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“Lost its direction with customers”

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PortAventura Hotel El Paso
Ranked #35 of 93 Hotels in Salou
Reviewed July 31, 2013

This was my third visit to El Paso and to be honest I echo most of the recent reviews and believe the disappointed ones. It certainly has lost its connection with the people and become money orientated. I stayed there 16th to the 27th July with my wife and son. Months ago I emailed asking for a room with a pool view, and mentioned my email request when we checked in. It was greeted by a blank eerie look from the reception person and was asked "are you sure you sent it"....I couldn't believe she actually said that. She said sorry there are no rooms overlooking the pool because of availability.

We were directed to room 1011 and when getting to the room it looked OK until I opened the curtains to find it was right next to about 50 people sitting on chairs next to a courtyard bar where the maze used to be. Kids were running around screaming and shouting. Once the lights were on it was like being on a stage and we were the act I had just opened the curtains and everyone turned around....As well as that, the air conditioning did not work. So without opening the cases we trundled back to reception, cases and all. I explained about the room had no privacy, was like being like a peep show, and the A/C was not working. The reception miraculously found another room in block 5. Once again we trundled over to it, opened it up to a very dank musty smell. I was better than 1011, but noticed there were holes in the cupboard where the safe was…. Again I contacted reception to complain about the lack of safe. “You can put your belongings in our safe in reception” I thought she was joking. Everyone gets in their safe about three or four times a day, and I didn’t want to queue up every time I wanted something so again I demanded another room. So again we trundled back to reception cases and all. Third time lucky we managed to get another room in block 4 which was smelly, but better than the other two.

I have no complaints about the quality of the food, other than the Butlin’s type queues which were often long with people holding plates which made me feel like I was in a queue for a soup kitchen. This was also the same for the bars, which were often closed at times where they should be open. I suspect they do this to stop people drinking. They were also situated far away from where you sometimes wanted to be, such as reception, where I had to walk quite a way to get a drink. Why oh why don’t they have a soft drinks dispenser like in La Maya to help eliminate queues. The pool bar also served as an ice cream station so if you wanted a drink, you also had to compete with 10 kids wanting ice cream. The kids were not the problem, it was just another delaying tactic by the hotel to keep the queues big and slow down the alcohol being served…..Why, to save money of course.

After watching firework displays guests often return to the hotel thirsty, only to find the water machine is empty, and the bars are closed….How convenient. As I pointed out this hotel penny pinches with veiled underhanded tactics aimed at saving money. El Paso get some soft drink dispensers for gods sake to reduce the queues at the bar.

I saw people putting towels on loungers at midnight….YES MIDNIGHT. You had to get up very early to get a lounger by putting towels on it, because if you didn’t you would not get one, simple. On one occasion my towels were stolen and the loungers were removed by somewhere else. Mexican/Spanish music was belted out of speakers around 8:30 each morning, so forget any lie-ins.
Entertainment was poor to say the least, so most nights we walked to the Solaris Palace to watch theirs which consisted of various acts and tribute bands.
I can only echo that the park is a saving grace and agree with fellow travellers sentiments. Rides were great; weather was brilliant, shows awesome.

I do believe El Paso has lost its mojo. I was there 2003 and 2006, and feel that now its all inclusive, quality has gone down hill.

Will I return… I doubt it. I cant fault the Theme Park, but I can fault the hotel.

Room Tip: Get your towels on the loungers at the crack of dawn. Dont use the hotel ones or they will get nicke...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Everton1995
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 31, 2013

This was our third trip to El Paso, the Hotel has not changed over the last few years with the staff being helpful and Polite, the hotel is kept clean and tidy however location to the Theme Park and unlimited access is its biggest and best asset.
The food falls far below the 4 star rating and in our opinion has fallen over the last few years having become repetitive and of poor quality at times, only two bars open most of the time, tired rooms with very hard beds and the towel system that gave you no chance of enjoying the pool have now come into force. We even noticed certain drinks, ice creams and your discount on the water park have now changed to become more expensive.
Tip is to buy the express tickets at the hotel 40% cheaper than the park and saves you from the 30 - 90 minute waits for the rides.
The theme park has three good thrill rides but apart from this has not really changed over the last 10 years from our first visit, unlike the hotel staff in the park were we found staff not polite and rude.
In all the hotel has dropped dramatically in our opinion over the years , now relying on its excellent location rather than its quality.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Tom A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2013

As with all reviews, gripes are somewhat subjective, so what annoyed us may not be an issue for you and vice-versa...

