Tui Family All Inclusive Holiday To Menorca – Rocknrollerbaby Travels!
We just got back from a fortnight in the med with Tui (I know, lucky us) and are very definitely feeling a bit of holiday blues back in cold old Blighty! Our holiday was absolutely tremendous -and if you’re thinking about booking an all inclusive holiday with the company who say they ‘cross the t’s, dot the I’s and put U in the middle (Is that the best advertising slogan ever or what?!), then you might want to read my review. We stayed at the Stil Victoria Playa in Santo Tomas, Menorca from 25th August – 8th September and largely had only very positive things to report. The long and the short of it is that nothing is perfect and I am not the type of person to gloss over the rough while evening out the smooth, so here you will find a comprehensive account of what we really thought!
As a little bit of a disclaimer I need to let you know that although this holiday was not gifted, sponsored or in partnership in any way, we paid nearly £5k for this holiday but I ALWAYS write fair and honest reviews regardless. I was gifted a small extra from Tui at the end of our holiday in a late checkout which would have cost us 29 euros at the hotel reception but more if we’d booked through Tui when booking the holiday.
So… Onto the review!
Unfortunately our holiday did not get off to the best start in that our flight, which initially left on time and flew half way to Menorca, returned to Norwich airport with a fault. I am not the best flyer and with the word ‘fault’ running around in my mind it did not make for the happiest landing knowing we’d have to take off again very soon (or quite a bit later as it turned out to be) and I did almost regret not paying the extra to pre-book our seats ensuring we sat together. I thought if I was going to die it would have probably been better to spend the 60 (ish) quid and then we could all meet our maker holding hands – dramatic, moi?! I’d decided not to part with the cash though, on the basis that the holiday was expensive enough and if the airline wanted to sit my kids with other people then more fool them – I felt certain the ‘other people’ wouldn’t take kindly to sitting next to an ‘are we nearly there yet?’ kiddo that didn’t belong to them and swap with me quick smart. With hindsight and having not died in a burning metal inferno I would do the same again. They don’t sit kids solo and what’s a couple of hours not sat next to your hubby if not a break in itself?!
The situation of our flight returning was annoying but not half as annoying as the delay (which turned out to mean we were delayed 5 hours) and the results of that later on when we eventually did arrive at our hotel. I asked if we would be given vouchers for food and drinks as I have experienced on delays before but I was told the answer was absolutely not. The kids were hungry and we needed to fill the time (Norwich airport, while extremely convenient for where we live, is not exactly a hub of activity) so we paid well over the odds (£10 a pop for what looked uncannily like small, limp pizzas you’d be disappointed to have paid £2 for from Iceland) to fill the children up. Within 5 minutes of ordering the announcement came that Tui were in fact going to give £5 per passenger to spend on sustenance… I went to get my money back but that was a no go. The Tui representative really didn’t seem to care, rolled her eyes at me, suggested ordering MORE food (there’s a limit to rank pizzas you can force down you know) and sent me to the cafe to argue with them. The cafe woman was incensed when I told her Tui has sent me to her and marched over there in what looked like might end in real live fisticuffs. The argument under hushed tones from the Tui woman but loud, shouty and arm gesticulations from the cafe woman did nothing to get me my refund at the time and with a ‘computer says no’ answer and the attitude of a woman who really couldn’t be bothered to actually, you know, do her job, I was left FUMING! Not the best out of the starting blocks feeling huh!
But we were on holiday… Or trying to be… So I gritted my teeth and did what I do best and vented my frustrations on social media. This did prompt Tui to offer me a refund for the food if I sent them my receipt. Good but still annoying I’d say!
