We have just returned from two weeks at Phenicia and are already thinking about booking again for next year. On arrival, I must admit, we had a bad feeling about the holiday... we arrived at the hotel around 10pm and were welcomed with a drink and shown to our room. We walked out of the main building and into the building where the restaurants are, we were told to go up the stairs of this building, however it was so dark it took us a while to be sure this is what they meant. We carefully walked up the stair to a dark hallway, hardly lit at all, which in all honesty looked a bit like the hallway of a travelodge. Our room was not one of the refurbished ones but we were generally fine with this as it was clean and spacious, and the bed was huge! However, we immediately went to the balcony to see our view, but there was none, all we could see was a brick wall and some trees - we felt like we had just be chucked into any old room, after the hallway looking like a dungeon and then we were very disappointed with the view. We decided to go for a quick walk before bed, and as we were walking around it was fairly cold (I know nothing to do with the hotel, but we were used to warm Greek evening air!) adding another disappointment to the very start of the holiday.
We were soon after absolutely loving Phenics however...
The next morning (after a very good sleep) we woke and asked the reception for a room with a view, they were more than happy to see what they could do, however told us to come back the next morning when they would have something available. By that evening we decided we wanted to unpack and get settled and had gotten over the poor view so stayed where we were.
When exploring the rest of the hotel we were extremely impressed. We ventured to the other parts of the buildings where we knew the refurbished rooms were to be nosey basically and it looked gorgeous! We later found out that Phenicia is a Thomas Cook hotel and that their customers get the better rooms over any other holiday company - we went with Thomson, and therefore knew why we had been put in a non refurbed room with no view.
Breakfast was very good and served between 6-10am with lots of choice; freshly made pancakes and omelettes to order, freshly cooked pastries (often still hot from the oven!) range of cereals, cold meats, bread, fruit, and selection of, (I say fried breakfast but it is something like that) sausages, eggs, toast etc. Then coffee, tea, water, fruit juices, and a very nice fruit smoothie :)
Lunch was just as yummy and served between 12-230pm, as just as much choice.. you can either eat in the restaurant or at the beach BBQ. We ate everyday at the BBQ, due to always being on the beach. There was always pasta, chips and rice of some sort. There was then a range of pizza's, meat/fish on the BBQ, fresh bread, fresh fruit and ice cream, it was all very yummy and always something to eat (And I am a fussy eater!!)
Dinner was fantastic!! On your first night you choose either 630pm or 8pm to have as your dinner time for the duration of your stay. We chose 8pm, but found that we were always hungry at around 715 :( so did have to hold out for a little while. You are assigned a table where you sit every night with the same waiter. Our waiter was CHAIEB, and he was amazing - he really made our holiday! Our drinks were on the table when we entered the room and were never empty, plates cleared quickly and cutlery for further courses laid immediately. He always had a smile and made time for a chat with us :) The food was great at dinner. So much to choose from! There is always a main dish normally some sort of meat, along with (normally) a couscous dish, then there was always a range of foods from chips, rice, fish, potato dishes, vegetables, chicken legs, beef and gravy dishes etc. There was a griddle that was always cooking fresh fish and a pasta counter that did the BEST SPAGHETTI BOLOGNAISE I HAVE EVER TASTED! It was amazing, so much flavour, it really was the yummiest meal of the holiday!
Snacks are served between 230-6pm consisting of pancakes, pizza, cold meats and bread, salads and cakes, along with tea, coffee and fruit juices.
The hotel grounds are beautiful and very well kept, we saw numerous staff cutting the grass and hedges during our staff. The main pool area is lovely and is where most of the day time entertainment goes on, there is music, water aerobics, water polo etc throughout the day. The other pool is much smaller and quieter which no entertainment at all. We spent all of our time on the beach which is gorgeous and has the softest sand we have ever seen! Laid out with sunbeds and shelters it looks lovely, and luckily for us it never felt too noisy or busy. There were games on the beach each day at around 1030am & 330pm of boules, vollyball, football and aqua gymnastics, along with parachuting and jet skiing available all day at additional costs. The entertainment team were very enthusiastic about getting you to join in the activities! It did sometimes become irritating after we had said every single day sometimes more than once that we did not want to do such activities however...
My only criticism about the beach is the people who try and sell you things but there are signs as you enter the beach saying they have nothing to do with the hotel and they advise you not to purchase anything from them and to contact the hotel beach security if they pester you. If you sit at the back of the beach they do not bother you though, just there is less breeze at the back!!
The entertainment team really did try their best throughout both day and evening. Unfortunatly I cannot remember names, but those that did the boules, beach vollyball and beach football really managed to get a lot of people joining in, the football guy even managed to get my boyfriend playing and he never joins in with activities like these due to being very quiet. The evening perfomances, although a lot of effort had obviously been put in, were not what I expected after some of the reviews I had read.Most evenings were just dancing, of which only perhaps 3 or 4 were any good, most were not in time and some didn't look like they knew what they were doing, however, Like I said, lots of effort so well done and thank you :) We saw a snake charmer show of a sunday evening (entertainment team have sundays off) and to be honest it was pretty awful. Not only was he definatley NOT a snake charmer, the way he handled the snakes and lizards on the stage was appalling, They were obviously scared - most definately the lizard! The following sunday night was a 'fakri show' i think it was called. This was much better - although very slow to start. They used members of the audience and did things like standing on glass, and pushing knives into their chests etc.
There are a number of excursions available within the hotel and these people are quick to try and get you doing things, if you stop then they are immediately writing out your tickets and asking for money! You just need to be stern if you do not want to do the excursions. We decided to go on the quad biking trip - at 70,000Dina (about £28 ) each we thought it was really cheap and were we given 2 hours. We LOVED this trip and would very much recommend it to anyone.
The weather on arrival and for the first 10 days was outstanding, reaching 35 degrees each day we were told summer had just begun - due to the amount of rain the had the weeks before! However, on out 10th day we began to get thunder storms and rain from around 3pm! The following day was raining all day, however we went into Yasmine Hammament (5 Dina in Taxi) to do some shopping, so we weren't too bothered. The next day was overcast again but we insisted on going to the beach anyway, by 12pm we had blue sky and not a single cloud again :)
Overall, We very much enjoyed our stay! Although there were a couple of things we would like to have been different, for the price we payed, we were extremely happy. We have said that we would most likely book with Thomas Cook next time though- just to ensure a refurbished room, although I imagine by next year they will all be finished. All the staff were friendly and couldn't do enough for you, the food was super, the bed was massive! the hotel grounds are gorgeous and the hotel itself (except for some of the rooms/ in the 5000 block) was modern and beautiful.
We are very very tempted to return next year! But only if we could ensure we have CHAIEB as our waiter again ;)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Beautifully situated on the east coast of Tunisia, SENTIDO Phenicia spreads between a fine sandy beach and a garden of 11 hectares where mix generously palm and olive trees. For your comfort, the rooms of the hotel all endowed with balconies or terraces offer you fantastic views between the gulf and mountains of Hammamet, swimming pools or gardens. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sentido Phenicia Hotel Hammamet
- Iberostar Hotel Hammamet
- Iberostar Hotel Phenicia
- Iberostar Phenicia Tunisia
- Iberostar Phenicia Hammamet