Resort Report for our holiday in Plakias, Crete, in late Sept/early Oct 2006 - an annoying holiday in many ways from beginning to end.
Olympic Holidays antics
We live not far from Luton Airport, so were pleased when Olympic Holidays accepted our booking for a flight from Luton to Iraklion. We'd been unable to book into accommodation that we'd identified in Plakias and Myrthios, so we booked Olympic's Kostas-Chrysoulla Studios where we'd stayed the previous year, and been happy with it. The tickets arrived shortly afterwards, but Olympic later reneged on the deal and switched us to an overnight flight from Gatwick – which cost us over £100 more in petrol and parking fees. Olympic refused to offer any compensation – they had a get-out clause in the small print which allows for a change of (London) airport.
The flight landed in Iraklion just before three in the morning. A long slow coach journey followed while lots of other holiday makers were dropped off at their hotels along the way. At Rethimno, Olympic Holidays' “transfer rep” suddenly announced that he was getting off and because of “language difficulties with the coach driver", he wasn't sure whether the coach would go all the way to Plakias, or if we'd be transferred to a taxi at some stage.
The coach did in fact go through to Plakias, arriving at about 0600. By this time there was just the driver and one other couple on the bus. He dropped us in the main square of Plakias with our baggage. There was no Olympic rep to see us off the coach, and no Olympic rep to meet us.
Fortunately we knew where the studios were (only a couple of hundred meters away), so we made our own way, carrying our cases through the pre-dawn deserted resort.
There was nobody at the Studios' Reception either - it was all shut up and in darkness.
We hung about for 15 minutes or so until one of the maids turned up with a mop and bucket for the early shift. She spoke no English, but we showed her the room number we'd been given (3AO), and she led us there. We finally crashed out as dawn broke for a few hours' sleep.
The Return Journey
The Olympic rep promised that there would be loads of reps available at the airport to answer any questions when we got there – but we didn't see any. Good job we didn't have any questions. We were all told to form an orderly queue outside the terminal – including one couple who's plane was due to take off in just 45 minutes time. Fortunately they ignored this instruction and legged it inside sharpish.
Our flight home should have been a late afternoon flight to Luton, arriving home mid-evening. But as already stated, Olympic Holidays had changed it to a flight leaving Crete at 0315 to Gatwick. This meant hitting the M25 at peak morning rush hour on the way home after an overnight flight. Thanks a million, Olympic Holidays.
Conclusion #1: Don't book any holidays through Olympic Holidays if you want a trouble-free journey to your destination.
We were disgusted with the condition of the studio which in many respects was not as nice as the room we'd had the previous year in a different block.
- The wooden toilet seat was disgusting – see pictures. Broken, collapsed, punctured. I'm sure the maid was doing her best to keep this clean, but it's like a cracked cup – it's a health hazard. Would you want to rest your delicate parts on this?
- There was a huge puddle of water in front of the fridge, and I mean huge. It spread over the entire kitchen area floor, and spilled over towards the bed.
- There was no towel rail in the bathroom – it was broken and hadn't been mended. See picture.
- The wall bracket for the shower rose was hanging off and unusable.
- Next to the shower was the washbasin cabinet. On top of the cabinet was an electric light. The cable connections to this light were laid on top of the cabinet at eye-height, and were copper wires twisted together and wrapped round with insulating tape. Next to the open shower (no shower-curtain), this would have been condemned under UK wiring regulations.
We presented this list of faults to the Olympic Holidays rep later that morning, and she promised to speak to Reception – subsequently she left a note under the door confirming that she had.
Nothing happened all afternoon.
Later that evening we asked at Reception when somebody would appear with a mop and bucket to clear up the puddle, and change the toilet seat. The bloke at Reception claimed to know nothing about it. I had to become increasingly insistent that the puddle needed to be cleared up, and all that achieved was the delivery of a mop and bucket to our room with the instruction to “do it yourself as it's not my job”. I did it myself.
I fixed the broken shower bracket myself with matches and my Swiss Army penknife.
I had to jury-rig a bathroom towel-rail myself with paracord.
The following morning we started again with the toilet seat, but there seemed to be no desire to address our concerns. That evening we again involved our rep, who was told that we could be moved to a different room. We stuck to our guns that we didn't want the annoyance of having to re-pack our things and move into another room (condition unknown), we wanted the toilet seat changing. Eventually the manager, Kostas, agreed to change the toilet seat, and this was done the following day. What a struggle.
By this time we'd also discovered that the shower waste was blocked, meaning that water spread over the entire bathroom floor (it was a wet room anyway, so no shower tray) to a depth of a couple of centimeters, and took the best part of an hour to finally drain away. This meant that if you wanted to use the loo after showering, you had to go paddling. It also meant that if you used the bathroom washbasin, the waste water came back up through the shower waste and spread all over the floor. Our room maid fixed this within minutes with a plunger when we pointed it out. Good for her – she showed more customer care than her boss.
The Olympic Holidays brochure also promised a hairdryer in the room, but there wasn't one. There was a TV, with five Greek channels, all of which seemed to be showing snowstorms.
Conclusion #2: Don't book the Kostas-Chrysoulla Studios in Plakias. The condition of the rooms varies from good to bad, and the management have no idea about customer care.
All this was a real shame, because apart from the above (easily-solvable) annoyances, the room wasn't bad – it was large (designed for three people), with sufficient wardrobe space. With windows in the bathroom and kitchen area you could get a through-draft to keep the temperature down. There was a dining table and chairs inside as well as a table and chairs on the west-facing balcony.
Lots of choice. We'd recommend the Apakia (smoked pork pieces) at Gorgona (although quality at Gorgona does vary). Lysseos, though pricey, is the only place to offer the delicious Cypriot dish Afelia (pork marinated with red wine and coriander). Gio Ma offers tender Kalamari and tasty Chicken Souvlaki (each piece of chicken is individually wrapped in bacon).
Unfortunately we were both confined to barracks with Montezuma's Revenge for a couple of days towards the end of the holiday, but are unable to pin down how we got it.
Mixed. While there were many lovely hot sunny calm days on the beach, we also had several torrential thunderstorms, and two days when the wind blew hard and gusty from the north, making a trip to the beach impossible. However, these two days coincided with the Montezuma's Revenge, so it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good (if you see what I mean…).
Eight or ten photos to a page, each page totalling half a megabyte or so.
A good holiday, spoiled by Olympic Holidays, the Kostas-Chrysoulla Studios and Montezuma.