11 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
My 17yr old son's first holiday was a br...
"My 17yr old son's first holiday was a brilliant success thanks to the staff at the Occidental Grand. I was surprised to find the hotel only half full in mid-June. The reception area was welcoming and spacious; our room on the 1st floor was clean and well maintained. As a single woman, I attracted a few "admirers" who were difficult to shake off but otherwise had no trouble. Excursions were great; everything can be arranged on first day. Unfortunately, we were not warned about the "free trip" to Sousse arranged by the hotel shop. A horrible experience in which we were hounded to buy leather goods or rugs and stuff. We were told the state shops were a bit more expensive than the medina but if youâre not good at haggling, stick to the state shop. They are very reasonable. The airport is another good shopping venue. Taxis are available at the hotel gate, reasonable priced. We used the same driver every time and he gave us great advice and usually waited for us for the return journey. Our waiter was fantastic, the food was good, got a little boring after first week though. Would have preferred more local dishes. The animation team was superb. Very friendly, and did a fantastic job of befriending and entertaining my son who was the only teenager at the hotel. The airport is a few minutes walk across the (busy) road which worried me somewhat but there was very little noise disturbance. My only complaint was about the guys selling stuff on the beach, they are really pushy and annoying. My advice, avoid eye contact and keep walking. This usually isn't a problem at the sun-loungers though as the staff will shoo the sellers away. I had planned to return to this hotel with both my kids and a few friends in 2008 but am disappointed to find it is not listed by Panorama. Any other hotel will have a hard job living up to this my expectations. OK so the star system isn't up to Irish or UK standards but we found nothing lacking or sub-standard. "
- Travel date: 29th November 2007
Please read the other reviews on here th...
"Please read the other reviews on here then read this and you can decide for yourself. We have just come home from a two week holiday in Tunisia, we being my husband and my four children ages 4, 6 15 and 20.We ended up at the Grand purely by chance as the other hotel was really not as described on the internet or by other reviews written. So a very disappointing start for us, but, however, we were surprised when we arrived at the Grand as its entrance was very impressive, very clean and the hotel management very helpful and kind. We were offered a superior room at no extra charge, it was very clean and spacious for my husband, myself and two of the little ones, they did however have to sleep on a sofa bed, which was not what we had booked, but the room was lovely and modern as it was in the new extension, lucky us, as the rooms in the old part seemed dated in comparison. The food, well if you like beef, chicken or fish in abundance fine, but not a great deal of choice, its rice or chips or runny mash and shredded carrots, and not always hot. beware of the chap cooking chicken and liver, although it was nice, make sure it is cooked through; he tried to offer me raw chicken! The eggs are good but again make sure you tell him to keep them on the griddle or they are raw too!! The crepes are lovely; you only end up with half a waffle, but hey why be greedy! not much choice in toppings though. Oh and look out for the many families of cats that freely wander through the grounds and hotel alike with their litters of wee ones too!! beware kids the mummy one bites!! The late night snacks are taken in the posh restaurant and you have to sit in there, no taking food out. that goes for the main restaurant during the day too. The water ration well, if you are clever you can ask the waiter a breakfast and he will bring water to your table in a bottle, so thatâs one, then you can go on collecting them from various bars around the hotel, The drinks are diluted and if you plan to get a wee bit tipsy, forget it, even for a dinar tip, it wonât work. The variety of drink in so far as spirits go are a bit sparse, vodka, gin and rum ok but like I say very weak .NO MINI BAR IN ROOM, so much for all inclusive !! The entertainment, bits n pieces throughout the day, with the odd water games in pool or volleyball on beach. could not find the hotel water sports so we had to forget that, twice we tried and failed. The animation team were a laugh, making funny comments in their broken English, but were fab dancers and worked really hard; they were always around the pool or on beach. The kids club. mm well at the end of our two week holiday we finally saw a chap playing with a child, he seemed really good and the little boy was having a great time, my children found the mini club and it was unattended, needless to say they found the toxic paint and created a masterpiece on the floor!! The grounds are not very well kept, you either sit amongst the straw like grass or you find a safe spot around the pool, from our room we could see the female cleaners sweeping the floors and their refuse swept into ever increasing piles in hidden areas out of site, or so they thought, by the time we left the mountain of refuse consisted of empty bottles and serviettes, cigarette ends and left over burger buns. Oh and talking of burgers, the beach snack bar is not nice, the flies are constantly landing on the un cooked food which is left out or un covered. We did not end up with bad tummies, but I think that was because we were careful. The waiters are very friendly and for a tip they will prepare a table for you for breakfast and lunch, well they will put some rolls on the table!! and remember what drinks you like. No fresh juice all squash!! Steer clear of the guy selling jewellery in the lobby, he will hassle you no end. BE FIRM with him. They charge 7 dinar for use of the smoking pipes near the lobby, beware, he only told us after, or maybe we missed the sign!! While dodging the jewellery man. The night entertainment....kids disco, salsa dancing ...cabaret/shows some very good, the guys work hard, well done to them all. OVERALL... We had a nice two week holiday, I would never return to Tunisia as we found the Tunisians rude mainly in the markets. The hotel was okay compared to what we could have had, so we are grateful. Could have been worse. The hotel was mainly Germans which did not go down too well with some guests, the meal times you have to get there early too or there is not much left. I saw a woman who had taken her own kids cereal, what a great idea!! Do try the camel rides from Fritz, and The Sultan ship ride fantastic and cheap. When you are ready to leave, make sure you take some food with you to airport from hotel, it costs Â£4 for a bag of crisps and more if you want a meal. you can walk over on your own to beat the rush, beware if you have kids, it is a busy road, and you cross a railway line. If you choose this hotel you will enjoy yourself, but take on board all the reviews being offered and make a sensible decision."
