My wife and I stayed for 10 days during September 2005 in the Cartaya Garden Hotel.
First of all I have to mention that unlike the description in the brochure the Cartaya Garden Hotel is NOT (!!) situated at the beach, in fact it's situated at the end of the El Rompido village on an cliff with the road and a lagoon separating it from the beach. You have to walk to the lagoon where you take a small ferry boat which brings you to the beach (called "La Flecha") - this takes about 1/2 hour minimum. You get tickets for the small ferry boat at the reception, but be sure to ask at the reception from which landing stage the ferry boat leaves - we searched nearly two hours for the right one.
You should rent a car in advance or at the next car rental station (Hotel Fuerte el Rompido) because the Cartaya Garden Hotel is outlying and you don't get taxis in El Rompido. The next taxi stand is located in Cartaya and it'll cost you at least 10 Euro to get the taxi from there!
The hotel started it's business a few weeks before we arrived, and you see that everywhere: Craftsmen keep repairing the (typical spanish) bricolage of the new hotel construction, the plaster starts crumbling away, the greens and gardens around the hotel are still not ready, several guaranteed features from the brochure aren't ready (no english or german SAT TV, the LAN connectors in the rooms didn't work, no international phone calls from the room), and so on. The most disgusting result of the unready surroundings is the nasty smell which comes from the junk that is spread alongside the driveway of the hotel.
Although the rooms were new and in good shape, the beds were very uncomfortable. My wife and I had permanently problems with our backs and didn't sleep one night without pains. In addition we were constantly interrupted by hotel staff even though we had the "Please do not disturb!" sign at our door. After we complained at the reception they stopped disturbing us.
The staff is very friendly and anxious, but still needs some training. Unfortunately only very few staff members speak english or german, which constantly caused problems with tourists that didn't speek at least a few words of spanish.
The next big problem is caused by the fact that the Hotel has both All Inclusive and normal guests. Since the waiters recognized very fast that they won't get any tip from AI guests, they keep ignoring the normal guests (which are willing to pay cash) also, which is very annoying because you have to wait very, very long until you draw the attention of some waiter. Sometimes the only possibility to get some drinks or meals is to join the line of AI guests and wait until it's your turn.
Due to the fact that spanish hotels have to be be very child-friendly in order to receive good reviews in the national hotel guides, the Cartaya Garden is really very child-friendly! They do everything for little guests, unfortunately the animations are in spanish only. When we arrived the hotel was full of spanish families with their children, we've been the only non-spanish and nonparous couple until the spanish holidays ended (September 19th). After this date the amount of international guests (mainly germans) increased noticeably.
Since some of the tourists were a little bit irritated about the spanish habits, I'll mention them separately: The spanish children are used to stay up until midnight or longer, so the hotel's animations for the children took until 11 p.m. or even midnight. Since one half of the rooms is facing the animation area inside the hotel the guests which have this rooms are constantly vexed by the animation and the so called "show program" which goes until midnight.
Especially the dinner buffet was stressfull because the people start to line up in front of the buffet at 9:00 pm, the line reaches it's peak at about 9:45 pm. Best time is at the beginning (8:30 pm) or at the end (22:30 pm) of the dinner time. Although the food is fresh it's boring and not very spicy and you'll get the same kind of food every day. The dinner is substandard for a 4 star hotel, the breakfast buffet is better.
The hotel's spa area is great, the pools and bathes are really nice, but some of the wellness treatments are very expensive. Besides a small minigolf and two tennis courts there are no more sports activities offered by the hotel. The tennis court's fences are much too low, so you have to search for your lost tennis balls half of the time. You can rent rackets and balls at the reception, but the balls we got were much too old and unplayable.
Since we stayed at the low season I can't say anything about the amusement possibilities around the hotel at the high season, but when we arrived nearly everything was closed in El Rompido. No bars, no discos, just two restaurants in the next village (Nuevo Portil). At the beach La Flecha was nothing at all, so don't forget to bring everything with you, especially a sunshade!
We payed round about 650 Euro per person for 10 days half board with the flight included. For what we got it was too expensive, especially the meals were dissapointing. The prices for drinks aren't cheap (a small domestic beer 0,33 liters for 2,50 Euro!) so I would suggest All Inclusive for those who come with children.
If you want to do more than just laying at the beach you definitely need a car! There's not very much of interest in the near of the hotel, we can recommend trips to the cities of Cadiz or Sevilla, which takes about 1 1/2 hours one way to get there. Especially Sevilla is lovely!!
As a result I have to say that the Cartaya Garden Hotel is no 4 star hotel, it's a good 3 star. We will not return, mainly because of the disappointing meals and the lack of culture and amusement in the surrounding area.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- SENTIDO Garden Playanatural is located in beautiful surroundings with view over the Rio Piedras river. Here you can relax at one of the pool areas or pamper yourself with a treatment in the spa. If you want to be more active during you holiday SENTIDO Garden Playanatural offers plenty of options such as tennis, darts and more. At the hotel you also find restaurants, bars and snack bar. All you need for a good holiday. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel And Spa Cartaya Garden
- Hotel Cartaya Garden
- Garden Hotel Cartaya