Firstly let me just say that this is the first ever time i have written a review, i feel absolutely compelled to write this one. I booked what i thought was to be a 'cheap and cheerful' holiday earlier in the year as money is tight. I travelled with Thomas Cook, alone with my six year old daughter. I am in my late twenties and was looking for somewhere close to amenities, with a suitable balance of both commercialised things for my daughter and interesting Greek things to see for me. The marelen appeared to offer me all the things i was looking for at an extremely reasonable price. When we arrived, we were very tired from travelling all night, we checked in and walked through the grounds to our hotel where i immediately knew I had made the right decision! The grounds are beautiful, the brochure photographs do not do it justice. The adult pool is amply big enough, there were always loads of sun loungers even with your typical towel reservations occurring, the children's pool was ideal to keep the small kids happy and safe, it was never too busy to be used, the kids splash pool is located slightly around the corner from the main pool, apart from being a little cold (which is because of all the water fountains,slides etc constantly moving the water so the sun cannot heat it up like the other pool) was absolutely great! The pictures really do not do it justice the pool is ideal for ages 0-12 it gives them something extra to do and there are plenty of sun loungers by this pool too. The adult whirlpool/jacuzzi pool didn't actually work, but this really wasn't an issue for me. Both pool-sides have a pool bar: the one by the splash pool serves drinks (soft and alcoholic) and snacks like crisps etc, the one by the main pool is open all day and serves hot and cold British and Greek food (sandwiches, salads, burgers, toasties etc) as well as a very wide selection of drinks and sweets,crisps etc. This is not a five star resort of-course but the food in both the pool side bar and the evening restaurant menu is well presented, ample, cheap and edible, what more could you want? You're not going to eat solely there so that's all you need! You expect to get what you pay for, we got well beyond what i expected i couldn't fault the facilities at all. Reception staff (on the whole!) were friendly and helpful, you can exchange money, book late check out rooms, buy stamps, pay for air conditioning etc here. They have a very mini shop selling essentials (bread,milk, biscuits, shampoo, souvenirs etc). The bar was always lively (not packed) plenty of entertainment evening, bar staff extremely friendly, he makes the most lethal cocktails! The thing that makes this place is the staff, there is a lovely lady by the splash pool bar who is very friendly and happy, and a nice waitress/receptionist/jack of all trades that is at the breakfast buffet in the mornings, they both make you feel very welcome and remember you etc. The Thomas cook entertainment team (kids club and adult entertainment) and rep (Jo) were the very best i have ever encountered, so much to do, trips very well explained/organised, very friendly but not pushy, they were awesome and i am not one for being pestered to entertain i like to relax with my book. We did three excursions booked through our rep, apart from not seeing any turtles (out of their hands!) we thoroughly enjoyed each one (water-park, totally turtles and pirate ship). The hotel is located literally two minutes walk from the beach, you can rent pedalos and sunbeds here and see turtles if you are lucky. They shut the beach after sunset due to protecting the turtles. It is approximately a ten minute walk (with a slow hot 6 year old) to the main strip of restaurants and bars, souvenir shops and there is a few supermarkets even closer. We never had a bad meal out (lucky i suppose) but some restaurants are a must: plate smashing and Greek dancing happens in quite a few restaurants but we went to 'Yamas' and thoroughly enjoyed it and the food in 'The Olive Tree' was beautiful (staff not as friendly though). It is a five minute cab ride to either Laganas (party area) or Zante town (harbour town with lots of shops, restaurants, bars) so is ideally located and there is a taxi rank right outside the hotel, but reception were happy to call one if none were there waiting. It cost 10 Euros to get to Zante town. Yes the Marelen is very close to the airport (the whole of Kalamaki is!) but it was really quite fascinating to see the planes coming in to land while laying on the beach or by the pool, how many opportunities will you get in life to see that? The noise didn't bother me (or seem to bother anyone else) at all . All in all i was so happy with this place, we had a wonderful holiday, i was very anxious about travelling alone with a young child for the first time but everyone made it so easy. I have been on many Thomas cook holidays and have never been particularly fussed about returning to one of them (not that they weren't nice) but i can quite happily say i would return here. Thank-you so much for a wonderful stay Marelen. Helen & Faith August 2012.
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- Also Known As:
- Marelen Hotel Kalamaki
- Marelen Hotel Zakynthos/Kalamaki