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Just back from a hot sunny week at Ocean Club Beach, which we really enjoyed. I travelled with my son and his girlfriend. All well organised and run, flights and transfers handled smoothly. Fairly quiet as it was the first week of schools being back.
We had a two bed two bath appartment about five minutes walk from The Mill where the restaurant and reception are based, and the big family pool. The pool is lovely, with good landscaping and beautiful plants and flowers - there are a few broken pots around which adds to the slightly tired and rather shabby feeling apparent in the Mill area; but to be honest we have found this at othe MW resorts, it's pretty expensive but not luxury. The staff were all marvellous, really nice, helpful and enthusiastic despite a long busy summer. Food much better than I expected - breakfasts are pretty good, and evening meals very well planned menus, good if limited, interesting choices, nicely presented and and delicious. Gluten free and vegetarians catered for well.
The village is tiny, a seaside resort with a range of places to eat, a fantastic beach and it all feels safe and secure.The light is beautiful. Altogether a restful and pleasant week.
Review by Lynn Inglis
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on September 7th 2013
The best things about this holiday were the amazing beach and Jake's tennis lessons for our little girl. Our accommodation was nice, especially as it had a pool shared between only a few flats, and the owners were a delight. But the local MW accommodation is hit and miss and we heard stories of tired-looking apartments. But the biggest disappointment by far was the food. The barbecue on the first night was really not great, the salads were uninspiring and the paella completely tasteless. The cereal at breakfast were from very cheap sub brands and tasted like cardboard. The evening meals were bizarre (cauliflower cheese in Portugal??!) and many products used were not local. Both our flights were delayed. We got home in the middle of the night, which wiped out the benefit of our holiday. I was expecting much better for my money. MW, I know you can do so much better - it just did not feel like you cared much. Shame, I was raving about you after two wonderful holidays in Turkey.
Review by Caroline
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 15 August
This is the second time we've travelled to the Ocean Club with Mark Warner. We have 2 children age 4 and 7 and therefore got to use both the mini club and junior club.
Unfortunately this year we were very disapointed with the child care for our 7 year old. The girl running the club didnt have a great attitude, told the children she was contstantly tired and blamed the hot sun! This often led to the organised activities being cancelled or completed at a speed of knots. Often she would use the 'fitness classes' as light relief and my son actually had to do water aerobics and then LBT - which he was extremley unhappy about. This led to some tension at club time as he really didnt want to go.
The mini club, on the other hand, was excellent. Nicola and Amy where amazing. Calm, informative and very happy to see the children. They also ran the night time video club and they truly had a great way about them.
The fitness classes, run by jasmin, where great. A great way to have a burst on energy whilst on the side of the pool. My husband enjoyed the bike rides too and often took a bike out on his own.
The restaurant was great and managed well. Although the staff were very young they were alsways happy to have a chat and provided a quick and effecient service. Special thanks to matt for keeping us entertained.
I also have to agree with the review below. Tne Customer Service person at the Mill really was on another planet. We had to ask 3 times to get our fan fixed in our room and the communicatoon between the sites was truly awful. We tried to arrange cabs to Splash and Slide and Lagos and to be honest we didnt know whether it would turn up. On one occasion it didnt and on the second the cab was sent elsewhere.
Lastly the accomodation should be explained to you before you travel. We had a two bed apartment, the same as some friends, but we had to hire fans (10 Euro a week each) as there was no air conditioining in any apartments. Our friends already had 3 fans in their place. Also some have washing machines, some don't, some have double beds some don't. I think a clear list would be great before you arrive rather than the look of the draw.
Overall I think the place needs a little TLC. They need to employ staff who are happy to entertain children all day, get some staff who know what they are doing on Customer service and think about their communication before you arrived.
Unfortunately I do believe you get what you pay for. The poor restaurant staff only got 50 euro's a week and I believe front of house 40 euro's. This surprised me as I'd paid nealy £5k for my holiday!!!!!
Based on the above I wouldnt go to the Portugal resort again - we would look to use other resorts or Neilsons to ensure we get the childcare we need.
Review by Lisa
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 10th August
This was our first holiday abroad with all our children: we have two teenagers, plus four children all aged under 6. To say that I was nervous beforehand is an understatement! However the MW childcare staff were brilliant and ensured that they all had an amazing time. There weren't many older teenagers so the Indy club never really got going, but our 16 year old son made friends and had a great time just by hanging out by the pool, and playing tennis and pool.
