More about Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort and Spa
Thorough review of Grand Palladium Lady Hamiilton.. l
My family and I (wife, 2 year old daughter, and 3 month old son) decided on this resort after I did a significant amount of research on the internet ,specifically here. We stayed the week of Sept 27th. The only other time we have stayed as a family was in Mexico was at the Gran Bahia Principe - Riviera Maya. As a couple my wife and I have stayed in Bahamas at Sandyport Beaches Resort, and in St Lucia on our honeymoon at Windjammer Landing. Therefore these resorts will serve as our past experiences and basis of comparison.
FLIGHT AND MONTEGO BAY AIRPORT
We flew with Air Transat and had a very enjoyable flight with no problems. The only hiccup occured when the airline told all passengers on the flight that we only had to fill in ONE CUSTOMS FORM PER FAMILY. When we arrived at Jamaican customs,after a VERY long walk (I was carrying my daughter and her carseat was on my shoulder while my wife had our infant son) they told us this was not the case and it was one form per family member. The entire flight had to stop and fill out more forms and this was not a pleasant experience so we blame Air Transat for that one. Customs itself was fine and the woman was very personable. Our luggage took FOREVER and since I was still holding my daughter and her very heavy carseat. We decided to bring our double stroller as it has plenty of storage and makes transporting the kids much easier. We found out that travelling with it is very challenging. Once it was assembled we were on our way. The Transat rep was easy to find and we were on our bus in no time.
When we checked-in and received our welcome drinks (Rum Punch) we noticed on error as we had booked a one bedroom suite and not a junior suite. I pointed it out and the clerk said he did not have the authority to make the change and we had to wait for his manager who was helping a very demanding couple next to us. I took literally 20 minutes for her to help us (not her fault at all) and the problem was corrected. Our luggage was brought to our room in carts while we walked there.
Best room and view we have ever had at any resort. Spacious, modern, and with two flat screen plasma tv's. It took us a few minutes to realize we needed to use our room key to turn on the lights. Some others have mentioned the AC goes out if you take your key out of the socket but this is not true as the AC stays on regardless. Bathroom had a nice slate shower, with a separate jacuzzi tub and a marble sink. Very nice!! We had two balconies overlooking the beach and ocean with some obstructed views. Overall very awesome first impression!
ELEVATORS AND ACCESSIBILTY
Usually I don't bother with commenting on elevators but when you push around a double stroller for a week you see things from a different perspective. Firstly, there are only two elevators on the whole resort one in the Lady Hamilton lobby and the other in the Jamaica lobby, both don't work and HAVE NEVER WORKED. The only way for us to get around the stairs was to go around either lobby and take the path for the carts. It was a good work out I tell you! After a while it got pretty annoying but the extra exercise was good. All hotel units have no elevators as well. Therefore, we had to transport our double stroller sometimes with two sleeping kids up three flighs of stairs! While we loved the view we requested and received a room on the 2nd floor. We were offered a ground floor room but I don't feel safe knowing anybody could possibly come into our room at any time so we took the 2nd floor. It was much easier only going down one level. So we managed. If you are handicapped and in a wheelchair I strongly suggest you reconsider going here as it will be very difficult to get around. Without help you would not even be able to get into the pools.
POOLS AND SPA
While impressive and very grand the main pool is literally falling apart daily. Tiles can be pulled off and there are areas where there are holes in the pool floor. This is something I cannot get over. For such a new resort the pool was poorly constructed however I cannot entirely blame FIesta Hotels (owners of all Palladium resorts) as there are other "cultural issues" at play.On the positive the main pool had a very nice depth to it which made swimming easier. In other resorts I always find the pool too shallow but here it was perfect. I'm 6'3 and it was up to my chest. The other pools in the resort are also very nice but plagued with the same construction issues. The relax pool had even deeper water which went up to my neck!!!
