Hans D. Baumeister

Hans D. Baumeister

Club Hotel Riu Oliva Beach Resort**

Overview
We stayed at the Riu from Jan. 4-9, 2016.
All in all, the hotel is certainly a place you can spend some time, though there are better choices in Corallejo. The food is of excellent quality and there is plenty of selection. The service quality is mostly very good. The beach is phenomenal, of course, but the hotel has caveats as well - primarily the low building quality and the lack of control regarding reserving of lounge chairs - of which there are by far not enough. We had extensive lunch sessions at the outside seating of the bar and a large portion of the chairs are "reserved" and remain unused for hours.


Quick summary
  • The most positive: the food quality and the beach.
  • The most annoying: the matress and the restaurant.
  • I would not want to stay more than 1 week.

Hotel / Resort
We'd stayed in the hotel before; not sure when, but at least 10-12 years ago. I don't have much recollection of how it was back then, so in this report I can only discuss the resort part. This was probably built after the hotel (it seems to be a bit newer) in the western part of the property. It has its own restaurant, bar and pool (though you are not forced to go there, you can also go to the hotel facilities).

The resort buildings are generally three stories, though I saw at least one that had four. The building materials and style is typical Spanish - no consideration for sound dampening between rooms, doors that are nearly impossible to close quietly, tiles that move due to improper work, single-pane windows, closet doors that a child will not be able to slide open or closed (they stick like glue), etc. To be fair, you'll find this in many hotels on the islands and on the mainland in Spain; apparently, they're just not able to do it better

The hotel seems to be in worse condition than the resort, which would fit my theory that it was built beforehand. Large pieces of plaster have fallen off the front right corner of the building, which doesn't help since this is the corner which the main entrance opens up in. The resort buildings, too, show a large number of cracks of varying length and thickness, so the teeth of time have gnawed at it as well.

Room
We had a very good room (3301) - we'd ordered a family room which gives you a separate master bedroom and two separate beds for the kids in the "common" room. These beds are normally two 2-seater couches which consist of a relatively thin mattress laying on plywood, so don't expect a high level of comfort; our kids didn't complain, though.

We had a huge (!) terrace and, since the room was on the 3rd level, at least no-one that could stare at us from above. While the terrace had a round table and four chairs, there were only three lounge chairs available. The terrace looked south but we could see the ocean to the east and the last streets of Corallejo to the west - if it wasn't for the main road being rather close, it would have been quite perfect. Depending on the wind direction, the road can be quite noisy, especially if you leave the doors open at night.

The room came with a round table and three chairs, a couch table (low but relatively large), a TV sitting on cabinetry with lots of drawers for clothes but no place to hang up clothes (except for the hooks by the door where we had our jackets). Both the bedroom and the "common" room have sliding glass doors to the terrace. There was a standard, counter-high refridgerator that I ended unplugging, as it was quite noisy. We never even turned the TV on, so I can't say anything about available channels, etc.

The bathroom really showed the building's age - I've never seen such an abused bathtub, probably from generations of travellers showering the sand off their bodies. It really needs some silicone - or even better, replacement. There is a toilet right behind the door and the latter doesn't have a lock - so make sure you announce your intentions or you might get the door right on your toes or knees.
Don't get me wrong: the room and the bath were clean enough - just obviously very much used and quite old.

The bedroom has twin beds that are spacious (I would guess 90cm wide) but the matrasses are a nuisance - you can feel individual springs in your back, so I'm guessing they are probably as old as the building. Again, for a couple of days this is just bearable, for two weeks I'd rather stay elsewhere.

There is A/C in the bedroom, but not in the common room, so in the hot months, you need to make sure you keep the windows covered with the sun blocking curtains!

Restaurants
We generally ate in the restaurant La Oliva, which is right by the resort pool. The restaurants (not the food!) really were the lowpoint of the hotel/resort, for several reasons.
For one, the noise level in them is rediculous - there is nothing that will absorb sound and the ceiling isn't that high, so you feel like you're at a busy airport.

