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Hotel HL Sahara Playa
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Reviewed 18 February 2012

We booked this hotel through Lowcostholidays - and ryanair - as we looking for a fair priced all inclusive half term getaway in the Canaries to celebrate our 21st anniversary, Valentines Day and a birthday all at the same time. We mentioned this in our submission and also asked for a quiet room, upper floor and a sea view. The deal seemed fair enough so we upped the reservation to a superior room.

The reviews here didn't raise any causes for concern either so we thought that if we got 50% of what we asked for, then that would be a result. On arrival on 12th February, we were offered a ground floor room next to the lift. We could have had a sea view after the 20th but seeing as we only there for 5 days, it didn't seem right to wait. Did the lady on reception expect me to say "OK, we'll come back then." I wondered if the hotel staff had even taken the trouble to read the requests which would cause me concern had I been disabled, having special needs or small children in tow.

We were offered the same deal but in room 423; no sunshine and a view of the sea if you peered like a sniper through some overgrown pine tree branches. This room was in an adjoining apartment block and not the main hotel, A "superior" room gives you an option of air conditioning she said. It's February remember.

Anniversary and birthday counted for nothing here. We didn't get so much as complimentary glass of sangria but their thinking probably is "well, they're on all inclusive anyway" - but a gesture would have been nice. Well. I say we were "all inclusive". Except you're not quite.

During the day you are can get drinks at the pool bar from 11am until 1pm. Then the restaurant opens so you are expected to go there if you wat to eat and drink. One afternoon we fancied a snack as advertised on our liitle timetable and were offered some cheesey sandwiches in cling film that had come, it would appear, directly from a 1973 British Railways buffet car. The bar then opens again from 3.30 until 5pm and you can have half a plastic cup of beer and a bun whilst those who pay on the day get table service and a proper full glass - despite the fact that we are all sat next to the same pool. This is almost segregation or reverse discrimination by another name and god only knows how that works in summertime.

For the punter fancying a drink after their evening meal, there is the terrace bar until 10.30. This is out of doors as the indoor Royal bar apppears to have been franchised out to a health club of sorts. Bear in mind its February and that Gran Canaria has experienced snow on the other side of the island. In their infinite wisdom, the management graciously provided outdoor heaters. Out of the 4, just 2 were working and the punters hovered under these as moths flicker under the street lighting. Fancy a warm coffee or hot chocolate? No chance - the bar has no provision for hot drinks to be made - not so much as a kettle. Unbeleivable in this day and age.

I would not have bothered with this bar facility at all after the first experience were it not for the efforts of Melanie to act as translater between the nationalities and keep us all socialising and smiling. If there were a medal for bar staff who provide a service in the face of adversity then I would nominate her for one of the highest honours.

I took some reading but the hotel doesn't provide so much as a shelf for punters to swap books so take plenty of reading - books in town are between 6 to 10 euroes apeice.

It was only in passing that I asked about heating and was informed almost by default that the air conditioning doubles up as heating. This is only in rooms that are superior or above but it will cost 50 euroes deposit for the remote. Other expenses are 20 euroes up front to use a phone, safes are 12 euroes for a week with an addtional 12 for a key and a late room on the last day a further 20 for good measure. So if you are coming here for 2 weeks and think that you need all of the above, come prepared to hand over a staggering 176 euroes up front.

There are 3 pools around the complex. One is in the forecourt bar area, one in the concrete canyon at the rear of the hotel and one on the terracing; none of these are large enough to swim any distance in. Sunbeds? - around 30 or so around the complex of mixed design and of wood or plastic. Foam mats to go on the above? 15 I'd say.

Srangely enough and again almost by default, we found sunbathing areas on the roof - no signage to indicate they were there. We found it was warmer on the roof than on the ground floor and using the walls strategically there was a bit of a sun trap. So on the last day, we took a leaf out of the Germans form book and secured beds, mats and preferential shelter space on the roof.

We'd only been gone for 5 minutes and when we returned, the few mats on the beds had gone! We soon found out why when the manager appeared with what appeared to be his superior. We'd presume - possibly - that the pool attendant had been ordered to gather all the foam mats around the complex to adorn those beds on the terrace in order to create, I'd guess, a good impression. We went down to the beds and retreived a couple back anyway.

The whole point I'm trying to make is that this hotel seems to have minmalist attitude to provide any of the small gratuities that make you sit back at the end of a stay and say "yes - the hotel went the extra mile for us and we will consider going back."

