Pages

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Labranda Bahia de Lobos, Fuerteventura – Hotel Review

Where to stay in Fuerteventura? I stayed at Labranda Bahia de Lobos in Corralejo, Fuerteventura on an all-inclusive basis for seven nights in February 2018. Flying from Manchester with TUI, the overall holiday cost came in at just under £600 per person (four people travelling together). This included transfers to and from the airport and a baggage allowance of 20Kg. 


Labranda Bahia de Lobos Corralejo Fuerteventura MapIn my view the hotel is just above average for its type and represents reasonable value for money. The best aspects are the rooms, pool areas, and breakfast, but the showers, service, other meals and entertainment were far from perfect.


Location (4 out of 5)

The hotel is located towards the back of Corralejo, in the southwest corner, just off the main shopping street. As such, there are no sea views, but the beach can be reached fairly easily. The sand dunes are 3Km away, Corralejo harbour is just over 1Km away and easily reached by following the main street (Av. Ntra. Sra. del Carmen, marked in red on the map), while the hotel is in a very good location if you fancy walking up a volcano. Shops are almost literally outside the door, which is highly convenient, as is the bus stop, which is on the road just behind the hotel. The bus (number 6) to the capital Puerto del Rosario is every 30 minutes and costs €3.80 for a single journey. You can change in Roasario for buses around Fuerteventura.


Rooms (3/5)

We paid a bit extra for a room with a pool view and it’s worth doing so. The outlook is very pleasant, and the rooms that don’t have pool views merely look at the back of those that do. Our room was east-facing, so we got the sun (when it decided to make an appearance) in the morning and on the terrace (with two chairs, a small table and a towel rail – no loungers, but plenty by the pool) until mid-afternoon.


Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Room Outlook Rainbow
The pool view from our room at Labranda Bahia de Lobos


The layout of rooms is pretty much perfect; very spacious with tasteful, modern decor. The beds (two singles that can easily be pushed together to make a double or kept separate) could be more comfortable as the mattresses are quite hard. There is plenty of wardrobe and storage space, a large mirror, a comfy sofa, a huge desk and a smaller coffee table. The rooms have good lighting including reading lamps by both beds, and a big wall-mounted TV with plenty of channels in various languages, with BBC One & Two and ITV1 among the British channels. It did get a bit cold in the evenings, so it could have benefitted from a heater (top tip: take a few jumpers in winter), but there is air con for when it’s too hot.


Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Room Interior


The wifi (which is patchy, but that could be due to the island’s limited capabilities) is free throughout the hotel. The safe, which costs €2.50 per day to hire plus a €10 deposit, is large enough to fit a laptop, but a bit of a fiddle to set. Kettles also have to be hired. No hotel in 2018 should be charging extra for any of these facilities, but it seems many Spanish hotels are yet to join the modern world.

The biggest fault with the rooms is the bathroom, and particularly the showers. The oddly-designed shower head means water comes out in one inconsistent stream, although it is fairly powerful. The main issue is the shallow shower tray and the half-enclosed style, a combination which causes flooding. Each day we had to use a towel to mop up the overspill and ended up wringing it out several times before the floor was clear of water. Another, more minor fault with the bathroom was the window, which could not be kept open partially without the wind blowing it wide open. The bathrooms come with hairdryers, but a mop would’ve been more helpful.



Facilities (3/5)

Bahia de Lobos has two fairly large and attractive outdoor swimming pools, both of which are saltwater and unheated. We made the mistake of swimming in February – the pool was freezing cold and as such it was not a fun experience. The main terrace also has a small children’s pool and in this area they play music (mostly classic pop/rock, with lots of Elvis and Johnny Cash) during the day, which some may enjoy but I found irritating. 


Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Swimming Pool


Thankfully, the other pool is designated as a quiet space, so you can actually relax by the pool and sunbathe in peace. Both pools seemed to have plenty of sun loungers, but as we didn’t have the best weather, that could be misleading. The pool bar on the main terrace had plenty of tables to sit by the pool and have a drink during the day. All guests can help themselves to soft drinks and water here, and the staff will serve alcohol to adults.  



Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Quiet Swimming Pool


The unremarkable reception area is quite large and as you walk through it your nose gets a treat of air freshener and bleach. There is a small fountain that you might trip over and a few clunky seating areas, plus all the tour companies’ information is housed here. Handily, there are toilets in reception and in the entertainment lounge, plus some outside between the two (a short stroll from the main terrace if you’re sunbathing or braving the pool). The pleasant outside area is dotted with cacti and palm trees.


Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Hotel Entrance Reception


Other facilities include quite a large (if a little dated) gym with instructors and various machines that is free to use, basic-looking outdoor sports courts (for tennis, football and basketball), and a pool table (€1) situated on the main terrace but not well-placed to be used after dark. There are no laundry facilities on-site. As I did not travel with young children I can’t really comment on the suitability of the children’s facilities, but it didn’t strike me as bursting with things for children to do.


Food (3/5)

Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Food Breakfast Cakes
The restaurants are well-located, especially the ground-level eatery Lobos Beach restaurant overlooking the pool, although the evening Botanic Lounge restaurant is down a steep flight of stairs that can be slippery after a shower of rain. The Botanic Lounge restaurant has more serving space but the tables are crammed together and getting past people to your seat can make for a fun game. The food itself is hit and miss; here’s the rundown:

Breakfast (5/5)

Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Food Breakfast Hot
Breakfast, served in the Lobos Beach restaurant, is by far the best meal of the day. They have cereal, fruit, bread (the toasting machines are quite slow and at busy times attract a scrum), cold meat and cheeses (but not at lunchtime – must be for the continental guests), pastries (not just croissants, but cakes, doughnuts and biscuits too), and a good selection of cooked items. Fried and scrambled eggs are available, or they’ll make you an omelette with your choice from cheese, ham, mushrooms and onions (or plain). The bacon is streaky and full of fat rather than back bacon, but they have managed to get hold of proper sausages, which you don’t always find in Spanish hotels. 

