"Hammamet Yadis Dar Khayam"
We booked a good deal to Tunisia at the Dar Khayam Hotel for 2 weeks at the end of September 2005 for two adults and our 11yr old daughter. This is part of the Khayam Hotel Village incorporating the Omar Khayam Hotel next door. The Dar Khayam was on an all inclusive basis. At the Omar Khayam you do have to pay for drinks etc. You can use some of their facilities (I preferred the bar). We arrived at approx 2pm in Tunisia and adjusted watches for the one hour ahead time difference. The drive from Monastir Airport to North Hammet (Dar Khayam) took one and a half hours with drop offs on route. My initial thoughts when the bus was driving out of Monastir was that I had got the wrong flight to downtown Baghdad, indeed a couple next to us mentioned Beirut. It looked like some over zealous General had called in several airstrikes! The place literally Iooked like a bomb site. I am pleased to say this didn't last too long.
The drive to the hotel through desolate countryside with occassional orchards was very different to us coming from the (wet) green rural landscape of Scotland.
I am lucky that I can drop off to sleep just about anywhere and did so on the bus. The landscape being rather bare can make sleeping easy and even my daughter fell asleep.
Arriving at the hotel we were met with porters who carried our heavy suitcases upstairs.This Hotel has no elevators and there are several areas around with steps and a few ramps. We were told by the rep that having no Tunisean dinars we should tip the porters 50 pence or so. I had two 1pound coins and gave these to the porter for saving my back and the effort of carrying these loads up 1 floor. I was very grateful, if I could have found a 5 pound note he would have got that. He thanked us and left with a cheerful smile and we quickly unpacked.
The room was basic as we assumed they would be with a double bed for my wife and I and a single bed for my daughter. This can be crowded but to be truthful it was better than a lot of rooms I've had or heard about and did not feel crowded at all. The rooms where clean and tidy and attended with maid service every day. The maids would make pretty paterns with clean sheets or sleep wear left on the bed. Also flowers were placed on the bed and pillows.
The balcony looked to the side of the building with the low roof of the delivery area just below us. A look to the side and we could see a little of the sea but not much. I was not that impressed with the view. In the end I was grateful for this balcony. The sun hit the balcony in the morning, shade was available in the afternoon and at night it was cool to a perfect temperture. I really liked the balcony after that and to be truthful it's one of the things I miss. There was no noise heard from the deliverys as that was further up the path and no noise from the low building area. The only noise I heard was the cheerful talking, whistling and singing occassionaly heard from staff passing by. A pleasant place to be to relax, read or simply soak up a little of the sun.
There was a TV in the room that could be hired but we never got around to using it. There was a large wardrobe and with shelves for clothing (could of had a few more hangers) and of course the bathroom.
The bath was quite deep and very slippy so care needs to be taken when getting out the shower or when leaving a bath. One unfortunate guest slipped on the first day and was in hospital for 3 days. Be cautious.
On arrival we decided to explore the hotel. There is a comfortable lounge area at the front door and a slightly raised area that looks out to the pool. There was also an indoor pool. The shallow end was shallow enough for possibly 6yrs old kids which isn't always the case and of course there was a very shallow childrens pool. There are plenty of sun loungers and you can hire a mat for a day or for a week. There is also a nearby pool bar and a covered area where snacks are served. The pizza snacks where nice and a little spicy.
There was a games room with a couple of pinball machines and a few arcade games, it also has 2 pool tables and an air hockey table.
There is a path down to the beach and a small beach hut serves soft drinks and water but no alcohol. The beach is clean with plenty of loungers and very soft sand. Importantly there was a lifeguard on duty. There are usually beach traders trying to sell you stuffed camels, palm trees (little ones) and counterfeit cigarretes. Most of the time saying "No thank you" is enough to move them on (unless of course you want their goods) sometimes you have to be a little less polite when they persist.
There are free pedalos to have a go on, which are difficult to steer and I forgot the hard work required to go any kind of distance. On the beach there are all manner of activities that you can do but must pay for, paragliding, do-nuts and the banana boat etc. Alternatively just a walk along the beach past other hotels is pleasant ( it also allows you to avoid the shops and shopkeepers in the resort area if you wish).The garden path to the beach is pretty and that was where we met Latif or "the camel man". This guy is getting quite well known. He works around the hotel looking for tourists to go on a camel trip that he runs. He is a nice guy and when he realised we had only arrived a couple of hours ago he didn't push it. He did however get a German tourist who had been on the trip the day before to tell me all about it...in German. I didn't get a chance to say that I didn't speak German but we got the idea in the end through signals and enthusiasm.
Outside the hotel there are several snackbars/ restuarants and souvenir shops. You quickly find that the souvenirs are pretty much the same in all the shops and yes I did buy a couple. Snackbars/ Restuarants we liked where the "Orangina" and the "Lampara"