Comparison Costa Mediterranea and NCL Jade / Spirit

The Cabin
The premium balcony cabin we had seemed a tick smaller than the one we'd had before on the Jade. The kids slept in "bunk" beds: the bottom one was the converted couch, the top one folded out of the ceiling. The arrangement worked, but on the Jade they had slept on the remarkably wide sleeper couch near the balcony, with a curtain between that couch and the parents' bed. 
The door to the balcony pushed outward, held by a pretty tough spring which the kids almost couldn't open on their own. Also, to keep the door open, I had to drag the "coffee table" and a chair against it. On the NCL ships, on the other hand, the doors slid open and stayed open in any position you chose - a much better solution. Also, the balcony on the Jade seemed bigger, though I didn't measure it.
The bathroom was functional; however the arrangement wasn't very well thought through. For one thing, the shower had a curtain and was separated from the rest of the bathroom floor by a thin wall about 5cm high. The curtain was too short to go all the way down, however, so when taking a shower, it would billow out at the bottom and water would spray onto the bathroom floor.
Also, the toilet was in the middle of the room, making it impossible for the bathroom to be used if someone was using the toilet. On the NLC ships, both the toilet and the shower are separated from the rest of the bathroom (i.e. the sink) by sliding doors which is much more practical and prevents flooding of the bathroom while showering.
As is frequently the case on these ships, there was a single outlet in the cabin, featuring both European and US sockets. Unfortunately, these were so close that they could only have been used simultaneously by plugging in an extension cord into the US outlet. There was also a dual outlet (US / European) in the bathroom, but this only had power when the light was on.
If you're looking to charge several devices simultaneously, you'll need to bring a multi-outlet to plug in.

The Ship
In general, the ship isn't that much smaller than, say, the NCL Spirit. Despite this, it has fewer cabins and a lot less locations such as bars and restaurants. While the Jade offered several different types of restaurants (bookable for a small uplift per person), the Costa ship offerend only one, the "Medusa Club". We never visited it, but apparently it is a restaurant / club that is quite expensive to eat / drink in. Also, the NCL ships offered more bars, most of them themed, while the Costa ship only has three, two of which have a main thoroughfare going through the middle, which makes them a bit too busy for my taste.
A lot of reviewers commented on the design language of the ship. Personally, the design didn't talk to me, it screamed at me. I've never seen a design that was so mixed and loud on any ship I've visited.
While it screams "VENICE" at you in most parts of the ship, the theater (which is on 3 levels) is decorated with ancient Egyptian pictures and elements. The first time you come into the theater, this comes as a bit of a shock and soothing at once, as it is a much cleaner design.
TThere is venetian glass everywhere (probably made in China), either in bizarre, tentacle-like forms or in the shape of lamps of all types. The restaurant is lit partially by a huge grouping of vase-like frosted lamps, alternating in short and tall. The first thing that pops to mind (mine, anyway) is a 30's Disney animated cartoon where some music plays and the figures pop alternatingly up and down to the beat, in an endless loop of the same 128 frames.
Out of the mouth of each vase comes a colored, sperm-shaped thingamajig, in either blue, red or green. Not sure if the designer was trying to make us think of conception or not, but nothing else popped into my head when I looked at them.

The Food
The food quality is excellent, I was really quite surprised. For dinner, you get thee courses plus desert (and a salad, if you like) and each evening had a different area of Italy as a theme. While I appreciate that Italians probably find that to be quite tantallizing, I much prefer the NCL way, where you have at least some of the food based on the culture that you're currently visiting. No Slavic food to be had while in Croatia, no Greek food while in Greece. Luckily, we generally had a little something while on land to at least get a taste of the region.

Unfortunately, there is no buffet in the evening; while this may be quite ok for adults, it is annoying if you're travelling with younger kids. Instead of getting them fed and off to the kids club, they had to sit through two courses of the adults before getting their dessert. We got this compressed a bit by talking to our waiter, but I really would have hoped for a bit more understanding for kids from an Italian ship.

