If I took seriously the stars of Alkyon (five) I would probably write a very bad review. That would be very unfair though, especially to the people who work there and who make a ten stars effort. So, I decided to ignore the stars rating and write an honest review. You can then decide if you wish to go or not.
Let's start from the basics...
Perfect. 1 hour and 11 minutes suburban train ride from Athens, plus a 5 minutes taxi ride from the station. Absolutely NO reason to take the car.
Very spacious, with lots of spots under shade.
The fastest of my life. Probably less than 5 minutes.
Kind, efficient, always helpful, always smiling, clearly understaffed (you will read this a lot in this review).
The standard room is medium-sized for the Greek standards but it is perfectly equipped.
Bathroom with a bathtub and very hot water, good quality amenities (BUT they don't replace them so make sure to pack your own), good size mirror and a hair dryer. I would rather see the dryer outside the bathroom though, for both safety and convenience.
Beds are large and amazingly comfy. There were extra blankets and pillows in the room but the extra pillows were of horrible quality. Even my feet protested when I rested them on one of them.
Bedside tables with lots of space and good lighting, plus a pair of slippers for each guest.
There is plenty of workspace and a large dressing table but there is no mirror and no light, neither on/above the dressing table, nor on/above the desk. This was a very negative aspect, not having enough light to work on the computer. I can certainly put my make up on in the bathroom but not take my computer there.
Satellite telly with many channels.
Mini bar with enough room for my stuff and for plenty of ice cubes in the freezer. Nothing like the tiny fridges that we're used to finding in hotels, this was great.
Plenty of wardrobe space, good quality hangers.
Only one suitcase rack, although the room was a twin. I know that this might be considered standard but I still hate it when one of two people have to place their suitcase on the floor!
Big mirror, one armchair -a very comfy one indeed.
Lots of electrical outlets; very thoughtful!
Wifi of excellent speed, but do remember to ask for a room with good reception, because not all rooms have it. I asked for it at the time of reservation and my request was met perfectly.
Big balcony with nice furniture and a proper hanger for bathing suits etc to dry. The view of the gardens was amazing, there were birds singing in the day and crickets in the night. Also, there are proper walls separating the balconies; no close encounters with the neighbours here!
There are a couple of power-saving features which made life difficult. One of them is that the A/C in the room won't work if the balcony doors are not locked. That means that if there are two people in the room and one of them wants to sit inside and the second outside, the outside one must be LOCKED out of the room if the inside one wants to have the A/C on.
The second is that the room key goes in a slider and turns the electricity in the room on. That means that if you're out and about and have your key with you, there is no way to charge a device in your room because there is no power!
Immaculate. The room was spotless clean, sheets changed every other day, towels changed everyday (although they did advertise a “green” programme which -sadly- they seem to not keep but that is not housekeeping's fault), room always smelled of cleanliness.
Their respect to “do not disturb” is unique.
My only comment would be that they are very noisy when doing the rooms which has a perfect explanation though: the hotel is understaffed throughout and they probably have to clean too many rooms in too little time, hence they are always in a hurry and they become noisy.
Plus, the rooms seem made to be noisy. No system for the doors to close slowly and soundlessly, no glides under the furniture; even the slightest of moves from rooms above, below or next door feel like they are happening in your room!
The beach is a very nice and clean one. Pebbles outside, sand inside the water. You might need a pair of beach shoes but once inside the water you'll be rewarded. There are free brollies and loungers for the hotel guests but in busy times the spread out ones aren't enough and there is no one to help you to take on from the big pile. Also, the loungers and the brollies were on the dirty side, many of them broken.
There are 3 pools. A large one with sea water, a children's one -also with sea water- and a third, smaller one, which is supposed to be more quiet because it is surrounded by guest rooms.
The big pool gets very busy and noisy. There is very loud music -not lounge/pool but too much upbeat especially for some times of the day- which combined to the very loud noises of people who wish to talk and be heard over the music creates havoc. There are many rules but no one follows them and nobody from the hotel staff seems to bother.
The same problem stood for the second pool. Supposedly, it was closed for two hours in the afternoon so that people who stayed in the rooms around it would have some peace and quiet. Not only this was never kept but, again, the hotel staff didn't do something about it. In my opinion, this should be a no-noise swimming pool all day long for the guests who didn't like the chaos of the other pool and for the benefit of the guests in near-by rooms. Had I paid money to stay in the -supposedly premium- rooms around the pool, I'd be very upset! I talked to someone who was staying on one of those rooms -an apartment- and I was told that the noise was constant!
