A disappointing RIU Hotel
My wife and myself have recently returned on the 8th July 2008 from the Algarve after spending two weeks in the RIU Guarana situated in the resort of Olhas d Agua and with respect having previously experienced four good RIU Hotels in the Caribbean, surprisingly, we found this hotel was by far the worst we have stayed in. In our opinion there were to many guests for the facilities on offer. The pool area was overcrowded, guests placed towels on sun beds from 5am onwards and if you were fortunate enough to get your a bed (with out the cream cushions advertised in the Thompson brochure) you were packed around the pools like sardines. Furthermore, the pool bar was unfinished and the picture in the brochure does not show the large separate white apartment block that the hotel is partly built around!!! Like the pool area, the main restaurant was noisy and overcrowded and we often found ourselves queuing for a table, it also often resembled a school dining room with the children at times (dangerously) running around while you were carrying your food. The live entertainment was OK but again if you had not chosen a decent seat by 8.30pm for the 10pm show your view was often curtailed by the large building support posts or you were left standing. Other than your room there was no quite area where you could go and sit and relax. With respect on this occasion we were extremely disappointed with what seems to be a poor lack of thought into the design and layout of this hotel and dont think it warrants the Platinum Five Ts status Thompson's have given it or the 4 stars RIU give !!!
On a positive point we found the staff and entertainment team were good and friendly and worked hard under difficult circumstances. We would recommend the three trips we booked with Thompson's... Guadiana River, Best of the West and Jeep Safari. We also found the resort (fishing village) Olhas d Agua with its local beaches very good and picturesque with some stunning views and a welcome break from the relentless noise and hustle and bustle of the Guarana hotel. Furthermore, after visiting the RIU Palace Hotel next door (although half board) I would recommend this hotel as the better option as it seems to maintain the typical RIU standards.
loved the hotel but too many kids
we have just come back from the riu guarana, and had two weeks there arrived on the 17th june had a nice welcome drink and did not wait long to be checked in. the room was ok as we where facing the other hotels which was nice in the afternoon as there was plenty of shade, our room was 332 which was not bad, the restaurant is miles to small for the amount of people that where there, of which was all spanish, and hundreds of kids, that was the thing i disliked the most that they were running a round where the food was being sevred and the parents just let them get on with it, plus the kids where screaming at the top of there voices al the time. the hotel its slef is lovely and people are right about the pool it is too cramped and all the sitting is tight, i have to be honest the shows of a night where really good as the staff at the riu done this them selfs and the bar has all the local drinks plus international drinks which you have to ask for other than this the hotel was fine hope you enjoy. kind rgards sarah and june xxx
Nice Hotel, Nice Location
My wife, 2 years-old son and I stayed at the Riu Guarana for a week at the start of July. Like many people, we've been watching Trip Advisor for comments from guests (and thank you for all those that gave feedback previously - it was a big help!).
We found no real problems with the hotel. You would never know that it had been opened for just a month (we were really worried that there would be no roof or our shower wouldn't work etc).
So, here are some good things, and not so good things - and then some little tips!
* Location - Olhos is a beautiful resort - unspoilt and very scenic. The beach is just about as good as it can get and the resort is very clean.
* Hotel is very clean and brand-spanking new.
* Entertainment was good on an evening (but a bit 'home-made' as it was all done by the in-house entertainment team). The entertainment (animation team) were all friendly and went out of their way to be helpful and make things fun.
* Restaurant staff - very efficient and cleaned away everything within seconds (sometimes it was quite a pain though).
* It wasn't very English - which we like. I'd say circa 10% of the occupants were British - most were Spanish.
* Main restaurant was busy but more importantly it was very boring and bland on the food front. Hake, Pork, boring boring boring night after night - however - see below for tip!
* Reception - apart from one person, the rest (including the rather rude reception manager) were unhelpful and rather arrogant to us.
* Swimming Pool (indoor) - too much Chlorine - bleached mine and my son's shorts in one 20 minute session and irritated my wife's skin for the next 3 days. Maybe just teething problems but....
* Room Cleaning - we left our room at 8am each day and it wasn't cleaned on two occasions and very late on the other days. This was despite having the 'clean our room' sign on the door all day. When we enquired about this the reception staff told us that the cleaners went home at 3pm and if you room hadn't been done it was a fact of life. Also, the bedding didn't get changed in the 7 nights we were there..not ideal for a 4* hotel.
* The 300 steps down to the beach weren't all that bad really. But, when you get to the bottom you can easily walk over the flat rocks of the headland to get to the other beaches. That way you can walk back up the hill through the town (rather than climbing back up the 300 steps!) * provided you are relatively good on your feet.
