Last minute deals don’t really seem to exist anymore, but leaving it pretty late to book we seemed to have got an awesome offer on our holiday this year. Not only that, the weather was amazing for September, the hotel had plenty on to get involved in, even for adults, and we came back totally relaxed. Read on to find out more…
Normally I’d book our holiday as early as possible. Give us something to work for and look forward to. Something to make that hard slog at work totally worth it. I think last year we booked our September holiday in March, after I’d probably been looking since January. I was counting down from May. Haha. But this year due to changes in our careers, and other goings on, although we had the time booked off since July we couldn’t really find anything we wanted in our price bracket until this little gem came up late August – only a week and a half before flying out. It’s actually pretty exciting doing it that way too! Booking through Thomson made everything super simple – I like stress-free options when on a holiday like this, it makes all the difference.
Flights were super early, meaning leaving the flat in the middle of the night, but it means you get a full first day. And we obviously made this count.
The transfer, which takes between an hour and an hour and a half dropped us off at the hotel at about 12pm (Spain is an hour ahead in September) and although our room wasn’t quite ready, the hotel had somewhere for us to leave our bags – after changing into something more summery of course.
The Hotel itself, is pretty massive. Five floors, 480 rooms/suites, it wasn’t as full when we visited as it had been throughout the summer, but still seemed pretty busy to me.
Having gone through a refurbishment earlier this year, it’s contemporary, with the Thomson and Tui colours running throughout. The banisters along the hallways leading to all of the rooms and suites are filled with hanging plants and greenery, well and truly bringing the outdoors inside.
There are two bars, one indoors and one under a white tent style covering. Both serving the same drinks, with the addition of a coffee and smoothie bar (not included in all inclusive package) at the outdoor bar. During the daytime, the indoor bar also doubles up to serve snacks, including chicken, burgers, hot dogs and fruit, whilst at night time it turns into a traditional Spanish restaurant serving a tasting menu of authentic dishes – one visit to the restaurant is included in the package, however our week went so quickly we forgot to book.
There are two pools and a small child’s pool all surrounded by sun loungers, which is where we spent most of the week, soaking up the sun and relaxing.
The main restaurant, which serves the all inclusive buffet is pretty huge, to reflect the size of the hotel and number of guests, with hot plates running the length. This is accompanied by another 2 restaurants on site (not in the all inclusive), which would have been tempting had the buffet not given us so many options.
There’s also a kids club and baby club, for any families reading this, and plenty of activities for both the kids and adults to get involved in, from football and basketball (they have courts just outside the hotel) to water polo, aqua disco, aqua fit and body balance. These ran everyday from about 8.30am to 4.30pm in September (longer in the summer).
For any fitness fanatics like Alex and I, there is also a gym onsite which is free for guests. Although it isn’t massive, it has the basics including treadmills, cross-trainers, bikes, some low level free weights and a separate studio, perfect for floor work and yoga.
Next to the gym there is a spa, with indoor pool facilities, sauna and treatments on offer. Although pretty pricey, it was great to have the option on site as we normally opt for a massage whilst away.
Our junior suite was pretty awesome. Up on floor 5, our suite consisted of a bedroom with queen sized bed, a living room with tv, dining area and kitchen, a bathroom and a balcony. Big enough for us to have our own space if needed, it was almost a shame we didn’t spend more time there.
The few evenings we spent in the apartment, drinking and singing, having a game of cards on the balcony or playing heads up on the iPad after an evening of entertainment were fun, and we made plenty of use out of the space then – apart from the kitchen.
As well as daytime activities, the hotel holds daily entertainment in the evenings. Whilst we were staying we saw music and theatrical shows from the Tui family life production team, acrobatics and magic. Every night held something different, the shows from the production team pretty creative and the teams came together so well in performing that we genuinely wanted to be finished dinner and seated ready for the show.
There are always best bits. Alex’s being the magician as he has a thing for magic, and I think mine might have been the family life production where the whole team came together for just under an hour of singing and dancing. Chris, one of the lead guys, was incredible – he could have easily been from the west end himself with a personality, humour and voice like his!
