I'll start with the negatives because there are only a few!
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was pretty poor and this was partly due to a number of technical issues coupled with a bit of inexperience. No doubt it will get better after a bit of time but if you need to be constantly entertained and can't make your own entertainment you'll struggle here. Paris was great with the kids and always seemed happy to play whatever games the kids wanted each day. It constantly annoys me that people complain about the entertainment in hotels and yet all we saw was people refusing to take part! Get up and dance, get involved in the games, play killer pool ... you're only going to get out as much as you put in.
LOUD MUSIC: We like to sleep for a couple of hours in the afternoon and several days the music from the family pool was so loud we just couldn't get any rest. Someone else must have complained because it went back down again for the last few days we were there.
SHOWER: We always had plenty of hot water, but it was very difficult to regulate the temperature. It would be just right and then suddenly it would be freezing or scalding hot. Not ideal if you have young kids, but is pretty typical of Greek plumbing.
On to the positives, which are much more numerous!
FOOD: We all thought the food was fantastic. It worried me that a previous reviewer had said that you wouldn't get Greek food but I wonder what they think Greek food is! We had moussaka, stifado, spanakopita (spinach pie), tiropita (cheese pie), dolmades, baked aubergines ... the list goes on. Greeks also eat what we'd consider to be "ordinary food" like chicken, pork, beef, rice and potatoes so if you think you're going to get food that seems totally foreign to UK palates then don't worry. There's always chips and a pasta dish for fussier eaters, fresh salad at lunch and dinner and the desserts are absolutely fantastic. There's also fresh fruit available and the breakfast is fairly typical of any hotel we've been to - bread, jam, pastries, meat, cheese and full English if you want it. At first I thought it was strange that we were allocated a table to sit at but during busy times this proved to be a very good tactic as it meant we could always sit together as a family. The food at the pool bar was freshly cooked so you had to wait for whatever you ordered but I prefer that than having food lying around for a while just so people could get it instantly.
DRINKS: There are no cocktails but there is the usual range of local beer, wine and spirits. I certainly didn't encounter any watered down drinks and sometimes had to get an extra soft drink to dilute the spirits as they were too strong. As for the local soft drinks we didn't have a problem with them but if it's a big issue for you the branded ones can be bought in the local supermarkets. It was made clear to us at the time of booking that what you get is LOCAL drinks so unless they've started making Fanta on Zakynthos what else could we expect?
ROOM: We got one of the new rooms with a view of the well maintained garden and family pool, and it was lovely. The decor was really quite posh with stone cladding, feature panels and recessed lighting and not at all typical of the usual basic Greek rooms. The beds were nice and firm and we really liked the screen door which was secure and would let air in but keep the light and the mossies out. The room was cleaned every day and we got fresh towels twice. We found that the whole hotel and all of the external areas were very clean and very well maintained. The decor was nice too. We also liked that there are lots of signs up asking people to respect that families with children are in the hotel and to keep noise to a minimum at night. If your sleep is easily disturbed I'd recommend taking earplugs because as soon as the sun starts coming up the birds are out in force.
POOLS: There is a pool entirely for adults at the front of the hotel and it never seemed busy. I did find this a bit annoying as the adults were using the family pool which made it difficult for some families to get sunbeds together. There was also quite a bit of topless sunbathing going on at the family pool ... mainly by older women who really could have done that round at the adult pool as they had no kids with them.
OVERALL: This is a lovely hotel, fantastic by Greek standards. The staff are helpful and friendly if you are polite and friendly to them - it works both ways. The main problems we encountered were down to other guests (noise, rowdy behaviour in the pool, flushing toilet paper and blocking the plumbing) and not the fault of the hotel. I would definitely return to this hotel and I'd recommend taking the quiet way to the beach and avoiding all the reps trying to get you to book trips or go into their restaurants.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- smartline Margarita is a charming All Inclusive hotel with a warm atmosphere and a beautiful garden. The hotel is an ideal choice for families. Guests stay in bright and modern rooms, and the hotel's restaurant serves home-grown fruit and vegetables as well as specialties from all around the world. The hotel has an inviting and relaxing pool area with three pools, including a kids pool and a relaxation pool for adults only, and if you want to enjoy the gazing sun by the sea, the beach is just a 10 minute stroll away. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Margarita Hotel Laganas
- Hotel Margarita Zante
- Smartline Margarita Hotel Zakynthos/Laganas