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Reviewed August 15, 2008

We've just returned from 2 weeks at the Petra Mare and would go back tomorrow! We had a great family holiday with friends, (2 parties of 4, in rooms next to each other as requested) and despite some of the negative comments we'd read beforehand, we thought the hotel and the First Choice team were fab.

Yes, the food is repetitive but there is enough to please everyone and you can't fault the quantity and freshness. As soon as a dish is nearly empty, they bring out another one. The fresh donuts fly out in the morning though and people load their plates up with them!! The 'theme nights' are a bit odd, as many of the same dishes appear each night and the only greek food on 'Greek Night' was moussaka which was a bit disappointing. We went into town a couple of nights and ate at the Cafe On The Rocks. Ask for a variety of starters to get a better taste of Cretan food. The local beer in the hotel is really nice and the kids certainly enjoyed helping themselves to fizzy drinks all day. The drinks were cold, despite comments that they weren't, although the water wasn't that chilled. The snack bar has the same food every day - except for the shape of the pasta - but hey, you can alternate between pizza & chips or ham/cheese roll etc and there's always fresh melon and baklava. Its not the end of the world!!

Our biggest complaint was the sunbed war - we just couldn't get sunbeds for the first few days and got really fed up. People were getting up at silly o'clock to put their towels out, but not actually using the beds until midday. It was really annoying and we were very tempted to start chucking towels in the pool (well it was very windy while we were there!) We ended up complaining the to the rep about it and she admitted that it was a problem with all nationalities and spoke to the manager, soon posters appeared telling people not to reserve beds until 8am and that towels would be removed. It didn't seem to make much difference so unfortunately we became as bad as everyone else and started putting towels down between 7.30am/8am and sitting with a cuppa for a while.

The hotel is spotlessly clean, maids are always cleaning and emptying bins around the pools etc. The floors can be a bit slippery, especially in the snack bar but that's mainly due to barefoot people coming in from the pool than the cleaners. The walkway around the lazy river is really slippy though so do take care!

The kids reps were fantastic, so energetic and enthusiastic. Our kids met Rocking Ryan on the trip to Chrissi Island and loved him from then on, Energy Emma is great too so well done all of you!! The entertainment team, Smelly Kelly, Aiesha and Amy work damn hard and made us laugh. Give them a break and join in the games etc, you're on holiday so have a laugh!!! "Big Fish, Little Fish, cardboard box......." you'll soon catch on!

Chrissi Island was good but the boat was way too overcrowded so some people couldn't sit down (a recurring theme generally) but the sea was beautiful on the other side of the island, make sure you walk over there as the water is amazing.

Our best day of the holiday was the 4x4 trip into the mountains, it was FANTASTIC and we thoroughly recommend it. It may seem pricey when you look at the exursion list but don't miss it, the drivers (hi Gary!) are so knowledgeable and they make it so much fun, the lunch in a village taverna is out of this world so honestly, don't miss it. Be warned though, the Reps tell you about visiting Zeus's Cave but they don't tell you everything. There is a very steep climb up the mountain and then 200 steps down into the cave itself, which obviously you have to do in reverse to get back - all in 45 minutes. The drivers stressed that it was really difficult so only the 2 dads in our group went, much to the kids disappointment and they said afterwards that the kids wouldn't have made it.

Its worth buying some beach shoes and snorkels etc as there are plenty of fish in the shallows of the beach, but watch out for the rocky bits, they hurt!!!

All in all, we had a really good time and would go back tomorrow as its so cold and miserable back here! If you've got young kids, the night flights aren't the best (understatement) as you get all the Malia gang going out to party on the same flight......say no more. Getting through Heraklion airport was quicker and smoother than fighting through Gatwick so we had no problems there. Go for a sea view room, you won't be disappointed, to wake up in the morning to sound of the sea is just wonderful. Go with an open mind and enjoy your holiday, we loved it.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
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3  Thank JulesXX
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2008

We had a great holiday, travel with confidence if you have a family you all will find something you like at this hotel. Food was tasty and loads of it, something for everyone all day. My kids are 12,13 and 1 and they all had great fun, they loved the kids clubs and the reps work hard. Shows are good and all performed by the reps but could do with more support i.e better props etc. There was a Greek dancing group on one night. Staff are pleasant, helpful and polite. Rooms are cleaned daily and all areas of the hotel are kept spotless but is showing some wear and tear. They have started some re decorating. Pools are clean and good fun, slides are good but only open twice a day with life guards controlling them. This is the only time the guards supervise the pools, they patrol the pool area's but do not monitor or supervise behaviour so watch out for your families safety. The pool sides can get slippery however, it does look as though they are addressing this by adding non slip walkways. Some of the reviews put us off but you need to make you own mind up. It is not the Ritz but the relaxing atmosphere in the Hotel and cleanliness is second to non, making this a good all round holiday. We read in the reviews about their plastic cups being flimsy so took our own plastic pint cups and advise you to do the same. The local Larger is ok and you help yourself along with a good range of fizzy drinks. The hotel gives the adults at check-in waistbands this is to say to their staff that you are allowed alcohol. The only down points we can add is the Crete Airport as it has very little space, services or facilities. They were also in the middle of making a little extra space upstairs but don't think it will solve the problem.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
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4  Thank Newbury1971
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2008

