For the past week or so I have been posting photos from our recent holiday to Levante Beach in Rhodes. Sadly this is the last post so from now on it will be back to normality, but I wanted to spend a bit of time giving my opinion on the holiday itself. I have split it into categories so hopefully it will help anyone planning on booking a trip with Mark Warner.
Mark Warner fly to Rhodes via two destinations- Manchester with Jet2 and Heathrow with British Airways. We flew from Heathrow and were pleasantly surprised with the whole process. Mark Warner charter the BA flight, meaning that nearly everyone on the plane was going to Levante Beach. This was quite nice actually as it meant that we got chatting to a few families on the flight and also there were lots of children on board so we were all in the same position of keeping them entertained. The flight to Rhodes is four hours long, a funny time really as not long enough to be classed as long haul but also a bit longer than your average short haul flight to Spain or Portugal. Still we had the iPad babysitter and the girls were so tired that they fell asleep for a while too.
Flying BA meant your usual free drinks and food, which was nice to pass the time a little. On arrival at the airport, we were incredibly impressed with the efficiency of the transfers. There were friendly Mark Warner staff there to greet you and we were all split into different coaches so that it would be quicker check in at the hotel. You sign the check in forms on the coach meaning that it takes less time at the hotel, this was a great idea. On arrival at Levante Beach, which took half an hour, we were greeted with some sliced watermelon and a nice cold drink which was very much needed! We left our bags on the bus and they were taken up to our rooms within minutes, which again we thought was efficient.
Our first impressions of Levante Beach were just how clean it was. Everything was shiny and spotless and you could really tell that the resort was only a couple of years old. We were shown to our room, a deluxe suite and were delighted to find that it opened out on to the main pool. Being a family of four, we were worried about space and whether we would keep each other awake at night, but we need not have worried, our room was large and split into two separate rooms for us and the girls, with a big sliding door that we could choose whether to keep open or shut. The bed was ridiculously comfy and the bathrooms nice and modern with double sinks and a separate bath and shower.
There was a welcome meeting on the first evening where we got to learn all about the different facilities and activities, and I would definitely recommend going to this, especially if you are only there for a week as you really want to know how to get the best from your holiday.
We had a quick walk around the resort on our first evening and found that even though it is quite large, it didn't feel like anything was too far away. We were a 30 second walk from the main area and restaurant, and the beach and other pools were less than five minute walk away. The gardens are beautiful and it was interesting to see that there were ancient ruins on site as well. On one side of the hotel there is open shrub land, and the other side there is a hotel but also some building work. This wasn't our side, but none of the other rooms seemed to look out on to it and it wasn't noisy at all.
The facilities at Levante Beach are fantastic. Mark Warner are known for their active holidays and they certainly didn't disappoint. There were a number of well lit tennis courts, a fantastic beach front full of watersports equipment including kayaks, sailing boats, windsurfers and waterskis, as well as a place you could hire bikes. There were four different pools, and they were always spotless with lots of sun beds (so no fighting for a good spot!) - there was the main pool with kids pool, an adult only pool, a pool with comfier sunbeds and a pool bar, and the indoor pool as well. For the little ones there is the incredible childcare centre (more about that later), as well as a large, clean playground which Mads and LL loved to play in.
There are three restaurants (again more on those a bit later too!) and a cocktail bar which were all modern and clean. The hotel is large and although it wasn't completely full while we there as it was just the start of the season, even if it was at capacity I don't think you would feel like it was too busy. There are lots of areas to sit and relax, including a large reception and a big outside bar area. There is a spa, which I didn't have time to experience but by all accounts it looked lovely, and a gym which had just enough of what you needed for a week- some weights, a couple of treadmills and the usual cardio equipment. There was also an on site supermarket as well, which although small had everything you may need, including nappies.
Mark Warner is known for it's activities, with the main ones being watersports and tennis. We tried most of the activities available, bar the tennis, although Mr E went down and joined in and watched the Tipsy Tennis one evening (literally playing tennis while having a few drinks!) and said it was good fun. The beach front has many different water sports, including sailling, diving, wind surfing, water skiing and kayaking, with all of these bar water skiing being included in the price. Obviously you have to pay extra for diving but there are free taster sessions in the pool.
Mr E did a three hour wind surfing session which he loved, and he learnt a lot from the instructors. We both tried kayaking, which was great fun, and I was really impressed with the safety procedures they have in place. There are speed boats out circling around constantly and they operate a flag and tag system, meaning you have to sign in and out so they know you have come back safely. There are water sports on every day and so many different sessions to suit all levels.
Bikes are included in the price as well, and there are mountain bikes and road bikes available, so it is a great way of getting out and seeing a bit of the island. There are daily organised bike rides, ranging from a 10k jaunt to get a drink in a nearby bar to a full 60k bike up a mountain. We did the 10k ride down the coast which was lovely and Mr E also did the tougher ride, which he said was good fun. There are exercise classes and things like water polo going on, as well as a couple of organised group runs going on as well. There are so many activities that you could be busy all day every day if you wanted too, but we also love to relax by the pool and read books in the sunshine too.