The spa is very nice. It is completely shaded which was great and a necessity with our infant son. We spent quite a bit of time there. We noticed that the pool was not cleaned very often throughout the day and as a result was full of little catterpillar like worms. Not very sanitary at all!! On our last day they were fixing all three of the hotubs on the spa. As a result when we left there was not one functioning hotub on the entire resort. Disappointing.
In a word, amazing!! The most warm and friendly people we have ever encountered on vacation. Everywhere we went and anytime of day we were greeted with a warm smile and hello. From maintenance workers to housekeeping, waiters, reception we really felt welcome. Nothing negative to say about them at all.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
I felt there were not enough bars and in particular there needs to be a lobby bar. I spoke with Hotel management and they agreed and will likely add this. We loved the infinity bar for its great ocean views and atmosphere. One note unlike other resorts they do not water down the drinks at all here, they are quite strong so you definitely get your moneys worth!! Also, if you read my Gran Bahia review you will realize I am quite *** when it comes to the right margarita, and I can say they make a great one here zero complaints. On the whole the bartenders and waitresses were fantastic!!!
I really like the unlimited a-la carte philosophy. Unlike other resorts no reservations were required and we could come back multiple times. The resort was at 20% capacity so that may have something to do with it. As for the restaurants our favourites were: Creole, Indian, Asian. We did not like the steakhouse at all and I'd recommend not eating there. The meal is downright awful.
We only went to the beach one morning and after only a few minutes we were bit by sand flies and another guest told us the water had sea urchins so that was the end of the beach for us, with kids you have to be extra careful.
Very underwhelmed. The food was great but the variety was terrible. After a couple days it got pretty tedious. You basically have no choice to eat here for breakfast. For lunch the buffet is a little better. The good thing is the Italian a-la-cart restaurant is open if you want pasta, pizza or panini. One thing to note is that there are two main breakfast buffets but only one is open.
QUALITY OF CONSTRUCTION
Initially the resort looks very impressive but when you look closer you can literally see faults everywhere. I've already covered the pool earlier as it is the main and most noticeable problem but the paving throughout the resort is deplorable. Blocks are sinking everywhere and they try to fix them but the problem keeps coming back. I had a long discussion with the Hotel Manager and he said the issue is the jamaican laid back culture. They do not work nearly half as hard as their counterparts in Mexico and the Dominican. It's not a slight against them but a cultural reality. These people are not in a rush to get things done. The Hotel director even told me he was showing one of his VIP guests a room and when he walked out on the balcony he saw three workers lying down relaxing when they should have been working.
All in all we had a great time!! Yes, being the perfectionist I am I like things to be right but the resort if going through growing pains which is perfectly natural. The pool is spectacular and there is an abundance of shade. The food is fantastic but the buffets can get boring. Once they get things ironed out and the construction is fixed I know this will be a spectacular resort. If you are handicapped I suggest waiting until the elevators are fixed. Before I forget, other people have commented the resort is huge. I beg to differ, we found it quite small. You can walk from one lobby to the other in a mere minutes. You can walk from one end of the resort to another in 5 minutes. I can't believe some people comment they needed carts to get around. Unless you are handicapped there is NO REASON to take a cart anywhere. You want large? The Gran Bahia in Mexico is large, it will take 40 minutes to walk from one end to the other. In the end that was our only real issue with this resort it was too small. We like multiple resorts in one complex it adds variety. Which is why we plan to stay at the Grand Palladium White Sand resort for our next vacation. However, we also plan to come back here in 1-2 years once all the kinks have been worked out and the resort expands even more.
Some ups and downs but Overall a Wonderful Resort
Although we are very stern critics, the hotel was well worth money spent. No other Jamaica hotel was offering the same luxury with a jacuzzi in every room. Once it is complete we believe it may be 4 -5 star. We received what we were looking for on our honeymoon; a clean beautiful room with a view, delicious food and plenty of strong tropical drinks.
