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“Loved the Club, but beware of Club Med (lack of) customer service” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Club Med Da Balaia

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Club Med Da Balaia
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Praia Maria Luisa 8200-854 | Albufeira - province de Faro, Albufeira 8200-925, Portugal   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #52 of 162 Hotels in Albufeira
GreenLeadersSilver level
Lyon, France
Level Contributor
16 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Loved the Club, but beware of Club Med (lack of) customer service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2014

This was our second visit to Da Balaia, proof itself of a great holiday last year. Will we go back? probably not unfortunately (or it will have to be by car), and I will tell you why

Firstly the bad points:
The big one is this: we bought a holiday from Club Med. That included travel, which they booked for us on TAP Air Portugal, flying to Lisbon with an onward short flight to Faro. Having got up at 3 in the morning with our 3 year daughter to get a 6am flight, we were not best pleased to find that the flight had been delayed 3 hours. The result of this was arriving in Lisbon at 10.30 having missed the 9.45 onward flight, where we were met by a TAP employee who gave us a boarding pass for the flight that they had transferred us onto...at 23.05! This flight would get us into Faro at 23.50, add the time to get luggage and a 45minute transfer and you check in at about 1am if you are lucky. Now, there are times when this kind of thing is unavoidable, but in this case the Club is just over 2 hours drive from Lisbon - so the solution is obvious, get a car. We called Club Med in Paris only to be told that this was a TAP problem and there was nothing they could do about it. I am still fuming at the lack of any sort of customer care, totally at odds with the Club Med image and with the service at the resorts. The above is a shortened version of events, there were many phone calls and the service was dreadful. Thankfully, the Club themselves were much better as I will highlight later, but beware of Club Med as company - a problem like this and you are totally on your own.

As for other faults - I still hate paying a fortune for a luxury all inclusive and then being asked to pay additional sum for wifi, which is free in most basic hotels. As others have mentioned, the rooms in the Golf Hotel are in need of modernisation. As is the building, but I do actually quite like it and actually prefer the Golf to the Pyramid.

Now the good points:

Firstly, to complete the story of our journey. We called the resort, explained the problem and that we wanted to go by road and they sent a car to pick us up - exactly what should happen in this kind of situation. If you have a problem, call the resort directly, don't expect the Paris centre to do it for you.

We had a fabulous rest of the week - particular thanks to the team at Da Balaia who really make these holidays: Ana and the Petit Club team (big thanks to Ana, Ella and Chloé) gave my daughter a fabulous week, she was full of beans and really well looked after; I learnt to play golf and had my first round on a golf course as did my wife, Xavier and David were patient, relaxed, very professional and great fun not just in the lessons but all week. Julie, Allison and the tennis team also made participating fun and that spirit goes through everybody whether it is David's entertainment or Mirko's football. My one criticism of the team last year was at reception, this year they were fantastic!

As others have said before, the food at Da Balaia is great - you can eat healthy balanced meals that taste great...but if you are anything like me you will be too tempted by so much lovely food that you abandon all your best intentions!

We also spent time at the beach, which was fabulous - I love having the choice between the pool and the beach right in front of the hotel, no transfers and no fuss - just a hill to get down, and get back up.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,277 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (66)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Boston, MA
Level Contributor
16 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2014

We, a family of 5 ( including 3 kids 9 year old twins and a 6 months old) had a great time.
When we arrived our suitcase and stroller were lost. GO's went out of their way to get us free toiletries and essentials. Our interconnecting family room in the Golf hotel was basic but very clean and functional ( I do not understand the negative comments).
The baby club was amazing, staff excellent. We felt very comfortable leaving our 6 month old. She got a lot of attention.
Food quality excellent as well. The only downside is that smoking in the pool area ( although not allowed) is tolerated. This needs to be better enforced.

Stayed June 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pretoria, South Africa
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2014

Stayed 17-22 Jun14 as part of a group of 50 guests. Room was in the Golf Hotel.
Positive: Services/activities were well organized and the food was very good. I found the variety of food pleasant and always fresh. (E.g. pasta is cooked fresh throughout meal times). The furniture in dining areas are nice and modern. The staff was very friendly and helpful.
Negative: Revamp is long overdue. The passages are dark, the carpets worn, the towels are horrible and the interior decorations make you feel you are in a boarding school.
Looking for luxury rooms - this is not your hotel.
Looking for great eating experience and friendly staff with many activities at the hotel - go
Looking for a Portugal experience - no. It is French all the way.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
16 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2014

Well this will probably to be my longest contribution so far on Trip Advisor, and I want it to be as fair and balanced as possible, which I believe I have done on other reviews if you look.
I am going to split this review into the good points and the bad points, and also tips if you decide to stay here for when you are booking because its not all bad. And clearly some people have had a great time here, but many have not.

