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|We have just returned from a two-week all-inclusive stay in this lovely hotel & wanted to share our experiences with anyone who might be thinking of going.|
Firstly we will mention that during our two-week stay we travelled over 1000 miles on various trips around the country & therefore believe we are in a good position to reassure anyone who intends on visiting this beautiful country that we saw no signs of any trouble at all.
The civil unrest has hit the tourism industry quite hard but they intend to elect a new government in a few months and hopefully this will result in a bright future for the locals.
Hotel & surroundings
The hotel is situated half way between Hammamet & the purpose built resort of Yasmine Hammamet. The transfer from the airport is currently 75 minutes but this will be reduced by 20-30 minutes in the coming weeks when the new airport at Enfidha is opened.
The hotel is set away from the main road & has its own private beach (you can walk along the beach to Hammamet or to Yasmine Hammamet from the hotel in under an hour).
The hotel has two swimming pools (one being partially indoors which is heated & a larger one nearer the beach). The hotel is surrounded by vegetation which is very picturesque.
We were slightly disappointed that we were not given a room overlooking the pools & beach, but the view from the other end is fantastic when the sun is setting.
From the moment we reached the hotel to the early hours in the morning when we left, the staff always went out of their way to help your every need.
We need not feel obliged to continually tip & continued to receive excellent service from the waiters & dining staff on the occasions when we did not tip.
We must make a special point of mentioning the animation team who work tirelessly from 9am until 11.30pm every day. On the rare times when they are not organising games/lessons or entertaining at night, they are perfecting their dances routines & practising.
We won’t mention everyone but our personal favourites were Rio, Shaggy, Jesus, Bibel, Mimo & Momo.
Each day we enjoyed playing archery, French boules, darts, beach volleyball, golf & the occasional game of football on the beach. In the high season they also do games in the pool.
We had read some reviews indicating that there was not a good choice of food. This in our view is completely false. For breakfast there was always a good selection of hot food (scrambled egg, tomatoes, sausages), for cold food there were fresh croissants, croissants with chocolate inside, cake, selection of cereals, fresh fruit & dates, selection of drinks including freshly squeezed lemon & orange juice, coffee or juice from the machine.
There was always a chef on the live cooking stand who would cook omelettes, fried eggs & pancakes to order.
In the dining room, lunch (12noon – 2pm) consisted of a good selection of cold foods (many salad dishes, fresh hams, freshly baked bread, cheeses, selection of desserts & fruit) & a good variety of hot foods which changed every day (consisting of different meat, fish, rice, pasta, rice, potatoes, two types of soup, vegetables & two live cooking stands).
Dinner was served from 7pm & as with lunch, there was always a good variety of quality food to choose from. We tried rabbit & wild boar during our stay along with many types of fresh fish.
You sat on the same table throughout your stay but this was good as the waiter would quickly remember your drinks and ours would very often have ours on the table ready for us.
Some people like to go away to chill for two weeks by the pool, but we always like to mix our holidays up with time set aside to recharge the batteries together with days out to discover the country or surroundings.
There are a number of trips on offer (and all at very good prices we might add) both through your reps or directly with some of the local reps who sometimes come into the hotel.
The organised trips we went on via the rep were-
“Carthage, Sidi Bou Said & Bardo Museum”. This day out was made very informative by our guide as we headed north around the capital Tunis & onto Carthage & Sidi Bou Said.
This includes a three-course lunch & a trip to a museum to take in dozens and dozens of mosaics which have been found & collected over the years. Full day trip, 75D per person.
“African Dream”. This is a half day trip (we were collected from the Phenicia at 2.30pm) & was 65D per person. You are given between 60-90 minutes of free time when you arrive to go around Friguia Animal Park which was well worth the visit itself (we would have liked to have spent slightly longer there).
There are some excellent vantage points for photographs and for much of the time you are actually looking down into the enclosures. Just before 5pm we then met back at the restaurant with the rest of our group for a three-course meal with an evening of live entertainment consisting of Zulu & folklore dances and live music.
“Sahara Explorer”. We were collected from our hotel at 6am and returned the following day around 6pm. Although this trip is very tiring (750 mile round trip), it is a must for anyone who wants to discover the parts of the country away from your resort & is very rewarding. It is also excellent value for money at 175d per person.
The trips includes, three-course lunches on both days, evening meal & overnight stay in 3/4* hotel on the edge of the Sahara desert, horse & carriage ride, ride in 4x4 jeeps into the rocky parts of the desert & coach travel.
The only extras which are not covered are - drinks for all three meals & camel ride in Sahara (this is only 25d per person & you are given your own camel each & the ride lasts a good 45 minutes).
We won’t list everything we did but we have the itinerary which we can email if required, but you will see many camels, an oasis, gorgeous scenery, third largest amphitheatre (and best kept one) in the world, sunrise over the salt lakes to name a few highlights.
The days out we arranged ourselves or did on our “own steam” were-
“Sousse”. We got a local taxi (5D) to Bir Bou Regba & then got a train to the third largest city in Tunisia called Sousse. This was approximately 5D per person but you can upgrade (as we did) to first class for an extra dinar or so.
The trains are comfortable, quite quick & reliable (ours was ten minutes or so late – nothing that would be out of the ordinary in England!).
You can pay for your return ticket at Bir Bou Regba but when you return, make sure you go to the ticket counter who will issue you with a new ticket when you show them your original one.
This was one of our most enjoyable days out as we did it on our own and were able to see the sights, smells, noise & colour of the big medina together with the various meat, fish, fruit & veg markets.
“Hammamet”. We went to local town one morning to collect a few gifts to bring home & had some fun bartering with some of the local shop keepers in the Medina.
“Nabeul”. Friday is the best day to come here & it was 12D there via a taxi (takes 20-25 minutes). The streets are quite wide with shops either side. It is very popular with tourists & locals alike.
On a Friday they have a large weekly market which is the opposite end of the main town from where the taxi will drop you off (however it’s only a ten minute walk away).
If you’re not into the bartering there are a few “fixed price” shops.
“Pirate ship”. We arranged this half day trip via a local rep who we met in the hotel. We were collected around 9am & set off on the “Sultan 2” around 10am from Yasmine Hammamet.
We went up the coast past Hammamet & towards Nabeul before returning home via a break to let people swim in the sea. Lunch (fish, meat, bread & salad) were included.
However, the best thing about this trip were the animation team who danced on the deck & climbed up the rigging on the ship several times which was very entertaining.
The only negative aspects of our holiday were a) returning home & b) needlessly “worrying” before our holiday about the civil unrest when in hindsight there was no signs of this whatsoever.
We felt safe at all times (both when we were in organised groups & when we ventured out into local taxis or went further a field and mixed with the locals.
Sorry for the long review but we didn’t want this to be another “it was great & we’ll go back again soon” review. Instead we wanted to show why we would jump at the chance of returning to the Phenicia and spending time with the lovely Tunisian people again soon.
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|Hammamet lies about 46 miles from the airport at Tunis, and is a very large and well established resort, with an old fort and walled town. The medina is the start of the more modern phase of development, and has a great selection of 4 and 5 star hotels as well as the odd self-catering apartment block. Plenty of water sports are available during the summer months, from the sandy beaches that stretch for several miles in either direction. Shopping is very good, as the resort has an abundance of souvenir, gift and local kiosks that can cater for just about all your holiday needs. Horse and Camel rides are a must during your stay here, and as the evening draws in, bars and entertainment provided by the hotels will ensure a pleasant stay is guaranteed.|
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