well i visited the petra mare hotel from the 23rd may 2008 to the 7th june 2008 and i too must admit i was dreading it but i had a lovely time overall! the food was okay although it was a bit repetitive although i did not mind this. the entertainment was okay i suppose if its to your taste. all the reps were fantastic altough i must say all amy seems to want to do is get her hands on your boyfriend as i found out while i was there! but of course my fiance was not interested. there were days where it seemed the ent team were more interested in fooling around together rather then actually working and they were mainly sunbathing on the beach rather then working. my finace and my self only ever saw our main rep kylie twice in the 2weeks that we was there and on the way home i had a few problems with my flight where first choice had messed up my name on the airport system and i was told i wasnt aloud to fly home and to my absolute horror my so called rep kylie run out of the doors and left me there! something i have complained about as she was too busy complaining about our other main rep aaron, whom personally i thought was a total laugh! rocking ryan was brilliant as was kelly she was fantastic!! aiyesha was lovely but didnt really speak to the others as we dont yet have children so didnt really see them much. and well ive told yu about amy! she should be ashamed.

i absolutely recommend the water sports on the beach! the people there are fantastic. they are friendly and fun and my fiance and i got lots of free rides lol. we were there everyday they really are worth spending your money on!

we also had great fun with the bar man. such a laugh! i enjoyed some of the entertainment wen we were actually watching it and wasnt in the bar and i became the subject of luck as i kept winning the house on bingo hehe.

we had some issuses with the maid as the would just charge in our room when we had the sign up saying no maid today and there were occasions that my fiance and i had arguements with them as they would not leave and just ignore us even though they had just walked in on us getting dressed! they were very rude.

we recomend chrissy island! what a lovely place to go! and so relaxing!!

now on to the cats!!! how anyone can complain about these i do not know! they were little kittens for crying out loud and they were adorable and yes we are guilty we did feed them! but we didnt find them a problem they were lovely!

there was a huge mix up on the day we left as our rep aaron had wrote down the wrong time that our coach was leaving but we sorted this with him however kylie was not quite so forgiving as she very unprofessionly put him down to some one on her phone whilst on the coach journey to the airport. well if shes reading this i must say aaron done a much better job then you did and my complaint was with you! and i hope someone comes to there senses and gives him your job

well apart form some exceptions we had a really really nice time and i miss the watersports team very much and we have said to them that we will be back to see them soon.
but i must say it wont be with first choice!

so lets hope its better if we do go back and that certain entertainment reps isnt there to try to ruin the experience!

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank EssexLittlemissk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2008

Our pary was: 2 adults, 2 teenage boys (13&15), and a 2 year old. Our flights times were AWFUL - but the hotel was great. It had a slightly 'tired' feel, could maybe do with a small amount of 'sprucing' in places, but everywhere was clean & tidy. The rooms were large - you MUST pay that little bit extra for the sea-view, well worth it. There were 3 pools, including a shallow small-child friendly one that had slides etc. The 3 big water slides were great. It wasn't a problem that they only opened for a couple of hours at a time - who wants to spend moe than 2 hours going up & down a water slide? My teens certainly weren't bothered. The water was very clean. People were reserving the sun loungers (all nationalities!), but after a couple of days the hotel put up warning signs saying that you couldn't do this before 8am, as they would remove your towels. We usually managed to find a couple of sunbeds if we went to the pool by 9.30/10ish, but they do all fill up & then stay occupied all day.

The food was exactly what we were expecting - buffet-style, a wide range of choices every day, including good old-fashioned English basics such as chips/rice/salad for the fussy eaters. There was a meat/fish choice grilled as you waited, which were always nice. I can only assume that the people who complained about the food have never stayed in a Meditteranean hotel before, and serve up 20+ dishes at every meal time at home..... The tables outside are best, as the restaurant does get very hot. We saw a total of about 5 cats while we were there, a couple did wander round the tables but were shooed off very easily and were no bother at all.

The snack bar had chips, pizza slices, pasta, hod dogs, salad,, cheese, bread etc - plenty to snack on, and ice cream served at certain times. Again - not a problem, who wants to eat ice cream for hours on end?!

The staff were friendly & efficient. Irerapetra is a small quiet town, and there are some nice bars/restaurants a short stroll away. All in all we had a great holiday at a great hotel - we didn't book 5*, and we didn't expect 5*. However, although I was a bit nervous after reading a couple of reviews, I'm very pleased to say that this hotel far exceeded my expectations.

It kept us all happy for a week, and we would have no hesitation in returning.

  • Stayed: August 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank debh42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2008

I've just returned from two weeks at the Petra Mare Hotel with my hubby and two boys aged 6 + 3, and we all had a fantastic holiday. The kids club reps were the best ever; they really made the holiday for my boys. Okay so maybe you had to pay a couple of extra euros for the odd event such as the chocolate party or the pizza n dvd night, but what's a few euros compared to your kids having a super time.

There was a good mix of nationalities at the hotel, though probably mostly English, and from what I could see they all got on well together. On the down side, there were a few sad people who were a bit possessive of their spot around the pool and felt the need to put their towels on the sunbeds at the crack of dawn but you can get people like that anywhere.

In our opinion, the food, service, cleanliness, entertainment and just the general atmosphere of the place couldn't be faulted.

In summary, you'd have to be a real misery guts to go to the Petra Mare and not have a great time!

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank Coggleones
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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