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“Disappointed but a good holiday nevertheless”

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Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Calatabiano
Certificate of Excellence
Stroud, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
35 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Disappointed but a good holiday nevertheless”
Reviewed 20 September 2011

We spent a week at the hotel and wish we'd read all the reviews prior to arriving at the hotel as we would have been better informed. We booked via the Thomson website and paid extra to get a 'Junior Suite with Balcony'. We were told we had been upgraded to a better suite so I was therefore disappointed to find that the Thomson described 'balcony' was a courtyard with a small table and two upright chairs (ie no sunbeds, which would have been nice) overlooking the tennis court and carpark and that there was no sea view. We carried our own luggage from the carpark, (the huge gates opened with a key we were given) however we later saw a uniformed gentleman taking people's luggage on a glamorous gold barred luggage trolley. This would have been nice too! The lovely gardens were to the side and to the rear was what appeared to be a farm from where we heard gunshots during the day and night. The first night was disturbed as the two single beds, pushed together to make a double, had metal headboards with metal crowns which squeaked and the metal frame clanked whenever I moved. The beds seem, from research today, to be typical of the area.

We had a jacuzzi corner bath with a shower screen. The shower was not powerful, but adequate, however the surface of the bath was slippery and there was very little flat surface making it hazardous. There was no rubber mat. My husband was concerned as he recently had a hip operation and didn't want to fall over. With our upgraded suite we had tea/coffee-making facilities and I was glad we brought our own tea as we are not keen on fruit tea. We took milk from the breakfast table. The kettle had a broken lid which didn't shut and being slower than usual on holiday, I forgot to mention this to Reception. It was however dangerous as it didn't turn off on its own.

We were not told about the private, chargeable, beach and have since found this out through reading reviews. We did walk along the beach, which is stoney but clean and busy with locals at weekends. It was just outside the hotel so no car park charges would be necessary. Fees are paid until mid September to park. The staff always greeted us with smiles and even the gardeners wished us a good day. We didn't see any family, who also live there. We ate in the pool bar on the first day at lunchtime: 2 x bread - 4 eu, 2 caesar salads - 26 eu, 2 espressos - 3 eu and a bottle of house wine - 20 eu - total 53.00 euros. In the evening we had bread, a starter, main course and shared a dessert with another bottle of house wine - total 115 eu. We had spent 184 eu since lunchtime and found the food very oily and expensive so decided to find another restaurant nearby. This we did exceptionally well and I have reviewed this separately. Breakfast, when 10am closing approached was usually uncomfortable as the food table was cleared very fast as if the staff had another job to go to. Don't be late as they shut the gates! Room service is available.

The pool is large, a good temperature for cooling off and I loved the gargoyle overlooking the pool. I could have taken him home! When we arrived we were given a quick mini tour of the site, shown where the restaurant was, the pool from the top of the steps, the bar area (where later that evening we paid 16 euros for two shots of grappa) and we were shown the outside door of the Spa. On departure we found out that the Spa had a sauna and was larger than the front Spa open area with treatment beds which we had seen. We regularly visit a spa at home so were not keen to pay for treatments.

We had a good holiday but feel that a few areas at the hotel could be improved, including the bar prices which are too high for British. A car is needed as the island's sights are many and it the hotel is not central to Taormina.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Jackygotaway
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CastellodiSanMarco, Proprietario at Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA, responded to this review, 23 September 2011
Dear Guest,
Thank you for your personal evaluation. We apreciate the time you spent for us.
Unfortunately we see that some complaints comes from incorrect information provided by third parties to whom we are not directly responsible.
The information on our official website are detailed and precise. (we are so close to the privat seasonal beach, 50m from our park, but no sea view described anywere, we suggest to anyone else to check it by goole sat map on our web page)
Responding on the prices subject we think that they match the average prices of a Sicilian 4 star hotel.
Absolutely normal when you offer daily fresh fish, fresh vegetables, and helpful and professional staff.
However we would like to make some clarifications about:
The hotel offers its guests some free features, that generate huge costs for their management. we refer to the 38.00 sqm park, always well maintained, the great pool that dedicate 8 sqm surface for each guest, objectively an unusual average size, a particular winery lounge from 1892, and not least the maintenance of abig authentic castle from 1689, that by the constant restoration project, gives visitors a unique show.
We are pleased and proud to offer without any extra charge these and other things which represent our unique offer.
Aware of the fact that tastes cannot be discussed, we apologize for complaining about the kitchen, but we would like to inform you that the oil found in abundance in our food is nothing else that the main element of Mediterranean cuisine, the healthy extra virgin olive oil, which moreover in our case is always top quality.

In conclusion, wanting to be objective and give correct and complete information to all the travellers, we believe that your opinion was definitely useful but also quite severe.
After all, we offered you, without any particular reason but just because we take in care the comfort of our guests, a free upgrade in to a de luxe suite with Jacuzzi and all the superior amenities, even just for this reason we would have expected a different treatment.

