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Playaballena Spa Hotel
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Reviewed 28 July 2017

As our other two holidays in Playa Senator hotels, the PlayaBallena is an All inclusive 4 star hotel right next to the beach...a great beach.Like most in Cadiz the beach next to the hotel is lovely shallow water and very fine sand.
Getting there:
From our home in Gibraltar to Hotel it was a 1.30 mins drive after we crossed the frontier.Very easy to find hotel (our Gps was exact to the metre no missed turnings)as its in a very modern road next to a very popular beach.
There are over 100 parkings just outside the hotel,but be warned they are on Orange(Naranja)marked parkings which are not free and cost around €1.50 per hour during summer period.
Every other parking you find without the orange markings are free but they are to the right of the hotels main exit.
TIP:Once you arrive and are checking in ask staff at reception to make you VIP Card members(its free)and apart from 10% discount in the Hotel shop(great cheap gifts)you will get 25% off the hotel parking which is really worth it as for 7 days we paid €9.75 per day,€68.25 total instead of the normal €13 per day.Worth it as you can drive out any time to see Rota,Chipiona etc and know you will have a parking space when you get back.Most parkings are Covered so your car is in the shade.

Reception:Not a lot to say here great fast check in and free spa for the 4 of us as we were past guests of a Playa hotel.
They are very helpful staff at reception and they are always ready to help with luggage,information etc etc.

Rooms:
Bit dated,in need of a basic overhaul with mattresses needing change at least in our room 3055 but not a major problem.
Same as our past experiences.Nice, roomy with 2 double beds(four of us,2 kids 10,14 and 2 adults)mini fridge hair dryer and a bath.Nice terrace facing a nearby golf course.We needed a iron as 15 mins after calling reception we were brought one for the 7 nights(free).
Room is cleaned to a good standard every morning around 10am.If you are 4 like us ask for extra Gel,Shampoo,toilet paper as you will need more than what is supplied every morning.
The corridors leading to the rooms are lovely and you think you are in a Cruise ship as they are very colourful and long,they are very clean.
Most rooms are very close to the swimming pool and not too far from reception/dining area.

All Inclusive:
People if you are in doubt about the All inclusive and thinking of a lower board,do think well about it as in our case it is one of our main reasons for going to Playa Senator Hotels..one of the best All Inclusive's around.
Included are all drinks you can think off(except few brands or cocktails etc),which means you can have unlimited pepsi/beer/coffee/tea all day from morning to after midnight.Remember a pepsi or beer is over €2!!
All available bagged crisps are included.All ice cream tubs nestle branded are included.Slush puppies all included both non and alcoholic ones,they are all unlimited.Believe me Playa Ballena like most of cadiz can get very warm and a cold drink will certainly help and quite a few are consumed during the day.I calculated over €600 in drinks for the four of us for the 7 days,without counting the large amount of crisps and ice cream tubs we consumed.
Every day for All Inclusive guests you have the option of a tea time snack.This is collected next to reception arean on a little counter.From 5 till 7pm you can have a sweet pastry+roll+fruit per person,although you can repeat if you want as they dont really stop you.We used to get second fruits at tea time they always had melon or watermelon.They also de kids puree fruit every afternoon which is included.

Breakfast/Lunch/ Dinner:
Breakfast's in Playa Senator hotels are to a very high standard but i have for years now complained at the lack of Baked Beans at breakfast...how can you have a full english breakfast without baked beans.I have time after time made this complaint to the hotels i have been to and still no beans in sight..lol.
For me its deal breaker because its an essential part of the british culture....full english breakfast.
Apart from this you can still have plenty of bacon,eggs,spanish churros ,bread,salads,pancakes etc etc plus made to order omelettes.Again service is excellent and staff are very attentive and helpful.

Lunch/Dinner:
As from 1.30pm you can enjoy a lovely buffet lunch,with plenty of mains to choose from.All types of fish and meats.Again made to order omelettes,fried eggs etc etc.Fresh cut chips( a first for us in any hotel we have been to)make the difference...egg and chips wow,lol.
Deserts are great and selection of fruit is adequate.There is a fridge to the right as you enter the dining hall full of yogurts for the little ones.Ice cream also available near the desert counter.
All drinks are brought to your table in a fast manner.Quick tip order two of both(if you drink a lot during lunch) as it can get busy and orders can take longer.
Remember no swim wear allowed for lunch or supper,unless covered by a t shirt/dress etc.

