My wife and I read all the reviews of the Polynesia Hotel in Benalmadena and were slightly put off by earlier reviews. The hotel was opened around May 2009 so obviously it would have had teething problems which is only natural. Basically, most negative comments have been made by people travelling between May and July, but in my opinion this hotel has improved alot since these initial teething problems. Hopefully this review will cover all aspects of this hotel in depth and I really think it deserves it.
We booked our stay through Thomson's and paid a fair price for all inclusive. We arrived on the 18th September and stayed until the 25h September 2009, so we are not long back.
The hotel has a Benalmadena address but having looked at Google Maps, the Polynesia Hotel sits plumb between the town centres of Benalmadena and Fuengirola. Saying that, as Fuengirola is larger, you can walk to the outskirts of Fuengirola (where the large overhanging road sign is positioned) in about 15 minutes (where there are bars and restaurants). It takes around 35 to 45 minutes to walk to the marina and town centre.
Restaurant prices at Benalmadena's Marina are pricey. How about €7.50 for a bowl of Onion Soup or £20 for a main course in some restaurants. The marina is well worth a visit though but be very wary of prices in bars and that perfume shop.
The hotel is outlying with no shops, bars or supermarkets for at least 15 minutes walk. The only issue we had with that was that the hotel's shop prices were alot more than the local shop prices which is the norm these days. For example, a litre bottle of water was €1.50 but a two litre bottle of water at the supermarket in Fuengirola was double the amount of water but only cost 30 cents. More on the shop later. The hotel is perched on the hill so it is a 5 minute walk up and down a fairly steep gradient to and from the main road. There is a free open top bus transferring guests from the hotel to the main road and vise versa, but we preferred to walk.
Thomson must be praised for several things. Firstly, the airport transfer took you directly to your hotel as the bus for the Polynesia was only for guests staying there, so there was no travelling from hotel to hotel and it only took 20 to 25 minutes. Also, the Thomson representative got us to fill out our hotel information cards for check-in which saves time filling it in on arrival at the check-in desk. While checking-in, the receptionist checking us in was also answering calls and speaking to a Spaniard who arrived at the check-in desk while we were being checked in. It was not fair to get diverted while supposedly dealing with us, but honestly, this was a minor issue as the reception staff were helpful and very polite the remainder of our stay, plus the check-in only took several minutes anyway.
You get your armband fitted on arrival for the all inclusive deal.
The hotel is large and imposing with security guards at the main entrance. The site that greets you when you enter through the large hooded entrance is awesome, with water features, a high ceiling and much, much more. I wont say too more as you can perceive it in your own way when you arrive.
The hotel has eight lifts and we loved this as you never ever waited too long for a lift. They were nicely spread out throughout the entire hotel.
Most hotel guests are British or Spanish.
Our room was on the third floor looking over the pool, water park, sea and Fuengirola was in the distance. The views were simply stunning. I am sure that the rooms at the hotel are all suites of some kind (whether junior or a standard suite) and our room was a junior suite and was fantastic. It was the best room we have experienced anywhere in over 25 years of travelling at this price range. It had loads of space and great storage areas for your clothes and belongings. There is a safe that is well worth the €2.50 per night (if you want to keep your valuables safe and insured, as not taking this option in my opinion is simply crazy). The overall decor was beautiful and we had no issues at all. The air conditioning unit cover flips opens (via the raised tab on the top surface) and you can adjust the settings to your needs. You get two room keys so you cn leave one plugged into the wall to keep your room cooled on your return if you like. The fridge does its job perfectly and the bed is very comfortable. The bathroom is spacious with a walk in shower and his and hers sinks. There is even a music system in your room for chilling out on the balcony, and a decent sized flat screen TV with dozens of channels. There has been negative comments about there being no English speaking TV channels. Trust me when I say that there are at least six English Channels including BBC World News, CNN and Euro News. The first set of channels are designated as "DTV" channels. The next set are fourteen "Radio" channels. The English channels are located after these on the "TV" designated channels. You have to pay a deposit for the TV remote but we did not use or need it. The balcony was roomy and just perfect with doors leading from the lounge area and bedroom.
Our room was cleaned, beds made and towels replaced (when needed) every day of our stay.
The amenities at this hotel are fantastic. The hotel has a huge dining area, a small air conditioned cinema room where an English film is shown every night at 8.30pm, a three lane ten pin bowling alley (as extra cost of €3 per eprson, per game...but great fun), internal and external concert areas, two themed restaurants (Chinese and Polynesian), a shop, piano bar, gymn (at NO additional cost), kids club area, hairdressers, spa, aviary, games room, internet and Wii room (with six spacious internet desks and several wall mounted Wii's) ............what more do you need! The pool is large if a touch chilly for most peoples taste and there are ample sun beds. We went up the ramp beside the dining area and towards the jacuzzi, kids play area and outdoor putting course which was a bit quieter and hardly used by other guests during our particular stay. There are also outdoor games played in or around the pool during the afternoon and they were funny to watch, especially the pool bingo and the putting competitions.
