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Reviewed April 18, 2009

This is a great hotel if you are looking for a quiet resort. The food is good and the choice is excellent. You must try the chocolate fondue in th Mocca Bar for a bit of a treat. Use the local buses to get around the island if you haven't hired a car. They are cheap and an adventure of their own. Hotel staff are very friendly. It is a bit expensive but that is only to be expected at this rate of hotel.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank Greevee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 13, 2009

We really enjoyed visiting Malta, it’s a very friendly place steeped in History although it somehow doesn’t quite seem to have a handle on exactly what it has to offer. Specifically with respect to Golden Bay, it’s one of the very few places with a beach but is a bit out on a limb, however Malta is not a big island so that’s no real disadvantage.

The Radisson has a peculiar set up of timeshare, hotel and conference centre, all interspersed across three main buildings, plus a fourth tiered building between the hotel and beach which contains most of the restaurants and bars.

Overall this is very good modern hotel complex with great facilities but it’s not deserving of the full 5 stars. The ‘private’ beach is strewn with rubbish, our air-conditioning wouldn’t get the bedroom below 23 degrees (in April) and the towel rail in the bathroom was literally hanging off the wall. The latter was not repaired during our stay despite us reporting it on day one.

There were also minor repairs around the hotel that had clearly been waiting to be tackled for some time, so either the Hotel management are walking around with their eyes closed or some unfortunate maintenance person is wrestling with a very big to do list!

On the plus side the Hotel Staff are very welcoming, friendly, helpful and very well turned out. The overall facilities are great, the choice of restaurants is good and they are not overly expensive. The food is also generally high quality but service is a little on the slow side even in low season.

We were on a time share promotion for £99.00pw so on that basis the room was exceptionally good value. We were also genuinely interested in appraising the timeshare option but the hard-sell tactics adopted by a ‘senior’ salesman towards the end of a four hour session with another more junior salesman (who was actually more helpful) was simply unacceptable.

Clearly their methods and tactics must work for them in terms of achieving sales targets, and the timeshare owners that we met seemed happy enough with their purchases. In our case the senior salesman’s high pressure approach to closing a deal despite him not actually having given us a firm price contributed greatly to the fact that we were simply not given enough useful information (in over four hours!) to make a truely informed decision. Consequently we felt quite annoyed by the whole experience. Our advice is to do all your research well before you get there if the timeshare is of any interest to you and to take control early on with a list of prepared questions rather than let them walk you through their somewhat blunt, prescriptive and time consuming sales process.

When we complained to the timeshare management during a separate feedback meeting the excuse given to us was that the senior salesman concerned may have got out of the wrong side of the bed or perhaps was simply having a bad day. Not at all the response you would expect from a professional set up.

Senior management making excuses for such behaviour is perplexing to say the least, and rolling out supposedly experienced salesmen with an attitude problem who behave like the've just written the dummies guide to selling time share (1980’s style!) is simply not on. Unfortunately, if its working for them they wont fix so don't allow yourself to be pressured.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank Scarletts-Odyssey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 6, 2009

My partner and I visited Golden sands on a timeshare promotion deal with Island Residence Club/Resort Properties for a chill holiday, arriving at the end of March. On the timeshare side, we own holiday rental property and a good timeshare in Europe so we had an idea of what to expect. However we were surprised that the process here was so intensive. We did meet one long term owner who was happy with the resort, but the figures did not stack up to me and our rep was very rude to us when we said no.
You would be wise to ignore the pressure of "it has to be done right now!" in the presentation and, if you do think timeshare here is for you, do some research on the Internet and talk to existing owners first to make an educated investment.

Golden Sands is really two things; a Radisson business centre (it has extensive conference facilities) and a time-share residence. Its not really geared for holiday-makers looking for a pure vacation hotel, nor is it 5 star in every respect.

Below is a more detailed review which I hope will benefit would-be guests and provide honest feedback to the hotel itself:

Good points

Overall
Nice enough, pretty much laid-back and reasonable value for money if you are on a deal not paying more than €100 to €300 per week (room only) and preferably for a 1 or 2 bed apartment, rather than a studio. I certainly would not pay rack-rate. Food and drinks in the hotel will add between €25 and €100 per day per person, depending on whether you eat in your room or the restaurants. We were off-season in early April and it was not over-crowded, although nearly all the sun loungers were in use. The resort is fine if all you want to do is chill, spend time with young children, and undoubtedly very good if you are attending a conference. Its well designed and professionally staffed. With free Internet, free shuttles to towns and supplies of tea, coffee and toiletries for your room, Radisson clearly don't try to extract every last penny from you. That felt good. Service was also very good throughout, though mostly a little shy of 5 star.

