It was our first time to the Algarve and the Sensimar experience and we experienced it all for one week. We loved the location of the hotel. It is very near to a long sandy blue flag beach, about a 5-10 min walk depending on mobility. We watched some very beautiful sunrises and sunsets on the beach. If you stand in front of the ocean and walk to the right, you will reach Lagos in no time (35 min). If you walk towards the left, you will reach an estuary with amazing wildlife. You can swim in the ocean or in the river and there are many places on this long beach to explore. There is a tiny ‘super market’ in the fishing village, about a 10 min walk from the hotel. Take the little road train if you want to explore the most beautiful cliffs of Ponte de Piedade - It’s an amazing place for photography. In Lagos, there is a lovely church (St. Anthony’s) to visit, full of baroque style architecture.
Lots of choice. There are two (cold & hot) buffet areas in the restaurant serving many food options. One (cold & hot) buffet area is in the centre of the restaurant, the other well away at the back of the restaurant. Both cold buffet areas are similar but hot buffet areas serve different dishes (there is no signage about this) – make sure you check out both to make the most of food options on offer.
There is also a nice area at breakfast marked 'gluten free' with nice breads and biscuits. Be early to get good choice as they do run out of the nice rolls & bear in mind (if like me you have coeliac disease) that these are ‘gluten free’ items and cross contamination can happen due to sheer volume of foods being handled & customers served.
At dinner they can cater to any dietary requirements. Again gluten free bread can be provided and the chef can make special gluten free desserts if requested. Best to speak to hotel staff at restaurant door to get help choosing dishes suitable for special diets.
Cooking for a huge amount of guests can be challenging and sadly one evening we came across uncooked chicken which was a health & safety risk (hence we take a star away from what otherwise would be 5 stars for this property). We advised hotel management (Pedro) and the pot of meat was taken away from the main food area immediately.
The Gala Dinner concludes with an impressive gigantic cake celebrating ‘TUI Sensimar’. We have travelled the world and never seen anything like it! It was a pretty amazing cake.
We had a 4th floor room with a side view of the sea and Lagos in the distance. Afternoon sun on balconies. It was very hot in the 2nd week of October, no shade on the terrace. Music can penetrate in the evenings (it did on Friday when there was some loud event on). People smoke on balconies, by the pool, on the beach. When needed, the technician came very quickly and solved our issues quickly and professionally (e.g. safe was jammed and an alarm was set on the phone by a previous guest which kept ringing every night at the same time). Good news - there is no extra charge for the safe. Kettle provided. If you need more milk or anything else, just ask the lovely cleaners and they will provide without a fuss.
Beds are hard. We asked for extra toppers. Again, the lovely cleaning ladies sorted it all out with a smile.
Small Tui shower gel and shampoo bottles are provided. No conditioner so bring your own if you like. Tui Thomson does have a swap box where people are encouraged to leave behind any surplus items for others. This is very thoughtful and we have both used and contributed to the box. Numerous book swap points are available across the hotel so you are never stuck for a novel to read.
There is a small shop in the hotel but appears to sell only a few items. ‘End of season’ we were told by the lovely staff member. It is stocked with mostly wine or cough drops. There is an opportunity for the hotel to improve the offering. From our experience of having travelled the world, similar types of tourist hotels do well with a shop on the premises selling snacks (‘fisherman's friend’ type of mints aren't ‘snacks’), local handicraft gift options, post cards, water, at ‘reasonable’ prices. The current shop feels redundant and doesn't appear to target the current customer base (Tui/Thomson package holiday package tours). There is one tiny shop in the fishing village (take back exit of hotel, through side gate onto street, take left, then left at bottom of road onto main road. Walk past the train stop, you should see sign for ‘Supermarket’). You will find a tiny room in someone's house with a bare minimum of overpriced goodies. You will be grateful, that there is something & understand better the power of monopolies.
There is happy hour in the evenings before dinner (‘the pound is weak and drinks feel overpriced’ is the key message from TripAdvisor reviews) and some organised events both during the day and evening. A daily ‘Tui news’ paper is published which lists events of the day & can be collected from reception.
Indoor swimming pool (warm and lovely) and use of small gym are free. Use of sauna, jacuzzi and hammam incur an extra charge and are not in use normally so you have to book them in advance so hotel staff can start up the facilities for you. Eur11 per couple but free if you book a massage. We booked the massage, used the sauna (which was nice); hammam wasn’t working well and Jacuzzi had a technical fault (no bubbles) which they were hoping to fix soon. There were amazing hydrotherapy showers (cold/hot) next to the sauna. Massages need to be booked a day ahead (or three in our case as one of the masseuse was unwell) and there is a different ‘special offer’ daily. We paid around EUR 65-70 for a one hour fantastic massage per person!
Hotel Customer Services:
Pedro, the General Manager of the Hotel, is very customer oriented. He is the main ‘go to man’ in case something/anything does irritate you on your holiday. He comes across as a very charismatic leader & a visionary. He is supported by a team of individuals with varied experience and enthusiasm (e.g. we were overcharged on departure but as we kept detailed logs we were able to argue for the actual costs robustly. We were then given the receipt for an incorrect room by the reception staff. When we realised and tried to return it to the correct owner the next morning we were told they had already checked out).
The cleaners do deserve a special mention as they are very customer focussed.
This is not a 5 star hotel in the ‘traditional’ sense, but none of the hotels servicing mainly package tours are. It is a good 3.5-4 star hotel. Stars are allocated on facilities and this hotel has some of the facilities of a 4 star hotel and was very clean.
The hotel was independent until 2013 when it became part of Thomson ‘couples’ offering. More recently it has become part of the Tui Sensimar offering. We are not familiar with Sensimar but felt the hotel was transitioning to whatever this new status meant. There is a transition period taking place to ensure a good marketing fit.
UK Thomson staff - young reps (especially the very knowledgeable and self-assured Mitch) represent their firm well and do a good hard sell of Thomson products during a ‘welcome event’.
Thomson staff are present at this hotel 5 days a week and have a room dedicated to them near the reception area. There are no other tour operators represented in the hotel though a TUI German rep does pop by. There were only 3 papers, in abundance, on offer in the reception - all UK tabloids (the Sun; Daily Mail and Daily Express). If you desire any other read, there is very good Wi-Fi free connectivity.
TUI transfers: We booked the TUI private transfers after reading reviews about the duration of coach transfers. We were very satisfied with our private transfers. Both ways we had amazing drivers who imparted knowledge about Portugal and the Algarve region. So yes, it may cost a bit extra (margins) rather than booking with a local company but we did experienced the ‘added value’ of knowledge transfer.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Adults-only hotel (16+) ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Yellow Lagos Meia Praia Hotel Lagos