The Dionysos Sport & Spa is a favourite among Russian holidaymakers. The Russian style is highly visible in the interior decoration, and the establishment attempts to blend references to Greek mythology (seen in the name of the hotel!) with the standard level of comfort in the region. The hotel is perfect for families and couples, as long as they can stand the constant bustle.
The hotel is close to Side, in the tourist region of Colakli, some 45 minutes from the international airport of Antalya. Expect about the same time to reach the historical centre of the city. However, Side is only a twenty-minute walk away.
As with all other establishments in the region, the guards are rather strict. If you haven't come with a tour operator or a shuttle service, remember to carry your booking voucher with you so as to avoid having to argue with an overzealous guard who doesn't have a perfect command of English.
It's difficult not to notice the reference to the Greek God after whom the hotel is named, as seen in the huge (fake) Greek statue that welcomes you upon your arrival in the reception area. For this recently built hotel, located on the coast between Belek and Side, the architect has chosen Greek mythology-inspired decor: fake columns, copper and decor that is "reminiscent of Mount Olympus" (lamps in the shape of bunches of grapes, the deity-inspired names of the communal areas...). However, the Greek touch is limited to decorative elements.
The rest of the hotel is relatively modern and offers a good level of comfort, of the same standard as the other establishments in the region: sports facilities, a huge lagoon swimming pool at the back of the hotel, kids club, colourful slides in a small water park, and a well-being centre (fitness centre and massage parlours).
During the high season the hotel falls victim to its own success and it's hard to escape the crowds. Furthermore, there is music playing constantly. The hotel relies heavily on its entertainment team which is tasked with providing a joyful atmosphere around the pool all day long (with music and games).
Children enjoy access to a paddling pool (for the youngest guests), long slides and the main swimming pool. The latter is huge and extends sinuously behind the hotel and provides all sorts of secluded nooks. In its centre there is a small archipelago of islands with palm trees and fountains. The place is enjoyable but very noisy, what with the children diving in and the music blaring from the nearby stage.
We did appreciate the indoor pool, behind a bay window (dome and windows), which is linked to the outdoor pool.
The rooms are some of the nicest places in the hotel. The corridors have the most absurd layout (which is still a total mystery to our journalist): the lifts don't stop at every floor, and not all of the corridors are adjoining. Therefore, in order to get to your room, you must take a specific lift - and don't get it wrong - even if you feel as though you're heading in the right direction. However, once you're accustomed to this layout, the rooms provide a haven of peace. They are luminous and spacious, and have a huge comfy mattress, which will help guests overcome some of the stranger choices of decor, such as the lamps in the shape of bunches of grapes! The decor is the same in every room, with light tones for once. However, the view is to be chosen with care. Try to avoid the rooms on the side of the building, as these look out onto the street and in some cases afford a perfect view of the second part of the building, and therefore of the rooms opposite. This is very reminiscent of urban life. In our opinion, the best views (not exactly perfect though) are the following: the rooms that look out onto the swimming pool (with a panoramic view), but the occupants of these rooms will have to put up with loud music during the day and until 1:00 am, or the side rooms that look out onto relatively open areas of land (which are quieter). In brief, there is no sea view, as it is too far away.
As for the suites, they don't have much to offer. The furnishing is identical (they still feature the grape-bunch lamps), but the general layout isn't exactly a success. When faced with the single beds, the armchairs and the table all crammed into the sitting-room area of the second bedroom, one rather gets the impression that the designer, unable to make up his/her mind, decided to include everything here. Understandably, it feels a little cramped.
We did appreciate the size of the rooms and their light tones.
We weren't impressed with the view of arid land or of the rooms in the building opposite, or of the swimming pool and all of its entertainment!
The Dionysos offers a wide selection of restaurants; quite fitting really considering the deity after whom the place is named. The main buffet restaurant has an indoor section and an outdoor section by the pool-side. It offers all sorts of specialities: meat, fish, cooked and raw vegetables and yogurt sauces. The choice is varied, but the quality is inferior to that of other buffets we tasted. It's not the food of the "all-inclusive" formula that will make you come to this hotel.
Compensating for this though, the hotel also has five other a la carte restaurants: Mexican, Turkish, Italian, French restaurants, and a beach restaurant that mainly serves fish. The first four offer a rather pleasant setting, and each follows the theme of the cuisine on offer. They're not very big (30 to 40 seats) and are an interesting option if you want to escape the crowd of the main restaurant.
The "Café Mozart" and its pastries, the "Café Davidoff" with its cigars and spirits, and the wine bar are the places with the most character. The latter two establishments are not included in the formula, and therefore come at an extra cost.
We did appreciate the swimming pool bar with its seats submerged in the pool. The concept is not very original, but is quite enjoyable when the weather is too hot!
The beach is far from the hotel which is a major snag: you should expect at least a 10-minute walk to get there, following a small road that offers virtually no shade. Finally, you arrive at a sombre but rather spacious beach. Deck-chairs are lined up as per the local fashion, under sunshades. This makes for a very stylish layout, but you'll find that you're always a little too close to your neighbour. There is a beach bar, a water sports' centre and a beach-volley pitch nearby. There are some nicer beaches along the same coastline.
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