We are sorry and we hope you will find our services improved in case of a next visit.

Thank you for choosing us
Best Regards
Daniele Murabito
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (33)
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Arundel, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 55 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 September 2011

I meant to put up a review in July and I forgot so thought I would add it now. My husband and I spent 2 weeks at the hotel in July and we liked it very much. As everyone says it is a lovely old buildings and the pool is absolutely fantastic, the gardens are lovely and there are different places to sit around the grounds The staff are very nice and friendly and helpful and as a family run place they are all there to please. We had a junior suite and the room was great lots of room and a large bathroom, good shower. The hotel is a major wedding venue but having said that it never interfered with our holiday it was lovely seeing the weddings set up around the pool in the evening and the rooms are a little way away so we never heard any noise either. The place is quite quirky and the summer dining room is in a sort of tended courtyard. The breakfast was good and dinner was nice but as we went a la cart we did find the menu did have not have enough variety. I understand that if we had gone half board we may have seen a change / special. We appreciate the menu is restricted to ensure that the food is good quality and fresh but a daily special would have been a bonus. Having read a couple of the more recent reviews I can assure you there are other restaurants nea by and you do not need to go into Taromina . There are 2 areas in Giardini Naxox one strip along the beach area but a nicer quieter strip sort of hidden behind the main bus stop ( ask for the Hilton hotel) . I think people just did not find them – and that is possibly one of my few criticisms of the hotel, as they are keen to encourage you to use their dining room they do not help by pointing out where else to go. There is a fantastic restaurant ( great value for money ) in a castle on top of the hill in the nearest village, and a great sea food place in Giardini also some good pizza places so you could mix and match high dining at the hotel with a slightly less expensive dinner another night. Taromina is lovely but to have to trip in there in the evening does seem like a bit too much trouble.

The grounds of the hotel were immaculate and so was the beach. The facilities were great but beware as with most of Italy you pay for them even as a guest and at our exchange rate this was working out at £11 per day for 2, but that was cheaper than others I saw and much less crowded. It is not completely private to the hotel as other people can pay to use it but it seemed to me that hotel guests tended to get the better positioned sun beds nearest to the sea.

The new Spa was great and not being a spa person it was nice to treat myself on holidy - Alison ( if i remember correctly ) was very nice and the products were very nice.
My only other comment is that the room had a lovely terrace with a table and chairs and we spent a lot of time there early evening, and my husband who is light skinned retired there at lunch time so we would have appreciated a couple of lounging chairs as well there is plenty of room for them and in fact the terrace is so large it would add to the look. We did ask for a deck chari as we saw one on a balcony and these were promised but I suspect it was a busy day and they forgot we did not follow it up.

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank RewelPeople
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 September 2011

After a very hectic few months we wanted a holiday somewhere where we could relax, chill and recharge our batteries. We walked through the impressive wrought iron gates of this lovely old castello and wow! - did the family owned and operated Castello Di San Marco deliver!!
The clean, 'rustic style' accommodation is situated in the beautiful gardens, a relaxing stroll from the main building (which is exquisitely decorated). The pool area is a dream, and the dining area - wow!! Take time to enjoy an aperitif in the bar area and soak up the history of the beautifully restored Palmero. I have to say it's impossible to put into words the spirit and magic of the Castello Di San Marco!!
Many thanks to all the staff who were amazing, wonderfully attentive and certainly a team to be proud of. A big thanks to Luca (maitre), who made us so very welcome - and for his wine recommendations each evening at dinner!!
Valereo, your father has built a paradise. Thank you to your family for opening the doors to your home - the Castello Di San Marco - certainly is a Charming Hotel and Spa!! x

Advice:- The Castello Di San Marco is located in a rural location therefore a hire car is a must. As our 'thing' was to see Etna and the volcanic island of Stromboli the independence of a car was paramount to us. Enjoy!!

Room Tip: Cool, comfortable and clean
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  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank GillMalcB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Harpenden
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 10 September 2011

We went for a week in August. The hotel is situated about 20 minutes bus / car ride from Taormina and is adjacent to the beach at San Marco. It is literally an old castle that has been beautifully renovated and maintained - there is even a ruined church in the gardens. We had rooms in the gardens which are 'rustic' in design. The bath / shower rooms are small but adequate. Although the hotel is adjacent to a busy beach there is little noise or disturbance. The hotel pool is large and and it's peaceful - I doubt if there were ever more than 20 persons at the poolside at any one time.
The staff are lovely and helpful - we couldn't fault the service we received at reception or meals. They really are a nice bunch of people. The food is also very good. We ate lunch and dinner on several occasions and thoroughly enjoyed the dishes - and the Sicilian wines, which are well worth trying.
If you are looking for night life you may find this area a bit quiet. The beach bars and cafes are generally closed in the evening and although the guide books say Giardini Naxos (about 10 mins drive away) has a lively 'strip' in the evenings, we never found it! It's therefore best to head into Taormina, where there are plenty of bars and restaraunts to suit most tastes and pockets.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Castelli di San Marco and will go again, which is probably the best recomendation I can give.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Threeblondesandboss
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CastellodiSanMarco, Direttore at Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA, responded to this review, 3 September 2012
Dear Guests,

thank you so much for the time you spent to describe your experience at Castello San Marco.
We always apreciate the opinion of our guests that make us more aware of our strengths and our possible defects.