Special Dining:
Hotel has a paying a la carte restaurant just next to the beach exit.
If you are a guest you can swap one of your nights for a free great dining experience there..a la carte.Its totally worth it.The fish is fresh and the pizzas for the kids are excellent.Its a starter,main and a desert per person,if A/I guests drinks are included.
The sole and the Grilled squid are to die for.The sirloin steak in pepper sauce was lovely.


Pool:
Great pool lovely shallow areas for seniors and kids,with excellent water slided for our kids.Max 14 to get on the slides.3 or more lifeguards all day long looking after the guests.Always very clean and very surprised to find sun beds every day even though we used to arrive at pool after 11am.
Recommend the palm trees area right near the pool bar as the shade is great plus there is plenty of sun to get some rays..also away from all the noisy people and activities at the pool.
The pool bar is open from morning until pool closes at 8pm.If you are a All Inclusive guest all drinks,crisps etc are free.
Tip:If you are not a A/I guest all snacks and special bbq they do at 1pm is also free for you as they dont ask for your room card/key.These are place on the actual bar counter to the right on small plastic plates and you just have to pick them up.If they are cooking something special like paella or Sardines(when i was there on Thursday)you just queue up but no need to be A/I guest.

Activites:
Did not participate on any but i can tell you they do various activities for adults every day at the pool and around the hotel.There is a board were you can check weekly activities.They do pool exercise dancing every day morning and afternoons to burn all that food..lol
There is a kids club which your kids can join,ask reception when you arrive.Keeps the little ones very busy and entertained.
Mini golf,ping pong etc also available for free.

Night Entertainment:
Mostly done by entertainment staff.They do their own shows which are very entertaining.These are all done in the hall next to the hotels first and main bar.Seats are limited so if you arrive after 10pm forget about sitting to see the show as it gets packed.There was a magic show on friday well worth watching.The lion king show on Saturday was also great.

Surroundings:
Not a lot to see in Playa Ballena,Lovely beaches if thats your thing but hardly no shops or restaurants nearby.Still its what one wants to rest and enjoy the pool the location is beautiful and perfect for this.
There is a Mercadona 15 mins walking to the right as you exit the hotel.There is small fair also to the right of the hotel great for kids after dinner.
A small kiosk is located next to the fair for sweets and ice cream.There is also another kiosk just as you exit the rear of the hotel that leads to the beach.Ice creams there are cheaper than in the Hotel..even then hotel prices are not bad for ice creams.

Visiting Rota:17 mins from hotel.
In our view not worth the visit.Not a lot to do or buy as the main shopping street calle Charco is very limited as most shops have been sold and are empty.If you do decide to go park in Parking La Merced safe and cheap underground parking(check them out online, GPS will take you straight there).

Visiting Chipiona:15 mins from hotel.
Arrived saw Rocio Jurado's monument and went back to hotel.My mother in law wanted to visit her tomb which is a tourist attraction in Chipiona.

Tip for shopping:
Buy you gifts at the hotel shop.Great selection of gifts to take to family and friends,Keyrings,mugs,magnets etc etc and 10% off if you get the VIP card when you arrive at hotel.

Overall:
Pros:
Very good holiday to relax and enjoy the pool and to get a tan.
Great All Inclusive board type ,many drinks and snacks to choose from and all included.Very clean hotel.Lovely staff.
Cons:
Nothing to see around the hotel apart from the beaches.Rooms bit dated and in need of a basic overhaul.Bit of paint would help.
Baked beans,,,please!!

WE have enjoyed our stay and will return one day.It is a lovely hotel with many palm trees and great open areas.Pool is fantastic and the sun beds are plentiful.

Dont know some of these bad reviews about late restaurant opening hours...they open and close at the normal time most hotels in Spain do.
Bad reviews about food again dont know as during our 7 nights the quality was very good...yes not too many cooks on hand but i never waited more than 5 mins for an omelette and 1 min for an egg...hotel was packed during this time.
Our third Playa Senator hotel visit in three years,first it was in Almuñeca then Huelva and now PlayaBallena in Rota.
Great qualitylike the first two. Well done Playa Hotels.

  • Stayed: July 2017, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank GlennRGibraltar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
P-Stor, Gerente at Playaballena Spa Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 22 August 2017

Dear guest,

Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Only through the comments of our guests, we are able to know about their experiences. Our ultimate aim is to give our guests even greater comfort than they may find AT HOME.

