This hotel is just superb!
Having stayed at several hotels across Crete and Rhodes in the last few last years, I can honestly say that the Royal Mare is better than anywhere else we've stayed, and by some margin.
Our holiday was the 8th - 15th July 2014 and we stayed for the same week last year. It really was a no-brainer to come back, especially as other hotels we looked at seemed to cost more but were not as good.
I can echo all the excellent feedback many others have provided about the Royal Mare.
We also noticed when we arrived that the hotel had clearly addressed and improved on some negative feedback that we read on Trip Advisor. Seating arrangements had been improved in the main restaurant and sun canopies had been built on outside stairways to prevent heat building up, and some other subtle tweaks had been made too - they really do listen to feedback!
So, running through each aspect of the hotel...
Staff - They made the holiday for us and were so welcoming and sincere and couldn't do enough to help you. They were smartly dressed in uniforms and the restaurant waiting staff were well drilled and knew just when to approach and when to hang back.
Must give a mention to everyone who looked after us so well - Firstly, the charming Innes at reception who remembered us from last year, much to our amazement. She offered us a choice of rooms and arranged for us to swap to the room we had last year and was extremely helpful and friendly throughout our stay, always giving us a quick wave as we would pass by reception.
Our porter (whose name we sadly missed) also remembered us from last year and he too helped orchestrate the room swap, making calls on his mobile and again, was very chatty and would say hello when passing by.
Thanks also to all the waiting staff who looked after us so well at Breakfast in the El Greco - Kaithy, Marielene, Kristina and Maria - they were all smiling and friendly and immediately changed plates and cutlery as soon as we'd finished and quickly knew our orders off by heart - thank you all.
We were invited to Cocktails one evening and there met Vassilis, the Commercial Director of the hotel. In conversation with Vassilis, I mentioned that I had been unable to email the hotel with a query because the dropdowns on the 'Contact us' link on their site was not working properly. Vassilis immediately gave me his card and told me to email him directly if there was anything at all he could do to help, which was a very nice gesture.
Later, a gift and card arrived in our room to thank us for booking our holiday at the Royal Mare for a second time. Then on my birthday, a card and cake arrived and this was completely unsolicited by us, reception must have noticed my birthday from the paperwork.
Really nice touches. Overall, we felt that the staff were very sincere and really did want us to have the best possible time during our stay.
The gardens / grounds are immaculately maintained and the planting and lawns are so green which is hard to believe, given the summer heat. All buildings are spotless and freshly painted and many have small murals on outside walls.
All footpaths and pool areas are washed down every morning before anyone emerges so they are always clean for the day ahead. All communal and private pools are in pristine condition and the water (in July) was just the right temperature. All restaurants were clean and tidy, the El Greco and Candia are very appealing to the eye, in fact premises wise, the whole complex really looks like a brand new hotel.
All buildings are constructed in the local Cretian architectural style and it works very well, not appearing at all tacky or contrived as some resort hotels can be, and it appeals all the more because of its pristine paintwork. There's even a clock tower! Maintenance teams were working constantly whilst we were there and it showed, the place is immaculate.
Beach - You enter the pebble beach through the Albatross Fish Restaurant, which actually now has a few tables on the beach itself. The beach is fine and looks clean and tidy with plenty of sunbeds in rows and a variety of watersports available.
For those expecting pools with a sea view, unless you've booked one of the top of the range seafront suites, there are no views of the sea from any of the communal pools. The hotel complex is oblong shaped and only a narrow end of this oblong (this being the Albatross restaurant) borders the beach.
We stayed in a VIP bungalow (apartment in reality) which was lovely and had a pleasant balcony from which to have a drink and watch the World go by. Our room and others in our block had been refurbished since last year with new décor, repanelled wardrobe and cupboard doors, additional lighting and ceiling fans. (Aircon standard of course) The bathroom was a good size and had a marble basin, bidet, lit shaving mirror, hairdryer, shaver points, cupboards and separate bath and shower cubicle, which was great when quick turnarounds were needed to get two people processed for dinner on time!
