Guest Report

125 room budget all-inclusive hotel at Great Courland Bay (listing)
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Paul Holman

Guest Report

Post by Paul Holman »

Stayed at Rex Turtle Beach from 23-Nov-2006 to 7-Dec-2006 in a "Superior" room in the "new" block. From what I could tell, the new block was added quite some time ago, and is now not at all new. In fact I think some of the regular rooms in the older parts many have been re-furbished and be better than the “superior” rooms. Certainly, the rooms in the old block vary in size a lot, and some were significantly larger than our room. Many previous reviews have described the décor as tired, and I must say that occurred to me as the best description of the rooms and general state of most of the hotel. Everything was sound, roofs didn’t leak, stairs were not broken, etc, but it all looked rather in need of sprucing up.

Having said all that, our room was fine. It was dry, and kept beautifully clean by the daily maid service, which was excellent. Towels were changed as required. Beds were fine – we requested a double, but got 2 singles, possibly due to booking quite late. We also requested a non-ground floor room, for security, which we got. The water heat and pressure was a bit variable, making filling the bath a bit slow and tipid at times. Pressure for the shower was just barely adequate.

Check-in was quite slow, but we came in on the weekly Virgin jumbo, which meant reception was inundated with a very large number of new guests all at once. It was no hardship to relax at the bar or around the pool whilst we waited. It must be remembered by visitors to any caribean island, especially those visiting from big cities, that life is much slower and laid back there. Be patient, accept and enjoy it.

We went room-only for two main reasons: firstly, we drink very little, and the all inclusive rate is presumably based on the assumption that guests will drink quite a lot; secondly, we never like to be tied to the hotel restaurant, and go out to local places to eat most meals. It is also usual for hotel food to be not great and similar from day to day. Having said this, Turtle Beaches restaurant is excellent. We used it a few times for breakfast, lunch or dinner and found the food to be very good, as was room service. One problem, on the first night we could not get an answer from room service on the phone – we were tired after the flight and wanted a snack in our room before sleep.

Whilst on the subject of food, we visited a large variety of local eateries on the island, and found most of them to be excellent, taking into account cost. Ate at all the following and found them to be superb: Ru-B-Lou’s, Bonkers, Waterwheel, Steak & Lobster Grill at Sandy Point, Seahorse Inn, and Café Coco.

However, unlike other beach hotel we have visited, there was no alternative eateries nearby, on the beach or inland. Most places had to be got to by taxi. There is a taxi rank “attached” to the hotel. However, whilst convenient and not expensive by London standards, they did charge a lot more than you would pay by hailing a passing taxi (not private car) on the road.

We were pleasantly surprised to find entertainment laid on almost every evening at the pool side bar. Mostly it consisted of local singers with a midi keyboard, and the standard was generally good and great fun.

We had no problems with any of the staff. The standard of staff ranged from adequate to excellent. Some were friendly and chatty, and others kept to themselves, which is fine. The only problem I observed was the barman at the pool bar losing his cool somewhat one particular busy evening. This was due to the stress of being understaffed at a busy bar, and a misheard comment from a guest.

Whilst on the subject of the bar, the drink sizes are rather small, and if you like quite a few drinks at the bar then you should strongly consider all inclusive. The drinks we had, mostly non-alcoholic, were great.

The water-sports amenities are provide from a shack just beyond the pool. This seems to be a semi-out-sourced operation. They also provide the beach towels. They seem to have a good range of stuff, including kyaks, wind-surfing boards, dinghies, etc. I tried wind-surfing for the first time ever with them, and the instructor, Orion, was very helpful and patient, and a good teacher.

We used the complimentary safe deposit boxes at reception, carrying only enough cash for immediate needs and one card, usually a VISA, and leaving everything else in the box. The boxes are the classic bank safe deposit boxes; long and narrow, requiring both keys to open, one held by the hotel and one held by you.

Security staff were conspicuous about the grounds day and night, and appeared to be diligent from what little I noticed. The grounds were also beautiful, and well kept by the grounds staff.

Considering that the hotel was relatively cheap, and it’s 2.5 star rating, I’d say that Turtle Beach is very good. Under the circumstances, I couldn’t expect much more – perhaps more reliable water pressure and heat.
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