LOCATION OF HOTEL & GENERAL INFO:
I have traveled throughout Africa on numerous occasions, I have stayed in hotels ranging from 3 to 5 star so when I read past reviews regarding this hotel I didn't believe them.. I thought that people were just expecting a North African 5 star to have the same standards as a European 5 star, which is definitely not the case.. But this hotel IS NOT a 5 star at all. It is a 3 Star for North African standards and a 2 star for European/North American standards.
The hotel is 3hrs drive from the Enfidha airport so we arrived at approx 2:30am. We didn't receive any information regarding the hotel, such as times the restaurant was open, when to meet our excursion guide, what facilities are available etc for free/for a fee. I assumed this was because we arrived so late and would be told when we formally checked-in in the morning, however this wasn't the case. We had to ask for information, and what we were told was incorrect! We basically ended up finding everything out for ourselves through trial and error & talking to the few other guests who spoke English.
The area surrounding the hotel is barren. There is NOTHING to do. The hotel has mini golf and a bowling alley but you use it once and then what next? If you exit the hotel and turn left there is a 'zoo'. (More like a back yard with a few small birds, rabbits, dogs, goats etc in it but I must say that was the highlight of my trip (shows how boring the holiday was!))
The massage center was really good. My feet got swollen on the trip so I had to get a reflexology foot massage. My brother got a shiatsu massage and my little sister got a back massage. Neither of us had a bad word to say about it. They are inexpensive and very relaxing.... There are so many options to choose from so experiment and try something new.. I would definitively recommend having at least one massage. There is also a sauna, pool/spa and gym available but only if you book a half day or full day exploration package.
The reception staff are very stand-offish and unhelpful. You'll get more assistance from the random workers around the hotel. It seems like every other staff member except the receptionists smile and greet you. The restaurant manager is even worse. We had an issue with our length of stay and he refused to assist, tried to charge us to call our holiday company to confirm information and then he threw us out 10 hours before our flight even though I am 6 months pregnant. Nice!
People smoke throughout the hotel and have no regard or consideration for none smokers, children or pregnant people. I often found myself holding my breath as I walked past a group of smokers.... The smokers circles caused me to find new ways of moving around the hotel to ensure that I didn't get caught up in the popular smoking areas. It felt like EVERYBODY in Tunisia is a chain smoker.
The majority of guests are elderly French, Germans and Italians. They commented saying that they don't get many English. i noticed many people sitting around looking bored throughout the trip. Really, honestly, truly, there is NOTHING to do! might not be a good choice If you are young or you
have young children...
There are a group of entertainers called 'animation' they do shows every night. from comedy to singing and dancing. They can be seen throughout the day interacting with the guests. Some of them are quite immature and invasive. On a few occasions their approach changed a happy mood into an annoyed one. They like the flirt with young people and sometimes they don't know when to stop or don't know how to take no for an answer. I think they're like marmite, you either love them or hate them. I myself wasn't fond of them at all.
• Download a French or Arabic translator onto your phone
• Book the hotel with your arrival time in mind (we paid for 7 nights but technically only stayed for 6)
• Exchange money in the hotel because the rate is standard throughout BUT count it numerous times in front of them. (They tried to short change us 100Dinar!)
• Don't feel forced to give tips. Sometimes they don't deserve one!
• Bring your own entertainment (book, playing cards, movie on ipad, laptop) just in case!
FOOD AND DRINKS:
There aren't many restaurants or cafes close to the hotel so all inclusive is a wise choice.
It's advertised that there are 3 restaurants but only one was in use. The breakfast, lunch and dinner was continuously recycled from day to day and there wasn't much variety at all. The salads were brown, meat was miss-labeled (the beef and lamb are the same thing) and too chewy to swallow, the pizza was not pizza! It was naan bread with raw toppings thrown on top, and the fish hadn't been gutted at all. They also over use salt. I caught an infection on day 2 of my holiday (and this was even after sanitizing my hands before every meal and drinking through straws. I am very cleanly and selective with what I eat, plus I have a healthy immune system and rarely get sick so this is very unusual for me! Be careful!
There is a bar in the lobby area where you are able to buy alcoholic drinks, fizzy drinks and hot drinks such as teas and a variety of coffees. The bar staff are friendly. I don't drink alcohol so I would order either water or sprite but they water down their fizzy drinks so much that the sprite may as well have just been bicarbonate water anyway.
