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October 2013 saw us spending 7 days and nights at the Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort and Spa in Kokkini Hani in Crete. We had stayed at the Mitsis Serita Beach 5 months previously and had enjoyed it so much we wanted to check out another branch of the hotel which was only12 km away from the Serita. The 7 days at the hotel cost £470 for the both of us which was all inclusive (all food and drinks included as well as a mini bar in the room). This price was somewhat more expensive than the £200 we had paid as a couple when we stayed at the Serita earlier in the year for the same number of days.
My apology in advance as this is a very long review.
Previously having booked through a site offering flight and hotel package but with Ryanair, we had no intention of even using Ryanair air again so booked our flights with Easyjet and the hotel separately using the hotel’s website to book the hotel directly. It was easy to navigate the Mitsis website and make the confirmed booking and received a confirmation email within minutes to say our booking had been accepted. We were advised at the time that it was a non-refundable booking and credit card details were taken at the time of booking – approximately 7 weeks before the actual holiday. We had booked a garden view room as this is what we had at the Mitsis Serita and were hoping for a similar standard room. At the time of booking I gave my credit card details and was advised that the booking was non-refundable. At this stage I assumed my credit card had been debited.
Our flight having landed 40 minutes early we arrived at the hotel just after 2pm. With a check in time of 2pm and check out time of midday we thought we might be asked to wait for a room in case rooms were still being cleaned but this was not the case. My credit card was requested as they said my payment hadn't been previously taken and they didn't have a record of the number which I thought was weird considering I had been advised it was non-refundable. The receptionist gave us our room key and said we could go in and get some lunch and a porter would deliver our cases to our room which was a nice touch. We were given a small leaflet with details and prices for the spa with the restaurant opening times hand written on the leaflet which I thought was a bit odd – for a hotel advertised as 5 star I would have expected some proper printed literature about the hotel facilities not what was basically an advert to use (and pay for) the spa facilities. I'd add here that there was no literature in the room either about the hotel's facilities.
I asked the receptionist if our room was a garden view as per my booking and he advised that it wasn’t but we had been given a "partial" sea view room. I didn’t argue about this as I thought a sea view room might be just as good if not better than a garden view room.
We were given our wrist bands to show we were on an all inclusive package which were black bands. We didn’t realise at the time that there were different types of bands as most people we say were wearing black wrist bands.
Rating: 3 out of 5
We found it a bit of a trek to our room and were glad that the porter had taken across our 2 suitcases and cabin bags over for us, especially as we were up one flight of stairs. As we entered the room we were slightly surprised to see the colour scheme. The bedspread was bright red as was the headboard and curtains top the side of the bed. Some might have found this quaint; we thought it was just too bright. We recalled the pleasant pastel colours at the Mitsis Serita and felt a bit disappointed at this colour scheme. There was a CRT TV on a cabinet which housed the mini bar in which we found 2 bottles of water and 8 bottles of fizzy drinks including Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite and a fizzy lemon drink. On the dresser was a bottle of red wine with 2 tumblers with a card saying “compliments of the Mitsis Rinela” which was a nice touch.
The wardrobe had sufficient space for 2 weeks worth of clothes although we had to request extra hangers as there weren’t enough for our clothes. There were bedside cabinets either side of the two single beds which had been pushed together to look like a double bed with a double bedspread (remember the red bedspread I mentioned) but when we lifted the bedspread the two beds had separate sheets tucked in. In the wardrobe was also a safe (which we didn’t use), spare pillows and blankets and a couple of bathrobes. We did not have any slippers provided as had been the case at the Mitsis Serita and one of the bathrobes was rather worn and the belt loops were torn.
As it was quite warm we went straight for the air-conditioning and thankfully it was really easy to figure out how to switch it on and it was very cool within moments asde from the fact that it was extremely noisy.
We opened the balcony door which was double glazed to keep outside noise out and our hearts sank as we saw the view from our balcony which was a derelict looking building in front of us. It really wasn’t the view we were expecting but as we looked to the left we could see the sea and to the right was a view of the mountains. We just were not impressed with the derelict looking place right in front of us. Still we thought we wouldn’t bother making a fuss about this and didn’t bother to ask for our room to be changed (which was just as well as we were later to find out).