There were torn and broken loungers by the swimming pools too.
Generally, the restaurant was very nice. Spacious, with both inside and outside seating. The staff are all amazing! It is clear to everyone that the restaurant is understaffed. The waiters run all the time, to take orders, to clear plates, to satisfy every need. They probably work long hours too, the same people seem to always be there. They are heroes! The head Chef was always there also, smile on face, giving information about the food, sharing tips and telling jokes. Perhaps the hotel's most valuable gem!
Food-wise, I'm gonna have to separate breakfast from lunch and dinner.
Cooked breakfast is inadequate. There are 3 eggs options but... the boiled eggs have no indication weather they are hard boiled or soft. The fried eggs were different everyday, so was the omelette. Overcooked one day, undercooked the other. Surprisingly, one day they had scrambled and they were almost perfect. It was the first time in my life that I had proper scrambled eggs in Greece. There is someone in this hotel who does that and yet they serve bad omelettes... that is so weird! Bacon was also undercooked. Sausages were so-so. There were very good grilled tomatoes but when they didn't have them and they had mushrooms it was a disaster because they were from a tin. The croissants were good but the pancakes and other pastries were badly cooked.
There was no butter, only margarine.
On the positive side, there was a good cereal, fruit cheese and ham variety. If you prefer cold breakfast, you'll be fine.
The disgrace of breakfast was the “juice” and “coffee”. Both came from a machine, both were undrinkable. The juice was water with sugar and colour, the coffee was water with colour and coffee essence. Not in a 5stars hotel, not even in a hostel I would expect such bad coffee and juice. On my last day, I did speak to one of the managers about it (who was there at breakfast but drinking coffee from a French press...) and the reply was that “the juice was indeed water with colour and sugar but it is certified”. To be honest, I didn't even know how to reply to that...
Lunch and dinner were very different. The variety and quality were most of the times exceptional. The size of the buffet would satisfy the most demanding eaters. There was a cheese buffet, salad and cold appetizers, hot appetizers and mains, fruit, dessert and ice cream buffets. The bread was homemade and very nice, if only there weren't so many hands touching it... (yes, some guests seemed to find it perfectly OK to touch every loaf!)
The chefs definitely emphasized in Greek cooking and seasonal ingredients. There was a slight Asia Minor influence which made things even more tasty and interesting. The choices were plenty; more than enough for all ages and tastes. Pasta, pork, veal or beef, fish, pies, rice and/or potatoes, nice nibbles, cool salads, refreshing dips, olives, cheeses... you could find everything and most of them were cooked in perfection.
Most of the times, the empty platters were replaced with full ones in zero time, although towards the end of the serving the speed of replenishing was reduced. Still, you wouldn't go hungry even if you arrived after buffet hours because it was kept open for at least 15 minutes longer than the printed hours.
Although the chefs and the staff did everything possible to satisfy everybody, there were daily glitches and hiccups which the management should avoid by being more organised. Half of the salt and pepper shakers were plastic, of very bad quality, and dirty. This, in my book is inexcusable. Even in the cheapest tavernas, you see glass S&P shakers. Twice in 7 days, the sodas were flat. Most of the days the wine was not chilled properly. It was very good wine but it wasn't cold enough. Once, I got my soda in a dirty glass. Another time, a certain food was so salty that it was inedible. Isolated incidents which create a pattern due to lack of attention from the management and the maitre d' who probably don't pay enough attention in details and don't try everything they serve. The worse part was the flies. After the serving was finished and the restaurant closed, there were still platters with food, uncovered, with the flies partying on them.
Still, the very good food and the wonderful staff made all these seem almost invisible and unnoticeable and every meal at the restaurant was utter bliss for the palate.
What I would love to have experienced is the maitre d' to come and ask me why, when I hadn't eaten or drunk something. I know that people tend to overfill their plates and then don't finish them when they serve themselves from a buffet but if someone orders a soda and then leaves a full glass behind doesn't it make you think that something might be wrong? Same with a perfect portion of food or an entire piece of dessert.
