Elected the best resort of Spain in 2014, the exclusive, award-winning luxury resort Gran Meliá Palacio de Isora is widely considered to be among the best, if not to be the best resort of Europe. It enjoys a fantastic frontline location near Alcalá on the west coast of Tenerife, boasting extraordinary views over the Atlantic Ocean and the island of La Gomera. The spectacular cliffs of Los Gigantes are just 5 minutes away by car. Everything about this exceptional hotel is top level: from the extensive 7,500 m2 pool, the bigest pool into the hotel in Europe, landscape to the fantastic restaurants serving excellent Japanese, Italian, Mediterranean and Iberian cuisine, from the mini-club, teenagers club and entertainment for all ages to the exclusive Red Level adults-only area and the 2,000 m2 world-class Spa by Clarins. This hotel combines a fashionable luxury environment with the impressive nature of Tenerife, the Atlantic Ocean and the lofty Mount Teide, thus creating an unrivalled holiday experience.
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So firstly, we need to say how lovely it was to be able to go on holiday after everything that's happened. I have been to this hotel twice before, so I confidently chose the hotel for our first trip away for some time.
The hotel amazes me every time you walk in, and is very well presented throughout...
There are some stunning features. It really is special.
I booked directly with the hotel this time (rather than via a package company) and chose the newly created all inclusive option. I remember from my previous occasions there are a mix of board options and they can get confusing! I thought if we chose all inclusive it would take this stress away of what was/wasn't allowed.
Check-in was efficient - although as we were only there for 4 nights I was keen to eat at one of the many restaurants rather than the buffet style restaurant which I prefer not to eat at. For a high class hotel, not being able to book a restaurant for the first night in advance is very disappointing. This then meant by the time we arrived we were told the only option for dinner was the buffet restaurant.
The room was lovely as usual, we chose a sea view which isn't disappoint, and the room right at the front of the hotel was superb. It was, however, less cluttered than before, presumably a covid precaution, but missed some of the extra pillows and importantly some of the hotel information. We were directed to an app which was very confusing to use and poorly translated to English.
We had no issues finding space by the pool on all our days. Any staff offering pool service (there was hardly anyone about) charged a service charge for service - even for all inclusive. It was much easier to go to the pool bar and order from the bar. Although be warned - the All inclusive drinks menu is very limited - especially in terms of cocktails. Much more restrictive than previous times I have stayed and paid for a 'drinks package'. The options on the all inclusive drinks menu didn't make sense when you looked at the cost of the drinks if you weren't on all inclusive.
Availability of restaurants was very poor during our stay and the choice for lunch and dinner was very limited. It was confusing to know which restaurants were/weren't open for the evening and although we did manage to have two nights in two of the restaurants, the other two were in the buffet restaurant (which was nice, but not the experience I like whilst on holiday). The food however was lovely in all the restaurants and we did enjoy everything we had!
The huge disappointment was the drinks service during the evening. There were lovely areas to sit and watch the entertainment in the central area, and understandably you could not order at the bar. This meant you had to rely on the staff coming to take drinks orders. I found they were very quick to take an initial order, but then trying to get another drink was almost impossible!! We would go almost an hour after we had finished a drink before anyone would even look at us so we could get their attention. They were massively understaffed and one night, there was only one person serving everyone. We therefore could never get more than 2 drinks on any of the evenings we were there. Some nights we gave up! Seems like they want to limit all inclusive drinks!
The other really obvious situation is that all inclusive guests are treated very differently from others who are perhaps paying for their drinks (the very high prices!). I observed a very obvious different drinks service and offering to other guests, for example more frequent drinks, drinks served in different glasses (I never had a gin and tonic served in a balloon glass), and the waiter took the spirit bottle to the table and free poured, and a separate tonic was served - as well as service being friendlier! All inclusive drinks were very poor, in standard glasses, and weak.
The hotel need to re-define their board options and if all inclusive is offered - it should be truly all-inclusive - and also not offer a completely sub-standard level of service to all-inclusive guests.
This did spoil the experience and I think it is highly unlikely I will ever return to the hotel. We did raise this during the stay and was offered a bali bed for our final day which was a nice touch and we enjoyed very much. A complimentary bottle of cava was also offered which was also lovely - but this was available on all inclusive so we didn't get anything we couldn't have had, other than the luxury of having the bottle rather than ordering by the glass.
The hotel felt very COVID secure. We got a hire car from the airport and drove to the hotel which was way cheaper than the transfer option offered by the hotel. The hotel have a great parking area underneath. We also used the hire car to drive to Las Americas to get our lateral flow COVID test - 35 euro - again cheaper than organising this through the hotel.
There's a great cash and carry shop just down the road which is a fantastic option for getting some bottles of water (rather than keep going to the bar) for the room and any snacks. Wish we had brought alcohol for the room considering the inability to get a drink in the evening!
So the two biggest issues - restaurant availability very limited and drinks service almost non-existent - both of these linked to the 'all-inclusive' board which isn't really all inclusive!