There was a large chaise lounge against one wall which we actually just used to keep our suitcases on to unpack and a dresser with a large mirror to get ready in front of. A handy drawer in the dresser was perfect to tidy away hair straighteners, phone and camera chargers, etc, during the week. The room was spotless and looked like it had not long ago been repainted. Although it seems smoking is permitted in the rooms (having read the fire evacuation sign on the door it was suggested that guests did not smoke in the beds) we only smoked out on the balcony so the room did not smell of stale smoke for us or for the next guests.
By one of the beds was a radio on the wall, we tried this a few times but it didn’t work and we asked the guests in the rooms either side of us and they said they had been unable to get theirs to work either. It wasn’t really an issue as we mostly slept in the room or got ready to go to meals or sun bathe, etc, so the lack of a radio was not a real issue but it just seemed weird having it there if it doesn’t work. The TV seemed
Pictures of Mitsis Rinela Beach Resort & Spa, Kokkini Hani
to have 5 or 6 channels but we only watched CNN and BBC World News a few times during our stay.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The bathroom was spotless but rather small. Our bathtub in the Mitsis Rinela was an improvement on the one at the Mitsis Serita in that it actually had a shower guard so you could have a shower without getting the floor completely soaked but there was no ventilation at all and this meant the bathroom was always hot and a few times we noticed some really unpleasant pungent aromas in the bathroom as well as in the corridor outside our room and in our block.
There were good quality shower gels and shampoos provided as well as lovely bath and hand soaps available and clean fresh bath and hand towels as well as a floor mat.
The power shower was great and we had no complaints about this or the toiletries provided which were topped up regularly as well as toilet rolls and fresh towels provided.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The maid came along each morning or afternoon depending on when we left the room to service the room. The maid on our block was an absolute delight, every time we saw her we got a bright and enthusiastic “Kali Mera” (Good Morning) from her and she was so happy that we returned the greeting in Greek and always thanked her in Greek as well for servicing our room.
Our mini bar was topped up every other day but after they topped it up with more soft drinks (and advised that they couldn’t provide diet colas) and some bottles of beer, we rang reception and asked if we could just have the fridge topped up with bottled water, they were happy to do this and gave us 10 bottles every other day instead which suited us perfectly.
Rating: 5 out of 5
On the lower ground floor where the spa was situated there was an internet area which had 3 PCs available for internet use. The whole time we were there; there was only 1 working machine, two of them didn’t have a mouse and although I am confident enough to use a PC without a mouse (knowing the keyboard commands to get around the screen) things like Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox were several versions out of date and I didn’t really want to be sitting there updating the hotels systems. The only working PC was often very busy so it was difficult to get on even to quickly check that our flight was due to leave on time or check emails, etc.
There was free wi-fi in the reception area but this was rather hit and miss as to whether you could get a connection or not so often I just gave up. I was expecting several important emails but even using my own mobile internet it was difficult to get reception in most parts of the hotel. This seemed to be an issue for quite a few people we met during our time there.
Rating: 2 out of 5
From the very first meal we had on arrival at the hotel and every other time we went in for breakfast lunch or dinner, we couldn’t complain about the service or the food. You’re greeted by extremely pleasant staff members at the door and I think they recognise when someone has just checked in as a staff member will escort you to a table, be it a manager or a waiter/waitress. Always we were greeted with a lovely friendly smile and every single member of staff in the main restaurant were completely on the ball at all time. Unlike the Mitsis Serita where you often had to wait 10-20 minutes to get your drinks delivered to your table, the wait here at the Rinela was literally a few minutes. There were always dozens of cheerful and eager to help waiting staff available and unlike some restaurants these guys were always looking around at the tables to see if guests were trying to make eye contact to request more drinks or cutlery. I couldn’t fault these guys at all.
