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“Avoid. Not a 4 trident place (officially 3*). "Best" rooms not for babies.”
1 of 5 bubbles Review of Club Med Da Balaia

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Club Med Da Balaia
Ranked #28 of 163 Hotels in Albufeira
GreenLeadersSilver level
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Avoid. Not a 4 trident place (officially 3*). "Best" rooms not for babies.”
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 August 2013

To be clear, the only reason we go to Club Meds is the baby club. The kids love it, so we try to minimize the possibility of bad surprises by going to what looks as good as Club Med can offer in the sea, sand and sun category. We have been to other 3 truly 4 trident Club Meds (knowledgeable people say out of top 5 Club Meds worldwide), so we booked this because it was 4 trident and it had baby club. Apparently we got one the best 8 floor room (which was not suite).

It all started to go wrong at the airport. They sent us a private van (which we ordered). As this was our first European Club Med destination, we chose not to take our car seats. It turned out that while the car driver had car seats, he did not know how to put them into the car. Despite some non-trivial entanglement with the belts, the baby seats were pretty much just sitting on the van's seats, unattached. Seeing our concerns the driver was very friendly and appreciative and offered us to drive "very slowly".

Of course we spoke to Club Med, however, perhaps since it was Sat eve, the hotel suggested that we just get another cab ourselves (with two tired kids at 9pm at the airport), since they were sure that the baby seats were legal. We sent the driver to bring the police officer such that he can validate the legalities of the seats (and also because the driver refused to show us his driver license). While he was away I miraculously managed to set up the seats myself, by following the instructions on the label that was curiously hidden under the seat's upholstery, perfectly invisible to the non-initiated ones. (I did find it by chance, while examining the seat in detail, looking for cracks).

The bonus was that we arrived at the hotel around 11pm (almost two hours later than planned), so we were spared of the true specialties of the place on the first night. The check in stuff was friendly and helped us binning the dinner plates to the rooms. Overall, one cannot fail staff in this place, most of them do a fantastic temporary job there. Still, there was one warning sign: the name plaque by the hotel entrance clearly showed only 3 stars. This was the first time when the internal Club Med's rating was actually higher than the local.

Next day was Sunday, when everything is closed. (Mind this, in most other Club Meds, Saturday is the dead day; here it is Sunday. Yes it is written on the web site). The highlights of the day were seven circles of hake, for lunch and dinner and a discovery that there are no fresh juices. In fact there is only one "juice" at all - orange juice from the machine. Other "juices" are 20% fruit drinks (e.g. apple) and barmen truly believe that those are "juices", despite clear markings on the cartons. An yes, you need to go to a bar to get this juicy drink, it is not available in the restaurant, only the high tech orange.

The first hit was the disco. During the day we were warned by another British family (that flew in together with us and were lucky to use the standard transfer thus arriving around 9pm) that disco could be very loud and overrun the promised 10pm end time. We were too late on the first night. And we were too tired to appreciate the second hit: the cold.

Anybody who visited Portugal this May/June will probably agree that this was one of the coolest years. The forecast was not perfect (it was supposed to be sunny, but only around 20-22C). But the night felt surprisingly cold. It was the next eve when we found out why.

Next morning we sent the kids to the club, which was just OK. Again, the best part was the personnel. Very nice and professional. The facilities themselves are well below average. Very small detached villa, no separate swimming pool, let alone children's aquatic mini park. Lot's of tricycles though and all trees wrapped in padding. Nice touch.

Despite the disco loudness and surprising cold, we decided not to go and ask for a different room. It was our first day of relaxation (since we spent whole Sunday with the kids onsite). And while both issues existed, but there were just bearable. (I guess this is exactly the hotel's bet).

No hake at lunch or dinner, just when we have almost got used to it. Perhaps because lot's of tourists have arrived on Saturday. Interestingly, most of them were not placed in the posh Tower.

Few words on the hotel geometry are due. Looking from the top, the hotel complex is roughly a obtuse angle, rougly pointing at the sea side. The right side (from the top) is the older wing; it is almost parallel to the sea side. Then there is the Tower, a more modern high rise building (about 10 floors) hosting the best rooms. The main restaurant and bar (the disco) are right under Tower, the only pool is a bit father (See picture from the Tower's balcony).

Finally, there is Golf hotel. It is of much lower rise (4 floors?) that the Tower. Being the left side of the angle, it pretty much "hides" behind the Tower that shields it from the disco and, I guess, wind. The sea view is impaired of course.

(Note that the three "hotels" are actually wings of the same complex. You don't need to go outside to get from one hotel into another.)

