This was our second visit to Da Balaia, proof itself of a great holiday last year. Will we go back? probably not unfortunately (or it will have to be by car), and I will tell you why
Firstly the bad points:
The big one is this: we bought a holiday from Club Med. That included travel, which they booked for us on TAP Air Portugal, flying to Lisbon with an onward short flight to Faro. Having got up at 3 in the morning with our 3 year daughter to get a 6am flight, we were not best pleased to find that the flight had been delayed 3 hours. The result of this was arriving in Lisbon at 10.30 having missed the 9.45 onward flight, where we were met by a TAP employee who gave us a boarding pass for the flight that they had transferred us onto...at 23.05! This flight would get us into Faro at 23.50, add the time to get luggage and a 45minute transfer and you check in at about 1am if you are lucky. Now, there are times when this kind of thing is unavoidable, but in this case the Club is just over 2 hours drive from Lisbon - so the solution is obvious, get a car. We called Club Med in Paris only to be told that this was a TAP problem and there was nothing they could do about it. I am still fuming at the lack of any sort of customer care, totally at odds with the Club Med image and with the service at the resorts. The above is a shortened version of events, there were many phone calls and the service was dreadful. Thankfully, the Club themselves were much better as I will highlight later, but beware of Club Med as company - a problem like this and you are totally on your own.
As for other faults - I still hate paying a fortune for a luxury all inclusive and then being asked to pay additional sum for wifi, which is free in most basic hotels. As others have mentioned, the rooms in the Golf Hotel are in need of modernisation. As is the building, but I do actually quite like it and actually prefer the Golf to the Pyramid.
Now the good points:
Firstly, to complete the story of our journey. We called the resort, explained the problem and that we wanted to go by road and they sent a car to pick us up - exactly what should happen in this kind of situation. If you have a problem, call the resort directly, don't expect the Paris centre to do it for you.
We had a fabulous rest of the week - particular thanks to the team at Da Balaia who really make these holidays: Ana and the Petit Club team (big thanks to Ana, Ella and Chloé) gave my daughter a fabulous week, she was full of beans and really well looked after; I learnt to play golf and had my first round on a golf course as did my wife, Xavier and David were patient, relaxed, very professional and great fun not just in the lessons but all week. Julie, Allison and the tennis team also made participating fun and that spirit goes through everybody whether it is David's entertainment or Mirko's football. My one criticism of the team last year was at reception, this year they were fantastic!
As others have said before, the food at Da Balaia is great - you can eat healthy balanced meals that taste great...but if you are anything like me you will be too tempted by so much lovely food that you abandon all your best intentions!
We also spent time at the beach, which was fabulous - I love having the choice between the pool and the beach right in front of the hotel, no transfers and no fuss - just a hill to get down, and get back up.
- 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