me and my husband visited this hotel for 14 nights from 2nd dec - 16th dec.
at the airport we were the last to collect our baggage so were in a rush to get to the transfer coach and as soon as we came into the arrivals lounge there were porters shouting "thomas cook!" at everyone, clearly trying to take the bags to get a tip. in my rushing i almost let one of them take my bag from me, but luckily there was a few thomas cook reps around who instantly jumped in and said "no he's not thomas cook" and showed us her clip board, and then directed us to our coach.
the coach journey was around 1hr 20 mins with a few drop offs to other hotels, and all you see whilst driving there is olive tree's, wild animals (dogs, chickens, cats) wandering around, rubbish all over the place, and lots of unfinished buildings in run down areas. being in a poor country this is to be expected and we did get used to it.
sahara beach is the last drop off point for the coach we were on. we were told to leave our bags at the door and go into the show bar. we got a short welcome meeting, which was a LOT of information being thrown at you, especially considering we had all been up since 2am that day travelling. however the following morning the same information was repeated and after a nights sleep was easier to take it in. we got given our wristbands at the short welcome meeting and to check in we had to give our passports in to a member of staff then collect at the desk with our room key.
we then went to collect our bags to take them to a room, to be greeted by a rude member of staff who asked what room we were in. i tried to grab my bag and he shouted at me 'leave them please! its my job!' and i politley told him i can take them myself (knowing i had no money on me for tips) but he wouldnt let me take them so we went up to our room. a few minutes later we got a knock on the door and he wheeled our cases in, i thanked him and he just stood there twiddling with his jacket. i felt uneasy and apologized that i had no change on me, and he just put his hand out, again i told him sorry and he sulked off. i thought this would be the start of the begging culture.
when we had a look around the room, we were disappointed. there were scratches and burn marks in the sink in the bathroom, the latch for the plug wouldnt open properly, there was no tv, or fridge. the size of the room was also disappointing. i had read they are 'small' but didnt expect them as small as they were. our room had the bed in the middle, and about 50cm from the sides and end of the bed to the wall.
when we complained to our thomas cook rep, Atef (who was brilliant throughout the holiday) he spent a good whilst taking us round about 6 different other rooms to see if we liked them. the only problem being with that was the only rooms in the hotel with proper double beds (as opposed to 2 singles pushed together) are the ones on the end facing the pool and sea. we were room 1416 and i believe that any rooms ending 15 or 16 have proper double beds. we were offered the 'honeymoon suite' at an upgrade price of £10 a night and was told by atef that it was 'stunning!'. £140 to upgrade was a lot but we went to have a look anyway. it was on the 6th floor and was huge compared to the standard rooms. it had 2 balconies, a fridge and a tv. it also had a double bed and a sofa which also turned into a bed. however i wouldnt describe it as stunning by far and we ended up just staying in the orginal room in the end.
the cleaners were polite and greeted us everyday, but be warned, there is no lock on the doors and they tend to ignore the do not disturb signs occasionally! they seem to just make up the bed and change the towels, no actual cleaning seems to go on, there was dust balls flying around the floor!
fresh omlettes cooked for you, pancakes with chocolate sauce or syrup. toast, cereal, yoghurt, fruit. there was warm food such as rice pudding, beef sausages (nothing like english sausages though) turkey in a red sauce, boiled eggs and one day they had 'bacon' which looked disgusting and other people who looked closer said they could still see hairs on it.
tip - take your own coffee. theirs is awful and doesnt even taste like coffee.
- hot chocolate out of the nescafe machine is lovely.
buffet style, chips, spaghetti, pasta, chicken nuggets, turkey etc. lots of meat to chose from and me and my husband were fine throughout the trip however both nights my husband ate the lasagne he did wake up feeling very sick.
same as dinner however 'main meals' such as spaghetti bolegnase, jacket potatos, curry etc, were available on a rotation on different days.
i am a very fussy eater and even i ate something different everyday for 14 days.
the "street" on the way to the restaurant is awful at times. i would expect when it is busier it is easier to hide amongst other people but as you walk to eat, you are hassled by all the stallholders selling perfume (cheap nasty stuff, but trying to make you think its real and still flogging it for a tenner a bottle), toys and there is a little side street so you have all the owners of them trying to get you to go into their shop too. on the main street the only person i had a major problem with was the perfume guy. he kept hassling us every night, trying to sell us stuff we told him we didnt want and would follow us. he'd wrap stuff up and give it to us and tell us to bring the money later but we kept refusing.
the main shop there is also full of people who hassle you, although after we complained to our rep they did stop. as soon as you touch anything they come over and take the item and you to the till, wrap it up and start haggling with you. i had them chasing me down the street shouting lower prices than i said i *would* pay if i was going to buy it and then when we told them in the 2nd week that we had bought it cheaper elsewhere, he started lying to us and telling us we'd bought a dud item and that it was decoration only etc because he was in a strop that we didnt buy from him.
a lot of the stallholders have awful attitudes, but there are a few nice ones so dont be put off. i think the best stance would be to just ignore them if you aren't interested because as soon as you even say no thank you, they following you saying 'just one minute please' etc.
there are a few bag/purse/belt/shoe shops in the hotel, the one down the side street was better than 'sarah shop' outside the pool. we got a bag for me and a belt for my husband for 60dinar which is about £24, both real leather and lovely. another day we went back and bought a leather wallet and a purse for me and that was 45dinar so about £17/18, again, not bad.
