Well, it did happen. This hotel advertises itself as a beach resort. Everything I know as a world traveler (I have done endless beach resorts) is that the word beach usually means, swim in the water unless there are sharks or zillion volt lightening is raining down. Finally the beach quiets down around 5pm, the sun sinks low, the water is super inviting. The public beach neighbors the private Royal Beach and swimmers are enjoying the water on both sides. I proceed to go swimming in the waist high water at 6pm (I was not keeping time actually) but there is now only two of us in the water. The lifeguard comes over and yells for us to exit the sea immediately! Why, I ask? Because it is 6pm and we are now closed! And he points to a temporary blue sign he dragged over to the beach front. After I shared with him I am a guest, paid for a beach resort and want to swim for a few minutes he threatened to call the police. It was quite a scene. I got out and asked to speak to the manager. About an 30 minutes later the manager appeared, I very nice lade from Moscow who explained to me that at 6pm the law states all must exit the water. Well, I asked her first why there were several people swimming to their hearts content in the neighboring beach. She said it was a hotel law, that the public beach is open until 9pm. I subsequently asked about this from the hotel next door and they never heard of any of this. They were amazed that the Royal Beach hotel closed their beach water access to guest. This is a long darn story, but really irritating. They do have a small swimming pool under a concrete roof attached to the hotel, but it is tight, full of screaming kids and not a "beach" pool. I really enjoyed the surf which was warm, with waves and quite clean and blue. Needless to say the manager listened to me, she showed great understanding and patience as well as professionalism and it did relieve my immediate feeling of "if you advertise on the website beach and you don't offer beach as advertised and offered by othe hotels..well say that!". Blah, blah , blah. The next day the sign never was put out, I swam again at 6pm to test the situation and nobody complained or came out and kicked the 10 or so of us out of the water, so maybe she made the change, I am not sure.
Now the hotel. It is a dated property and my room was dark, with only a heavy door with a window to provide outside light. I felt like it was a cave. The balcony overlooked concrete and everybody surrounding me used their balconies to chain smoke. It was tiny. I notices again the surrounding hotels had all rooms with balconies on the beach, I just did not do my homework as the pictures on the web caught me. If you get a room on the north side of this hotel you are really in the dark, against an alley and are going to be an unhappy camper. See the pictures. Next. Surprise! This is a Russian dominated property. The manager is Russian and actually cracks a smile. The front desk person is Russian and does not crack a smile..period. The menu is totally geared to Russian guest with Borsch and Russian Dumplings being the core choices. The food is bus tour fare and the hotel is bus tour look and feel. The entire cultural aspect of the hotel and it is gauged to the Russian guest doing what they do, and that is not what American or Western guest typically align with, so be ready for all that without me saying any more about it.
The staff was inconsistent. Some were friendly and caring and some just hated the fact that they were there, you were there and that they might have to off some sort of service. But, still, it was ok considering the price point and the beach was very nice. They do not provide easy access to the long beautiful public beach unless you swim out and around. Lots of fence, barb wire and broken glass on the property lines. It is like they just don't get it.
I felt trapped as there is nothing around or any way to really walk anywhere. You can get a cab but you will fight traffic and the fare can add up. Once in the city, the mall had little to offer in the way of food and the streets are hard to walk and of course hot hot hot during the day.
Either way, if you want beach, it is there. If you want to swim in the evening, better check before booking. If you want service, think Russian Soviet kind of feel. Food is Russian and tour bus level. Manager is nice and caring, that was a plus. Breakfast had scary eggs in soupy mess but they made American style eggs and meat and toast breakfast for me and personally made great espresso coffee my way; so I left with a smile. They charge for the internet, it was extremely slow (Skype will not work). The lamps were dim and one did not work. The shower was weak and old. You have to flip a switch to get hot water, but it works. The AC worked great. Elevators were old and slow. They don't offer comfortable chairs at the beach but you get a plastic chaise. The beach snack bar is really rough around the edges. I ordered lunch which did not look anything like the menu item I ordered and the quality was questionable, I think it made me a bit sick. You know there is no alcohol....this is much more conservative than Dubai.
Just shop carefully, check their beach rules. Be ready for bus tour food and people experience. Budget time and money for taxi rides. Have fun.
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