My 13 year old daughter and I needed a week away during the school holidays. Sadly my husband passed away a year ago very unexpectedly, so we decided to get away a week after the anniversary of his passing and go and see my friend who lives in Estepona. We booked at the last minute - I wasn't 100% sure on booking the Bluebay Banus due to reading previous reviews, but I was fast running out of time and everything was going up and up in price, so I thought, oh, just go with it, and honestly, I'm glad I did.
We arrived late on a Friday night - and admittedly did not get off to a great start. Via Easyjet I had booked a Superior Room with 2 double beds and a sea view. On arrival I was given a key card and a map which showed me that the room provided was at the very end of the complex. Off we walked, cases in tow - walking through the gardens and pool area, in the dark, not really knowing where we were going - eventually we found the room which was extremely disappointing. Although the room was large, it had 2 single beds and not 2 double beds, the fan was making an awful noise, there was a strange smell and the air conditioning was not working, plus it was not a sea view. Off we trundled back to reception. I voiced my complaints and even the gentleman behind the desk seemed a bit surprised that there were only single beds and not double beds in that room as double beds is what the Bluebay Resorts websites say their Superior Rooms have - even so, if it did have double beds, I would not have stayed in that room due to the air conditioning, fan and smell.
The guy on reception was great. One of the first things he said is that no rooms in this hotel had a sea view, so please don't be misled if you've been told they do and you've booked one - they don't! He moved my daughter and I to a family room which was nearer the beginning of the complex. It was lovely. Very big, bright and spacious. We had a large double bed in one room, and two single beds in another room, plus a big bathroom - plenty of room for just the 2 of us. The TVs are old and bulky, but work, sadly there were only 2 English channels, ITV and BBC2 - fortunately we were not there to sit and watch TV so this didn't bother us too much - we had our own music or just put the telly on while getting ready to go out in the evening. The balcony furniture was big and comfortable (2 large chairs and table), the beds, I found, were quite comfortable. There was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, and a digital safe in the room which cost €2 per day to hire. The mini bar was empty but on checking with reception, it is meant to be - so we stocked the little fridge ourselves with drinks and sweets etc.
We did arrive quite late in the evening, so around 11pm, we were shown into the restaurant and told to help ourselves to the spread of pastas, cold meats, cheeses and fruits, and I thought that was a lovely thing for the hotel to do, and definitely unexpected.
The room was cleaned every day and fresh towels were provided every day - I think the bedding was changed a couple of times in the week. The room always looked very clean and tidy once the maid had been.
Onto the complex itself. You can hire towels from reception to use by the pool, but we didn't do this - my friend lent me some, so I can't say how much they were. There are loads of sunbeds, the majority of them had parasols between each 2 beds. There is a small pool when you come out of the hotel reception with only a few beds dotted around it and this pool is very quiet, but then as you walk through the grounds (which are extremely well kept and maintained), there's a big open grass space on the left with lots of beds, an outside restaurant and seating area, and this is where the evening entertainment takes place (more on that soon!) and then the main pool, which is very big. Part of it has been sectioned off for small children. There are plenty of beds with sunshades around the main pool - one thing to point out, if you imagine the letter U - if you are standing in the middle of the U at the bottom of it, looking towards the pool - the sunbeds along the bottom of the pool do not get the sun until quite late in the morning as it is hidden by the hotel rooms and some very large, but beautiful palm trees - if you want the sun all day, you need to be on the sides of the U, or on the big open green area near the outside restaurant. There is also a small pool bar with seating area at the end of the pool which serves drinks, ice creams and crisps all day, but no food, and there is a pool table which is €2 per go, there was also a table tennis table near there too.
Talking of food - my daughter and I were half board. I could not fault the breakfasts at all - there was more than enough of everything to suit everyone's tastes. There was a cold counter of fresh fruit, yoghurt, cheeses, sliced meats etc, another one of cereals, another one of fresh pastries (which were absolutely amazing and melted in the mouth), another one of biscuits, another one of breads, and a large hot food counter which had everything from bacon, eggs, beans, cooked ham chunks, potatoes and some strange fried things which turned out to be fried broccoli or fried cauliflower - sound awful, but they were really yummy - coffee machines and juice machines - definitely enough for everyone, and plenty of seating space.
The evening meals sadly, were a bit hit and miss - the salad bar and deserts were great, and like the breakfasts there was plenty of choice on the hot food buffet, but I suppose it depends on what you like - there was usually a choice of pastas, paellas, meats, potatoes, rice, vegetables and fish - some of what I had was lovely, but some were not that great - the BBQ ribs were nice though!
