We are just back from a 2 week holiday at this hotel and had a great time. We have stayed at Lara Beach before in 2010 at the Concorde De Luxe Hotel which is situated just along the strip from the Baia Lara and we had such a great time there that we did not think anything else would measure up - but the Baia Lara knocks spots of even the Concorde. There is just nothing to fault here, it is a truly beautiful hotel with lovely grounds and great staff.
The Rooms - we had a room on the 5th floor next to the lift which was nice. Initially I was disappointed that we did not have a view of the pools and beach but we did have a side sea view of the beach - we looked on the wasteland next to the hotel and the sea in front of this wasteland. In the end it did not really matter about the view as it was a pleasant and peaceful enough view and we spent very little time on the balcony as there is just so much to be doing in the hotel. The room was lovely, massive king size bed which was really comfy, couple of chairs, mini bar which was stocked daily with more than enough beers and soft drinks, free safe, tea and coffee facilities and a lovely well equipped bathroom with great powerful shower and tons of toiletries. I had taken my own but really didn't need to have bothered. The hairdryer is ok too, managed to dry my hair pretty quickly and I have very thick hair. More than enough hangers and hanging space for us as a couple. I had no issue with the room at all which was cleaned each day and fresh bedding and towels very regular. I had thought on day 2 of our holiday that the air conditiioning was not too great but I assumed that this was just as good as it got and so I was resigned to putting up with it, it was cool but not as cold as I would have liked. However, I mentioned it to the lovely man at Guest Relations and told him that it may just be me being fussy. He sent an engineer straight up to our room to investigate and there was indeed a problem because when we returned to our room later on, it was brilliantly cold and remained so for the rest of the holiday. If you think something is wrong, it is always worth checking out.
The Food - The food is hot, plentiful and varied. I can be a bit of a fussy person when it comes to food but there is absolutely no way you can fault the food on offer or the choices in this place. Having read previous reviews and heard some people complain about the food, I am quite astonished. There was a huge amount of local fare to try, different themed meals each night and if you just wanted plain food there was always rice, chips, mash and a roast meat on offer. We didn't try any of the A La Carte Restaurants as the food choice in the buffet was huge enough but I heard only good things about these restaurants from other guests. The choice of desserts are great and it was a challenge choosing which ones to have each night. There is also ice cream on offer and the pancakes and waffles with ice cream at lunch were great. Lunch can be taken at the snack huts which offer everything imaginable (made to order pizzas especially nice) or you can have waiter service at the White Bar which is equally as nice, we did both. There is also sandwiches and cakes at the White Bar at 4pm and a barbecue at the boat on the beach at 5pm - we didn't try this but smelt lovely. If you tried all the options of food and drink you would be eating and drinking all day. Always a bar open 24 hours and the cocktail list is extensive and included in the all inclusive. The cocktails are lovely as is the refreshing slushy ice drinks through the day. There are even people coming round the hotel pool area and beach through the day offering sweetcorn, water melon or ice lollys/ice creams. The buffer restaurant can be a bit of a challenge later in the evening but this is no fault of the hotels - there are just some rude guests who do not understand the concept of queueing or being polite in such a lovely setting and they barge in and act very rude and ignorant. It is the same with their disrespect of the hotels dress guidelines. The hotel asks that people dress for the evening meal and do not wear shorts, flip flops or beach wear but sadly a lot of people are ignorant enough to ignore this request and come to dinner as though they have just left the beach. I think the hotel should try to reinforce this as it is requested and is made clear in all the holiday litereature. If you want to visit somewhere that allows this sort of sloppy dress code, then do not book the Baia Lara...I'm shamed to say a lot of the people breaching this request were British.