We hope to have you again as our apreciated guest at Castello.

Yours Faithfully
Daniele Murabito
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Frankfurt, Germany
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 September 2011

We stayed two weeks in August and it was an absolutely perfect stay - in every way! We had a junior suite, that was great! The Hotel itself, the old castle is a dream, surrounded by a wonderful park. Breakfast was great, everything was provided. We had Dinner each night in the fantastic restaurant, which should get 3 Michelin stars! Every single Dinner was just perfect und absolutely delicious and exquisite! The pool is wonderful, peaceful and the private beach is excellent. Even if you have to pay for the sunshade, it's worth it! The beach is gravelly, but therefor the water is cristal clear. Swimming in the sea with the view of the etna an Taormina / Castel Mola in the Background is unbelievable! The Staff is so friendly and helpful, it's more like staying with family members than staying in a hotel! We wish to thank Luca (maitre of the restaurant), Alexandra, Signor Paulo, Elena, Irene, "Waterman", Alfredo, Angela (all of the restaurant - and of course all of the kitchen!), the beach crew Maria-Laura, Gian-Luca, Sergio (Sergiuzzo) e il signor nummero tre (the wonderful owner and of course his wife!), the reception, i.e. Isabell, Valerio, the maitre of the banquets (thanks for the transparent table) and all other friendly staff we can't remember the names (even the gardener was great!) for making our holiday an unforgettable dream stay!

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LiBoFr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CastellodiSanMarco, Proprietario at Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA, responded to this review, 10 September 2011
On behalf of the staff members I kindly thank you for the lovely rewiev.
Our staff is always friendly but this is the first time that someone remember almost all the names. Thats so nice by your side :)
Hope you will spend another relax time at Castello, we will be more that happy to give you our warm welcome.

Kind regards
Daniele Murabito, Family & Staff
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Josselin, France
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 September 2011

We spent four days at the Castello de San Marco, about 20 minutes south of Taormina, at the end of August, and it was simply perfect. First of all, the hotel is enclosed in a magnificently landscaped park, with stupendous views of Mt. Etna, and there is an utter peace and quiet and the sense of being in an oasis. (This was particularly rewarding since the backroads that meander up the slopes of the volcano were so harrowing-- as well as the traffic getting to, and the masses of tourists in, Taormina --that coming back to tranquility at the end of the day was a necessity!) Our room was huge, comfortable, cool, and esthetic, and everything inside and out was meticulously well-tended. There is a splendid beach, not sandy but with smooth pebbles, just steps from the hotel's gate, plus a superb swimming pool. The breakfast buffet alone was worth the trip, and 5-star dinners at the hotel's restaurant made it unnecessary to search any further in the evenings. The best, though, was the staff, who communicated such a sence of welcome and graciousness. Definitely deserves a repeat visit.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank David S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 31 August 2011

This is five star quality at four star prices. Everything about Castello di San Marco -- the accommodations, the food, the magnificent pool and the proximity to its private beach -- is exceptional. And the helpful, friendly staff bends over backwards to make your stay unforgettable. You can be sure we'll be coming back to this wonderful place again.
D&L Knapp, Cambridge, UK

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank DLKCambridge
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CastellodiSanMarco, Proprietario at Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA, responded to this review, 2 September 2011
Dra Mr and Mrs Knapp, I would like to write that you and your wife have left a pleasant memory in all of us. You are certainly people who know how to travel aronud the world and enjoy the people and the places as well.
Thank you for choosing our hotel for spending your holidays.
Hope to see you again in the next future
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA

Property: Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA
Address: Contrada San Marco 40, 95011 Calatabiano, Sicily, Italy
Phone Number:
Region: Italy > Sicily > Province of Catania > Calatabiano
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Calatabiano
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4 star — Castello di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA 4*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Castello di San Marco charming hotel & SPA, a boutique romantic hotel immersed in a luxuriant park, on the glittering Jonian sea, between Taormina and the volcano Etna, this noble castle represented a splendid example of Sicilian Baroque architecture and well describe a part of the Sicilian History. The unique beauty of Castello di San Marco is timeless and is adapted to romantic and relaxing holidays, with its tranquil exteriors and elegant, softly lit interiors.30 elegant and charming suites take place in the park surrounding main building, SPA & beauty center , fine restaurant, wine lounge with a selection of 250 fine wines, very large swimming pool, private beach, tennis court, private parking, mediterranean park. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Castello Di San Marco Charming Hotel And Spa
Castello Di San Marco Calatabiano

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