What really amazed us was when guests had babies that were crying whilst their parents were trying to eat, staff members would come over within moments and offer to hold the baby and bounce them a little to soothe them. We thought this was a really nice touch and they all seemed genuinely to want to help out the parents with children crying or playing up – we had read a review on Trip Advisor saying children cried non-stop during meals, we didn’t find this at all during our stay.For anyone who has stayed here and said there wasn’t enough food variety I would really question if these people like to complain just for the sake of it. This is one of best restaurants we’ve come across in an all inclusive holiday. There seemed to be literally everything to accommodate all food tastes for lunch and dinner such as:
Different soups every day with croutons or pasta or peas or sweetcorn to add as required
Delicious fresh white and brown bread in unlimited supply and butter and margarine
Various pastas, creamy and tomato based, veg and non-veg
Chicken (cooked in several different ways)
Mousaka (veg and non-veg)
Grilled and cooked fish – various types every day
Vegetable curries – various types
Numerous vegetable dishes
Potato chips (thinly sliced and delicious)
Pork kebab (similar to lamb or chicken doner kebabs we get here on a skewer)
Various sliced hams
Several varieties of cheese
Full salad bar including black and green olives, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, diced carrots, beetroot, and numerous sauces, cold pastas (veg and non-veg)
Huge variety of desserts including fresh fruit (green melon, red melon, plums, oranges, pears, apples), jelly, various cakes and gateaux, Greek sweet treats, various ice creams, freshly made pancakes with honey, chocolate sauce, etc
And so many other items I can’t recall right now
Breakfast was also a grand affair with brown and white bread for toast, omelettes for which you could choose your own fillings, bacon (every other day), sausage meats, baked beans, scrambled eggs (3 varieties), poached eggs, cold hams and cheeses, fresh white and brown bread, cereals, fruits, jams and marmalades, pancakes, etc.During breakfast you could serve yourself to soft drinks from the machine but the juices were quite unpleasant – orange, strawberry, apple and grapefruit juice were all available but these always seemed to come out of the machine WARM so we stuck to water from the machine as we don’t drink tea or coffee. Coffee was served at the table by the waiting staff and tea could be collected – and there was a variety of teas available which seemed very popular with other guests.
We did notice that the more popular items for breakfast, lunch and dinner seemed to have queues but there the staff served the busier areas fairly efficiently. We thought the chefs were fantastic, as you walked around with a plate deciding what to eat they would grin at you and call you to come over and try their food which we thought was really sweet. They were ALL cheerful and along with the rest of the waiting staff they all were very entertaining and welcoming to all guests, especially to children.
To eat in the Chinese restaurant you need to book a day in advance. This is a separate restaurant in the main restaurant which has about 12 tables so space is limited. You can order a soup, appetizer, main course, side dish and dessert. When we visited we had chicken and sweet corn soup (which was unbelievably sweet so we didn’t finish it), Teriyaki chicken wings, beef spring rolls, chicken noodles, egg fried rice and pork in black bean sauce, the food was pretty good (aside from the soup) and portion sizes were sufficient for me, although hubby would have preferred larger portions. The service here was not as good as the main restaurant (e.g. they took ages to deliver our drinks – water). We didn’t feel rushed as we dined in the Chinese restaurant but we didn’t feel it was good enough for us to book in there another night during our stay
The Taverna is an outdoor restaurant is run by Nikos, a fabulously cheerful little man, who’s also been working there for years. When we told him we had met his sister at the Mitsis Serita earlier in the year and how we had adored her so much we wanted to take her home with us, he treated us like long lost family members. We didn’t have a meal here but sat and had a couple of drinks. All the staff members here were extremely friendly too and several of them came over to say hello to us and introduce themselves. The food served at the Taverna is mostly the same as the main restaurant but in addition to this they make fresh pizzas for you with your chosen ingredients.
NB: if you have an early or late flight you can request a packed lunch the day before at reception and the hotel will provide you a meal which we didn’t need on this trip but which includes sandwiches, cake, fruit and water bottles.
Rating: 5 out of 5
~SPA AND GYM~
We didn’t use the spa or gym as this was a paid access area. You couldn’t use the hydrotherapy pool unless you paid for a massage which was being advertised for 45 Euros which we weren’t interested in. The gym was apparently 15 Euros to use per day but we heard from another guest that the gym was like a sweat pit and was around 5ft by 4ft in dimension. During our week we only came across one couple who used the spa and they said they managed to get their massages for 30 Euros each.
