30 June 2008
Vista Blanes Apts, Calla en Blanes, Minorca, Spain
Apartment
A$13/£6 per night
40° 0'10.84"N 3°48'56.53"E

1 Bedroom

 

After 3 weeks of being fed twice daily, we had definitely had enough of buffets to last us for a lifetime. Decided to check into apartments with kitchen facilities, again booked via the thomson.co.uk web site. That they were cheap and clean is about it.

Vista Blanes is a 3 story (no lift) apartment complex, arranged in 4 blocks of about 40 units. Although it doesn't have a Kids Zone tag, it is obvious that such complex are targeted at families with young children. There were games and the like organised around the pool every day and bingo and such things at night, but nothing running too late.

The pool appeared to be the only facility at the complex, and was well used and enjoyed by the children. There seemed to be a several Spanish families there as well as English, and the Thomson holiday reps were only on site at certain times every day rather than being there full time. In truth we do our best to avoid the reps, but the English Package Tourist would be a bit lost without them to sort out every minor or major occurrence during the holiday, so there is a phone number if you need them whilst they're not there.

The apartment itself was a bit basic - the sofa could be turned into a bed, so was therefore very uncomfortable for sitting on and there was no TV or radio. There was a very small but reasonably well equipped kitchen with a 2 burner hob and microwave oven. There was a brush, mop, ironing board and iron, but no washing machine on the premises - I'm sure a coin operated one would more than pay for itself - and towels and bed linens were changed/rooms cleaned twice weekly.

The basic nature of the apartments was all around the complex inside and out - no foam mattress on the pool sun beds, a tea towel but no dish cloth or initial toiletries, and who carries washing up liquid around with them? (Of course we do - enough to last about a week). There was a small supermarket attached to the complex where prices were about the same (or in some cases cheaper than) the larger supermarket a couple of minutes walk away on the main street. The car hire available at the complex was far cheaper than at either of the other two hotels we had previously stayed in on Minorca, probably comparable to those available in the town of Ciutadela which is about 10 minutes away by bus or a very pleasant 30 minute walk. Being a much larger resort area and closer to town there were as many holidaying Spaniards as other Europeans and the bus service is very regular and runs later than is the case on the more isolated resorts.

We spoke to a few people who were disappointed with the location - it is the first (or last) complex in Cala En Blanes, not close to a beach and about 20 minutes walk to Cala En Forcat which seems a lot livelier, but this makes it quieter for those who don't need a big night out. There were lots of reasonably priced bars, restaurants and of course English pubs in the near vicinity (I'd advise giving the nearby English fish and chip shop a miss - disappointing, overcooked, greasy and very expensive), and a reasonably priced large supermarket which carried a really good choice in salami, smoked sausage and olives as well as everything you'd expect to see in an area where most people are on holiday in apartments without kitchen basics - lots of tins and jars of processed food, but for a week or so it doesn't really matter, and the fresh bread, salami and chorizo were very good.

Again we got a prize room, overlooking the pool which could make it a bit noisy at times - there were organised entertainment shows on every second or third night - but everyone was tucked up in bed nice and early.

The real let down of the stay was that our room had been previously occupied by a heavy smoker - yeah, yeah, I know, but I don't smoke indoors because it makes everything stink as much as I do. I kept waking up during the night and smelling stale tobacco, even though we left all windows and doors open all the time. Is it really that hard to go out onto the balcony?

Although basic and a bit out of the way, for the money we paid we'd certainly come back. Be warned though - Thomson the Dog may not be around, but all of his fans are, so if you're the type who wants a peaceful holiday away from hordes of children, you'd probably be better off elsewhere.