Situated in a popular resort area just outside the coastal town of Side and near the sandy beach, this attractive resort hotel is perfect for a relaxing holiday of sea and sun. Rooms are generous and brightly lit with natural sunlight, all furnished with wireless internet, central air, soft slippers, and a balcony to better appreciate the fresh, seaside air. The hotel offers several bars and a la carte restaurants specializing in traditional and modern Turkish cuisine as well as a romantic Italian restaurant. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of daily activities from relaxing ping pong, bocce ball and shuffle board in the games arcade to adrenaline-pumping windsurfing, jet skiing and parasailing on the beach, and on hot summer nights entertainment is provided in the hotel's amphitheatre. Alternatively, guests can simply relax with a book by the refreshing outdoor pools or play on the water slides. A simply delightful place to take a relaxing holiday in the Turkish sunshine.
Prices in the calendar are based on the cheapest room(s) available and your search criteria
Stayed here for a week in December with family. The hotel itself is very nice, very clean. We had a family room which was two separate rooms which was nice, minibars were restocked daily with soft drinks and beer...
Whilst there is plenty of choice for food, there did appear to be some problem with keeping this food warm. I was rather disappointed one night when we sat at a table which had a disabled sign on it (mother has mobility problems due to stroke)only to be approached by I believe the head waiter ranting in German- none of us speak German and this was explained to him however he continued. Both myself and the head waiter spoke with a rep who spoke both languages and I was absolutely astonished to hear that apparently to be disabled you have to be in a wheelchair- I gave him a lesson on disability, however I think this hotel needs to educate their staff on what disability actually is. Communication with most of the staff was difficult as they seemed to only speak German. Shame really as the hotel itself is amazing. Would we return to this hotel- probably not.
Villa Side Residence 2021 review My mother and I stayed for 23 nights, 21st November - 14th December, 2021. We had both visited the hotel twice before (January 2019 & February/March 2020) and I would refer you to my previous comprehensive reviews for the details.
What Makes A Good Winter Hotel? Simples: first, it has to be a good hotel and second, it must not change too much for the winter.
It is easy enough to identify good hotels through star-ratings, descriptions and especially reviews...
TripAdvisor and hotel rate comparison sites such as Trivago allow for filtering or ordering by top guest ratings. However, the second qualification, not changing too much for the winter season (usually 1st November - 30th April in Antalya Province) is far more of a challenge. There is very little official information available about how a hotel is run in the winter and even reviews written in the winter leave out the obvious!
The worst hotels in this regard start removing sun beds, draining swimming pools and closing down facilities, indoors and outdoors, from 1st November regardless of the weather or guest numbers. Previously included items are charged for or withdrawn altogether. Food and drink menus become more limited, staff are sent home, the lights are dimmed and it can feel like the guests are just there with the caretaker. It is not fun being stuck in a hotel where the only thing to do is eat and drink in the dark with equally miserable fellow guests.
The best hotels carry on regardless just making minor adaptations according to the daily weather and the reduced daylight hours. In 90 hotel stays in Antalya province, I have come across just three that fit in to this latter category.
The case in point here is the Villa Side Residence, my equal first choice with the Sunrise Queen which is sadly closed again this winter.
All through the winter there is: A 24 hour bar with branded & imported drinks At-table waiter service everywhere and at all times Choice of a la carte restaurants A large beach bar with a full good restaurant experience on the beach (but just a bar on rainy days) Entertainment 6 evenings/week including professional live music Choice of evening bars - loud and entertaining or quiet and ambient, equi-sized Themed nights in the main buffet restaurant Pool bar or pool terrace trolley bar service An outdoor heated semi-olympic pool (currently not heated due to Covid regulations) Included sauna, Turkish bath, heated indoor pool, pool/beach towels Included room safe, fast wi-fi everywhere (except at the beach), room dvd player & English TV channels Very generous mini-bar offering replenished daily & the most comprehensive toiletries Included laundry service (currently suspended due to Covid regulations) Plus all the daily organised activities that I avoid, but some like, (gym, water gym, boccia, darts, etc.)
The Impact of Covid Regulations The major difference on this visit of course was the Covid regulations. They affected not just the obvious, e.g. mask wearing, social distancing, but many non-obvious aspects such as lighting, temperature, food quality, facilities and amenities.
Our rooms were probably the least changed or affected. The minibar offering is still as generous, the bedding, towels, bathrobes and toiletry collection unchanged except the new towels are not as heavy and fluffy as before. The TV and DVD player remote controls are in transparent polythene bags with the instruction not to remove them from the bags. One significant change was the removal of the included laundry service and indeed also the paid laundry service. The former was a godsend for those of us who travel hand-luggage only and have extended stays. I have made-do with hand washing and dressing up a T-shirt with a jacket more than I would have otherwise.