Lets start with:

Good points.

Firstly, the food here was excellent overall. As buffets go, this is probably one of the best we have experienced of an all inclusive holiday. The fruit was fresh, the fish was excellent, the range of different things was superb. They also provide excellent baby only foods, times and facilities which was very popular. The orange juice is constantly being made from fresh oranges the whole time, nothing from cartons. And the pastries were just lovely. Need a diet now.

The staff were very friendly in general and made a point of talking to our little boy, and making him feel welcome.

The grounds were very well kept, grass cut, clean, and good space to run around and a good beach to swim and make sandcastles.

Bad points

Well the most important thing here is the standard of the rooms. When I go away I like to stay in a nice room, at least as nice as one at home. This didn’t meet that in any way. In fact the standard of the rooms in ‘The Golf’ are so poor that every person we talked to who was staying there had complained, but ignored. When it costs so much you expect a good decent clean, safe room. The taps were disgusting and falling off, virtually all tiles were cracked, the water was brown, the room was unsafe for a small toddler, although virtually all families were put in ‘The Golf’ to keep them away from the rest of the complex. Honestly this ruined our holiday, we complained twice and also spoke to the Chef de Village who said he couldn’t do anything as all the rooms were full. Unacceptable in my view, but clearly they know how inferior this building is as they received complaints daily, and it doesn’t even match the comfort of a Travelodge. The reception staff were obviously embarrassed when confronted because this was an everyday situation. Now if you think I am being melodramatic I have posted photos of our room so please view. Saying that, the other 2 blocks have been renovated, but we guess there’s a 2 tier system happening here, one for the French and one for everyone else.

We attempted to use the baby club, and our little boy went twice but then cried so much on the third occasion we had to take him out. The girls all seem very nice but virtually no one speaks in English at all so its all in French mainly or Portuguese. Tragically, there are virtually no things for a small child to do if you don’t use the baby club. There are no other play areas to take them to or toys to play with. Plus of course baby club costs extra (40 Euros for a few hours), which it didn’t when we have been elsewhere.

Cost to use the internet. Why charge 20 Euros for the internet when you can just give it away? it makes no sense. Such a small thing but it bugged me.

My wife speaks Portuguese, but most communication is done in French, all the pool and bar games and fun done in French, in fact everything is in French. Not everyone speaks French, so there has to be a bit of give and take. But we did find the Portuguese staff, cleaners, security all very nice and kind and happy to help. Strange considering you are in Portugal but C’est la vie.

When we arrived late in the evening, we received no information about the complex, the facilities, or any hint of an induction or guide to help us through what we needed. We were shown to our room, and we then had to fend for ourselves, and ask for what we needed. Only 24 hours later were we told there was someone who could talk to us in the evenings. Err…not good enough.

If you stay in ‘The Golf’, it is so hard to get to the main areas without going up and down stairs, and if you have a pram, or small child this becomes so ridiculous after a while. It is also the furthest away so it’ll take you 10 mins minimum to get to the bar or restaurant.

Tips if you wish to stay here:

Don’t let anyone let you be fobbed off into staying at ‘The Golf’. If you are booking by a travel agent or directly, this has to be an absolute mandate. You’ll regret it.

Don’t pay for the baby club in advance, you’ll lose you money if your child doesn’t like it.

If you like Golf, its great.

Be prepared to speak French, if you’re good with that, you’ll enjoy it.