Everything else about the hotel - the food, cleansliness, room cleaning service, location, restaurant staff are all worthy of good 3 star or even a mild 4 at at a pinch. Its just the untrusting claw-back mentality of some of the faceless mandarins higher up in the management structure that are spoiling it in my opinion.

We took a kettle as one is not provided. However, a superior room [aka apartment] does have a good quality fridge and is sufficiently spacious. The TV had 6 channels of which the only English was Sky News. Despite Jodrell Bank being bolted onto the side of the hotel, digital, it would appear, has not reached the Canaries yet.

FL Hotels, I'll tell you what. Convert the front pool to a swim up bar and end the discrimination. Spend some money on new sunbeds and mats. Encourage staff to read requests and put a book shelf up in reception. Put a decent pool on the terrace. Wise up on debit cards and digital TV. Let me know when you have done this and I will return.

Meantime, promote Melanie up to Manager.

Room Tip: Book a superior room and date the receptionist
  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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12  Thank JackcomebackDawson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2011

everything was fine...the food, rooms, personal, its very close to beach and all disco (jumbo,kasbah), only thing it has small pools you can sun bath on the roof but theres no pool, 1 pool there wa sa shadow around 3 pm and the other (in the front ) i think there was a shadow always...the other pool is a bar pool so if your not all incl. you dont go there i mean i went there 1 time...most of the time i spent on the beach as we had a great weather...

  • Stayed: December 2010, travelled with family
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Thank Luisika
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 July 2011

I stayed here 10th-17th July.The hotel is about a minutes walk from the Anexo II complex on Playa del ingles.I had a room at the road level,and I would agree with some of the reviews about the noise,the road is the main one to to beach,used by taxis and buses.Perhaps a room the other side of the hotel would have been quieter.The room itself was large,a double bed,sofa,chairs and a table.There was a small balcony,and a good size bathroom.My room got the sun in the morning,and did not have Air con,although there was a fan in the room to help keep cool.The room was cleaned every day,and the swan shapes were fun!
I opted for B+B and was really pleased with the food offered for breakfast,superb selection,but watch out for the coffee,its VERY strong!!Really woke me up.I thought the Bucks fizz was a nice option too.
Yes the hotel had a lot of Germans,they do cater mainly for our European cousins,but the staff at reception spoke very good English,as well as Spanish,Dutch and German,very Impressive!!
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Sahara,and would stay again.
Oh,please remember that its The Sahara Playa,not Sahara Beach!The beach hotel is about 5Km from Playa.

Room Tip: Possibly the rooms pool side are quieter.
  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled solo
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Thank ARL632
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 May 2011

Very impressed with the room - had 5 beds and I was there on my own! Quite clean, slight drain smell a couple times but not bad.
One woman on reception spoke English, but the rest of the staff could only say a few words in English, except for Tania at the public bar - lovely girl - very friendly. This would have been fine if I hadnt gone on holiday alone- so bit lonely.
All the other guests were German so could make friends becuase of the language barrier there too!
Location amazing - 30 seconds to beach, 5 mins walk uphill to Yumbo.
Restraunt was fine - nothing exciting but perfectly acceptable for what I paid. Watch out for the pigeons though.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled solo
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1  Thank Scottish_Al_84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 January 2011

Excellent location near beach.
However we did not benefit from the 3star status given to this hotel. We went for an all inclusive Xmas holiday. When we arrived the receptionist was on the telephone and did not acknowledge us with our cases standing at the desk. We hovered, looking at the board with details of that nights Gala Dinner (Xmas Eve) and when she was free went again to book in. Part way through the process her phone rang again and she answered it with no apology to us. We again waited patiently until she was free to complete our booking in. I had booked a superior room as a special treat but when we got to the room it was as basic as any 2 star accomodation. Maybe the fact that we did not have to pay extra for a safe or T.V. made it "superior". I would have expected at least a sea view, given the location of the hotel. That evenings Gala dinner was fine but you were not able to go to the bar when you wanted a drink, you had to wait for service and as there were minimal staff, working really hard, it was often difficult to get a drink when you wanted one. Unbelievably, Xmas Eve, the hotel bar shut at 9.30 p.m.!!!! We like a drink especially on holiday and are not "heavy" drinkers but every night we had to wait for someone to take our drinks order. It was really uncomfortable! There was a poolside bar during the day which was also open to the public. We were served with plastic cups while other tourists were served with proper glasses. I was more disappointed with the fact that we had paid all inclusive up front while other tourists were able to buy meals and drinks on a self catering style basis. Certainly we felt second class on all inclusive. Basically, if you do go here, go self catering!

Stayed: December 2010, travelled as a couple
3  Thank jellyCheshire
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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