Just been looking at previous reviews on this supposedly 4 star hotel, as it was around this time last year that we were looking for a family holiday ourselves in Sorrento. We did a bit of research and wanted to use the hotel as a base to explore Sorrento, Pompei, Capri etc. The previous year, as a family, we had cruised this beautiful coastline and hoped to meet the Italian people, experiencing the culture of their country. Having read the wonderful reviews on Trip Advisor, we chose the Conca Azzura Beach Club Hotel. It seemed perfect for us a as family of four adults and three children - all inclusive was a bonus and so booked through Thomas Cook. As other reviewers have previously informed, the location of the Conca Azzura is just outside of Sorrento. No problem here we thought - we were prepared to book the transport offered by the hotel to take us via train or boat from Sorrento to visit our sightseeing destinations.
First of all the transport. Unfortunately, after disembarking from the coach which transferred us between resorts from the airport, were we're transferred to an old wreck of a mini bus which was, in my opinion, unsafe and unroadworthy. As the hotel is based at the bottom of a cliff accessed by hairpin bends, then it can be a bit of a journey for the faint hearted!! Nevertheless, to escape the Conca, this journey is required. Don't get me wrong, I must say the journey was always fun and we did get used to it. The drivers know the route like the back of their hands and drive this many times daily, week in week out, so they must feel safe. However, I often wonder when this poor old machine will die - one day it will need to be laid to rest before it lays others at the bottom of the cliff lol!! Joking aside, if your lucky, there is another mini bus which is not as old, depends on which you manage to catch.
The only other problem with the hotel transport is that the bus requires booking for return journeys.
Great for the outward journey but as a tourist, who cannot anticipate the return time - this is Italy for goodness sake - we don't know how long we're likely to stay in Pompei and what time train we will catch on the return journey!! Nevertheless we did manage and if we did arrive too early for the transport back to the hotel, we either had a drink or a meal in Sorrento - great!!
Now about the food - breakfast was an event which could easily be missed. Nevertheless, as there were no other eateries at the bottom of the cliff, we required to attend as hunger would have got he better of us! Loved the dry cake and pastries - a good start to welcome the day ahead lol! Yes there was some hot food but I won't comment on this. It always surprises me what some people consider as wonderful food, believing what was said on previous Trip Advisor reviews - just what do they eat at home I wonder??? Nevertheless, lunch time was a great experience, especially for for an all inclusive holiday! We were always well looked after by the staff. The Head Waiter and his team were very friendly, polite and eager to please. Regarding the evening meals, we only had a few evening meals in the in hotel as we preferred to escape to experience a more lively atmosphere in Sorrento. The nights we did stay in though, we found the meals uneventful and the night time entertainment to be one organist - the only entertainment provided. Even Margarita Pracketaan (forgive the spelling - those of an older generation will know who I mean) would have been worried about this guy - but he was a happy little man who did get his audience to join in with him. Unfortunately, unless you ventured out of the hotel, this was the only evening entertainment. As for the kids in the complex, they provided their own entertainment, keeping themselves entertained day and night with their electronic gadgets - I've never seen so many in one lounge! Sadly, this was the only way the kids could entertain themselves for longer periods - thank goodness for Apple!! You might think that we are the type of family who doesn't want to spend time with our kids but far from it. We felt responsible for taking them there and gave them the opportunity to have a treat on their usually restricted games!!
Now for the hospitality. The bar manager at that time, Christian, (who is no longer mentioned on Trip Advisor, so I assume is no longer there now) was infamous for his generosity of alcoholic beverages even before we arrived. Everything that was written about him on Trip Advisor was true - had it not been for his entertainment and the Italian 'Casanova' bravado, our days and nights would have been intolerable. All was tongue in cheek by the way but he tried his best lol! To be honest, he was a real nice guy who played his role well! Christian's philosophy was based upon 'why have good measure when you can have the full bottle?? This is the honest truth. There was always a drink placed in front of you whether you asked for it or not and on occasions a help yourself bottle of brandy whether you wanted it or not!! We often wondered if the hotel ever made any profit because of his extreme generosity - it was all good branded alcohol too! Even giant size bottles of Coca Cola were handed out - not the watered down syrupy rubbish. He was an interesting character to say the least! From what I gather, the all inclusive drinks are no longer in the same measures now, so beware!! From reading the Trip Advisor reviews last year (all highly rated), I believe these may have been gained via the extremely generous measures offered by the bar - do people actually remember their stay or was it a blur lol!!
Next the accommodation. Yes the rooms were generally clean and for what we paid, were acceptable. Nevertheless, they were quite dark and dingy and could have done with a bit of an update. Also, my daughter's room always had a fowl smell of drains. Although we asked for something to get rid of the smell, this never materialised. Please note, I say 'asked' - and politely too, because as you continue reading this review, you may think we are one of these moaning families who are never happy unless they have something to complain about - far from it!
The manager of Conca Azzura Beach Club was a pleasant and approachful man - however, his counter part, the assistant manager was a surly little person. He hardly ever raised a smile but hey ho, we just kept smiling in the hope it would catch on. As I mentioned earlier, the waiters were hard working but always had time to say hello and to be helpful. Interestingly though, the Head Waiter, who had always been attentive, became less so after giving him his tip on the last day - a decent one too. Probably thinking about the next coach load of visitors I imagine.
Safety - a must to mention. Just a word of warning when returning to your room after dark - there are a few trip hazards ie steps which suddenly appear from nowhere - they are not easily distinguished from the pavement - there were a few trips, from adults as well as children! To be fair, when this was brought to the attention of the night time staff - yes, the surly little man at reception, a piece of A4 paper was placed on one of the columns near one of the steps the next day.
Nearly finished now but I feel I must mention the housekeeping standards. I feel outdoors, at the back of the complex could have been maintained to a higher standard - the rooms were cleaned daily but it was always interesting to see how many of the staff would allow a build up of dirty plates & glasses - a few days was quite normal!! As mentioned earlier, the hotel was at the beginning of it's summer season and the day before we left there was a lot of painting walls etc. perhaps we poorly timed our visit but even so, I believe that a hotel should be well maintained throughout seasons if open to paying guests. For example, the children were so excited to be going on holiday and swimming. However, the jacuzzi was not in working order and the main pool very scruffy and cold, they were disappointed not to have he experience they had hoped. The sun beds were old and rusty and the main pool sitting area was rough concrete - I think not a pleasant area to sit, even if the sun had been shining.
In my opinion, this hotel has excellent potential for a good holiday however, some of the basic standards need to be improved upon. The mini bus, even though is a talking point requires putting to rest. Why is it when English people go on holiday, they don't take this sort of thing seriously? If this transport was offered at home there would surely be an inquisition. It seems to me that when purchasing a holiday, we get what we pay for. Sadly, I feel we were short changed in The Conca Azzura Beach Club - sorry!
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel And Resort Sea Club Conca Azzurra