The tennis instructor Jake was brilliant fun and great with all age groups - my preschoolder loved her early morning group lessons (which was a great time to have them, as it wasn't too hot) and the teenagers had brilliant fun at their lessons too. My husband and I also really enjoyed our lessons and our friendly rivalry emerged! It was great fun.
The nannies in toddler club and mini club couldn't be faulted. Our two year old was initially reluctant to go to club, but by the end of the week was saying a cheery goodbye to us at drop off time and shutting the nursery door! - so he must have been having fun! They did a wide variety of activities, with a good mix of time in the pool and quieter indoor activities. We did use the evening drop-in crèche, where you leave an excited child watching a film and pick up a fast asleep child: but I wouldn't do it every night as it did leave them quite tired the next day. It was nice for my husband and I to have a peaceful civilised meal by ourselves though.
Our accommodation was great, very clean and spacious. We had a three bed apartment which had a kitchen, big living room with sofas, dining table and balcony, and two bathrooms. There was aircon in every room and a cooker, dishwasher and washing machine in the kitchen. I just wish I had thought in advance to request a ground floor apartment: we had two buggies and hauling them up all the stairs wasn't fun! However we were pleased that our accommodation was in the Mill area, not the other part (near the Pizzeria)- as the Mill family pool was never too crowded and it was more convenient for breakfast and evening meals, and the evening crèche.
Praia da Luz is an attractive and fairly quiet resort, which meant that we weren't worried about our teenager in the evening, he tended to just hang around with his friends near the Mill bar, which was something less for us to worry about!
The transfer to and from the resort was smooth, quick (1 hour) and well managed.
The adult only pool was an oasis of tranquillity on our child free mornings, and a good size with a lovely bar and plenty of sunloungers and plenty of shade. Bliss!!
The food was good but the portions were fairly small, I think our teenager was left hungry after dinner most nights but my husband and I were fine, so it might just be a teenager thing! There was a good choice and more than enough quantities at breakfast.
A huge thank you to nannies Aimee, Amy, Becky and Nicola, and the childcare manager Simara, for being so trustworthy and such good fun with our children. It really made our holiday to know that they were so well looked after. We were also impressed with the restaurant staff who ran the evenings very smoothly and kept the area very clean.
Thanks for a wonderful time. We will definitely return to Mark Warner. We just might try a resort with more watersports next time.But on the other hand we doubt that we could match the standard and size of accommodation at another resort, so we may well just return. Either way I am so impressed by the quality of staff. There was just one "customer service " person who never knew the answer to anything, but she was definitely the exception rather than the rule. Also as another review said - why isn't there a credit card machine at the Mill reception? It was an unnecessary stress on our last day to have to trudge to Ocean Club reception to pay our room bill for our extra childcare sessions. Those are the only negative points I can think of!
Review by Katherine Davies
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 17/8/13
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Ocean Beach. We travelled out independently and arrived late evening but staff cheerfully showed us to our apartment and had kindly saved some food from the BBQ. Food was good but portions for teenagers a little on the small side - our son went home most evenings still hungry. Restaurant got quite chilly in the evenings as the wind whipped up which sometimes was quite uncomfortable despite the blankets available. This also might explain why the bar never seemed very busy in the evenings. Some extra seating and parasols would have been nice during the day to enjoy a relaxing drink at the bar.
The teens club was a letdown. We have travelled with Neilson before and our kids have had a brilliant time in the teens club but it just never seemed to get going. No activities seemed to be organised and if they were, they were not displayed.
Instead our son had tennis lessons and the coach was brilliant with him - top marks there. My daughter and I also enjoyed the various fitness sessions and husband went on several good bike rides.
Accommodation was comfortable and clean ... except the horrendous pillows! We ended up using the cushions off the sofa with extra pillow cases requested. Also the towels were not very good quality. I also did not like not having a safe in my apartment but instead had to fork out 15 Euros to rent a safe box in the main Ocean Club Reception. Despite this being billed as 24 hours when we went to retrieve our stuff on the Friday evening before our departure, the place was locked up. Luckily we were able to come back next morning but hate to think what might have happened if we had had a very early flight..... The communication between the MW reception at the Mill and the main Ocean beach reception wasn't brilliant and why does the Mill reception not have credit/debit card payment? I ended trekking up and down between the two receptions to pay for beauty treatments - which were great and Sharon was lovely.
Pools were good especially the adult only pool which my daughter and I used alot.
