Now that it is nearly winter and a lot of you might be missing the sun, I thought why not do a couple of posts about my Marbella family holiday? Well that, and I had about a thousand photos to go through (sadly I'm not even kidding!), so it took a bit of time to edit.
Relax, sit back, and pretend you're back on your summer holiday (drinking a cocktail is completely optional too)!
During the day, the actual bar area was usually empty. As you can imagine most people preferred to lounge in the sun, and with plenty of seating available (both inside and outside) you could chat away and have a relaxing lunch without straying too far from the poolside.
But if you do want to be inside, you'll find yourself in good company...while taking these snaps I came across a little bird that had wondered into the bar (clearly thirsty). Unfortunately, I scared it away before I could get any good photos (my Snow White dreams have yet to be realised) ...I know what you're thinking, no...it didn't even send me a tweet!
For non-alcohol drinkers like me, do be warned though, despite the cocktail menu clearly stating what goes into every cocktail, they aren't actually made from scratch. So when you ask for a mocktail suddenly everyone gets a bit confused, and since they might not have all the ingredients at hand, you might find yourself with a Piña Colada that's really just an expensive pineapple juice!
In the evening, the outside lounge area became a stage for the themed performances that happened every night; from Flamenco dancing, to singing or Paraguayan harp playing, there was something for everyone. And if you're lucky enough to be in a room overlooking the stage (like I was) then you can enjoy it all on your balcony whilst wearing your pyjamas and none would be the wiser. Best of all, they always stopped by 11h30 pm so no night's sleep was sacrificed.
THE READING AREA
There is a small bookcase filled with old guests' books, kindly donated to the hotel. From German to I think Slovak, there were quite a few options. Yes, I even spotted the discarded copy of Twilight that seems to make an appearance in every bookcase of this kind.
So if you haven't prepared any reading (or you're armed with your Kindle) and you want to take a break from the sun, there are plenty of comfortable seats to choose from. You'll also find the occasional guest snoozing in one of these seats, they are that comfy! And despite this area being located next to the kiddies' day care room (the Forti Club), it's surprisingly quiet.
THE DINNING AREA
Both breakfast and dinner were buffets. Because people tend to come down more or less at the same time for breakfast, getting a seat in the area outside was near impossible; on a 12 day stay we (as a family of four) only managed it once. But for dinner there was no such difficulty as people ate at very different times.
As you may have sussed out by my previous recipes on this blog, I eat gluten free. This is always a test for any restaurant.
Breakfast was AMAZING though!!! They had a little alcove full of gluten free cakes (delicious orange jelly filled sugar cakes...still dreaming about those to this day). One morning they even had Schär's hazelnut croissants (which I can't find here in Belgium) so I nabbed them and asked the chef making the omelettes on demand to warm them in the oven for me.
Unfortunately, bread had the same system (you have to go to the chef for him to warm them) which is rather time consuming having to wait 15 minutes every morning. Plus the two tiny rolls you get in one bag (no risk of cross-contamination here) aren't really worth it. But if you're prepared to go to the local Supermercado you'll find Schär bread no problem. So you too can avoid that annoying wait by just bringing your own bread down to breakfast.
Since I tended to eat quite a big breakfast (a gf ham and cheese sandwich and gf pastries) I wasn't hungry for lunch and tended to skip it, so I can't really attest to the hotel's option there. And well, I may or may not have sneaked a few pastries from breakfast up to my room to eat if I really got hungry during the day...
When it came to the dinner buffet, the gluten free options were pretty limited. The chef present was there to freshly grill meat or fish per request and had no real idea as to what had gone into the separate dishes in the buffet (not his job). So I ended up eating plain grilled chicken 12 nights in a row (good thing I'm not vegetarian too otherwise I would have been eating air for dinner). I mean they did have a salad bar to be fair, but I'm not fond of salads but I did find happiness with their delicious green olives.
I did also have some gazpacho too, for the last couple of nights anyway, but I was just assuming there was no gluten in there (the croutons were in a separate dish). No one actually knew for sure its content (it's important to note that I'm not actually Celiac, I'm just gluten intolerant, so my risk factor is a lot less than yours might be). Plus, there was a language barrier to contend with, but if you mention "Celíaco" they'll know what they are dealing with, even if it unfortunately doesn't broaden your buffet options.
Desserts were the worst, every single dessert had some sort of sponge thing in it, only one night did they have a strawberry mousse without any. So I stuck to their ice creams (the Neapolitan choice). Where one of the kind French chefs took pity on my struggling to try and make a ball with a scoop, and showed me how it is done...I'm now an expert ice cream scooper!
Now if you're a fan of tanning then you have three choices when it comes to the Marbella Fuerte Hotel: the garden, the poolsides (there are two, one of which converts into an indoor pool) and the beach.
The garden is gorgeous and if you're lucky enough (or pick your moment right) then you just might get a tanning bed in the garden overlooking the sea (and get a wonderful breeze too).
The garden also comes with 5 patio poster beds that you can rent at €20 a day. Personally, I didn't book one (because there was ample space on the other normal tanning beds). But my favourite ones are seen in the picture above, with prime location near the pool and in the garden, with a view of the sea, what more could you ask?!!
However my favourite tanning location had to be the beach! For the simple reason that it had the best breeze and therefore you didn't end up sweating buckets whilst trying to tan.
From the garden/poolside there is easy guest access to the beachfront walkway via a key card secured gate, and to the beach via an underground tunnel.
P.S. I tried my best not to get anybody in shot while they were in swimwear (at least their faces). If I'm not prepared to show myself in a bikini on the internet, I'm not going to subject a stranger to that fate either. Hence I couldn't get any good photos of the pools. But the Fuerte Hotel's website has some good pics, so head on over there if you're desperate to see them.
The beach was gorgeous, I spent most of my tanning time here. However, do be warned, since the beach is free to the public you will get some people walking up to you trying to sell you cheap knock-off designer handbags and the like. Although if you're busy listening to music or reading a book and don't have your handbag in sight (I hid mine under my tanning bed) I found that because they think you aren't carrying cash on you, they leave you alone pretty quickly.
I also enjoyed collecting seashells and bits of corroded coloured glass, what can I say I'm a kid at heart! However, I never actually went swimming in the sea for two reason a) it was way too cold and b) it's the SEA!!! I have no idea if what's touching my leg is a bit of seaweed or a girl-eating fish...we've all seen that first scene in Jaws!!! So I keep my swimming to nice and calm chemically poisoned, sorry I mean "chlorinated" pools!
THE BEACH RESTAURANT
I didn't end up eating anything at this restaurant since I skipped lunch most days (as you'll know from above), but it was always busy so it must have been good?! Open to everyone not just hotel guests, you can get to it from the beachfront walkway (via stairs) or directly from the beach itself.
THE BEACHFRONT WALKWAY (EL PASEO MARITIMO)
Full of cute little souvenir shops, restaurants and typical touristy stuff...I spotted an inflatable Dolphin that I was really tempted to buy (I'm naming him Swimmy!). You definitely need to stroll down this walkway at least once during your stay. Personally at night it got a bit too crowded for my tastes but if that's your thing, go for it!
So there you have it, the gorgeous Costa del Sol hotel that my family and I stayed at for our summer vacay. I leave you with these two last gorgeous sunset photos (the first one flips into a sunset).
What's your favourite thing to do on holiday?
What your favourite cocktail (or mocktail) to drink on holiday? And favourite food?
Are you more of a pool or sea person?