Finally, I also got food poisoning (although thats not a criticism of the food which I thought was great) 2 days before we left and it was truly ghastly, and so didn’t eat for 48 hours. We asked if we could do a late checkout as I didn’t feel well, my wife was pregnant and we had a small child but it all become a bit of a drama. They made the right noises which didn’t materialise. They allowed us 2 extra hours after which we had to wait in the bar for the whole afternoon. So on balance, would I do another Club Med? absolutely NOT. Take me back to the lovely place in Barbados (Turtle Beach) which didn’t cost that much more in total.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ClubMedUK_official, Guest Relations Manager at Club Med Da Balaia, responded to this review, July 1, 2014
Thank you for your comments regarding your experience at Club Med Da Balaia.
We are happy to note that you enjoyed several aspects of your holiday, especially the variety of our buffet, the baby welcome and our facilities.
We are sorry that your accommodation as well other services provided were not within your expectations. However, your feedback is indeed appreciated and your comments have been forwarded to the relevant departments within the company for their attention.
Should you like to discuss your comments further, please do not hesitate to write to us on customer.uk@clubmed.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Porto, Portugal
Level Contributor
49 reviews
25 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2014

If you want to go to an hotel and leave your car at the beginning of your stay and only pick it up again X days later, Balaia is a very good choice. The staff is nice, food is very good and the beach is wonderful. The GO and the GE took really care of us. It was a nice stay.

Room Tip: Choose a room at la Pyramide and ask for it to be away from the main bar.
See more room tips
  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Havant, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2014

This was our first experience of Club Med and it won’t be our last. It was a really fantastic experience for the five adults and the two 14 month old grandsons.
The good experience started with the staff in the Club Med London office who quickly and succinctly answered all our queries, which gave us a smooth start for the run up to our week’s holiday at Da Balaia.
We landed at Faro and quickly found the Club Med desk near to the exit where we were greeted and given room labels for our baggage and our room keys. We were then shown to our minibus and taken to Da Balaia.
On the Monday morning the two twins were taken to Baby Club Med where they were very well looked after from 0900 to 1700. There were some initial worries about how they would cope and how well they would be looked after but these were quickly dispelled and they really enjoyed their time there. At the end of the week they loved going in the morning and weren’t too keen on leaving later in the day! Indeed all the staff at Da Balaia were very baby/ child friendly. Facilities for babies extended to a special part of the restaurant with baby/ child food, cutlery, small chairs etc., but high chairs were also positioned around the restaurant. There were also rooms in the hotel for baby feeding with food available.
The food was amazing with different themes and offerings every lunch and dinner and the desserts were real waste line destroyers but worth having and making up for with walks, swimming etc. The standard of the food was absolutely superb and there was good house wine to complement it.
There were many facilities and we only tried petanque, tennis and swimming between us. We found a nice grassy area behind the pool with plenty of sun loungers and shade provided by pine trees.
It was a fantastic holiday which we would strongly recommend and it provided a welcome break for the twin’s parents. Go and try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Room Tip: Ground floor rooms overlooking the garden in the Pyramid have a nice terrace.
See more room tips
  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
65 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2014 via mobile

We love Club Med 4 trident resorts and this was our 5th resort, however this one disappointed us. There are 3 hotels in this resort, the worst being the Golf hotel, which is tired, dirty, shabby and in desperate need of a renovation. The Pyramid hotel and La Tour hotel are much better but if you ask to move to one of these other hotels you will be asked to pay. Our room had more cracked tiles than not, dirty rust coloured grout, yellow/brown water, taps nearly hanging off, unstable bath, broken curtains, fridge not working, only a small hook to lock the patio doors and only 3 sockets(one for the fridge and 2 for the bedside lamps), no reading lights.
The food was good, the GOs were friendly but this resort lacked the usual polish and the wow factor that we have come to expect from Club Med.
We will not be staying here again but if you choose to, on booking I would recommend you ask for a room in the Pyramid or Tour hotel.

Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Club Med Da Balaia

Address: Praia Maria Luisa 8200-854 | Albufeira - province de Faro, Albufeira 8200-925, Portugal
Location: Portugal > Algarve > Faro District > Albufeira
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#9 Top resorts Hotel in Albufeira
#11 Family Hotel in Albufeira
#33 Luxury Hotel in Albufeira
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Club Med Da Balaia 4*
Number of rooms: 372
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Da Balaia stands on an ochre cliff in southern Portugal, overlooking a magnificent white sand beach. The Resort allies sports and well-being in an outstanding setting. It's a world to unwind in, perfumed by the woody scents of parasol pines, olive trees and eucalyptus. Comfort and cosiness are to be found everywhere, even in the reception area where marble floors and deep red walls set the tone. This is a Club Med Resort where families, golfers and Spa enthusiasts live together in harmony. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Club Med Da Balaia Hotel Albufeira
Da Balaia Club Med
Club Med Albufeira
Albufeira Club Med
Club Med Da Balaia Albufeira, Portugal - Algarve

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