Lunch (3/5)

Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Food Lunch Salad Canarian Potatoes
Chicken, salad & Canarian potatoes wth red mojo sauce
Lunch, also served in the Lobos Beach restaurant, offers a range of salad items and bread, but rarely cheese and cold meats that would be perfect for a sandwich. They do, however, offer pizza and pasta. This “show cooking” involves one bloke constantly reloading a pizza oven with a set list of pizzas (which aren’t bad at all) and another bloke warming up pasta in sauce for customers on request. I tried the Bolognese sauce once and it was edible but entirely unspectacular. They also offer cooked items (meat, potatoes, vegetables) as a smaller selection of what they have at dinner. Chips and Canarian potatoes almost always feature, with the latter best served with mojo sauce (red or green – I recommend the red, as the green makes you reek of garlic for the rest of the day and could kill a vampire from 50 paces).

Dinner (2/5)

Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Food Dinner Paella Canarian
Canarian night serves up some interesting food
Dinner is served in the downstairs Botanic Lounge restaurant. There are three theme nights: Mexican (Mondays), Asian, which is mostly Oriental cuisine rather than Indian (Wednesdays) and Canarian (Fridays). On these nights they also open the Lobos Beach restaurant, but this service can be withdrawn without notice, as we experienced (more below under Service & Staff). On Mexican night they do a half decent chilli (and you can add your own jalapeƱos to bring it up to strength), but the enchiladas with their ultra-dry chicken and gloppy cheese sauce were probably the worst thing I ate during my stay.

Overall dinner has a wider range of cooked food than lunch, although you can still have a salad. There is almost always fish and sometimes several fish options, and some sort of meat that they carve for you, such as pork, chicken, turkey or beef. Example dishes during my stay include chicken curry, meatballs, cannelloni, duck a l’orange, turkey in gravy, and (a very tasty) chorizo paella. There are various carb (potato, rice, pasta) and vegetable choices with each meal, although some of the vegetable combinations are quite odd. Quality-wise, it’s mostly very average, with the occasional nice surprise.

Drinks (2/5)

On all-inclusive you can help yourself to drinks and in the restaurants they have soft drinks (Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Kas Lemon, Kas Orange, etc. but no Pepsi Max), beer (San Miguel) and wine (red, white and rose) on tap. The soft drinks are passable but usually tasted a bit flat. San Miguel is a decent enough beer although the hotel’s batch isn’t the nicest. The house red is the best of the wines, while the rose is the worst and tastes a bit like someone has watered down a poor-quality red. There is water and a selection of juices available too, but they charge €1 for bottles of still water (top tip: go to the supermarket for bottled water; Spar is the nearest and cheapest). The orange juice is a big disappointment (not a patch on the freshly-squeezed stuff you can get in Mallorca or mainland Spain), but the tropical juice available at breakfast hits the spot, even if its contents are a closely-guarded secret.
Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Food Desserts Cake Table

Desserts (4/5)

Bahia de Lobos Fuerteventura Food Desserts Cake Ice CreamAt both lunch and dinner the dessert choice is fairly similar, with a selection of cakes and ice cream. They always have three flavours of ice cream (rotating vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream, and Canarian gofio, which is cereal-based but has a nutty flavour that won’t be to everyone’s taste) and you can add a sweet sauce or sprinkles. There is usually a mousse on offer, and sometimes jelly or a panna cotta. At dinner they provide fruit as a dessert option, with a fondness for poaching bananas in strawberry sauce. Though clearly bought-in and possibly defrosted in some cases, the cakes are mostly good, with some positively delicious.



Service & Staff (2/5)

My rating for service and staff would have been higher but for one incident involving a very rude receptionist. I enquired as to why the upstairs restaurant had been closed for the coming Monday (notified only by a small sign on the door of the restaurant itself) and suggested the communication to guests had not been sufficiently clear, as we had been told that this would be open three nights per week. The receptionist suggested this was not the message they had given guests and that “maybe we weren’t listening” when we checked in as it was different for this week. I told my TUI rep about the incident but it remained unresolved – clearly the hotel didn’t care that they’d been telling guests one thing and not informing them properly when withdrawing a service. It was a bit of a shambles, and to be accused of “not listening” goes beyond my lowest expectation of customer service. To her credit, the receptionist did later apologise, but only after I showed her the physical evidence of the hotel’s miscommunication.  With such a dismissive attitude to a relatively minor issue, I really would not trust the reception staff (the lady I spoke with claimed to be the assistant manager) to deal with a bigger problem, so bear that in mind before booking.

Otherwise, the service was perfectly good. The staff in the dining areas were pleasant, with some friendlier than others but never any rudeness. The maids do an excellent job and deserved their tip, as their daily clean of the room left it looking spotless. I didn’t use the gym so I can’t comment on the fitness instructors, but the lifeguards were very diligent in making sure guests were safe in both pools and presumably have more work to do when it gets a bit warmer and the pools aren’t so cold.


Entertainment (1/5)

The entertainment offering is awful. The only two reasons to go in the bar in an evening are for the all-inclusive drinks and the football on the TV in the back corner. Otherwise, get out into Corralejo where it’s worth paying for drinks (some bars do happy hours and I never paid more than €4 for a pint of beer) to watch some decent live music and there’s plenty on offer in the town.


Overview

Location: 4/5
Rooms: 3/5
Facilities: 3/5
Food: 3/5
Service & Staff: 2/5
Entertainment: 1/5

Overall rating for Labranda Bahia de Lobos, Fuerteventura: 3/5