All meals in the all inclusive package are served buffet style in the main restaurant. The buffet itself repeats along the full length of the long dining space, accompanied by 2 drinks stations, 2 bars and 2 open grills where chefs cook up the daily meat, fish or veg fresh to order.
Lunch and dinner are pretty similar, with plenty of hot options for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Throughout the week the options vary, and although there are similar choices from the live grill, there are plenty of new things to try on the hot plates. There is also a fresh salad bar with all the usual bits and pieces, alongside a ready made section which features different options daily from potato salad to German salad and a seafood mix.
Three times a week the restaurant holds a themed buffet for dinner, adding a few extra options from the chosen cuisine to the grill, and choices for starters – Mexican night featured fajitas and nachos, whilst the Spanish night featured frito misto, squid rings and devilled eggs.
The dessert bar was always first stop to see if we needed to leave space. Every lunchtime and dinner the dessert offering changes and includes plenty of small cake bites, creamy slices and bigger options to choose from. There was even creme brulee, mousse, cheesecake, poached pears, fritters and a chocolate fountain at one point or another throughout the week. Jelly, one of my fave sweet treats, was available at lunchtime so I tried to save space for this after my salad (my lunchtime choice every day accompanied by some meat or fish).
Breakfast is just as extensive with all the full english necessities, as well as pancakes, waffles, churros, oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, dried fruit, yoghurt and all manner of toast options, with an array of toppings. Spanish omelette even made an appearance a couple of days.
Even though we were away on our holiday, I still opted for fresh fruit and yoghurt topped with dried figs and cereal most mornings, or oatmeal, only once treating myself to waffles which were pretty awesome sprinkled with cinnamon sugar! Alex made the most of it, with a different plate every morning.
There’s a wide range of drinks included in the all inclusive package, from sangria and local beer, to local spirits, cocktails and soft drinks. Sangria, a drink you fall in love with all over again on holiday and forget about when in the UK, made a regular appearance at our table for dinner and although very sweet, the cocktails were enjoyed a lot too.
Right on the beach, it’s prime spot for a relaxing resort and beach holiday. Its close enough to keep popping back for drinks or snacks too. The beach stretches out for 23km, so you can go for a long stroll along the shoreline, and venture back when ready.
Just to the right as you walk onto the beach is a hut offering jet ski and peddle boat rental as well as banana boat and doughnut experiences.
Only a 5 minute walk from the nearest shopping centre, it’s great if you need gifts, necessities or fancy a little retail therapy. With clothes, shoes and accessories outlets, make up, souvenir shops and a supermarket, alongside several bars, restaurants and takeaways, there’s pretty much everything you need.
Later in the evenings, along the pathway down to the shopping centre there were people selling clothing, shoes, accessories and other bits and bobs. It was enticing as we wandered down one evening on the way to a cocktail bar, heading back without a drink but a couple of football shirts for Alex. I headed back out the night before returning too to get my hands on some trainers.
The closest town, La Antilla, is only a short drive away. We took the road train, the cutest form of public transport which played music as you made your way along the streets, which took about 15 minutes. With more shops, restaurants and a few bars, it gets more lively later into the evening. However it’s not overly big and to be completely honest, we found it wasn’t somewhere you’d while away the hours at bars, sipping cocktails. We decided we might as well be drinking at the hotel bar or in our suite, and so on the only night out of the hotel, we ventured back after a single cocktail.
To sum up:
- Booking with Thomson took so much stress out of the holiday
- The hotel has so much going on, and some great facilities so there is always something we could get stuck into. The evening entertainment programme offers some fab productions and shows
- The buffet has plenty of options, so we didn’t get too bored of the food by the end of 7 days
- The drinks offering is fab too – cocktails being included and a large selection of local spirits
- The location is great for a relaxing holiday round the pool and on the beach, but the nearest town doesn’t offer much extra than the immediate area. Along the immediate stretch of beach in front of the hotel, there are also water sports and boats you can book
- Weather in the south of Spain is still really hot and sunny in September – I came back with a fab tan
At £600 per person, booked late so receiving a reduced cost, it was priced at the lower end of all inclusive packages this year yet offered so much in return in comparison. The
For anyone looking for a relaxing, all inclusive short haul holiday, not in the height of the summer season, I would highly recommend the Tui Family Life Islantilla.
Where did you go this year?