Anyone who knows me, knows I love a bargain. I have always happily lived in budget accommodation to make my travel funds go further especially since Doc and I used to go abroad several times a year. However, since Maya has started school and the need to only go away on holiday in school holidays we have had to recently cut our overseas holidays to once a year (Big sad crying face!). Given this fact, I like a little luxe and splurge in the travels that I now do take.
This year we decided to stay at the fantastic Delphin Palace, Lara Beach. The hotel was amazing and I can’t stop raving about it, I did daily pictures on our instagram, facebook and twitter sites. The hotel is beautiful, and so clean and well maintained. The Palace is one of three hotels in the Delphin hotel group on Lara Beach and is dwarfed by it’s sister hotel, the Delphin Imperial but the later hotel though newer looks too big and busy when travelling with young children. The final hotel within the group is the Delphin Diva which seems smaller and has fewer features for children. So in the words of Goldilocks The palace is just right!!
We had a double and a single in our room and an additional Futon which was made up as a bed. I thought the room was a little cramped especially with a pushchair in their too. We have the City Jogger double for holidays and it just about got through the area between the beds and the table. We have the city jogger mini double which is one of the narrower side by side pushchairs on the market. So if you are travelling with a double, it would be good idea to try and see if your pushchair fits inside the room when you arrive. I for one would be so annoyed to have a sleeping baby in the pushchair and then have the hassle of taking them out of the pushchair. The room had the old fashioned vintage beds/decor, its not really my thing as we like the modern look but it was carried off really nicely. There was lots we loved about the hotel, read below and find out!
There was a number of pools to suit various demographics. There was an adult pool area for over 14 year olds only. It always seemed very peaceful and serene in the whole area around the pool (that’s right I would walk past with a jealous look), there was a main pool which was huge and 1.4 metres depth around the whole pool area. There were also three pool areas the first around the slides, the second one in the kids area and an indoor pool area. As there were so many options, it meant that there was no over crowding and there was always plenty of spaces to swim and play in the pools.
The beach area was nice and clean and well looked after. There were loads of sun loungers and huts. The sea was a beautiful aqua blue but the waves were at time a little ferocious and could knock little adventurers off their feet. Maya loved jumping over the waves. Warning, the sand will get into every nook and cranny of your body. its very cumbersome to clean and hard work to wash away!
The hotel likes to give their guests the big wow factor and it went to great lengths to achieve this. Whilst we were there they had Turkish night, love night and Mexican night. Not only was the food linked to these respective themes but they had hundreds of balloons into arches, flowers for guests, personalised chocolates. No expense was spared. We were all really impressed and the little adventurers were always wowed into silence.
The meals were amazing, such a huge range of food and there was always something to suit everyone’s tastes. I particularly liked the fact that there were loads of cooks on the main area outside, freshly making the food for you. It was great to see the food on display, always hot and the children to try different things. I am not a foodie in the slightest but even I have to admit that I was throughly impressed and this may be the first holiday where I actually took photographs of food! A hint here, the evening buffet opens at 6:30 so I would recommend families with children to come around this time as it is sooo much quieter and easier to get your food and tables with out the rush that ensues after about 7:15. Also it means that you are finished in time for Luna Park to be on.
I loved that the hotel had given consideration to families in a number of ways. They had a small stepladder/stools in the bars outside and also in the public bathrooms so that the children could be more self sufficient. I particularly loved the stool at the bar and Maya and Raihan would happily go on them and order for themselves (under my watchful gaze!). They had fabulous huts by the pool and those on the beach were reserved for use by families with small children which again I thought was a really good idea. My favourite was a little shaded hut area on the beach so that the children could build sandcastles and play in the sand despite the heat!
The hotel had a small fairground called Luna Park which was opened between 7:30pm and 9pm each day. There was enough rides to keep the children entertained. They had a ferris wheel, swings, bumper cars, a pirate ship and a train (this wasn’t working whilst we were there). I loved that the kids could have a few rides each evening and it meant there was something to look forward to for them. In addition, things like the bumper cars, everyone could have a go on and we had 8 of us on at one point. Lots of smiling kids at the end of it. Just be aware though that the rides such as swings have a thin chain strap which goes across the waist as in the picture above). Whilst we were there a girl (probably about 8/9 years old) somehow slipped under the bar and it takes a few seconds to have the ride come to a complete stop.
Luna Park – Animation team
Every evening the animation team will come to the main buffet restaurant and gather all the children to go to Luna PArk. They usually arrive at 7:45 and take the children on the rides before taking them to the mini disco. I thought this was fantastic and it allowed parents, 45 minutes to enjoy their food and have some adult company.
This took place every day at 8:30, they gave everyone coming into the theatre free popcorn and candy floss (nice!) which i thought was a great touch. This compared with the Concorde last year where they charged 5 euros for each of these. The mini disco was on the stage and they had a number of songs in a number of languages. Our Maya loved mini disco and would get up and have a good boogie every night.
The hotel have guest services opened during the day and also set up a little desk where guests can speak to them directly. They have a fab idea of getting guests to give them feedback and offer them either a free bag or a massage at the spa (the massage is amazing!). I really liked this idea and they also have a guest services representative asking guests what they didn’t like about the hotel as they were keen to get people’s views on board to help them improve.
outside our rooms on the second floor, there were a number of sofas/tables so families could have a sit down together. I thought this was perfect as our three rooms were on this floor and we could have a night drink before going to our rooms. However, we were fortunate that we went in a week when the area was used by generally quiet guests however, other reviews on tripadvisor that I read did comment that this particularly was a nuisance to them as some of the guests were quite rowdy.
I personally loved this. I would always try to get the table closest to this play area and as there were 4 children (aged 8,5,3 and 1) we would feed them first and then be able to eat for once myself, whilst they played the slide and the roundabout. Doc wasn’t able to join us for the holiday (big sad face) as his grandma was really poorly so it can be very tiresome to have to try and eat whilst having three little adventurers hankering after your attention. (flip side, its great for the waistline as you will never, EVER eat a full meal again). It was a small climbing frame but was perfect for a good 15-20 minutes to keep the children occupied.
During the day the team had a number of activities on in the main pool. These were ideal for adults and teenagers. One particular day they had rodeo bulls, inflatable slides and assault courses and would always have a number of fun challenges for guests to partake in. For families with older children this would be perfect!
What we didn’t like:
At busy times it was ridiculous how long you had to wait for a lift. I am not sure how the lift system operates, but it took forever to use them at peak times. With a double pushchair it was impossible to take the stairs and i would wait around for a long time. I especially felt for wheelchair users as they would wait around for a long time!
Remember the Calsberg adverts in the 1990s, this hotel seemed to have a lot of sun lounger hoggers. Given the number of guests and the quality of the hotel it was surprising that it was such hard work to get a sun bed sometimes. We had to start coming down at 8 in the morning to try to get a few together (not 10 but even 4/5 together was proving to be hard work. We did speak to the hotel and they said there was little they could do about it. In comparison, we never had this problem at the Concorde and we could turn up after our breakfast at 10 and easily get a number of loungers together.
When you are travelling with little adventurers a bath is part of the daily routine especially after hours of swimming. Plus for many families, a bath is part of their normal bedtime routine. I was very disappointed that the hotel did not have a bath. Our Raihan (he’s a real screamer) hates showers with every essence of his being and it was hard work trying to get him showered everyday.
The kids club was very well run but I didn’t like the fact that the main activities that the club ran were chargable. For me, part of paying a premium of being in a top class hotel is that things like small activities are included in the cost of the hotel experience you pay for. The kids club ran a number of fun activities like T shirt decorating, sand art but these were pricey and were all chargeable. I don’t mind paying for children to take part in activities but to have a payable, main activity on a daily basis (15/10 Euros) can soon add up to be a sizable amount. apart from the chargeable activities, on these days the other activities were usually watching a movie or playing the toys or playground outside. I compare this with my other experience of kids club ( I have always stayed as the youngest was too small to be left) and the other clubs always had different things on like making pizzas, dressing up, making fruit kebabs etc so that the children could all take part and there was no additional charge.
Chips & Fizzy
I found it a little hard work to explain to the children why they could have not chips and some fizzy drink for breakfast (everyday). Other hotels i have seen don’t have the drinks and chips available for the breakfast time and not having the choice meant there was one less battle to go through each day.
Children’s menu/eating time
My brothers have visited the Barut Lara and the Royal chain of hotels and both of these hotels had a special designated time for family eating. It was a little earlier then the general buffet time in the evening and meant that families were able to go down and feed their children without being swamped by a big rush. Also I thought the children’s menu (when compared with the hundreds of adult options) was a little limited.