Having been fortunate enough to have visited this lovely island on many occasions I was interested to visit this ‘new’ property in the south west especially after being offered a very competitive rate during their soft opening period.
As there was still considerable work going on and several aspects of the hotel had not yet opened, my review is observational and not necessarily critical (with one exception), as it is recognised that during the soft opening the hotel was still in the process of staff training and finishing off the renovations.
We arrived very early morning, so early in fact that the nightshift were still on duty, and check-in was a bit elongated as it took a little while to establish that in fact I had paid the hotel directly in advance and did not have a tour operators voucher, however I was happy to be there and first impressions in the lobby area were generally very good.
We then set off on what was a much longer route than necessary to the room??, where it took our reception host a good 5 minutes to get the key card to open the door – that was not a great sign and after he left I tried to open the door, with the same lack of success. After two key changes and I believe a visit from the maintenance team, it was still an issue, until I discovered the knack....as simple as pulling the door towards you as you turned the handle – after that discovery we had no problems with this, but it did highlight something, in that the door ‘furnishings’ i.e. handles, key card machines and internal locks and handles are all unchanged from the original hotel.
As soon as we entered the room it was clear to see there had been major investment in furniture and furnishings which were excellent, but this merely served to highlight the dated doors, knobs and locks which seemed out of place.
On opening the patio doors we discovered our direct access to the beach and a fantastic view through the garden to the waves breaking on the offshore reef.
As I have mentioned there were ongoing improvements being made during this time and as well as seeing the garden areas and public areas being developed and coming to life, there were also additions still being made to the room, as half way through our stay an alarm clock/IPod dock appeared on our bedside table.
So very happy with the room …………………… except, for what is my one significant complaint about the whole stay …………………. Our air-conditioning never got the room to less than 27C, which meant I never actually slept in the bed, but on the bed. Again, initially I can accept you have a soft opening to discover and iron out these little faults, but it is how you respond which makes all the difference. I reported the matter at least 4 times, was told at least twice it had been fixed, subsequently had a maintenance team arrive at around 2200 one night who worked on it, told me it needed a new chiller and then left without further information that night or the next day. Was told again it had been fixed, but still the room was never less than 27C, due to the lack of cold air from the aircon. I was finally offered another room nearby, but it seemed no cooler, so with only a few days left on our holiday we elected to put up with it and stayed.
Outside the room, in just over a week we saw the resort develop, and enjoyed its excellent beach, which due to the partial opening was almost deserted, and the massive pool, which unusually has dark floor and side tiles, making it look initially a bit strange, but it is a great pool.
On the beach we were looked after by Arun, who apparently used to be a lifeguard in the old hotel. He has made a very good transition to beach and pool server as throughout our visit he was very attentive and always ready to get us a cold beer, water or cocktail.
Hans the Bar Manager, knows the ropes, has clearly got a great deal of experience dealing with people and was always very welcoming, while keeping an eye on his fledgling workforce, however throughout our whole stay the actual service of drinks was slow to the point of being ridiculous. As another guest commented – “how come it takes 20 minutes to open a bottle of Coke?” To be honest, sometimes 20 minutes was quick, and I believe Hans is well aware this aspect has to improve significantly, and I would hope once his staff are fully trained, this will just have been an observation during the soft opening.
The food however was excellent, particularly in Mercado (interior design and furniture, fittings were superb), from the significant choice at breakfast, through to dinner, where there was always a wide selection and variation, in a buffet style. The selection and quality were first class with different areas dedicated to Indian, Chinese/Japanese, and an alternating European or other style, where you could help yourself to really good, well prepared and beautifully presented food.
The wine waiters Jean & Allan were also superb, anticipating my need for another beer and my wife’s for another glass of wine, without being pushy in any way.
We also ate on one occasion at Edgewater Grill, which attracts a premium for the privilege of sitting mostly outside and enjoying fish caught that day and displayed on ice for you to select that evening. It was nice meal, well worth trying, but in my opinion the food in the main restaurant was just so good, it was worth a visit to Edgewater, but I wonder what I missed in Mercado that night.
Excellent – Food (both quality and selection) and if they keep this up it ranks as better than at least two of the other MRU 5 star hotels I have stayed in.
Very Good – The room interiors and beach area
Good – The pool and the majority of the staff’s attitude to service
Poor – not much, but when something as fundamental as air conditioning clearly does not work – 27C minimum despite on full blast – and the staff advise you it has been fixed several times, without any improvement whatsoever, it suggests that the considerable expenditure made upgrading the rooms with new furniture and fittings has detracted from what should have been a very simple and basic upgrade of a poor excuse for air conditioning, which resulted in me never actually sleeping in the bed – not good enough!
Having said that........ the resort came on leaps and bounds during our stay with considerable work in the gardens and over on the Club side of the complex which was not open, however it was never intrusive on our enjoyment.
I look forward to visiting again later in the year as there is much to recommend the efforts made to turn this into a new 5 star resort, when I will be interested to see if quality and selection has been maintained in the restaurants, the bar service has become more speedy, the resort retains some exclusivity and has enough beach equipment and space for the increased numbers and whether I actually get a room which is cooler than the outside air temperature!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.