I've been meaning to write this post for weeks now, I've written up some parts of our Rhodes holiday (links at the bottom if you are heading to Rhodes and interested in places to visit). But this post has been a one that I knew would take a lot of preparation, there's lots to cover, as you'll see!
We stayed at Mark Warner's Levante Resort for a week mid-May, in school term time (so not the school holidays). When I say 'we' stayed, I mean myself, my husband and our two children, Kitty aged 7 and Ozzy aged 6.
Our thoughts before we arrived
We had not been away on a resort or package style of holiday before, preferring to book things separately. We hadn't been on a holiday where we had left the children in any sort of kids club before either and we were both apprehensive about doing so, thinking that a family holiday is all about, well family. We had read reviews on other blogs and spoken to friends who had been on Mark Warner holidays in the past which helped us, the children especially loved looking at this series of blog posts from Mummy Daddy Me as her photographs helped them gain a sense of familiarity before they arrived.
The bottom image of those above is the view from our balcony. We were situated in a block away from the main building, towards the beachfront, next to the Adult Pool. It was a really nice position. We stayed in a Deluxe Suite which is suitable for parties of up to 6 people. The Deluxe Suite has two large balconies or terraces and floor-to-ceiling windows, a spacious master bedroom with king size bed, open plan furnished living room with two single bed beds and a separate bathroom with walk-in shower.
Room facilites include:
Air-conditioning, bathrobes and slippers, satellite tv, mini-fridge
Safe deposit box
Complimentary beach towels
Complimentary WiFi (throughout the hotel)
Our room was cleaned every day, towels replenished, all the usual things that you would expect from good housekeeping.
The pools were a real hit with Kitty and Ozzy and the perfect place to cool off. There are plenty of lounger seats around the pools if soaking up the sun is your bag or indeed want to keep a close eye on the kids in the pool without actually getting in yourself. The indoor pool offered a nice escape from the sun at hotter times of the day.
The beach at Levante Resort is mainly sandy with some pebbles. As you get further down to the water it gets more pebbly, as you can make out in the photo above. I struggled with my flip flops so bought some waterproof shoes from the resort shop, you know the all in one neoprene style ones. The kids on the other hand bombed about in their crocs and didn't batt an eyelid!
I really liked how we could tailor our holiday to our likes, adding classes and activities before we left and whilst there. You really can do as little or as much as you like be you sun worshiper or sporty bod. For details on the water sports please see my post Watersports at Mark Warner, Levante, Rhodes. Levante also offers Tennis, Mountain Biking and Fitness Classes. We chose to stick to the more water based activities - the Kayak Safari I can recommend as amazing!
We hired a car for the day from the Car Hire company situated in the resort. A small car cost us 30 euros to hire for one day, prices may increase in the peak school holiday times though. We recommend the company on resort as there's no deposits to pay and in the event of a problem you can speak to someone in person every morning and evening and they offer a really helpful and friendly family service.
Overall we were really impressed with the food at Levante. We chose to dine with the kids on all but two evenings at the dinner serving that begins at 7.30pm in the main restaurant, Amalthia. The staff here were all incredibly helpful and friendly and always smiling and happy. The waiters were very attentive, but never 'quick to jump in and take plates' and always talked to the children too, making them feel included. One lovely waiter was only too happy to help me with my request of 'How to say 'thank you' in Greek?' By the end of the holiday both Kitty and Ozzy were saying 'Thank You' and 'You're welcome' fluently.
The food was varied, with a different theme every night. Alongside the themes were a range of salads, fresh fruit and salads, desserts, breads and cheeses. Kitty ate olives and feta every single night before anything else and loved it.
The only disappointment food-wise was the childrens dinner menu, and the reason why they only dined early two nights of the seven. There was all the usual children's fodder, plain pasta, bolognaise sauce, fried chicken, chips, peas, sweetcorn, but the variety day to day was minimal, which was in stark contrast to the adults menu. Whilst I appreciate that this menu is aimed at younger kids I do think the addition of some cubes of feta and maybe a moussaka would be a welcome addition, at least giving children the chance to try a bit of the Greek food culture.