Breakfast can be had either in the restaurant or the buffet. The buffet restaurant is completely overrun; at times we had to squeeze our way through the masses to try to find a table. Here as with any of the other ships we've been on, you'll find inconsiderate ingrates that decide to block a table for 6 for two people, which doesn't help the situation (only them). While the quality of the buffet breakfast foods is very good, the selection is quite limited. There are different breads and jams in little plastic containers, meats and cheese and fruit. It's plenty to get satiated on, but NCL ships definitely offer a much bigger selection, including eggs in different forms, typical English or US breakfast foods, etc. 

In the restaurant, the situation is more relaxed - there is a buffet, but you can also order special breakfast plates at no extra charge. This is the only way to get eggs for breakfast, or bacon or sausages or pancakes, etc. They also bring coffee and tea to your table, so it is easier going even with kids and - if you can make before the relatively early closing time, definitely to be preferred to buffet.

The Kids Club
Most of what I can say about the Kids Club is straight from our kids. The only "parents" thing to say about the club is that I would have preferred to have less movie times, since all kids are going to sit passively in front of a TV when a movie is on - no matter what language it is in.
Our kids liked the kids club on the Mediterranea a lot, much more than on the NCL ships. They were very happy because the they really liked the activities, felt that the supervisors were all very nice and at least one of them spoke German fluently (the others enough to understand basic needs). On the NCL ships, there was no German-fluent supervision and the level of German understanding was usually extremely basic. I remember one situation where our son wasn't able to communicate that he was unable to open the toilet door (apparently it was stuck) and subsequently wet himself.
On most days, there was a set theme, such as pirate night or fright night and activities during the day were focussed on preparing for a party in the evening, such as making pirate costumes, etc. For the dance party, the supervisors practiced the dance moves with the kids so that they would be a bit more fluid in the evening.
Kids club opened at 9:00h until midnight, including lunch, with a break for dinner where the kids were to be picked up. Since our kids are not very interested in running through ancient cities for the sights at their age, we left them on board on a few days. While this was also possible on the NCL ships, it was considered "Babysitting" between 10:00 and 17:00h, which cost $10 per hour for our two.

On the positive, we have the excellent food quality and the kids club.
On the negative, the list is longer: no buffet for dinner, very limited buffet selection especially during breakfast, no specialty restaurants on the ship (except expensive club), smaller selection of bars, cabin smaller and bathroom impractical.

Hotel Otto, Berlin ***

The hotel is located in a part of Charlottenburg that is chock full of restaurants, bars and small stores, so you’ll always find someplace close for lunch or dinner. Also, you’re in walking distance of Bahnhof Zoo. If you’re not keen on walking there, you have just a few minutes to the next bus station.

The hotel itself is a nice albeit older hotel. The rooms were apparently renovated in 2008 (believable) and are nice enough. The only criticism I have about the room are the windows, which probably predate my birth by 10 years. They are ancient, badly closing and offer very little noise abatement (I was on the 5th floor towards the street - it was relatively loud). They probably transmit heat better than titanium due to their dual single-pane construction. Expect these to „radiate“ cold into the room during the winter.

Also, if you’re unable to drag luggage up or down stairs you need to know that the elevator stops at half-levels, i.e. there is a stop between the 4th and 5th floor and between the 5th and 6th, so you’ll always be walking half a staircase to get to your floor. On the other hand, it pipes birdsong (instead of Muzak) and has a „surprise“ button. Obviously, I’m not going to reveal the surprise here - you’ll just have to try it out.

I don’t recall A/C in the room, though to be fair at this time of the year I wasn’t looking for it.

Breakfast is on the top floor and offers about 1/5 outdoor seating, so if you’re lucky to get a table and the weather is good, you’ll have a nice view of Berlin roofs while eating. Breakfast is excellent, with superior service. It costs 15€ - normally I wouldn’t spend that amount on breakfast, but here it really is worth it.