* Don't eat at the canteen restuarant I mentioned above - always (every morning) book in at the Asian or the Grill restaurants. They are much better and far better value for money. The Asian restaurant was superb and was an all you can eat chinese buffet. The grill featured much better food (entrecote steak, rabbit, chicken, shrimp etc). We ate in these for 6 of the 7 nights.
* Go to see Vilamoura if you get the chance, very nice. We booked a taxi via the hotel and a plush mercedes van picked us up and took us the 25 mins to Vilamoura - not cheap (€44 return) but we felt it was worth it.
* Local shops - we bought little gifts from two local shops and were 'accidentally' given the wrong change...worth checking as it also happened to someone else we spoke to.
We had a nice holiday - but it was just 'nice' without blowing us away, although for the price perhaps this is acceptable. 4 out of 5 stars seems about right though and we did enjoy it. Some little things (room service, reception etc) let it down, but again this is a new hotel and some of the good things were perhaps better than we would have hoped for so early on in the hotels life. We will certainly be coming back to Portugal and I would recommend the hotel and the resort to anyone. It is a very family orientated hotel and I would not go if we didn't have children - unless you really enjoyed all the nice things that come with families. Hope this has been useful!
Sunbeds at dawn!
My wife & I had a 5 night stay here last week, we had booked the Riu Atlantico On Isla Canela, but a phone call from Riu's office in Malaga a few days before we were due to travel informed us they had overbooked the hotel, so would we like to go to the Guarana instead. We were flying in to Faro so no problem. Check in was smooth, and we were allocated a lovey room on the top floor, ovelooking the tennis court & with great views along the coast to falesia beach. We didn't have any problems at all with the well equipped room, always plenty of hot water, and no noise from adjoining rooms. The main area in the rooms are carpeted which helps with this. The other reviews on here pretty much sum up the dining facilities. We preferred the main restaurant for our meals, the salad bar was superb, and there was plenty of fish dishes on offer at both lunch and dinner. One evening they had smoked salmon being carved by hand from a whole fish, something I hadn't seen before. The wine on tap was very drinkable, and the bar by the pool does a great espresso! Anyone planning on spending all day by the pool, had better be up in good time, as the sunbeds were being reserved from 6.30 !onwards, and by 10am you would be lucky to bag your own bit of plastic for the day, especially if there is more than 2 of you. As others have said, the pool area is very crowded. However just a short, scenic stroll via the neighbouring hotel, brings you to Falesia beach which is an absolute gem, several miles of soft golden sand, stretching all the way to Vilamoura, with numerous beach restaurants & cafe's, showers & toilets, and spacious, cushioned sunbeds with parasols available to rent for €7.50 per half day for 2, or just take your pool towels from the hotel, do a morning on the beach, then head back to the hotel for a leisurely lunch by which time the heat of the day is becoming bearable and you also stand a better chance of finishing off the day by the pool. For anyone thinking of booking this hotel I would recommend pricing it up direct with Riu you'll stand a chance of getting a much better price and wont feel ripped off because you have paid over the odds for booking with Thompson. We booked direct and saved approx £500 on total cost of holiday
Generally good Hotel, But Overall Experience Not Outstanding
There are already reviews with comments that we tend to agree with. We will try not to cover the same ground; we would like to add some further views/experiences of our own that might help someone decide whether this hotel/location is suitable for them or not.
We visited for two weeks from 17 June to 1 July.
We will start with a summary and then try to classify comments, so you can pick and chose what you read/skip over.
Summary – A brand new, basically good hotel with excellent food and friendly staff with a good level of service. All the essentials of a good all-inclusive stay are there. You can safely book this hotel in the knowledge that you will experience a high degree of satisfaction with the basic services. However, there are a few things that for us were a bit disappointing – to others these may be perfectly OK. It was not quiet, relaxing or exclusive enough for us. The Thomson 5T rating & description was totally deceiving. Would not recommend this hotel to “early retirees” (mid -50’s) like ourselves, couples or those looking for a quiet time, probably fine for families with children (particularly young children) who want the frenetic atmosphere. The complex is taken over by mostly Spanish, who generally have no manners or control of their children, they just don’t care about the mayhem they cause or the impact on others around them.
