it was still mayhem !.The entertainment was sometimes outside on the plaza terrrace and sometimes inside in the theatre and was a mixture over the two weeks with something to suit everyone, some nights good , some nights awful but that's holiday entertainment for you ! The entertainment staff work their socks off for you, the first time ever I've seen a whole pool full of people dancing IN and around the pool with the entertainment team. The down side at night time is if you are at 2nd sitting it's nigh on impossible to get a seat outside on the terrace as they are all taken - Riu you need to buy some more garden chairs for the plaza !! There is also no beach bar / beach snack bar so we tended to stay around the pool. All the bar staff we met were courteous, pleasant and good fun, with next to no waiting time to be served. We went on a couple of trips, one to the Zulu night which we had been on before and was good value for money,another to the reps night out in Sousse - Mark , you're a fantastic dancer !! The last trip was on a catamaran which quite frankly was not good value for money and I wouldn't recommend it, have been on much better ones in other resorts. The boys went quad biking through the hotel and loved every minute , so that was money well spent. Having been in a few Tunisian hotels this is definetly one of the better ones and I would go back but go for an early sitting at dinner !! On our departure day there were no late checkout rooms available - not one !! In all our years of travelling this is the first time ever that we didn't get a late check out room and our flight wasn't until just after 9pm - so after cakes at 3pm it was a long night without a meal ! Many thanks to Vinnie and Michelle, an English couple who let us use their room for showers etc. What really made our holiday though this year was our tour rep, Mark Vine. We met him at the welcome meeting,which was very informative as Mark had made up a powerpoint presentation. Mark lives on the premises and was always out and about, really highly visible and willing to chat and answer questions even when he was off duty. He obviously has a good relationship with the entertainment team as a few times whilst at the pool, they were mucking around together, pretending to throw each other in the pool and generally having a laugh which was really nice to see. Mark helped us out a few times with little things like our laundry, the TV settings in our room and listened to our comments and acted upon them when necessary.He is obviously well respected by the hotel managers and by all the staff. Mark also recommended that we upgrade to the VIP lounge at the airport - thanks Mark, it's brilliant and we will definetly do it again - at least the boys were fed with nice paninis ! It's been a long time since we've had such a good rep, one that obviously cares for people and will go the extra mile to help out. Not one holidaymaker that we spoke to said anything negative about Mark which was lovely. Whilst we were out and about, some shopkeepers noted our Riu bands and then started praising Mark who is obviously a well kent face! Mark said to us one evening that he treats holiday makers the way in which he would want his own family treated and it shows ! First Choice have a little treasure there, he is a credit to the company and a real valuable asset - First Choice take note !!! He will be a hard act to follow and I wish that there were more like him - he really made our holiday, so thanks again Mr Mark Vine !
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