We are Turkish family based in the US and this is our first trip in Turkey. We stayed at Gural with my sister and her family, who have traveled extensively around Turkey. So we had a chance to compare notes and get their reaction on how this place compares to others.
On the positive side, the hotel grounds and building are in excellent condition, the rooms are some of the comfiest we have stayed in. Even with two kids and an extra bed, there was lots of room to spare.
On the downside, everything else is average or below. Service is particularly weak. I have noticed that in Turkey if staff is polite and courteous, people automatically think that service is good. Clearly that is only one factor. The other crucial one is competence and that is seriously lacking. For example, in the main restaurant, they do not leave a bottle of water on the table.. you have to ask somebody for water every time you are out.. which requires waving, yelling, asking, waiting, then waiting some more and then waving again.. you get the picture. They are slow and appear to be understaffed. Most resorts would have a few managers on the floors to fix problems and oversee service. This place didn't seem to have any (if there were any they were clearly doing a poor job--being invisible). Asking for a spoon (which is not readily available) is a similar chore. In fact, one time they gave us a dirty spoon--yes, they took a used one and gave it to us. My niece noticed it and returned.. of course, they apologize, they are good at that, but really at a 5 star restaurant how often does this happen?
The worst happened on day 3 when we went to the water park that has slides going into the pool.. There were 3-4 foreign kids who were terrorizing the place.. yes, you read it right. They were sliding down with the little mattresses that you put on the beach chairs, which they slide over the pool water and slam on the opposite side. It's a scary scene for others to watch, happening in front of your nose. They apparently also tossed metal bottle pieces which caused a kid to step on it a bleed. When people started to get agitated, the single pool staff who was a young kid confronted them (did I mention that the kids were 8-12 years old!?). They refused to stop their act, the kids asked for the manager (!) and refused to get out of the pool... The poor guy called the reception (yeah, no real security folks!) and after a lengthy conversation they told him to manage the situation.. He left in despair saying he is not responsible for their act! Yep, the other kids and adults were left to themselves.. This is unfathomable to me.. I wanted to go there and kick their *sses, but my wife stopped me.. They would not tell what their room number was or who their parents were (again, they were not Turkish!).. To make a long story short, we couldn't use the slides for the whole day because either I would either have a fight with 10 year olds or they would continue terrorizing us.. again, how often does this happen in a supposed 5 star hotel?
I have no prior experience i Turkish 5 star hotels, but I have traveled all over the developed world and usually stay at Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Sofitel, etc. etc. quality places. I cannot imagine anything like this happening elsewhere.
As for my sister, they assured us that the service here is below par, based on similar hotels they have stayed at in the past.. The food at the main restaurant was OK. Nothing to write home about and nothing memorable. Also, the incidentals are priced in an absurd fashion. A Turkish coffee is 9TL (about $5), but it is mediocre.. In an expensive restaurant you'd pay the same price but get some Turkish delight, a glass of water, etc. to make it look upscale.. Similarly, a cup of Turkish tea, which is a staple of Turkish cuisine, is 6TL and the quality is well below what you get in a neighborhood cafe for 50cents.
Overall, I can imagine this place appealing to somebody who is used to Holiday Inn, Radisson, and similar quality places, as well as some middle eastern tourists who don't have access to anything better.. But if you are seasoned traveler and know what a 5 star hotel is like, this one isn't!
- Also Known As:
- Gural Sapanca Wellness Park Hotel
- Gural Sapanca Wellness Park Hotel Kirkpinar
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