Secondly, at least at La Oliva, the vents over the cooking area don't seem to work properly, as there is a constant smell of grease in the air, especially during dinner. Since it is dark out at dinnertime (at this time of year), you can see a constant cloud hovering at the ceiling, cut through by the beams of light from the downlights. After about half an hour, I repeatedly had a strong urge to get out into clean air, as did our son, which doesn't make dinner (or lunch) particularly enjoyable.

Last but not least: while the folks clearing dishes and tables and setting clean ones for new guests are always in motion, there seems to be a constant shortage of made-up tables - no matter when you enter the restaurant (unless you're there right at the start of a meal, of course). This was the case for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which leads me to the conclusion that there just isn't enough personnel to cover the number of guests. The result is that you hunt for a free table, try to raise someone to clear it for you and 10-15 minutes later you can sit down...

The food is certainly a major upside. The quality is really good with vegetables cooked to the right point and meat not overdone. While breakfast generally had the same, albeit very large, offering but lunch and especially dinner surprised again and again with excellent combinations and new tastes. The selection of hot as well as cold foods, cheeses and deserts was huge and I would think every walk of life will find some tastey food they like. I'd like to have seen more prepared fresh fruit, especially for breakfast, such as papaya or melon that isn't watermelon, but it was ok. Filter coffee is available at breakfast, the bars have the typical, non-drinkable coffee-from-unknown-powder-and-water stuff. There was also espresso-based coffee available at the bars (made by the bartenders), but as I never ordered it, I don't even know if it is included in AI.

The all inclusive offering also pertains to bar drinks, of course, but we had a similar experience as we've had at many (if not most) AI bars: you'll be fine if you stick to simple classics such as beer, wine, vodka lemon, gin-and-tonic, etc. Mixed drinks like pina collada or caipirinha are made from pre-fab mixes and are thoroughly disappointing. Beer and different wines are available self-serve, both at the bars and in the restaurants. The quality of both the red wine (didn't try the others) as well as the beer was fine.

Pools & Grounds
There are two regular pools available: one at the hotel and one at the resort, though as with any of the facilities, you can use either wether you're in the hotel or in a resort room. Both pools are clean and nice enough, though I prefer the resort pool at it is not just square and has a palm island in the middle.

The hotel also sports a kiddie pool and a "hot" tub (it is warm, not hot), though the latter is only for guests 16 years and over.
On the south side of the hotel area, there is a "make-believe" beach - a relatively large area filled with has regular sand with solid shade "mushrooms" and lounge chairs. It is difficult to get a chair here, as well, as they tend to be "reserved" all day, as they are at the pools.

Really annoying is a horrid smell at the west side of this area, likely coming from the building that lies between the pool grounds and the parking lot - I'm presuming this is some sort of waste water treatment facility (it has large pipes on the outside) and, depending on how the wind direction is, can swamp the aforementioned relaxation grounds with a smell that makes you want to run away (somewhat similar to what you may have smelled after an exterminator was in your room).

On the south side of the aforementioned "simulated beach" are several volleyball courts. These are already outside the hotel grounds, though they belong to the hotel.

There is a single exit to the east to get to the beach which is suppsed to be controlled access, but more times than not the chair of the guard is empty. The hotel does not have lounge chairs on the beach, by the way - these are rented out by someone else. As we had no need of a chair, I have no pricing information.

Surroundings
The hotel is situated, along with one other Riu Hotel, in the national park "Dunas de Corralejo". It was likely built before the area became a national park, which gives you an idea of the age (see "Room").
If you're a beach person, the hotel is perfectly located; you can walk a long ways along the beach (or run, if you're into that), which is frequented by Windsufers and Kitesufers. 

The beach is absolutely spectacular and getting there easily and quickly from either the hotel or the resort is one of the major positives of this Riu. There are lounge chairs at the beach with a sun umbrella for every two chairs. I doubt these belong to the hotel and they are probably for-charge, as the umbrellas have a different logo on them (it actually looks like the Hilton logo), though we never bothered with them and I don't know for certain. There is a kiosk on the beach that you walk by coming from the hotel. The beach has lifeguards posted at intervals and there is the typical green-yellow-red-black flag system used to indicate any danger levels for swimmers.

