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“Elephant in the room!!!” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Sao Rafael Atlantico

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Sao Rafael Atlantico
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Sesmarias
Certificate of Excellence
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Elephant in the room!!!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2012

We stayed at the hotel from 29th March - 5th April through Thomson. We are amazed that so few people have mentioned what we consider the worst aspect of our stay - the inescapable presence of the guards! We considered the atmosphere to be like a prison with a guard or guards staring at us as we sat on our balcony every evening and patrolling the perimeter of the hotel 24/7 looking intimidating. They even followed us as we went for a walk around the grounds or down to the beach! On arrival at the hotel on our first day as we queued at reception, the guards were present with a dog, apparently facing down a picket line. No explanation was given for this.

Our room was not ready when we arrived. We had been awake for 24 hours at this point and were asked to wait in the bar and have a coffee (at our own expense). A timescale for our room being ready was not given, despite asking how long it would be. We were the very last people to get our room, approximately one hour after arrival.

We found the staff in general to be very sullen, reception and the bar staff in particular were not very welcoming. Thomson had advertised this hotel as having many bars including a beach restaurant, which were all closed apart from one.

On leaving the hotel there was no 'thank you' or 'goodbye'. Once again the guards stood watch right beside us as we boarded the bus, as if to make sure that we did indeed leave.

Despite all these negatives, we still enjoyed Portugal. Our room was spacious and cleaned to a high standard every day. The food was outstanding in quality and choice (we did not find it cold). We cannot praise the skill of the kitchen staff highly enough.

We will, however, never return to Sao Rafael, as CS resorts seem to own the whole area. We saw the same intimidating security presence at their other hotels nearby and do not think that this makes a relaxing holiday atmosphere.

Room Tip: Book a sea view on the upper floors.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Renegade900
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
Dear Guest,

Thank you for sharing your feedback about your recent stay at the CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel.
I regret that you felt disappointed with your stay with us. I was really impressed with your comments about the hotel team, since it doesn’t match with the opinion of the majority of our valued guests.
I must mention that we are truly lucky to work with such dedicated team who goes an extra mile to provide you a pleasant stay. I regret that you felt uncomfortable with the Security.

I do hope that you give us the opportunity to welcome you again in a near future,

Yours Sincerely,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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986 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (271)
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English first
London, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
38 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 April 2012

My partner and I have recently returned from a weeks holiday at this hotel. Having studied the brochure, the website and this site before we travelled, we had a clear expectation of what we would be experiencing. In my view, it seems only logical to do some research and some background reading on the hotel/area in which you will be spending your holidays, so it came as somewhat as a surprise to me to hear so many other guests at the hotel grumbling and complaining so much.
We were expecting a chilled out, adults only, smart and accommodating hotel. We were not, as clearly specified in all literature on the hotel, expecting a nightly disco, poolside activities, 6 bars and restaurants and haute cuisine. Therefore, we got exactly what we were expecting. We took the hotel for what it was worth; a week away, for which we had paid a very reasonable price, in a nice hotel. The food was nice, the staff were fantastic and the gardens and positioning of the hotel was superb.
We paid extra for the sea view room, and had just that. It was a stunning view across the whole of the Atlantic sea and really made for an enjoyable sit out on the balcony. The rest of the room was decorated to an extremely high standard, though I must admit that the pillows were the softest I have ever felt and reasonably uncomfortable.

The weather was not fantastic and we therefore did not get to use the outside facilities too much, but the indoor gym+swimming pool were really lovely. One tip, bring a swim hat if you have one, else they'll charge you 5euros.
Admittedly, there was only the one bar open whilst we were there, the lobby bar, but being the very start of the season it seemed only understandable that this was so. Unfortunately the other guests at the hotel did not agree, and were often overheard moaning about the lack of facilities and places to have a drink in the evening.

I do not normally write reviews, but I felt it was a shame about the flack that this hotel seems to be receiving, and in my opinion, is undeserved. I would happily return to the CS Atlantic, and can only urge other holidaymakers to don their 'common sense hats' before arriving, and remember that they have paid money to have a good time...so they ought to ensure that they have one!