Rooms
Some are great (1/2 bed apartments are 5 star), some just good (like our 4 star studio); its just luck of the draw. They wouldn't change our country view (of the local scout camp) despite our advance request, because of agreements with Island Residence Club/Resort Properties. Most rooms appear to be pretty spacious though, at least 4 star standard, and well equipped for eating in. All are very clean. Hair dryer is pretty basic, so take your own, ladies (UK plugs and power).

Internet
Free in your room and throughout the hotel, nice touch

Restaurants/bars
All good, something for everyone. As their website gives nothing away, our view is that food was very good, maybe a little pricey as we would not rate any as 5 star except Essence restaurant. Italian restaurant AgliOglio is great for lunch OUTSIDE, great pasta and pizzas from around €9. Steaks and fish around twice as much. Thoughout the resort's restaurants all the deserts are superb but beware steaks although excellent are slightly overcooked. Personally I would avoid AgliOglio in the evening as the interior dining area is badly designed and atmosphere when it gets busy is more like a motorway cafeteria. Its wise to make reservations in the restaurants to get a decent table. Kids will love the burger and chips served efficiently in the Mocca bar for around €8. Local wine at around €10 a bottle is drinkable. Essence is truly a 5 star restaurant which will set you back from €40 a head with wine; excellent food and Maitre-Di Michael and Manager Etienne and their staff would even tick all of Gordon Ramsay's boxes. Sadly it was only open for dinner and closed altogether on Sunday and Monday. Flavours' buffet restaurant Sunday carvery looked good (€29 per head), but we were too full up to try it. We did go into St Julians and the restaurants and bars in the harbour were only 10% cheaper than the hotel, the Hilton there costing 20% more than Golden Sands, to give some basis of comparison.

In-Room dining
If important to you, check your room does have a kitchenette in advance. Food to consume in your room is a fair price; the in-house Deli is cheaper than UK supermarkets for locally produced food like eggs, bread, ham and cheese (why cant we make cheddar in the UK as good as this!?), more expensive for imports though (tea bags, coffee and cerials like Special K - all around €8 each). No cava or champagne is available in the shop.

Facilities
Spa, good indoor and outdoor pools, nice beach, kids area, water sports/boat/jet ski hire and diving, and enough choice of restaurants and bars. Their chosen excursion supplier Drifter seems to have the monopoly, but there is no hard sell and trips looked like good value to us. Our BA cabin crew strongly recommended a boat trip over to Gozo, but the sea is too cold in April to jump in, so we took a rain check.

Staff (hotel)
Very efficient and friendly, not familiar.

Bad points

Overall
If you are on a promo deal, our advice is get the timeshare thing out of the way and firmly say NO if you have doubts and then forget about it ASAP. Get bogged down with the IRC people and it will take the shine off your time here. We asked for a late check out but were told they were fully booked so "No chance". Considering the two of us were the only guests to be seen in the whole reception and bar area when making this request, I found this a little difficult to believe.

Location/Transport
The hotel is in a remote location and there must be better bases for explorers if that is your thing. There are free shuttles to local towns, but you must book your ride a day in advance. Cabs are expensive (€25 for the 20 minute ride to St Julians).

Staff (IRC timeshare)
Smart sales people in dark suits seemed to outnumber residents in the Mocca restaurant during the day in April, so be careful where you sit as listening to their constant patter could drive you crazy!

Rooms - Air Con
Temperature in all rooms was limited to a low of 23C degrees during the night. In the first week of April, this was too hot for us to sleep comfortably even with a ceiling fan. We asked our Island Residence Club rep, front desk and, in the end the Radisson guest relations manager to reduce the temperature but despite positive confirmations of imminent resolution, Radisson could "do nothing". Not a 5 star response. We ended up sleeping the first night with the balcony door open. BIG MISTAKE:

Mosquitos
They bite for England or, err, Malta. The Vape Mat plug-in deterrants sold in the Deli needed a couple of days to kick in to clear the room, but by that time we were bitten badly. I STRONGLY advise you to take your own knock-down spray AS A MUST as they don't sell it in the hotel at all: Spraying your room when you arrive will be your best line of defence (the room service menus are a useful size but these mozzies move real fast!). Alternatively take your own plug-in electronic diffuser and plug it in straight away. Body repellant and bite relief can be purchased at the hotel for €8 each.