Corallejo is one of my favorite towns on Fuerteventura, and you can walk there from the hotel in under an hour (its about 3km away) - I don't know wether there is a bus service from the hotel or not, as we had a rental car. There are taxis waiting outside the hotel, though, if you're not up to walking. The drive from the airport is about 45 minutes while the shuttle bus will likely take much longer.

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Las Marismas, Corraljecho, Fuerteventura ****

Stay: Christmas, 2014

Buildings
The hotel is pretty large, though rooms are in townhouse-type buildings that are two and three stories and spread over a large area, forming a sort of perimeter around the pool area. While the building quality tends to be conform with many hotels in the mediterranean (i.e. simple windows, poor soundproofing, squeaky door handles), the sound proofing between adjacent units seems to be better than average. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for the ceilings, so any activity from above you comes through loud and clear. I.e. you should try - if you can - to get a top-floor apartment.

The units are well kept and seem to be either relatively new or recently renovated. The unit we had was quite spacious ("family room" - a master bedroom with a large living/diningroom with kitchenette) and featured two balconies, as it was situated on the end of a row. Separating it from the next row was a staircase up, as the entrances to the 2nd level rooms are at the back.

On the negative side: there is no heating at all in the apartment - in the summer, that probably isn't an issue but in the winter it does get quite nippy at night. The buildings are not insulated (which is completely normal for Fuerteventura), nor do the rather simple quality windows do much to keep the heat in (or the sound out). Mind you, there is no A/C either, which should be a real pain in the dead of summer!

Our bathroom didn't have a window (unlike probably 95% of all apartments), and while there was a vent built into the ceiling, it never turned on, nor did we find a switch for it. With four people in the apartment, this can be a bit of annoyance. We were quite lucky with our entrance door, however: it was shielded from the wind by sheer location (corner of two buildings and a staircase up right behind it). My wife's parents, who had a regular, 2-person apartment a ways down the row weren't so lucky. Their door rattled all night from the wind. Bringing a rubber door wedge is probably very helpful; a piece of paper, or better yet, cardboard folded multiple times does the trick as well.

A real annoyance was the exhaust vent in the kitchenette. When the neighbors next door were frying up their dinner (which they did EVERY night), we would get the stink in our apartment. Apparently, all kitchenettes vented into the same exaust track, which means that when the neighbor next door turns their system on high, the air - as air will - takes the path of least resistance, which seems to be the neighboring apartment’s vent. Subsequently, we got a full blast of whatever they were cooking, which tended to involve a lot of garlic (which we love, but not in this olfactory form). I positioned some sheets of paper on the bottom filter, which reduced the flow of gaseous odor from next door quite a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure out how to work our vent until the second-last day (you pull it out about halfway, which turns on the power), so I couldn't even counter their airblown stink. 

To be fair, the Kitchenette was well-quipped, with a microwave, coffee maker (takes regular No. 4 filters), a refrigerator and a dual-burner electric range (yea, sure, could have used that to heat the place).

Pool / Garden
Within the building perimeter is the pool area and some really well designed garden-like plots with bridges and canyons and lots of locally adapted plants (palms, cacti, succulents, etc.) that are all extremely well kept. There is also a "cat café”, where you’re allowed to feed whatever cats sit about, much to the joy of our kids who visited with the cats frequently.

There is a large little kids pool that looks to have a depth of about 30cm, then two good-sized pools on different levels, separated by the pool bar terrace. The one pool was heated (it was still quite cold), the other not. All pools were very clean and the water absolutely clear, with no chlorine stink. 

The pool bar terrace is large, though I would guess that during high season (which Christmas time apparently isn't) and a fully booked hotel, you may have problems finding a table, though the bar itself has seating inside as well. It also features a pool table, but not only is this much too close to the wall for proper shots, it is also pretty run-down and missing simple things like chalk and cue rest. For 2€ a game, not a good deal.

There are snacks (hotdogs and hamburgers) available during certain times at this bar, as well as typical "all-inclusive" drinks (softdrinks, water, beer, wine). 