All in all a hotel I would recommend (with the two caveats I mentioned) and will be staying in again.

Hotel Savoy, Berlin**

The location of the hotel is excellent, as you’re not far from the Kurfürstendamm as well as lots of restaurants and bars you can walk to within a short distance. The Berlin Zoo trainstation is close enough to walk, even with light baggage.

Fasanenstrasse is currently blocked off at the northern end due to a major construction site, so the street is relatively quiet. My room was to the rear of the hotel - usually a good thing as far as noise goes, however the hotel sports a rather large restaurant that has seating in the rear, so you’ll get lots of noise when the outside seating is open, until about 11PM. 

You can tell that the hotel used to be quite posh (and probably quite a bit more expensive), but despite some renovation, the run-down feeling doesn’t leave the place. For example, in the bathroom has new tiles and sink area, but it looks like they used the old sink as this is stained and cracked. Behind the shower curtain there is a tiny tub and a shower that has the most finicky tap I’ve used (move it just a hair and it goes from yucky cold to scalding hot) and a window that is quite obviously an „original“ - there are two windows, both single-paned, right after one another (a construction used in the early 20th century), one of which is intransparent. This window leads to a sort of inner vent that goes along the entire hight of the building and is open to the top. If you open the top of the window, you’ll hear all sorts of noised from all the other bathrooms that also open up to this „vent“.

The room window is of the same construction, albeit see-through and wider. I’m going to guess that in the winter, you can probably get pretty ice flowers on the inside, as the insulating value of dual single-pane glass windows is pretty low.

The bed was quite comfortable and there was enough closet space. There were no power outlets to be found along the entire desk, even power cables of the TV (to the left of the desk) and desk lamp go to a hidden area below, where there is some sort of outlet. That tends to be really annoying if you’re trying to work on a laptop that doesn’t have enough battery power left. 

I didn’t bother with breakfast on either of the days I stayed. At 20€ per person, this just seemed completely unreasonable to me.

The free wifi is completely unusable - very slow and with lots of connection issues.

All in all, it is a hotel you can stay at, but it has a lower comfort level than some of the other, more modern hotels in the area (that you can get for about the same price).

Sausalitos, Berlin **

When you’re used to the Tex-Mex quality of a Chi-Chi’s, a visit to Sausalitos will leave you hanging a bit. Since it was „happy hour“, we ordered a Mai Tai and a Mojito and were very surprised to have these delivered with a stick in them on top of which were a marshmellow and some sort of gummy fruit piece. 
When we asked the waiter what that was all about, he said that they used to make them the regular way, with a lime for the Mojito and a pineapple for the Mai Tai, but management had decided to „standardize“ the garnish to save cost. Wow! Considering the regular cost for the drink is 14€, I’m not sure if this is the right way to go.

I’d ordered a Cesar’s Salad with Chicken. What came was no Cesar’s salad. It was a bowl filled with coarsely cut iceberg lettuce absolutely drenched in some white dressing with two pieces of soggy bread that was supposed to be garlic bread (but just tasted like toasted white bread). The salad was garnished with five pieces of chicken, no larger than about two by one inches. To finalize my disgust, there were a few pieces of salad stalk mixed in that the prep cook hadn’t bothered to get out.
My colleague indicated that his ordered dish (taco chips with meat and cheese) didn't make the grade, either.

Add to that the loud main street right next to your table (if you sit outside) and you’ll have a dinner you won’t forget.

Food and drink are very expensive, which would be just OK if the quality was excellent. This restaurant is absolutely not to be recommended!

Holiday Inn Maidenhead**

Why the ceiling of the elevator hung down when I arrived on a Sunday night is beyond me. I decided to take the stairs despite the heavy suitcase.

However, the room had a few quirks that really annoyed, but could be fixed pretty easily: 
The shower fixture had a thermostatic control on it - usually that is a great thing to have. Unfortunately, it seemed broken, as the shower temperature flicked from cold to scalding hot several times while showering.