The El Paso hotel is large and very clean. The staff, on the whole, are very pleasant and attentive; you get the odd moody so-and-so on reception, but in general the staff "on the shop floor" were exemplary.

The food is pretty good; every other day the buffet has a themed night; we went to both the Italian and Chinese nights, the former being very good the latter less so - that said, even if you aren't a fan of the evening's themed meal there is still plenty of other food types on offer as an alternative.

The all inclusive aspect is great for the kids and the beer lovers; from 12pm the poolside bar serves salad, sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, toasties, pizza, ice cream, slush and soft drinks on tap.

However, of the four bars in the complex only two are open for the day; one opens for soft drinks at 10am, the other at 12pm. The inclusive food starts at 12pm. If you are near the lobby (where there is free Wifi access) despite being next to two bars you must walk to the pool area to get a drink.

The pool is fabulous, just the right temperature and always spotless - however, the sun loungers, oh my lord, despite snotty letters being shoved under the doors reminding guests that "reserving" sun loungers was not allowed I challenge anyone post 8:30am to get a couple of them! There was a woeful shortage of loungers in relation to the number of guests and every day lots of cross people were complaining at reception. How bad is it? On our final day we were up at 6am for an early flight home - our room walks us across the length of the pool area and at 6am a good 70% of the loungers had been covered in towels already!

For what was an expensive holiday, the room was disappointing - we had a room for two adults and two children - it basically contained a double bed and the most heinous sofa bed imaginable. It also came with a balcony; and by balcony I mean a five foot by three foot plinth; not exactly something you could sit out on at night to chill and cool down.

Talking of cooling down, my number one bug bear was the air conditioning in the room; a two foot vent at the top of the room with all the power of a hand fan didn't have a snowballs chance in hell of keeping the room cool at night - even leaving one of your key cards active in the room all evening (so the aircon doesn't switch off) left the room warm.

Of course, you don't spend a lot of your time in the room, so your mileage may vary.

The entertainment was very hit and miss; the stuff for the kids was great; the girl that ran the mini disco, water aerobics, tai-chi and pool side games (note; one girl - she was worked ragged) - was always happy and enthusiastic and the kids (and let's face it, the Dad's too) loved her. The adult entertainment, with the exception of the Monday quiz night (which was a blast) was bordering on the worst of Britain's Got Talent.

The high point undoubtedly is the access to Port Aventura - as fans of the Disney parks we were really impressed with how good the park was; it was clean, reasonably priced, with some brilliant adrenalin rides and shows for the kids. We went a few times at around 4pm and the queues were unbelievably small - the longest wait we had was 20 minutes for one of the water rides - I've never experienced a park with so many multi-million pound rides with literally no wait time - despite the park being rammed. No idea how they get the throughput on the rides but in the July heat it was appreciated and meant we rode everything on the park at least a couple of times.

The staff aren't quite in the same league as the "cast members" of Disney and there's graffiti and (strangely) bubble gum planted all over the place in the queue lanes (!) - that said, it's a close second to a Disney park and we can't wait to go to the parks again.

Location wise the Hotel is a bit "out of the way" - as there's only one shop in the hotel (and that is 95% Port Aventura merchandise) you have a good 15 minute walk to a rather desolate industrial estate to reach the nearest supermarket. The centre of Salou (which is a lovely, lovely place) is a good 30 minute walk, but the Hotel puts on a free coach six times a day and you can always jump on the "little train" that treks around Salou all day long for 3 euros for an adult and 1.50 for children.

Because of it being out of the way the Hotel could really do with a little shop where you can buy a paper, some munchies and drinks - why drinks you ask when it's all inclusive? Well, you see, you can't get a soft drink in the Hotel until 10am when the pool bar opens (or 12pm for alcohol) and again as soon as the firework display ends so do the inclusive drinks so should you want a drink after that you're out of luck.

All in all, the theme park was excellent, the food was good, the pool was good, but considering the five star cost I expected a five star experience and I don't believe that is what we got.

It has HUGE potential, but needs to address some of its flaws.