Thomson – Failed on their promise of first or second drop off under their Platinum service, we were the third drop. No big deal, but we just comment because it shows their lack of attention to detail. On the way from the airport we were told that our rooms may not be ready until 16.00, as it was we did not have to wait, but not a good way to start our holiday. This hotel is exclusive to Thomson in the UK, this is not a good thing as they have no price competition. No Thomson Platinum Lounge – this we have found can be a nice touch with usually a quiet, private area to meet the rep and other guests, some lounges have had free fruit and a small lending library for all those holiday books and magazines – none of this here. We didn’t even see a Thomson book on display, but there was a notice board. This location isn’t using the “Holiday Highlights” cards seen at so many other Thomson locations. We attended the “Welcome Meeting” (no welcome drink), it is usual at Platinum hotels for the hotel management team to introduce themselves and say a few words – not here. Riu do seem to have a few managers on the ground wondering around the complex, but none were approachable or even trying to make conversation with the guests. We never worked out who the overall “big chief” was.
Check-in – To make the check-in a breeze, get yourself a Riu Class membership card if you have not got one, show it at check-in and you have no check-in form to fill in. They just take a note of your card number; give you the key & a few details, and you are set to go. We were asked if we wanted help with the bags, we chose to take up ourselves as we could see no porters around. There is no Guest Services desk.
Room - We were possibly the first in the room (419) as the TV had not been tuned. This was reported to reception on the first morning and tuned by the time we returned to our room later in the day. The room was pristine and kept that way throughout our stay. Having two beds pushed together was a pain. I found 3 spare power points which I could use to charge our various gadgets, which was good, but the power to the room goes off (not just the air con) when you took the key card out with you! Safe is large and sufficient to take all those valuable gadgets & the cash that you find you don’t need! A word of caution with regard to the safe – it is possible to knock the safe keypad with the wardrobe door and if you hit it just right (as we did) it can lock the safe (open), but then you have no idea what the number is! We got reception to reset it. Love the fact that all rooms and hotel indoor public places are smoke free. First all-inclusive we have been to with an empty fridge; it could be stocked with a few tinnies, soft drinks and water at the very least.
Shop – As others have commented, supposed to be one, but there isn’t any sign that they will open one on-site. The closest shop with a comprehensive stock is about 100 metres away in the grounds of the Porto Bay Hotel. You don’t have to walk down hill to the village, unless you want more selection.
Food – Excellent with plenty of choice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast - all the usual cooked stuff, pancakes are a treat (no maple syrup, but there is honey and fresh lemons). Hot water dispenser for the tea is refilled with bowls of water which means it can be lukewarm, just go to the other dispenser the other side of the restaurant and you may well get a hot cuppa (worked fine for us a couple of times). Usual troublesome toasters. Breakfast on the terrace is nice except you get smokers there. Good salad bar for lunch and dinner. Tip - I often found the bread rolls were on the opposite side of the restaurant to the soup. Plenty of choice of hot meats and fish etc.
Restaurants – Three restaurants, Principal Restaurant, Asian and Grill. Principal Restaurant hold only 352 people (500 rooms in hotel – work it out. That’s why so many people say it is crowded, busy & noisy). Tip – get there as it opens. The Principal Restaurant was temporarily shut many times at both breakfast and lunch as it reached capacity, and guests were asked to use the Grill Restaurant. Lunch is served from 12:30 although the timetable says 13.00. Dinner from 19.00. Need to book for the Asian and Grill, you can go to these as often as you like, no restrictions. In two weeks we went to the Asian four times and the Grill once. They never checked our room number on entry, all they try to do by having a booking arrangement is to even out the load across all three restaurants. There are two sittings for the Asian and the Grill; times have now changed to 19.30 and 21.30. All restaurants are buffet self-service and self-serve drinks. Table clearing at all restaurants is fast and efficient, so much so that there were five occasions where we went up to get the dessert and came back to a cleared/reset table (no big deal as you just go back and get any missing drinks and cutlery, we would have been furious if someone else had grabbed the table though!). Tip – At the Asian many people don’t know the difference between the starter buffet and the hot main course buffet and mix all the food up (fine if that’s what you want to do, but we think most people are ignorant of the difference). Another Tip for the Asian – cold plates are by the cold buffet, hot plates for the hot main course are to the left of a pillar (many people don’t see them). Oh – and be warned the plates are often very hot, don’t complain; better to have hot plates then cold – just use the provided paper napkins. Grill is used for lunch as well as dinner. Grill at lunch time we found not as good as the Principal Restaurant, not as much choice, Grill does have burgers and Hot Dogs. Grill for dinner is less busy and tables are more spaced out, better atmosphere, but again less choice (no steaks, just the same food as in the main restaurant) – we preferred the greater choice of food in the Principal Restaurant to that offered in the Grill. The rule of no shorts and no use of mobile phones in Principal Restaurant for dinner is ignored and not enforced by the hotel. Mobile phone calls taken and made particularly by the Spanish, with a great deal of volume and lots of animation (I presume to let everyone else in the vicinity know that they have a phone!).