Room Tip: Sea View well worth the nominal extra fee.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
13 Thank neverhalfempty
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
Dear Guest,
Thank you for taking your time to post your review about your recent stay at the CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel. I was delighted to read that in general you enjoyed your stay at our/yours Hotel , I was happy to know that It was “exactly” what you were expecting.
Thank you very much for your kind words about the Hotel Team, they are very thankful to know that their efforts were worth it. I completely agree with you, our rooms are comfortable and very well equipped just to provide you a nice and peaceful stay. It is true, our modern Spa with 1800sqms is definitely a good option to relax and unwind.

It is an honor for us to know that you “would happily return".

I do hope to have the pleasure to welcome you again in a near future,

Sunny regards from Algarve,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chester
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 April 2012

My husband I were amongst the first wave of Thomson guests this season, staying from 1st to 12th April 2012. Our garden view room was extremely comfortable and well equipped. We knew what to expect in terms of decor as had viewed numerous photographs/reviews before our trip. Surely those complaining about the plethero of brown in the hotel knew what to expect as well? The hotel does seem to function as a corporate venue as well as a holiday destination. Realistically this is what many hotels have to do to survive these days - certainly with the prices we paid for a stay in a top rated hotel, Thomson must have cut the deal right to the bone in order to charge what it does! Looking at the room charges online and on display in the room, we paid a lot less than the regular guest - indeed this is why we booked with Thomson. We did not use the services of the representative at all during our stay, preferring to do 'our own thing'.
The food was good to very good. Hot plates were readily available and the food was plentiful, varied and hot enough for our liking.
The entertainment was minimal but, again, what we expected. This is not the sort of hotel to go to if you want non-stop entertainment and is not sold as thus.
The staff were low key and varied in regard to their professionalism - I put this down to it being the start of the season with several new staff. The one unsatisfactory incident was when we were asked to go to Reception after trying to have drinks in the bar charged to our room as usual. As we wanted to keep on top of our bill we had been paying it every few days - it appears on the last occasion our tab was shut down and it was very embarrassing to be told we would have to reregister our credit card before we could charge items consumed to our room. We finally got it sorted out - they did have our credit card details after all! There was no apology for this incident, which delayed our dinner that night.
As pointed out in previous reviews, and to be fair by Thomson in their brochure, this hotel is in a quiet spot and is ideal for a relaxing break - if you want lots going on GO SOMEWHERE ELSE!!
Maybe not 5* but certainly 4* and would consider returning in the future.

Room Tip: Ask for a 3rd or 4th floor room.
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Fiandolly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
On behalf of CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel, thank you for sharing your feedback regarding your recent stay with us. I am grateful to know that you appreciated our hotel services and standards.
Our Executive Chef is thankful for your compliments about the food. Regarding the hotel staff we are truly lucky to work with such a dedicated team, and yes, at the beginning of season we have many new members of staff who are also hard working to provide you a high quality service and always with a friendly smile.

It is an honor for us to know that you are planning to return, it will be a pleasure to welcome you again in a near future.

Best Regards,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 April 2012

From start to finish a fantastic experience. Hotel is painted in brown beige and cream, the staff dress in similar colours. Get over it. I don't understand how people can say the hotel was poor because of the colour.

Professional and 5 star throughout. Rooms are fantastic and high quality what you would expect from a 5 star hotel. The staff are also very friendly and professional at all times (obviously the brown uniform doesn't hinder this). Manuelle Ramos a particular mention as an outstanding member of staff.

As for the food well myself being a fish lover I was in heaven. I understand many do not like fish however there were many other choices available. Only a 5 star could offer swordfish steaks, tuna steaks and sardines freshly grilled. And I had no issue with the food being cold, maybe I just got what I wanted and ate it rather than walking around the buffet twice piling my plate high. (obviously food cools the longer you don't eat it)

Location well a little out of the way however a 20 minute walk and your at the marina of albufeira or the hotel offers a shuttle bus three times a day into the centre of albufeira. Well worth it.

Gym and spa facilities at the hotel are second to none with treatments to suit all. Only downside to the well equipped gym is lack of air con but hey, more you sweat the more calories you burn.

I raised this only negative with thomsons before going re children. One family there and to be honest they were no bother kept themselves to themselves. It's advertised as adults only however this only comes into effect in June web thomsons have the whole hotel under allocation, minor issue to be honestnext bay a nice fish restaurant overlooking a small bay and beach. Fish freshly barbecued and served to you.

Overall e perience it is a 5 star and would recommend to friends.