We just returned from our honeymoon at the Grand Palladium Lady Hamilton Resort & Spa. The resort was gorgeous and the main pool was magnificent. Some of the best views we have ever had at a resort. The resort is brand new therefore there are some good and bad things that come along with being new.
Once we arrived (12:00), we were informed that we were upgraded to an ocean view but had to wait until the room was cleaned around 14:00. The bellman drove us to the 1500 building and delivered our bags. The room was beautiful with LCD TV, Ocean View balcony, two person jacuzzi tub/ separate shower. The maid delivered a small bottle of Appleton Rum, flowers on the bed and a fruit plate.
The room was great until the evening of day two when the hot water stopped working. We called the front desk and they informed us it would be back the next morning. Day 3 morning no hot water and the room phone stopped working. My wife and I went to the spa and she got the relaxation combo and i got the deep tissue massage (wonderful). We got back covered in massage oil and cold water again...we made the best of it and took a cold shower. Obviously cold water on my honeymoon was totally not what we has expected.
Day4 morning there was no water at all. After this, we straight to the front desk and complained. After waiting for the manager and 45 minutes of complaining we were upgraded to a bungalow (Romance Suite). We were probably the heated guests we read about in other reviews.
The bungalow was even nicer than our original room. The bungalow had water, both hot and cold. I don't know why since the water shortage was supposed to affect the whole resort. But anyway, the room was incredible, the jacuzzi was now a 4 person huge hot tub with an outdoor separate shower. The balcony also had an amazing view. The bungalow was huge and gorgeous.
The resort service was wonderful. The bellman, maids, spa personnel, and bartenders all provided exceptional service. The personnel who were not helpful were at the buffet carving stations and the water activity center (Scuba Caribe).
The catamarans were so much fun. We took the $28 lesson and went out ever other day. The main pool was huge and amazing. It was constructed cheaply due to tile coming off. The adult pool and beach were clean and wonderful as well. There are several pools and beaches at this resort. The spa pool is gorgeous. The gym is well equipped and huge. There will be an aerobic exercise room later on (wasn't finished)..
The food was excellent. There was so much variety: Asian, Indian, Seafood, Mexican, Bubbas Steak house, Xamaican , Pasta, and buffet. Everyone has different tastes so here are our opinions.
Each restaurant has a salad bar with mixed seafood/ sometime shrimp. If you don't like a particular restaurant you can leave try another one. (i asked)
Pasta was good but nothing spectacular **. My wife really enjoyed the Biryani at the Indian restaurant *** (I didn't care 4 my meal). We both liked the Seafood restaurant****. The NY Strip Steak is big and delicious at the Steak House****. We felt the best restaurant was the Xamaican *****. I had the Lamb Chops (WOW) with mashed sweet potato. My wife had the Fillet Mignon, and coconut shrimp (she loved it).
1) Bring single dollars for tips/ scuba center and gift shoppe. No one ever has change but are willing to give take your extra money.
2) The airport tour group (Tropical Tours) personnel are bottom feeder who are looking for money. They asked us for a tip after walking us to the bus (i carried our bags). Then asked for a tip to a guy who lift our bags into the bus. Then for the driver of the bus. The only person who I felt deserved a tip was the bus driver he was very informative and helpful.
3) Bring a laptop since the internet cafe rarely works but WIFI works wonderfully.
4) If you want to buy the digital photos from the professional photographer bring a memory stick or external hard drive. They don't have one nor a SD reader nor can the email.
Onar and Aldraine in the main pool bar and Chili in the sports bar. You guys were awesome and always kept drinks cold and filled. Great people. Thanks again... check out palladiumaddict on web.
Yes.... they read the reviews.....
Very, very disappointed
My husband and I stayed here from 29th Sept to 6th October and had a very disappointing holiday. My husband really did not want to go to this hotel (he hates big hotels) but I persuaded him as other reviewers had said that the hotel was under occupied and we could fly from Birmingham, much nearer to our home than Manchester. Anyway, I should have listened to him. As they say bigger is not necessarily better. Yes, the rooms were big(we had a one bed suite) and yes, the pools were big and yes, they had 6 a la carte restaurants (not all open at the same time) but there were so many bad things....here goes.
