We returned from our second visit to Forte Village on Friday, 8th June. We originally came here in 2009 and were very fortunate to be upgraded to the Villa Del Parco after I expressed my horror of the room we were originally given in Pineta. The service and the experience from our first 10-day visit was impeccable in every way.
This time we came back for a 7-day holiday as we were unable to book Stansted both ways for a 10-day holiday, and I refuse to go to Gatwick because of the stress of travelling on the M25. We booked a room in Royal Pineta with the view to hopefully be upgraded to another area. We were originally allocated what's known as a "Deluxe Bungalow" which was opposite the top end of the kid's club.
Upon arrival I expressed to one of the new managers, Raphael, that the room was a little disappointing and too small. There was a normal size double bed with a sliding door separating it to a very small lounge area that had a LCD TV and a standard sized sofa bed. The furnishings were very basic.
To his credit, he suggested that we went to grab some lunch and he would try and find us something alternative. After showing us a room that was very concealed and basic in Villa Del Parco, he offered us a suite in Le Dune. The room was larger than the bungalow and had a larger bathroom with two basins. A sliding door separated the lounge area to the bedroom and there was also a balcony that overlooked the gardens with the sea behind in the background.
Once the room was sorted out we started to enjoy our 7-day break. The food in the main buffet restaurant Cavalieri was of a high standard, like it was when we came back in 2009. The only negative we noticed was that there was not such a large selection of puddings as before and, on some nights, the staff were way too slow at replacing some of the dishes that had run out on the starters selection. We also found the service slow on occasions when it was busier and also did not enjoy the fact that on some nights they had schoolkids helping out waiting on some of the tables. One of the best things for us about FV was the fact that the waiting staff and chefs etc were all experienced and extremely nice people. We don't like going to places where you have junior inexperienced staff serving you at the table. If it's clear they are new staff and nervous, but still trying, that's different and you try to be polite and encourage them. I remember one young lad, who was obviously new, looking really nervous whilst he was pouring some wine, but he was really trying his heart out and I just said to him "you're doing a great job, don't be nervous". The difference was that he was a full time waiter, but was obviously just starting out, as opposed to some schoolkid that was just there on a work experience.
If you sit away from the central area of the buffet restaurant you do sometime find yourselves struggling to get any service, which at FV is not acceptable. Try and secure a table in a central location a few tables in from where the salad bar is.
The other main gripes of the holiday was waiting 25 minutes for a bill to turn up at the beach restaurant one lunchtime and, the worst one of all, waiting 1 hour and 10 minutes by the Castello pool one day for 2 club sandwiches and 3 soft drinks to turn up. Ordered at 1340, arrived at 1450, with two requests in the middle asking if it was going to be much longer. The service around the Castello pool was also non-existent, with a clueless young girl randomly appearing once in a while. One of the guests that we chatted to actually placed an order with her and walked back to the Castello kitchen with her to make sure that the order was put in. Can't say I blame her.
We were kindly given 2 free passes to the Spa by Debora for the inconvenience of some of the poor service which was nice of her. Debora is a brilliant manager and deserves her place at FV. She will always try and put things right and is a lovely genuine woman.
There is also a ridiculous fight to try and secure a sunbed at the Castello pool which should not be going on at a place like FV. I arrived one morning bang on 9.00am and there were literally three spaces. I met up with ex-Fulham striker Andy Johnson who introduced me to his friend Doug and we had a good laugh about what a complete and utter joke it was trying to secure a bed around the Castello pool area, which is supposed to be for guests staying at Castello, Le Dune and Villa Del Parco. It got to the stage where you had to get there before the official opening of 9.00am to put down your personal belongings on a bed to secure a place. The three of us did consider hijacking a FV member of staff to disguise ourselves in his uniform in the morning in the hope of getting a sunbed. Posing as a cleaner with a trolly was also given some serious consideration.
We still enjoyed our week even though it's clear to see that the service at FV has gone backwards, something that was certainly not the case a few years ago. They are obviously feeling the pinch of the tough economic times that most of us are enduring, but reducing staff numbers and having inexperienced staff waiting on tables is not the answer. The place is still magical with great facilities and some of the best staff you could ever wish to find on a holiday. It is, however, starting to look a bit tired in places and is in desperate need of a face lift. Some guests will also be shocked at the standard of some of the rooms. It will sometimes not be what you were expecting. That is also the main reason for some of the negative reviews. The resort is still kept spotless and clean, but it's in danger of becoming too run down unless they start re-investing some time in the near future.
I'd still go back again because the place still has some magic and there are so many things there for the children. I will always answer any questions if people out there want to message me.
I do not advise you to book a room in Pineta. Very small and basic. Also Castello, Le Palme and Vill...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.