Would we go to this hotel again: most definitely! But, in the end, it is the small things that tip the balance between very good and great.
We had two almost identical and very spacious rooms with balconies overlooking the hotel's smallish pool. Furnished in the classical style described on the hotel's web-site, they are exactly what I had hoped for. Cleaning was unobtrusive and thorough; minor maintenance (light bulb. blow fuse) was done quickly.
Breakfast: buffet-style core menu with reasonably wide choice and small changes each day. I always think hot food should be hot, or at least quite warm. By 09.30 (when many people seemed to be eating) for 'hot' read 'luke warm at best'. But this wasn't a problem for my Russian friends, so maybe it is a cultural thing? I only drink black coffee and I know that there are tastier coffee systems available (the hotel uses the Nescafe machine that delivers up to 8 coffee variants) but it is fresh and the cappucino went down well with my friends.
The sauna suite is large and well-equipped. On the day we used it there seemed to be some difficulty getting the sauna itself to a high (enough) temperature, but the hotel staff acknowledged the issue and tried to identify/solve the problem. (And don't get me wrong: the sauna was quite hot, just not very hot!)
So, why do I hesitate from saying it's great. Many of the staff - concierges, waitresses are cheerful and helpful. But some (?supervisors) seem to think that guests are a problem: more smiles are easy and cheap. Perhaps, compared to hotels elsewhere, little was volunteered to us - and there is no guide to hotel services in the rooms. Ask, and we were given helpful advice. But if you don't know to ask (for example: shuttle service to the beach - is there one or not?) you will not find out. I never did find out why I received no replies to any e-mails sent before our visit (I was asking about smoking policy, transfer from airport, to have neighbouring rooms and, most importantly about visa support). I wrote in both English and Russian, and I used both the hotel's web-based system and 'normal' e-mails. I also telephoned - about the visa service - and was told to e-mail! The lack of response about the visa added about £200 to the cost of my holiday because I had to make visa arrangements late (higher price (per person) for faster turnaround) and had to travel to London specially to submit visa papers and collect my passport/visa.
Would we go to this hotel again: most definitely!
I know that hotels can be expensive places to eat and drink, and it is a fact that evening meals and drinks (with meals or at the poolside) are pricey - beer, particularly so. The cafe next door - or any of the ones in the Riviera Park (see below) - are much more reasonable.
We enjoyed the walk to the beach, but the first half is not well sign-posted (not the hotel's job - althought they could take the initiative and offer guests a map showing the route!).But at least half of the route is through the Riviera Park - an interesting mix of gardens and funfair! And it is downhill to the beach, so uphill on the return. I guess the walking distance is about 1 mile, but probably not 2 kilometres.
The Aquapark near to/east of the city's port is worth a visit, but take a taxi both ways - certainly back to the hotel! The Aquapark is about twice as far as the beach.
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