Room TV/Minibar
TV channels are limited if you have kids or you dont want to watch perpetual news of the recession or Police-camera-action. Pay TV starts from €16 for a movie. If this is important to you, take DVDs or buy them cheap in the local markets as all rooms seem to have a DVD although not clearly advertised. If you take a laptop you can view more UK and other channels by downloading Filmon.com or other free streaming services. The mini-bar is charged on the movement of bottles so, in true Police-camera-action style, "step away from the bar" is the best advice I can give you.

Balconies
The playing card characters in Alice in Wonderland would be at home here. The balconies are very THIN and not comfortable to spend much time on. A bit of a worry perhaps for parents with young kids as you are always near the balcony's railings. The top of the railings do however slope inwards towards the room, to make it feel safer.

Bathrooms
The bath in standard rooms is small and you may also need a few goes to flush the toilet successfully (but the bathrooms are generally OK). You may though find you get a full and clear commentary of the bathroom in the room next door when you are in yours; "Melvin, get the phone, I'm on the loo". Lovely.

Activities
There is a diving, boat hire and water sports club on site, but apart from this and the Spa, not a lot else. If the hotel was really geared to holiday makers, it should have made a little more effort on the activity side, maybe pool or beach volleyball for example.

Spa
On arrival we thought we would like to spend a year there one day going through all the treatments, but the stress buster massage and facials turned out to be very average, way below a 5 star spa. Frankly not worth it, poor staff and
a big disappointment considering the yummy descriptions in the extensive menu of treatments.

Business Centre and Conferences
Printing return boarding passes at the Business Centre took an hour because of faulty equipment, cost me €20 and involved increasing layers of Germanic management to achieve ultimate success. It felt like being on-set in an episode of Fawlty Towers or Little Britain. When I retired to the terrace with a drink to wait for them to sort it out, they inadvertently locked me out. "What a kerfuffle!". On the conference side, nothing big was going on while we were there, but I could imagine this is the sort of place for a Herbalife or Amway sales convention. No offence intended to those companies, but my point is, if you were on holiday, adding a couple of hundred sales guys to the Island Residence Club people could mean Valium is the only escape. It may be worth checking whats going on in this regard before you book - emails are responded to promptly.

In conclusion, we did enjoy our stay but a week was enough and it was made better by good weather and the fact we have a good sense of humour. Bear in mind the two of us were only there to chill and do absolutely nothing. It is a very good conference hotel, but not a holiday hotel in all honesty. If we were to return to Malta we would book a hotel better situated to walk to local places. And, with no timeshare angle.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
8  Thank Mike W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 27, 2009

Loved Malta, but one week sees it all. The Raddison is a great hotel in the middle of nowhere. Great welcome with drink, told our room number and between all the corridors and lifts it took us ages to find it, eventually a porter took pity on us and showed the way. It took two days to work out all three towers are joined by the second floor, but everything in the hotel seems to be a three day camel ride apart. We were in the third tower and the deli (not well stocked) was on the first floor simple. Everything else was in the first tower so out of room into lift, down to second, out of lift, along corridor, through reception, down stairs into bar, out of bar, along corridor, into lift down five floors into Aglolios get ripped off with service and meal, then do return journey phew need holiday after all that.

Now Aglolios, when I was there it was the only restaurant open not very good for a five star. We arrived on the Friday booked a table for 8pm. Girl took our order and eventually at 9.20 after repeatedly asking for our food we eat. The girl said there was a problem in the kitchen but others were served so we thought she had forgot to put our order through. The food was OK. We eat there five out of seven evenings (no where else to eat) and had a bad experience every time. (wrong orders or slow slow service). Room service was great same price as Aglolios but served within 30 minutes.

This place has nothing going for it, great hotel but nothing at all to do in the evening. They even repeated the entertainment .

We were on a promo for £99.00 thank god we didn't pay top prices. Tell the salesperson you wont be buying early then you wont have to stay for the full 3 hours, we had a guy named Sean, no hard sell but he did think we were going to buy and we felt quite awkward at the end. He said we made him look "like a plonker" oh well you chose the career !

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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2  Thank fredkit
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed February 11, 2009

Stayed for a conference last week and liked the hotel very much. The resort is great, rooms are nicely furnished. Had a wonderful room overlooking the ocean and the pool. The hotel is on the West Coast of the island. Visited Mdina, which was fabulous. Unfortunately had no chance to see much of Valletta, St. Julian or Sliema, because the hotel was on the other side of the island and had not enough free time available to take a taxi there.
The hotel boasts many restaurants and bars, with a lot of different offerings. Had a wonderful Ayurveda massage treatment at the Spa.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled on business
    • Value
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    • Check-in / front desk
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
2  Thank TravelAdorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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