We were a bit afraid after the "stay away" reviews below, but our holiday in this hotel turned out to be a very pleasant experience.
The hotel itself is a bit worn-out, I would credit them with 3 stars, but as we spent minimum time inside the room, it was OK. The beds were comfortable, the service was good, towels and sheets were changed daily.
The food was almost perfect, perhaps the breakfasts a bit samey, but otherwise we were very satisfied with the range and choice, especially fruits/vegs and desserts. The year before we spent our holiday in a 5***** hotel in Turkey, but the choice and range was considerably better in Santa Marina.
The beach - Ammoudara is a 7 km long sandy beach, the AI hotel customers had the sunbeds and umbrellas for free, the AI beach hotel bar served soft drinks, beer/wine and ice cream, the staff were very polite and effective.
The beach is guarded between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the guard won´t let you swim outside the marked area, as there is a huge rocky formation some 15-20 metres from the shore with lots of sea urchins. The marked area of the sea is sea-urchins free. There is a lot of space for swimmers anyway, as the beach is 7 km wide.
What travel agencies probably won´t tell you - there is an electric plant at the left corner of the beach, some 3 km from the hotel, with 5 high chimneys. It seemed to be working every day, incl weekends, but as the smoke went off in a different direction, it was not disturbing. Anyway, it is an ugly spot on otherwise very scenic and beautiful left side of the beach.
The resort itself is visited mainly by the French (70%), the rest is divided between the Russians and Slovaks, I heard some Czech, Polish, Hungarian, some German and some English too. The animation team (Lookea) is 100% French, they are very friendly and try to engage other nations too, usually without much success :) I can imagine that that could put off some other big dominant western European nations (especially Brits and Germans) who are used to have animations in their language, but for us, animations are a totaly irrelevant criterion.
And perhaps - it is worth to stress, as we are speaking about Greece here - there were no visible effects of a crisis situation in the Santa Marina resort, staff friendly and polite, no shortages, no strikes, no hordes of desparate locals wanting to attack German tourists :)
N.B. we were a party of 4 people, 2 adults, 2 kids (10 and 8 years old)
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Santa Marina Resort is located directly on the long and sandy beach of Amoudara (which is also the name of the nearby lively village), only 5 kms away from Heraklion (the largest city and the administrative capital of Crete and only a few minutes away from famous archaeological sites (like Knossos) and landscapes of natural beauty. With 208 rooms, bungalows and suites - that make up the three-story main building and 4 bungalow complexes - our hotel offers all the comforts necessary for an enjoyable accommodation and a memorable summer vacation, while our restaurant offers a huge variety of culinary delights, including Greek and Cretan cuisine and daily specials. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Santa Marina Beach Amoudara
- Santa Marina Beach Hotel Crete/Amoudara