I won't go over some of the things other reviewers have said like how isolated it is, how expensive to get anywhere etc. The main thing is that this resort is just not finished. There is work going on all over the place, particularly the spa area. The workmanship is just shoddy, shoddy shoddy. Apparently this resort should have been a 5 year project and it will be finished in 2 and it shows! As other reviewers have said, tiles were coming off in all the pools, the handrail going into the adult pool was downright dangerous and there were bare wires in the pool jacuzzi which wasn't even working. We also thought the pools were dirty. Be aware if you do go, the depth of the adult pool drops to 5' 8" as soon as you get to the bottom step. In our room the fitments in the bathroom were coming off the walls, the block paving is coming up all over the resort, but by far the worse thing is the plumbing. For 4 days we had no hot water at all, not funny when you have paid US90$ for a massage and then can't get the salt scrub or the oil off because the water is freezing. We, (everyone on the Lady Hamilton side) kept getting told that it would soon be fixed, our room was like Piccadily Circus while they were trying to sort it out. We finally had one decent shower on our last day. We were never able to use our jacuzzi not only because of the hot water situation but also the water pressure was so low it would have taken 2 hours to fill it. One couple who came on our flight even moved hotels, others moved rooms. One lady had raw sewerage come up through her shower! And you know what? Nothing at all from the management, not a sorry, not a free bottle of fiz, I don't think they could have cared less. We didn't even get the cold towels and rum punch on arrival. It was very difficult to get to speak to the manager, a very elusive character! One thing I did notice was that most of the problems were on the Lady Hamilton side where all the English guests were.
I could go on and on about this hot water thing but I'll move on.
The restaurants were hit and miss, some were very good (the Creole) and some awful (Bubba's). Out of 6 of us that ate at Bubba's not one of us got the steak cooked the way we had asked for it and the service was so SLOW. Had a lovely lunch in the Italian one day and 2 days later went back and it was awful (by the way the panninis are not panninis, they are just french stick bread). The buffet did have a marvellous selection, lovely smoothies at breakfast, but the food in the servers was always cold, and I mean cold. I guess because of the under occupancy it is just sitting way too long in there. You really did have to choose something "cooked to order" to get a hot meal.
Several of the beaches are man made, please have a look at the pictures and see how they have laid some sort of "underlay" down and then put something like ground limestone on top! It certainly was not sand. There was also lots of rubbish on this beach although they were trying to clear it. However, Sunset Cove was nice and there was a good selection of watersports there.
Anyway, at the risk of this turning into a book, just let me say, don't go there if you have any walking difficulties, want fantastic food, a good beach, nice pools, some peace and quiet (the music was SO LOUD all over the resort) or HOT WATER!
Last year we stayed in a 3* in Jamaica (Club Ambiance) and at least you get what you pay for there, it does not pretend to be something it isn't. A 5* hotel the Lady Hamilton is not. However, the staff definately were 5*, they were the one good thing about this hotel. It was such a pity really, "So near and yet so far" and I think it will only get worse as the resort gets more visitors.
Bring your floaties!
Myself and 3 other very happy ladies have just returned from our fabulous trip to Jamaica Lady Hamilton! We stayed from September 6 to the 13th and only expierienced one day of rain when Ike was over Cuba! Otherwise extremely hot and humid, 24 hours a day!
Let me start by saying...there is no way, in anyone's imagination that this hotel could ever be considered a 2*! However let me lay it out for you...
