My girlfriend and I had stayed at this hotel for a week holiday in June 2019. We stayed in the Beachfront room and had the all inclusive package which was booked with Jet2 (highly recommended).
Overall: the hotel for the most part was absolutely wonderful, food=amazing, rooms=clean and always maintained, service=for the most part lovely (will explain this later).
I’ll list the positives and negatives below:
- variety of food at buffet
- cleanliness of room A*** for cleaners
- the beach is amazing (blue flag listed)
- main bar, reception and most restaurant staff were so kind and punctual at breakfast, lunch and dinner
- the hotel’s awareness about the environment
The food at Santa Marina was amazing. There was a great variety of food, so if you’re looking to immerse yourself in Greek food you’ll enjoy the buffet here. Accompanying this was the usual pizza, spaghetti, chicken dishes which you will find at all hotels so there is a good range for all people. there were themed nights for dinner e.g. Chinese inspired night which reinforces the variety.
Breakfast had your standard fry up food, as well and deli meats and cheeses, and a cook making crepes fresh constantly.
On the Thursday evening, there was a special “Cretan Night” in which there was a small BBQ out in the courtyard area between the hotel and beach which had live Cretan music and dancers. This was amazing as they really encouraged everyone to join in and dance, whilst also teaching us all how to perform some famous Greek dances.
(Breakfast is 7:30-10:00, Lunch is 12:30-2:30, Dinner is 7:00-9:30 — if you have an all inclusive wristband, there is ice cream and snacks served between each of the main meals).
The cleaners for the rooms were amazing. We never saw them (which is a good thing as they never disturbed us) and kept our room very tidy and clean. Towels were always stocked and bedsheets were changed once during our stay which is standard. They tend to clean rooms quite early when guests are at breakfast so if you’re having a lay in make sure you use the “do not disturb” door hangers!
The beach itself was beautiful. With our room being on the beachfront (which is where the main reception and buffet is also located so I’d recommend booking these specific rooms if you prefer ease of access to everything), this was just a short walk from our room to the sunbeds on the beach (literally 30 seconds from ground floor of the hotel). I believe if you have the all inclusive package then you can have the sunbeds for free but any other package there is a €2.50 fee per bed (this wasn’t very clear and we only suspect this from seeing a staff member asking everyone their room numbers and asking for the fee every now and again). There is a lifeguard tower on the hotel’s section of the beach which is constantly manned during the day. There are many many signs to ensure the beach stays clean and no rubbish is thrown on the ground so that the beach can maintain their blue flag status.
The sea, well it is a blue flag beach so the sea is always going to be amazing. Very blue and shallow (about 50-75 metres out and the water was still only about a 1.5 metres deep!)
There are a consistent flow of men trying to sell you sunglasses, kimonos, watches etc. But that happens everywhere so not a problem and they were surprisingly very nice and chatty even when we weren’t interested in buying their products.
The hotel entertainers are consistently organising sport activities on the beach to make sure everyone is included and entertained such as water aerobics, volleyball, football and other mini-games. Thy always have a smile on their face day in day out so bravo to them!
The pool bar during the day was good and served all the main drinks you’d expect (although the staff seemed moody most days).
The main bar (for evenings) staff were so kind and jokey and made every drink expertly. And always chatted to guests who were sitting by the bar whilst efficiently making drinks. No complaints here whatsoever!
MOST of the buffet restaurant waiting staff were lovely. Always had smiles on their faces and were always on the lookout to clear empty plates off your tables and refill of water/drinks if you needed them. More specifically a waiter named Michalis was amazing. He was so kind and you could tell he loved his job and making sure the guests were treated properly (deserves a pay rise!).
Reception staff were amazing. Always helpful and open 24/7 so they were always ready to help. They were also very chatty and loved asking questions to make you feel more welcome. 10/10!!
In the room and around the hotel there is an added awareness about the environment and current climate change issues (e.g. signage in the rooms showing information about towel cleaning etc.).
- some buffet staff were rude and favoured older people (we are 23/22 compared to most of the hotel guests being 40+ on average)
During lunch and dinner on every night, there were a certain few staff members who were quite rude in the sense that they would ignore us if we sat down at a table waiting to get drinks (as you need to be served to get drinks at lunch and dinner). These specific hotel staff members would purposely walk past our table to tables with older people sat down.
Now this is fine for the first couple times and sometimes staff members do just miss seeing you, and that is understandable. But this went on for a good 10/15 minutes, with waiting staff constantly passing us without being served. During this time we also witnessed other young couples being MOVED from their tables because an older couple wanted to sit at their table because it had a nice view, this younger couple had to go sit inside...
when we were finally served, the waitress did not greet us with a nice “would you like anything to drink?” That we had gotten from other staff like Michalis, but instead asked us “what do you want?” In a harsh tone. We had asked for white wine as part of the all inclusive package, to which on nights earlier in the week holiday, we were given a jug full of this by certain nicer staff. However towards the end of the week holiday, we were only given a glass, which would be understandable if they had low stock. However, an old couple next to us had asked for the same thing (we politely asked them if they had) and we given TWO jugs.
We had began to notice that staff were favouring people who they knew would be more likely to give tips, and therefore they stereotypically thought older people would have more money, and therefore, chose to treat them better. As the staff began to remember our faces, they knew we were less likely to tip potentially due to our age and because we hadn’t on previous nights (it’s not customary to tip when we had all inclusive I thought? - maybe I hadn’t researched enough into the tipping etiquette of Greece)
We decided to try the other restaurant at the hotel which is further inland up the hill. The waiting staff there were absolutely lovely and made sure we were looked after properly. However, as these waiting staff were not familiar with our faces, it’s not clear if they would have treated us differently had we had eaten a few more times in that restaurant.
We had also tried the a la carte restaurant which you get for one night for free worth the all inclusive package. The food was lovely there, however, we noticed the same problem with the waiting staff treating the older groups better than us. They had even offered free shots of the Cretan Raki to all of them and then ignored us.
This isn’t something that a great hotel should be doing, especially when we had already spent a lot on the all inclusive package. But with the current financial crisis in Greece, many workers rely on tips, and unfortunately, this has started to infect this hotel.
Overall we did have a lovely stay and most things about the hotel were amazing. But we were unfortunately let down by some waiting staff. This is a huge shame as we would have loved to return. Maybe we will when we are older looking!
(I do understand that the waiters do need to earn a living, but there are nicer ways to go about this.)
Jet2 had their rep on site, showing us all the excursions that we could take.
We chose Elafonisi Beach (€40ish - this may have changed now!). This excursion was fun and the tour guide was incredible and funny and brought the group together. Although we did notice that parts of the trip were tip driven, as we were made to stop off at a restaurant and given free Raki and had payed for food - so we suspected that the tour guide was getting commission from the restaurant - but that’s fine and he needs to make some money!
We also went to the water park which we bought tickets for at the local train station (it’s not actually a train, but a train looking car with carriages). I can’t remember the price but it was cheaper than Elafonisi. It was a lovely day, the rides were great. Again, on the way back we were made to stop off at a local orange farm to buy orange juice - the commission theory comes back into mind here, but I’m all for that, people need to make a living!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC