In July/Aug 2011 & 2012 we stayed at the Gloria Serenity hotel (With Thomas Cook) and for July/Aug 2013 wanted a change, but still within the Belek area and without compromising on service or quality. After much searching we chose the Maxx Royal (With Thomson/Tui). This review compares both hotels for which we paid the same amount for a two week fully all-inclusive holiday package, including flights.
I’VE PROVIDED QUITE A BIT OF DETAIL, SO IF READINGS NOT YOUR THING - SLIP TO THE SUMMARY AT THE END.
To sum us up - we’re in our late 30’s early 40’s and have a son aged 6 and daughter aged 9. We travel a fair bit (both for work and leisure) and like the high standard of luxury 5 star +, which provide family suits with a minimum of two bedrooms. Working many hours we value our family time together, especially on holiday, so don't look to make new friends and thus go for hotels/resorts that don’t actively look to pressure you into group activities and are not seemingly packed full of hundreds of other guests.
The two hotels are both based in Belek, Turkey and do differ in the style. Gloria being is a little more traditional whilst still modern and Maxx Royal is more contemporary in comparison.
Gloria ‘Serenity’ is smaller (as it has two other separate sister hotels on the same site) which means a more relaxed and quieter environment. When moving around the hotel complex, you certainly have the feeling you are one of very few. The Maxx Royal is one fairly sizable hotel, which means a slightly less personal and peaceful environment, but having said that, it’s nothing too off putting. Both are of very high standard, so it’s more down to personal taste, the smaller details and the overall type of experience you’re after that separates the two.
You don't need to leave the hotels and for those that have not been to such resorts before, believe me it's surprisingly easy to fill your time. We have visited Belek market once, which is worth doing to experience a little local culture – but not a necessity if you are just after a relaxing ‘get away from it all’ holiday.
At Gloria we had a villa on the pool (much better than garden villa or villa with private pool), which had 2 bedrooms, a lounge, decked area and direct access to the pool, which was very convenient. (http://www.gloria.com.tr/en/resorts/gloria-villas)
At Maxx Royal we were in the main hotel (Room 1113 on (-1) first floor) and had a FAMILY SUITE (http://www.maxxroyal.com/Maxx-Royal-Hotel-Belek/Family-Suite-en) which was 2 bedrooms and unfortunately no living area or direct access to the pool, which was a bit of an inconvenience in comparison to Gloria. We were also adjacent to the neighboring ‘Adam&Eve’ hotel. Interesting viewings into the LED lit light colour changing bedrooms and on quite a few nights, provided us with full on clubbing music of which we could hear in our bedroom. My advise would be to go for a LAGUNA DUPLEX SUITE (http://www.maxxroyal.com/Maxx-Royal-Hotel-Belek/Terrace-Laguna-Family-Suite-en) with lounge on the ground (-2) floor which will give you direct access to the pool from your room and your own double sunbed.
Both had well stocked mini bars.
OUR VIEW: GLORIA WINS HANDS DOWN FOR ACCOMMODATION LAYOUT AND FACILITIES BASED ON PAYING THE SAME PRICE.
Both hotels are of very high quality and attract a predominantly Russian market but don’t be put off from this unless you’re desperately looking to make ‘new fiends’!
That said, both hotels do well in ensuring English-speaking guests are accommodated for with plenty of staff being able to understand basic English and the guest relations having capable English speaking staff.
Between the two hotels I have to say Maxx Royal staff are far friendlier, far more pro-active with their service and more approachable compared to Gloria staff.
OUR VIEW: MAXX ROYAL WINS WITH THEIR FAR MORE ACCOMMODATING AND FRIENDLY STAFF.
As said with Gloria we were in a pool villa, which gave us access to the large ‘lazy river’ style pool. This pool is pretty sizable, enabling you to swim around the villa complex. There is also a kid’s pool that our villa was close to. This was great for the kids to play in and both pools were heated. There is also a large salt pool, which is nice for a change, but being salt water it’s not used much.
Maxx Royal has a pool along the right hand side of the hotel, a smaller salt pool next to that, a large ‘warmer’ heater pool by the beach, with a kid’s pool (with small slides) next to that. There is also a pool along the terrace accommodation building. This gives you a greater selection of pools with the one next to the hotel having plenty of large outdoor mattress beds that were fantastic. Also there are pool side staff who are extremely helpful and friendly, giving you constant access to drinks pretty much all day long – at Gloria we did not see staff doing this other than within the outdoor bar area.
Both hotels have nice indoor pools.
OUR VIEW: BOTH PROVIDED GREAT POOL FACILITIES AND IT ALL DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU WANT – MORE FAMILY GO FOR MAXX ROYAL AND MORE PEACEFUL GO FOR GLORIA.