The second evening was truly horrible. The disco was very loud, much louder than the previous night. Apparently this was because the hotel was half empty the previous night. Now there seemed to be a welcome party. The kids could not fall asleep until the disco was abruptly stopped, after we called the reception.

We discovered the problem early next morning. Apparently, the balcony door was not fully shut even when closed - see pictures. This was the reason both for the excessive cold and loudness (and, actually, dampness). With half inch gap between the door and the frame, the room would clearly not meet Building regs in the UK, and I am pretty sure it would not in Portugal either. And the problem here is that Club Med had such a room and it was selling it.

First thing next morning we did go to the reception and asked for the new room. Apparently there were no rooms available of the same quality. The only option that the village manager Bruno was kind to offer was a similar room only on the fourth floor of Tower. Sort of disco-immersion augmented reality treat. After a brief but heated discussion of few abstract economic concepts (such as "fraud", etc ), we have opted for leaving this little shop of horrors. They were so kind advising that we could bring up all our issues with Customer Service later (which we did, so the saga continues).

Unfortunately, Club Med could not get us tickets for the same day, so we had to enjoy their hospitality for an extra night. Of course we used this opportunity to make additional high quality shots and HD videos. FYI one had to bring the TV volume to 40 (out of 60, perhaps) for it to level the noise of the disco. We'll post them once they are remastered for the internet.

The bottom line: avoid this place, it is a rip off. It's not worth more that a quarter of what they charge. Go to Turkey for a much higher value for money.

Room Tip: Avoid staying that the "delux" rooms in the Tower hotel. You will enjoy the 9pm disco.
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank clubmed_buster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ClubMedUK_official, Manager at Club Med Da Balaia, responded to this review, 28 August 2013
Dear Great Member,

Thank you for your feedback.

I am very pleased to hear that you have found our staff friendly and helpful, but I am sorry to read that you were dissatisfied with certain aspects of your holidays at Da Balaia. We are currently addressing your concerns and truly appreciate your feedback as we are always looking for ways to improve.

I hope that despite the issues you have raised in your comment, we will have the opportunity to restore your faith in our company by welcoming you to another Club Med resort in the not too distant future.

Best Regards,

CM_UK Official Manager.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2,249 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (89)
Date | Rating
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English first
London, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 August 2013

Just back from a great week at da Balaia with my wife and boys 8 and 12. We selected Club Med for the facilities and the Algarve for the wonderful weather and beautiful beaches. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by the Club Med culture, which combines the boundless enthusiasm of the GOs with management’s attention to detail in a genuine effort to make each week special for guests. The French can make difficult business and political counterparties, but based on our experience they are a polite and welcoming group to be on holiday with. The interaction stems from participation in the many activities, which range from stretching and pool games to golf and tennis competitions. There were aspects of a holiday camp as we circulated around the restaurant buffet and bar before heading to the evening performance, but everything was organised with such style that we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. My advice is to get involved as soon as you arrive and have fun.

Thank you to Oceane, who welcomed us to the club so graciously and made a point of organising our departure. Thank you also to the golf pros, Alfio and Juan Carlos, who were excellent teachers and great entertainers. Finally, I must express my appreciation of all the GOs who looked after us during the day, performed late at night and were up early the next day. Your efforts really made our holiday.

Room Tip: There were no family rooms available and so we had two adjacent rooms in the Golf Hotel. This worke...
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Andrew B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 1 August 2013 via mobile

This particular Club Med fell short of our expectations. Having visited the ones in Napitia and Marrakech in recent years, we thought Da Balaia would deliver the usual high standards, one that is consistent to the Club's tradition. It even boasted 4 stars.

We were however disappointed that this hotel lacks the usual facilities one would expect for a 4 star hotel -the pool is too small, the beach does not even have WCs and a beach bar. Most disappointing is that the beach is not even exclusive, unlike most other places in the Club Med chain and sits right next to public beach. One has to resort to a privately owned bar to get drinks on the beach and the only water sports available is kayak. Again, you have to pay to the private vendors on the beach next door to do variety of other beach sports. It occurred to us that perhaps once all these, i.e the beach bar and even the public beach itself used to be part of Club Med's property which perhaps due to the economic crisis, has now been leased to the public for extra income for the resort!

The services of the GOs and the standard of the food in the restaurant however are still good. The wines are sub-par and you have to pay to get decent ones! The GOs are friendly and tried hard to deliver entertaining performances every night but it was clear that they didn't allocate enough time to rehearse in order to deliver coordinated and better performances.

