Hotel Sunrise Costa Calma Palace
A 4 Stars Hotel that really disappointed me
In autumn 2004, we decided at short notice to spend one week in the four stars hotel Sunrise Costa Calma Palace with a last-minute package. The hotel that opened in June 2001 was only 3 years old, thus still very new but old enough for the hotel operation to run smoothly, that means the experimental phase was already over. In the following I write down my very personal experience report; it is not meant to be a generally accepted hotel description but I only express those expereinces we have made there during our stay.
Situation of the Hotel, Surroundings
The Hotel Sunrise Costa Palma Palace is situated, as the name already tells, in the bathing resort Costa Calma, quite far in the south of the island. Costa Calma (quiet beach) is a modern bathing resort, where an hotel- and appartment complex strings together. Numerous hotels belong to the sunrise-chain. Thanks to the 4 stars, Costa Calma Palace can be described as a small luxury temple at the Costa Calma.
Costa Calma itself certainly appears as a big place if one contemplates the total of the hotel complexes from a distance, but in principle it is not a real locality but an accumulation of hotel and appartment complexes. There is a kind of boulevard that leads across the place and that is surrounded with hundreds of palms, but it is a street without live. There are barely shops and restaurants but rather one hotel after the next, interrupted by some small shopping centres that provide the most necessary things to the tourists. Thus, those who are looking for a nightlife or a vivid daylife are here in the wrong place.
The Hotel Sunrise Costa Palma Palace is located right at the long beach of Costa Calma. With its chipcard, one gets from the pool area straight down to the beach, where it is possible to have wonderful baths and long beach walks of several kilometres. For bathing and sun bathing freaks, the hotel is optimally situated.
At a few hundred metres distance from the hotel there are some small supermarkets (spanish Supermercado), in which one can buy all the necessary things as beverages and sweets and other stuff for acceptable prices. The supermarkets are very crowded and fully adopted to the german tourists, that means one finds the usual products that are also available in the supermarkets in Germany and barely national products.
The First Impression
In many hotels, after 30 minutes it gets clear if it is going to be a dream holiday or a standard holiday, and this is when one is received at the reception, when one steps for the first time into one's room and has a look to the pool complex.
As soon as one turns from the main road of Costa Calma (Avenue Jahn Travels - what a nice name...) into the hotel area, one is first impressed by the beautiful plant complex and the gogeous front cladding of the hotel. This promises something big and giant. By stepping into the hotel, one stands in a gorgeous and impressive glass hall that extends over 8 floors upwards and downwards. This is breathtaking.
The first negative shock took place at the reception. After the usual check-in we got a room card where it was clearly mentioned that our dinner time has to take place between 06.00 and 07.30 p.m. This time is fixed, as afterwards, it is the turn of a second group of eaters. Shock!!! A timely fixed dinner time, limited within a certain margin, and this already at 6 p.m.??? But I am on holiday just for being free from any appointments and allow free play to live; Not even at home I have a fixed dinner time!
I am then kindly asked if I would like to use the room safe. Of course I want to use it in order to lock my camera and my money. 19 € per week was the fee for this, a lot of money, considering that from the other hotels I already visited, I am used to get this service for free. What was then disappointing is that the fee had to be paid in cash and could not be comfortably charged in the hotel bill.
Courtesly, we got two towels for the pool, and again, we had to pay: 10 € per towel, but only as a deposit. It was annoying to have to pay again in cash. One travels with a credit and an EC card on holiday, and within the first 30 minutes in the hotel, one already gets rid of 40 € cash...
After the check-in, I actually expected to be escorted to our room as it is usual, this is the way I experienced it in other 4-stars hotels. But nothing happened. Not until I asked where my room actually is I got a short way description. It was not a problem to find the room, but I cannot remember any more the last time I had to carry my luggage to the room by myself.
Once arrived in the room, there was finally a moment of happiness. It is nicely spacious and clean. There is also a TV and we have a beautiful and spacious bathroom with toilet, washing basin and a bath tube. Also the cupboard is so spacious that we could have kept there clothes for several months. And the mini bar is fully staffed but still offering some space for the own drinks.