Location, Hotel and grounds:
The hotel is in Lucea. Its about 45 minutes from Montego Bay and 45 from Nigril in the other direction. There really is no place to go outside the hotel, so if your looking for outside entertainment, you will have to travel to Mo Bay or Nigril. The hotel is amazingly beautiful and the Jamaica side (west side) is very well layed out as far as distance from amenities, the Lady Hamilton not so much. But as the hotel was only 10% occupied we just moved rooms. Yes some rooms are not quite done...we noticed that when we moved ...our new rooms had pictures on the wall instead of just nails. BUT I'm in Jamaica...I'm not here to look at the walls! The rooms are very nicely layed out and spacious and the bathroom is big and lovely (110V). Plasma TV...but again, not in Jamaica to watch TV. Electricity went out once a day around 10am but advance notice is posted in the lobby (and we were at the pool by then anyway)...we were told its city wide and not the hotel (aftermath of hurricane). Small mini bar and no bottle opener to get into your two beer ...but not a huge deal. There was a bit of a sulfur smell some mornings ...but possibly that had to do with the season and recent storm vs anything wrong?? And yes there is an constant chirpping noise at night that became more of a joke for us...but we were told it was crickets and not frogs.
Amazing. Sure, some places are better then others, but you will NOT go hungry here. The jerk Chicken at the Seafood restaurant was amazing! Asian, great...loved the grilled beef sushi (for non-seafood lovers!)...very spicy! Mexican was a favorite of everyone in our group (STRONG Margarita's!). Steakhouse was very flavourful though thinner steak then we are used to but still...its included GO! Italian...my least favourite but HUGE menu. Didn't make it to the Indian or the Jamaican (not for lack of trying but our days just didn't line up!) Buffet was great and lots of selection. We did manage to get to the Jamaican night at the buffet and the Jerk Pork was great! Also good was the curry chicken patties and curried goat. Ohhh...so much food! One note, there really is no place to eat with just a bathing suit, all locations require a coverup, even for snacks or lunch. All of us drank the water regularily in the restaurants and no ill effects.
To die for pool, though the jetted tubs were not working yet. Only the adult pool had some jets going. Bring your floates! So nice to just drift up to the swimup bar....and we did, hourly. Lots of chairs and shade...I'm sure even in the busy times it would be fine. The beachs are not so great as reported by others. I'd have to say the cove beach is the best. Very sandy and no rocks, shells or seaweed in the water. NO water shoes required here. Water was calm and warm but a little murky (could be due to Tropical Storms). Honestly a very nice beach and I was quite happy with it. BUT, no walking on the beaches here, they are very short and do not connect to anything. So if your a beach person...maybe reconsider or go prepared and be happy with it. Roy, Leroy, Delroy...all great bartenders and all have a "specialty". Martin makes crappy drinks but we love you anyway Martin! Pool on the Lady Hamilton side was open all night and we went for 2 am swims several nights!
The entertainment staff is amazing. "Speci rules! Try Bingo...Jamaican Bingo is like no other! "Bond" and "Happy Feet" are always dancing and were at the disco most nights and were amazing to watch and fun to dance with! And lets not forget "Romeo"..and he is! The shows were just ok but could be that the hotel is not fully open yet, some nights were just poker or Karaoke - no show. The staff did arrange two pub nights, one in Nigril and one in Montego Bay. There is also an open air bar with live entertainment most nights. The sports bar is open 24 hrs and has pool tables and other games. We hit the sports bar in our robes at 3 am a few mornings after our swim and even though it was prohibited, no one else was around so we were welcomed in! Make sure they cook you FRESH food though, we had some 25 year old hotdogs one night!
There is a tour office on site, but we found the tours through Air Transat were cheaper. Dunns River Falls is a must. It took 2.5 hours to get there but well worth it. It was a combo tour which included river rafting and shopping as well for $100. Lunch was extra (double check!).
Do all your alchol shopping at the airport duty free. Its cheaper and it doesn't get weighed with your luggage that is max. 40kg and $20 for each additional kg! There is also TONS of gift shops in the terminal!
Friendliest people ever, but also the most forward when it came to asking for tips! Was quite surprised at some of the boldness we experienced on the tour. No biggie, just an observation!
We had a birthday in the group and we had no problems arranging for "special" in room decorating and a birthday cake at dinner! Guest services and the front desk were great and very accommodating!
Overall some kinks, but no fear, go and have an excellent time!
Amazing Resort - few kinks
We stayed at the Grand Palladium from September 20 - 24th.
The property is beautiful! It is very large, but you can get around easily by calling for a ride. We requested a room close to the main building.
You are greeting with a rum punch when you arrive and check in is quick and pain less. You are then taken to your beautiful room. There were no problems with our room, but the other couple we traveled with had issues with their phone. On the last day we were there the card key sensor went out on our door and it was repaired immediately. Quality is important to these people, and they even had someone going around the pool asking if everyone was happy with their rooms or if there were any issues to be taken care of.
Again, the room is beautiful, the property is breath taking. It is very large, so you must remember to see everything and not just hang out by the big pool the whole time. Sunset Cove is the best beach on the property. Very secluded and tropical. This is where you can also use the sea kyaks, catamarans, paddle boats, etc. (which is all part of the all-inclusive). The sea kyaks were awesome. They are easy to use, and you don't fall out. I recommend taking them for a spin.
Go to the spa! We did not pay for any of the offered services, we just used the steam room, sauna, whirlpools, and hydro pools. It is a great way to spend the afternoon. I have posted some spa pics for you to see how wonderful it is.
The food. The buffet was great. Everyone always found something to eat that they liked. The resturants were different. They were hit or miss. The worse one we tried was the Lotus Noodle House. The bet was probably the Pastafarian. We did go to the steak house and I could not eat my salmon it was so fishy. Everyone else enjoyed their meals. We were unable to visit the Creole, Mexican, or Indian, so don't know about those. But no matter what, you will always find something you'll like to eat. We really enjoyed the salads at the Sunset Cove resturant. However, there are no snacks in the room, so bring your own if you don't want to pay for them in the gift shop. There are drinks, but no snacks. Also, you cannot take any food "to-go" and there is no room service. Also, MAKE SURE THE MEN HAVE PANTS. You cannot enter any of the resturants without pants. I saw quite a few people turned away because they men cannot enter in short. You can dress in what ever for the buffet or Sunset Cove.
Activities - they seemed to be running all day but we did not participate in them. We watched others do water areobics, water yoga, water polo, scuba, etc. There was one night in the theatre where they were showing Finding Nemo for the kids. There were shows, but we did not attend.
Drinks - BEST RUM DRINKS EVER! I don't think I'll ever have another pina colada that is the same! Be adventurous. You'll have to ask for the drink menu - but they have some good ones on there! Try the coconut rum on the rocks.
View - Amazing.
Grounds - beautiful and being worked on everyday.
Be Aware - there are tiny little frogs that chirp like an alarm going off. It takes an evening, but you'll adjust and not notice them anymore. Don't do what I did and call the front desk. It really is only the frogs.
Important to know - Everything shuts down at around 10 - 10:30 p.m. Except the infinity bar. The pool bar says it is open until Midnight, but we never saw anyone down there - which was very disappointing. :(
Exersions - the hotel offers day trips etc. The prices were very high. Do your homework here, contact a reputable driver and go that route. You'll save money, have a personal driver and a better time. There are several on the TA boards you can find. We used two different drivers. Sienna, from Talk of the Town tours (excellent) and Clive from Clive's Transportation (excellent).
All in all, we loved it, we'll go back and we'll love it some more!
Planning to go back
We stayed at the Lady from 14th to the 28th of September.Luckily
we had great weather.Some rain during the day.Lots of sunshine
and of course beautiful Jamaican sunsets.