Main Bar – Fast and efficient, very little wait. Use the top up stations if they have what you want. This isn’t a place for cocktails – I asked for a Tequila Sunrise (I could see a bottle of Tequila on the rack and they had orange juice), but I was told “Sorry Sir, we don’t have that”, I wasn’t going to argue!
Swimming Pool Bar – Again, fast and efficient. During the day can be very noisy and hordes of unsupervised children, who just love playing with all the drinks dispensers. I was totally gobsmacked one time as waiting for a soft drink dispenser with empty cup in hand; a child grabbed the cup out of my hand and filled it for himself! This bar is open in the evenings.
Evening Entertainment – Not to our liking. Mostly the animation team miming, prancing around and doing dress changes (including the guys) or silly games involving the audience. But, let’s give them a break – it is for an international audience with lots of families and young children. The animation team work really hard, what other type of entertainment could they realistically do? We preferred a drink or three at the swimming pool bar in the evenings, often with a nice chat to other guests.
Pools – Reserve your sun loungers before breakfast (before 08.00). Much has been said about the loungers being plastic, they are basically OK at the moment however our experience of loungers without mattresses is that they soon sag (as the stringing stretches under the weight) and the support beams/cross bars then dig in to your back. Well, by the end of our second week I was already beginning to feel those bars. These beds will be a longer term “disaster”; they should have bought the promised teak loungers with mattresses. The small pool (our preference) is quieter than the big pool. Both areas are very, very crowded! We experienced one day when there were no loungers at all by about 10.30, a “sun bed war” took place when towels were removed and reserved beds taken (lots of abuse across the pool – childish). Several dozen people were wondering around in vain looking for spare sun loungers – after complaints more loungers appeared from storage along with umbrellas and were crammed in. Our guess is they will need to move on to the grass areas at some stage, as there is just not enough room for a full hotel. Pools are clean, we saw the pool being cleaned most mornings, bed areas washed down, paths being vacuumed and cleaned, pool water quality tested at least twice per day. Wait staff were patrolling continuously to clear used cups and glasses etc and refresh ashtrays. Towel service is fine and very efficient always fresh towels there at the set times. Overall, very impressed with the outside cleanliness, just too crowded and noisy, even at the small pool we heard the shouts and roars from games at the big pool (some of the behaviour was leery, chanting and shouting, disturbing the whole complex & not what we expected from a 5T hotel). They have speakers with piped music at both pools! The swim-up bar not being completed is not an issue.
Indoor Pool Complex – Pool, Jacuzzi, cold plunge, sauna and steam room. There is a dangerous entrance to the complex, the doors are not see thorough and immediately as you enter there is a sunken foot bath. We saw it, but whilst we were there a young child was tripped by it and went flying along with the drink he had in hand, fortunately he was not badly hurt, more loads of crying. The whole ambiance of the facility was spoilt for us by too many unaccompanied Spanish children; their parents let them do just what they want with no control. Children where jumping in the pool, out again, jumping in the Jacuzzi ad infinitum. Also, it is dangerous in sauna, the hot coals are right by the door, I sat in there in fear that one of the children was going to place their hand on the coals and get seriously burnt – we left. There are no changing facilities & no lockers in the nearby toilets. Not the great adult experience we were hoping for. My wife treated herself to a manicure and was very pleased with the result.
Miramar – The white block building that is between the two hotel buildings. This isn’t too much of a problem when you are on the ground as it is screened off with fencing and trees. However, it is pretty ugly and would be particularly so for the rooms that overlook it (that must apply to most pool facing rooms). It’s incomprehensible to us how their planning authorities allowed this situation to occur, certainly strange. It is supposed to be a restaurant, but it seems to have been closed down. The building needs to be bought by Riu, bulldozed and the space used by the hotel to ease the overcrowding.
Gardens – No open gardens to walk around, but bordering areas. These are developing and are being well tended, we saw many gardeners weeding and grass cutting. This in time will make the site more pleasant.
Weekenders – The hotel is open to paying weekend guests, over Friday to Sunday. These are Spanish & with large families from grandparents to young children. They are identified by different colour wrist bands. This adds to the overcrowding and the noise. It seems that the Spanish have no concept of a volume control; they are all set on high!