What we did in the evenings
On the first night there's a welcome evening, where you can enjoy a juice or fruit punch and listen to Sue the manager and her staff explain what's on during the week. The staff are all very approachable, friendly and knowledgeable and have got the balance between being fun and polite and respectful down to a tee. This informal get together is also a nice way to get to know other holiday makers and for the children to make some holiday pals.
We aren't really the 'relaxing in the sun' type of people so our daytimes were all relatively busy so come the evenings we enjoyed a few drinks as a family before dining .The children's mocktails were a real treat for Kitty and Ozzy, they loved selecting from the menu - a 'Harry Potter' was Ozzy's tipple of choice and a 'Baby Colada' for Kitty (when she wasn't slurping milkshake!) All served with umbrella and sparkly bits they both commented on how special they found them. Boy oh boy were they ever grumpy to come home to find orange squash in the fridge!
Childcare at Mark Warner, Levante
As I mention at the start of this post, we we were rather apprehensive about putting the kids into childcare before we arrived at Levante. Not because we questioned the quality of childcare but because we felt that a family holiday meant time together as a family. Kitty and Ozzy spent one full day, two half days and one evening session at the childcare and LOVED it. As a parent, once I saw the standard of activities that my children were offered and how much they enjoyed it I realised that my initial thoughts were rather hasty. With the childcare at Mark Warner Levante the kids were able to experience fun new activities, like sailing out to sea, whilst my husband and I had some quality 'us' time. This left us re-charged to enjoy that quality family time that we were so looking forward to.
Kitty is a very shy child and, as expected, cried when we left her at childcare the first time, despite being with her brother. The staff were considerate and supportive and next thing we knew we saw her walking down to the beach front with her group, laughing and giggling. When we picked her up that session the first thing she asked was could she go back that afternoon!
Both Kitty and Ozzy made some good memories whilst at childcare at Levante. Ozzy was so proud to go back to school and tell his class that he 'sailed out to sea and the jumped from the boat into the water'! Priceless.
Our thoughts before we departed
The first thought was 'do we really have to go?' We felt like by the time the holiday ended we were just beginning to really embrace relaxing. Having not stayed on a resort before we weren't sure how we would take to it, this might sound a little harsh but as a rule we like our space as a family and being surrounded by other families really isn't our idea of fun. We visited Levante out of school holiday times so it was naturally quieter than the peak season, and this time suited us to perfectly. We were invited to pre-dinner drinks by parents of children who were at the Kids Club with Kitty and Ozzy and that was a really enjoyable evening. Families that we met were friendly and lovely - and it made the return flight all the easier for Kitty and Ozzy having some new holiday chums to play with. All the families we spoke to, both on this evening and in passing, were full of praise for both the activities and the childcare.
We were glad that we took part in activities on resort and also spent a little time off-resort exploring the island. For us the ease of being able to hire a car at the resort and find information on where to visit was most valued. After all, if you never leave a resort then you really could be anywhere hot in the sun, two days out and about really helped us get a feel for Rhodes and I felt it was an important part of the holiday for both us and parents and Kitty and Ozzy as children. We didn't visit in school holiday time, we took our children out of school for this holiday and so it felt appropriate to show the children some of the islands history alongside the activities and experiences on-resort. And do ask the Levante staff, both Mark Warner staff and the locals who work there for advice on places to visit, boat trips and so on - they are all really knowledgeable and so happy to help.
Would we return? Yes indeed, we are already looking at the Mark Warner Sardinia resort as a consideration for next years holiday!
Mark Warner Summer 2015 and 2016 Holiday Bookings Discount Code
Mark Warner have given me a discount code to share with my readers who would book a Summer 2015 or 2016 holiday with them before 31st July 2015.
For a £50pp discount on all Summer 2015 & 2016 bookings made by 31th July 2015 quote AnnieBlog50.
This discount is not valid for free child place and can’t be offered in retrospect.