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“Great Tunisian break” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Kantaoui Bay

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Kantaoui Bay
Ranked #1 of 33 Hotels in Port El Kantaoui
Middlesbrough
Level Contributor
51 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Great Tunisian break”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2013

Just returned from a one week all inc holiday and had a fantastic time. The rooms where large and spacious, food was great and had a good choice, all areas were clean and well maintained. What makes the hotel stand out from the others is the staff, they are fantastic! I can't praise them enough. Beers and wine were of decent quality but I couldn't stomach the spirits

Areas for improvement:
The entertainment was simply terrible, the worst I have seen. Make sure to carry a knife out of the restaurant the evening the "live singer" is on and either chuck it at him or self harm, which ever you prefer.

The animation team need to get some imagination, very poor poolside games for any teenagers or the young at heart.

Beware of the male member of the animation team with the woven hair, he is very creepy around young women, we caught him outside fumbling with a guest on one occasion and was pestering some of the young male guests to bring girls back to the hotel from the one next door.

The spa was worth a trip, was decent value at £30 for almost 2 hours but the prices were steadily increasing as the hotel gets more busy. The reception staff were miserable as sin and hard work.

Advice:
Port el kantoe is dead as a door nail but worth a visit on a sunny afternoon to sit have a bite to eat and a beer or two looking at some nice boats. Beers are no more than £2 and a steak or decent seafood dish is about £8. We made the mistake of going one evening and out of all the places to eat, and there are many, we only seen one couple eating which put us off. It might be the time of year.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Dave P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Date | Rating
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English first
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
90 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2013 via mobile

As I say, it was very nearly perfect. I have lots of great things to say about this place! The hotel is excellent - very clean, well decorated, well equipped room and very friendly, helpful staff! The beach is beautiful! The spa was very nice, with good deals offered.The food in the restaurant is a good standard for all inclusive. There are fresh food stands in the main restaurant, with lots of variety and most dishes were very tasty. There is also a Tunisian theme restaurant (which in winter months certainly) is open on Tuesday nights. We were not made aware of this fact which was disappointing as we missed our chance to go.
Some of the other negatives include: dinner is in two sittings 6-7.30 and 8-9.30. We found these timings a bit awkward as normally we would go for dinner around 7 and eat leisurely. The reason they do this is because the dining room is quite small. This was proved to be true every lunchtime when the place was a bit manic. I would recommend going for lunch before 12.50 as afterwards it is very busy and you will have to wait for a table.
Another negative is that the hotel is situated away from the resort of port el Kantaoui - about a 45 minute walk along the beach or along the road. Not great if you want to go exploring.
A piece of advice - change your money little and often as it costs to turn back into pounds which you must do before you leave the country.
We travelled with Thomson, and I was very impressed with the flights and transfers.
All in all, an excellent weeks holiday!

Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
3 Thank MrsMcDredge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Camel, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
20 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 1, 2013

Great holiday in the sun away from dreary England for a week. All inclusive was nice not to have to think about what to do and where to go. Further from the town than we expected - 45 minute walk along the beach. Nice room (281) overlooking the pool and with a view of the sea and the beach. All staff were really friendly and couldn't do enough for you - tipping is the norm of course. Was the start of the season and still a couple of months before the Tunisian summer so you have to make allowances for that as some things like the beach bar are not open yet. Entertainment was ok but not spectacular but again may be different in the Summer. Very clean and tidy hotel and grounds and the Spa is worth spoiling yourself. We did the Three Cities trip which was an early start and a whole day out - good trip but got back about 7 where the rep said it would get back at 4.30pm - ok if you're on the later dinner sitting. Room was nice and big with no issues. Beware the 30% surcharge to change money back at the airport - we weren't warned and it did upset people who still had lots of Dinar. Change your money in the hotel a few pounds at a time and try not to have anything left before you leave. Overall a good relaxing holiday in the sun !

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Martin S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 30, 2013

This hotel is nice and we had a great time, but it should not be rated a five star. It just didn't meet that standard.

The room was very nice and the bed was possibly the comfiest I've ever slept in, at home or abroad. We didn't have a sea view but as we got the sun on our 'mountain view' balcony when it was shady by the pool in the late afternoon we were very happy with it.