Beaches – There are three beaches close by. The town beach used by locals in Olhos de Agua itself, no facilities. The small beach reached by the wooden steps/walk way which starts by the Riu Algarve Palace. And finally the main Falesia Beach which is reached by steps from beside the Porto Bay Hotel. To find these steps walk in to the grounds of the Porto Bay Hotel, walk about 50 metres to the left of the hotel reception, take a path next to a very small putting green, you will see a sign pointing left, walk to the next hotel pool area and you will see the gate to the steps, ignore all signs saying “private”. The beach here has many facilities and it a nice 5 mile walk to Vilamoura (we managed it there and back taking about 6 hours with plenty of stops, including lunch and a bit of shopping).
Conclusion – We wish we had booked the Riu Algarve Palace next door. My wife’s favourite saying was “that looks more our cup of tea” – that says it all really.
i went for 2 weeks at this lovely hotel. the food is top notch with a lot of variety, the staff are very helpful and always greet you with a smile, nothing is too much trouble for them. the hotel is very nice and is set in a location with bars,resturants and shops just down the road. you can either relax round the pool or join in one of the many games, then at night you can watch the shows and then go to the nightclub which is onsite. the entertainment team work very hard and speak many languages, the shows are of a really high quality. the hotel is mainly spanish with many of them from seville, but there is a good amount of english people. overall this was a wonderful holiday and i would definitely return.
Mixed reviews, poorly marketed by Thomson
We stayed at this hotel partly because of the pictures in the Thomson brochure, however these are quite misleading! You do not have nice teak sunloungers on a grass area with lots of space around you, infact they are plastic and rammed into every available space. On the plus side there are enough of them, despite the fact that people reserve them and you don't see the people on the loungers all day.
Also, Thomson market this hotel as 5* and recommended for adults, which is not the case. The hotel rates itself as 4* and there are a huge amount of families with small children and the hotel have a kids club to cater for them. That being said the pools were realitvely empty as the kids were being entertained elsewhere.
So whilst we appreciate that thomson were marketing a brand new hotel, how they marketed it was very misleading. We walked through the hotel next door called 'Porto Bay' and would definitely recommend that. It was much more spacious and overlooked the sea. At the Rui Guarana you could not see the sea at all and were enclosed by the hotel itself.
The food was good but very repetative. I think they would benefit from having an a la carte menu, just for the variety. We were only there a week and but still found the need to eat out on one evening.
The entertainment was amusing to say the least but all the ataff made a huge effort and the sports on offer during the day were really good.
The rooms were basic but nice and were very quiet, although I am not sure if this was the case for the rooms situated over the bar area. The black out lining was also very useful.
This is a good hotel to go to, if you just wanted to lie in the sun and eat lots and lots of food whilst the kids are entertained but for a nicer environment you should look at the 'Porto Bay' (although I don;t think the Thomson brouchure does it justice.
Good place to go.
Good Place to go.
I was in this hotel in june.
The hotel is very good, the place is beautiful.
The service is nice , very activities, clean and very good food.
if you have childrens, is a nice place to go.
Near Albufeira, "olhos de água" the localization is fantastic for all the activities: night, beach, food , etc.
I recommend this hotel for all the ages .
in general is a good hotel.
Its a good hotel to go.
I stay in june in this hotel. There are 3 restaurants ( the big restaurante, the asiatic and grill).
The food was good, the wine is very poor.( i dont expect to drink poor wine in Portugal).
The rooms are beautiful, the view , and there are a lot of activities to do .
To much old people and children, but they have a lot of teens .
Ok. i liked but i dont forget the wine!!!!
We have just returned on 19th July from a two week holiday. We were very disappointed.
Hotel is not suitable for the less mobile as it surrounded by hills and 134 steps to the over-crowded beach. Bus stop was more than 500m as stated in the brochure and up and down hills and the same to the telephone boxes, we were told we couldn't use our phonecard in the hotel.
Staff in the hotel were faultless but guests in the restaurants did not care for any hygiene and let children and adults touch food, even try the soup from the terrene. Children were running with glasses around the restaurant.
Evening entertainment was very good but seating was over-crowded and children were running on the stage even during the shows!
We like some quiet time on our balcony but it over-looked the tennis courts which were used from 0830 everyday and never got sunshine.
Also we booked for 'Sir Cliffs Vineyards', 28euros pp, we were first taken to a shopping mall because the coach missed the 1st tour and when we got the vineyard we were taken to 1 of 3 vineyards the 1 which wasn't owned by Cliff!