The children' s entertainment starts around 8pm in the main concert area. We did not attend any but there was reptile and bird shows (Eagles, Owls etc) amongst others. Adult night time entertainment starts at around 7pm outside the Piano Bar, and at 10pm within the main indoor concert room that also has a bar . We had tribute bands for Westlife, The Beetles and Cool and the Gang during our stay. All activities are shown on the public notice boards for that day and Manyana! All were simply superb acts. Miss them at your peril especially the Cool and the Gang tribute act as these guys are talented beyond belief and surely deserved better than this. One of the guys did a solo Michael Jackson number (35 minutes into the show) that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as to me he was as good as Michael Jackson (and this comes from a life long Michael Jackson fan who saw him live in concert)! I had to buy their CD.
The buffet breakfast is huge, with everything from freshly cooked (and rather large omelettes (on request and with any filling you like), quality cereals, loads of fresh fruit, varieties of yoghurts and jams, cheese, all the major fried items like perfectly cooked eggs, bacon, black pudding etc etc. The toast machine is located near the coffee machines. The coffee is excellent plus right beside it is the hot milk machine, so no cold coffees at this hotel. All the tea options are there too. Take your time and check out the entire buffet as it is spread about a bit. Note that the breakfast is between 7.30am and 10.30am with most guests heading down between 9.30am and 10.30am, so there may be some light queueing that only takes minutes to subside. If you head down before 8.45am it is pretty quiet.
We rarely had a buffet lunch that was served at the Beach Club but latterly at the hotel as we were pretty full after our breakfast. It is vast.
The dinner buffet was also large in stature. There were chicken, fish and pork dishes plus everything you need to accompany them. Your drinks are bought by the waiters and waitress in glass tumblers. The food was hot most of the time but slightly cool on occasions. It was never an issue with us, and we are normally fussy. It did get slightly repetitive after several days though. Like the breakfast, there may be some queing for Dinner but the queue goes down very quickly as the staff are quick to process everyone to a clean table .
You get a choice of one visit to the Chinese and one visit to the Polynesian Restaurants during each week of your stay. We never went to the Polynesian restaurant but we did sample the Uru Wok Chinese restaurant. We loved the food here. You order your drinks from the wairer or waitress then head up to get your soup or starter (that included satay chicken for example). Your main course is more interesting as you choose you vegetables and raw meat (whether chicken, pork or beef) and place them on a small plate then head up to the kitchen counter where you choose your Chinese sauce (whether Red Curry, Hiosin, Chilli, Garlic and herb etc) then watch the chef cooking your main meal in front of you. He transfers the cooked meat and vegetables to the large plate when you can then go and add your rice, crackers or whatever from the main buffet. Wonderful. Then there is a choice of sweets.
There is finger food stuff at the pool bar area consisting of hamburgers, pasta, pizza, fresh fruit and yoghurts, cheese and ham toasties and chips etc. You can also get the local small pot ice creams at the pool bar (on request) and they are also part of the all inclusive deal. Did I mention that they come in vanilla, strawberry and chocolate and are 100% addictive? There are all drink types available at the pool bar, plus chocolate, vanilla or strawberry milk shakes too.
Drinks are available from the pool bar, piano bar, beach club and are free until midnight. The local Cruzcampo beer is excellent, plus there is everything else you need including local and international alcoholic drinks to satisfy your every drinking need. There is even Ballantines Whisky and Martini's available at no additional cost. Coffee and Irish Coffee's are freely available too at the Piano Bar.
The Beach Club is across the main road at the Elephant Roundabout and is accessed by getting the one minute open bus ride or five minute walk down the hill to the pathway beside the security office hut. Walk down the netted pathway, up the spiral staircase, over the terracotta foot bridge and down the other spiral staircase and you are there. This water park is for Holiday World guests only. Once again, the pools appeared not to be heated but that did not put off the kids or brave adults. The lunch buffet is huge there too.
The bus to Fuengirola or Benalmadena is the number 120 and is always between €1.20 and €1.35 per bus ride. (Why it varies for the same trip to and from Fuengirola is beyond me). The bus timetable is in the hotel foyer. Check the times, head to the bus stop and then be very patient. It was never ever on time and was usually 30 minutes late. The bus stops to both Benalmadena and Fuengirola are down the hill to the Elephant Roundabout, turn left and go under the terracotta foot bridge. The bus stop to Fuengirola is on the hotel side and the Benalmadena bus stop was on the Beach Club side of the road.
You really have to get up early and go for a nice early morning walk along to Fuengirola when the temperature is cool. Fuengirola's beach has always been superb and may be worth a visit for a change of scene.
The entire hotel staff were wonderful and the Thomson reps very helpful.
All I can say is this. Go and enjoy your holiday.
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Polynesia Benalmadena, Costa Del Sol, Spain
- Holiday Polynesia Hotel Benalmadena