Eventually we arrived in Mahon tired, drained and hungry (turns out the limit of rank pizza is one slice) and the holiday could begin. Coaches has stopped for the night so Tui had put a taxi on for us (phew – we didn’t pay for this but I was told the coaches stop after a certain time at night and it’s standard so it was the one bonus) and we arrived at our hotel just after midnight. We’d been due to be there 5 hours earlier of course and at that time of night the restaurant was closed. We couldn’t get any food we were told. Had they known we were delayed? Yes! Had they thought about making us some sandwiches? NO! I was also told if we wanted water then we would have to buy a bottle from the vending machine as the bar was also shut for the night. Not impressive especially as we had no coins on us and were starving. I went to the local shop (also shut) and eventually the reception man changed me some coins for the water while I fed my kids the last of the peanut MnMs we had. 5 each was supper for them that night and we went to bed hungry with only expensive bottle of water to hand. This wasn’t what I had envisaged for an all inclusive experience. Already it was rather non-inclusive and quite costly…
The holiday did get better I am happy to report! We had a brilliant time and aside from the one experience on our arrival all staff at the Hotel Victoria Play were fabulously welcoming. They were friendly, polite and always on hand to help if we needed them. The Tui reps were very present in the hotel too and I felt we were in a safe environment and being looked after while the children got to enjoy some real freedom with friends they had met in the kids club. The sun shone, the beach (on our doorstep) was glorious and the food was so gastronomic I am surprised they let us back on the plane because we came back about double the size! I haven’t many complaints about the hotel but… I do have a couple so of course you will read about them along with the fabulous!
The rooms – While cleaned every day and perfectly lovely, bijou is the word I’d use to be kind while I’d say ABSOLUTELY FREAKING TINY in all honesty! The rooms are geared up (as are the lifts) for only two people at a time. That’s just a fact i don’t see could be argued with. Of course they put the necessary number of extra beds in the room but they are mini and not comfortable to hang out in. The balconies say it all really with their teeny tiny tables and two chairs (for two people) squeezed on so that a couple could (just about) fit on it for a drink and a look at the view – One side this would be the road, the other a wall with trees poking out above it. Not the most picturesque and by no means somewhere to spend time chilling. Just not comfortable enough for anything other than sleeping and with the rest of the hotel being SO thoughtful for families I’d say this is a massive lose for them… You have to pay extra for a fridge (not great with babies) and the safe box and there are NO drawers to unpack just a wardrobe with a couple of shelves. I managed to unpack for me and Raffie (My Mum had the big kids in her room) but Jonny had to keep his clothes in the suitcase which again was a struggle to find somewhere to keep it. We had interconnecting rooms with my Mum (you can pay extra to guarantee this – we didn’t) and actually although slightly helpful for us I wouldn’t bother paying the extra for it. It affords nothing other than a door which is neither here nor there because you can hear everything in the next room and above and below and out in the corridor regardless. I mean even if you were a few rooms away I think all you’d have to do would be raise your voice slightly and the person you want to attract will hear you. I’m being facetious of course but you catch my drift. The rooms were not good enough for the 4T rating but we didn’t spend much time in them so I guess it didn’t matter much in the end.
Food: Actually this was amazing! Something different every single day and every single meal time with plenty on offer to choose from. I’d be surprised if even the fussiest of eaters couldn’t find at least 5 things they wanted to eat at each meal and this goes for people with allergies (lots of ingredient labels), vegetarians and even the most stubborn of food haters like Jimmy. We enjoyed countless wonderful salads at every meal, sushi, sashimi, steaks cooked to order, paellas, stews, fish… You name it and I bet they had it. There is a separate kids buffet with beige food, a soup every day, omelettes, pancakes and all sorts of cakes depending on which meal you’re at! And we literally couldn’t stop eating! Of course being all inclusive we were expecting snacks in between meals as described on the website and though we didn’t need any snacks, for Jimmy this was brilliant as it meant he could eat little and often instead of just little and infrequently. My only criticism would be in the choices and the timings… Just a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon to fit in with the restaurant openings. BUT… People with kids get up and eat breakfast early doors so then the snacks don’t ever really come at the right time and were exactly the same thing every single day. A pot of fruit or a cheese and ham (or derivatives of) sandwich. Then for the last hour of snack time each day they offered what they advertised as ‘afternoon tea’. In reality this was individually wrapped plain biscuits. Bit of a shame when the rest of the grub was SO good. Ice creams were also available all day in little pots which was great as they were very tasty BUT it annoyed me that they SOLD (at an extra price) more exciting looking ice creams which is a bit pressurising for parents!