There are only a few English speaking tv channels but they had some good films on. The hairdryer in the bathroom saves packing one and it works well, not like some less powerful ones you get in hotels. You don't get a kettle but you do get a fridge which has some soft drinks in when you arrive, but you have to ask at reception for it to be restocked. There is a free safe but it's quite small and won't fit an iPad or laptop inside. The maids were brilliant and kept it very clean.

The pool area was nice, however I imagine it's very busy in the peak season as most of the sunbeds were being used in late March. There are self service drinks machines, including a beer pump, near the pool and they are good but you have to try and dodge the wasps to get a drink. It's like a challenge off I'm a celebrity get me out of here. It's fun watching the other guests flap their arms about.

The food wasn't five star and it's quite the same each evening but it should suit most tastes. The main complaint we had was due to aTunisian national holiday in the middle weekend of our stay. The restaurant was packed with guests and no noticeable difference in staffing levels. People were queueing and the chefs could not cope with demand for some dishes. Some people chose not to queue and pushed in. The waiter did not even manage to fill our glasses as he was running round clearing plates. This resulted in lots of angry guests.

All the facilities weren't open as it wasn't classed as peak season so a lot of people were cramped in one bar. The hotel would have been lucky to get a three star rating if the inspectors visited that weekend. It was so frustrating we ate out in the local port to avoid the madness the following day. The hotel tried to make a few quid that weekend, and they possibly did, but they've lost our future business. It went calm again from Sunday evening when a lot of the weekend guests left but it had already taken the shine off our stay.

We got an awful prickly heat rash from cheap sun cream we bought in the hotel shop so try and avoid it if you can. As soon as we swapped cream to a more expensive one, also bought from the same shop, we were fine again.

I'd recommend the hotel if you get a good deal and there is no national holiday - but don't pay five star prices as you won't get a five star hotel.


Outside the hotel.

Outside the hotel, there is a row of shops and restaurants only a five minute walk away.

The local port is a 40 minute slow walk away and worth a look. You can also get there by taxi and it's only five dinnar, just more than £2.

If you get a taxi make sure you agree the price before you travel. You'll need change as the drivers claim not to have any. You'll also pay more to come back depending on the time, but they were cheap and efficient.

When in the port you will get lots of hassle, shop keepers and waiters trying to drag you into their premises. You get used to it after a few minutes. Some even claim they are the chef from your hotel or they work where you are staying but don't believe them. They know what hotel you are in from the all inclusive band on your arm.

If you do go in a shop don't be frightened to haggle. Usually about half the asking price is good place to start. Some shop owners start by saying the government sets the prices but we still managed to knock them down. I have heard there are official shops where the government does actually set the prices but I didn't come across any in the port.

Avoid El Banefrei (I think that's the correct spelling) which is a bar/restaurant next to China Garden, near the fountains . The food menu is cheap but the drinks prices aren't on display and the waiter hit us with a more expensive bill than expected. Before we were about to pay he put a flower in my girlfriends hair. I paid but didn't leave a tip due to the price and the fact we waited 55minutes for our food to arrive. He walked up to me and shouted in my face as he thought he deserved a tip. I've never had an experience like this anywhere in the world. Later on he saw us near the fountain and came over to try and patch things over as he'd calmed down by then - but the damage was done.

From speaking to people in the hotel, apparently it is a tactic to not advertise drinks prices and hit people with more expensive bills than they expect. I'd advise you only drink in the places that advertise prices or double check before ordering. We only encountered the problem once so it can't be too bad, although we were cautious after the first experience.

If you do fancy a meal out try Miami, a restaurant in the strip of shops near the hotel. It was so good we went back twice.

Overall It's a nice place to stay so give it a try if you get a good deal but don't pay brochure prices.

  • Stayed March 2013
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Adam H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 28, 2013 via mobile

We went here for two weeks and it was our last holiday on our own before we had our little one.. First of all if you are pregnant do not go here you get looked at like you are carrying an alien this pretty much ruin my holiday I didn't feel at all comfortable as people would just stare at me.. The food was the same every day and it wasn't the tastiest food.. The staff were extremely friendly and the entertainment well watching paint dry would have been a lot more exciting.. Activities during the day were very good plenty of variety but beware of the French with bowls they think they own the joint.. We spent 2 weeks here and wished we only stayed a week to say we had done it.. As for things to do around the hotel next to nothing and the taxi drivers are extremely intimidating...