We are at your full disposal and hope that you return really soon to Playa Ballena so you can enjoy again all our services.

Yours sincerely,
Luis Rossell
Playaballena Spa Hotel

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 July 2017 via mobile

Tips for future guests:
Skip the "todoincluido" unless you plan on drinking a lot of cheap alcohol. We'll likely just pay-as-we-go next time (unless they update their market segmentation/pricing).
$60 flower/bottle service gets you fake plastic petals. Suites (which are very nice) come with 2 bottles and have nice real flowers outside.
They don't give a helpful map or guide or schedule or rules or information of how the place works, so ask lots of questions. Sometimes you won't get the right answer until you get to the 3rd or 4th person (even if you're Spanish like us). Staff is all very friendly and do their best. The list of activities is on the wall past the main office; you need to ask where each activity starts and ends. Beach towels are controlled by reception, no extra costs if you have a suite.
The beach sand is both rocky and muddy, and just a tiny strip at high tide. Lots still enjoy it as it is very flat and good for kids (shallow, no big waves). 15m car ride to Puerto Santa Maria's outstanding beach.
The pool is hands down fantastic. Kid's whirlpool is by the waterslide.
Spa is a nice bathhouse. Give yourself at least 1.5hrs to try all the pools.
Pharmacy opens at 6pm (hours not posted at time of writing). Beach store on corner opens sooner and has some necessities.
Compare with nearby Hotel Barceló.
Have fun!

Stayed: July 2017, travelled with family
Thank tmonster1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
P-Stor, Gerente at Playaballena Spa Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 22 August 2017

Dear guest,

We thank you for your kind feedback and sharing your impressions with other readers . We are pleased that you enjoyed your stay and were satisfied with our service. We would be pleased to welcome you back at our hotel.

Yours sincerely,
Luis Rossell
Playaballena Spa Hotel

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2017

Very nice but big hotel directly at the sea, only separated through green lanes for pedestrians and cyclists above sea level. Wonderful view at sunset. Beautiful beach for walking, sun bathing. Swimming during high tide better if the waves are calm. Big golf links just right at the hotel. During weekdays in low season calm but at the weekends crowded by families. Nice rooms with big cupboards and spacious bathroom. I think a four star hotel should offer an electric kettle in the room. Nice pool site.The buffet is more or less every day the same but with a variety to choose. No atmosphere at the restaurant area. . In low season there aren't any open restaurants nearby, only the beach restaurants up to 5p.m. The bar also only offers small tapas during lunch time.

Room Tip: Sea side, pool side or garden side possibilities. Depends on what you prefer.
  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled solo
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank 8christinek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
P-Stor, Gerente at Playaballena Spa Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 22 August 2017

Dear guest,

Thank you very much for your review as it is the best way to improve the quality of our service and know your perception of our product and even more important, the quality and kindness of our service. It is a pleasure for us to know that our location contribute positively your stay.

The whole Playa Ballena team is at your disposal and we hope you come back to visit us on another occasion. Meanwhile we will keep working to achieve all our guests enjoy their stay with us.

Kind regards,
Luis Rossell
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 May 2017

We used this lovely hotel as a Base to watch the Jerez Moto GP. Extremely quiet and chilled in a perfect beach location. Stunning beach here and at nearby Rota. Perfect for Jerez, Cadiz and Sevilla. The staff were brilliant and although they don't speak very much English this was never a problem. The food was varied and always fresh and steak etc cooked to order. The pools are super clean, the gardens are attractive and the whole complex is immaculately clean. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone and the best bit is the English don't seem to have found the Costa Ballena coast yet which remains very Spanish. Thank you to all the staff for a wonderful stay.

  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Yzf250
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
P-Stor, Gerente at Playaballena Spa Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 22 August 2017

Dear guest,

We are happy to read that you felt very comfortable in our hotel. Thanks for sharing your opinion with us about your stay because it´s very useful for other guests who wish to stay in our hotel.

We are at your full disposal and hope that you return really soon to Playa Ballena so you can enjoy again all our services.

Yours sincerely,
Luis Rossell
General Manager

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2017 via mobile

High recommended hotel.. Close to the coast.. Good activities in swimming pool.. Fit for family have children.. They will spend very nice vacation there.. Better to chose Half borad reservation as there is no more choices of restaurants around there.. The buffet is very good with a lot of variety

Stayed: August 2016, travelled with family
1  Thank SaadSennawi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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