25 June 2008
Playa Fiesta, Arenal Den Castell, Minorca, Spain
A$35/£17 per night
40° 1'17.85"N 4°10'46.22"E

Room + breakfast and evening meal
Package deal for
2 adults (both included)


Having decided to stay in Minorca for the time being, we checked for more last minute deals with Thomson. While this hotel wasn't the incredible bargain the previous one was, it was still cheap enough to get our attention - especially the bit that said that the resort was geared towards couples and wasn't suitable for children or families. I didn't take much notice of what was said about the hotel, but recall glossing over comments like luxurious linens and bathrobe and slippers - we don't usually bother with the in room stuff apart from the safe - and seeing 4 T's and "Gold Resort" which indicated to me that it was one of the better quality properties in Thomson's portfolio. I have to admit being a bit of a durh and assuming that it was a 4 star (the 4 T's are based on previous guest satisfaction ratings) but it was still a perfectly acceptable hotel, and I might have even rated it half a star higher than the official 3 if it hadn't have been for the Pay, Pay, Pay and the pretentious - more later.

The hotel is part of the Fiesta Group which appears to be a large one, specializing in providing troughs for package holiday and all inclusive tourists. My favorite politician, Paul Keating, once said you never stand between a state Premier and a pot of money - to paraphrase him (as I so often do), I certainly wouldn't want to stand between a package holiday tourists and the buffet. That said, the quality of the food was surprisingly good - I have to admit to being impressed by it. The Playa Fiesta is a 300-odd room hotel which let itself down with extra charges. The rooms were very clean and came equipped with a kettle and cups, mini fridge and a comfy chair as well as a writing desk, "satellite" TV consisted of a tiny screen TV with local channels, BBC 1 and ITV 1 (the two main free to air English channels) a European news channel (which was quite good) and CNN.

The bed was one of the most comfortable I've slept on in a long time, but the pillows left a bit to be desired. It wasn't a problem though, you didn't have to have the standard ones.

A couple of the better hotels we've stayed in have sumptuous feather pillows, with a card on the bed advising allergy sufferers to contact housekeeping immediately to have them replaced by latex or synthetic ones. A lot of other good hotels use the in-room hotel information folder to advise those allergic to it that the pillows are natural latex and can be replaced by synthetic ones on request. The Fiesta Playa can provide feather, latex, memory foam and a few other kinds of pillow from their "Pillow Menu". Only 3 to 6 Euro per day. Per person. Kerching.

Dressing gowns and slippers are available. Only 12 Euro per person. Per day. Kerching.

Room safe big enough for a laptop. Only 4 Euro per day. Kerching.

And get this - iron and ironing board. Only 5 Euro. Per day. No matter that you only have one shirt to iron. 5 Euro per day. Kerching.

Although I don't agree with it, I can see the logic in charging for better quality pillows and for the dressing gowns and slippers - these things have to be bought and maintained (although you could easily buy a dressing gown and slippers several times over for the hire price you'd pay on a week long visit). But charging to use the room safe? Deposit if there's a key, fair enough - but pay to use something that's already installed and is otherwise sitting there doing nothing? I'm glad we have our own security system, and I'm really glad that none of our clothes need ironing because I'd be very unhappy at having to pay such a high charge to borrow one. Even the cheapest of the cheap hotels/guest houses we've stayed in provide the use of ironing equipment and at least a communal safe free of charge. Don't ask about the cost of internet access - you don't want to know.

Location is good if you get a sea view room - as the photo below, taken from the balcony of our room shows - high above the bay with a magnificent panorama, but pool view rooms ensure you get the evening's outdoor entertainment whether you want it or not. It has to be bourne in mind that most people are here on their annual holiday and do want it. There are several restaurants, bars and supermarkets within walking distance (very steep climbing required) at better prices than in Santo Tomas, but still all geared towards and priced for tourists. Also like Santo Tomas, Arenal Den Castell is a one road in-same road out resort, but there are daily buses to other parts of the island. With a lot of apartments and villas in the resort area, there were considerably more entertainment and eating options than at Santo Tomas.

The hotel has a pleasant enough pool area, although we heard a lot of grumbles about insufficient beds we found no difficulty finding empties (perhaps because we prefer the shade) with Thomson entertainment staff organizing gentle water games, quiz and darts competitions. The evening entertainment was geared to the customers. We listened to about a minute of Benny Hill type nudge-nudge-wink-wink stuff before escaping - I'm not sure why we were there in the first place. We were the youngest guests in the hotel by at least 15 years. Well, almost. There was another couple about our age who joked with Peter in the lift that in case of emergencies, only the under seventies got rooms on the top (6th) floor. There was also a very happy young gay couple who were having a ball camping it up in the dining room to encourage the sideways looks and tut-tuts. Good on them. More than one older couple tried to adopt us. And some of the women were topless around the pool {shudder}. Words couldn't describe the breakfast orgy - unbelievable amounts of food being shoveled down throats and all the time, hundreds of post-breakfast tablets lined up on tables waiting to be taken. Some people had fistfuls of them.

And then there is the evening dress code. It's acceptable for men to wear cheap, badly fitting, polyester slacks. It's also perfectly acceptable for them to wear raggedy stone washed jeans with their backside hanging out of them. It's even acceptable to wear trackie bottoms (I kid you not). It is not, however, acceptable to wear a shirt and dress three quarter pants. I remember having a similar thing once in Melbourne - Peter was almost refused entry into a very casual pub restaurant for wearing sandals. Not flip flops - $350 dress sandals while all around were people wearing synthetic $5 runners. But they were shoes, I was told. No they weren't. They were runners, and if you can wear runners why can't you wear sandals. Show me the written dress code. Of course there wasn't one. Here in Spain, I couldn't be bothered, and I always knew that the sole pair of long trousers we've been trailing around with us for the last year would come in handy one day. Couldn't let them get away with it altogether though, so in an act of civil disobedience, I blatantly wore my flip flops (also not allowed) to dinner every night. Nobody bothered me. Unfortunately. And it was no holds barred at breakfast, with more swim-wear, singlets and shorts in the restaurant than you could poke a stick at.

In all, the Playa Fiesta could be a great hotel, and I'm sure a lot of people think it is. The pretentious dress code and entertainment is geared strictly towards it's target audience and that audience seemed to be very happy with it. I should say that the average age did seem to come down a bit towards the end of our 6 nights, but the younger (all things are relative) people seemed to be a bit bewildered at the older crowd and the the entertainment program remained the same. I'm sure our parents would have loved it here. Just not quite the thing for us. Yet.