- Travel date: 4th October 2007
Wow what value for money. My husband and...
"Wow what value for money. My husband and I spent a week at this hotel, the staff work hard to please you. Food in masses, mostly lovely. Get there early too eat otherwise it is chaos as people are so rude pushing in. Avoid outside crepes I waited an hour for one. Wasnât worth the wait. Rooms are basic bog standard but adequate. Noise from airport not an issue for us during our stay. I would go back anyday. "
- Travel date: 18th August 2007
It was a fantastic holiday! The food wa...
"It was a fantastic holiday! The food wasn't too great but I could always find something that I liked. The rooms were clean and the hotel and bar areas were always up to standards. The staff there are great, if you ever get bored you can talk to them and you will be smiling in no time. Night time entertainment was most of the time dancing (so if you like to dance go watch it) personally I didn't like watching it. The disco was a great way to met people, sometimes it was a little late starting but once it got going it was really fun. Overall I really enjoyed the holiday and I would take the chance to go again. "
- Travel date: 14th August 2007
OCM: the truth! We've just completed a ...
"OCM: the truth! We've just completed a two week experience there. I rate it fair, my wife rates it good. It is NOT a four star, it is a European 2 star, but with space. It is a curates egg: good in parts. The food - large quantities, well presented and very colourful, but sadly rendered mostly tastless by being placed on a hot server for at least 20 mins before serving - there are some exceptions: scrambled egg (and all the variations on egg servings), the tomatoes, the bread, the seafood provencal and the griddled chicken, liver and kidneys, are to die for! Go in early for all meals otherwise the place is a scrum. Those that ski during french school holidays will know what I mean about queue discipline - there is none, and now Eastern Europeans are in resort and they are taking 'all inclusive' literally! The rooms are adequate, but the A/C is battling (and losing) against the heat. I complained about the lack of fridge mini-bar as standard fit - you pay Â£5 a day extra. This and the ridiculous over complication of daily water bottle allowance needs gripping (a card redeemable at the bar from 1600 onwards gets you your daily water bottle allowance) and we tourists should complain until it is changed. Get a room away from overlooking the pool/garden otherwise you will not sleep till midnight as the outside theatre plays music unbelievably loud. My biggest complaint is the daily music and entertainment played around the poolside. The MC (a cross between Stewart Hall and Eddie Waring on speed) talks non-stop multi-lingual babble - no one listens to him much and he spoils the ambience of an otherwise lush garden and relaxing poolside atmosphere - or maybe I picked the wrong hotel - you decide. The indigenous middle class use the hotel too and you will see the incongruous mix of the burkhakini and the topless european bather - I wonder how long this will last. The aircraft noise is not an issue. For spending money, forget the hotel foyer which has haphazard timing and large disorderly queues - go to the airport terminal (2 mins walk at the end of the hotel drive) and stick (any) plastic in the ATM - there is no commission only the daily exchange rate, and there are no 'mistakes' with counting the money. The hotel reception staff are grim faced and not very helpful in direct contrast to the waiters, bar tenders and cleaning maids who are unfailingly polite, helpful and courteous. In sum: a curious institution that is trying hard to please, is dealing with large numbers of people, and has staff that generally want to please. The flight from Exeter was efficient, your money goes a long way, the sun is guaranteed and the locals want tourists - so what's the problem? None, and I guess I would go there again. Just don't expect a four star. "
- Travel date: 14th August 2007
I thought that the hotel was the best I ...