What I found a little disappointing is that there was no welcome gift. I am actually used that in the 4 stars hotels one is welcomed with a little fruit basket, a little bottle of water or even champaign that is arranged in the room. But there was nothing; Everything what was there belonged to the mini bar and was therefore with charge.
But now we come to the big shock that is the view to the sea the way we booked it. A view to the outside and we see a huge beton block right in front of the window, we hurry to the reception in order to clear the missunderstanding, a short explanation, the sea is certainly visible, back to the room, in fact, there is a small piece of sea visible behind the building, a big disappointment!!! I immediately knew that I legally had no chance to claim this at the travel agency, as I could see a piece of sea, but the hotel description sounded completely different.
Conclusion: our first impression of the hotel was really poor. The disappointment was big, it could only get better. I even felt some furiousness, as that what they sold us as a view to the sea was not more worth than a poster.
The Hotel Room
The hotel has approximately 420 standard rooms; Additionally, there are some suites of different size. We had a very normal room that, according to the reception's statement was of exactly the same size as all the others with the same furniture. The room is opened with a chipcard of which we got two during the check-in.
Principally, all rooms are with a view to the sea, whereby according to my opinion there is no single room where one really has a dream view to the beach and to the poolscape. According to my opinion, the hotel building is an arquitectonical error: it consists on a front and a back building. The rooms of the front building are located at a low level, thus the people living in them "enjoy" the noise of the restaurant and the disco bar in the evenings; the rooms of the back building have first a view to the front building and after it, the pool, the beach and the sea are more or less visible.
Our room had exactly the right size with two beds, two arm chairs, a small table, a desk and a big cupboard with an integrated room safe. Also the bathroom was nicely spacious with a toilet, a basin and a bath tube with a shower partition.
The room was rather modestly furnished; there certainly were the usual bathing utensils as soap and a shower cap but there was for example no bathrobe or tooth brush. But it was not important to me at all as I had everything what I needed in my luggage.
A big TV provided us German channels as ARD, ZDF, SAT1, RTL and PRO7. It was immediately noticeable that this hotel was adopted to guests from Germany, as the German channels were programmed at the beginning.
But we had again a problem with the beds. They were certainly pleasantly spacious but very uncomfortable. There were some days where I had to get up early in the morning because my body was aching. But this was not a big problem, as one is anyway on holiday where one can continue sleeping at the pool or on the beach... But I found it really unpleasant that it was not a real double bed but two single beds put together that were not connected. A small move was enough to have a deep gap between the beds.
We had a minibar in the room but the drinks we sold to the usual hotel prices. But anyway we were very grateful for this minibar as it offered enough space to chill our own drinks there.
What caught my attention in the first day was the weak air conditioner that certainly caused lots of noise but did not provide some cool air that was worth to be mentioned. A check by a technician resulted that everything was all right, but that the main device was not adjusted to provide more cooling.We booked a room with air conditioner; but on order to save money, the hotel put the air conditioner at such a low level that it practically had no effect. And the cooling was really necessary, as the room got really heated during the day.
We also could not let the air conditioner on during our dinner in order to cool the room a little before going to sleep, as therefore, we would have to leave our chipcard (room key)in the respective contact switch. This certainly would not have been a problem, as we fortunately had two of these cards, but this chip card was also the key for the room safe, and this should not be left in the room.
The Hotel Sunrise Costa Calma Palace offers a great poolscape with two big pools for adults and a small pool for children. The complex is gorgeously arranged with many palms and colourful bushes all around, thus a real paradise for sun lovers and swimmers. There is a nice restaurant between the pools where one can have a good lunch and some tasty ice cream. Moreover, there is a pool bar that provides the guests with chilled drinks throughout the day.
But our first visit to the pool was a small shock: on the first day, we did not arrive to the pool until 10:30 a.m. and we could not find two free deckchairs beside each other for us, neither after we circled the pool area several times. We could only go to the beach; We did not get a free deck chair until 5.00 p.m.
