Las Marismas, Corraljecho, Fuerteventura ****

Stay: Christmas, 2014

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.

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.

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.

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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