We travelled to the Bonaire for 11 nights from 3rd to 14th September with our two young girls, aged 3.5 years and 10 months. This was our second trip here having had such a fantastic time last year. Back then all I could find were endless 5/5 reviews. The consistency seems a little different this year. I don't think the hotel has gone downhill in any way, I just think that this type of hotel (or rather the Thomson influence on it) will not suit everyone. We would never go there if we didn't have children, but they absolutely love the place, with good reason, so we have learnt to embrace the madness! It is not a peaceful relaxing haven and is not aimed at people wanting that kind of holiday. Sensatori with its adult-only areas may be better suited to families who want something a bit quieter.
Check-in at Gatwick, as always with Thomson, was awful. We queued for 1.5 hours to check in having arrived 2.5 hours early for our flight, leaving us very little time to get through security and grab something to eat, let alone do any shopping. Why they have to check every single Thomson flight in at the same desks I do not know. It did little to calm the annoyance when they proceeded to open the desks opposite then direct the people at the back of the queue, who had only just arrived, to go straight to the front of the queue!
Flight was fine albeit with surly flight attendants, which again seems to be fairly standard with Thomson in my experience, though the return flight was better. I lost count of the number of times my arm was bashed, while my baby slept on it, by a steward or stewardess with no word of apology.
I agree there should be a rep at the airport/on the coach. I do not miss the lecture about putting on sun cream in the heat, but it would be nice to at least know which hotel we are sitting outside when the coach stops and whether we need to get off. Fortunately as repeat guests, we knew where we were going, but others didn't.
Check-in was swift, though on both occasions we have ended up being checked in by the surly Spanish receptionist. The others all seem lovely but on both occasions this one gave us no information, e.g. about needing to pay deposits for various items. Again, it was fortunate we had stayed before to save us traipsing all the way back from our room for a second time. I do think the amount needing to be paid in deposits has got a little ridiculous. 10 euro for the TV remote (why?!), 15 euro per towel (which are worth nowhere near 15 euros each) and 5 euros for the safe key, plus an additional 2 euro charge per day. We ended up having to hand over 82 euros!!
Our room was in block 5, top floor, as requested prior to our trip and was actually next door to the one we stayed in last year. It was 5317, which is at the back overlooking rolling hills and you can't hear any of the entertainment at night so was perfect. Apartments are modern and clean. No they're not cleaned every day but it's not a big deal. As for people moaning about their sheets not being changed evert day - do you change your sheets at home every day?! The only downside, as others have mentioned, are the beds. I don'd mind the hard mattresses, it was the pillows we found uncomfortable and we often had stiff necks in the morning and did not sleep at all well. The kitchen could also do with a bit more storage space. I didn't notice this last year but this time with a baby and packets of milk, food etc, I really noticed that I had nowhere to put anything!
Pools are lovely, no issue with getting a sunbed at any time of day. I can see why the entertainment during the day annoys people but it didn't bother us that much. I have to say that the entertainment team - especially Nutty Nathan - are absolutely fantastic and don't deserve some of the criticism they've received on here lately. They do have to go round the pool and try and get people to join in but they were never pushy and if you said you weren't interested they left it at that.They had a tough crowd at times and I felt sorry for them dealing with so many misogs. Adult sporting events were often cancelled as nobody wanted to join in. Nathan told us he understood that not everyone wanted to do these things on holiday so he would never try and force anyone, but on one occasion when there was a full football match he seemed genuinely chuffed and said it had made his day. He obviously really loves his job and doesn's stop from morning til late at night.
Food is what you'd expect from a family all inclusive. This is not Sandals. Breakfast was great. Lunch - we found the BBQ very samey and preferred to wait til 1pm for the inside restaurant to open which had a bit more choice. Dinner was fine though obviously not gourmet. The meat was usually tough as old boots but most of it perfectly edible and my husband enjoyed a lot of the fish dishes. We did find it harder to find someone to take a drinks order this year than last. We went to the Italian restaurant 3 times this year. Last year we didn't enjoy it but this time round there was a vast improvement. Food (except pizzas) was very good and service - from Tony - was excellent. A much more pleasant experience than the buffet.
Night time entertainment was not everyone's cup of tea but again, our 3 years old loved it which is what it was all about. It was fun. The creche was also very good, as was the kids' club. Our 3 year old hates going to pre-school at home so we were convinced she would hate kids club but she loved it!
Cala Bona is a lovely resort; on cloudy days when the kids were being looked after, we hired bikes from a shop down the road and cycled to Sa Coma and also into the hills. They also had bikes with seats suitable for children, as well as horse rides available near the hotel. We went for drinks regularly at Panetosta as the atmosphere and views are gorgeous. We also ate twice at La Grenada Tapas Restaurant, which is excellent, though we were a little disappointed that what was last year the only truly authentic Spanish restaurant in town now has burgers and paninis on the menu in order to compete with the likes of Smithys no doubt!
Anyway this has got long but in summary, we had an amazing holiday and will quite possibly return again. We just feel at home at the Bonaire. I haven't given 5/5 as there are improvements to be made (yes the sunbeds are crap!) but for our holiday experience, 5/5.
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- Also Known As:
- Protur Bonaire Aparthotel Hotel Cala Bona
- Protur Bonaire Aparthotel Cala Bona, Majorca