we got a bad impression from the shoe shop to begin with as we told them we knew they were fake and he lied to us and said "no these ones are real, we have fakes" and he then had the cheek to get some 'fakes' and compare! after checking with the rep he told us they are all fake, so dont be fooled! literally nothing there is genuine. however we did get a pair of fake low top converse and some baby addida shoes for 70dinar, so about £28.
tip - only pay what you are willing. it sounds silly, but if they wont sell you it, you will know about it. stick to your guns, start with a price lower than you are willing to pay and play them at their own game (180dinar for a pair of shoes... not a chance.)
i got my hair braided the first full day we were there. i paid 80dinar (£32) for a full head braided. the woman doing it looked like she was annoyed constantly and cannot french braid properly. by a few days later i was using my husbands hair gel to pat down the wispy hair that had come out as it was so loose. i got told i could get it fixed the day before we went home, but when it came to it they wanted paying again, i ended up giving them 8dinar (about £3) to re do the top bits even thought it should have lasted properly.
me and my husband also had a 'turkish bath' which we only went to because i got a cold whilst we were there and the salesman for the spa said it would help. be warned, its nothing more than a steam room and is 10 dinar each (£4). you are just told to go in, they dont say how long for or anything.
we paid 30 dinar each (£12) for a henna. my husband had a scorpian and i had a hand design. he also wrote our names for free.mine started to go red and itchy so he gave us a new tube of cream to put on it. he touched them up the day before we left for free but both me and my husband have redness under the hennas now and it looks like it may cause a scar, so be warned as my husband had a patch test and it was ok. it is black henna they use. they guy who does them is lovely and friendly though.
kalim creations i think it is called. we bought 2 spin rings with our names in arabic on them and tunisia 2012 on the inside. it took a few days to come so if you are only there for 7 days, order them early. they are £32 each and solid silver. they are not hallmarked and they won't hallmark them, but they are guarenteed for 10 years and they give you a guarentee card. they have a book full of good testimonials and the owner is lovely and always said hello to us as we walked by.
the indoor pool is nice, temperature can change though. the roof is broken and one day there was a babies poo floating around in it...
- they had a kids club at night but this seemed to consist of a tom and jerry cartoon in arabic with french subtitles.
- i think they had a kids disco at some point every night but there wasnt many kids there when we were.
- they had different things on every night we were there, a quiz, a micheal jackson show, a grease show, best couple show, fakir show, light show, celtic show. the standard of these is questionable though. very amaturish.
there was darts, archery, mini golf, tennis to play and we never had a problem using any of this. darts and archery is on a timetable though. just show up and play at the set times and the animation team will help you.
the beach bar:
- full of flies, the food seems to be reheated when you order it and it can get very windy. nice for a change and a bit of peace and quiet.
- you will get asked if you want a pool mattress a lot, we just politley declined and they left us alone.
we went on the medina ramble, camel caravan and animal magic trips. medina ramble is the only one we wouldnt go on again as we only really went to get some shopping done safely but there was very little time for this. camel caravan you go to a set up of an arabic house and they show you how they make the bread and act out a arabic wedding with members of your party. its all very fun :) and you get to feed a camel some cactus. well worth the money. animal magic is a trip of the en friga zoo, its huge and got so many animals you can see close up. be warned, the zookeepers will ask for your camera, take close us pictures of the big cats and expect money when they give you the camera back. they are ungreatful too as i gave him all i had which was half a dinar, and he looked at it and gave me it back!
now a previous poster has mentioned the saturday nights. the first saturday we didnt notice any locals coming, however the 2nd saturday, our last night there, i dont think anyone could have not noticed them.
at tea time, it was like feeding time at the zoo. they are very rude people who pushed in, pushed you out of the way, were very loud and rowdy and everyone we spoke to had hardly any tea as they either gave us queuing or couldnt get to any food due to the locals. this didnt bother us as we got our food as soon as it opened (however it was still busy then).
the showbar was busier and a group of local disabled young adults were there and the animation team were very good with them and it was nice to see the dance floor full.
as it was our last night and we had to be up early to leave, we headed to bed around 11pm. we got all tucked up in bed and then the rowdiness started. a few doors down from us there were young adults with the doors open, drinking in the corridors, shouting and screaming, banging on peoples doors and kicking them. we left it for a few hours but at 2am i had to go down to reception and ask someone to tell them to quieten down. a member of staff came up but 10 minutes later they started again. this time my husband went down and one of the youths grabbed his arm and said something in arabic to him. my husband just told him he didnt know what he was saying and walked off. there were youths smoking in the lifts and fighting outside of the lift and my husband said other people were looking out of their doors to see what was going on.
we could hear a young man shouting at another guest through the door to f'ing open the door as he wanted cigrettes and we could hear her telling him to leave her alone but he just proceeded to kick the door and keep banging on it and shouting and swearing! bear in mind there are children and families in this hotel!
we were told security were dealing with the issue however half an hour later it was still going on so we called down to reception and were told the same thing, that security were sorting it.
eventually at 4am they stopped the noise.
our rep wasnt aware of what happened so came in at 7am to a wave of complaints as it was the entire hotel that could hear what was going on, not just our floor.
the hotel is apparently looking into what happened on the last night.
all in all, it was a really good holiday apart from the last night. i dont think we will go back as it is in the middle of nowhere and you need to get a taxi to the nearest town for any shopping outside of the hotel.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Near to Monastir and approx 12 km from Sousse (Skanes - Tunisia). Broad, fine sandy beach. 22.000 sq m of gardens. A childrens paradise. Short transfer. Plenty of action and entertainment. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Sahara Beach Hotel Monastir
- Iberostar Hotel Sahara Beach
- Iberostar Hotel Monastir
- Sahara Beach Hotel Tunisia