from Cambridge, United Kingdom
Submitted on 15-10-2016
This is our fourth time at a Sensimar (or Thomson Couples) hotel, and our second one in Croatia. The hotel caters exclusively for TUI/Thomson guests on an all-inclusive basis. I can only assume the all-inclusive wristband provided is to protect against day trippers from the mainland ferry trying to use the facilities. The setting is truly stunning, sitting on a picturesque bay with views to the hills on all sides. The village has a bar, small supermarket, gift shop, post office and, of course, t...
This is our fourth time at a Sensimar (or Thomson Couples) hotel, and our second one in Croatia. The hotel caters exclusively for TUI/Thomson guests on an all-inclusive basis. I can only assume the all-inclusive wristband provided is to protect against day trippers from the mainland ferry trying to use the facilities. The setting is truly stunning, sitting on a picturesque bay with views to the hills on all sides. The village has a bar, small supermarket, gift shop, post office and, of course, the ferry pier. There's one other small village/harbour on the island, a 20-30 minute walk away. Several tracks lead through the woods to various beauty spots on the island, all well signposted.
Our room (Villa 7 superior room, garden view) was large, modern, comfortable and clean. Our small balcony was far more private than some with a sea view, many of which appeared to have busy pathways directly alongside their balconies. Room slippers and white, towelling dressing gowns are thoughtfully provided, though the actual bathroom towels were a bit skimpy. Tea and coffee, plus non-alcoholic (free) minibar, are all at guests' disposal. Food choice and quality was amazing, with one station dedicated to freshly cooked omelettes, burgers, fish etc. The self-service buffet had plenty of choice, too, though food often suffered from that canteen-style failing of being warm rather than hot. Evening dinners are themed, with different colours used on table settings to add to the atmosphere - blue on Fish Night, orange for the Sunset Dinner, for example. Tables by the long window, with its panoramic sea view, were naturally the most popular. The restaurant also has an area for a-la-carte, waiter service called the Al Fresco, and therein lies the main problem with this hotel - it is definitely NOT designed for poor weather.
We were seriously unlucky with the weather, with only 2 rain-free days and some very chilly winds. The hotel can't be blamed for this, of course, but it showed up major design and layout flaws. On one evening, the semi-outdoor part of the restaurant was flooded by rain pouring under the plastic wind-down windows, whilst the stairs down to reception became a waterfall. The effect of the poor weather was to concentrate diners in the warmer parts of the restaurant. Extra tables were progressively moved indoors with the effect that the dining room began to feel very crowded as the week went on. As well as a generous supply of umbrellas for guests to use, there is also a rack of lightweight blankets in the Mojito bar. This main bar was also open to the elements on two sides - protected (mostly) from rain, but not from the chilling evening winds. The sight of rug-wrapped guests in the bar was quite common, even on those days when the weather had been reasonably warm. Seating here would be insufficient, even in warmer weather, for the capacity of the hotel. There isn't actually an indoor bar anywhere on the hotel site - the other two are fully outdoors, one by the pool and another on a raised garden area, albeit with beautiful views over the bay. A games room sits just off the restaurant - pool tables, darts, games tables, a library of donated books and some comfortable seating much in demand for reading when the weather was poor. The pool felt very cool, thought it might have been heated just enough to make a dip survivable (!), and the jacuzzi was merely lukewarm when I tried it. Adjacent to the pool area is a small, sandy beach with plenty of sunbeds.
It almost goes without saying that the staff were great, and particularly so when the bad weather added to their workload - rather than brave the frequent, and sometimes heavy, showers, guests tended to hang around the hotel. Although the island setting might seem romantic (and it definitely is), there is also an element of isolation to consider. The practicalities of 'popping across to Dubrovnik' are severely limited by the ferry schedules, and the hotel's own boat will only run if demand is there. A water-taxi to Dubrovnik outside of ferry times cost one couple ¬£60, though the public ferry is just ¬£5 return.
In summary, I'd suggest to potential guests that they consider, in parallel with the romanticism, the practicalities of being on an island. Even more importantly, think twice about using a hotel designed for hot days and warm evenings if the weeks you're booking lie outside high summer. If, like us, you choose a spring or autumn break, then be sure to pack accordingly. Do that, and there's still much to recommend on this beautifully-situated resort.