The Pools/Beach - Pool and beach areas are lovely. We tended to stay at the pool area under the sheltered awning next to the White Bar. This was a really peaceful spot and the pool area beside us was usually practically empty so often we had it to ourselves for bobbing about on the lilo. There are loads of pool spaces and beach spaces too. There was never a problem with getting a sunbed and for people who have said that this was an issue - they are either blind or were not at the same hotel at the same time I was. We were there from 11th September for 2 weeks and did not get up early. We went down to the pool about 11am each morning and there were always loads of choices of sunbed, either in the shade or the sun, never busy at all. People who have stated otherwise are either lying or wanted a particular sunbed and were too ignorant to look elsewhere. The sunloungers are well spread out and comfortable although some are better than others so I think the hotel must be in the process of renewing them and the new thicker ones are lovely. Hopefully they will all be upgraded to these thicker ones. There is a towel stall for fresh towels open from 8am - 6pm which is also a nice touch. The nicest thing about this hotel is the feeling of open space, Even though the hotel was almost full from what I understand, there was never a feeling of being crowded through the day, always loads of room around you and in the pool without people encroaching on you although there will always be those few families who are so loud that they have to let you know they are there...we just ignored them though. I do wish people would realise however, that not everyone around the pool wants to hear their private conversations.
Entertainment Team - What can I say?? You will never be able to find a hotel or an entertainment team that appeals to absolutely everybody because like different things from their holidays but these guys really had it spot on I think. They were a group of lads who were friendly, funny and if you wanted to join in with the activities then they would encourage you and include you and if you wanted to be left alone, they would leave you alone. I did not indulge in the activities but my partner Greg, who loves darts, played daily with Cem from the Entertainment team and had a great time and met some lovely people. Cem is a real credit to the team and to the hotel as he has the knack of getting people to join in and he is extremely funny without being obnoxious or rude. He was great with all the guests, elder guests and the kids likewise. The same goes for the rest of the team including Mustapha, always full of humour. I think they do a great job and for people that complain about the entertainment you have to realise that you will never find entertainment which will appeal to all people. This hotel does its best and I think it was great, I was thoroughly entertained each night by the shows, all professional and all entertaining in their own way. These were followed by a bank in the bar near the beach which we went to sometime and not others, sometime we just sat in the White Bar as this was our favourite bar and we loved sitting on the comfy chairs and chatting. One night they put a concert up on the big screen at the pool and also showed football so varied things going on and there is also a cinema screening shown each night. We even got talked into participating in a guest show one night - by Cem (I hate you Cem) which was really embarrassing but still good fun and a memory to take home. And I don't hate Cem - he's a diamond!
Guest Relations and Staff - The staff at this hotel are friendly, attentive, and will do all they can for you. I was anxious about not getting a late check out from our room as we had a night flight and I really wanted to be able to have a sleep and a shower before we went. You cannot find out until the morning of your departure which I think the hotel should look at changing as it will give some peace of mind to know you have the late check out. We did however get the late check out for which I was very grateful, it cost 50 Euro and was well worth it. The Spa does offer facilities for showering and changing if you do not get a late check out though so this would have had to suffice. We did not use the Spa facilities but had a look round and it was indeed beautiful, maybe next time.
There are many other things to do at this hotel which I cannot comment on as we did not use them such as the disco which is open from midnight till 2am I think. There is a bowling alley and games room with pool tables etc. There is loads for kids, a kids club, water slides etc. There is a library and cafe on the 3rd floor and there are beach huts for hire on the beach at 25 Euro a day where you get waited on all day and have use of the private hut. We were going to do this but didn't get round to it. There is also a lovely pier on the beach and water sports.
There is loads to do at this hotel and we are looking to return in September 2013 as can't think if anywhere better to go. One tip - do not take travellers cheques as we did and could not get them cashed as the hotel, banks or Thomson will not cash them. In the end the rep from Thomas Cook managed to cash enough of them for us to be going along with so our thanks go to Holly. Take Euro or Lira as this is what is used, everything is priced in Euros. In short - do not believe the bad reviews on here, this is a great hotel and highly recommed you go.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.