Mask-wearing in the public inside areas of the hotel was expected at all times, except when eating or drinking. This is obviously necessary but does get tiresome. It was very easy to leave the room or come in from outside and forget only to get in trouble with the ‘mask-police’ (fellow guests) instantly. Free disposable masks are provided at all key points to make it easy to comply and encourage good behaviour.
The public areas were also cooler, mentioned in the information sheet as being ‘extra natural ventilation’, ie. some windows and doors were open permanently to create a flow of fresh air. There were one-way signs and social distancing markers at all key heavy traffic routes, somewhat spoiling the beautiful floors. Lighting was far brighter everywhere. I assume this was to enable greater visibility of anyone not complying with the rules but the bright lights and colder spaces, destroyed the former evening ambience.
All bar stools had been removed and with them the usual focus of a bar. In the main lobby bar, tables and chairs had been regimented in strict lines to maximise social distances and without the larger sets that there were before to prevent groups forming. In the ‘quiet bar’ with the sofa sets, around one in three seats had a PVC disc indicating no sitting there. However, these can easily be moved to other seats to suit. I regret not bringing some back with me - you never know when you don’t want a certain person to sit next to you.
There were temporary cordons at reception and at the buffet to encourage people into socially-distanced lines and to keep the lines apart.
There were bottles of sanitiser practically everywhere, including at every table in the restaurant, in the lifts, at every entrance to anywhere and in the public loos. It is good stuff, I used it to clean my laptop and phone regularly.
The lifts were limited to four people and it could be a wait to catch one not already fully-occupied at peak times. They are slower because people are pressing both up and down buttons to increase their chances meaning many wasted stops and greater occupation by those going in the wrong direction. Please don’t ever press up & down!
Regarding food, I suspect the Covid regulations stopped the recycling of food into other dishes. Usually the ‘original source’ appears, e.g. freshly cooked meat, fish, veg, whole items of salad, fruit, etc.. What is left over gets chopped up and put in a stew or sauce, the hors d'oeuvres, mixed salads, fruit cocktails etc.. It makes its way down the chain until eventually it goes in the soup. I have always joked that the kitchens of these big hotels take in a massive quantity of daily supplies but just put out a single carrier bag of rubbish every night.
When I asked one of the chefs, clearing away a shocking amount of unused food, if it would go in tomorrow’s soup. His answer was quite an angry ‘no’. I understand this from the perspective of knowing what many people in Turkey have to live off at the moment and all this excellent food simply had to be thrown away. This also explains the worst soups I have ever had in a Turkish hotel - they appeared to be made afresh from minimal ingredients each time. Overall then, the existing food budget per head would have also had to pay for the waste and the resulting quality and variety a little down on the outstanding of our previous visits.
Temperatures were taken with a hand-held probe/gun at the entrance to the main restaurant every meal, with the figure and room number recorded every breakfast, and at least one plastic glove was required to be worn to choose food. I know other hotels have installed transparent screens and guests are required to point to what they want as the plate is passed down the line of staff before receiving it at the end.
None of these measures apply solely to the Villa Side Residence nor make a hotel holiday unviable during these times but, taken together, I could well understand some people preferring to defer a little longer in the hope that we will start to emerge from the pandemic and these measures will be relaxed and hopefully eventually eliminated. In particular I would not want to be travelling alone. It is near impossible to talk to anyone not sharing a room with you except at a distance and wearing a mask.
I will just mention karaoke. Most hotels have animation-led karaoke one night a week. It is always surprising entertainment for better or worse. I had planned on doing one number each time. Fellow guests have been spared as karaoke is banned under the current Covid regulations :-(
A La Carte There were three a la carte themes in operation: Turkish, Fish and Italian. Each comes with a cover charge of €8 and requires reservation and choice of main course (out of three) with Guest Relations between 10:00 and 11:00 at least the day before. We tried the Fish and then the Italian. This is my account of the Italian a la carte.
Firstly there is no choice of arrival time, it is strictly 6pm, possibly driven by the culture that besets this and most Antalya province hotels, of having to arrive early, no matter what time whatever it is starts, to secure the preferred places. You can imagine that once upon a time, dinner would have started at a more civilised 7pm and gone on until late. Then because of the huge queues waiting to enter the restaurant, they brought the opening time forward 15 minutes, then another 15 minutes, then another. The truth is no matter what time dinner starts, there is a significant contingent who will be queue to get in before. Then of course, Turkey has abolished winter time (Turkey is now in permanent Summer time, GMT-3hrs), so that 6pm is really the former 5pm. It is still light and feels more like afternoon teatime than evening.
Secondly, ‘a la carte’ should allow the guests to order whatever they want off an extensive menu, in the order and portion sizes they prefer. Most Turkish hotel ‘a la carte’ restaurants are precisely the opposite - an over-facing fixed menu with a couple of limited choices within it. This is the main reason I don’t usually do the a la cartes. However, the strategy having been decided from studying of the menu, we refused the ‘hot starter’ and ‘salad’ courses and defended the cold starters from the waiter to have during the inevitable long pauses while the other guests had those courses we refused. Between the two of us we had a dozen manakins of starters and dips, plus toast and bread, the very heavy soup, huge main course (we both chose the salmon) which came with an entire bush of leaves, and finally mother had what was described as tiramisu. I would have preferred the pizza, only available as a hot starter, a little side salad and cheese to finish but that combination was not available.