I was not impressed that a 5 star hotel chose to charge guests to use the gym especially when we heard how small and uncomfortable it was so my rating is reflecting my overall impression of the facility which you might consider unfair.
Rating: 1 out of 5
The hotel has its own private beach area sectioned off with deck chairs and umbrellas which was quite busy every day. Even though there are signs asking people not to reserve deck chairs and umbrellas (as with most resorts like this) guests didn’t take any notice of this and as with other resorts such as this, there is never anyone around to enforce this. People tend to reserve their deck chairs with a towel early in the morning and sometimes not turn up till 2 or 3pm which is quite unfair but that’s how it goes.
The beach was a lovely sandy beach and the sea proved very popular for swimming. My husband went out several days for a few hours and thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s a small pool bar at the beach which serves lagers and soft drinks and life guards were always evident to ensure no one got into trouble. Here you could hire equipment to go canoeing, scuba diving, banana boat rides, jet ski-ing.
The hotel has 3 swimming pools, one main one and two smaller ones. One of the smaller ones was at the back of one of the blocks and the people on that block on the ground floor had their balconies right by the pool so they could literally come out of their balcony and get into the pool. This was the smallest pool of the 3.
The medium sized pool was a rectangular shape and we only visited this pool once. The pool bar here was run by George who was quite an amusing character who has apparently been working there for years.
The main pool is where we spent most of our time during the days. We didn’t have any issues finding free deckchairs here and there was a fully serviced bar here which served all the drinks as available in the main bar including wines, beers, spirits, liqueurs, cocktails and hot drinks as well as ice cream and various Toasties – the Toasties were very popular and didn’t seem to run out, everything was well stocked and we found ourselves skipping lunch for several days and just stuck to snacks by the pool.
The bars were open from 10:00 to midnight every day and until about 5.30pm you can just go to the bar and order your drinks which were completely unlimited. All the spirits and liqueurs you can think of were available with 7 or 8 cocktails too. There were also wines and beers and various coffees such as espresso, latte, cappuccino, etc, available. The only thing to be wary of here is that they don’t use spirit measures – what we’d have as a double is unheard of here at Rinela – the shots they poured seemed to be the equivalent of 3 double shots here in the UK and we found ourselves constantly having to top up our drinks with mixers. We saw a few people the worse for wear due to not realising how strong the drinks were. By the end of the 2nd day the staff were quite used to hubby and me going back to the bar with our drinks and asking for more soda or orange juice or cola, etc.
After about 5.30pm it’s waiter service only at the bar and you have to place your drinks order with the waiter. We thought this was a bit weird and sometimes you’d have to wait quite a time for your drink to be brought to you but it wasn’t too bad. It was certainly quicker than the waiter drinks service at the Mitsis Serita where we’d stayed earlier in the year. All the bar staff (bar one) were very cheerful and friendly. We just found one waitress here to look rather miserable all of the time and several other guests mentioned this to us too saying they’d not seen her smile once.
We had no issues finding somewhere to sit in the inside bar areas or out on the terrace during our stay. As we got to know quite a few people during our stay it was always easy to find someone to sit with and pass time after meals or late into the evening until the bar closed.
The pool bars are open from 10am to 6pm each day.
Although the animation team working there during our stay might not have been the most professional team we’ve come across, they have to be given full points for their enthusiasm. I wasn’t overly impressed with the evening entertainment they provided aside from our last night there when they had a “guess the celebrity” and “guess the song” quiz which was great fun, but the entertainment they provided during the day couldn’t be faulted.
From memory the team consisted of Luigi and Aba (a married couple), Daniel, Eva and Jack, there was also Paulo who went home to Italy a couple of days before we left. These guys were lovely and had boundless enthusiasm, including everyone in their activities that showed an interest and remembered people’s names really well but they didn’t harass people who didn’t want to be involved. The children seemed to really enjoy their entertainment including the mini disco events.