The rooms have been refurbished recently but the toiletries are again very basic. You have to bring your own shower cap, I'm afraid! Overall, We are not sure why this hotel is awarded 4 stars when the 3 star Napitia delivers better value for money. We paid more than double in price for this resort and we were not even greeted with a Welcome Night unlike others we had been to.

The management needs to put in more efforts to revive this place. There is an element of complacency, perhaps due to the returning customers who keep returning to this resort year after year. For those who have the opportunity to visit other resorts in the Club Med chain, the inconsistencies are most startling here in Da Balaia.

Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
Helpful?
2 Thank Linda B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
66 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 25 July 2013

Visited this hotel 18 years ago when my son was one. Returned with him and the rest of family. Was a bit concerned ahead of the visit about some of the negative comments - but shouldn't have worried. The bar staff were excellent and Wifi log wasn't too costly for a week (20 euros for 4 devices) - agree with earlier reviewer that it should be included and shouldn't need constant login. We're were in Golf Hotel 1st floor - it could do with a lick of paint, but not that bad. Rooms big. Public areas great. Tennis each day was good, staff very helpful, food fantastic, location very good. If you want lots of inclusive activities, food and drink 'on tap' and a terrific environment, then go. It was reassuring that Martin Lewis of 'moneysavingexpert' fame was staying there with wife and baby at same time - reassured me it was good value for money!

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank casperdoggy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Montreal, Canada
Level Contributor
120 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 July 2013

Fantastic experience, great and ambitious staff.
My family and i stayed at Club Med Da Balaia for one week, we were about 14 people of all ages, from 2 years old all the way to 50 years old. It was a great experience for us, one we will never forget for sure. The most thing that stands out about this hotel is their service and their fantastic animation team. They have a great set of managers as well who truly care about customer satisfaction.
The activities their animation team has set weekly a
The only thing that needs working on is the rooms, a little on the down side when it comes to house keeping service and modernness of rooms, other than that everything was perfect.

I recommend any family looking for an unforgettable trip to visit this place.

Room Tip: Sea view rooms for sure.
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank Billal Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris, France
Level Contributor
105 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 July 2013 via mobile

I have heard about Club Med and this was my first experience that confirmed my fears. The hotel itself is nice and located by a lovely beach and with a nice forest and views even from the restaurant. The food is wonderful and the cleaning and cooking staff fantastic. But there are too many activities and entertainment and the guests ( 90% French) seem to enjoy being permanently told what to do and greeted by a flock of good looking guys and girls ...The kids' club manager was not nice and didnt seem a big kid fun, the club is more like a nursery where you leave the kids when the manager decides and do not show up unattended to see the unhappy kids-we paid the extra fee and still didnt use it as our kid was too sad to go, and on every other hotel we have been to she always loved it. Some all the girls are nice but even though facilities were good it was not fun for the kids.
Tennis courts were in very bad condition and the pool was too small. I do not think it is worth the price unless you want to pay for the ClubMed entertainment /marketing, there are better and similar priced 5 star hotels around.

  • Stayed July 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank inst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leigh-on Sea, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 July 2013

Club Med rarely fail, they just get it so right and cater for everyones needs and value how precious holidays are... I visited with my 2yr old daughter and although we didn't use the baby club I did see it and the facilities looked very good.
The hotel is clean and in a beautiful setting, the staff are all friendly and genuinely seem to enjoy their jobs. Evening entertainment is great fun
The food was varied and of high quality and plenty of healthy options for both adults and the little ones. Was very impressed with the holiday from start to finish and honestly don't have one negative comment.
I would definitely go back and also highly recommend it!!

Room Tip: Room away from the evening entertainment is better if you have younger children with you
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  • Stayed September 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank leighlocals
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Club Med Da Balaia

Property: Club Med Da Balaia
Address: Praia Maria Luisa 8200-854 | Albufeira - province de Faro, Albufeira 8200-925, Portugal
Phone Number:
Region: Portugal > Algarve > Faro District > Albufeira
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#4 Top resorts Hotel in Albufeira
#11 Family Hotel in Albufeira
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Club Med Da Balaia 3*
Number of rooms: 372
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Da Balaia stands on an ochre cliff in southern Portugal, overlooking a magnificent white sand beach. The Resort allies sports and well-being in an outstanding setting. It's a world to unwind in, perfumed by the woody scents of parasol pines, olive trees and eucalyptus. Comfort and cosiness are to be found everywhere, even in the reception area where marble floors and deep red walls set the tone. This is a Club Med Resort where families, golfers and Spa enthusiasts live together in harmony. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Club Med Da Balaia Hotel Albufeira
Da Balaia Club Med
Club Med Albufeira
Albufeira Club Med
Club Med Da Balaia Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal

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