From the pool area, one could get right to the beach through a small door. With the chipchard, one could open this door either from the inside as also from the outside. It is a dream to be able to get from one's hotel straight to the beach without needing to cross a road. Also the beach itself is a dream. It goes shallowly into the water, thus it is ideal for children and persons who are a little afraid. The sand is fine and clean. For those who do not want to swim or sunbath, I recomend the hiking tours on the beach of several kilometres length. If the tide is high, the cliffs at a distance of approximately 1 km can be easily circled so that it is possible to walk or jog to the neighboured beaches.
Also during the following days we had the problem that we only seldom got some free deckchairs in the pool area. There were definetely too less deckchairs for such a high number of hotel guests. Ar each of the guests available, but an hotel should not plan so curtly. There are always people claiming more than they really need; moreover, there were also some gaps with one single free deck chair and some were also broken. Thus, in the mornings, the guests spread their towels on the deck chairs before having breakfast and reserved their places. Those who arrived a little later were simply unlucky.
The pool towels we got on the first day for a deposit could be exchanged any time at the reception for clean ones. This is at least the theory. In practice, I only could manage this two times during our stay, as there were not enough towels available. Once, we even had to lay on the deck chairs without any towel for some hours, as there were no towels available at all. I can only say: it is poor if a 4-stars hotel does not have enough towels available in order to provide them to all of the guests.
If there would not have been the problems with the lack of deck chairs and pool towels, I could have reported a dream poolscape. But by this way, we spent more time on the beautiful beach than at the pool, as we simply did not have any other choice.
Food and Drinks
We had booked out stay in the hotel with demi-pension, a thing I recommend everyone who are on holiday in the Hotel Costa Palma Palace, as the surroundings hardly offer any opportunities to go out.
In the mornings, there was an abundant buffet breakfast served that was so big that it took some time to get a full overview. There was practicaly nothing that was not available. From breakfast eggs to bacon and sausages, tasty pancakes, fruits, rolls, müsli and anything else imaginable up to chilled champain, with which some of the guests arleady adjusted their alcohol level in the early morning. There was good coffee, milk and tea, thus, anything the heart desires.
But still, I was not fully satisfied with the breakfast. During my one-week-stay, it happened twice to me that the waiters simply cleaned up the table although I clearly did not finished breakfast yet, thus I still had some coffee and juice on the table and my cutlery was spread over the table. It was really annoying to come back with a second plate from the buffet and see some other guests sitting at one's table.
The breakfast was so rich that actually no lunch was anymore needed. But sometimes we felt a liitle hungry and the pool-restaurant offered tasty snacks and small meals: whether simply pasta dishes, sandwiches or fish dishes, the quality was excellent and specially the price was cheap, the way I am actually not used in pool restaurants. By this way, it was a pleasure to have a small lunch snack and maybe a nice ice coffee or a tasty ice cream cup.
The actual highlight of the day, the dinner, was according to my opinion a huge flop, even though the food itself was excellent and abundant. The dinner was also from a buffet and one could serve oneself as much as wanted. The meat and the fish was prepared in many ways on the barbecue; it was a pleasure to watch the cooks during their work. And the same pleasure was to try the different starters and main courses. The variation was good, the quality excellent and the taste simpy fantastic. This is the way a good dinner is required.
But the fixed dinner times were really unpleasant; there were two shifts, either from 06:00 - 07:30 p.m. or from 08:00 - 09:30 Uhr. Such an arrangement makes one really inflexible, if one wants, for example, to have a larger or a smaller lunch at noon time. Those who get hungry at 07.00 p.m. are obliged to wait for one hour if they are planned for the second cycle. Those who are not hungry at all at 6 p.m. are obliged to eat if planned for the first cycle. For me, these fixed times were very unpleasant, as I do not like to have to follow any rules during my holidays, specially those I either do not have in my daily life.
