We knew when we booked this hotel that it was off the British tour company radar and as a result we were not surprised that we were (we think) the only family from England staying at the hotel. Loads of Russians, Turkish, German, Dutch and French guests, and the usual sprinkling of rude, loud and pushy people who don't know how to wait their turn.
Our first impressions of the hotel were that it looked a bit dated and tired. The reception area in the hotel could really do with a spruce up, just to bring it into the 21st century and the main bar area just off reception was not particularly welcoming. However we had a Lake Villa Family room and this was really spacious and clean which made up for the 70s styling! Two really large bedrooms, a bathroom and spacious hall, leading out onto a large terrace and the lovely pool. We had sun on the terrace from about midday through to 6.30 and spent many an early evening chilling with a beer with the kids playing in the pool.
Pools really great. The Lake House pool is massive, with jacuzzi bays and water jets. Loungers and hammocks scattered throughout the grounds and little islands in the pools for kids to swim to and play on. Water warm enough but cooler than the main pools on other side of hotel, and I guess that October - June its probably too chilly to swim in here. The main pools (all 4 of them) lovely and warm. Cave pool much cooler, as was the indoor pool - quite nice to have a choice of temperatures!
Easy enough to get a sun lounger if you get out by 10 am, after that it got a bit tricky if you wanted a particular spot. What we really liked though was that no one bothered reserving beds at stupid-o'clock, and at lunchtime if moving from beach to pool or vice versa people took their towels and changed beds - so even if you couldn't get a bed on the beach in the morning, you knew that you would get one in the afternoon - a very different culture from the british who tend to stay in one place all day. Lots of beds under trees - very nice. We discovered a great spot at the end of the holiday up by the indoor pool and table tennis tables - hardly any people & quiet, but really close to all the pools, bars and food.
Staff - a mixed bag, it has to be said. English not spoken fluently by most staff (hardly surprising if most guests Russian!), but all tried - and had far more english than we had Turkish - and it really was not a problem. However, the attitude of staff really varied. Reception and guest services very helpful and polite. Our maid was fantastic. However many of the waiters and bar staff could be really rude, or just completely ignore you. There were of course some exceptions - and it was refreshing to come across a friendly attentive waiter! Its the first time we have experienced such poor service though, in a "5*" hotel.
Food..... this is where the hotel lost most marks from us I'm afraid. We had breakfast at the little restaraunt near the lake view villas, it was OK, just repetitive with same things on offer each day. Big plus was the freshly squeezed orange juice though (all other hotels we have stayed in we have had to pay extra).
Lunch - the "Side Street" offered lots of choice from 12.30 to 4.30, burgers, pizza, salad, potatos, pastries, fruit, ice cream, etc but even this got a bit dull each day. Pool snack bar did pizza - nice pizza, but they only did pizza and only had 2 varieties to choose from. It was OK, just not "wow".
Evening meals were the real low point. Again, food was OK, just not great. The main restaraunt was big, loud and characterless, a bit like eating in a canteen. People pushing and shoving to get to the food they wanted. Waiters who ignored you so you had to get own cutlery and drinks, but then got all over enthusiastic about clearing table, so if you left table to get dessert you came back to find all cutlery and drinks gone!!! grr!! The A la cartes were a nice change, in terms of having food brought to you, but again were pretty average. Kids enjoyed the barbecue restaraunt where you are brought a lit barbecue and a plate of meat, and you get on and cook your own dinner!! And the fondue restaraunt was fun as well.
Aqua Park slides were quite good, and kids certainly enjoyed them but we spent 3 days the first week at the slides and the second week kids were not bothered whether they went back or not. Some guests tended to get a bit boisterous and it didn't feel that comfortable, particularly later in the day, with people getting louder and being less careful about other pool users.
Luna Park was a fun diversion, with Bumper Cars a great hit with whole family. However kids decided that they would do ice skating (on the artificial rink they have) and my son tripped and managed to gouge his leg with his skate. The hotel response was fantastic, within minutes a nurse had arrived and whisked us off to the medical room, a car was organised to take us to hospital where his leg was stitched, we were brought back (several hundred euro's lighter, admittedly!) and we then had daily dressing changes in the hotel clinic until we came home. So medical care is excellent and good to know that if you do have a problem there is fab care available.
You really do need to take some time to go into Side, even if you go nowhere else. The roman ruins are amazing, especially the ampitheatre, and the houses lining the road. Shopping really good (you must ensure you argue prices down as they do try it on, bless them!!) Nice bars and restaraunts - makes a nice change from being in the hotel. Can walk there along beach in about 20 mins, or get taxi for 6 euros.
The final thing that we noticed this year is that the pound sterling is no longer acceptable currency in Turkey (other than to buy the entry visa). Euro, turkish lira, US dollar all OK (and can all be got from ATMs!).
So to summarise - this hotel has a lot of facilites and has a lot of good things going for it. It is in a good location, close to Side town, is clean and lake view family rooms large and comfortable. However we have had better food, and better service in other hotels in Turkey and this is why this hotel has scored lower than others we have stayed in.
Happy to answer any questions that people may have, please feel free to contact us.
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