Drinks: Ok, so the drinks were never going to be branded alcohol – that’s generally the deal with an ALL INC but some of them were pretty rough… The wine and beer was very good really but spirits were the sort you could shine hub caps with and not very palatable. Of course they had branded alcohol you could pay extra for and it was extremely upsetting to find cocktails were also an extra if you wanted one. This isn’t really fair I feel and if something is advertised as an all inclusive there should be no pressure to buy other things when there – I had masses of direct messages from people on Instragram about this fact and it seems it’s pretty normal for Tui to do this. I really didn’t like that element any more than I liked drinking out of plastic throwaway cups. Single use plastic in the literally thousands of disposable cups all day every day – even at breakfast and lunch! They allowed a glass in the evenings and with supper which was both better for the environment AND a more pleasurable experience to drink from but if they must continue with plastic cups for everything else then I do have to wonder why they don’t go for re-usable and washable tumblers for that too. In this day and age it is an absolute disgrace and makes a massive mockery of the fact the bar staff wouldn’t let ANYONE have a straw unless they were buying a cocktail. When asked why, the answer the bar man gave me was ‘we have to save the planet’ – presumably one straw forward and a million cups back every time! Sorry… But I do expect to be given a straw for my child if I ask for one AND I’m paying extra for ice creams and cocktails every flipping day. The drinks did not sit well with me on any level!
Pools: Gosh the pools were fantastic. A big pool, a kids pool attached and a splash area which was AWESOME! The only issue for me was how packed in the sunbeds were, literally on top of each other so we chose instead to situate on the grass at the side of the pool. Much quieter and a bit more private although you did have to get up mega early to mark your territory with a towel which was a nuisance. They kept the area very clean and tidy and there were JUST about enough beds for everyone. Chairs were another matter although they did go from 2 (yes TWO) in our first week to a whopping FIVE (yes, FIVE WHOLE chairs for the entire hotel) by the end of our stay. Very strange that was but it gave me some entertainment on the daily towel challenge! They closed the pool a few times after children’s ‘accident’s – this was both annoying and also pleasing that they cared about the cleanliness – I suppose with so many children in the hotel it was inevitable. Thank goodness it wasn’t our fault any of the times that’s all I can say! In the fortnight we were there the pool or the splash area was closed about 5 times and each time was for the remainder of the day.
Location: Shops and a Doctor (Florence got an ear infection much like lots of kids in the hotel and the Doctor was fabulous, can’t be faulted) are just out the front of the hotel while the back leads onto that gorgeous beach. A promenade runs all the way along it with various board walks down to the sand and it’s a lovely stroll along it. there’s not much to do but that’s how we like it and if you’re up for some excitement then a cliff walk in the other direction will take you to a nudist beach – I meant to go just for the gram stories but couldn’t get off my fat bottom for enough time to give myself the impetus!
Kids Club: The club was great and actually we had two at our hotel eah running at different times. The Tui one which Florence preferred and the hotel run one (the Tui reps told me the hotel one ran without the correct ratios of staff etc but we took our chances) which Jimmy liked more. Both were on daily and the Tui one you had to queue for if you wanted a guaranteed place. We weren’t fussed so never did but it did mean the kids didn’t get in on one of the days they wanted to go – they do then guarantee you a place for the next day. For me I feel a bit bad packing them off to kids club when we could all be together so I let them lead and they went about half the days we were there saying it was great fun with really nice staff in both. There were some parents, especially one lady on her own, who obviously didn’t want to risk missing a space (and I don’t blame them wanting some down time) but they did have to get themselves in the queue about half an hour early and that just didn’t do it for me I’m afraid. The only really annoying thing was that again they advertised ‘extras’ and of course that’s very pressurising for the parents – especially when friends they’ve met are going it made me feel I couldn’t say no. We ended up paying 12 euros for a chocolate party for Florence which was advertised as being the price it was because it included dinner… Which of course we had already paid for on the all inclusive… That seemed badly thought out and a little ridiculous!