  • Stayed May 2011
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Chrisdunbar84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
Dear Guest,

Thank you very much for sharing your positive feedback regarding your recent stay at the CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel. I am glad to know that our hotel services and standards were up to you expectations. Thank you for your kind words about the Hotel Team, they were happy to know that their efforts were worth it. Manuel Ramos is very grateful for your mention and our Executive Chef is also thankful for your comments about the food.

I am happy to read that you had a “fantastic experience” at our/yours hotel and it is a great honor to know that you will recommend us to your friends.

I do hope to have the pleasure to welcome you again in a near future,

Sunny Regards from Algarve,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chesterfield, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 April 2012

We stayed at the CS Atlantic from 29th March to 12th April 2012 (2 weeks) Our holiday was
a Thomson couples holiday. Firstly we believed from the Thomson brochure that it was a
hotel for couples only. We found this was not so. There were a number of children at the
hotel, especially during the easter period. When the CS Atlantic suite hotel opened on 1st April several families with children came to the Hotel to use the leisure facilities.

I agree with previous review comments about the food. We arrived on the 29th April and
for the evening meal it was Italian, pasta, meat, sauce and pizza. The pasta was cold. No
hot plates. ( getting a hot plate was an issue on many evenings and breakfasts). Dessert choices were minimal. No cheese or biscuits and no ice cream. After complaining to the Thomson rep a couple of nights later we did get cheese and biscuits. Over the first week the food did start to improve but often it was still cold. We noticed the introduction of hot containers. The main problem in the dining room appeared to be the lack of any staff member being in overall control. On numerous occasions it took considerable time to replenish empty containers. For the first few breakfast it took time to get an omelette as the person on the omelette station kept disappearing. For the first week we considered the food to be very poor.

We were expecting the entertainment to be low key. On arrival there was nothing to
indicate that there would be any entertainment. On the first Sunday the Thomson representative advised that there would be entertainment on Tuesday, Friday and Saturdays.
The first Tuesday it was a female singer in the bar next to reception. The entertainer was sited in a corner near a cigarette vending machine next to the toilets. There were 25 seats in the bar area, together with 4 bar stools. Getting a seat in the bar was a major problem, most of the time we did not bother. Also there was a large television on one wall showing sport.
This television was never switched off, (no sound))during the whole time we were at the hotel, hence the sofa under the screen was not used very much. At times in the evening there was only open bar person and it took ages to get served.

As for the piano bar. There wasn't a piano. I see from the CS Atlantic managers response to other trip advisor reviews that there was no piano in the piano bar as the result of it becoming a sports bar, (It would have saved me searching for a piano for the first few days). Why wasn't this mentioned to us when we arrived. Although it was larger than the bar downstairs it was not used for the entertainment. One evening we asked for a draught beer. We were told that there were problems with the beer tap. Would we have bottled beer. We were told we could get draught beer downstairs. We asked bar person/ waiter could get us a draught beer from downstairs to which he replied. "I cannot leave the Piano Bar". One may ask why did we not go to get the beer. Firstly, the downstairs bar was full of people and service was slow the reason why we went to the bar with no piano, duh!

It would have been nice for the "chill out" bar to have been opened as the views from this bar
would have been worth a visit. Nearly forgot, the last night of our stay this bar was open for
the conference guests of a major electrical company. The beach bar was not yet open but
work was in progress for it to be opened at a later date

I must mention that on our arrival at the main entrance we we greeted by several Security
Guards, a guard dog and several other persons, (pickets?). It was not until later in our stay
that we worked out why the security guards were there. Throughout or stay there were always two security guards at the main entrance, one at the rear car park and another at the beach cafe.

Initially when we booked in we had a change of room as ours wasn't ready, (offered next door).
Our electronic key wouldn't work. We were let in by the maid. Key re- programmed but only for a week. After first week on returning from breakfast unable to get back into room.

The gardens did need doing. A lot of weeding?. The lawns were cut on the first Tuesday
after our arrival. The fronds on the palm tree and several others at the front of our garden view room need drastic attention.

It was not all doom and gloom. Our room was spacious. The large bed was very comfortable. Although we paid for a garden view room on a high floor we were able to see the sea. Part of the room is carpeted around the bed, probably a little more carpet needed near the table and chairs just to deaden the sound of chair scraping noise. The room was kept very clean. The maid was excellent.

The lady at the leisure facilities was very friendly and provided a very good service. Be aware though that it will cost you extra to use the spa facilities, (one day the spa was free but it was
not advertised). The majority of the reception staff were pleasant and helpful.