Thirdly, there was nothing ‘Italian’ about the Italian a la carte. It was a selection of things regularly available from the buffet, translated into Italian for the menu but admittedly presented beautifully. You would have thought there would have been a choice of pasta dishes and pizzas and some Italian cheeses to finish. Some Italian music and a little Italian decor is customary but was absent.
Then I should finally add my regular grumblings about poor lighting (too bright), poor temperature control (this time too cold), music (inappropriate choice, tinny sound system and too loud) and below-par service (the serving waiter clearly had a strict strict order in which to do things, e.g. water before wine regardless of need, etc.).
We survived the ordeal. It was a welcome change from the buffet restaurant but hardly the pleasure it could so easily be with just a little thought and oversight. They do what they do, they are trained professionals and we are only tourists.
Cold Red Wine There was the minor incident of the red wine. My mother has been refusing to join me with a red wine because, early on, she had two glasses which were cold - refrigerated cold. It is a common issue in Turkish hotels 1) because junior staff often don’t know that red wine should be served at an ambient temperature and 2) often the fridge is the only secure place at an outdoor bar to leave it overnight. I thought I had made good progress with all the bar staff I regularly encountered and, whether I convinced them that red wine is best not served cold or they simply thought me strange, I have gone around two weeks without the issue.
I convinced my mother to join me with a glass of red wine. Yes - they were freezing. Returning drinks to a bar is not something I choose to do for pleasure. To make it worse, when I got to the bar, there was the bar man, the waiter who had brought the glasses, and two F&B captains all in conference. They looked mystified as I walked towards them with the two full glasses. I only said the wine was cold. There was a brief, under the breath discussion in Turkish between them from which I could decipher the words for ‘cold’ and ‘fridge’. The glasses dramatically emptied down the sink from a great height (at least that is how it felt) and a new bottle brought from from the backroom for replacements. When I delivered them to our table, my mother said they were a little over-filled. “Shall I take them back?”, I asked.
The ‘English Library’ My mother had found a 3 inch strip of sellotape from her packing so I was able to make an “English” label for one shelf of the library and start an English language collection - otherwise lost in a sea of German books. I found a couple more English books to put with those we have either finished with or were not interested in. Added to those we bought from Kale Emlak (an estate agency near the Chinese restaurant), when we leave, there should be around 15 English books in the collection. I hope future native English speakers will maintain it.
Overall, it was a disappointing experience mostly due to the impact of the Covid regulations as detailed above. The Villa Side Residence is still a top 5-star all-inclusive hotel on the Antalya coast for the winter. I hope that when the measures relax, it will return to its former magnificent self.
I am uploading 27 annotated photos from this trip for further information.
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Tim Millea, December 2021.
Have stayed in this Hotel a couple of times previously. We didn’t expect everything to be open due to Covid, but I believe some things are inexcusable. There was a very limited choice of food at breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe to be expected...
But most of the time the cooked food was cold with no heating under the trays. Stale bread. It only cost pennies for a loaf of bread in Turkey. Stale cake & biscuits, which had gone soft, and the same fruit presented day after day, which I would have thrown out days before. The alcohol drinks were more limited than on previous occasions, certainly not ultra all inclusive as advertised. The plus points are most of the very hard working staff. Aydin, who was working in the lobby bar, deserves a special mention for his tireless work and attitude. As stated before I have stayed here a couple of times previously, but I don’t think I will be coming back again.
Stayed at Villa Side for two nights. There are many positive point but also some points to consider which I have summarised below:
Food - good variety in terms of choice and food was generally well cooked and fresh. The waiters and chefs were amazing, all of them were very professional and very welcoming.
Entertainment - good choice of activities for both adults and kids...
Though guests and hotel management should do more to space people out during these sessions due to Covid-19.
All inclusive - good variety of drinks and snacks to pick up by the pool and the beach. Staff here were generally very nice.
Pool - water pool for kids was good and all pools were kept very clean. Slides added joy to the trip and lifeguards were always on the lookout.
Run down - the hotel rooms and furniture feel run down and could do with an upgrade. There were stains on bedsheets and carpets which you don't expect to see in a five star hotel.
Room view - the hotel looks very nice on pictures however this can be misleading. The view from our view was a graveyard which isn't what you are looking for on a holiday.
Wi-fi - patchy connection but good speed when connected. Something to consider if internet is important to you.
Would I recommend? If the price is reasonable the above points dont bother you too much - go for it!
We slept one night on our way. The food was good. The stuff was very nice but the feeling was average...
The hotel is not next to the sea as well. For the price, it is ok. I am not sure if I would stay again.