A dream combination of culture and comfort in the TUI Blue For Families Atlantica Marmari Beach Hotel, Kos
With warm golden sand oozing between my toes I embrace the cooling sea breeze and gaze over the shimmering turquoise Aegean, the island of Kalymnos in the near distance to my left, the Turkish coast to my right. Behind me? A luxurious idyll in Marmari, Kos, that we would call home for the next seven days.
The TUI Blue for Families Atlantica Marmari Beach is one of TUI's premium collection hotels, and from the outset it's not difficult to see why.
Nestled in the north-west of the island in the small resort of Marmari, the hotel is an impressive sprawling complex exuding quality at every turn, immaculately clean and tidy with beautiful accommodation blocks in delicious pastel shades adorned with pretty flora and hanging greenery, accessed via ornate crazy-paved walkways with plenty of ramps for wheelchairs, prams and buggies.
Arriving on a typically balmy Greek evening my family and I passed the night-lit azure pools and manicured lawns en route to our rooms and on opening the doors were immediately caressed by the near-silent air conditioning which was to be a more than welcome friend during our holiday.
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The room decor is ultra modern, with flatscreen TV, tea/coffee making facilities including a Nespresso machine, hairdryer, complimentary safe and fridge. The twin-headed shower in our stylish, contemporary bathroom was the perfect answer after a long day by the pool or beach.
So returning to my beach reverie, I turn my back to the sea to take in a half mile or so stretch of sand, exclusive to the hotel. As such, all beds and parasols are free - just don't try to put your towels on them too early as they are removed if unoccupied before 9am.
Just up the boardwalk is located the Beach Taverna, one of the hotel's specialist restaurants (more of that later) which doubles up as the place to get drinks and snacks (including souvlaki, chips, tzatziki - make your own gyros!) during your day on the sands.
Walking from the Taverna and leaving the beach I'm now entering the hotel complex, and am greeted by a sumptuous, cabana-lined hotel pool with a shaded bar at its centre. Another pool, again with its own bar, is at the reception end of the Atlantica Marmari Beach.
These two tend to be quieter than the third and the main family pool complete with its two slides, swim-up bar and help-yourself snacks and drinks area. This is the epicentre of the complex where the dedicated TUI Blue team do everything in their power to ensure families have the best holiday possible.
This reassuringly well-appointed team organise activities, entertain, advise, perform - all with a constant smile - with parades, fun activities, sporting and fitness sessions and much more throughout the day. There are also free kids’ clubs split into age groups which line up a myriad of fun activities. Teens get their own hangout space too.
BabyClubs with fully-trained staff are on hand to look after children aged up to three. They’re open six days a week, plus some evenings, and cost a bit extra, though for free there's an air-conditioned baby lounge open all day, every day, where parents can relax with their tots and use the microwave, changing table, bottle warmers and toys.
For the active there are tennis, paddle, basketball and beach volleyball courts, and a well-equipped gym. For the less active a mini golf course is a nice post-sunbathing activity in the cooler hours before the evening meal. The hotel has its own spa too, with massages and hair and nail pampering treatments on offer for an extra price.
The TUI guides don't go home after dark, and the outdoor ampitheatre, with a self-serve bar, is alive with the sound of music and dancing every night as the team show their versatility with early fun events for the children followed by musical shows. Visiting speciality acts add further entertainment richness and, for me, the stars of our stay were a trio of South African tenors - The Divos - whose tribute to The Three Tenors and Il Divo was simply spectacular.
So how do you keep track of everything that's going on? It's all there on the TUI Blue app, available from the Apple Store and Play Store for android. It's just a case of entering the hotel and everything is there in neatly organised menus, showing times of entertainment and what's on, kids' clubs sessions and how to book places - quite simply, everything you would need to know to organise and maximise your holiday.This app is in addition to the TUI app which you may have already downloaded for your holiday details and boarding cards etc.
Being an all-inclusive resort, we need to talk about food and drink. The main buffet-style restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and evening meal and has one of the largest selection of food choices I have ever experienced, with both Greek and international dishes and a bread section to die for. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available and a wonderful selection of fruit to rival that of the bread.
Beer, wine and soft drinks are all self-service and there's a choice of air conditioning inside or two shaded outdoor areas to enjoy (and most probably overindulge) it all in.
Included in the price is the option of changing this venue for a visit to each of the hotel's two speciality restaurants - the aforementioned Beach Taverna and the Green and Grill Restaurant, the place where you self-serve drinks and snacks at the main pool. The former offers a waiter-served a la carte Greek menu with the latter offering more international dishes.These can be booked via a console in reception, but places are soon snapped up so be quick!
Various bars are open at different times of the day, but a drink can be obtained at any time somewhere from 10am until midnight, with the option of continuing with premium drinks in the main Lounge Bar until 1am for an extra price.
There are so many trips to take in the island but we were tempted by the Kos Island Tour by Land and Sea excursion - a TUI Collection stamp indicating it is exclusive to TUI customers.
This tour offers different perspectives of Kos, with tripgoers assailed by a wealth of natural and cultural treasures both by land and sea. Among the top historical attractions is the Asclepeion, a 5th-century BC temple to the Ancient Greek god of medicine and a renowned healing centre, attracting pilgrims from all over ancient Greece. It was also where Hippocrates received his medical training.
We were then taken to the pretty village of Kefalos, sampled authentic drink and food in the traditional Greek house with its village oven, while soaking up breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the Aegean below.
We then boarded the boat at Kamari - beware the skipper pouring you a glass of firewater raki! - and cruised to a secluded bay, where we could take a refreshing dip before enjoying a traditional souvlaki lunch on the beach.
So soon our stay was at an end, but hopefully not the last of our TUI Blue experiences - arguably a misnomer as this unforgettable holiday in a beautiful Greek setting could never, ever, leave anyone feeling blue.
Tempted? To give you an idea, a sample week's all-inclusive holiday for two adults and two children (aged 0-17) at the TUI Blue for Families Atlantica Marmari Beach leaving September 7, 2022, from Manchester Airport costs just £2040 (with a free child's place) at the time of writing.
For more details, visit www.tui.co.uk
As the flight was from East Midlands, our holiday got off to a great start with a night's stay at the picturesque riverside Priest House Hotel with parking for the duration of our holiday organised by Holiday Extras, the market leader in UK airport parking, hotels, lounges, and transfers. A return six-minute taxi ride to the airport is included in the price.
Booking an airport hotel with parking means you can enjoy more holiday with less hassle. Plus with Flextras, if you need to cancel or amend, you can without charge. Holiday Extras say every 30 seconds a customer saves £100 on their airport parking with them.
One night’s accommodation at Priest House, East Midlands Airport with nine nights’ parking at the hotel is available from £160. To book, visit HolidayExtras.com or call 0800 316 5678. Price searched on 2nd August 2022 for arrival on 7th September 2022.
East Midlands Airport’s Escape Lounge
East Midlands Airport’s Escape Lounge is conveniently located just beyond the main F&B and retail area close to the departure gates and offered us a chance to relax away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal where all-inclusive food and drink was enjoyed immediately prior to catching our flight.
The lounge is suitable for passengers of all ages and offers fast unlimited WiFi, flight information boards, bar service for alcoholic and soft drinks, and a hot and cold buffet.
Prices start from £23 when booked in advance. For more information or to book, visit: https://www.eastmidlandsairport.com/at-the-airport/escape-lounge/