Both resorts have water parks. Gloria’s water park is shared by all the three Gloria hotels and is about the same distance from the villas as Maxx Royal’s water park was from our accommodation there.
Gloria’s is not bad by any means, but it is not as clean as Maxx Royal and the lifeguards are not so switched on in comparison. Also as it is shared with the other two lesser standard hotels – you do get a more mixed clientele using the facility that can include parents that are happy for their children to stand and wee in the pool (yes I watched it happen!) and in fact parents themselves standing in an outdoor changing cabin and doing the same themselves (this I witnessed also!) – say no more! They do have a good selection of slides for all ages, but it is all switched off for around an hour during lunch, but you can still use the pools. There is a drinks outlet with basic selection.
Maxx Royal’s water park is by far more impressive than that at Gloria. It has more slides, it's cleaner and far less busy. The lifeguards are more attentive and safety cautious, however our son who was 115cm tall was not supposed to go on some of the slides that were 120cm +, but the lifeguards allowed him to go on them if we were at the bottom to collect him or on the ones you do together on inflatables – we had to be with him – which is a good job as the two large ones which includes the Cobra, have pretty impressive near vertical drops. This also has a food outlet and full bar.
OUR VIEW: WITHOUT DOUBT THE MAXX ROYAL HAS THE LEAD WHEN IT COMES TO THE WATERPARK FACILITIES.
With both hotels, our children got ear infections from the pools. I suspect it was the water park at Gloria and the bigger and warmer of the pools at Maxx Royal to blame. I would heavily advice either swimming earplugs for kids (which is tricky to sustain for 2 weeks and ups their vocal decibel levels somewhat), or using preventative oil which we used and did seem to keep infection at bay for some time. Certainly for myself (who basically lives in the pools), I had mild ear infections both years before when I didn’t use such preventative treatment.
I would also suggest taking some sort of in ear antibiotic with you as it costs a small fortune and a fair bit of unnecessary hassle in the hotel (€150 + via the hotels doctor to sort out). You’re only challenge is getting it in the UK as unlike many other countries you have to have prescription to do so. My advise - go to your doctor pre-holiday and say you have an ear infection, get the medication and take it with you. This year, and fully armed, we sorted my son’s infection out in a couple of days (ear plugs were sustained!) – last year he still had problems when we were back in the UK, so we then used far more of our doctors time treating the problem, than we would have done if we’d used what I call the ‘plan & prepare’ technique!
Gloria’s beach is separated from the main hotel by a fairly wide river, which makes it a longer walk to get to. The beach itself is pretty much pebbles, with sand further back from the sea. There is a main bar where you can collect your own drinks or food, however there is no tray service. The pier has comfy beds open to all guests and a great bar, but once again we found that you have to fetch your own drinks and staff not so friendly.
Maxx Royal does not have a river which means the hotel is much closer to the beach, so it’s not so far to get to or back from. (It also has the added benefit of providing the side pool with a welcome breeze throughout the day making that location very pleasant also).
There are beds on the grass meaning you get the best of both worlds (sea breeze without the sand) along with beds on the beach. There are fridges where you can help yourself to drinks and staff are always on hand to fetch what you need, and there’s a bar and food outlet where you can grab lunch. The beach itself is far sandier compared to Gloria so I’m guessing they upkeep and clean the beach of pebbles on a more regular basis and it feels more like a holiday beach in comparison. The pier is not nearly as impressive as Gloria and does not have it's own bar. Also it only has Cabana’s meaning unless you have paid for one, then its only purpose for other guests is to jump off into the sea from.
OUR VIEW: MAXX ROYAL IS OVERALL A MUCH MORE CONVENIENT SET UP BUT GLORIA’S PIER DOES MAKE IT FOR A CLOSE SECOND.
If you are after a bit of in-hotel shopping – then both hotels do have such facilities. The Gloria Serenity has a hand full of small outlets selling jewelry, clothes and general supplies inc toys.
In comparison Maxx Royal has what can only be described as a small shopping mall with two floors of shops running across the first two floors of the building (-1 & -2). There are clothing, jewelry, sunglasses and a rug shop, along with a general store. Non of them cheap however and I'd suggest if you have kids, pre-pack some surprise toys and pretend you got them from the shop – they wanted €100 for a Spiderman toy that would cost £15 in the UK and the shop assistant was the most miserable person we met here – so not sure why she’s chosen to work in shop where kids are an abundance!
OUR VIEW: IF SHOPPING’S YOUR THING AND YOU HAVE SOME SPARE €100 NOTES – THEN MAXX ROYAL IS FOR YOU.
Both have excellent main restaurants and a selection of a la cart restaurants.