Also, it is not possible to have a reading light on at the bed with the other room lights off. The switch for the room lights kills the reading light as well, even though it has a separate switch - classical wiring error, probably fixable in 10 minutes.

Lastly, the room has an (empty) fridge in it - why there isn't a minibar is beyond me. The thing makes a loud sound when turning on and hums quite loudly - I woke up from it at least once. It would be great to be able to turn it off (besides that saving energy as well), but that isn't possible.

Other than that, the hotel - while hardly attractive from the outside - is ok. Breakfast is quite good, with hot and cold foods and fresh fruit available.
The sleep quality is good with different pillows available (hard and soft). There is an ironing board in the closet. Closet space is adequate.

There is a large car park, however on one of the evenings I was there it was completely overfilled due to some homeowners convention going on.

The hotel is close to our offices in Maidenhead, so quite convenient for us.

Mercure City Center Budapest *

Stayed: February 2015

I’d stayed at a different Mercure before in this city (there are three, apparently) and had good memories from that stay, so I chose this Mercure hoping for a similar experience. No such luck.

I’ve been traveling Eastern Europe frequently in the last months… I haven’t come across a branded hotel this shoddy. The hotel was built in the 90’s and nothing seems to have been renovated since then. 

The carpets in the hallways are horrid - huge spots everywhere, walls damaged. The picture continues in the room. The carpet in my room (424) just beyond the bathroom door sported a huge spot, there was another one on the one side of the bed. Honestly, I don’t even want to know what those are from.

The furniture (a small desk, a sideboard, a place to put your suitcase) is all scuffed up. There is literally no place to hang your winter coat (the closet space is barely large enough to handle hanging business clothes for three days).

The bathroom followed suit. Here, too - cracked or completely missing silicone everywhere, an old-style, flat-flush, floor mounted toilet (yum) and a friend for life: a cockroach (in Winter? honestly, folks?). The bathroom had a latent “drain” smell, as if there was a leak from a waste pipe somewhere. The shower was “encircled” by a curtain (I HATE shower curtains).

The room I had was towards the „courtyard“, an area that more closely resembles an industrial facility, with unadorned pipes running everywhere. Okay, I’m not here for the view, I guess. The courtyard opens up all the way down into the underground parking, which is where taxis come to pick up as well.

There is a window that you’re supposed to be able to open a slit to get some fresh air, but the handle was missing. Luckily, I was able to pry it open with my fingertips, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten any fresh air in the room!

There is some sort of compressor running 24/7 in the courtyard somewhere - so unless you’re wearing earplugs, don’t plan on keeping the window open over night. Oh, and on the third morning, someone emptied two - apparently huge - waste glass containers into a truck. Good morning!

Not only the window, also the walls passed noise like they weren’t there. Really annoying: getting the clanging of someone hanging up their clothes in the closet next door waking you up at 1AM. Not to blame that person - when you arrive late, you still need to hang up your stuff to keep it from getting completely wrinkled. Proper hotels have proper walls and noise dampening behind the closet!

The bed was another problem. Besides the fact that it was strewn with colored pillows (okay, I’m exaggerating - there were only two) that are too small for any pillowing work and just have to be put somewhere else every evening, the mattress was extremely hard. That’s ok if you’re a back sleeper - I tend to sleep on my side at least half the time, so this really pained me. Because of a missing headset (see below), I also lifted up the mattress and found… plywood! Yup. No boxspring, no slatted frame - plain plywood. Match that to the rather thin mattress and you have major sleep discomfort.

Then there was the episode of The Missing Headset. I’d left my bluetooth headset on the bed by accident (I was about to put it on when the mobile phone rang, so I ended up forgetting about it). When I came back that evening, it was gone. I reported this to the front desk and apparently, they „checked on it“, but it was - who would have guessed - not found. It was a nice Plantronics one that set me back €60, so I’m pretty annoyed here. 

Very much to my surprise, breakfast was actually very good - the only upside to this hotel in my opinion. I will not be staying here again.