Perhaps the most impressing part of the buffet was the desserts! Excellent variety, good execution, ingredients of very good quality (it is easy to tell that when eating a sweet that is made of butter and nuts, for example) and everything was very fresh. The best part was that there was always ice cream available so you could easily have any syrup dessert served with the ice cream of your choice. Heaven! For the healthy eaters, there was a very big fresh fruit buffet, with at least 4 choices daily.
Something that baffled me during my meals was the wine list. Personally, I always prefer the house wine but I also check the wine list and see if I find a good wine. While the hotel is located in the Peloponnese, where some of the best Greek wines are produced, the wine list was full of not-so-good, overpriced wines from various Greek areas. A selection which made no sense whatsoever.
Very nice. Satisfying variety of treatments, nice jacuzzi and indoors swimming pool, steam bath and sauna of decent size. My only complaint would be the opening times. Although they advise you to visit the spa with an empty stomach, they open at 10am and if you call and ask for an early appointment they tell you with a headmistress voice “but you must not eat breakfast before you come, you have to come and then then eat breakfast”. I'd be happy to do so, only breakfast closes at 10.30 and the least time you can spend in the SPA is 30 minutes. Go figure...
A little better planning would accommodate those who would like to visit the spa and the indoors pool early in the morning, especially since the pool is in the spa area so one cannot swim when the spa is closed.
One important note regarding the SPA is that the staff is never AT the SPA but inside a small office, a few rooms away from the main area. I did check for cameras but saw none. Either they are well hidden or if something happens to someone while at the SPA, I doubt if the staff will notice and run for assistance. Since there is a sauna and a steam room, even a perfectly healthy person might feel a bit dizzy or unwell so do try to visit with a friend or another resident of the hotel.
For the business traveller.
If you are travelling for business or are bringing some work with you, you won't be disappointed. As I mentioned above, there is plenty of work space in the room (hopefully they will do something about the lighting), wifi can be super-fast, reception will happily help you if you wish to send/receive a fax and there are a few quiet spots for a short meeting with a colleague. Especially the old reception is perfect for this!
There are a few things which made me feel that the management is either lacking of interest or they are trying their best to save money but this is back-firing and makes the hotel look neglected and poorly kept.
There is no porter, no gardener, no pool boy. There is a bloke who does ALL of this. One might say “what is wrong with one person carrying luggage and watering the plants and cutting the trees”? Well, nothing. But it is wrong when one of the pools of the hotel goes green (google “green pool”, it is disgusting) and this person didn't notice because he probably wasn't qualified to do so. It is also wrong, when a situation as serious and dangerous for the health of the guests took more than two days to get fixed (after some of the guests complained) in the most amateur way -the aforementioned person dropped several buckets of chlorine in the pool- which resulted to the pool fuming a nasty chemical smell and many of the guests avoiding it.
When something is broken, they don't fix it. Bathroom doors, sun loungers, wheels on bicycles, restaurant tables... they just remain broken.
Not only they don't try to kindly ask the guests who are being noisy and annoying at the most ungodly hours to be quiet, they are sometimes the ones who create the noise. Additionally to that, they don't train their staff to even try to check if guests are at least respecting each other or the simple safety rules of the swimming pools.
To conclude... in spite of the glitches, it was a very pleasant stay. And if the hotel wasn't rated with 5 stars, I would definitely cut them more slack in my review. But, let's face it, when you stay in a 5star hotel, you aren't supposed to find flies, broken loungers, a pool turning green and artificial juice.
Would I go back? Yes, most definitely. But I would go back off season because the money they are asking for July and August is outrageous. And -seeing how this hotel copes with the small crowds of September- I wouldn't want to go near it with the August large crowds.
Would I recommend it? Yes, with all my heart. But only if you realise that this is a 3star superior hotel and only if you find a good offer.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The hotel complex Alkyon Resort Hotel & Spa 5★ is located in Vrachati, Corinth Peloponnese. Built on an area of 25,000 sq. In leafy gardens is an oasis of calm and luxury to its guests, offering integrated services luxury accommodation, health and wellness, catering, organizing events and conferences. Its privileged position, just one hour from Athens and 80 meters from the seaside of the Corinthian Gulf, makes it the first choice of visitors all year round. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Alkyon Hotel Vrachati