TRYP GUADALMAR, MALAGA, SPAIN
You either love this hotel or hate it. I love it because it is quiet, clean, right on the beach and away from traffic, 10 minutes from the airport (a taxi ride costs 15 Euros) and there is nothing to do but relax by the pool or on the beach. Those who hate it, don't like being below the flight path into Malaga's airport, find nothing to do there and dislike the difficult of finding somewhere to eat that is outside the hotel. That said, I have just returned from a five day stay, and that was just the right length of stay. The hotel is set within a residential area and apart from the excellent three beach restaurants that provide very good fish dishes (below) at reasonable prices - fresh mussels at 6 Euros, there are only two other eating places within walking distance - both 'bars that cook some food' rather than restaurants. We tried both during our stay and found them acceptable, although we struggled to understand the totally Spanish menus.
My wife and I did however eat in the hotel restaurant (below) at their buffet supper on one evening at a cost of 18 Euros per head, that including a half a bottle of wine each. Despite the place opening at 7.30pm, we found by 8.15pm, some of the food was cold, the fish dish dried-up and the risotto stiff and unappetising. Thankfully, self service microwaves are available to re-heat your choice of food. However, breakfasts' at the hotel are truly outstanding - lots of choice from a freshly cooked 'full English' to a wide selection of continental delights that are beautifully presented. The fresh fruit and bread and the cheese selection are wonderful. One of the best breakfast choices I have ever experienced.
This was our third visit to Tryp Guadalmar in ten years, the last occasion being five years ago. Little had changed, though the public areas have recently had a make-over (below) and now look very modern and stylish. The bar area is a little cold and stark. It seems that the hotel is now under the Melia Hotels com. network and they have invested in the buffet restaurant, which was never open five years ago. This seems to be as a result of a link up with the French tour operator 'FRAM'. They now provide an all inclusive package, a kids club and an animateur team of four young French folk who try to get the predominantly French clientele, playing games and exercising around the delightful pool area.
Sadly, Melia Hotels com. have not yet invested in updating the guest rooms (below). They are very clean but a little sad and tired and lacking in TLC. Some paint work is chipped and worn and the balconies are suffering from wind and sea damage. The air conditioning to the rooms is effective but out-dated for a four star hotel. Likewise, there are some staff that need retraining in customer care. The older evening receptionist with the 'fly-away' hair that met us on arrival, was unwelcoming, abrupt and barely helpful. When I asked her what floor our room was on, she simply pointed to the lift! When I told her water was flooding through the ceiling of our room, she huffed and puffed and eventually found us another room. She really does need to be moved to the 'back-office'. She is not suitable to be working 'front-of-house' with this attitude problem! Similarly, some of the older bar staff from our last visit five years ago, still occupy their roles and despite my good 10% tipping with every drink purchased at both the main bar and the pool bar, they barely offered a smile or a thanks. Melia Hotels com. has to look at employing some new staff or retraining, if they are to retain longstanding customers and the French 'FRAM' contract. The French can be more fussy than the English!
The downside of this hotel being only10 minutes from the airport, is that guests are at least 30 minutes by taxi from Malaga. However, while there is a readily available fleet of taxis constantly available outside the reception area this can be expensive at 30 Euros. We used the #5 autobus from the bus stop immediately outside the hotel, that runs every 30 minutes into the centre of Malaga and at a cost of 1.30 Euros for the 40 minute journey, it is very good value. The buses get very full with passengers as your near the city, but the terminus is at the heart of the shopping area, close to Malaga cathedral (below), the port and seafront. The bus returns from the drop-off point and is very efficient and sticks rigidly to the timetable for departures.
Despite everything, we loved our four night stay this year, relaxing around the pool with its many sun loungers, using the indoor pool (you need a swimming hat) or spa or just eating on the beach until late into the evening. There is some building work going on opposite the hotel on the beach (below). It looks like a new beach restaurant is being built through EU funding but I would expect it to all be complete by August this year. We watched the roof going on, from our balcony! It was not excessively noisy during our stay (the French animateurs were noisier!). Our spacious double room with shower, bath and bidet, and balcony with a beach view was 88 Euros per night on a bed and breakfast basis. (Room #428). I booked directly with the hotel through it's website, as I always avoid agencies like www.hotels.com or www.expedia, because I get better room rates directly and I have the satisfaction of not paying in advance. In addition, I paid for a late check-out from the room of 7.00pm, due to our evening flight and paid a supplement of 35 Euros for the privilege.
If Melia Hotels com.can up-date the guest rooms, sort out the shoddy staff and cold food, then I will still love Tryp Guadalmar and I will return sooner rather than later to enjoy another relaxing and stress-free stay !