As my daughter and I were out there visiting friends, we did not stay around the hotel too much during the day - my daughter joined in with the rifle shooting one morning, but there were numerous activities going on during the day by the entertainment staff - we saw a game of water volleyball, and that was fun, but as I say, we didn't really get the chance to join in with much.
One day we walked down to the beach bar which was at the end of the road. It was a lovely beach bar, named Blue Bay Beach Club - obviously us, and others from the hotel, believed it to be part of the hotel, but we were informed that it was nothing to do with the hotel, so very misleading on that one, but we stayed for a day there anyway - the beds were €7 for the day - and a young lad came round and took drink orders - compared to some of the other beach bars their soft drinks were cheap in comparison at €2 per can - another one we walked past, my daughter wanted a drink and I had to pay €4 for a small plastic cup of coke - that was at Minstrels bar, just a bit further up, so I would avoid that one at all costs (unless of course, you've lots of dosh to burn!). The beach is quite pebbly and stoney, and the waves were quite rough, but my daughter and my friends kids loved it, so we had a good day there.
Another day we went to Estepona beach - we got sunbeds outside Havana Beach Bar. The sand here was beautiful and soft, no stones or pebbles - it was lovely. Sunbeds were €4 for the day, and the food served at the beach bar was lovely - on average you'd spend around €10 to €15 per person for food but you could spend more if you picked a proper main meal not lunch snack. The sea here is beautiful and clear. You can walk really far out, and eventually it gets very deep but it is ideal for snorkelling and seeing fish up close. There were numerous life guards around, which I thought was great to see - I didn't see any at the Puerto Banus beach. The toilets and showers were clean and well maintained. I would definitely recommend this beach to everyone, especially those with children.
My daughter and I ate only once during the day at the outdoor restaurant at the hotel, and I'm just sad we didn't eat there more (we genuinely did not get the opportunity) - my daughter had a 3 tier sandwich which was huge, and came with fries, I opted for the melon and ham, and that was huge - literally half a large melon was served up, covered in parma ham - delish - but I really wanted to try one of their salads - one was walked past me to go another table and it looked amazing, and very big, but I never got the chance to eat there again! The lunch we did have, cost around €25 including drinks and tip.
I found all the serving staff in the outdoor restaurant and pool bar to be very happy and friendly, but the staff in the main restaurant, especially in the evenings, were not so friendly. It depended on where you sat (you walk in, flash your room card and pick a table yourself), so after not getting a great reception from one lad, my daughter and I chose not to sit in the same area again, and the other staff, were lovely and friendly.
We only joined in with the hotel evening entertainment on one night - this hotel had numerous guests from around the world, so everything was repeated in 4 or 5 languages - it did get a bit boring after a while, but you can understand why they did it this way - the mini disco for the little kids was great - they were all up there and dancing. Bingo was fun - you were given one card and a toothpick as there were not enough pens to go round, so you had to stab your number if it came up but you had to be quick as the numbers could not be repeated - and the quiz was like doing an exam paper - the questions were put on the paper in 3 languages and you had to ring the right answer - obviously it worked and catered for all languages, but as I say, it got a bit boring ... and sadly we didn't win! We did not have the opportunity to go to any of the other nights entertainment, but there were dancing shows and singers, but what they were like, I couldn't tell you.
One evening we walked to Puerto Banus. We walked to the end of the road and followed the beach along to the port - it took us about 20 minutes of meandering, so if you're a fast walker, you can get there in no time. As it was getting late, and it was hot, we took a taxi back to the hotel and that cost €10.
There is a little shop at the front of the hotel where you can buy some crisps, drinks, chocolates, papers etc, and there is also a petrol station which is a short walk away (come out the hotel and turn right) - it has a "Spar" shop, so obviously this was better stocked than the little hotel shop and obviously cheaper, and I think it was open 24 hours.
All in all, my daughter and I had a lovely holiday and we enjoyed our time in the Bluebay Banus. The reception staff were very friendly. The reception area was clean and tidy. My only negative point would be that yes, the room we were in was a little dated and the air conditioning was still not great, but it worked - I would say the rooms need a bit of a revamp and the air conditioning needs to be sorted, but if I could guarantee to stay in this same room again, I would definitely return - after all, you only need the room to sleep in and get changed in - you don't stay in the rooms all day everyday while on holiday.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.