Soundgarden Hotel, Warsaw, Poland ****

Stayed January, 2015

Wow, what a
different hotel!

Someone built their architectural dream, it seems. The elevator is dated 2012, so the hotel seems to be quite new. The ground floor is very spacious, the lobby only being separated from the cafeteria and the large restaurant by separating elements (calling them walls would be a disgrace).

Not only does the hotel depart from the norm on a stylish note, some long-established norms are tossed by the wayside as well. For example, you check in yourself at a kiosk. Seeing as there wasn’t any clear signage explaining this (at least not in English), I was a bit astounded when I waited for some sort of response from the two people behind the two screens on the rather small reception desk (they were busy with their computers doing I don’t know what) and was “swept away” by a third person coming out of seemingly thin air to go through the checkin process with me.

You end up typing a bunch of information in on your own (annoying with an on-screen keyboard), after which you’re supposed to be issued with a keycard - which failed. So off we went, back to the reception desk, to generate a new card. Luckily, the information I had entered was still in the system.

Honestly, while I’m a great fan of kiosk check-in at the airport, this is different. I’m not going to sit in an uncomfortable airline seat for two hours while being served stale coffee - I’m going to sleep here, shower here, eat breakfast here. Please, folks, let a person give me those three minutes required to check someone into their room!

While being shown to the elevators (there are only two for six floors of an estimated 16 rooms each - might make for some holdups during rush hour), i was given the standard “breakfast at this time”, etc. and informed that there weren’t any phones in the rooms - to get with reception, one should email it - or just go downstairs. Hm. As I found out later (from the TV - see below), they give you the direct-dial number for reception to use on your mobile. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I used a hotel room phone for anything other than dialing reception, so I’m really quite fine with this.

The only suggestion I have is to post the landline number somewhere, so you don’t have to search through the TV apps to find it. The inverse issue here is, of course, when reception has to contact you about something (lets say, a guest) - because they don’t have your mobile number, someone would have to come up to tell you. Odd.

The floors are named after styles of music or sound (with the 6th floor called “silence”), which is cute. When you exit the elevator, you face a huge screen showing a picture relevant to the music currently playing. My floor was the 2nd and it was called “Jazz”.

The next surprise is the room. It is actually quite small, yet arranged in a way that is very efficient with space. The bed, for example, runs along the window side (in my case to the street in front). The bathroom forms a block - very open due to lots of glass - that runs along the “hallway”.

There is a scythe-shaped, rotating table that you can use to either work on (it actually has two power outlets built-in!) or probably to eat breakfast in bed on as well. The “desk” also has the light control panel which gives you four options: “Full,” “Comfort,” “Night,” and “OFF”, as well as the buttons for the blinds. There is also a spacious (more tall than wide) closet that - unfortunately - only had three hangers and one pants clip in it.

A bit annoying is the absolute lack of a place to unpack your suitcase - I ended up putting it on the bed, something I abhor doing unless there is some sort of blanket on it that I’m not going to use. Neat is the large drawer under the bed made for your suitecase, though mine - and this is a rather medium sized one - just barely fit.

Lastly, there is a TV set into the wall opposite the headboard, which doubles as an info device / music player and ... access point! Yes, every room has an individual access point that you activate from the TV, which then gives you the SSID and the password to enter. I connected four devices successfully. Internet speed is blazing - really a plus!

Food & Drink
There is the “Sound Bar” that serves excellent Espresso. The restaurant looks like a self-serve (might be for lunch), but I was asked to take a seat and was served. The food I had (Pierogies and an interesting piece of prune pie) was very good. A bit disappointing is the fact that there is no local beer on tap (something I usually like to try), only import.

Next to reception there is a little “store” that sells a large variety of drinks, both bottled as well as dispensed - either via a very cool below-counter coffee maker (I’d seen this advertised in the US before) or a nifty wine and spirits dispenser. I couldn’t figure out how to work these, though - there is a slot for a card, maybe the room key. The display was in Polish.

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.