Mark Warner - Levante Beach, Rhodes, Greece
June - July 2012
Perhaps it's a sign of the times. Having been previous Mark Warner guests (San Agostino, Paleros and Lakitira), we were used to distinctive red and white MW bag tags, tickets and lots of other MW paraphernalia. None on this occasion, except an e-ticket and letter of confirmation, which was completely perfect and no doubt reduced MW's overheads. This all worked efficiently too.
Flight - This was a charter flight operated by BA, departing from the beautiful Terminal Five at Heathrow. The experience of departing on time was a new one (based on previously travelling with Excel, Viking, Tor and other Mark Warner flight operations during the past 5 years!). This BA flight was the perfect flight, really charming staff, great food and we arrived 30 minutes EARLY at Rhodes Airport. I have to say the BA cabin crew were just completely fabulous with kids and adults alike. MW have clearly listened to customers. Humans tend to remember the beginning and end of a holiday! Typically, our last (2011) experience of 8 hour delays (including a fire alarm evacuation!) at sunny London Gatwick no doubt has a potential huge impact on MW guests returning the following year. If MW listens, the BA charter concept is compelling and just brilliant. MW - Bring it in for all the resorts and your returning guests will increase, I promise!
Transfer - Despite the early arrival at Phodes, Mark Warner staff were ready and waiting with four coaches for transfer to Levante Beach. Transfer time was about 25 minutes. Despite being located close to the airport, throughout the stay there was no sound of either light or commercial aircraft. Seat belts are fitted on the air conditioned coaches, I noted a few defective belts.
We were allocated a small room on the floor above reception and in all honesty couldn't have asked for too much more, as we had only booked a standard room (2 adults, 1 child). The room had views at the rear of the hotel, overlooking the tennis courts and a small mountain, but facing away from the sea....we were quite disappointed. However, there are much worse rooms we spotted - on the ground floor, also at the back, but looking directly onto the wall of the tennis centre and next to a very noisy generator!!! Hopefully MW guests don't get landed with those....some of the rooms fall into the room numbers 1000's and 2000's.
There didn't appear to be a dedicated MW Reception desk, as reception is shared by all the operators at Levante Beach. Departure information is positioned to the right of reception on the wall. The Greek reception staff are great English speakers and were always very helpful. The hotel operations and general running is overseen by a Greek chap who bears a huge similarity to Bernie Ecclestone! The MW resort manager is also always contactable.
CAUTION RE THE MAIN POOL - As everyone does, within a few minutes of arrival, we went to explore the resort. Our daughter, put a foot in the beautiful, huge main pool's shallow end and instantly slipped, fully clothed into the pool! The MW resort manager, Sue, happened to watch this event. Sue is very congenial, helpful and delightful. She chatted for a while and we were informed that the resort was not at full capacity but was going very well, (based on feedback from other guests). Sue made an admission that the pool requires a repair due to slippy sides. The plan is to drain the pool in the winter, I just hope that no one becomes injured from a slip or slide into the pool. Upon examination the pool isn't suffering from algae etc - it's just some areas of slippery tiles.. For those with infants another word of caution - the pools have no fenced containment, so you need to keep a strict eye on non-swimming toddlers who may wander off - lots of ground floor rooms open directly out onto pools... This of course is different to Lakitira and San Agostino, where these areas are rigorously fenced and gated off. This is probably due to hotel policy, rather than MW.
We have encountered management in previous MW stays, but Sue was just great when it came to dealing with people on an approachable and professional basis. We were very, very impressed, as she is clearly experienced at dealing with issues (and was good at remaining in touch throughout the entire stay). Sue also arranged for an alternative room.
We were lucky, and probably only as there were still vacancies, to be given a new room (classed as a deluxe suite) near the centre of the resort, which was a huge improvement. It's difficult to know whether to choose ground floor and patio, or first floor and balcony. We had opted for the latter. Everything was brand new and In fact it was so new, that we were missing a handle on our interconnecting door, which really didn't matter. We had a stunning view of the adult pool, Crocodile Rock and an interrupted view of the sea. Be advised, there are however, a number of rooms in the 'nice' blocks beginning with no. 7 which face out onto the side exterior of the resort, with a potential view of a long wooden fence!
Each room has a larger than iPad compatible size safety box which is electronic so no deposit is required, previously hotels have required deposits for a key at reception, so this cuts down on a bit of hassle.. We had two flat screen LCD televisions, of which Sky and BBC news updates and other English channels could be viewed. Wi-fi is not available in most rooms, however there are a number of wi-fi 'hotspots' around the resort which can be 'tapped' into, at no additional cost. We were also supplied with plush white dressing gowns. Shampoo, shower gel and body lotion was also provided - but bring conditioner!
Work in progress - The resort is still undergoing work in some areas. Power cuts and the occasional lack of bath water are not a sign of Greek austerity measures! The bushes and grass turf have a bit of growing to do! There are no diggers, cranes or really anything which negatively affects the quality of customer satisfaction. Levante Beach is the most northerly of a current development of three hotels, which I believe are all operated by the same owner, Aqua Sol Hotel Group. As things stand, if the four pools at Levante Beach aren't enough, you are free to venture to the other hotels to use their pools. Our suspicion is that ongoing building work has come to a halt next door, until winter time, when it will restart without interfering with guests lifestyle.
The pools - there are four outside pools, which include an adults only (over 18's) pool (for water polo and staff lifeguard training too), the main pool (slippery edges), a kiddies paddling pool and an 'infinity style' beach pool, with stunning views of the coast and surrounding mountains. This pool also has a beach style bar and has an area with sofas and chairs overlooking the beach on a wooden decking. One improvement would be to place 'tea lights' on each table, to improve the general ambience, when t