"I thought that the hotel was the best I have been to!! There is everything there for kids to do, the animation team were brilliant they were very good with kids and were a laugh to be around!! The rooms were very nice they were clean, lots of space!! I got to try lots of new foods, all the waiters were very nice, and they made you welcome. Overall I enjoyed my holiday I enjoyed it so much I cried because I didnât want to leave, I would love to go back again sometime!! If you donât want to go to this hotel you would be missing out on allot!! "
- Travel date: 5th August 2007
I canât believe all you people are cri...
"I canât believe all you people are criticizing this hotel. It was clean, spacious, interesting and relaxing. Staff were always polite and helpful. Food was varied with a different theme each night where the staff go to allot of trouble preparing decorations in the restaurant and decorating the food. The animation team were excellent; there is always something of interest going on. Their dance acts are extremely professional and entertaining. This hotel is great value for money. Do not hesitate to book here!! Tunisia itself has a few draw backs mostly the overcharging that goes on. Try to be astute or you will pay up to 2-3 times more than is necessary. Bartering is a hassle and the Tunisians do become rude and aggressive if you donât buy! "
- Travel date: 5th June 2007
Went to Tunisia for a week with my mothe...
"Went to Tunisia for a week with my mother and had a fantastic time. Yes, the hotel looks a bit tired, but the facilities were perfectly fine and the staff couldnât be more helpful. If you are looking for a 4* hotel in the 'English' category system, you won't find it here, although it is labelled as 4*. It is 4* by Tunisian standards hence the price you will pay to stay there - nothing like English 4* prices. Buffet food was good, with plenty of choice to cater for all tastes. A La Carte meal was very good for the one evening you get included. Animation team worked very hard and were always friendly and polite. They will always try and encourage you to take part in their activities (i.e. mini golf, aqua aerobics, salsa dancing and beach volleyball to name but a few). If you say no, they will accept this, but are likely to try again the following day. They have an evening entertainment session, which surprised us being September - we thought it was coming to the end of the season and so didnât expect there to be much going on - how wrong we were! Children's 'disco' each night at 8.30pm and 9.30pm for the 'adult' show - including sketch show, cabaret show and game show for holiday makers all of which are family friendly. There is a night-time disco within the hotel starting at 11.30pm for dance-divas, but it is fully sound proofed and you cannot hear anything from the bedrooms. We managed to spend the whole week by the pool without actually leaving the hotel complex and were never bored. We could have travelled by taxi or bus to nearby towns for shopping, but be prepared to barter and haggle for anything you want to buy and also be prepared for attention from the locals (particularly if female, fair skinned, blonde and reasonably attractive!). This attention was not offensive at all or nasty - just a novelty for them I think - it only amounted to lots of 'hellos' and looks from men. Hotel facilities - indoor and outdoor pool, many sun beds, massage, hairdresser, beach, snack bar, pool bar and indoor bar serving cakes in the afternoon. We had a problem with our toilet in the room, but within 20minutes of it being reported to reception it was fixed. Reception staff always happy to help and their English is very good. All staff will attempt English and most are very good, but a few choice words in French never went amiss. Many other languages including Italian, German, French, Spanish and Arabic are also spoken within the hotel. Weather, even in September was hot and sunny - despite a few choice thunder storms and a few showers which were unusual according to staff for this time of year. Although the airport was directly across the road (2 minutes in transfer coach!) the aircraft noise was never a problem and was not intrusive - good views of aircraft as they leave the airport! No flights occur through the night, and so no disturbed sleep for that reason! Overall, very good value for money, had a great time and would definitely go back again. If you get the chance to go - you should! "
- Travel date: 18th September 2006
This hotel used to be called the Festiva...
"This hotel used to be called the Festival, and although Occidental have only relatively recently taken it over, not much money has gone into it as yet, so most of the fixtures and fittings are looking a little weary. It is to be closed over the coming winter season, so hopefully 2007 will see an improvement. At present calling it a 4-star is pushing the boundaries a bit. Plenty of room in the gardens and no worries with sun bed availability. This is in stark contrast to other hotels along the beach where they were packed in like sardines! Outdoor pool is nice and deep, and the indoor pool is excellent. Beach is excellent, with the shallows going out a long way. The clientele was a cosmopolitan cross section of Europe- France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Russia etc., so it wasn't like being in Blackpool. As we stayed the last week in July, we half expected lots of kids causing mayhem, but there were no problems from any children either under or over school leaving age! As other reviewers have stated, the Animation team's music can be a nuisance, but that is common to many places. We had a ground floor room (28) and it was convenient for the pool and beach, and saved trekking upstairs where the corridors were distinctly warmer than one might hope for. Special note to the chambermaid, gardener and waiter who did a good job. The buffet-style food was good enough, though they don't hang about in packing up at the end of sessions, so make sure you arrive a good 10-15 mins before the advertised ending time if you want feeding in full. The location is directly opposite Monastir airport, so no worries about transfers unless you can't cope with a 5-6 minute walk from door to door. The brochures warn about aircraft noise, but this is not as noticeable here as at some hotels further west along the beach which get landing and takeoff noise, together with a noticeable whiff of aviation fuel. L'Aeroport railway station (trains to Monastir and Sousse) is also obviously handy. All in all a fair hotel, we enjoyed our week there and have stayed in worse places in the past. "
- Travel date: 1st September 2006
Definitely not a 4 star but comfortable,...