The fixed meal times also had a negative effect on the service: at exactly 8 p.m., the hotel restaurant (by the way, many guests simply called it cantine) got crowded as if it was a department store during the summer sale. Sometimes, we had to wait more than fifteen minutes at the table until we finally got a small bottle mineral water and wine, as the waiters are of course extremely busy serving such masses of people at once. It was very hectic and we had to wait long time that took away out joy to have dinner.
Of course, the queues at the buffet were respectively long, as principally, all guests queued at the same time for the starters, main courses and deserts. There were some regular guests talking about a cantine, and I can only say that in a company's cantine, things go on more oderly and organised.
Also the seats in the huge dining hall were partly very badly choosen. Everybody got a seat assigned that should be kept during the whole stay. Thus, one always had the same views, in the worst case a white wall, and saw always the same people around one. Those who were so unlucky to get a table for four persons with some skeaquing blabbermouths had to tolerate this day by day.
Conclusion: the food was certainly very good and tasty, but having dinner was not a pleasure at all. Due to the fixed dinner times and the assignment of the seats I felt very limited. I do not have such rules, neither at home nor in the company's cantine, this is simply totally atypical and restricting. Maybe there are such rules in prison, but in a four-stars hotel, the vacationers should enjoy a free and unrestricted surrounding.
The Hotel Personnel
The hotel personnel was friendly and correct. At the reception, everybody spoke German, as in the hotel, practically all guests were German. But sometimes I felt sorry for the personnel, who had to take a lot of claims they were not responsible for.
One was always helped at the reception if there was a question open or one had a wish. Of course, the personnel at the reception could not give me clean towels as there were no available, this was not their fault. Courtesly, it was possible to change the room in order to get a bit better view. Also in the case the room safe could not be opened any more, a technician came within 15 minutes who repaired everything.
Our room was cleaned every day; The cleanness was all right, the chambermaids worked in a very accurate and clean way. This is the way one wants to have it on holiday.
In the restaurant, one was served by very friendly waiters and waitresses, but they were mainly unexperienced in this job. This was noticeable when they served the wine or in such missunderstandings that a table was simply cleaned up although one was still having breakfast.
Sports and Entertainment
Those who eat a lot at the breakfast buffet and during dinner have also to do something in order not to gain 2 kg per week. What is better than swim a few lanes every day in the pool? Die Pools sind groß genug, so dass man sich darin nicht nur erfrischen sondern so dass man darin Kilometer schwimmen kann.
Right on the beach, there is a surf school where one can learn to surf or simply borrow a surfboard for an hour. And, of course, one also does something for the shape by going one a day the long sand beach up and down. One can imagine that one does not hike alone...
What kind of possibilities of sports and entertainment does the hotel offer? There are four tennis courts that the guests can use by paying a fee; and if it is raining outside, one can use the indoor pool for free. During our stay, there were no guest hosts who entertain the people during the day. But there was a live programme every evening with music, dance and performances. But one had to secure a seat in time, in order not to have to watch the spectacle in a standing position.
There was an internet café in the hotel that provided the contact to the outer world. There are some old PCs standing around from which only one really did work. For a fee, one could get access to the internet. But the system and the connection were so bad that I rather recomend to visit a real internet café.
The Hotel Guests
Fuerteventura is an island that is almost dominated by german vacationers. At the time when I was in the hotel Sunrise Costa Calma Palace, there were almost german vacationers. I even did not hear anybody talking any different language than german at the pool or at the restaurant. I never experienced this to be so extremely in an hotel. This is also probably the reason why the personnel spoke german and everything was signposted in german. Thus, one felt at home...
The average age of the guests we met during our stay was approximately of 60 years; As a person aged between 30 and 40, one is really outstanding in this paradise of retired people. I saw one single family with a little kid who's yelling was hearable throughout the whole pool area from time to time. This is not meant as criticism but make clear how silent it was in the poolscape.
I clearly expected more from a 4-stars hotel at the beach that I actually got. As much as I appreciated the beautiful pool area in the proximity of the beach, as disappointed I was by the bad views from the rooms, the lack of air conditioning, the lack of deckchairs and specially the strict regulations concerning dinner time and the seating arrangements. This is the reason why I cannot recommend this hotel.
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Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz