I have decided to go for a real in depth review that I hope most will find useful:)
We stayed at Atlantica Sungarden for two weeks in August with our 17, 14 and 8 year old sons. Upon arrival it was notable that the lobby/reception area was tired looking and really didn't give a favourable first impression however the receptionists were great and we were directed to our rooms on the 2nd floor of the main building. We requested rooms next to each other as to be close to our 17 and 14 year old that were sharing, and thankfully we were a room apart. The rooms were great. Air conditioned, spacious, clean with a fantastic view of the Sea and Infinity Pool. As we arrived at 4;00 p.m the kids were keen to have a swim and so we went down to the family and infinity pool. At this stage I was really disappointed. The pool looked much bigger in the brochures/Internet and there was no swim-up bar. There was approximately 100 people in and around the pool and it was apparent we were the only British family there. Regardless, we swam and enjoyed the all inclusive cocktails and then made our way up to our rooms. On the way to dinner I enquired about the swim up pool bar (important feature I felt) the guy at reception asked if I had walked the grounds and explained the main activity pool is a 2 minute walk at the other side of the complex. We decided to to tour the complex after dinner and then all our dreams came true.
The main activity pool is the place where all the Thompson (English) and Tui (German) reps indulge in all the family daytime activities. The pool is huge and probably 4 times bigger than the pool we swam in upon arrival. If you want a day of music, fun and games where adults and kids alike can get involved, this is the place. It has a fantastic swim up pool bar and is surrounded by fantastic gardens. It would be fair to say that the games get repetitive. Darts, table tennis etc etc with some more vigorous activities like Football, Basketball and Beach Volleyball. It hardly stretches the imagination but gives the kids an opportunity to win a certificate and the Adults a Top Dog T-shirt!! It breaks the day up and lets us have a laugh at the awards ceremony in the evening and the younger ones loved it. The Snacks around the pool are great. Hot Sausage rolls, Choice of sandwiches, Pizza, Greek cheese in pastry, popcorn and apple pies. I would also suggest a trip to the restaurant at lunch time if you dont fancy a full bloodied sit down afternoon meal and ask for a takeaway plastic container. I filled this with chips, nuggets and whatever the wife ordered me to get for the pool. The drinks were great. A choice of over 30 cocktails plus beer, slush puppies, milkshakes and ice cream. Trust me, my kids were in heaven.
This is your evening bar and this is where your first warning comes into play. Strictly no vests for the men. They will ask you to leave and get changed. An absolute nightmare. My boys bought 5 t-shirts and tons of designer vests and never had a chance to wear them. The weather is unrelenting during the summer evenings and even a t-shirt is stuck to you within five minutes. Whilst the views from the terrace are breathtaking you will be racing to the inside bar for the some much needed air conditioned therapy. However,If you do manage to stay outside on the terrace, your glass will be regularly filled, your table always cleaned and you will be served by the friendliest waiters in the world. Behind the bar we had the absolute pleasure to meet Lefterrace and Nedko. They are the friendliest, funniest guys. We loved them. They were a credit to the hotel and gave EVERYONE there un-devided attention and what a sense of humour. In the evening at around 10;00 p.m they will play a Family film on the Giant indoor screen situated at the far end of the bar. There were always plenty of kids chilling around this area at the end of a long day allowing the adults to indulge in a few well earned cocktails.
This is the Buffet restaurant and I kid you not, if there is such thing as 5* Buffet food, then this is it. From breakfast to lunch to dinner the choice and quality of food was absolutely astonishing and amazed me how they managed to keep the quality when dealing with such high quantity to a premium. The Restaurant is naturally air conditioned but here comes your next warning. The units drip and there are a lot of units dripping in the restaurant. We always grabbed a table away from these. Again, the service is fantastic and within seconds of sitting down, a waiter/waitress will be taking your drinks order which will be there at your table by the time you return with your plate. The evening Buffet is completely different every night and rotates every 7 days so if your there for two weeks, you will only have the same choice of food twice. The nights are also themed, from Asian to Italian to BBQ to traditional and so forth. There are approximately 40 trays and that excludes the childrens buffet and the desert buffet. The man responsible for insuring that your food and service is of the highest standards is the Restaurant Manger, Andreas. Take into account that Andreas has 500+ guests to look after and dozens of Chefs and waiters to control he will make the time to introduce himself at every opportunity to insure that everything is OK. He was a truly a fantastic man and a perfect gentlemen, he honestly gave the impression that he wanted you here for life and not just for a holiday. The kids loved him and he was so attentive it was ridiculous:)
I am sure that anyone who has booked a package holiday with Thompson pretty much have an idea of what you get and that is lots of activities around the pool in the day and audience participation style competitions in the evening. The Reps are also decided into the English (Thompson) and the Germans (Tui). I got the impression that even thou they were sister companies there was no love lost between them.