I don't drink alcohol but I was made aware that they really give you a good amount if you ask for a mixed drink (eg rum and coke will be 3/4 rum and 1/4 coke).
You can ask for a bottle of water too... I would suggest that you do this and take a few to your room and keep them in your fridge. They are free after all.
• Drink from straws
• The milk in the coffees and teas make your stomach feel very bubbly and funny (a few people said the same thing)
• Only eat fruit that you can peel
• Best to eat food that they cook right in front of you
• Please please Be careful!! Tunisia is not a clean place. Think about what you're eating or drinking on the street/excursions etc as well as in the hotel!
You use keycards to open the room doors, I'm not sure if it was just my room but mine definitely took some getting used to. I had to hold it at the exact correct angle and swipe at a specific speed for it to work. On average it took about 4-5 swipes before working which is a struggle if hands are full. I saw at least 3 spiders in my room and a massive dead moth lodged between the lampshade and bulb.
I'm not usually fussy with hotels. I'm fine with a 3 star if I pay for 3 star, but if I go to one advertised as 5 star then that's what I expect so I was really disappointed with the quality and service. Some of the lighting didn't work in my room. The bathroom light wouldn't stay on when the switch was pressed! On a few occasions I had to ask my sister stand by the door and keep her hand on the switch while i took a shower. The bathroom door also didn't close fully. The curtains were jammed so they wouldn't close. The shower head is facing an awkward direction so it's inevitable that you get water all over the floor when showering. The plug for the bath didn't fit so I couldn't have a bath. The air con didn't work. I usually don't even touch a tv on holiday but the area surrounding the hotel was so boring and the hotel itself was so boring that on one occasion I turned the tv on and it only had German, Russian, French and Arabic channels.
The bedding definitely isn't changed, it's just "tidied" every day. My blanket had straight blonde strands of hair all over it and I'm Afro-carribean so I know it wasn't my hair. The mattresses are nice and firm but unfortunately the beds are very itchy. i showered every morning and night, inspected my sheets and still felt like i was being bitten all over. In the end I slept on a bath-towel instead of directly laying on the sheet.
The bath towels are changed daily which should be standard but considering every other bad thing about the hotel it was a nice surprise.
The cleaning staff are very friendly and trustworthy (as trustworthy as they can be). My brother threw a watch with a broken strap into the bin/trash and the cleaner actually looked for him just to ask him if this was an accident or not. Nice! But I still would lock my valuables into my suitcase every time I left the room, just in case. The toilet roll was replaced daily which was good since the food gave me a runny stomach and made me physically sick.
• Provide your own entertainment because the area surrounding the hotel is boring an the tv doesn't have English channels
There are a lot of facilities in the hotel.
The BEACH wasn't great for me but it's alright if you just want to sunbathe. I found it hard to walk on because of the hundreds of shells. For the most part it is kept clean but still look out for the odd piece of broken glass or cigarette butt. They have activities on the beach such as bowling, water sports, quad biking and volley ball but during my stay nobody seemed interested in participating. The beach is small so if the tide is high you'll have to abandon and sit by the pool instead.
The OUTDOOR POOL is a nice sight, of course it's cold if the weather is cold and warm if the weather is warm. The area surrounding the pool is clean and quiet.
water Slides were in the process of being built while I was on holiday at this hotel. I can imagine that the pools will be even better once they are completed
The GYM was really bad. It's small and the equipment was outdated and not very good. The gym is open from 9:30 til 4pm. Despite its uselessness I often saw people utilizing the equipment. I tried it once but I am an avid gym goer so it didn't feel like I had achieved anything by the time I had finished.
The INDOOR POOL was well used by young children, it was warmer than the outdoor and there was also a Jacuzzi. I tried it once, but due to the infection I caught during my stay at Nour 'Palace' I was unable to use it again.
there is a GAMES ROOM with pool and some arcade games. Not used by many while i was there but good to pass time since there is nothing to do outside of the hotel.
the WIFI is only available in the lounge area and it isn't a strong signal and it keeps cutting out. It was very frustrating at times.
There is one TABLE TENNIS table downstairs on floor -2. I never saw anybody using it and I never used it, but if you like table tennis then this would be good.