Food and Drink
We'd booked the "all inclusive" package ("AI"), though we came to realize quite quickly that our definition of AI is completely different than that of the hotel management. Here, AI doesn't include everything - for example it doesn't include snacks such as pizza, even though it is available at the same time as the "AI snacks" (hamburger or hot dog with fries). Also, AI guests get to drink out of plastic cups while guests that pay for their drinks get glasses (when we asked the bar keeper about this, he claimed that the plastic cups were a safety requirement poolside - understandable, except for the fact that glasses were handed out to paying guests).

Breakfast, lunch and dinner happen in the cafeteria in the form of a buffet - as usual for AI - but the various buffet areas are well spread out, so that people don't bunch up too much. The food quality is quite good for buffet - we've had much worse at similar hotels. At dinner, there was generally fish and different types of meat dishes available, as well as a carving station. Breakfast saw the usual egg dishes, bacon, etc. Both Continental and English breakfast styles were available.

There is a large selection of different types of salads, both made-up and salad ingredients. Most of what I tried was quite good, with the exception of the tomato slices, which tasted like "something" - but definitely not tomatoes. There is always fresh as well as canned fruit available.

The hotel has a small supermarket as well, which offers everything you'll need to feed yourself during your stay, should you not have booked AI. Since every apartment seems to have a kitchenette, you can even make spaghetti or similar for lunch (if you're up to it).
The supermarket isn't even wildly overpriced, in fact - water bottles were actually cheaper here than at the regular supermarket on the main street in town! 
This supermarket also sells pool toys, towels, various trinkets and aloevera items, but also wine, beer and spirits, all very reasonably priced.

For Kids
One of the reasons we picked this hotel is the kids club, since our two are still of an age where they "demand" this type of facility. Unfortunately, the kids club here is seems to be lower quality than average in the facilities it offers, perhaps being more a "yes, we have one" than a "we want to make your kids happy" deal. There is a "kids disco" nearly every evening at 7:30PM, but it is of the same quality as the kids club: quite a few notches below average. It takes place in the evening bar, on a 3x4m raised platform (about 5cm above the floor) that is probably meant to be a stage, as most of the "shows" take place there as well.

The kids disco consists of the same five songs played and acted out every night by someone from the animation team. We've been to several hotels on Fuerteventura as well as Ibiza and Mallorca and this one definitely has the lowest grade for the kids program. A shame, really, because it definitely rates well for other categories.

Our kids actually had more fun playing with other kids in the extensively landscaped section on the north end of the hotel, which features several bridges, a cave and multiple levels, all planed with different local plants, but younger kids may be disappointed.

Surroundings
Running the length of the hotel lot - on the other side of the one-way street in front of the hotel - is a water park. Unfortunately, it wasn't open at our time of the year, as it looked quite fun. Since the wind always seems to come from the east, I don't think you'll hear much noise from the park even if it is packed with people.

Corralejo town center isn't far from the hotel - if you're a walker, there is no need for a car, you can get there on foot. There is plenty of shopping - mostly tourist traps, of course, along the main street going N-S, which starts one block West of the hotel. There is also a hotel shuttle bus to the nearby white-sand beach (which is completely spectacular); since we had a rental car, we didn't take it, but speaking with people that did clued us in on (apparently) some odd running hours.

Miscellaneous
The hotel offers free Wifi, but only in the reception area did it work anything close to well. There was reception - sometimes apparently quite good - near the pool and at the pool bar, but while you would actually get connected some of the time, connectivity generally was completely flakey. With both an iOS and Android device, I was unable to reconnect without doing a "forget network" and reconnecting nearly every time. Once connected, the speed seemed to vary drastically, even in the reception area.

There is gated parking available free-of-charge - you can get a swipe card at reception that will open a sliding gate to the hotel parking lot, which connects directly to the reception area - quite handy, really. There were plenty of spaces available when we were there.

Summary
All in all, we enjoyed our week at the hotel and would recommend it to anyone, even families with kids, if you're aware of, and ok with, the limitations. It is completely unclear how things work out during the summer, without air conditioning, but perhaps keeping the various layers of curtains (including one that completely shuts out light) closed when the sun shines is enough to keep the rooms acceptably cool. 

Don't get too happy about the hotel offering free Wifi - the quality is completely unacceptable to anyone that needs it to check business emails during their vacation. If you need steady internet access, you should consider wither buying a 4G plan or getting a prepaid Spanish data card.

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