Food and Drink.
We were on a half board basis, meaning that breakfast and dinner was included in the price of our holiday. You could upgrade to full board but we liked having the flexibility of choosing where to eat lunch. The main restaurant Almalthia serves a buffet style breakfast and dinner. Having had many buffets in hotels in the past ranging in a variety of different budgets of holiday, I can honestly say that this was some of the best buffet food I have eaten.
The breakfasts were delicious, with a huge choice. Lots of continental pastries, cold meats, a large number of cereals, every fruit you can imagine, fruit salad and yoghurts. There was lots of different hot choices, with made while you wait omlettes with a number of different fillings, lots of potatoes, hash browns, beans and the other usual cooked breakfast options. Our favourite little indulgence was the pancake and waffle bar, with a really happy cheery Greek man cooking fresh, warm pancakes and waffles, with a choice of nutella, honey, vanilla cream or cinnamon to go on top. Our girls loved these and got excited every morning. Fresh fruit juice was a nice touch as well.
Dinner was just as good, with a different theme every night including Greek, Italian and Fish, although these were very loose themes. There was a huge amount of choice, and I was really impressed especially with the salads, of which there were about ten different kinds each night. There was a variety of different dishes each night, and a nice mix of fish, meat and veg. Sometimes I find that you get bored of eating buffet food after a while on holiday, but this wasn't the case, we looked forward to seeing what there was each night. The desserts were divine, but they were definitely 'my sort of pudding' with a lot of mousses, creme brulee's and creamy desserts. There was the odd cake and a different variety of ice creams each evening, as well as lots of fruit as well.
There are two other restaurants as well, but you have to pay a little extra for these - the poolside Greek Taverna and the Pan Asian restaurant. We ate at the poolside restaurant for lunch a fair bit and the food was really reasonably priced and tasty, serving the usual things like pizza and sandwiches. We had stuffed pepper one lunch time and it was absolutely delicious. We also had lunch on our terrace a few times, getting snacky bits from the supermarket on site. They sell things like yoghurts, bread, ham, cheese and crisps.
Each evening from 5.15 to 6.15 there is a children's dinner (main dinner starts at 7.30), although if you would prefer they can eat with you later in the evening. There are a huge number of highchairs, all absolutely spotless with plastic clingfilm over the trays between each use. There are also a large number of plastic cutlery, plates and bowls, which is a nice touch. I think that the children's food was the only area which we thought wasn't up to as excellent a standard as everything else. It was fine, with a variety of different dishes, but some nights it wasn't as good as others, with some of the food looking a little bland, especially compared to what you got in the buffet a little later. That said, there was something for everyone, and my children are so fussy and managed to find things to eat. They loved the puddings, which was ice cream and similar things to the adults later in the evening, as well as lots of fresh fruit, LL got fixated on juicy slices of watermelon.
Drinks weren't included, bar juice for the children, and juice and water at breakfast, but there was a wide choice available. There was a great cocktail menu, some nice beers and a good sized wine menu. The drinks were pretty reasonable in price, with a beer costing about four euros and a cocktail costing about seven. This is similar to English prices really, and I was pleased to see that they hadn't over priced them just because they effectively could.
There is local beer in the mini supermarket for around 80 cents and Mr E actually thought it tasted really nice, so he enjoyed these on the balcony in the evenings. Soft drinks like diet coke were about two euros at the bar and a euro in the shop, so again pretty standard. There was a large range of ice creams at the pool bar, including Ben and Jerry's, which was a nice (but lethal!) surprise.
Overall we were incredibly impressed with the food- it was delicious, the hygiene standards were impeccable and the local Greek waiting staff were very friendly and polite. We all left about two pounds heavier!
Before we arrived, I knew that Mark Warner were famous for their childcare facilities, but I wasn't sure how I felt about putting my girl's into a Kids Club. Morning childcare and evening were included in the price of the holiday so we thought we may as well try it and if Mads and LL didn't like it we would no longer use it. I was a little nervous about the idea of leaving them in an unfamilar environment with people they didn't know.
We were invited to a meeting at the childcare building on the first afternoon, where we could check out the facilities, meet the staff and ask any questions that we may have. On arrival at the childcare block, I was incredibly impressed- it's an air conditioned, spotless purpose built building, with a large number of toys of a really high standard. They were all pristine, it was genuinely nicer than the equipment at the girl's nursery at home and that has an outstanding OFSTED rating.