There was yoga in the mornings and water polo a day, darts, table tennis, beach volleyball and dance classes which all proved very popular, these events were carried out in the morning and afternoons to keep those occupied who wanted to join in. They tried to sell us t-shirts for 15 Euros which we didn’t buy and we weren’t impressed when we were asked to buy raffle tickets for 10 Euros or bingo tickets for 10 Euros. I’ve never been to an all inclusive resort where they make you pay to play bingo.
The animation team carried out the evening entertainment every other day and on the evenings they weren’t on stage there were cover singers (who were quite hit and miss to be honest) and one day there was a Greek dance troupe.
Rating: 4 out of 5
~OTHER STUFF WORTH A MENTION~
There’s a shop on site which is open from about 09:00 to 23:00 which sells cigarettes, sweets, crisps and snacks, cold drinks, souvenirs (such as fridge magnets, post cards, calendars, shampoos, sun screen, beach towels, clothing, swimwear, books, etc). There are a couple of tennis courts in the hotel grounds and the car parking facilities seemed large enough to easily accommodate the resident’s requirements. In reception is a desk from you can arrange a hire car starting at 50 Euros a day.
Right outside the resort is a Taverna bar/restaurant which is open late every night so those who wish to eat late or drink even later can pop across till the early hours of the morning. The hotel is situated on what looks like the local high street, so shopping addicts can get their fix right outside and within a few minutes walk of the resort and there are regular buses going past to take you to local attractions.
One of the negative points for the hotel and many others we met during our stay brought this up, especially older guests, was that there are no toilet facilities in the bar/restaurant area on the same level or near the pool area. Communal toilets are on the lower ground floor where the spa is located and as soon as you start walking down the stairs it’s like you’re walking into the sauna. From the pool area you have to go up some stairs to access the toilets. The hotel overall does not appear to be very disabled friendly.
We noted that some guests wore different coloured wrist bands to ours and we were advised that these were guests who did not have mini bars in their rooms – we were apparently classed as VIP guests (according to the chap who re-stocked our mini bars).
Next door to the spa was also a hair-dressers which seemed to have several customers having their hair done during the day when I ventured past.
Although we were not overly happy with the view from our room, on our last day after we checked out of our room at midday we left our luggage in the luggage room and a couple we’d made friends with kindly offered to let us shower and change in their room before we left to catch our evening flight. We noticed their room was smaller than ours and their a/c unit was dripping water onto the floor and really not very effective. Also their bathroom had a small window which I was warned NOT to open as it seemed to lead to a septic tank and our friends said that I would pass out from the stench that would fill the bathroom if I opened the window. They had a garden view room so when we discovered this was the situation with their garden view room and the rest of the rooms around that part of the hotel we were a bit relieved that we didn’t have one of these rooms. At least our a/c was very effective, even if it did sound like a freight train.
We found that the hotel had about 50% Russian occupancy and there was even a fur shop on site (which I did not care to enter). The rest of the guests were mixture of Brits, French and Germans with a few Italians as well and a handful of other nationalities. We noted that we didn’t come across any Spanish guests - obviously they have enough sun of their own back home *grin*. We appreciated that there weren’t too many Brits around as this meant that you really feel you’re away from home and we had a lovely time getting to know people from different countries.
When we checked out on our last day we were able to leave our luggage in the luggage room and continue having meals until the evening and drinks as we weren’t asked to return our all inclusive wrist bands.
A doctor visits the hotel every day in the morning for an hour or so. There is also a laundry service, a TV lounge and bicycle rental available. There is no iron available on site at the hotel which we thought was very strange for a supposed 5 star resort.
Mitsis Rinela was the first Mitsis hotel in Crete and has been in operation for around 20 years. It has 440 rooms and bungalows more than half of which have been renovated in recent years. The hotel is around 12km from the airport and take 15-20 by taxi or bus. We paid 20 Euros from Heraklion airport to the hotel and 25 Euros when returning to the airport by taxi. Reception are happy to book a taxi for you.
My overall rating of the Mitsis Rinela Beach Hotel and Spa is a decent 4 out of 5 stars. Although we enjoyed our stay, we did overall prefer our stay at the Mitsis Serita earlier in the year and we’re unlikely to return to the Rinela as we’d like to try other branches of the brand such as the Laguna (also in Crete) and branches in Rhodes and Kos.