  • Stayed September 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Becky1006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
great dunmow
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 26, 2013

Just came back from this lovely hotel where we stayed 10 nights. Hotel location is very good, right on the white sandy beach, loved it. Our room was massive with a sea view balcony. Big bathroom, funny tap location in the bath, not suitable for shower tho. Toilet was separately from the bathroom.
The weather was just perfect, not too hot but enough to get my beautiful tan :)
Only 2 restaurants in this hotel, not too sure in the season that's enough for everyone, but it was ok in preseason. Food variety wasn't the best, 2-3 different dishes the most were always the same, but still enjoyed the cooked food 3x a day. Very friendly staff they are really do their best to make everybody happy. The hotel manager came to the welcome meeting in the hotel which made me very impressed as we travel a lot but never met managers on any welcome meetings.
The last 2 days loads of Tunisian families came with their kids, ruining the peaceful hotel's atmosphere. But overall I would recommend this hotel to everyone. Best holiday I had in a last few years.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Szabina N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DOVER
Level Contributor
153 reviews
50 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 336 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 25, 2013

Have just returned from an 11 night winter/spring sun AI stay at the RIU Imperial Marhaba in Port El Kantaoui. Our first visit to Tunisia and our third experience of the RIU brand in the last 2 years.

Generalistion:-
In general terms a very relaxed and enjoyable chill-out holiday in a superb, quiet seafront location conforming with the parameters of the RIU product model and international 5 star rating of the facilities provided at the hotel. The immediate surrounding area was occupied by other competing hotels of 4/5* ratings. Immediately next door was the RIU Bellevue Marhaba 4* hotel that guests could use/share facilities if so desired.

First Impressions:-
Set in lovely landscaped grounds, complimented with fountains and water features a stunning open hotel design with marbled and chandelier-ed central atrium with 4 glass lifts serving the four upper floors greets you. The reception, main bar area and shops are all annexed to the impressive atrium. Reception check in was very slick and efficient and completed by very friendly and helpful Tunisian staff. Room allocation and formalities were super efficient.

Accommodation:-
272 room modern hotel offering large standard rooms, all with balconies and a variety of optional upgrade alternatives. We had a third floor room facing the sea with sunshine early in the morning on our balcony. Land side rooms had afternoon/evening sun. Rooms were to standard RIU fit-out, comfortable and tastefully furnished, with bathroom and separate toilet facilities. A hand wash facility in the toilet would have been helpful. All rooms are fitted as standard with fridge and safe at no extra charge. Bottled water and soft drinks are replenished daily. For those guests wishing to have their early morning 'cuppa' take your own kettle. They are not provided. Flat-screen satellite TV is fitted with limited English channels as is a direct dial telephone. Free wi-fi is available throughout the hotel. From personal bad experience, a word of warning. Do ensure you are connected correctly to the Hotel free wi-fi service. Direct internet connection is charged at £5 per Mb of usage. Mistakenly, I thought I had connected properly, only to find I had run up a £35 bill in the first day!!! Mobile charges are also among the highest in the world - £1.70/minute making calls, £0.80/minute receiving. Texts are similarly expensive.

Facilities:-
The Hotel offers all the facilities required to qualify for 5* international rating. External pools for adults and children alike but only main pool in use for the time of year. Superb Indoor heated pool with adjoining well equipped gym, sauna and changing rooms.
Facilities for sports were excellent - tennis, french boules, mini-football, darts, table tennis etc.,etc. Kids Club, conference facilities, auditorium for entertainment and a full-time in-house animation team provide daily activities programme and evening entertainment in association with other musicians.
An absolutely fabulous spa is available to guests offering just about every conceivable therapy or treatment in existence.
An in-house hairdresser and beauty therapist is also available for guest use.
Similarly, a comprehensive shop is on site offering a full range of products, souvenirs and gifts.

