This, as they say, is a game of two halves, a great hotel let down by its restaurant and bar service. Sesimbra is located on the Portuguese coast, on the peninsula to the south of Lisbon. It's ideally located for a range of golf courses, which is why we were there. We've been to Sesimbra before and usually stay at the Hotel do Mar, at the other end of town. Since we first came a lot of EU money has been spent turning sleepy little Sesimbra into a tourist centre. Here the Lisboans flock to enjoy the stunning beach and rolling ocean. One of the recent additions is the Sana Sesimbra, one of a relatively new chain of Sana hotels.
The Sana Sesimbra has a lot going for it; for a start it is only a road's width from the fabulous beach and provides its guests with free beach towels, chairs and umbrellas. From the time you arrive the staff could not be more friendly and welcoming, the rooms cleaner or more comfortable. Even the elevator, bearing guests up the six floors, is glass and overlooks the beach. The roof garden is like being on an ocean liner, with steamer chairs, sun beds and sofas, sheltered by folding screens so that you can be in the sun or out of it. The spacious swimming pool on the roof has a sliding cover that allows it to be used in all weathers. On the very top there is a jacuzzi, with attendant sun beds. Near the pool is a small but adequate fitness suite. There is a bar on the rooftop level so a guest could spend all day up here quite comfortably if they chose to abandon the sweeping sandy strand below.
The rooms are good quality, very clean and well-cared for. Those on the ocean side have a balcony overlooking the sea. There is the usual well-stocked mini-bar, with prices that are not as outrageous as many. The bathroom is spacious, with a bath as well as a shower. The maid service is excellent, never once did we return to find the beds unmade or the room grubby in any way.
There is one small moan about the hotel itself; the ever-present, incessant artificial music that is pumped out of every orifice, even in the lift. This is music to slit your wrists by; computer-generated riffs like some demonic ejay programme. It is like living with an endless telephone call 'on-hold' and never answered. At first we didn't notice it but the more we became aware of it the more it intruded until it became hateful. Of course, the hotel does this because they would have to pay royalties on real music. But, believe me, silence is better!
And then we have the restaurant. Oh My Goodness! Having eaten at Fhilippe on Sunday, we discovered that, like many seaside towns, Monday is closing day. Not to worry, we thought as we surveyed the hotel menu, this looks fine, we'll eat in the hotel and, if it's good, we'll come back another night. We were six guys, quite happy to spend our Euros on good food and wine, you'd think we'd be welcomed.
Two of us turned up early and ordered a drink while we waited for the others. Fifteen minutes later it had not come and some more guys turned up. We ordered a bottle of wine and added to the drinks order. Well, I suppose the beers and coffees came eventually but it took an hour and a half before the wine came! But that was okay; it took four hours to get through a meal for six. That was much, much longer in the waiting than the eating. We complained; the wait staff were, like all the staff, smiley and friendly, but nothing happened. We complained again to be told 'ah, we are very busy.' Very busy? There were eleven people in and we were six of them! I've no idea what the food was like because the memory is lost in thinking about the worst service any of us have experienced anywhere in the world. And we've travelled a lot.
The servers were as frustrated as we were - this wasn't their fault, it was a clear fault of management. Why was there not a manager chasing up orders and at least apologising to the guests once in a while? We asked for the manager. The night guy told us he had gone off duty and would be back the next morning. The next morning we asked for him but he hadn't turned up before we had to leave for an early tee time. The reception guy promised faithfully he would represent our concerns to the manager as soon as he came in. When we checked in the afternoon he promised faithfully he had done so.
On Wednesday we came down for breakfast. It was cold. It was cold because nobody had bothered to actually plug the hotplates into the mains. Management again. We complained; they brought us warm(er) food.
On Thursday evening my mate and I went for a drink while waiting for the rest of our party. Okay, they were busy but, although the servers and the bar manager wandered past, they never once spoke to us or even acknowledged us. No sign of, 'we're very busy but we'll be with you in a moment'. Now, this bar has a flashy push-button system linked to special watched worn by the servers. Push a button, summon a server. Simple. We pushed the button. Nothing, we almost wore the darned button out. Still nothing. We left; thirsty.
That nigh we came back late and went to the bar for a drink. I asked for a tomato juice. The server had to ask what I meant and, when it came there was no Worcester sauce or anything (and I know that, at the do Mar they do a mean tomato juice). Worse, it was fizzy. How long had this been sitting on the shelf? One of my mates ordered a port. Sorry sir, we've run out of port. Run out of port? In Portugal?! Another ordered a campari - nope. How about a Jack Daniels? No JD. We complained to the woman on desk duty, who promised to report it to the manager....
On Friday (remember, we arrived the previous Saturday), the manager asked to see us. He apologised for the bar shortages. They DID have port he said, the barman could not find it. We said, ' hold on, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What about the cold breakfast?' He knew nothing of the cold breakfast. 'And what about waiting four hours to complete a meal service on Monday?'.
The manager was horrified, 'Why did you not report it on Monday?', he asked. So much for 'Oh yes, sir, I spoke to the manager'!
Sana is a fairly new chain. Our experience at Sesimbra indicates that they are getting a lot of stuff right but there is way to go in the management of their bar and restaurant. This is purely a management issue and it's costing them money. Had we had good service on Monday we would potentially have spent five or six hundred Euros in the restaurant over the week. As it is, we discovered a fabulous family restaurant in a side road 30 metres up the road. I'll write a review of it. Go there.
This is what TripAdvisor is for - if you stay at the Sana Sesimbra, please review it - it's only by keeping on the case that they will improve their restaurant service to match the rest of the operation. They might even turn the ruddy music off!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Right on the seafront, in the centre of Vila de Sesimbra, SANA Sesimbra Hotel is the ideal place for those seeking sun and sea and recreation and events, nature, gastronomy and wines, water sports, culture or scenery. With the Serra da Arrábida as a backdrop, SANA Sesimbra Hotel also has the advantage of being just 30 minutes from Lisbon. The hotel offers infrastructures unique to Sesimbra - on the roof of the hotel, the swimming pool with retractable cover, bar with outdoor area and sky lounge with Jacuzzi offer a fantastic panoramic view over the mountains and the sea. On the ground floor, the restaurant terrace is ideal for a meal by the beach. Each room at the SANA Sesimbra Hotel has been totally refurbished, offering increased comfort and well-being. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sana Sesimbra Resort
- Sana Hotel Sesimbra