Great staff,very friendly and helpful.From the landscaping crew ,maids,waiters/resses,to cooks,especially the little lady making my eggs every morning.Room was very clean/new.View
of the beach & sunset-villa 35.Not all beaches are ready,but 2 main ones were nearly complete.The beach at sunset cove was small,but considering the place was nearly empty we had the beach to ourselves.Water was very calm & clean.Sandy on the bottom.The main beach by the main pool should be beautiful once complete.The pools looked big & very clean but we don't do pools,strictly beach people.Can't say much about activity and entertainment because we did not participate.
Food:the a la carte restaurants we tried were very good except for bubba's steakhouse/tasted as if the boiled the meat,but as for the Jamaican,Indian,& Mexican-surprisingly good.The jerk hut finally opened on sunset cove beach and the chicken & pork sauseges were great.The first day the hut opened the jerk sauce was nice and spicy,then they watered it down.The drinks were okay,except for the free soft drinks in mini bar were all 4 days away from expirey date.Overall not bad.
Very well located between Mo Bay & Negril.If you need to travel you can always go outside the main gate and use the local guys.Alot of waiters and bellhops offered to get us a local ride but we decided to cut out the middle man & go outside the gate to
find our own driver.We used Ron to go to Mo bay & Negril with his 1991 corolla.No problems and less expensive than the hotel
tours.He was nice/tell him I said hi.
Overall we loved the place.The fact that it was only at 20% capacity also helped.I also hope their prices don't go up after the grand opening.Shout out to Mike & Chris from TO.
A Diamond in the Rough
My husband and I just returned from our honeymoon at the Grand Palladium and we had a fantastic time. We had some concerns about staying at such a new resort since our travel agent warned us that there may still be some "bugs" that needed worked out but we decided to take the chance and are so glad that we did! There were some issues for sure but nothing that kept us from enjoying ourselves.
First of all, the staff was fantastic! They were friendly, polite, helpful and really seemed interested in making sure that you were having a good time and had everything that you needed. Our room was spacious, well-maintained by the housekeeping staff and the view was absolutely breath-taking (see photos). Loved the outdoor shower and huge jacuzzi tub! Some of the guests that were on the Jamaica side of the resort complained that they did not have hot water, or water at all at times, but we didn't have any problems whatsoever.
We were in one of the romance suites, near the adult pool, which was quite convenient for times when we didn't feel like schlepping all the way to the main pool (it was quite a hike)! Also, there was a beach below the main pool and then another beach just up the hill, with a restaurant/bar above it that also offered a great view. Although the property is enormous and you could get tired walking everywhere, there are trams that will come and pick you up and take you where ever you want to go and we didn't have to wait for them since the hotel was only at about 30% capacity. The main pool was the biggest I have ever seen. It was kept clean and the water temperature was perfect. We did notice that many of the tiles were coming loose. I'm not sure if this was a result of poor construction or some other issue but I am assuming that they will fix it. One bartender told us that the original contract stipulated that the resort be built in 5 years and they finished it in 2 years so they may have rushed some of the construction. Back to the main pool - the activities staff was wonderful and the variety of daily activities meant something for everyone. There were plenty of pool chairs to relax in and catch some rays and there were bamboo "umbrellas" if you wanted to stay out of the sun. The swim-up bar was pretty nice but kind of far to get to. One day they ran out of cups at the swim-up bar and didn't get any for a few hours! This was kind of annoying but just one of those glitches we kind of expected so no big deal. The drinks were quite strong but good, especially the pina coladas - yum!