There a number of different clubs depending on your child's age group, LL was in Toddler club for 0-2 and Mads was in Mini club from 3-5. The staff were all incredible- so friendly and good with the children and they operate a key worker system so you drop them off to a familiar face each morning. It wasn't at full capacity when we went, but there was a ratio of about one staff member to two children which was fantastic. The staff were all so friendly and we got to know them all over the course of the week.
The activities and events were absolutely brilliant. Mads had the most amazing time, despite a couple of grumbles when we dropped her off on the first couple of days, she soon made friends and came home each lunch time with stories to tell. There is a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, including singing, dancing and arts and crafts, as well as tennis, swimming, windsurfing and sailing. Seeing my little girl doing these watersports was a highlight of the holiday to me, as was looking up from my sunbed to see them all walking along holding a rope and singing songs.
One small thing that I found really reassuring and impressive was seeing that whenever they went in the kids pool, the lifeguard came and sat with them and played with them all too. They also were always wearing Konfidence float jackets when they were in the pool too, and I never saw them without a hat on either.
LL obviously is smaller, but she still went paddling, on walks down to the beach and lots of indoor play too. The security was amazing, you signed your child in and out, and had to give a password at the start of the holiday in which you were asked when you picked them up- I didn't once not get asked the password. I thought I would feel a little uneasy about leaving them in a strange environment but I couldn't have felt more reassured or have trusted the staff anymore, and that is an absolute testament to them and the Mark Warner ethos.
In the evening they offer a evening creche service from 7.30pm till 11pm where you take your child along in their PJ's. They all then snuggle and watch a film, before getting into little beds and snuggling and watching another film with the lights out. They get the same bed each evening with a name tag on it, which helps get them excited about their own little space, Mads and LL shared one at my request and I loved seeing them snuggled up together when we went to collect them. Before we went on holiday, I had already said to Mr E that I didn't think we would even dream of using this facility as I am so strict about routine, but we ended up using it every night.
The girl's absolutely loved it, and for us, who can probably count on two hands the amount of nights out we have had together in three years, this was absolutely priceless and made our holiday. We never left them all night, the latest being about 10pm on one occasion, but even having an hour or so to enjoy dinner was so nice. On arrival to pick them up, they had a sheet to tell you what time they fell asleep, which I thought was brilliant too. Mads didn't sleep but LL fell asleep once, and it was actually really easy to pick her up and pop her in her cot back at the hotel room.
I could talk about the childcare aspect of Mark Warner all day, but I really couldn't fault it at all, it exceeded our expectations by far and definitely helped make our holiday amazing. As anyone with young toddlers will know, on holiday you literally have to watch their every single move and more often than not it can be less relaxing than at home. But just by having a couple of hours in the morning to ourselves, then having the rest of the day to enjoy as a family, really did make all the difference.
Having been on many different types of holiday over the years, from budget travelling with a backpack round Thailand to staying in one of the most luxury hotels in Dubai, (before children!) I didn't think that I was a typical 'package holiday' kind of person. However our week in Rhodes has changed my mind. We had such a special week as a family, and it was the perfect mix of fun activities, relaxing, quality time as a couple and non stop fun. Obviously it helps that everything ran smoothly and we didn't encounter any problems, but Levante Beach really is fantastic and I really can't fault much at all.
Both the British Mark Warner staff, and the local Greek restaurant/hotel staff were incredibly friendly, polite and knowledgeable, and the facilities, activities and food were all a high standard as well. It's testament to the resort that we didn't leave the hotel once, other than to go on a bike ride, we didn't feel the need to explore as we had everything we needed all in one place. I normally get a little bored and want to explore on holiday, but I was just quite happy staying put. The one main thing that we observed was the cleanliness of the resort- everywhere was literally spotless, I didn't see a speck of dirt anywhere the whole time. Obviously it helps that the hotel is only a couple of years old, but hopefully it will stay this way in the future.
The childcare made the holiday for us, and I never dreamt that I would feel comfortable leaving them for a couple of hours in a strange place, especially in the evenings, but I couldn't have felt they were in better hands, and I am so thankful for that aspect of our holiday. The girl's had such a great time, making new friends and having new experiences, and we had chance to reconnect as a couple- it really was priceless.
I wanted this to be a thorough, unbiased review but it's really hard because I really just couldn't fault Levante Beach in any way from our experiences over the course of our week away, the only thing I personally think they could have improved on was the children's dinner time food, but even that was pretty good, especially in regards to the facilities. I can genuinely say that we have fallen in love with the Mark Warner ethos and it has changed the way we look at holiday's abroad with children.
We all get a little post holiday blues, but I did feel a little emotional to leave, more so than normal holidays we have been on in the past. I have no doubt that we will go back, and that we will be loyal fan's of Mark Warner for many years to come.
You can check out the rest of our holiday posts here-
Our Holiday to Rhodes- Part One.
Our Holiday to Rhodes- Part Two.
Our Holiday to Rhodes- Part Three.
Our Holiday to Rhodes- Part Four.