The food....it's superb!
The main restaurant, the 'Symposio' is sited in the main building and is a self-service buffet, which every day offered an enormous variety of different foods, it fact there was so much choice, became impossible to decide what to eat!
It's true that the Symposio does lack a little atmosphere as it's a huge room and things can feel a little rushed with so many people coming and going. That said, asking for an outside table on the balcony much improves matters and affords a view over one of the two main pools and the complex beyond with the sea in the distance, which is just fine and you get to watch the sun go down too.
We preferred the 'a la carte' dining options though and loved the 'Candia' restaurant which is placed on stilts over a lagoon pool - a fantastic place to eat. The food itself was superb high cuisine and the waiting staff were also excellent. It is quite expensive but the hotel does offer a 'Buy 2 (or 3) meals, get one free' deal which we took up.
For us though, the highlight of the holiday was the Greek BBQ night at the El Greco restaurant - this is a weekly event featuring a traditional Greek band. The same band played there last year and they must simply be one of the best traditional Greek bands to be found anywhere. The singers and bouzouki player were just fantastic. I love traditional Greek music anyway, but this band again managed to conjure up the very essence of Greece within their performance and you find yourself both enthralled and captivated...they are honestly that good, if Greek music's your bag. I wish I'd bought their CD!
There is other entertainment laid on in the communal pools, such keep fit, water polo and a kids club where the children have their own play area, complete with wooden ship and sunbeds for parents to chill on whilst the kids are playing in the sand, or in their own pool.
I would say that the Royal Mare is more suited to couples or adult groups than families with
children, although kids are very well catered for. Aldemar's own site promotes it as a Spa Hotel, rather than a Family Hotel.
In the evenings there was cabaret style entertainment in the Minos bar but we didn't go there as we found the bar a little dark and lacking in atmosphere. Although there are obviously guests from many different countries at the hotel, it would be fair to say that much of the evening entertainment may not appeal to British tastes.
Apologies for the unintentionally wordy review, but there is so much to say about the Royal Mare. Oh yes, it also has a superb spa....but we never got that far!
In summary, it's just a fantastic place to be if you are looking for a pampered 5 star stay in quiet yet classy surroundings, where everything is done for you. The dining is superb and the waiters even carry your trays to your table at lunch. The Greek BBQ is a must, even if it is an extra expense.
To give a balanced view - Yes, as with anything it isn't perfect.
It's not situated in the prettiest part of Crete, there's not much to see or do in the surrounding area if you leave the hotel complex (unless you like shopping for fur coats), the WiFi is patchy, there are no pools on the seafront, the extra cost 'a la carte' restaurants aren't cheap and the Symposio restaurant lacks atmosphere, but these really are just minor quibbles.
The overall experience is wonderful and it was galling to check out and fly home after just a week. As Innes at Reception said when we left - 'It's paradise here, isn't it!"
I would thoroughly recommend the Royal Mare to anyone looking for this type of holiday - We will be back!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Royal Mare Luxury Resort + Thalasso is an exciting holiday destination located at the heart of the Mediterranean in a realm of myths and stories. There are so many ways to relax at this beautiful community surrounded by cooling water and verdant gardens. Chill out in the comfort of your well-appointed room, enjoy the sparkling blue waters of the sea, treat yourself at the world's finest thalassotherapy centre, discover the secrets of Cretan cuisine and embrace an enchanting summer full of traditional Cretan hospitality. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with LoveHolidays and Booking.com so you can book your Aldemar Royal Mare Thalasso Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Aldemar Royal Mare And Thalasso
- Aldemar Royal Mare & Thalasso Hotel Chersonisos
- Aldemar Royal Mare Village Thalasso
- Royal Mare Village
- Royal Mare Crete
- Aldemar Royal Mare Thalasso Resort Crete, Greece