The Tesoro Blu Hotel is a good hotel. In some respects it is very good but in others, there is room for improvement.
We visited in 2013, on the Spring Bank Holiday week, to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary. We were looking for somewhere hot, sunny and tranquil (that’s why we were attracted to an ‘adults only’ hotel. We’ve done all the family resort stuff and our children are grown now; we’ve paid our dues!).
On arrival, the check in process was very quick and pleasant. Our room was a few hundred metres away from the main hotel. We were taken there via golf cart, along with our luggage, and left to settle in. Some reviewers have complained that the rooms with higher numbers are too far away from the hotel, but they’re not, really. The furthest rooms are maybe two minutes’ walk away. We liked ours, firstly because it had a sea view – which a lot of the rooms don’t – and secondly because it was quiet.
The room itself was very comfortable and spacious. It was also spotlessly clean and reasonably well equipped, too As is the case with most hotels, though, you’d be very foolish to raid the minibar. It’s extortionately expensive and in any case, doesn’t contain much.
The hotel itself is modern and has an open plan design. There are plenty of comfortable seating areas by the reception area, arranged round a staircase down to the bar and the spa and fitness facilities. The bar has friendly and attentive staff who make a great margherita and are happy to bring it to you. The spa facilities would perhaps be a little small if everyone decided to use them at once, but it wasn’t an issue during our stay. The staff were also well-trained and helpful. My wife had a pedicure, which she rates as amongst the best she’s had anywhere. (It took long enough – glad I had a good book). The pool was very refreshing on a hot day - although for ‘refreshing’ some might prefer the word ‘freezing’.
For the most part, the food is self-service. When you’re seated for breakfast, a waiter will ask for your room number and your preference for tea or coffee. Then off you go, plate in hand, to the food bar and help yourself. If you’re OK with this method of doing things, you’ll be fine, but if you prefer to order from a menu and have your food brought to you, then this isn’t the hotel for you.
The food itself is reasonably varied and caters to different tastes. Whether you prefer juice and cereal, croissants and coffee or a cooked breakfast, you’ll find something you like. There are the occasional blunders – if you put the lattice sausage rolls on the bar right next to the lattice apple strudels, some of your customers are going to end up with a surprise.
Dinner is a similar affair – again, a waiter takes your drinks order and off you go. Again, the food is plentiful quite varied and usually pretty good.
Well, then – so far, so good. What’s the down side?
Firstly, don’t use the à la carte restaurant. If you’re celebrating, as we were, then for a small fee the hotel offers a service on which you have your own personal waiter who serves your meal in an individual marquee, by the pool. This sounded very romantic- just the job for a 25th anniversary dinner – so we booked. But in the event of anything more than the lightest of breezes, the hotel will cancel your booking and offer you a place in the restaurant instead. This was a disappointment (especially after the cancellation of an excursion we’d been looking forward to that day), but we went with it. Upon our arrival in the empty restaurant, we chose a table by the window and were then greeted by a waitress who scuttled over and told us that we couldn’t sit there.
That was enough to make us head for the door in search of something a bit more convivial in town. We almost made it before a more senior waitress hurried along, apologising profusely – they hadn’t realised we’d booked and of course, we could sit anywhere we liked. The menu looked appealing. The waitress said of their chef, that he really knows how to cook a good steak. So that was me sorted – medium rare, please. But the chef really doesn’t know how to cook a steak – not at all. When it arrived it was tough and well done almost the point of being completely dehydrated. I sent it back in favour of some sort of pork thing which was OK, but not significantly better than the normal half board fare. My wife’s food was also acceptable, if unexciting.
Do be warned; if you’re puzzling over which wine to order, the waitress may well suggest her personal recommendation, offering to open a bottle for you and see if you like it – but without pointing it out on the menu or mentioning how much it costs: we declined her kind offer. I’m pretty sure that we’d have found an enormously expensive addition on our bill if we’d accepted. I note also that other reviewers have had this experience.
So, all in all, a rather underwhelming experience and not at all what we’d hoped for on a very special day.
After that, we did notice that some of the staff seemed rather more like stewards, telling guests where they could and couldn’t sit, when they could or couldn’t put parasols up and so on. Perhaps I’m being unfair- their English is much better than my Greek and it is so difficult to ensure that you’re coming across as being polite and helpful in another language.
Skala itself isn’t much to write home about. It probably has more of a buzz about it during the high season, but in May it felt like somewhere emerging from hibernation. There’s not much in the way of local colour. There is a ruined Roman villa which is interesting, but don’t plan your day around it. It must have been the size of an averagely large detached house and it’ll take you five minutes, at the most. There were some days when the weather turned cloudy and cold – at least, too cold for sunbathing. On those days, the streets of Skala filled up with tourists, aimlessly wandering in search of something to do.
My advice would be to check the weather forecast and rent a car on any days which don’t look like sunbathing weather. The roads are pretty good, quiet and can take you through some breathtaking scenery. Kefalonia is beautiful. Myrtos Beach is famous for a scene from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’. It is very pretty and the colour of the sea is beautiful. It’s not sand, though, so take your swim shoes if you want to avoid a very painful experience. There are some strong currents there, too, so be careful. The place we loved the most on the island was Fiskardo – it’s a couple of hours drive from Skala, but very pretty and, having survived the big earthquake, feels a bit more authentically Greek.
Back to the Tesoro Blu.
As I mentioned earlier, a good hotel: clean, comfortable and well equipped. But there was one thing that created a really, really bad impression of the place on arrival.
The event in question was a disco, arranged by another guest, to celebrate his 50th birthday. (On Sunday 26th May, just in case anyone’s reading this thinking ‘could he mean me’?). It was just getting started as we came for dinner on our first night. We chose a table by the pool, but had to move within minutes, because party boy was running his own show and I was in danger of having my retinas cauterised by his ham-fisted laser show.
He then proceeded to ramp up the volume to the point where it was almost impossible to conduct a conversation anywhere in the hotel and it was necessary to shout when trying to order drinks. It was a little quieter upstairs, overlooking the pool, but even there, it was thumpingly loud. (And he had bloody awful taste in music, too). There really was nowhere to go, to get away from it.
Our narcissistic birthday boy had also arranged for an endlessly looping slideshow of his holiday snaps to play on the widescreen, too, just in case we’d forgotten whose day it was. I turned it off after half an hour or so. There wasn’t anyone there to object.
This incredibly self-centred guest totally ruined the first day of our holiday as this horribly loud party was absolutely everything that we’d wanted to avoid. Until the following evening, when it became apparent that every night wasn’t like that, we were seriously considering asking the Thomson rep for a room in another hotel. It left a really bad taste.
Although the hotel staff seemed sympathetic, they didn’t actually do anything, like ask him to turn the volume down. We were left with the impression that all guests are equal but some are more equal than others. I can only assume that money has something to do with it. But this man and his entourage should not have been given free rein by the hotel’s management to do as they pleased and spoil any part of other the guests’ holidays.
And although Tesoro Blu is a nice enough hotel, it’s for this reason that I wouldn’t go back. The chances are, if you book, you’ll have a lovely time and will be very satisfied with your choice. But there’s always the chance that someone will roll into the place and take it over, to the detriment of your own enjoyment. So be warned. Oh, and one more thing - there seem to be the beginnings of a large scale building project, next to the hotel. Nothing was happening while we were there, but roads had been cut for heavy plant and the site was obviously being prepared. When it happens, it'll be close to the terrace where the sunbeds and pool are, so check with your travel agent.
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- Also Known As:
- Tesoroblu Hotel And Spa
- Tesoroblu Hotel Skala