"Definitely not a 4 star but comfortable, clean and situated on the beach (which is nice and clean and the water is warm). No shops or anything nearby but a cheap taxi ride will take you to bigger places. All inclusive drinks are local produce but acceptable and no long queues. The pool is lovely and generally not crowded and there is a small pool for the kiddies but you need to get up early to get a good place. Evening entertainment was ok but starts at about 2030 for the kids and 2130ish for the adults, bit too late for us as we were knackered by then. Staff were generally good and try to please, a 10 dinar tip at the start of the holiday will get you extra service, well worth it. We tipped the pool barman and my drink was on the bar waiting for me if he saw me walking over. The man who does the sun beds and the waiter in the restaurant are also worth tipping. The animation team worked really hard and although can be a pain at times pestering you to take part in activities when you want to relax, a firm and polite no will get the message across. That said; do take part if you can because we made some good friends getting involved in some of the group activities. The massage in the fitness centre in well worth a try and reasonably priced, my wife and I made 5 visits. The food wasn't very good and we all had upset stomachs for most of the holiday although not that bad that it ruined our holiday. Things not to do or watch out for: One of the guys at the reception that changes money tried to rip us off several times with incorrect change, so count it carefully in his presence. The hotelâs free trip to Sousse to look at the Medina (market) is a rip off. The man concerned will take you to the shops where he has contacts and they try to pressurise you into buying carpets, leather jackets and so forth, they really make you feel guilty if you don't so I would advise to give this a miss. Give the quad bikes a miss, its rubbish. Warn your kids off not to let the hairdresser paint their faces, she does it without asking you and tries to charge you over the top. Remember to haggle with anything you buy especially in the local markets, start off with at least half the advertised price, everything is marked up. If you really want it walk out the shop and go back later. As we were walking out of one shop a 40 dinar pair of shoes was reduced to 8. Trips we tried and enjoyed. Camel ride booked through guy in hotel, bit sore on the bum but if you want to ride a camel hey! Taxi ride (20 dinar remember to haggle) to Port el Kantouie, great for shopping and a lovely marina. Overall not a bad holiday as all we wanted to do was to relax and we achieved that. "
- Travel date: 14th August 2006
This hotel is right across the road from...
"This hotel is right across the road from the airport. Suggest anyone going there should liaise with their tour operator for a direct transfer instead of sitting around for 45 minutes in the tour operator's bus. Even better, walk over, with care, you have to cross a dual carriageway and a railway line. Although located so near the airport, the aircraft noise was not too intrusive. Hotel is having a new wing built with plans for a further swimming pool, due we were told for the summer of 2007. However, although spotlessly clean in the public areas and our bedroom (beware, if someone turns the cold tap on in another room when you are having a shower, you are then under scalding hot water), the hotel is very tired and badly in need of refurbishment. This was most obvious in the pool and beach area. Both toilet facilities there were to say the least inadequate, sometimes quite disgusting. Went to use the toilet in the indoor pool area, and the light switch was totally missing. I have to assume it had been isolated as I am still here to tell the tale, but rather alarming to put your finger inside the light switch box. Always felt that there was not enough cutlery and crockery to go round, some of which was badly chipped as were the glasses in the main bar. The animation team worked very hard to ensure all had a good holiday, but left you alone if all you wanted to do was laze on the beach. A word of warning, the poolside is bombarded all day by very loud music, so not the most restful of places to sit. All the above being said, the staff were extremely friendly and very helpful. The mix of food was quite acceptable given the cross-section of visitors, mostly from Europe. Hopefully Occidental have good plans for the future of this hotel. My husband and I had a great holiday and hope to return to Tunisia one day. If you are near the urban railway do try it. It is a great way to travel between Sousse and Monastir and further a field if you wish. Very cheap, but do travel first class, second class is like a cattle truck, first not much better, but good fun. Taxis are plentiful and very reasonably priced."
- Travel date: 17th July 2006
Le Soleil Bella Vista Hotel is also called
- Bella Vista
- bella vista hotel
- resort all inclusive bella vista