Room Tip: Rooms near the back end of the poolside are A LOT quieter then rooms around the main lobby where the...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Paulie68000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2013

I stayed here for a week with my Son and my Mum (21st -28th Jul 2013). We had very high expectations as we had stayed at the Portaventura Hotel in October last year and thought it was of a very high standard.
I will start with the positives. The staff in the hotel are the best we have known for a long time. Very friendly and helpful. Always a smile and a hello, they couldn't be faulted! Also our rep Gemma (Thomas Cook) was lovely and would do anything to help. She advised us that you can use the pools of all the other Portaventura hotels during your stay (which is great when you read my review of the pool!). The drinks were of a high standard and the measures were strong!
Now onto the negatives. The pool area is awful. Towels put on sunbeds before 7am, not enough space or loungers for the amount of people staying there. The pool bar was dirty and felt dinghy. Unfortunately it seemed most people spent all day there or around the pool. We did not use the pool once but did go to Hotel Caribe which was much nicer and quieter.
The rooms are not as good as Hotel Portaventura and we were on the 5th floor with no balcony so couldn't sit out or dry any wet items. The lifts were small, hot and smelly at times! But walking up and down 5 flights of stairs was hard to do on a daily basis.
The food was ok. A bit repetitive but that is to be expected. Chips for breakfast is just not acceptable though! The queues for food got too long by the end of the holiday but we were not sure what everyone was queueing for!
The bars were not open enough, with 2 of the bars closed until 5pm at peak season.
Overall we had a great holiday but that was because of the Theme Park and Aqua Park (which are both outstanding!), Salou is lovely especially the beach!
We would not stay here again or any other all inclusive as unfortunately I think they attract a different clientele. We will be back to Portaventura next year and will hopefully stay at Gold River or Caribe.

Room Tip: Avoid rooms on the 5th Floor!
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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4  Thank ilovespain1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2013

Our experience mirrors Clarabella 1978's comments. I think she has been generous giving the hotel a 3! The El Paso has a lot of potential but the all-inclusive is vastly inferior, compared with previous experiences at a similar cost. During our stay we spoke to a couple of families who had previously been to this hotel. They commented on the decline in service and provisions, as well as further restrictions imposed on the all inclusive aspects within the hotel and the PortAventura Park, in comparison to the previous year.

The worst aspect is the bar service, which stops immediately after the fireworks display at PortAventura. Many residents, including ourselves returned to the El Paso after the parade and fireworks and were unable to obtain even a cold non-alcoholic drink, which is nonsense, considering the heat during the height of summer. There are 4 bars, 2 of which are pool side. Club Maia bar operated from 10.30 providing snacks and drinks.The other poolside bar operated from 12.00 noon providing drinks and ice cream (some flavours of ice cream you need to pay a supplement for). Should you decide to sit by in the shade nearer the hotel reception, (where you can access free Wi-Fi) then be prepared to walk to the poolside for a drink. Despite the fact there are 2 other bars, 1 in the court yard outside reception and 1 up by the restaurant which do not operate until 5pm, making the all inclusive as restrictive as possible!

Food overall was good. There was a good variety of food on offer which varied most evenings. In addition there were hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets or pizza ever night for kids. Queues were starting to build during our 2nd week as the hotel got busier, which coincides with the start of the English holidays.

Be prepared to get up early to acquire your sun loungers. There were towels everywhere!Furthermore, there is not enough loungers for the whole complex!.

The hotel entertainment is very poor. We were anticipating a good entertainment programme and were very disappointed. The shows are inferior and repetitive, with the exception of the magic show and the quiz night. Communication with reception staff was also very poor, with some false promises! We encountered problems with our safe and air conditioning which resulted in a move to a different room. Furthermore, the beds were hard and uncomfortable.
The hotel location is great for access to the PortAventura Park, however there is nothing else nearby!. However the hotel does provide a shuttle bus down to Salou and back 3 times a day. In addition there is transport frequently from the park down to Salou beach and shops for 9 euros for 2 adults and 2 kids.The hotel could benefit from a shop, as the supermarket is a good 15 minute walk away in a rather unpopulated area.

The unlimited access to the PortAventura Park is without doubt the highlight of the holiday. The park mirrors Disney's Epcot park on a smaller scale. The park's bubble show and bird show were fantastic.

All in all, this was a very disappointing hotel, which failed to live up to expectations and did not in any way justify the considerable expenditure.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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2  Thank mark m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PA_PortAventura, PortAventura at PortAventura Hotel El Paso, responded to this reviewResponded August 2, 2013

We regret that your experience in our resort wasn’t satisfactory for you. We’d like to remind you that the opening times of bars and restaurants are advertised in every platform in the park. Regarding the hotel activities, we have a varied and wide proposal of them all over the day, mostly in the afternoon and evening. In addition, the hotel clients have unlimited access to the theme park during their complete staying and they can enjoy the more than 100 shows that are daily performed there. Please, don’t hesitate in contacting our Customer Service by calling to 00 34 977 77 90 90 in case you have further questions or comments.

Regards, PortAventura.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2013

I too was a bit apprensive about this hotel based on previous reviews however we were pleasantly surprised. Arrived at 10.30 am and our room was ready, nice big and airey in the main hotel block overlooking bar area. Pool is lovely and not too cold at all, very clean and staff always walking round picking up your litter, kids entertainment in day could be a bit better but my 8 year old made lots of friends so it wasnt too much of a problem. Food in all restaurants was excellent with plenty of choice and variety, staff all very helpful. My only gripe about the food was having to choose your breakfast slot for the whole week which gives you a 15 min window, would have preferred this to be more flexible however it means you dont have to queue too long. Short walk to park is good and also the little free train. Make sure you dont get on the salou one by mistake as thats not free! One tip also is although there are plenty of loungers round the pool you still need to get up about 7am to reserve them with your towel. We also didnt buy fast passes as queues in theme park not that long, especially in the evening although we went 15 july, it was starting to get busy towards the end of our stay. Would definetly go to this hotel again, excellent value for money.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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3  Thank GSAH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2013

Just returned from a week long stay and had a great time, but if you've never been before, these are the things you'll need to know:

The rooms appear to have been newly painted, so despite a complete refurb scheduled for next year, the rooms are in good shape.

You will have to get up early to claim a sunbed (especially one with shade). I would therefore suggest booking with a company that offers afternoon fights (we travelled with Jet2 holidays for this reason). You can't check into your room until 4.00pm, so without a sunbed it can be a bit miserable.

I think I read somewhere that the all inclusive finishes at 11.00 on your check out day, but this isn't the case.

Dinner is served between 6.30 and 10.30, so no need to worry if you're on a later flight.

El Cayote restaurant was actually quite good.

When you check in you'll be asked to pick a time slot for breakfast. Don't worry about this too much as you won't be prevented from going for breakfast at any time.

If you go to the water park, you can get a free starter, main, dessert and drink per person from Regae Cafe and Focaccia Cafe.

The same applies at Bora Bora, Jeramia's and La Catina in the Port Aventura Park.

The Express passes are well worth 49 euros per person. They get you straight to the front of the queue and last for the entire duration of your stay. They don't work on the smaller rides, but there wasn't much of a queue for those rides anyway.

There's no kids' club for some reason, but there are plenty of activities for the kids. The show at night wasn't as good as I'd remembered, but the shows in the park are fantastic as always.

Room Tip: Avoid the main hotel building if you want a quieter room.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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5  Thank helloson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about PortAventura Hotel El Paso

Address: Rambla del Parc s/n | PortAventura Resort, 43840 Salou, Spain
Location: Spain > Catalonia > Province of Tarragona > Costa Dorada > Salou
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#25 Luxury Hotel in Salou
Price Range: $172 - $448 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — PortAventura Hotel El Paso 4*
Number of rooms: 501
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Just an hour from Barcelona, El Paso offers a "All Inclusive" designed for families, from which you can enjoy both the hotel and the park PortAventura. The hotel recreates a traditional Mexican hacienda with authentic Aztec decor. The spectacular gardens and the friendly treatment of its people will make you leave behind the stress of everyday life and delve into the beauty of colonial Mexico, just a few minutes from the gates of PortAventura Park.Tumbate really huge pool and relax in comfortable chairs while you impregnate all the excitement of the exotic and extreme comfort of Hotel El Paso. Your children will have fun playing in their pools.And nothing better for fun swimming around a sunken galleon in full pool! Structured in different buildings around a central gardens and crystal blue pools. In our restaurants, savor the best Mexican cuisine and will have espectaculos.Las colorful colonial-style rooms are ideal for a family stay, surrounded by gardens create an atmosphere of serenity and relaxation. Ideal for after hours fun dive into adventure at PortAventura Park break, as tickets are included in the price of your stay! In 2015 the 20th anniversary of the opening of doors PortAventura is met and to celebrate in style with family, friends or partner, we expect you to live unforgettable moments. This year PortAventura presents the new how will offer its Soleil Cirque in the Resort, Amaluna. Furthermore, in 2016 Ferrari Land will open in Europe PortAventura resot to offer a real race track, the highest and most rapid vertical accelerator in Europe and the first luxury hotel themed for the first time in the history of the Ferrari brand, including other surprises. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Paso At Portaventura Hotel
Hotel El Paso

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