I first stayed at the Casablanca Inn Hotel in 1985 at which time it was relatively new (I believe approximately one year old).
At that time it was bed and breakfast basis only, no air conditioning, no TV, no restaurant but did boast both an indoor and outdoor pool.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I decided to stay there again some 28 years later.
So what has changed in almost 3 decades?
1. The rooms now have air conditioning though the external unit is installed at floor level on somewhat small balconies resulting in warm air striking you as soon as you go onto the balcony.
2. The rooms now have a portable size TV though don't expect flat screen, they have the basic cathode TV's.
3. A small but adequate fridge is housed in a cabinet under which the TV sits.
4. A sun terrace has been built outside a number of rooms on the first floor. There is no natural shade, it has 12 sun beds and on a 'good' day, 2 parasols.
5. The indoor pool no longer exists and has been converted into what the Casablanca refers to as a restaurant. Without being too unkind, it bears close resemblance to a works canteen.
What used to be 'Rick's Bar' (from the film Casablanca) has gone and has been replaced with a featureless bar more in keeping with a Chapel of Rest.
My first room (No 116) was the sort of room you would place in an emergency and for one night only.Despite several energy saving lights, it would be difficult to read a book or any other reading material without sitting directly next to a light. As for the balcony, in all the hotels I have stayed in, I have never experienced such an insult or excuse . The so called balcony was approximately 5 feet wide, both side walls floor to ceiling, though the right hand wall did slope at 45 degrees, (reminding you that you had neighbours).
The wall facing you was a solid 4 wall which if you stood up overlooked the sun terrace, part of the Praceta Casablanca and the apartments opposite. Sat on the balcony your view was a small patch of sky and the top 3 floors of the apartments on the opposite side of the square. It was (thankfully) not possible to sit on the balcony for any length of time due to the increasing level of heat from the air conditioning fan unit and because of the walls, the blown hot air was unable to escape.
Despite requesting a change of room on a daily basis, I was met with a hostile and defensive response from the reservations Manager who continued to inform me that it was not possible as they were fully booked but having checked on the internet, rooms were available.
After 5 consecutive daily requests, I was offered and accepted an alternate room.
The 'new' room, No 106 was directly above reception and at least had a view of civilisation.
The rooms overall resemble an obstacle course with twin beds which I am confident are the original beds from the 1980's. The bed stocks are very user unfriendly, constructed of solid, angular wood which leave bruises if you inadvertently catch your legs against them. I remember the inset patterned ceramic tiles both in the bed stocks, coffee table, wall shelving and ad hoc areas of the walls. What made the beds even more insulting was the mattresses. In all the hotels I have stayed in over the years, I have never experienced such hard, uncomfortable, uncompromising and unforgiving mattresses supported by compressed wood shave bases, ( the sort of material used to temporarily shore up broken windows). The beds are issued with one pillow each but being a single traveller I had the luxury of removing the pillow from the spare bed which gave me a choice of hard and lumpy or hard and flat.
Again energy saving lights offered very little illumination and it would have been nice if were at least matching in size, shape and wattage.
The best (or worst) of all was the bathroom lighting, two bulbs which took 5 minutes to warm up to a warm orange glow before the bathroom was usable.
On this occasion, I travelled without my wife which proved to be a case of 'just as well'. The wardrobe was just adequate for my clothing to be hung up, (once I had purchased a supply of clothes hangers) as the anti theft hangers provided were worn out and continually fell apart. There is no way you could accommodate 2 peoples clothing in this space unless you were travelling very light.
Accompanying the wardrobe area were 4 small drawers beneath the hanging area. Again totally inadequate in size, (we have a larger cutlery drawer in our kitchen).
The floor in the room is a combination of patterned ceramic and terra cotta tiles, the worst of which were on the balcony which had completely worn away in some areas.
The corridors throughout the hotel were illuminated by energy saving bulbs inset into the ceilng and were on motion sensors which meant you were effectively walking into a black hole until you were close enough to trigger the sensors.
The works canteen , (I cannot bring myself to refer to it as a restaurant as it would be insulting to reputable Restaurateurs) was a real experience.
My first meal there started with what was referred to as red bean soup. It was very pale pink in colour and was barely luke warm, (this temperature appears to be a speciality of the canteen ), obviously anything hot may involve the services of Health and Safety.
Dinner is waiter service and despite acquiring a table 1 minute after the canteen opened, 7pm, I had to wait 10 minutes to get a menu.The canteen had 6 other diners at the time.
It is difficult to comprehend how 5 canteen staff have problems dealing with 24 diners at their busy periods but on my third visit for dinner in the canteen and having stared into an empty soup bowl for 35 minutes with no sign of my main course arriving, I decided to discreetly vacate the canteen. It did not however go unnoticed as I was confronted by the head waiter the following evening who asked why I had left and before I had a chance to answer, he asked if the service was slow.
Breakfast in the canteen is self service buffet and despite entering immediately on it opening at 8am, the coffee dispensed from a stainless steel urn was at best luke warm. Then came the game of 'hunt the sugar sachet and salt and pepper. Scavangeing at newly laid tables was not what I had in mind.
The cold buffet consisted of cereals, ham and cheese slices, tinned fruit pieces, bread for toasting, croissants and bread rolls of dubious age.
The hot buffet consisted of bacon, fried eggs and tinned sausages. The bacon may or may not be adequately cooked but was like most other things either luke warm or cold. The consistency of the eggs was best described as having a latex/rubbery texture.
To help wash down this detritus was an orange coloured fluid (assumed to be orange juice).
As to how much of the dinner is freshly cooked on the premises is very questionable. The pre cooked meats and fish are delivered and attempts made to re heat them are carried out. The name Aviludo springs to mind.
Overall the quality of the food is well below standard, it is bland, boring, poorly presented and mismatched, (chips and green beans are not the sort of things I would expect on the same plate and little if any evidence of Portuguese cuisine.
It was a rarity to see a bottle of wine, most consumers bought it by the glass, half carafe or carafe which is conveniently decanted from a 10 or 20 litre card board box of house plonk.
The whole canteen experience resembled a badly written sketch from a combination of Fawlty Towers and Acorn Antiques.
In summary, this sadly neglected establishment could be best described as dreary, drab, dingy, dark and depressed.
Whilst the sign outside denotes it is 4 star, it is recognised by most Tour Operators a 3 star and I would be generous if I personally awarded it 2 star plus, though 1 star and an asteroid would be more appropriate.
Another issue not mentioned is the resident cats and a dog which obviously have 'Access all areas'passes. A cautionary word to anyone who has canine or feline allergies.
In conclusion, it has been 28 years since my last stay at the Casablanca and it would be at the very least another 28 years before I would return.
A substantial cash injection to bring it into the 21st Century along with some external and in house training for the employees might make this once decent, friendly place a worthy and fit place to stay.
I have stayed in a number of hotels in Monte Gordo and this stands out as the worst by far.
Would I recommend it? Not to someone I disliked!!!
Photos to follow.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.