The Thompson reps were great and we loved them. The main protagonists looking after the families at the activity pool were Kate,Ryan and Tash. To be fair to them, a workman is as only good as his tools and whilst they were enthusiastic, it all got a bit boring after a few days. Thompson really needs to look at the activities for teenagers and families. Kate, Ryan and Tash carried the flag brilliantly but they would be better served as Redcoats where they would be supported with a fantastic entertainment schedule. Thomson has such a thing as the Gunniess world record day that leads to an evening show that is soul destroying regardless of you participating or watching. It was awful and lasted around 90 minutes. I would rather stick needles in my eyes and it didn't get much better in the evening. Your next warning!! The amphitheatre is a solid stone, 300 degrees circle with steep, deep steps leading to the stage lit up by 10000 watt of lighting. Hot do you think? That does not take into account the fact that throughout the day, the steps act as a heat conductor. By the time you get your bum down there in the evening, you may as well sit on a radiator that coupled with the fact that the temperature is generally around 30 degrees anyway. It was a nightmare. I have no idea what Thompson believe is entertainment. It was diabolical and needs a complete overhaul. If it wasn't for the fact that that the Hotel was so amazing, this could have easily been a disaster.
There was also traditional local acts but again, only mildly entertaining but in comparison to what Thompson were putting on, they were a welcome distraction. If people think that this is over critical, it is as a family of five cost me £6500 and whilst everything else lived up to that price tag, the Thompson entertainment didn't. Just to re-emphasise, Ryan,Katie and Tash were brilliant but quite honestly it was like giving Tom Cruise a part in Eastenders. The bottom line is, it was not my cup of tea but my 8 year old loved it. Regarding the Tui reps for Germany. There was mainly two, Sally and Bobby plus a cameo appearance most days from a good lucking young man called Kristoffer who did nothing except smile and look like an extra from Baywatch. Sally was energetic and enthusiastic but gave the impression, quite blatantly, that partying and young men, guests or not, were most defiantly part of her agenda. Then there was Bobby who really was the star of the show for Thompson and Tui. He was always involved, had a brilliant sense of humour and was in touch with the teenagers and adults alike.
If you have the mis-fortune of being on holiday when Thompson hold one of there self indulgent charity days (trust me, I wont speak too much about this). The day ends with the Reps holding a talent show starring themselves. This is basically them dancing to various songs badly. There are 8 acts with the same Reps in different outfits. Criminal. Bobby won this, more on popularity than talent bless him, but this was not acknowledged by any of the reps. No announcement, Nothing. No mention of the money raised and even an embarrassing moment that lasted 10 minutes when one rep Jimmy proposed to Tash who wanted nothing to do with this "Joke" and promptly disappeared leaving the auditorium in silence. You couldn't make it up. Incidentally, Jimmy was the Reps Manager and he was brilliant. A fountain of local knowledge and was always available for advice and booking excursions. Again Jimmy was constrained by shackles of 1980's entertainment laid on by his employers.
Nicos is the Manager. 27 years in charge and trust me, this guy is everywhere. At first I was convinced he was cloned. He was around the Pool, the bar, reception, the restaurant. I even checked the bloody wardrobes in the room!! And he was fantastic, charismatic and a total Gentlemen. He loved his guests and if there are any budding entrepreneurs reading this, the simple ingredient is, look after your customers and they will return. Nicos treats the Hotel like his home and you are his extended family, he won't and cant do enough for anyone and everyone. His regime for customer service and creating a calming, relaxing, holiday mood is cascaded down to the rest of his team.
This Hotel, particularly for a young family up to and including teenagers, is fantastic, they will love it. The beat of Ayia Napa is around 2 miles away and 7 euros in a cab. We are in the process of booking for next year but I hope that Thompson wake up and make the entertainment relevant and slightly more captivating for the audience and for the holiday makers that participate.
Thankyou Nicos, Andreas, Christina, Lefterrace and Nedko for making the holiday magical and we look forward to seeing you next year. And a big up to the Thompson team who done what was asked but next year, I think we should improvise :)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.