We were aware that the CS Atlantic is a little remote and this fact is mentioned in the in the Thomson brochure. It is an a quite residential area. The gardens are extensive with great views. Plenty of gardens/ grassed areas for relaxation. Sao Rafael beach is a "gem". Nearby walks on cliff paths, (not for the less mobile). A courtesy bus was put on after the first 3 days of our stay, running 3 times a day.

The hotel in regards to food did not meet my expectations of even a 3* hotel, although it
did improve. Entertainment and bar service needs addressing. Although it was early in the season it appeared the hotel was fairly full. At the time we were there it was being used as a conference centre. This wasn't a big problem to us other than the fact that at some breakfast times people were having a "working breakfast". Similar situation happened at the downstairs bar during the evenings.

In conclusion I would say that we did have an "experience"? Thomson staff worked hard to
resolve our concerns. Things did improve. At this stage I do not consider it better than a 3* in respect of food and organization in certain areas. It could be a great hotel giving a great
experience. The hotel is of a contemporary design. It has to decided whether it wants to be a conference hotel or a holiday hotel. I believe that as from June 1st it is exclusively for Thomson couples?.

Room Tip: Sea view room. Or garden room on 4th floor (432 - 452)
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Wally_Walgett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
Dear Guest,
Thank you for taking your time to post your feedback regarding your recent stay at the CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel. I regret that you felt disappointed with your stay with us. Regarding the food temperature I must mention that we did the necessary improvements in order to fix the situation, and at the moment this is no longer an issue. We are always listening to our guest’s opinions, it is important for us to understand our guests preferences and needs.

Bets Regards,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hampshire, UK
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 April 2012

The only two good things about this hotel were the size of the rooms and the sea view from our balcony! I agree with previous review about the 'hot' food. They really need to sort it out. The food on the flights out and back was hotter! Oh and if you like the colour brown then this is the hotel for you. Every wall was brown, the staff were in brown uniform unless you worked in the dining room and were lucky enough to be in black and white! The outside walls were also brown! Couldn't wait to get home for hot food and a bit of colour! The resort is rubbish. Would not recommend it to anyone! Definately not a 5 star hotel

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank UKJupiter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
Dear Guest,
Thank you for taking your time to post your feedback about you recent stay with us. I regret that our hotel standards and facilities were not up to your preferences. It is true our rooms are very comfortable and well equipped with modern equipment as well as the entire hotel which was concept with modern and high design. I regret that our décor was not what you like the most. Regarding the food temperature I must mention that it is no longer an issue.

Yours Sincerely,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Leicester
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 April 2012

My Husband and I Have just returned from a weeks holiday, rooms were the best rooms we had ever stayed in abroad, we paid extra for the sea veiw and it was well worth it
food was of good quality, but it was not that warm
we found the staff very friendly, especially the bar staff
we would revisit in the near future
jean and steve

Room Tip: room 274 with sea veiw
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank JD_uk60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CSHOTELS, Manager at Sao Rafael Atlantico, responded to this review, 23 April 2012
Dear Guest,

On behalf of CS São Rafael Atlantic Hotel thank you for sharing your review about your recent stay. I was delighted to read that you enjoyed your holiday with us. It is true, our rooms are very well equipped in order to provide you a relaxing stay. Thank you for your comments about the hotel team, I already pass them your encourage words and they were happy to know that you appreciated their services.
Regarding the food temperature I must mention that this is no longer an issue and the food is now hot.

Knowing that you are planning to return is the best award we can have.

It will be a pleasure to welcome you again in a near future,

Kind Regards,

Álvaro Aragão
Hotel Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sao Rafael Atlantico

Property: Sao Rafael Atlantico
Address: Sesmarias, Albufeira 8200-613, Portugal (Formerly São Rafael Atlantic Hotel)
Region: Portugal > Algarve > Faro District > Albufeira > Sesmarias
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Sesmarias
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:5 star — Sao Rafael Atlantico 5*
Number of rooms: 149
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The hotel Sao Rafael Atlantico enjoy a spectacular location overlooking the Atlantic sea, direct access to Sao Rafael Beach and only at a short drive to Albufeira centre. The interiors have contemporary design features with space and light throughout. The rooms are modern and have large balconies with views over the sea and gardens. The extensive gardens offer a beautiful mediterranean landscape with olive and palm trees. There is also a state-of-the-art SPA featuring leading wellness therapies and treatments. ... more   less 
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