Dining & Bars
The food was very good and there was no lack of variety or choice. There are three buffet restaurants and 7 a la carte restaurants. There was one buffet restaurant open for breakfast and one for lunch and they were always plentifully stocked. I like to try and eat healthy (even on vacation) and I was happy that there were plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available at each meal. We didn't go to the buffet restaurant for dinner at all but there was always one open. The a la carte restaurants included Italian, Indian, Creole, Mexican, Asian, Seafood, and a steak house. We did not go to the Indian or Creole restaurants but we went to the steak house twice because my husband loved the steak so much - it was a nice, big cut of meat and they cooked it just as he ordered it. The Italian restaurant was nice but part of the open-air area so it was a little warm in there. The food was good but nothing spectacular. The Mexican restaurant was good and our server was wonderful. The Asian restaurant was my favorite! The sushi was fantastic and everything else that we got to eat was delicious. The atmosphere in the restaurants was very nice - they were all decorated according to theme. The sports bar was fabulous with a variety of games (pool, darts, foosball, ping pong), a big screen tv and several other plasma tv's to watch sports. We were so excited that we were able to watch Monday Night Football!! The sports bar also had a nice variety of snacks and sandwiches. We didn't go to the disco; it just didn't look very interesting. The Infinity Bar was nice with a great view and a steel drum band.
Each night there was live entertainment. It was okay but not spectacular. I think it will improve the longer this resort is open.
The beaches (there were 3) were nice, although two of them got hit by hurricane Gustav and were a little rocky. The staff did tell us they had plans to replace the sand and fix up the beach. Sunset Beach had water sports available so it was fun.
They were still doing some work on the spa but it was very nice. I didn't get any services done but the steam room and sauna were great! So were the spa pool, jacuzzis, and "hydrotherapy" pools.
Overall I would say this was a great resort. In about a year or so it will be even better. The staff was really excellent. This is what you decide to make of it. If you are just looking to get away and relax and have a good time, this is the place for you. The value for the money couldn't be beat. However, if you are a person who has to have everything perfect and is going to pick out every little thing wrong, steer clear for about another year or so.
Walking tour Algarve
The roman bridge
We are staying in s/c accommodation in Tavira for the first time in September and wonder if anyone could name some good restaurants/bars and general places of interest. We are not young, but not old (if you know what I mean), so rowdy bars which drink into the wee hours are not our scene anymore (been there, done that etc etc) but we do like music/atmosphere etc.
Re: About Tavira
I've spent only some hours in Tavira. I enjoyed a lot the castle. There is a beautiful garden inside and some towers.
They say that the Island of Tavira; not far from the town has some beautiful beaches. I've not been there.
Enjoy Algarve is really a beautiful area!
Re: About Tavira
On another forum, I noticed some posts about Tavira.
From my own experience, I also have been to the castle, it's bit different sort of castle, with nice gardens inside, but relatively small. Depending on how you go, it could be a nice uphill walk. My parents (in their 60s) were winded. There is the Old Roman bridge and a nice Plaza area. The streets that run parallel (north to south) to the Praca have some nice stores and restaurants.
Try to get to Praia de Barril, a bit to the west (you take a small open air train to get to the beach). And there are also some nice restaurants on the water, in Santa Luzia.
Re: About Tavira
Definitely try out the Tavira island, very popular among youngsters, but more mature tourists as well.
Also try the Cabanas beach.
As for Tavira itself it's a very nice place to visit, with plenty of tourist attractions and good restaurants to look for.
Check out this tourist portal, www.algarve.com.pt, for restaurants or hotel and car reservations. And also visist www.visitalgarve.pt, it's the Algarve's official website for tourists.
Re: About Tavira
Could you tell me where you stayed and if you were happy with it and what it cost? We are hoping to go there in Sept. and haven't been able to find a small, quiet and not-too-expensive place yet......
Re: About Tavira
There are a few good restaurants clustered just over the main bridge. The best one is called BRISA DO RIO and its been the same two waiters each year we have been who are speedy and efficient even though its always busy. The food is excellent(try the goats cheese,apple and honey starter)and reasonably priced. There is also a small grill place on the corner which does steak on the stone and the best chicken peri-peri can't remember its name but there are no other meat places nearby. If you want to go for a drink with amazing views pop to the hotel porta nova, its fairly expensive but you can see for miles. Sorry its all food related, my husbands a chef so its all we go away for