Food and Restaurant Service:-
One main buffet restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner services as per the RIU model.
Understandably, there is a bias towards Tunisian cuisine although it should be said the food on offer at all services was plentiful, well varied and prepared to a high standard. Show cooking stations offered comprehensive hot alternatives of meat, fish, pizza and pasta dishes. Surprisingly, as Tunisia is predominantly an Islamic nation, pork appeared on a regular basis throughout our stay. A well stocked cold counter also provided alternatives to the hot offerings in a truly wonderful array of salad dishes. Soup, cheese and vegetarian options were also available in addition at all sittings. A separate bakery counter provided a superb array of freshly baked bread products. Desserts, ice cream and fresh fruit were also all on offer. I find it unbelievable that any guest should go hungry, fussy or otherwise!
An a'la carte, waiter service Tunisian restaurant is available by pre-booking for Tuesday night as an alternative dining option to the main buffet. Fab-u-lous!!! Our favourite meal of our stay - don't miss it!
Additional a'la carte options are available during the summer. Chinese and fish specialty I believe, only available by pre-booking.
Similarly, the beach snack bar normally operates in the summer season but not during the winter months.

Bars & Drinks:-
One main bar adjacent to the atrium serving locally produced alcohol on AI basis. Being Islamic state, allowance has to be made for the local culture and anti-alcohol feeling. Localized drinking not unpleasant experience but spirits certainly not up to full strength. Beer was Tunisian brewed in lager form and quite pleasant. Bar service from waiters and staff excellent throughout.
Adults only promenade bar opened on our last night certainly quieter and more enjoyable.
Pool bar attended self-service, more in keeping with other RIU outlets.
Unusually, restaurant's drinks service by waiter only, offering locally produced wines, beer and water. Previous RIU establishments visited were on self-service basis.

Location:-
The immediate local area of Port El Kantaoui a modern and upmarket marina resort with a wealth of bars, shops, attractions and restaurants in walking distance along the beach (45-60 minutes) or in a cheap, government owned yellow taxi ride (5 Dinar/£2.25-10 minutes). Clearly, less traditional but very attractive and modern Tunisia will be found here in direct contrast to the traditional country.
More adventurous visits can be made to the city of Sousse. Home of traditional Tunisian culture and character with fine examples of historic architecture and the traditional 'Medina'. A 10 Dinar/£4.50 - 35 minute yellow taxi ride from the hotel is the easiest way to get there. A visit is a must for the shopaholic guest who thrives on 'bartering' for the deal. A strong will and a mindset to ignore the intimidatory tactics of the stall/shop traders is a must!!! Remember, it is all fake, home produced and copied merchandise, cheap as chips, or should be providing you strike the best deal!.

Conclusion:-
This is a superb holiday location and establishment for a good introduction to Tunisia from the Thomson Platinum brochure. Clearly the service and facilities will be totally different in high season. Both RIU and Thomson Platinum are family friendly concepts and all things equal the RIU Imperial Marhaba Hotel should meet the relevant criteria throughout the high season.
However, out of season, is a different entity. Trying to combine customer culture, 'family fun' and 'childless chill-out couples' with reduced services and running costs will not work. Clearly demonstrated in the last week. Discounted selling attracted local family custom and may well have put 'bodies in beds', but at a price. Without elevating the services (incurring extra cost) to match the higher occupancy levels, pro-rata to higher season service, weakness in the 'overall operation' were inevitable. This was unfortunately the case in the latter part of our stay. Customer satisfaction plummeted in the last few days as a result of the hotel's inability to properly cope with the level of guest intake in relation to the purported service expected from a 5* establishment. I hope this was a 'one-off' incident. We would like to return but are a little reluctant as a result of the combined effects of unruly children and drop off in service as a result. Please review your discounting procedure RIU. Happy to discuss further.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
24 Thank Grumpy-3G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Kantaoui Bay

Property: Kantaoui Bay
Address: Port El Kantaoui 4089, Tunisia (Formerly Riu Imperial Marhaba)
Location: Tunisia > Sousse Governorate > Port El Kantaoui
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 Spa Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 Family Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
#1 Luxury Hotel in Port El Kantaoui
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:5 star — Kantaoui Bay 5*
Number of rooms: 366
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
* Partially renovated in winter 2007/8 * 3 km from Port El Kantaoui * Located on the beach * Complimentary sun loungers and parasols on the beach * 5-story building * 14 km from the center of Sousse * 200 m from various shops * 23 km from Monastir airport * 200 m from a bus stop * Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Visa, Amex ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Imperial Marhaba

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