Well, how best to review and inform you of this nice new hotel? I wouldn't want to pull it to pieces, because it’s basically a very nice place, but I’d also hate for you to be unarmed and un-forewarned about where you’re heading for.
The hotel has only been open for a month, and it’s newness shines through in many ways; but not all of those are great! Everything is new and sparkly and all the better for that, but here are some things you need to look out for:
Location: unless you’re happy to stay in the hotel all week, or pay for taxis everywhere, you really do need a car. Not only is it a kilometre or more from anywhere (yes, anywhere, other than residential property), it’s also built into the side of a very steep hill, parts of which must be close to a 1:1 gradient. Our hire car, for example, albeit small, wouldn’t climb the hill in anything other than first gear.
Lack of information: we were left entirely to our own devices in working out what the hotel had to offer, where it was, how to use it, etc. This ranged from the parking (we unwittingly parked in the adjacent sport club car park all week as nobody told us that the hotel car park was separate) to watching everyone, including ourselves, walk through the main restaurant area in swimming costumes from the ground-floor pool every time we needed the lavatories, simply because there was no sign pointing out another set of well-concealed facilities right by the door to the pool. No information was available in the rooms other than restaurant opening times, so we had to guess at what might be possible, or ask, every time we wanted something. All they need to do is to give you a printed sheet in the bedrooms, and put some signs up around the hotel. It’s not a big ask.
The staff: almost all the staff were happy, friendly, and smiley. However, it was fairly obvious that only a very small proportion of them had ever worked in the service or entertainment sector. Many of them simply hadn’t a clue how to fulfill the most basic functions (such as serving drinks!), and if you pushed them even slightly, they got huffy. The hotel was very quiet during our stay, but even with only 5 tables occupied in the self-service restaurant, the two waiting staff were running around like ants, looking incredibly flustered, and asking us to wait for drinks, as they were “very busy”. I dread to think what it’ll be like on a busy evening/week unless they up their staff levels and include some with experience.
The facilities: If you look at the hotel’s website, you’ll see a vast array of facilities available to the guests. Except….they’re not. Well, not all of them. That lovely pool which you can see from the balcony shot where a lady is sitting in her complimentary bathrobe? Yes, it’s there….but you can’t use it! It belongs to the sports club and is off limits to the hotel guests unless you pay some absurd surcharge (€31/day, I heard). There is also, apparently, an “exclusive” beach club for hotel guests. Bear in mind though that the hotel shuttle (aka Wally Trolley, aka Tourist Train) will drop you in the vague vicinity of this place, but not tell you where or how to get to it. You have to work that out for yourself when you get there, it seems. Better perhaps to use one of the many alternative, and cheaper, beach areas, where you can rent the same sunbeds and the same parasols for less. And don't trust the times for the train which reception give you. They're wrong! (and we have the missed journeys to prove it!)
At the hotel, there are sunbeds around the lovely infinity pool on the roof, and more by the other pool in the Palm Garden. Be aware however that there is NO shade in the Palm Garden, neither fixed nor portable, other than a small number of beds under a ledge. The entire area gets very very hot in the afternoon, so unless you’re impervious to extreme heat or to the invasion of the dreaded melanoma, you’ll need somewhere else to hide. There simply aren’t enough, appropriate sunbathing facilities for a full hotel (where you can’t walk to the beach). We watched people queuing for beds over the weekend.
We experienced a few teething troubles with our room (leaking shower, blown light bulbs, aircon not working, and more) and most of these were fixed fairly quickly, although it did take us 4 attempts and a strop in the reception area to get the balcony light fixed. Given the newness of the hotel, we were happy to put this down to an overdue snagging list; until the hot water failed, for several hours. Guys, that’s SO 1970s!
Just one last point. Before we set off, we read somewhere that there were irons and ironing boards available, so we didn’t bother standing in front of the TV at home pressing clothes which we were only going to crush into a holdall. However, we were wrong. There are no irons, ironing boards, or ironing facilities available to guests. But hey, look on the bright side. They’ll do the ironing for you! And it’s only €5.30 a shirt!!
Overall, it’s almost lovely. Some small, and easily-achieved, attention to detail and some honesty on the website would put this place completely back on the right track.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- DoubleTree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higueron is located near Malaga and Marbella, Spain, vibrant cities on the Costa del Sol. This private resort is in a tranquil area with stunning sea and mountain views, and is exclusively for adults 16 years or older. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel Resort & Spa Reserva Del Higueron Fuengirola, Costa Del Sol, Spain