We had some trepidation following this summer's trip advisor reviews but we contacted the hotel directly and they reassured us about the experience we could expect. We were able to go using the honoured guest programme thanks to my partner's parents being regular visitors. This secured us a room upgrade to a garden bungalow, a complimentary cocktail each night, a daily newspaper, and a luxury taxi transfer from the airport (normally 70-80 euros).
The hotel visually is stunning, the bay is gorgeous and the layout of the hotel with it's little winding paths gives it a very discrete and bespoke feel. The taxi transfer made us feel like VIPs and ensured a speedy transfer from the airport. Our room was really nice, not huge, but in a nice setting with a partial sea view. Upon arrival, despite it being after midnight we were provided with a nice spread of meat, cheese and bread in our room with wine which was a lovely touch.
The food was really nice, a notch above the normal buffet standard. We were full board, and at the end of the week we were a little bored of the breakfasts but had no complaints. The meats were always fresh and well cooked, grilled in front of the diners throughout the service, and some of the desserts were fantastic. The sail-in bar was beautiful, particularly when it was allowed to maintain it's low-key relaxed vibe, usually before 9pm or after midnight.
There were some minor, frustrating issues with reception. Our change of room was not updated on the system meaning the spa did not realise our new room had changed and our free newspaper only arrived on one of the six mornings. Despite four requests to rectify this we don't think it was ever resolved which is disappointing considering they upgraded us without us requesting it.
The main issue with the hotel though surrounds the Robinson's staff and concept. Some of the WellFit package is actually quite good, with the organised exercise classes a good idea. However the concept of Robinson's is completely at odds with the Leading Hotel of the World image, they just don't work together. Some of the "entertainment" put on by Robinsons was bizarre, some of it was just rubbish and unwelcome. The team are very "in your face", sitting at your table at dinner, running through the pool and beach area in fancy dress and at one stage jumping on a man on his sunbed while dressed as some kind of "smurf". If they had done that to us we would have lodged a formal complaint, it's completely inappropriate for a hotel that markets itself on quality and relaxation. The sudden burst of rock music and air guitar dancing in the middle of the dinner service was also ridiculous, ruining the relaxed atmosphere. It is also annoying that we are asked to dress "elegantly" but the Robinsons staff wear whatever they want or fancy dress. Whoever is authorising or planning these things needs to have a total rethink, it's cringe-worthy and humiliating for the hard working staff that are trying so hard to maintain the exclusive standards. The poor attendance at the daily events such as water polo, which at best produced three interested guests and was cancelled on the other days, should be evidence that the concept as a whole is not what the guests want.
We have heard rumour that the partnership between the hotel and Robinson's will be terminated in the winter, this is absolutely the best course of action for the hotel as Robinson's presence is doing untold damage to it's client base. We stayed at a second hotel in Elounda for our second week and met guests who had looked elsewhere this year after being Bay Palace regulars for the last ten years. They have now found a better alternative and won't be returning to the hotel. The same can be said of us, which is a shame.
This hotel prices itself way above most of it's local competition, at a very exclusive level. However the management could do with experiencing the service of some of the other local options, they might realise that the level of value for money in Elounda is exceptional and beats the Bay Palace hands down without costing the earth. We originally planned to organise our wedding here next year but the hotel was unable to offer a flexible enough package that provided us with good value. Given the number of restrictions we felt were being applied, we have now booked elsewhere.
We had a lovely time, and without Robinsons this will be a wonderful hotel, but it still would not justify the costs. There is at least one much better, much cheaper, option in Elounda, and the Bay Palace will need to work extremely hard to win back it's lost client base, particularly as the other high priced competitors like the Elounda Blu are getting brilliant feedback from guests that we met. A real shame.
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- Also Known As:
- Elounda Bay Palace Hotel Elounda
- Bay Palace Hotel Elounda
- Elounda Bay Palace Crete