Entertainment: I mean it was basically as I’d expected… Mostly ok stuff, the occasional gem (a very easy on the eye and clever to boot magician was the highlight) but it was nothing to write home about. As a girl of 18 I worked for Tui as an entertainment rep in a family hotel. I know how hard the guys work doing that sort of job and I do appreciate it but it wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea. We didn’t go out of our way to watch it and neither did the children who were too busy playing pool (more money), slot machines (more money), table tennis (more money) while marauding around in the play ground which was good but nothing suitable for babies!
All in all we had a great time and would absolutely go back to this hotel despite the faults I have mentioned. We heard about free kids places from another guest and were actually looking on line to book for next year already but we have decided to hold off for the time being on a few points. It was hard to find any child places to begin with especially using the Tui website which just gave a blanket NO for all free places going anywhere left for August next year and also it’s still far more expensive by a few hundred pounds WITH a free child’s place than it was when we booked for this holiday – about June time. We asked a few other guests we had got pally with and it seemed to be about similar prices whether you early booked with a free child place or late booked without so we wonder if perhaps the prices go down later on in the year – we shall see. It also REALLY annoys me that they advertise FREE child places but only if you’re a family with two parents… I mean come on… Single parents are penalised enough and while I get the fact they might not be able to have a FULL free child it would make sense to have a sliding scale and offer them 50% off. But not. The single adult traveller is always penalised (My Mum has travelled with Tui on her own many times and very often has paid a single person supplement to then be put in a much smaller single room – go figure) but to do this to single parents is discriminatory and I just think Tui could steal a march on all the other holiday companies if they did something about this – and if they did it would be living up to their self declared slogan of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s etc.
We absolutely recommend the holiday and our only other advice would be to go to the welcome meeting. We didn’t but if we had then we’d have found out we could have hired towels for just a refundable deposit. The sign up advertising this service was very misleading and led us to believe you had to pay a deposit PLUS 3 euros a day when in actual fact it’s free… The rep said when booking in a travel agency you can pre check things like this by asking your travel agent to check on the internal JAM facebook page where they can ask your hotel any direct questions and get an immediate answer – good insider tip there! We booked in store which cost about £30 more but meant they printed our tickets for us and we could go and ask any questions we liked face to face which is an element my Mum prefers. It was a good service and well worth doing I’d say!
In my opinion an all inclusive holiday with kids is pretty stress free and leaves you (almost) knowing where you are with money. Our experience certainly won’t be a one off even though I think I’d have to be honest and say it’s not a luxury experience. Drinks were self-service (aside from spirits) and obviously not everything was included but the kids had a fabulous time and that made is as perfect as it could be for us! I’d have liked to think that you would get a bit more for your money than we did but chatting to people on Instagram as I storied in real time our experiences and I think, for 5k, this is the level you can expect. It’s expensive and that’s just how it is but we want to go on holiday and this one was great for our family so we’d better start saving. I’d be interested to know how this experience compares to the considerably more expensive holidays to the Caribbean which do seem to sound a bit more luxurious so perhaps it would be worth spending a little bit more and going from a further away airport, what say you?!
I offered Tui a right to reply to some of the points I made during our stay on my Instagram stories. I’m not sure they entirely listened or understood my points, even when I reiterated the questions for further clarification but this is what they had to say in response:
When I pointed out the Tui website blanket said NO free places left for any destination (even though there were actually some – not many and you’d find it hard to have found them without help) left and questioned the fact single parents aren’t offered the same deal on a sliding scale:
We’re sorry to hear you’re struggling to find any free child places – they are really popular and they are very quick to go as soon as they go on sale. We went on sale for summer next year back in April of this year.