Gloria’s main restaurant has a great selection of food and they are very theatrical when it comes to evening dinner having various themes such as Turkish, Japanese etc, being presented in impressive ways. Each night they also have an outside BBQ area doing some fantastic dishes. For lunch they also have two other restaurants that also provide great food.
Maxx Royal’s main restaurant is a lot bigger, but they break up the seating areas well, so it does not feel like you’re in a big catering space. I would say the quality of food here is better than that of Gloria, but they don’t do the big theatrical displays to the same level. They do have different food on various nights, once again, Turkish, Japanese etc. For lunch there are couple of other restaurants you can eat in which are also very good and offer a change of environment. You also can get Mövenpick or Haagen Dazs ice cream anytime you want as part of the package – at Gloria you pay for this.
A La Carte
Gloria has a good selection of a la cart restaurants. You can eat at each one once as part of your inclusive package during your stay, but one of them does not accommodate children.
Maxx Royal also has a good selection of a la cart restaurants, however you have to pay extra to use these. €20 per adult, €10 per child 7 and over (6 & unders are free). The only one we went to was the steak restaurant as this was out at the golf course and made for nice change to the main hotel where all the other restaurants are located. I have to say the steak at this restaurant was amazing so very much worth a visit.
Both hotels have a Patisserie, but if you have a sweet tooth – Maxx Royal has a full Patisserie shop styled like a Parisian café – amazing!
OUR VIEW: THEY BOTH OFFER A GREAT SELECTION BUT GLORIA DEFINITELY HAS IT RIGHT BY OFFERING GUESTS THE CHANCE TO EAT AT EACH OF THE A LA CART RESTAURANTS AS PART OF THE PACKAGE.
Gloria has a well-accommodated kids club stated by the water park. Their staff are friendly and offer a selection of activities. They have a massive soft play centre that’s very impressive, but you have to pay extra to use it.
Maxx Royal has a far more advanced club that offers greater level of ‘organised’ activities and more secure conscious practices, which we felt far more comfortable with when compared to Gloria. The kids club has lots for them to do including indoor soft play (smaller than Gloria), video games room, outdoor climbing facility, Dinosaur park (not as interesting as it sounds), playground and small amphitheater for nighttime shows and water play. All the staff here were very friendly and switched on.
OUR VIEW: I’VE TAKEN ADVICE FROM THE KIDS – ALTHOUGH THEY DID REALLY ENJOY THE KIDS CLUB AT GLORIA - IT’S A NO BRAINER - MAXX ROYAL WINS!
As you'd expect both hotels have a full schedule of entertainment.
Gloria has a very large theatre with a big stage and racked seating. With such a facility their shows tend to be impressive on a fairly large scale. We did find for both years the entertainment was pretty much the same though.
At Maxx Royal the theatre set up is more like a night club show bar. Nice set up but smaller stage, however this does not deter from the quality of the shows that were overall very good. They also have a small-dedicated cinema, which we didn't go to as the showings were quite late at 9.15pm - too late for us to go to and look after the kids.
OUR VIEW: BOTH ON A PAR WHEN IT COMES TO ENTERTAINMENT BUT THE MAXX ROYAL ENTERTAINMENT TEAM WERE FAR MORE FRIENDLIER COMPARED TO THE GLORIA TEAM, WHO SEEMED TO LOVE THEMSELVES MORE THAN THE GUESTS! MAXX ROYAL WOULD BE OUR CHOICE BASED ON ENTERTAINMENT .
Just as final element for review is Thomas Cook and Thomson (Tui).
Thomas Cook had a rep who dropped a note to our villa at the beginning of the holiday with their name and contact details, and once a week came to the hotel should we need any assistance. The plane (2011 holiday) was one of the dirtiest and unbelievable uncomfortable planes I have ever traveled on.
Thomson Holidays provided no support on site apart from on arrival at the airport by a rep that pointed us in the right direction for our transport. We did not have any welcome note, visit from a rep, email or phone call regarding support on site. In fact we had to phone up to find out when our transportation was picking us up on our return date. In contrast though, their plane was clean and comfortable with plenty of legroom, however trying to book seats on line was an impossible task!
OUR VIEW: WE CAN DEAL WITH NOT SEEING A REP ON SITE, AS LONG AS I CAN STILL FEEL MY LEGS WHEN ARRIVE AT MY DESTINATION - THOMSON WINS!
To summaries both hotels are pretty top notch and gave us very little to complain about. From a value and quality perspective I could not separate the two but Maxx Royal wins for service levels and putting the guest first.
My advise is if you have children consider Maxx Royal – if you don't and like a quieter experience, go for Gloria Serenity.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.