There is also a SALON on floor -2.... I never used it so can't comment.
the BOWLING ALLEY opens at 4pm. It is not on the grounds of the hotel but next door. You have to exit the hotel and walk to the left to find it. It's not far.
the MASSAGE center as mentioned earlier was wonderful. Clean, friendly staff, good variety of services.
• Try at least one massage
• The indoor pool is much warmer than the outdoor (find it on floor -2)
They are really bad! When I go on holiday I tend to book many excursions... but here I only did two! There wasn't much choice.
We went to tunis/carthage and sidi, it was one of the worst excursions i've ever been on (and i've been on a lot). First you go to a medina market which is pretty much the same whether you're in morocco, egypt, libya or tunisia. People calling out to you to get you to shop with them... Generally the rule is always to barter, look around for best price (all items are same in all shops anyway so it's just price that counts) and if you think they're tying to hustle you then walk away. They'll soon call you back with a much lower price. Carthage was really really really bad. Out of all the historical ruins i've visited this was the worst. Just a pile of bricks pretty much.... And as usual they tell you the tourist history not the real history behind the area. Take what they say with a pinch of salt. If you're really interested in history and culture as i am, then do your own research so that you're not fed a stupid story.
Sidi Bou Saide also known as the blue and white city was just more shops in an area where the buildings had been painted. Even as a photographer with an artistic eye I wasn't impressed. But to each their own.
We also did the camel caravan. I've ridden 6 camels prior to this trip and I must say this was the worst experience I ever had with a camel. they obviously over booked because they were trying to fit 3 people on each camel. A man almost fell off.. The camels were tied so close together that they couldn't sit down so instead of getting on a camel how you traditionally would, instead, the excursions guys gave you a boost up and you had to climb it almost as if it were a horse. Never in my life have i experienced anything like that.... The scenery was really disgusting and sad. It was just riding a camel through waste land. You then get off and watch ''belly dancing'' which isn't belly dancing at all. It's you standing in a circle while they make a fool out of you by making you do stupid actions (they seemed to think europeans are dumb and foolish) they they give what they say was henna but really it was just ink that bled through the skin. I didn't receive any because i know that henna isn't always safe but watching others made me realise it wasn't even real. They make naan bread in an outside over and let you eat some. As mentioned earlier. Be careful! There are flies on the dough and no one in aware where they get the water from to make the bread. I noticed that none of the locals ate the bread, Just the tourists.. I wonder how many were sick afterwards. They giv you fanta or cola from a glass bottle... NEVER EVER EVER Drink from a glass bottle. They refill them! I've seen someones face swell up like a balloon. Either use a straw or refuse politely.. They drag out the whole experience so that it lasts for hours longer than necessary. After all of this, they then tell you that you need to pay for the drink, the bread and the henna.... oooooookay??!! Hustlers. Maybe they could have mentioned at the beginning haha.
We booked to go to Frigua zoo, was told to meet the guide outside to hotel at 7:15 so we woke up at 5:00, had a quick breakfast and was waiting outside for 30 minutes before asking reception what was going on. Reception told us that they don't have anything to do with it and we have to wait for the excursion lady to come in (bare in mind that the excursion lady is part of the hotel). They told us to wait 15 minutes which ended up being an hour. At this point we decided to just go back to our room. We then came back to reception an hour later and she still wasn't there yet. Eventually she told us that it was cancelled because there weren't enough people... It would have been nice to have been informed of this! we got our money back but not our time....
• Research excursions before arriving in Tunisia. You may get sales pitched into doing something worthless
• Work out how much the excursion costs in your local currency. When you realise the actual price in currency you understand then you may realise it's not worth it at all.
• Get the excursion guides telephone number in case anything goes wrong.
• Ask questions. Do you need a jumper? will you be traveling by coach? what time will you be back to hotel?
• If it's an early morning excursion then ask to get an early breakfast. The chefs should let you in to the restaurant before it opens.
Do extensive research from real life people! Don't go by the hotels official website or facebook page as it is biased and not accurate. When you make your decision, try to enjoy your holiday as much as possible. I had a really bad time here but I wouldn't dare suggest that it will be the same for everybody. If you choose this hotel then try and make the most.
I would suggest this hotel for older people.
• Bring hand sanatiser and pocket tissues
• Check the best before date on all items that you buy
• Only drink directly from bottle if it has the plastic seal.
• Try, try, try and have fun regardless.
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- Also Known As:
- Vincci Hotel Mahdia