We do say that our free child places are subject to availability and based on a standard room occupancy of two people.
We still have good availability of free child places in July and August 2019 at the Victoria Playa in Menorca. Our availability varies by departure airport and dates – if you can’t see any on our online search it may be that those places have sold out.
We take more than six million customers away each year, which are made up of various party size, whether travelling in groups, on their own, with their family, or maybe just as a couple. Our free child place offer is just one of our early booking incentives and is driven by how suppliers price their accommodation on two adults sharing.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that our customer service and retail teams are always on hand to offer support and expert advice on the best accommodation deals to suit the individual needs of our holidaymakers.
We take all customer feedback seriously and continuously review our holidays and our offers.
Regarding our massive delay, the fact we bought food after being told there would be no vouchers and then told afterwards that there would be but we couldn’t be refunded and then also about the fact the hotel refused us ANY food or water when we arrived over 5 hours late:
Our team at Norwich did issue welfare vouchers following the technical fault and subsequent delay. But I’m sorry to hear you your disappointment and I can refund you the cost of the food you purchased.
We have passed on your feedback to the hotelier following your delayed arrival and no food being available. The flight delay meant that you arrived after the restaurant had closed and food had stopped being served.
To submit a claim for a delayed flight over 3 hours, please email [email protected] Make sure you include your passport name, email address and postal address including a contact number. We’ll also need your booking reference, TUI flight number, date and your departure and arrival airports.
What about all that single use plastic:
We are currently looking at ways to reduce and avoid single use plastics across our
operations and we are working with hotel suppliers to help facilitate this.
We have some great examples of successes in changing how we use plastics, such as our
Robinson Club hotels in the Maldives. Here over 800,000 plastic bottles are eliminated
annually by making drinking water from seawater through a desalination system and
decanting into reusable glass bottles.
Our RIU chain of hotels have recently switched to compostable straw. You can read more
about it here
Now I made lots of points, all of the things I have talked about in this review, on my daily Instagram stories while we were on holiday (thanks for watching – I loved doing them and loved all your fabulous messages – I’m glad y’all got a kick out of my daily sunbed challenge) which I would have thought Tui might have liked to say something about. I tagged them and also pressed further for these responses when the first response was even more vague than this one. I would have liked a real heartfelt apology about our arrival. It was NOT good and with three hungry children it was enough to make me cry. Actual physical tears. And I’m a tough cookie. I don’t really feel their apology at my disappointment or passing on my concerns to the hotelier is good enough. It’s not what I expected from Tui and I don’t feel like they’ve crossed any t’s, dotted any i’s or put me in the middle on that front – it hasn’t put me off travelling with Tui, all the good things (and there were many) mean we absolutely WILL travel with them again but I feel they could do better on lots of fronts and treating me with a proper apology would have cost them nothing but bought them so much respect. It was what I and a heck of a lot of my IG followers were waiting for after that first night but it didn’t come… Shame!
Not wanting to go out on a bad note however and I’d like to remind you all that I feel safer travelling with a company like Tui and the staff were very good in resort – if I’d had a problem I knew they were in my hotel pretty much all the time and Florence went in the lift one day on her own, went to the wrong floor, got out and I, who had been waiting for her (you see the lifts were too small for me, her AND the buggy so I’d raced down expecting to meet her on the ground floor) was beside myself with panic. The reps noticed my panic and just immediately jumped to action to help look for her – they instinctively knew and so when it came to the really important bits I knew they were there for me. So my kids ate MnMs for supper and went to bed hungry – I promise you that’s not their lasting memory of the holiday they made friends on, laughed like lunatics on, played cards until late at night, read books, swam and swam and swam and spent so much quality time with their family it was brilliant!
Yep this holiday… I look back and see all the smiles!