Review by Sue Davies
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 20/7/13
This was our first Mark Warner holiday and we booked it specifically so that our 2 year old could be in a kids club whilst my partner played tennis and I (at nearly 30 weeks pregnant) could have a bit of a rest.
We had a fantastic time, the apartment we were in was absolutely amazing - huge, clean and very well set up (0405) - the only negative was very hard beds - but we fully appreciate that this is not MW's fault. We were about a 3 minute walk from the Mill centre (where the kids club and main restaurant is), and a 5-10 minute walk to the beach (depending on speed of toddler).
We felt so well looked after throughout our stay, the kids club was great and knowing that our son was safe and happy made the holiday for us. All the staff were fantastic, friendly and above all helpful, but huge thanks to Jake for the great tennis and thanks to everyone who organised the social dinners and quiz nights which were universally good.
We also wanted to mention the restaurant - the quality and choice of food was outstanding - we were genuinely surprised with how good it was for the evening meal. Breakfast was fine with a decent selection and plenty to keep kids happy. Additionally the waiting staff were at all times really helpful and friendly.
many thanks to the entire team for making our holiday so special.
Review by Nicky
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 08/06/2013
This was our first MW holiday and we had a lovely week. Our apartment was clean and comfortable with the added bonus of Sky TV so we could watch Olympics Closing Ceremony. Staff friendly, food tasty, pool great. Our boys (12 and 10 ) enjoyed the kids club particularly as there was a good group of boys staying at the same time. BUT as with so many MW clients it was the flights that nearly ruined the week. We had an 8 hour wait on the outward journey from Gatwick with the airline Small Planet, so basic that it did not even have a logo on the departure board. When you are only going for a week 's holiday, spending one of those days in the airport is a sizeable chunk of it. Information about causes for delay was non -existent and we were pretty much tearing our hair out at the end. Really annoying too as we had forked out a large chunk of money to stay at hotel the night before to catch the 0630 flight only to be told AFTER we had checked in that it was delayed by 3 hours (and then another 3, and then another 2).Not a great start to the holiday. Reading other reviews it is obviously a recurrent problem with MW hols - so MW need to make some serious efforts to sort this out.
Mark Warner Say:
We are pleased to announce that for summer 2013 we will be using Monarch and British Airways and that all the departure times are in the early afternoon.
Review by Sue Morris
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 12/08/2012
A combination of rundown accomodation, with an easy cop-out of several barbeques and staff that came across as having an indifferent attitude made this a disappointing holiday.
We have travelled with MarkWarner before and they CAN do better than this.
If ever the CEO/Managing Director needed to go 'back to the floor' as a mystery guest and experience himself how frustrating this MW resort is - then now is the time !
If anyone from MW wants to discuss points in detail we would be glad to go further.
Review by Roy Harrington
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 26/08/2012
We feel relaxed after a lovely week at the Ocean Club: fantastic weather (luckily I'd been warned to take a cardigan for the evenings when the wind gets up); breakfasts fine but evening dinner was excellent (first night BBQ excepted); great pool (some people still hogging sunbeds but not really an issue when we were there); lovely sandy beach; comfortable apartment (fantastic view but why is it considered acceptable to put a camp bed up for the child? Ours ended up taking it in turns to sleep in it as it wasn't long enough nor particularly comfortable). None of our children (12,14,16) chose to join the clubs available but that suited us: we played tennis, did various fitness classes (Dominique, the instructor, has such a calm voice and is lovely) and took the bikes out (we hadn't picked up from the website that the rep wouldn't let children under 13 yrs join his rides). One major gripe: we flew with Small Planet (no, no-one has heard of it so why are MW using them?) and the plane on the way out was Aeroflot circa 1970 and did not inspire confidence; on the way back, despite MW staff knowing of a potential 3hr delay (was 8 hrs in the end!), they still dumped 2 coaches of travellers at the airport and effectively washed their hands of us which was a surprising failure in MW's customer service
Review by Maura Parsons
who travelled to Ocean Club Beach Resort on 5/8/12
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I had never been on a Mark Warner holiday before and the Ocean Club seemed a good option for me and my husband as it offered a bit more independence, while at the same time offering the great Mark Warner tennis we were keen to get stuck in with. We would eat breakfast and dinner at the main restaurant and at lunchtime we utilised the local supermarket and the kitchen in our appartment. The Ocean Club itself is set in a very quaint fishing village and is a great place to explore, further afield we visited Faro and the coastal countryside around the resort. A great holiday for all.
Review by Sarah Ziegler
who travelled to Ocean Club on June 2011